Pool’s one of the few sports where there’s no club in Queenstown, yet a local player is wiping the table with the country’s best.
Former Englishman Simon Singleton’s won four New Zealand singles titles and one pairs title in recent years, and is the first player to have won NZ, English and American-rules titles.
He’s ranked no.2 in 9-ball, and if there was an 8-ball ranking system, he’d be no.1.
The 35-year-old, who has to go to Dunedin to even find a 9-ball table, has won “over six figures” in prize money, including two $10,000 SuperLeague wins, but says the sport’s really just a hobby.
Singleton virtually grew up with a cue in his hand, with his father being steward of a workingmen’s club in Preston, England.
Back home he only played snooker – “growing up, we viewed pool as for people that weren’t good enough to play snooker”.
However since arriving in Queenstown in 2010, he hasn’t played much snooker “as there isn’t really any money in it, in NZ” – though he did win a South Island snooker title about three years ago.
Singleton lost four national pool finals before finally pocketing one – “once you win your first one, it’s easier to do it again”.
He’s taken the sport more seriously in recent years, and has also worked on the mental side of it.
Last year he played his first professional tournament, the China Open, before representing NZ at a tournament in Australia where the Kiwis beat the Aussies.
In summer he works as a raft guide for Family Adventures, and in winter as rental manager for Browns Ski Shop, and says both employers have supported him, along with equipment sponsor, Excellence Billiards NZL.
He travels the country playing about 25 tournaments a year.
He’s organised pool tournaments at Queenstown’s Harry’s Pool Bar and Searle Lane but hopes a local pool club will start up sometime – presently he’s a member of The Cashmere Club in Christchurch.
Asked what the buzz is, Singleton says: “I’ve always been competitive in sport, and I love competing against other people.”