European Accolades Awarded in Belgrade

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Several continental titles were decided during the recent 12-day stay of the European Billiards and Snooker Association (EBSA) at the Hotel Crown Plaza in the Serbian capital city of Belgrade.

Players from 31 different countries took part in this festival of European amateur snooker with 6-Red, Open, Women’s, Seniors and Team Championships on the agenda. It was the first time that the Snooker Federation of Serbia had hosted such an event.

6-Red Championship | Champion Callewaert

In the 6 Red discipline, Alexis Callewaert won his and France’s first ever European accolade when he ousted fellow debut finalist Pawel Rogoza.

Callewaert finished second in his group to qualify for the knockouts where his most impressive victory was a 4-1 success over defending champion and KO top seed Shachar Ruberg (Israel) during the last eight. The 23-year-old followed that up in the semi-finals by denying Spanish national champion Francisco Sanchez-Ruiz, 4-2.

Both players traded frames in the final, but despite Poland’s Rogoza reaching the hill first, it was Callewaert who claimed the last two frames to come through as a 5-4 victor. The Frenchman is set to be the EBSA nomination for the SangSom 6-Red World Championship that takes place in Thailand during September.

European Open | Ice Cool Kristjan

Former Crucible qualifier Kristjan Helgason added another continental trophy to his collection after he was victorious in the 2019 European Snooker Open – an event that reverted back to the traditional 15 red format.

Icelandic Champion Helgason saw off opponents from England, Albania and Bulgaria on his way to the last eight where he stopped the charge of promising 12-year-old Bulscu Revesz (Hungary), 4-1, and then Ruberg by the same score to book a spot in the final.

Better known for his skill on the American Pool table, Sanchez-Ruiz once again showed off his cuesports versatility to make his maiden European snooker final. However, highlighted by a top effort of 73, experienced Helgason came up trumps in recording a 4-1 triumph. The 1998 European Amateur Champion will be rewarded with a wildcard into the main draw of the 2020 Gibraltar Open.

Women’s Championship | Stateczny Shocks

The European Women’s Championship conjured up a surprise as Diana Stateczny became only the sixth different winner in the 23-year history of the event.

Germany’s Stateczny bossed her round robin group, qualifying top after winning all four of her fixtures 2-0. The 39-year-old was pushed in the last 16 by Ewelina Pislewska (Poland), but a 40 break in the decider was perhaps the crucial factor as she squeezed through, 3-2. A second final berth in this competition – nine years on from her first – was confirmed when she subsequently ended the ambitions of teenagers Polina Astakhova (Russia) and Linda Erben (Germany).

In the opposite chair for the final was Russia’s Anastasia Nechaeva, who had created a huge upset when she dethroned defending champion Wendy Jans, 4-1, in the quarter-finals. Belgium’s Jans was aiming for a record-extending seventh title in a row; incredibly, she had also reached the final in every one of her 19 previous appearances in this tournament.

Defeated by Jans in the 2013 and 2014 finals, Nechaeva initially went behind in this year’s showpiece but efforts of 49 and 31 contributed to her moving 2-1 up. Stateczny though would be the one celebrating her maiden triumph after stringing together the next three frames for glory to etch the first German name on the trophy. 

Seniors Championship | Ten-Time Morgan

Darren Morgan continues to dominate the 40s and over category as he defended and won his tenth European Masters Championship.

Since retiring from the professional ranks in 2006, the former world number eight has been a serial winner on the amateur circuits. The 53-year-old Welshman qualified for the knockouts without dropping a frame and only lost three in total getting to the final with standout victories over Helgason (4-1 in the last 16) and England’s Wayne Brown (4-1 in the semi-finals).

Fellow experienced cueist Alan Trigg (Ukraine) was Morgan’s opponent in the final. Likewise, Trigg finished top of his group without reply before enjoying a relatively serene passage through the knockouts that included a 4-2 win over a returning Tony Drago (Malta) in the last eight.

Breaks of 48 and 46 helped Morgan take the first frame in the final, although 60-year-old Trigg responded by acquiring the next two to move 2-1 up. However, Morgan wasn’t to be denied as runs of 46 and 44 assisted him back in front before success in frame six meant he raised the trophy for a fifth consecutive year.

As a result of this win, 1994 World Championship semi-finalist Morgan will return to the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield for August’s ROKiT World Seniors Championship.

Team Championships | Open, Women’s and Masters

Represented by reigning national champion Duncan Bezzina and the legendary Drago, European Team Championship gold went to Malta.

The duo formed a cohesive unit in the two-player competition that involved frames of singles and doubles action. Malta were strong throughout; losing just a frame in the groups and therefore attaining top seed status for the knockouts. Bezzina and Drago then eliminated teams from Croatia, Belgium and Ukraine to make the final, where they got the better of Polish pairing Mateusz Baranowski and Tomasz Skalski, 4-2.

Russia’s Nechaeva and Astakhova retained the Women’s Team Championship title they won in Bucharest last year following a 3-0 defeat of Germany (Stateczny & Erben). There was more kudos for Morgan, who alongside Wayne Morgan, triumphed as Wales 1 in the Masters Team Championship when they pipped England 1 set-up of Brown and Chris Hart in the final.

For the full results from all of the championships, please visit the EBSA website.