Canada Narrowly Claims Can-Am Team Snooker Challenge Victory

Canada has defeated the United States eleven matches to ten after a sudden-death one-frame play-off to claim the inaugural Can-Am Team Snooker Challenge at the at the Riviera Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada.

The event, which was played alongside the American CueSports Alliance (ACS) 8-Ball Nationals, and organized in joint cooperation by the ACS, the Canadian Billiards & Snooker Association (CBSA) and the United States Snooker Association (USSA), produced a terrific and exciting conclusion to the three days of high-quality snooker action.

Each team was made up of four of each nation's top snooker players, but it was Team Canada who got off to a flying start on the first day's play with Toronto's John White, the 1990 Canadian Snooker Champion and runner-up in the event last year, defeating the current United States National Snooker Champion and Team USA captain, George Lai of Las Vegas, 3-0. Toronto's Terry Davidson made it 2-0 in matches to the Canadians as he secured a tight 3-2 win over Orwin Ham of Monterey Park, California, who was a quarterfinalist in last year's United States National Snooker Championship.

It was last year's semifinalist in the United States National Snooker Championship, Truman Wu however who got Team USA off the mark as the Temple City, California, resident put in a fine performace to defeat Team Canada's captain and CBSA snooker director, Odie Willet of Dundas, Ontario, 3-1. The United States then drew level at 2-2 in matches as Team USA's Romil Azemat, of Chandler, Arizona, who has twice competed in the World Under-21 Snooker Championship, defeated the three-times Canadian Maritime Snooker Champion, Jeff Kennedy of Saint John, New Brunswick, 3-2.

Match five of the Can-Am Team Snooker Challenge consisted of a doubles encounter where Lai and Ham for Team USA faced up against Team Canada's White and Davidson. The American pairing made up for their initial singles defeats earlier in the day as they scored a fine 3-2 victory to put Team USA ahead in the Challenge for the first time.

Amezat then insured that Team USA would hold a lead going into the second day's play as he defeated Willet 3-2, but Team Canada's Kennedy took the final match of the first day's play with a 3-2 victory over Wu.

Team USA went into the second day's play with a crucial 4-3 lead over Team Canada, but the Canadians hit back by winning match eight to square the Challenge at four matches apiece with White defeating Ham 3-0.

The Americans however then soared ahead by sensationally winning the next four matches which saw Lai overcome Davidson 3-1, the doubles pairing of Azemat/Wu defeating Kennedy/Willet 3-0, Lai having another 3-1 victory this time over Kennedy, and Ham having a 3-2 success over Willet.

Team USA now had a commanding 8-4 lead in matches over Team Canada, and with eight more matches scheduled to be played, must have smelt the sweet smell of success lingering in the air. The Canadians though had other ideas and importantly cut Team USA's lead to just two matches after the completion of the second day's play with crucial narrow victories for White, who defeated Azemat 3-2, and for Davidson, who defeated Wu by the same score.

The third and final day's play was all set for a close and very tense conclusion to this fascinating first snooker match-up between these two nations, and the doubles paring of Willet/Kennedy got Team Canada off to a great start by defeating Lai/Ham 3-2. The Canadians then clawed themselves back from that 8-4 deficit to level the match with White gaining a 3-1 success over Wu.

The pressure had now switched back onto the Americans having lost that big lead, and it was left to Azemat to relieve some of that pressure with a 3-2 defeat of Davidson to nudge Team USA ahead once more by 9-8 in matches.

A comprehensive 3-0 defeat of Ham by Kennedy again tied the match up, and then Team USA got on the verge of victory when Lai followed up with a 3-1 success over Willet to lead 10-9 in matches.

The twentieth and final scheduled match of this Challenge was a doubles meeting of Team Canada's White/Davidson against Team USA's Wu/Azemat. It was the Canadian pairing who came out on top with a 3-2 triumph to take the match into a one-frame sudden-death playoff.

Team USA chose the reigning United States National Snooker Champion Lai to match up against the former Canadian Champion White chosen for Team Canada. White got in amongst the balls first and chalked up a fifty point lead, of which he increased to seventy-five points after another visit to the table. The deficit was too much for Lai to try and overcome, so with two reds and all the six colored balls left on the table he had no choice but to concede the frame which handed Team Canada the narrowest of victories in the inaugural Can-Am Team Snooker Challenge.

This first team snooker challenge between Canada and the United States was a fantastic success which drew massive interest and huge crowds, particularly from the participants of the ACS 8-Ball Nationals - the majority of which had not seen snooker played or witnessed a live high-quality match. There are plans to greatly expand into more snooker events for next year.

This challenge match should prove to be excellent preparation for the respective National Snooker Championships coming up shortly in Canada and the United States, and for the International Billiards & Snooker Federation (IBSF) World Snooker Team Championships which are to be staged in San Jose, California, from August 16-26. These Championships, which will have national team events for Men, Ladies & Seniors (over 40s), will be the first ever major international snooker competition to be played in the United States.

A special mention must be made to Joseph Mejia of the USSA and Steve Cooper of the CBSA for organizing this event, and also to Stan James, the Team Canada sponsor, and the Embassy Billiards Club in San Gabriel, California, the Team USA sponsor.

The Organizers would also like to thank the Embassy Billiards Club for supplying the two snooker tables in order to make it possible to stage this very successful event, and to Strachan West Of England who kindly donated the Gold 6811 Championship snooker cloths.