By PHILIP CHANDLER
A Queenstowner recently won one of New Zealand’s most prestigious and exciting pool tournaments for the second year running.
Simon ‘Postman’ Singleton pocketed $8000 for winning ‘The Great Southern Knockout II’, an 8-ball invitational event in Christchurch featuring eight top NZ players in a noisy, darts-type atmosphere.
A former Englishman who’s won several national titles and represented NZ overseas, Singleton beat last year’s beaten finalist Des Wilcox, of Taranaki, 13-8 in the quarter-finals.
He next beat his national doubles partner, Bayden Jackson, from Hawke’s Bay, 14-7 in the semis.
Then he convincingly beat hometown favourite Adam Lilley — Canterbury no.1 and South Island 8-ball champion — 15-5 in the final.
Besides the noisy crowd which you don’t normally get in NZ tournaments, there was also a 30-second shot-clock to keep players under pressure.
They were also being filmed for livestream coverage.
Singleton says he’s used to having crowds cheering against him, as he always has to travel for tournaments, but this time he also had his own noisy band of supporters, including nine from Queenstown.
One of them, Jeff McCandless, won a $1500 money-shot prize for spectators.
Singleton, 38, says with experience he’s learnt how to embrace pressure.
‘‘A lot of people are scared of that and they let it take over, but if you actually take control of it, you can actually treat it as a positive, not a negative.’’
He gives the tournament organiser, NZ Pool Promotions, kudos for ‘‘a perfectly-run event’’.
‘‘It was bigger and better than last year, and I’m sure it will get bigger and better in the future.’’
The event was also a rare taste of high-level pool for Singleton after last year missing out on three overseas tourneys due to Covid.
These were the 9-ball United States Open in Las Vegas, World Cup of Pool in Saudi Arabia and World Blackball Champs in Melbourne, Australia, which he qualified for by winning last year’s Great Southern Knockout.