THE LEGEND AND THE UPSTART HEAD IN TWO DIFFERENT DIRECTIONS
Story and Photo
by Ted Lerner
(Shanghai, China)–57 year old Efren “Bata” Reyes of the Philippines, perhaps the greatest player in the history of pool, showed he had plenty left to offer as he crushed Germany’s Thomas Engert, 9-2, on the first day of the $275,000 China Open in Shanghai.
At the same time, the Netherlands’ Huidji See, the recent surprise winner of the World 10-Ball Championship in Manila this past May, handily lost his first match, 9-5 to Vietnam’s Vu Trong Khai. With the loss See quickly went from being the center of attention at yesterday’s press conference to the one loss side of his group. See is now in a do or die situation for his next match in the double elimination group stage of the tournament.
Reyes, the first Filipino to enter the Hall of Fame, felt no need to offer his famous phrase, “I get lucky,” after his convincing victory. Bata seemed to have the measure of the break on the Star table inside the Shanghai Pudong Yuanshen Stadium in suburban Shanghai. He was never challenged by the talented German.
Dutman See is quickly finding out that it’s not easy to stay in what pool players like to call the “Free wheeling Stroke.” And he’s also discovering that there’s not only some pretty strong talent in China, but in Asia as a whole.
The friendly See, who said yesterday he entered some local tournaments in Shanghai last week but failed to even qualify because of the boatloads of talent in the city, can perhaps take solace in the fact that he also lost his first match at the World 10-ball in Manila and went on to rampage through the field and capture the title. Still, even an optimist like See would admit it’s a fairly tall order to ask the pool Gods to bestow favor on you time and again.
Vu’s victory has given Vietnam a stellar day so far. Nguen Phuc Long was a surprise winner over the Philippines Jundel Mazon, 9-3. Perhaps more surprising for the Philippines was Lee Van Corteza losing to China’s Wang Can, 9-6.
On the TV table aired over Shanghai TV, Chinese Taipei’s Kuo Po-Cheng looked the goods as he crushed China’s Li He Wen, 9-3. On an outside table, American Shane Van Boening put in a strong performance, outlasting Chinese Taipei’s Nien Rong Chin. In one of the marquee matchups of day 1, Ko Pin Yi of Chinese Taipei drubbed German’s Thorsten Hohmann, 9-4.
The tournament has taken a break for a lavish opening ceremony with the entire contingent of billiard players from China singing songs and dignitaries, including the mayor of Shanghai, making speeches. The tournament continues with two evening sessions later tonight.
On the women’s side, the 48 player field saw less action on this first day, as 16 top seeded players had byes. China’s “Queen of 9-ball” Pan Xiaoting had to play her first round match and handily defeated Singapores Tan Bee Yen, 7-2 in match aired on local TV.
All the women players will be in action in the evening sessions.
The China Open continues through Sunday June 12. The men are competing for $162,800 , and whiel the women will fight for $112,800 .
To see the complete and up to date brackets from the day’s first session, please click the live scoring link.