Southern wins the first event of the 2014 BWPPA season

Tony Southern
The BWPPA raised the curtain on the 2014 season on the 15th/16th March 2014 with the GNO Southern 9-ball Open held at the newly opened BWPPA/BWCSA Wheelchair Cue Sport Academy at Stoke Mandeville, this event is named after the main tour sponsor the Gentleman’s Night Out charity.
We had a great turn out with 19 players entering the event, including Aleksandr Prokopiev who again made the long trip from Russia.  We welcomed four new players to the tour, Keith Hance, Jimmy Major, Daniel Lee and Gary Nicholson, and it would be Nicholson who had the best showing at his first event.
Major, Hance, and Nicholson had competed in other wheelchair cue sports events in the past, but Lee was in his first event and he recorded a fine 7-3 debut win over BWPPA stalwart John Robinson in the Main event first round.   Many thanks to them all for coming over and we hope to see them all at future events.
We also had the pleasure of the company of Big Dave Knight and his travelling Pro9 shop, many thanks to Dave for attending and also for his generous donation.  See for further information.
We also had in attendance Mike Murphy who made the 7 hour round trip on the Sunday to demonstrate his easy cue range, see for more information.
The tour got off to a great start with some excellent pool on show as usual at these events.  Aslam Abubaker was keen to add to his 3 successive victories at the end of the 2013 season, which enabled him to take a clear lead at the top of the rankings.  In the players meeting before play commenced Abubaker was awarded the honour of being the 2013 player of the season, which is voted for by his peers.  Also at the meeting, each player was presented with a gift pack from our generous sponsors at Kamui, comprising on 4 tips, 2 chalks and chalk holders, many many thanks to all at Kamui.
As the final 9-ball of the weekend was potted it was Southern who took home the spoils with victory in the Main Event and maintained the no 2 spot above Roy Kimberley.  This year the players battle for a superb prize of a top range cue from one of our main sponsors Predator, which will be awarded to the no.1 ranked player at the end of the season. (TBC)
Following his bye into round 2 as no.2 seed, Southern started off with a hard fought 7-2 win over Lee, who as an ex-snooker player who was a star junior, will challenge the top players once he has learned the game.  Southern then followed this up with a more comfortable 7-2 win over Phil Hendrickson.   This sent Southern into the quarter-final, where he won a hill-hill match against Danny Luton 7-6.
Kimberley had convincing wins in his first 2 matches, 7-2 v Hance, and 7-1 v Frankie ‘Hot-Wheels’ Gillen, to also reach the knockout phase.
The other half of the draw was loaded with talent, Abubaker hammered Danny Luton 7-3, then dispatched Pete Dawson by the same scorer to reach the quarter-final, where he beat Hendrickson 7-3.
Other notable results including Nicholson beating 4th seed Craig Welsh and Nicky Oliver 7-2 to reach the quarter finals, and in the best event of his career to date, Oliver came through the losers side to qualify for the prize money stages before running into Kimberley who was in devastating form and won 7-1.
In the first semi-final Abubaker beat Nicholson 7-4, but it was a lot closer than the score suggests, and Nicholson can reflect on what was an excellent first event for him. 
In the other semi-final it was Southern against old rival Kimberley, both players played solid pool, but it was Southern who was the more clinical taking his place in the final with a 7-4 win.
The Main event final between Southern and Abubaker was a fast paced match, with some excellent clearances mixed with some good safety and kicking.  In the end it was Southern who took the title with a 7-4 victory, punching the air with delight.
After the final Southern said of his win “I am delighted to retain my title and win the first event of the season.   I played solid all weekend, at least in the tournament, but I was determined not to let myself down, especially after poor performance at the first GB9 event of the year.
I would like to thank my main sponsors Riley’s, HASSRA, CSSC and Predator Cues, and of course all the BWPPA tour sponsors, especially Gentlemen’s Night Out, and Kamui whose Black medium tip has really made a difference to my game.  
Southern is now 50 points behind Abubaker at the top of the rankings, with Kimberley close behind, but with the best 4 of the last 5 events counting, the next event should be a great one at the ‘Escape Pool Bar’ in Barnsley in May.
In the Challenge Cup Final Craig Welsh beat Gary Swift 5-1.
A full video of the main event final is available here; pictures of the event are here in the BWPPA gallery.
The BWPPA team head to Northern Cyprus in April for the European Championships, the team captained by Southern also consists of Kimberley, Abubaker, Luton, Welsh, and Matt Duffy and we must also mention BWPPA member Fred Dinsmore from Ireland, who will be defending his 8 & 9 ball titles. See here for more details of that event.
The 2014 BWPPA tour is scheduled to continue in May in Barnsley. If you would like to be a part of Europe’s largest wheelchair pool tour, and second largest in the world please keep checking, and
If you need any more encouragement to join the BWPPA you could represent Great Britain in international tournaments, plus all new BWPPA players enter their first event for free!
All of the BWPPA would like to extend our gratitude to all of our sponsors The Gentlemen’s Night Out, Simonis Cloths, Predator/Poison Cues, Talisman Billiards, Kamui tips, Magic Racks, Escape Pool Bar, AB Wallace Trophies, and Riley’s snooker & pool clubs.