Melling, Appleton and Lawrenson earn GB 9-Ball Tour Win

Chris Melling


The 2011 GB9 Paul Medati Trophy has come to a conclusion with Chris Melling,
Darren Appleton and Mathew Lawrenson coming away with the major spoils. This
was the third edition of the annual memorial competition, with both this
event and the tour in general now hosting a mix of players, young and old,
all of whom are at least aware of Paul Medati's standing in the world of
cuesports. Tournament Director Lee Rigby was audibly choking up as he spoke
to players and spectators before the Pro Cup and Challenge Cup finals, and
the emotion was clear amongst all other players and spectators throughout
the weekend. Ultimately, however, there was a lot of pool to be played
across the weekend, with many tremendous performances highlighting the
strength in depth of American pool players that are developing in Great
Britain – a depth that Paul would doubtless have been proud of.


In the Pro Cup final, it was London's Imran Majid coming up against old
Pontefract nemesis and now ex-pat Darren Appleton. Imran handed a 9-0 donut
to Brett Armer in the opening round, before disposing of GB9 chairperson
Jonathan Mathers 9-5. He got fully back into his stride against
Glastonbury's Gary Bullocke with a 9-2 victory before recording another 9-5
scoreline in the semi-finals against March's Pro Cup winner Jayson Shaw.
Appleton's route to the final was slightly longer, opening his account with
9-6 and 9-4 wins over Kevin Uzzell and James Kay respectively. His most
convincing win came over 'Barney' Andy Barnett by 9 racks to 2, then making
his way into the final by disposing of Craig Osborne 9-4. The final itself,
refereed by guest referee Michaela Tabb, was more of a one-sided affair than
many were expecting. That said, Appleton was in imperious form, beating his
rival 9-2 and picking up £800 - or almost $1,300 - to take back to the
States with him.


The final of the Challenge Cup was contested by 23-year-old Mathew Lawrenson
from Wigan, and Morley's 17-year-old sensation Mark Lunn. Both players had a
slightly longer route to the final than their equivalents in the Pro Cup,
with Lunn starting right back in the opening round taking out Dave Smith
9-2. He followed up a round 2 bye with another 9-2 win over Dean Thompson.
He eliminated Dylan Thomas 9-6 in the last 32 before coming through a
gruelling hill-hill encounter against Norwich's Shaun Chipperfield in the
last 16. He surprised Darryn Walker - the only person to record a whitewash
in the last 32 (against Mark Singleton) - with a 9 racks to 5 quarter-final
triumph, following this up with an elimination of another player tipped as a
potential winner in Arfan Dad 9 racks to 4. Lawrenson laid the first bricks
of his path to the final with a round 3 victory against Gabor Szalay 9-5.
Now in last 32, he continued with the elimination of Reading's Phil Wildman
and Hemsworth's Craig Dixon by scorelines of 9-5 and 9-2. His quarter final
saw him take out defending Challenge Cup champion Damian Massey 9-4, with
Cambridge's Ricardo Jones becoming his semi-final victim 9 racks to 6.
Lawrenson kept up the momentum of his previous round, leading for all but
one rack in the final and won the competition with a 9-5 victory. He too
received the £800 winner's cheque and, along with Darren Appleton, became
the first recipient of a winner's GB9 gold medal.


With such a high quality of pool evident, it was anybody's guess who would
make it to the final of this year's competition. Chris Melling was widely
tipped before the tournament began thanks to his fantastic victory in the
China Open earlier this month, but his defeat in the opening round of the
Pro Cup 9-3 to Dave Nelson led many to believe that he still hadn't quite
gotten over his jetlag. That said, anyone would be a fool to rule out Chris
from a competition before a ball's hit, and he shattered all doubter's
presumptions with a stunning run to the final. He ground out victories
against his first two opponents in the last 64 and last 32 by 9-8 and 9-5,
the unfortunate victims being Pro Cup winner Darren Appleton and the man who
took Melling out of the Pro Cup , Dave Nelson. His last 16 match saw Matthew
Ford eliminated by a 9-4 score, with his quarter final victory seeing the
end of Mark Gray's reign as British number one, taking him out 9 racks to 2.
In the semi-finals, he took out surprise package of the weekend Neil
Margossian, conceding just 4 racks out of the 13 played to book his place in
the final.

