Ron Haymes made a rare NCA appearance and took the field by storm, in what was a stormy Saturday in Hamilton, capping the performance with an overtime win over Ray Beierling in the finals.
The forecast for yet another Ontario winter storm proved to be accurate, as Hamilton suffered the same fate of Owen Sound, with several players unable to voyage. After a late start, the tournament was set to begin with 18 strong.
The field split into two groups of 9, with advancements into Group A in the second round requiring a top 3 finish in the preliminary group, or one of the next 3 wildcard positions.
Coming through in Pool B after 8 games in the preliminary round were Nathan Walsh with 58 points, Ray Beierling with 38 and Bob Jones with 32. In Pool A, Fred Slater (50 points), Roy Campbell (46) and Ron Haymes (40), grabbed the top 3 positions. The remaining would actually all go to Pool A members as Jake Ruggi (38), John Harvey (37) and Nathan Jongsma (37) rounded out the Group A qualifiers.
The second round would see 9 players gunning one of the 4 semifinalist positions, and the competition would be incredibly tight. Fred Slater narrowly grabbed the number 1 seed with 42 points, with Haymes, Beierling and Walsh crammed together at 41. After examining the tie-breaker rules, Haymes was given the 4th seed and was set to battle Fred Slater in one semifinal, while Beierling and Walsh lined up for the other.
In the Walsh v Beierling match, Nathan stormed out to a 4-0 lead, but yielded to a Beierling comeback to end game 1 with a 4-4 under the Quinte Convention. Game 2 would be a clear victory for Ray Beierling 6-2, and he sealed the match in the final round of the third game to finish 4-4, 6-2, 4-4.
The Haymes v Slater match would be even tighter. Ron Haymes jumped out to a 4-0 lead in game 1, only to have Fred Slater pull even and tie the game 4-4. Haymes would go up 4-2 in the second game, but Fred Slater would once again even the game 4-4 with a 4th round win. That same result would occur again in the third game as a 4-2 Haymes lead would be erased with a third consecutive tied game, sending the match to extra rounds. However, Haymes would finally prevail, winning the first two extra rounds to clinch the match.
That set up a Ray Beierling and Ron Haymes final. The two met earlier in the NCA season, as they played against each other at the Ontario Doubles Crokinole Championship. Ray teamed up with brother Jason and won the match and the title 11-5. The Hamilton final would be Beierling's 3rd NCA final of the season, as he aimed for his 3rd NCA title of the year. Meanwhile it was Ron Haymes first ever finals appearance at an NCA singles event.
In the first game, Haymes and Beierling started with a tied round, before Haymes took control and grabbed an insurmountable 5-1 lead to earn the first game and move one away from the Hamilton title.
Beierling would respond in the second game after falling behind 2-0 to win 6-2, and set the match up for a decisive third game. After two rounds the score was tied 2-2, and Ray Beierling stole a point against the hammer in the third round as the score became 3-3 with victory in sight for both players. However, the match would continue into overtime when the two players tied the 4th round, and the 3rd game 4-4.
The overtime rounds would go back and forth, until Ron Haymes stole 2 points against the hammer in the 3rd set of extra rounds, and consolidated the break to win the overtime rounds 8-4.
On the NING website prior to the tournament, Eric Miltenburg alluded to the numerous winners we have seen this season. With Ron Haymes' win of the Golden Horseshoe Crokinole title, this 6th NCA season has proven to be the most equal Tour race yet. Among the 7 events so far this year (5 singles and 2 doubles events) the NCA tour has seen 8 different champions, with Ray Beierling being the only repeat champ so far this year.
Unlike past seasons, where the Tour champion has almost been decided by this point in the season, it is still wide open for the taking. The British Columbia Provincial Championships are slated for the first weekend in March. There has not been word from Ontario players about their possibilities of making the trip, but regardless it should be a great tournament.
Afterwards, only the London tournament and the NCA Finale in St. Jacobs will remain in this 2013-2014 NCA Tour. Here's a key look at the unofficial Tour points to date. The explanation of this chart is available in the previous blog.
|Rank||Name||Points||4th score||3rd score|
The points race is really heating up. The most obvious battle is between Ray Beierling and Jon Conrad, one which will come down to the final rounds of the St. Jacobs tournament.
However, there are a total of 11 players who have the ability, with a win in London and a win in St. Jacobs, to reach or exceed Ray Beierling's Tour leading score of 200 total points. So hold on to your hats, it will be quite a battle in the homestretch of the 2013-2014 NCA Tour.