By: Candace Campbell
For 25 years players on the east coast have looked forward to Thanksgiving and the Eastern Canadian 9 Ball Championships. The tournament is a major event on the Maritime Pool calendar, drawing top talent to compete in Moncton, NB. As always Steve Cooper did an excellent job of making sure everything ran smoothly all weekend long.
We kicked off Friday night with the Jack Williston Memorial invitational where 15 of our best tested their skills. The format of this contest is first to 3 sets with each set being a race to 5, alternate break. It has been one of the favored formats over the years with positive feedback from participants. Close opening round matches saw NB’s Jeff Kennedy and Ashley Nowlan narrowly besting their opponents with the remaining matches won in more convincing fashion. Jeff Blais breezed through to the semi-finals without losing a set.
He beat former champ Jason Robichaud, and NB’s current #1 Tom Theriault before running into the event Promoter Rob Sakell. Rob put on a strong performance but in the end lost to Blais by a score of 3-2. Martin Daigle had an equally impressive showing in the lower bracket that would see these two road partners meet in the finals. This would be Martin’s 10th appearance in a professional tournament final within the last year and a half. Daigle was due for a win. He played well taking down the first set but Blais stepped it up a notch winning the next 3 sets in a row to take home the title.
Saturday’s round robin saw 58 participants separated into groups for the elimination round. As always, it was nice to have 4 ladies in the mix competing in a very strong field. By day 2 we were down to the final 48 redraw: Double Elimination. The full bracket can be viewed here (insert challonge link). The highlight of this tournament was most definitely the performance of Martin Daigle. As we have seen, even seasoned professionals have their challenges. Daigle is no different. He has worked hard for years not only on the physical but the mental aspect of the game.
When he found himself, here in his 11th final in a year and a half his demeanor changed. It began in the semi-final against Matt Crawford. The two had met earlier in the tournament and it went to the hill with Daigle getting the better of Crawford. Here they were again and you could see the physical differences. He held his head high, focused on every shot and rarely missed. The token mannerisms we’ve all come so used to seeing were all but absent. You could tell by the calm and confidence that he wanted it and no one was going to stop him. He made swift work of Crawford 13-6 and found himself, again, facing Jeff Blais in the finals. Blais had put him on the B side only a few matches ago, but it did not matter. Both players would give it their all and only the smallest of errors were made. In the end Martin conquered his slump and took home his first Eastern Canadian 9 Ball Championship. The final score 15-13.
Not to be outdone, our ladies division saw 5 participants and though there was a small turnout the enthusiasm was high. Angela Buchan made her Easterns debut against some strong returning players. Nova Scotia’s Leign Ann Giles and Brenna Sylliboy, along with local ladies Louise Cormier and Joline Boudreau. Everyone gave it their all and Brenna Sylliboy had her best ever Easterns performance. She was the lone survivor on the “A” side and had a bit of a wait for her rematch with Leigh Ann Giles. Giles came back from the “B” side with a vengeance. Sylliboy was up on her early but Giles is no stranger to competition and stuck it out coming back from a 3-0 deficit to take the set, and the title 9-5.
Congratulations to this year’s Champions! As always, we look forward to seeing everyone back here next October. The Championship is played over Thanksgiving long weekend and is open to players from NB, NS, PE, NF, and QC. If you would like to get involved as a sponsor, or participant please email Rob Sakell: firstname.lastname@example.org.
For full brackets click HERE
For full brackets click HERE