SINGAPORE - As Aloysius Yapp watched his opponent Carlo Biado pocket ball after ball and win rack after rack on Saturday night (Sept 18) in Atlantic City, he thought about how fickle the sport of pool can be. But even if he could, he would not change a single thing about it.
For the past two weeks, Yapp has been on a brilliant run in the United States, claiming scalps at the World 10-Ball Championship and US Open 9-Ball Championship, where his hunt for honours at the prestigious tournament ended in the final with a 13-8 loss to the Philippines' Biado.
The 25-year-old Singaporean had beaten American world No.1 Shane van Boening and No. 2 Joshua Filler of Germany, and even led Biado 8-3 at the Harrah's Resort Hotel and Casino on Saturday.
But in the race-to-13, winner-break format of the final, he was helplessly planted in his chair as his 37-year-old adversary played out an excellent game and strung together 10 racks in a row to win the title.
Asked if he had reflected on the cruelty of his sport, Yapp replied with a chuckle: "Of course. I have been thinking about that for many years. A turn of the ball can change everything.
"But as much as I hate that luck is involved in the game, it's part of it and it's also a reason why I love it."
Yapp had trailed Biado 2-0 but managed to find his groove and showcased some adventurous shot-making and precise safety plays. This prompted commentator Jeremy Jones, the 2003 US Open champion, to label him a "special young player" as he looked in the driver's seat for the title, running up a five-rack lead.
But in the 12th rack, Yapp missed a shot on the 9-ball and allowed Biado back onto the table. The mistake proved fatal as the Filipino was equally impressive in his potting to see out the match.
Biado, the 2017 World 9-Ball champion, became only the second Filipino to win the US Open and its green jacket, after Efren Reyes in 1994, and claimed the top prize of US$50,000 (S$67,460) while Yapp won US$25,000 as runner-up.
Almost six hours after his final, Yapp told the Straits Times he was "still bothered" by the 9-ball miss in the 12th rack but said Biado fully deserved his comeback victory.
"Right now, I'm both happy and sad, it's hard to describe," said Yapp. "I feel like I could have done better, especially if I didn't miss that 9-ball. I felt I had a great tournament with quite a good run. In such a tough field, I have to be pretty happy with my performance."
His rise has not gone unnoticed.
Yapp, the 2014 Junior World 9-Ball champion, has gained a following on social media, with fans praising his skill and classy demeanour, with many predicting him to be a future US Open and world champion. On Instagram, Yapp has also gained about 200 followers over the past week.
A week prior, he had also beaten world No.3 Jayson Shaw of Scotland in the World 10-Ball Pool Championship in Las Vegas en route to a third-place finish, which earned him US$12,000 and bumped him up to eighth in the world ranking.
While happy with the support, Yapp is only focused on his next tournament, a Predator Pro Series event in Detroit, Michigan from Wednesday to Saturday.
After that, he will play in two other smaller meets before wrapping up his two-month long stint in the US with the Oct 22-30 International Open in Norfolk, Virginia.
Cuesports Singapore president Justin Lee said: "While the final didn't turn out as we had hoped, we are proud of Aloysius' unprecedented runner's-up finish in the US Open.
"Aloysius gives us confidence that cuesports athletes from Singapore can succeed at the highest level."
Lee also said that the association will continue to support athletes "to help them develop, improve and achieve their goals" and added: "We are sure that this is just the beginning for Aloysius in the international arena."