World Nine-ball Championship: Aloysius Yapp aims for last 16 in Qatar

Aloysius Yapp is one of three Singaporeans competing at the World Nine-ball Championship in Doha, Qatar this week. He is ranked 43rd in the world but will be unseeded for the elite tournament that begins on Saturday.
Aloysius Yapp is one of three Singaporeans competing at the World Nine-ball Championship in Doha, Qatar this week. He is ranked 43rd in the world but will be unseeded for the elite tournament that begins on Saturday.ST PHOTO: AZIZ HUSSIN

Heavier cue stick to improve stablity, confidence as elite senior field awaits

Ever since his historic victory at the nine-ball World Junior Pool Championships in Shanghai last November, success has been much harder to come by for Aloysius Yapp.

By his own admission, his SEA Games debut in June was a disaster, as the 19-year-old struggled with the weight of expectations and crashed out in the quarter-finals to extend his run of disappointing results.

He broke that poor sequence by finishing third at the Asian Nine-ball Championship in Taipei a month later.

Being runner-up at a local tournament in Malaysia last month has also helped in rebuilding his confidence.

This Saturday, however, a far sterner examination awaits as he begins his World Nine-ball Championship campaign in Doha, Qatar.

Yapp is ranked 43rd in the world - the highest-placed local in the World Pool-Billiard Association standings - but will be unseeded for the elite tournament.

He will be joined by compatriots Toh Lian Han and Goh Chin Teck in competing at Doha's Al Arabi Sports Club.

In Yapp's four previous attempts at the senior championships, only once - in 2014 when he was eliminated in the round of 64 - has he progressed past the group stage.

Nevertheless, he is not content to simply make up the numbers when the group stage gets under way on Saturday.

"I'm a much better player now compared to 12 months ago," said Yapp, who was named Sportsboy of the Year at the Singapore Sports Awards in July, the first player from cuesports to receive the accolade.

"Plus I'm going into the competition as the world junior champion which helps as a reminder that I do have the ability to perform at the highest level."

He will need all the confidence he can muster against an elite 128-man field that includes defending champion Niels Feijen of the Netherlands, Austria's world No. 1 Albin Ouschan and two-time world champion Thorsten Hohmann.

"The last 16 is a realistic target and if I make it that far, anything's possible," said Yapp, who has been familiarising himself with a heavier cue stick (21 ounces) compared to the 19.5 ounce stick he used at the junior titles in Shanghai last year.

"It gives me more stability when I'm hitting my shots, which is important as they don't wax the balls at the World Championship and they don't roll as smoothly."

Yapp had sparred with Hohmann when the German was in town to help with the national team's preparations for the SEA Games, and the exposure proved invaluable.

"Players like him have the edge in terms of experience, but skill-wise there isn't much difference between us and I know I can compete with them," he said.

Yapp is also battle-hardened, with more than 14 international tournaments under his belt this year - the most overseas trips he has made - thanks to an increase in sponsors to support him.

Despite the constant travelling, Yapp - who quit school at 14 to pursue his dream of becoming a professional pool player - insisted that there has been no burnout.

"I feel more energised than ever and I can't wait for the World Championship to start. I want to go there and prove that I am a top player."

The Coleman College student will also be trying to excel in the classroom when he returns from Doha, as he sits for his O level English exam next month.

"I'm probably more nervous about that than the World Championship," he chuckled.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 09, 2015, with the headline 'Yapp aims for last 16 in Qatar'. Print Edition | Subscribe