China Open Qualifiers 2009: Round One News (updated)

Just a few days after the Masters, the rest of the tour are getting down to business at Pontin’s for round one of the China Open qualifiers. With just three events left, the race for 2009/10 main tour places is now really hotting up…

Morning Session

At the very top of the draw, Newcastle youngster Stephen Craigie got his campaign off to a good start today with a narrow 5-4 win over Mansfield’s Lee Spick. The scoreline does not tell half the story however because as reported by Dave Hendon, Lee actually played today with the use of crutches following a broken ankle suffered just before Christmas.

This hindrance didn’t seem to hurt him early on though as Lee actually raced into a 3-0 lead and looked well set to record a memorable win. Craigie though showed why he is so highly rated on the snooker circuit and responded well, taking the next three frames to pull himself lever and then going into the lead at 4-3. Though Spick bravely made it 4-4 to force a decider, the momentum was really with Stephen now and he won a close final frame to move into the second round.

Having lost his opener at the UK Championship, this is a good win for Stephen and will hopefully move him up from his current position of 78 in the provisional rankings. Next up tomorrow will be Andrew Norman.

For Spick despite his efforts today, it is a third round one exit of the season for him and one that will not do his chances of finishing in the top 64 again much good.

The two most one-sided results went the way of Kuldesh Johal and Peter Lines, the two men who finished top of the PIOS last season who both recorded 5-0 wins today. Peter in particular is now extremely well-placed to finish in the top 64 and retain his place on the main tour, while Kuldesh has given himself a decent chance too.

Their opponents Michael Georgiou and Chris McBreen have both really struggled this season and having not won a match between them appear destined to be relegated from the main tour unless something remarkable happens during the last two events.

Both at least managed more than Norther Ireland’s Declan Hughes however who missed his second event of the season and will remain rooted to the foot of the rankings. Scott MacKenzie though will not be complaining today as he will now receive a bye to the next round.

Finally Welsh youngster Daniel Wells who enjoyed a good run to the last 16 of the Masters Qualifiers last month recorded a solid 5-2 win over Wayne Cooper today and books himself a clash with Rod Lawler in the second round. At 80th in the rankings with only a few wins to his name this season however, he will be looking to go on a good run this week and put himself in a stronger position going into next month’s Welsh Open.

Round One
Scott MacKenzie w/o Declan Hughes
Peter Lines 5-0 Chris McBreen 78-13, 75(55)-8, 113(52)-4, 64(41)-16, 124(75)-0
Kuldesh Johal 5-0 Michael Georgiou 53-28, 71(43)-8, 104(104)-0, 68(42)-42, 97(82)-1
Jamie Jones 2-5 Jin Long 88-30, 95(76)-0, 30-75(43), 44-54, 5-103(58,40), 0-71(41), 0-71(66)
Paul Davison 2-5 Andrew Pagett 26-76(38), 6-65(35), 78(36,42)-12, 49-11, 1-116(51,65), 16-75(32,43), 49-53
Simon Bedford 5-4 Liu Chuang 76-26, 96(64,31)-5, 0-121(121), 28-78(73), 58-25, 76(54)-1, 40-68, 36-86(62), 85(41,44)-0
Daniel Wells 5-2 Wayne Cooper 73-57, 7-69(38), 62-37, 62-49, 0-89(67), 67-29, 79(49)-1
Lee Spick 4-5 Stephen Craigie 76-64, 62(43)-19, 71-39, 5-72, 35-109(53,56), 13-62(41), 39-60, 67(38)-36(36), 52-70

Evening Session

China’s Li Hang recorded yet another impressive win this evening as he defeated crowd favourite Jimmy White 5-3 at Prestatyn tonight. Li got off to a good start by taking the first two frames to give himself an early cushion, but in a match containing six breaks over 50, Jimmy responded to level things up at the interval.

Li though was not to be deterred and with breaks of 60 and 55, soon restored his two frame cushion. Although White managed to get one back, a break of 52 in frame eight was not enough and Li took arguably his biggest scalp of the season so far.

As disappointed as I am sure Jimmy will be, I must say that I have been really impressed with Hang’s progress this season as the 18-year-old continues his run of having won at least one match in each ranking event of the season so far. This is really a fine achievement and one that should see him retain his place on the tour for 2009/10, barring a complete collapse from now on.

Definitely one worth watching over the next few years…

One youngster who did not have as much success as Li tonight though was Vinnie Muldoon who sadly lost his third ranking match in a row tonight. I have a bit of a soft spot for Vinnie having met him in December at the EISS but he slipped to defeat against Lewis Roberts who won just his second match of the season tonight. At 2-2 the match still looked like going either way but two consecutive breaks of 75 from Roberts really made the difference and paved the way for a 5-2 success.

Next up for Lewis is a tough clash with David Gray and if he is to stand any chance of remaining on the tour for another year it is one that he must win.

The most high quality match of the day appears to be that between former world quarter-finalist Patrick Wallace and promising youngster David Grace. Indeed although Grace scored well early on with runs of 77 and 50, Wallace was even better and with five breaks over 50, eventually won the match 5-3. The highlight though was the highest break of the day, a magnificent 138 in frame five which really got Wallace going.

Down at 87th on the provisional list before this event, things are not looking too good for Wallace but a deep run here would set him up nicely going into the final two events. For Grace though his fifth first round defeat from six ranking events this season does not do him any good and it looks like he will be heading into the PIOS for 2009/10.

Good wins also came tonight for Asian duo Atthasit Mahitthi and Aditya Mehta as they defeated Matt Couch and Rodney Goggins respectively. Thailand’s Mahitthi has performed strongly for much of the season and already ranked at number 66th provisionally, he looks to be in a strong position now. Of more immediate concern, next up for him will be Welshman Ian Preece tomorrow as he looks to do even better.

Mehta though has not enjoyed a particularly successful season, so to defeat Rodney Goggins who looked to be in good form when I last saw him in the UK qualifiers is a very positive result. His next opponent David Roe has hardly had his greatest ever season either so it could be the start of a good run for the India cueist.

Supoj Saenla 1-5 Robert Stephen 17-72(43), 56-66, 85(48)-28, 9-96(60), 31-71, 28-64(62)
Matt Selt 3-5 Andy Lee 78-79, 75(56)-20, 13-83(39), 101(38,52)-23, 25-50, 64(37)-53, 4-90(36), 36-75(51)
James McBain 5-0 Stefan Mazrocis 66-19, 84(52)-25, 83(46)-31, 59-6, 60(35)-48
Matt Couch 2-5 Atthasit Mahitthi 85-63(48), 45-58(44), 67-26, 50(40)-63, 42(39)-68(46), 43-60(34), 30-67(67)
Patrick Wallace 5-3 David Grace 71(38)-65, 0-77(77), 62(52)-63(50), 87(55)-4, 138(138)-0, 25-57(37), 98(81)-6, 85(31,54)-0
Lewis Roberts 5-2 Vinnie Muldoon 61-51, 44-71, 72-31, 63-65, 94(75)-0, 75(75)-0, 74(36)-29
Rodney Goggins 3-5 Aditya Mehta 66(34)-14, 6-89(42,47), 20-65(33), 32-95(41), 33-65, 70(50)-41, 32-67
Jimmy White 3-5 Li Hang 52(38)-84, 45-72(40), 60-58(57), 91(50,40)-0, 33-72(60), 7-61(55), 65(52)-1, 60(52)-65(37)