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Van Boening in World 9-B Knockout Round
Jun 28, 2011, 12:27 PM

Van Boening won a pair of sets to advance to the single-elimination round of 64. (Photo by Lawrence Lustig)
Shane Van Boening will be the first to admit that he hasn’t performed up to his expectations overseas. The American star has only won twice outside of the U.S., knocking off 10-ball tournaments in Aruba and Nicaragua. However, the American has aspirations to win the world championship overseas. 

Last evening, on the center table at the Al Sadd Sports Club in Doha, Qatar, Van Boening took a big step toward achieving his dream when he narrowly defeated former double world champ Wu Chia-Ching (now known as Wu Jiaqing) in a 9-8 cliffhanger. With the victory, the American qualified for the single-elimination knockout round of 64 at the 2011 World 9-Ball Championship, which begins Wednesday.

While the South Dakota native craves a big win overseas, he isn’t just trying to win the world championship for himself. As one of only two American participants (alongside Hunter Lombardo), Van Boening is trying to bring the championship to the U.S.

“It’s motivation because I’m pretty much here by myself,” Van Boening said after defeating Wu. “I want to win this for the USA.”

When asked why many American players are becoming scarcer on the growing international scene these days, Van Boening says that
“the other American players don’t like to travel. And there’s a lot of pressure with all the expenses to go this far. I just like to play anywhere I can. I love to travel the whole world and play pool.”

Van Boening feels confident that he can progress far in this year’s World Championship, where the field of 128 is as strong as ever. Two years ago he came here and reached the semifinals of the Qatar Open, which was the tournament that would become the current World 9-Ball Championship.

Van Boening is just one of many big names who made it through to the final 64 in Doha. The third day of the World 9-Ball Championship was given over to the winners’ side of the group matches, and 32 players have now advanced into the final 64, which begins Wednesday. There have been no major upsets so far, and nearly all of pool’s big names have gone through to the knockout stage. Many people are crediting this development to the very tough table conditions, which always favor better players, and puts added pressure on everyone else, especially if they haven’t had much experience at this level.

Dennis Orcullo easily beat Venezuela’s Jalal Yousef, 9-3. The young gun Carlo Biado waltzed over Korea’s Lee Gun Jae, 9-2. And Hall of Famer Francisco Bustamante defeated Kuwait’s Alazmi Majed, 9-4.

For England’s Chris Melling, it was another powerhouse performance from pool’s hottest player right now. Melling cleared every single time he had the break and trounced a very capable Lo Li-Wen, 9-2. The burly Brit has now won two tournaments in a row, including the WPA-sanctioned China Open, and hasn’t lost in 16 matches.

Other players who qualified in the first session and looked very strong were last year’s semifinalist Kuo Po Cheng, Mika Immonen, Canada’s Chris Orme, England’s Imran Majid and France’s Stepan Cohen.

The day’s second session saw mostly routs from some big names. Germany’s Ralf Souquet , current World 10-Ball Champion Huidji See of the Netherlands, England’s Karl Boyes and Taiwan’s Chang Jung Lin all went untouched. Thorsten Hohmann struggled a bit but passed the grade. Three out of four Filipinos made it the round of 64, including the hard-hitting Jeffrey De Luna and Efren Reyes. 

Reigning U.S. Open champion Darren Appleton found himself in a tough match with Bader Al Awadi of Kuwait. Appleton was down 5-3 before coming back to win, praising the progress of the local lads afterward.

“These Middle Eastern guys have improved a lot in the last two years,” Appleton said. “You’ll see a few of them getting to the last 16 for sure. I wouldn’t be surprised to see one of them get to the final within two years.”

The evening session confirmed that the Europeans have all but taken over pool, as the Netherlands Nick van den Berg and Niels Fiejen played strong and booked spots in the final 64. So too did 18 year old Austrian Mario He, who won an 9-8 tester against Taiwan’s Hsu Kun Lai.

The group stages wind up on Tuesday at the Al Sadd Sports Club with all matches do-or-die as players from the losers side of each bracket compete for the final spots in the round of 64.

The WPA will be providing complete coverage throughout the tournament. Fans around the world can follow matches as they happen via our live scoring platform. The live scoring button can be seen on the front page of the WPA’s new and improved website, www.wpa-pool.com . There you can also see the brackets icon which will give you updated standings from each group and the knockout stage.

Fans can also get instant updates, insights and scores by following the WPA on Twitter. Our Twitter user name is @poolwpa. You can go directly to our Twitter page at, http://twitter.com/poolwpa.&;#8232;

[On-site report filed by Ted Lerner]