|Winner John White, Photo by Alex Marsilii|
By: Erik Hjorleifson
This past week The Corner Bank in Scarborough played host to the Canadian Snooker Championships. The corner bank features 8 beautiful Schender tables. This year the lighting was also improved and was it so bright you could see a difference throughout the make up of the entire room. This years field contained many past champions including John White, Tom Finstad, Alan Whitfield and Ed Galati. Other hopefuls looking for their first title included Charlie Brown, Jason Williams, Rajesh Maru, Kristal McCleod and Alex Zhang. This years tournament featured a special incentive of $20 000 for anyone that ran a perfect game sponsored by Harley Davidson. There were a couple of attempts by Ed Galati who made it to 8 consecutive blacks as well as Tom Finstad who also reached 8. Al Whitfield ended up with the high run honours and the $500 prize with a run of 122.
This year the CBSA (Canadian Billiards and Snooker Association) decided to go with a single knockout format as opposed to the round robin events that we have seen in previous years. The first three rounds were best of 7 with the quarter finals best of 9 semi finals a best of 11 and the finals a best of 13. First round losers were also entered into a consolation tournament in which Alex Zhang defeated Phil Snache in the final.
The first round saw Kristal McCleod from the east coast pull of an impressive win over former Richler Cup champion Alex Zhang. Blake Martel the lone representative from Manitoba also started his impressive run to the quarter finals with a win over the very capable Rob Wadell from Ontario.
In Round two the seed players were in action and two former Canadian champions in John White and Ed Glati were set to face off. In this match John put the field on notice that he would be a force to reckon with coming away with a 4-1 win. Jim Gourlie also defeated local player Hussain Rahimi 4-3 and Tony Renda from Missisagua also pulled off a sizeable upset against Jason Williams one of the tournament favorites 4-2.
In the Round of 16 former champion Al Whitfield was eliminated by former top player Rajesh Maru from Toronto who showed that he can still play. Two of the final Quebec hopefuls faced of with Andre Roy defeating Jacques Cote.
The most closely contested Quarter Final match was between Rajesh Maru and Fern Loyer who has had many strong finishes in 2016 including a third place finish at the Richler Cup held in Burlington the first week of May. Fern's experience would give him the edge in this match as he advanced by a score of 5-3. John White, Floyd Ziegler and Tom Finstad also advanced to the semis.
The Semi Finals saw three former Canadian Champions and possibly one of the best players to never win the Canadian Championships in the mix. These players have been battling for the last thirty years and all have more experience than most players could ever dream of. In both matches the losing side got out to a two nothing lead but John White and Fern Loyer came back strong with six straight wins each to book their place in the final.
The final was set for mothers day starting 2:30 eastern time. Fern Loyer would be looking for his first Canadian title in probably his twentieth attempt maybe more and John White would be looking for his third overall and second in the last 3 years. Both players were out for battle and in the first 10 games no one held more than a two game lead. At 5 all John White was able to find the x factor to get over the line with a 7-5 scoreline in an epic match that took appproximately ten hours. Huge congratulations goes out to host room owner and 2017 Canadain Champion John White "the guy that never practices" and trust me I'm around the room a lot and that is no myth, the stamina and mental toughness that you have to have to survive these ten hour battles especially in snooker is something that only comes from years of prior experience.
Special thanks also goes out to CBSA president Randall Morrison for facilitating the tournament and providing the fans with a free stream beginning to end.
1st John White $5000 plus World amateur expenses
2nd Fern Loyer $2000
3rd/4th Tom Finstad $1500
5th/8th Rajesh Maru $500