Coming Through in Crunch Time

Ina Kaplan (Photo courtesy of Tai Chengzhe/China Foto Press)
Ina Kaplan doesn’t have the big time experience, the world titles, nor the time logged in under the pressurized glare of the TV spotlights that some of the greats of the women’s game have. But the 27 year old from Siegen, Germany can, when she’s on her game, certainly hold her own on the pool table against any opponent.  Her Euro tour win in late 2013 and her runner up finish in this year’s European Championships attest to some solid cueing talent.
Playing for Team Germany this week in the 2014 World Pool Team Championship here in Beijing alongside greats Ralf Souquet and Thorsten Hohmann, and fellow teammate Sebastian Staab, Kaplan would best be described as a role player. You don’t count on her to regularly whip the likes of Fu Xiaofang, Liu Shasha, Allison Fisher, Han Yu or Ga Young Kim. You need Kaplan to come through for the team where and when she can. And that’s exactly what she did on Day 2 today for Germany.
For their first match in the group stages of this year’s World Team Championship, Germany found themselves against one of the event’s toughest squads, Austria. Group C is pool’s equivalent of the “Group of Death,” with Germany, Austria and Great Britain all fighting to advance to the knockout stage. A win early on was vital for both team’s chances.
In the women’s 9-ball singles match, Kaplan got thrashed by Jasmin Ouschan, 8-1. But then, with Germany leading in the overall match  3-2, it was up to Kaplan and her partner Sebastian Staab to seal the deal in the very last match, 10-ball mixed scotch doubles against Ouschan and Jurgen Jenisy. A win would give Germany three points and a big boost in their quest to advance to the knockout stage. A loss in this match and the overall score would be tied with each team getting only 1 point.
Kaplan rose to the occasion when it counted, and the pair swept Austria 7-2 to give the German’s the overall win, three points, and a massive confidence boost moving forward. Afterwards, a delighted Souquet spoke about what Kaplan brings to the German squad, but, at the same time, with a format that brings together three men and one woman as a team, he was also realistic.
“Some of these other teams have very strong women,” Souquet said. “Ina’s chances against players like Fu Xiafang, Han Yu, Allison Fisher, Ga Young Kim, are small but if she plays well she can be competitive. These women have so much more experience in big tournaments, under pressure, they’ve won world championships. She’s a good player and she’s really good in doubles. I just tell her to have fun and enjoy playing for Germany.
“We’re not heavy favorites. We’re about in the middle. But I feel good about our chances, especially after today. Austria is team that can win. That was our first match of the tournament so that’s never easy. We’re not underdogs but we’re not heavy favorites.”
Germany was, however, extremely pumped after Kaplan and Saab notched the win and they went on to shutout a hapless South Africa 6 -0 to make their place in the final 16 a near certainty.
Austria would come back in the second session on Tuesday and have to do serious battle yet again, this time wrestling with one of the tournament favorites in Great Britain which boasts Daryl Peach, Karl Boyes, Chis Melling and Allison Fisher. Things got even more testy for the Austrians as they found themselves down 3-1 with two matches to play. They managed to win both and got a well-deserved tie and a point to keep their hopes of qualifying alive.
The Philippines Lee Vann Corteza beat the USA's Corey Deuel in a thriller, 8-7Day 2 at the Tongzhou Luhe High School in Beijing saw 16 matches take place at the World Pool Team Championship as the pretenders started to get weeded out of contention for a coveted spot in the final 16 single elimination which begins on Thursday. There were no surprises in either session but several teams certainly impressed.
The Philippines, with heavyweights Dennis Orcollo, Lee Vann Corteza, Carlo Biado and Rubilen Amit, continued their winning ways, staving off a feisty Team USA to claim a 4-2 overall win. It was the Philippines second win of the event and they will surely make it to the round of 16.
Sweden won its second straight match with a  5-1 thrashing of  a very talented up and coming Mongolian squad. Sweden made it to the quarterfinals here two years ago and certainly has the talent to upset a favorite in the knockout stage.
Both China squads won yet again but they have yet to be tested as they each have had perhaps the easiest draws in the entire tournament. China 1, with Li He Wen, Wu Jiaqing, Chu Bing Chia, Han Yu and Chen Siming thumped Croatia 5-1. China 2 featuring Liu Haitao, Dang Ching Hu, Wang Can, Fu Xiaofang and Liu Shasha beat Vietnam 5-1. Both China teams will definitely be seeing action in the Final 16.
Chinese-Taipei, the defending champion, also won handily again, downing Russia 5-1. Japan, a runner up to Chinese-Taipei two years, won it's second straight match.
Wednesday is Judgement Day here in Beijing, as the field will be whittled down from 25 teams to 16, who will then compete in a single elimination knockout which begins Thursday. The two semi-finals will be played on Friday, while the Finals will take place on Saturday beginning at 2PM(GMT +8).
