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Walsh wins rematch in Belleville

Nathan Walsh September 28, 2013

For the most part it was a case of déjà vu on Saturday, as a Brian Cook and Nathan Walsh met for the second straight year with the Belleville Crokinole Challenge title on the line. This time it was Walsh who would come out on top to win the NCA's September Tour stop.

Kuepfer and Somers play in the B final

A total of 24 were in attendance with large crews from Belleville and Kingston for the 3rd annual Belleville Crokinole Challenge. What was once thought to be a venue too far from Southwestern Ontario has become a staple of the NCA Tour and one of the best run tournaments of the year.

The morning play split the field into two groups of 12. A familiar bunch found themselves at the top of the heap of Round 1 scores as John Conrad, Ray Beierling and Brian Cook each had 66, 64 and 63 points respectively, with Cook having the high 20s score with 96 through 10 games. Cruising in comfortably with scores in the 50's were Nathan Walsh, Jason Beierling, Louis Gauthier and Fred Slater, and not too far behind were Dave Brown, Chris Gorsline, Ken Anderson and Eric Miltenburg. The fight for the final spot in the top group was tight, but it would go the way of the Quinte's own, Matt Brown with 39 points, just ahead of Clare Kuepfer, Phil Somers and Jairo Munoz.

With 4 of the 12 spots in Division A belonging to the Quinte Region Crokinole Club, the hosts were looking for some players to make the playoff portion of the day. The man to answer that call was Louis Gauthier, advancing to the semifinals with 54 points and 93 20s. Gauthier's score would be second best to John Conrad with 56 points and 93 20s, while Nathan Walsh would be 3rd with 54 points and 80 20s.

But there would be a log jam for the 4th and final playoff position as only 4 points separated 4th through 8th. Eric Miltenburg scored 41, and Matt Brown scored 42, despite having the tournament-high 109 20s. Jason Beierling scored 43 points, and Raymond scored 44, while Brian Cook slid into 4th with 45 points and 99 20s.

In Division B, Clare Kuepfer took the top spot through the round robin, with Phil Somers, Wayne Scott and Shirley Sager (claiming the top Woman's prize) completed the top 4. The semifinals saw the top seeds of Clare Kuepfer and Phil Somers advance to the finals, which proved to be a hotly contested affair. After 3 games the two players were tied, which meant the famous Quinte Convention would be placed into effect. Through the first pair of tiebreaker rounds the players were still tied, and the deadlock persisted through 2nd and 3rd sets of tiebreaker rounds, until Phil Somers nabbed a 3-1 edge in the 4th set of rounds to take the Division B title.

All had gathered around to watch the final match, between Kuepfer and Somers, come to its dramatic conclusion.
All had gathered around to watch the final match, between Kuepfer and Somers, come to its dramatic conclusion.

Meanwhile in Division A, Brian Cook faced off against John Conrad (a rematch of last year's semifinals) and Nathan Walsh battled Louis Gauthier. It's interesting to note that the 4 semifinals were almost an exact match to the 2012 results, with the only discrepancy coming as Gauthier replaced Fred Slater.

The similarities to 2012 continued as Cook defeated Conrad, and Walsh defeated Gauthier to meet in the finals. It was the 3rd championship meeting for Cook and Walsh, with Cook holding a 2-0 edge (2009 WCC and 2012 Belleville Challenge), while Brian Cook was also searching a 3rd consecutive title in Belleville.

The very competitive match saw each player score 7 20s in the third round of the first game, to level it a 3-3. But Walsh would win the fourth round to take the first game, and ride the momentum into the second game to win the match 5-3, 5-1 for his first NCA singles title.

After those results, here's a look at the updated CrokinoleCentre rankings for the top 20 spots. Also attached are the rank and points changes from the previous rankings released after the New York tournament.

Rank 2013 Belleville Pts Rank Chg Pts Chg
1 Jon Conrad 304.5 0 0
2 Brian Cook 298 0 -3
3 Fred Slater 297.5 0 0
4 Ray Beierling 295.5 0 -1
5 Jason Beierling 286 0 0
6 Justin Slater 279.5 0 0
7 Nathan Walsh 260 2 12
8 Louis Gauthier 255.5 2 9.5
9 Eric Miltenburg 250 -2 -3
10 Matt Brown 250 2 19
11 Clare Kuepfer 249 -3 0.5
12 Rex Johnston 235 -1 0
13 Roy Campbell 227 1 0
14 Howard Martin 225.5 -1 -4
15 Dave Brown 225 1 12
16 Tom Johnston 220.5 -1 0
17 Barry Kiggins 206.5 0 0
18 Peter Tarle 191 0 -4
19 Greg Matthison 189.5 0 0
20 Chris Gorsline 189.5 0 5.5

Walsh, Gauthier, Gorsline, Matt and Dave Brown all saw a decent boost in their total points due to strong results in Belleville.

The next stop on the NCA Tour is the Ontario Doubles Crokinole Championship, sponsored by CrokinoleDepot and hosted in Brucefield for the day of November 2nd.