There may not be a more decorated 10-ball player in the United States than Shane Van Boening.
With four United States Open 10-Ball championships, a handful of Super Billiards Expo 10-ball titles and two Derby City Classic BigFoot 10-Ball trophies, Van Boening has practically forged a hall of fame career on this discipline alone.
As a result, it’s not very often that he finds himself situated on the one-loss side of the bracket after the first day of play is completed. But there are exceptions – and Wednesday was one of those cases, as the 38-year-old struggled to get the feel of the table and lost to Spain’s Jonas Sauto in the second round of the Alfa Las Vegas Open at the Rio All-Suites Hotel and Casino.
After Souto opened the first set by claiming the opening rack after a missed combination shot by his opponent, Van Boening took advantage of missed shots by the Spaniard in three consecutive games as the South Dakotan won four straight to cruise to an easy, 4-1 win. The Souto jumped out to a 2-0 advantage in the next frame as the South Dakotan missed shots in back-to-back games. Van Boening jumped on the scoreboard in the third game when Souto attempted to break up a locked 8 and 9 balls but instead left an opening, but he relinquished the table when he failed to pocket a ball on the break in the next game. Souto used a combination shot on the 10 ball to climb onto the hill, 3-1, but Van Boening tied the match thanks to a missed shot by his opponent in the sixth game and a successful combination shot on the 10 ball of his own in the next rack.
After a push following the break by Van Boening in the deciding seventh game, the two men engaged in a brief safety exchange on the 1 ball. The five-time U.S. Open 9-Ball champion kicked at the ball and landed the object ball in the corner pocket but unfortunately had called the side pocket, allowing Souto to run the rack and claim the set, 4-3.
Van Boening dug himself into an early hole in the sudden death shootout when he missed his first shot. Meanwhile, the Spaniard was perfect in the extra frame, pocketing four consecutive shots to secure the victory.
Van Boening’s loss was part of a brutal opening day for American competitors, with three former Mosconi Cup members suffering early defeats, including two-time Cup Most Valuable Player Skyler Woodward losing in a 7-6 shootout to Riku Romppanen, a 14-year-old junior from Finland. After Romppanen won the opening set, 4-2, Woodward rallied to tie the match at a set apiece with a 4-2 victory of his own. Both competitors were perfect in their first six attempts in the sudden death shootout until Woodward missed his sixth attempt, leaving the door open for the teenager to pull the upset.
Romppanen will now face Michigan Open champion Aloysius Yapp Thursday afternoon.
Later in the evening. Van Boening’s friend and former Mosconi Cup teammate Billy Thorpe was trying to avoid a similar fate when he matched up with Filipino Roland Garcia, the plucky Filipino who finished third at this year’s Arizona Open and placed third in the Derby City Classic’s 9-ball division.
Thorpe appeared to be in control early after executing back-to-back combination shots on the 10 ball to open the match until he missed a 2 ball in the third rack, allowing Garcia to climb onto the scoreboard. The Ohio native added another victory in the fourth rack when his Garcia misplayed the 1 ball, but his opponent tied the set at 3-3 with back-to-back victories after Thorpe failed to pocket a ball on the break in the fifth game.
Standing at the table with a chance to close out the set, Garcia appeared positioned to run out the rack but instead missed the 5 ball In the corner pocket. Thorpe slid the ball into the corner pocket, then ran the rest of the rack to close out the set, 4-3.
The Filipino rebounded in a back-and-forth second set, taking advantage of two Thorpe misses to win two racks, then using a combination shot on the 10 ball in the fifth rack to climb ahead 3-2. The Filipino then capitalized on another Thorpe miss on the 5 ball in the sixth game to steal the set, 4-2, and force a shootout.
Thorpe’s shot making struggles continued in the extra frame as he missed all first three of his shots in the extra set, handing his opponent a 2-0 victory.
Competition resumes Thursday at 9:30 a.m. local time, with notable matches including an all-Poland matchup of Wiktor Zielinski taking on Konrad Juszczyszyn, Austria’s Maximillan Lechner facing reigning champion Kun-Lin Wu and World 10-Ball champion Eklent Kaci meeting Ping-Chung Ko. Matches can be watched on Billiard.TV and also on World Billiard TV, the official YouTube channel of CueSports International.
The Alfa Las Vegas Open takes place March 23-26. The Alfa Las Vegas Open is followed by the Predator World 10-Ball Championship, which runs March 28-April 1 and The Alfa Women’s Las Vegas Open, which runs March 30-April 2.
The events coincide with the CueSports International Expo, which brings thousands of amateur pool players for the BCA Pool League World Championships as well as the USA Pool League National Championships.
Find the Alfa Las Vegas Open brackets with live scores on the Predator Pro Billiard Series website.
The Alfa Las Vegas Open is streamed for free on Billiard TV and the World Billiard TV YouTube channel.
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