The knockout stage will give fans their first chance to see the exciting shootout, a feature which is unique to the World Pool Team Championship. If both squads end their six-match set tied at three, the winning team will be decided by a shootout. Players will have to try and pot full table cut shots into either corner pocket, with the first team to reach six points and get a two point margin—i.e. 6-4, 7-5—declared the winner.
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The Liado U Valley World Pool Team Championship is sanctioned by the WPA, The Multi-Ball Games Administrative Center of General Administration of  Sport, Chinese Billiard and Snooker Federation, Beijing Municipal  Bureau of Sport, Beijing Sports Federation.
Session 1  
Germany 4 - 2 Austria
Vietnam 4 – 2 Australia  
Russia 5 – 1 Korea   
Indonesia 3 – 3 India
Sweden 5 - 1 Mongolia
Croatia 4 – 2 Hong Kong   
Philippines 4 - 2 USA
Poland 6 -0 Bulgaria   
Session 2 
Austria 3 - 3 Great Britain 
China 2, 5 - 1 Vietnam
Chinese-Taipei 5 - 1 Russia
Japan 5 - 1 India
China 1, 5 - 1 Croatia
Hong Kong 4 - 2 Mongolia 
Germany 6 - 0 South Africa 
Singapore 6 - 0 Australia
Day 3 Matches, Group Stages
Wednesday July 30
Session1, 1:00PM (GMT +8)
New Zealand vs. Korea
Malaysia vs. Indonesia
China 1 vs. Hong Kong
Sweden vs. Croatia
USA vs. Bulgaria
Austria vs. South Africa
Vietnam vs. Singapore
Philippines vs. Poland
Session 2 6:30PM (GMT +8)
Russia vs. New Zealand
India vs. Malaysia
Great Britain vs. Germany
China 2 vs. Australia
Chinese-Taipei vs. Korea
Japan vs. Indonesia
China 1 vs. Sweden
Croatia vs. Mongolia
Group A
Philippines--Dennis Orcollo, Lee Vann Corteza, Carlo Biado, Rubilen Amit
Poland--Karol Skowerski, Tomasz Kaplan, Mateusz Sniegocki, Katazyna Weslowska
USA—Oscar Dominguez, Hunter Lombardo, Corey Deuel, Jennifer Barretta
Bulgaria— Stanimir Dimitrov, Radostin Dimov, Lyudmil Georgiev, Kristina
Zlateva Group B
China 1—Li He Wen, Wu Jiaqing, Chu Bign Chia, Han Yu, Chen Siming
Sweden—Anreas Gerven, Marcus Chamat, Tomas Larsson, Caroline Roos
Hong Kong—Kwok Chi Ho, Eric Lee, Lo Ho Sum, Robbie James Capito, Lee Tricia Gar Yun.
Croatia—Josip Susnjara, Ivica Putnik, Marko Lisnic, Antonijevic Zrinka
Mongolia—L. Delgerdalai, D. Damdinjamts, A. Yeruult, , A. Delgerkhuu,  Z. Zoljargal,
Group C
Great Britain—Daryl Peach, Karl Boyes, Chris Melling, Allison Fisher
Germany—Thorsten Hohmann, Ralf Souquet, Sebastian Staab, Ina Kaplan
Austria—Albin Ouschan, Tong He Yi, Jurgen Jenisy, Thomas Knittel, Jasmin Ouschan, Sandra Baumgartner
South Africa—Rajandran Nair, Charles R. Kuppusamy, Kumersen Reddy, Thilomi Govender
Group D
China 2—Liu Haitao, Dang Ching Hu, Wang Can, Fu Xiaofang, Liu Shasha
Australia—Robby Foldvari, David Rothall, Michael Cassiola, Lyndall Hulley
Vietnam—Trung Le Quang, Tuan Nguyen Anh, Quan Do Hoang, Le Doan Thi Ngoc
Singapore—Chan Keng Kwang, Aloyisus Yapp, Koh Seng Ann Aaron, Charlene Chai Zeet Huey, Toh Lian Han, Hoe Shu Wah
Group E
Chinese-Tapei—Chang Jun Lin, Ko Pin Yi, Hsu Kai Lun, Fu Che Wei, Chou Cheih Yu
Korea—Ryu Seung Woo, Jeong Young Hwa, Ha Min Ug, Kim Ga Young
Russia—Konstantin Stepanov, Ruslan Chinakhov, Andrey Seroshtan, Ann Mazhirina
New Zealand—Matthew Edwards, Phillip Nickpera, Johnathan M. Pakieto, Molradee K. Yanan
Group F
Japan—Naoyuki Oi, Sasaaki Tanaka, Hayato Hijikata, Chichiro Kawahara
Indonesia—Bewi Simanjuntak M. Bewi, Rudy Susanto, Muhammad Fadly, Silvana
India—Sumit Talwar, Sundeep Gulati, Lalrina Tenthlei, Suniti Damani
Malaysia—Ibrahim Bin Amir, Tan Kah Thiam, Jason Ng Keat Siang, Suhana Dewi Sabtu, Klaudia Djajalie