His opponent in the final was Imran Majid – a player whose record of
reaching finals eclipses that of any other player on the tour. His run began
in the last 64 with a 9-3 victory over Greg Jansz, followed up by defeating
Challenge Cup finalist Mark Lunn 9-2 and Paul Williams 9-5 in the last 32
and last 16. His next two matches, however, saw Majid staring defeat in the
face in both. Andy Croasdale had a semi-final berth in his grasp at 8-8, but
it wasn't to be. As if one hill-hill encounter wasn't enough to bear
already, exactly the same happened in his semi-final with Michael Valentine,
who himself had already had to deal with an epic hill-hill encounter with
Shaun Storry in the last 16. No player had a lead of more than a rack in the
entire match, but it was the Maharaja who saw off Valentine in the final
rack to set up what was sure to be a thrilling final against a player who
now once again appeared to be overflowing with self belief.

The final itself was a somewhat curious match, with Melling storming into a
5-1 lead before Majid won 7 of the next 9 to lead for the first time in the
match at 8-7. Both players were giving away nothing at all, and it came as
no surprise to anyone that Chris took three of the next five racks to take
the match to hill-hill – Majid's third consecutive match going all the way.
The decider, as expected of any hill-hill encounter, was a nervy affair, but
after Majid failed to convert a tricky combo with ball in hand Melling was
able to hold his nerve, clearing the table to come away victorious from a
stunning match where both finalists can hold their heads high. Melling took
home the gold medal, the winner's cheque for £1,300, and finished the event
as British number two. 'I knew I had a good chance to win as I've been
plaing well for a while now', Melling said after clinching the title. He
revealed too that his mother's passing last year, also to cancer, helped to
spur him on during the competition. 'It crippled me but I knew she would
have wanted me to carry on and never give in as that's what she did until
the very end. Every title I win I dedicate to her and this is up there with
the best as it means so much. I fly out to the World 9-Ball Championship on
Thursday and there's no reason why I can't win - I feel like I'm up there
with the best of them now.' Not all was lost for Imran, however, whose run
to the final ensures that he rose once again to the coveted ranking of
British number one – a deserved outcome for two players truly on the very
top of their games right now. The losing finalists and losing semi-finalists
in the Pro Cup, Challenge Cup and the Paul Medati Trophy also receive silver
and bronze medals respectively for their efforts, and deserved
congratulations go to them all for their contribution to a brilliant weekend
of pool.


Long before the competition took place, GB9 expressed their aim to try and
raise £1,000 for Macmillan Cancer Support during the weekend. That, however,
wasn't enough for one of our players. Ipswich's tour stalwart, Phil 'Popeye'
Morgan (a new nickname coined by Paul Medati's sons John and Steve during
their visit at the weekend), announced that he was going to attempt a
sponsored 30km row within three hours in Rileys Ipswich in an effort at
first to raise £500. The popularity of this challenge grew at some pace,
ultimately achieving a revised target of £1,000. He completed the row in a
time of 2 hours 35 minutes, and his finishing total was a staggering
£1168.32. He was presented with an honorary gold medal for his quite
incredible solo fundraising achievement by the tour committee. Phil,
however, remained humble in his achievements. 'To do this for Macmillan
Cancer Support, Paul Medati and GB9 was a privilege. The response I got from
all parties just makes me want to do something like that again next year'.
He also recognised the collective efforts of his fellow tour players,
acknowledging the importance of such a special event. 'I believe the tour
comes together like a big family in situations like this and I had no
problems getting donations as everyone has been affected by cancer during
their lives, whether it's a loved one, a family member or a friend. I want
to thank every person for the love and support shown - I could not have done
it without you.'

A raffle was also once again kindly run by Aslam Abubaker, raising a grand
total of £445. Prizes included generous donations of Premier League snooker
tickets from Matchroom Sport, a pair of referee's gloves signed by Michaela
Tabb, and a prized Mosconi Cup shirt given by Karl Boyes who was a member of
last year's winning European team. Every player was also given the option to
donate 5% of any winnings they might earn over the weekend, with this drive
alone earning £407.50 for the fund. Collection pots were placed around the
venue across the weekend, willing to pick up any loose change - these, along
with a cut from entry fees to the two weekend flyer tournaments on Friday
night and Sunday afternoon, raised £153.97. With all the above taken into
consideration, we are proud to announce a final grand total of £2,154.79 for
Macmillan. GB9 and the Medati family would like to thank every player for
their donations across the weekend, however big or small they may have been.
Your donations will go towards helping Macmillan assist those suffering from
cancer and giving them, along with their friends and families, support when
they most need it.

In 2011 GB9 is proudly sponsored by Barceló Hotels, SAM Leisure, Simonis
Cloth, Aramith Billiard Balls and making the
perfect combination of the very best equipment in the most outstanding

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