First 9 Ball Title For Gray

Bradley Parker & Mark Gray

Mark Gray, the ex-snooker player making a big impact on the American Pool scene, has bagged his first 9 ball title at the BPPPA's Basildon Open on 26th/27th March. This win continues a good run for Gray, who won the BPPPA's St Albans 8 Ball Open last month, and was a finalist at the last 9 ball event in Doncaster. He beat Bradley Parker, in his first tour event, 11-9 in the final.

Both players lost a match at the final hurdle of the first day's double elimination format and had to qualify from the one-loss side. Gray went down 9-8 to Steve Higton and was faced with a match against the current number one Daryl Peach to qualify. Mark took the match 7-5 and stopped the Dazzler making the last 32 for the first time. Bradley Parker meanwhile was stopped in his tracks by a 9-7 defeat at the hands of Paul Medati, but recovered with a 7-4 victory over Dave McCarthy to take him into the second day.

Once into the second day, Gray knocked out Raj 'The Hitman' Hundal 9-4 in the quarters and Anthony Ginn 9-8 in the semi-final. The latter was an exceptional match of which Mark commented "That's the highest quality match I've ever played in - both of us only missed one ball each." The other semi-finalist was David Walsh, last year's BPPPA Junior Player of the Year. Walsh had notably knocked out Imran Majid 9-4 in the quarters but bowed out 9-7 to Parker.

The field of 103 competitors swelled the prize purse to over three and a half thousand pounds with over ?1000 allocated to the winner and a total of 24 places paid. Contributing to this record field was a European contingent consisting of two quality Polish players, Filip Krawczyk and Michael Marcinkiewicz, who both put on impressive performaces to finish in the last 16. Switzerland-based Brit Jonni Fulcher has flown in from Europe for this event and next week's World Championship Qualifier, and he put on his best performance yet to reach the quarter-finals and an encounter with Anthony Ginn. Fulcher made a few uncharacteristic mistakes against the in-form Ginn and was outplayed to a 9-3 finish.

Losing quarter-finalists were Raj Hundal, Jonni Fulcher, Steve Evans and Imran Majid. The remainder of the last 16 consisted of So Shaw, Adam Clarke, Gareth Esprit, Michael Marcinkiewicz, Steve Higton, Filip Krawczyk, Andy Worthington and Paul Kellett. Completing the last 32 line-up were Nick Hampton, John O'Brien, Paul Medati, Jon Davies, Kevin Brown, Abhay Rao, Gary Stewart, Tony Drago, Suneel Kashyap, Stephen Folan, Jonathon Mathers, James Popplewell, Mark Stephenson, Jay Trivedi, Nigel Webb and Rob Wickendon.

For the updated ranking list, see the BPPPA web site.