SINGAPORE - He overcame a rocky start and even a power outage, but Aloysius Yapp was undone by two self-inflicted errors as he fell at the penultimate hurdle of the Predator World 10-Ball Championship in Las Vegas on Friday (yesterday morning Singapore time).
The Singaporean lost 10-8 to Eklent Kaci in the annual competition’s semi-finals, having matched the Albanian for most of their match.
The pivotal moment came in the 17th rack. With the score level at 8-8, Yapp missed the one ball twice, having had a clear view of it both times, and rattled the jaws of the pocket each time.
Kaci, the world’s top-ranked 9-ball player in 2018, then cleared the table and also held his nerve in the final rack to wrap up the match.
He went on to beat Japan’s Naoyuki Oi 10-6 in the final and claim the US$35,000 ($46,958) winner’s purse.
Yapp, 25, said he was “a little disappointed” by his double miss in the 17th rack, but added he was not weighed down by it.
“It’s just a miss,” he said. “I did what I could. I wouldn’t say I choked or didn’t hit it well. I just missed. There’s really nothing much to say.”
Despite the defeat, his run to the semi-finals and finishing third is the best performance by any Singaporean at a world meet of either the 9 or 10-ball iteration of pool. It also earned him US$12,000.
Another Singaporean, 31-year-old Sharik Sayed, also competed in Las Vegas. He was defeated by Kaci in an earlier round and finished 33rd out of 64 entrants.
Yapp, the 9-ball junior (Under-19) world champion in 2014, said he was spurred by his performance in the World Championship, in which his semi-final with Kaci was interrupted by a blackout as he trailed 3-1.
“It was the first time I experienced something like that,” he said, with a chuckle.
Organisers scrambled to rectify the issue and announced a 90-minute break, so Yapp made a beeline for his room.
“I went to take a nap,” he told The Straits Times. “I wanted to reset.”
It worked. When play resumed, he was more assured at the table. He levelled at 3-3, then stayed close to Kaci until the match-deciding misses.
Yapp believes his good performance overall – he had upset world No. 3 Jayson Shaw of Scotland in the quarter-finals – puts him in good stead as he prepares to fly across the United States to compete in the US Open 9-ball Championship next week in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
“I can feel my confidence growing,” he said. “I feel good, so I can’t wait for the next tournament.”
His aim at the US$300,000 US Open is to better his previous best – a top-16 finish in 2019 – but added that his overall goal in the US is to become a better player through the exposure of playing in several competitions.
After the US Open, he will compete at Predator Pro Series events in Michigan and Ohio, with a smaller competition in South Carolina, before wrapping up his trip with the Oct 22-30 International Open in Norfolk, Virginia.
At each of those events, he will be one of three Singaporeans in action, the other two being Sharik and Toh Lian Han, 49.
“I’m taking it easy and focusing on one match at a time,” said Yapp, who has won one gold, one silver and three bronze medals in the singles and doubles 9-ball events in the last three editions of the SEA Games. “I’ll try to enjoy every match I’m going to play.”