NZ junior team jetting off to the VNEA World Junior Pool Championships
New Zealand’s top junior pool players will take their game to the world next week, cueing off against the best in the sport at the VNEA World Junior Pool Championships.
The team of 10 are aiming to top last year’s four winning titles when they compete against 300 other juniors from Canada and America, in Sioux City, Nebraska.
The team ranges in age from 9-year-old Pukekohe identical twins Harlem and Tyler Hoggart, competing in the under 13 age group, to 21-year-old Hone Tito from Hamilton.
Last year the team brought home four first place titles, but team manager Bernie Endres said they’re hoping to top that this year.
“The Americans are really talented and make up the majority of players, however, we always take quality cueists over who can compete with the best of them. Four first place trophies in 2018 is a testament to how dominant New Zealand juniors can be in the world of pool,” he said.
The three players competing together in the under 16 teams division are all from Hamilton cue sports club Massé. Alex Endres (14) from Waikato Diocesan School for Girls will play alongside Flynn Beetham (15) from St Johns College and Kieran Dempsey (15) from Hamilton Boys High School.
“I’m mainly just nervous. I’ve been two times already and I haven’t won yet so there’s a bit of pressure now,” said Flynn.
The entire squad has been training in Hamilton over the school holidays, working with one of the world’s top players Marco Teutscher, a professional player from the Netherlands, and Massé head coach, Jimmy Henry.
“I don’t think we’ve ever trained so hard before. Marco has shown us how the pro-players train and while it has been tough, we’ve learnt a lot,” said Alex.
While Flynn and Alex have played the tournament before, it will be Kieran’s first time.
He started playing with Massé 18 months ago.
“I heard my mum talking about it, and then I wanted to go down and play, and then I played and I really liked it, so I came back and played more.”
The 15-year-old has been training every day and says he’s always thinking about lining up his next shot.
Mr Endres said pool was a family sport and the club had seen two, sometimes three generations of families playing together.
The Massé club is consistently turning out world beaters, its men’s team winning the Teams World Cup at the world’s largest amateur 8-ball pool competition, the VNEA World Pool Championships, in Las Vegas, last month.
Jimmy Henry, Chris Bowman, Manfield Kwong, John Harrison and Roldan Largo played in the tournament which attracted 4000 players from around the world.
Massé sends around 30 senior and junior players each year to the VNEAs. In the past five years Massé players have brought home 16 world titles and achieved several placings