Pool: Self-belief propels Singapore's Aloysius Yapp to World 10 Ball C'ship semis

Aloysius Yapp was flawless as he raced to an 8-1 lead against his higher-ranked opponent. PHOTO: LIN ZHAOWEI FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

SINGAPORE - Right after Aloysius Yapp upset world No. 3 Jayson Shaw to book his place in the semi-finals of the World 10-Ball Championship yesterday, he tucked into a bowl of beef pho (Vietnamese noodles) for dinner.

And for dessert? Around an hour's worth of practice on the table.

"I still made some mistakes in my matches… so I practised the shots I missed and worked on my breaks," he told The Straits Times.

Such dedication to honing his craft is what saw the 25-year-old beat the Briton 10-5 at the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. Earlier in the day, he had beaten American Oscar Dominguez 10-4 in the round of 16.

Yapp, ranked 20th in the world, was to meet Eklent Kaci (No. 28) of Albania in the semi-finals at 4am this morning (Singapore time).

If he gets past the 22-year-old Kaci, he will play either Japan's Naoyuki Oi (No. 16) or Filipino Johann Chua (No. 21) in the final scheduled for 10am today.

Either way, Yapp has already made history by recording the best performance by any Singaporean at a world meet in either the 9- or 10-ball iteration of pool.

He was also the previous best performer when he finished in the top eight of the World 9-Ball Championship in Dubai in 2015.

He credited his performances in the United States to having more self-belief.

"Because of the pandemic, I didn't compete overseas for over a year, so I took a lot of time to reflect and talk to my coach as well as an SSI (Singapore Sport Institute) sport psychologist about the mental side of my game.

"That," said Yapp, "has been the biggest change in me. Because in the past I had doubts over what I was capable of doing."

He first grabbed headlines in 2014, when he won the World 9- Ball Junior (Under-19) Championship, becoming the first Singaporean to do so. But it eventually became an albatross around his neck.

"I saw it as something I did in the past, and I had doubts over whether I could do it (win at the world level) again," he said.

After 16 months without international competition, Yapp packed his bags for Milton Keynes in England, where he competed at the World 9-Ball Championship in June. He exited at the round of 32, but his new-found mental strength helped him cope with the defeat better.

"I took it positively, and… refined and changed certain things, so maybe that's why I'm doing better in this (10-ball) tournament," he said. "I feel more ready this time."

Cuesports Singapore president Justin Lee said the association was "proud and excited" by Yapp's progress, noting that he is still young and will continue to improve his game.

"This (showing) is great testament to the hours of hard work he has put in, despite the ongoing pandemic," said Lee, who is hopeful that Yapp can be a role model for young Singaporeans to take up the game of pool.

Yapp is in the US with teammate Sharik Sayed and coach Toh Lian Han. Sharik, 31, was defeated 8-3 by Kaci in an earlier round.

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