The first International Professional Pool Players Association (IPA) Tour event to take place in the Isle of Man was held last weekend.
The prestigious competition, which formed the final round of the 2019 tour series, was hosted by the Palace Hotel and Casino in Douglas.
Feedback has been very positive after such a promising weekend, with more than 90 per cent of the players already eagerly anticipating a return visit next year.
The world’s leading players were joined by 30 or so island entrants looking forward to taking on the very best cueists around in the hunt for some prize money and local bragging rights, no doubt.
Add in MHK Rob Callister which garnered even more interest and the popularity of the sport plus the camaraderie amongst the players was appreciated by the spectators.
The local players had been encouraged to participate by Isle of Man pool professional David Addinall, with several doing far better than expected, headed by John Kennish who knocked out tour winner Kristi Caulfield before finally succumbing to top player Scott Gillespie.
Two days of action were almost completed by the time the open final was played on Saturday evening when Gillespie and ex-world champion Jack Whelan slugged it out for the title. Eventually Gillespie proved the stronger, coming home the 7-4 winner and cementing his place as one of the best pool players out there at present.
The action continued well into Sunday with three more titles to be decided, headed as always by the professional honours that means so much to all those involved.
A long semi-final against Lee Clough failed to blunt Liam Dunster’s skills as he left Jack Whelan with two runners-up trophies by the score of eight frames to three.
In the amateurs it was pretty much one-way traffic for Shaun Storry who saw off Jordan Church 7-3 in what may well be their last event at that level as they both look set to turn professional next season.
This left only one title left to decide as the women took their turn in the limelight on the BBC livestream.
Emma Cunningham started a red-hot favourite and was seen as many as the banker of the weekend, but she was knocked out in a last-frame decider in the quarter-finals by Lauren Williams who went on to meet Vicki Lomax in the final.
Before mentioning the score it needs to be said that the women’s game continues to go from strength to strength and this event was no exception.
A top-class final featuring some excellent clearances eventually went Lomax’s way by six frames to three, leaving the IPA team to pack up the tables and look forward to a return visit in 2020 where they will be hoping for the same level of local support.