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Nikos Polychronopoulos: I am a fighter, I will never give up

Posted by on March 18, 2011

Nikos Polychronopoulos: I am a fighter, I will never give up

© Guillaume Loiseau
Nikos Polychronopoulos, fast and furious player, attractive for the public.

ATHENS - The career of Nikos Polychronopoulos had a promosing start, with a place in the semi finals of the World championship in 2004 in Rotterdam and great performances in other mondial tournaments. The young Greek was in Rotterdam overshadowed by Filipos Kasidokostas, his compatriot, who was defeated in the final by Dick Jaspers. It was the beginning of a new era for Greece as a billiard country. Nikos Polychronopoulos showed himself as a very attractive, fast player, a wonderful player to watch for the audience.

The real breakthrough has not come yet, because 'Poly', as he is often called in the global circuit of three-cushion, couldn't afford himself the status of professional billiards player in his country. ,,We play almost no competition matches, because we don't live in a billiard culture, such as in countries like the Netherlands, Belgium, France and Spain,'' says the Greek manager in a billiard center, who celebrates his 33rd birthday next week (March 24).
Nikos Polychronopoulos, married since October 17, 2009 with Vasso Tatsi, look back and forward to his career in this interview with Kozoom. ,,I am a fighter, I will never give up.''

Frits Bakker: Where were you born in Athens, in the center? And where do you live now?
Nikos Polychronopoulos: ,,I was born in a suburb of Athens called Colonos, two kilometers away from the center. And now I live in Ilioupoulis, near the mountain and a little further from downtown, about ten kilometers.''

FB: ,,In which area did you grow up, what was the profession of your father, do you have brothers or sisters?
NP: "My father was a port captain and is still active in business. I grew up in Colonos, where people in my younger years were a big family. At have very good memories to my youth. Unfortunately I have no brothers or sisters.''

FB: What kind of practice have you followed as a billiard player?
NP: ,,The beginning of my career I used to train on my own, as I still do now. Between the periods of training, I played almost in all World Cups. I tried to copy the style and the qualities of all the top players. People often say I have a photographic memory and then, after some time, I tried to discover the running lines of the balls. So slowly, I found the puzzle of three-cushion.''

FB: When were you involved for the first time with billiards?
NP: ,,The first time I've bumped a ball was in Belgium, in a small cafe, where my father played for fun. I was there for my holidays, because my father worked in Antwerp as a port captain.''

FB: Did you have some other interests, did you play in other sports in those years?
NP: ,,Mostly I played football, like many young people, I was a goalkeeper, but I had other hobbies such as swimming, basketball and running. So in general I was an all-round sportsman.''

FB: Did you have a coach or a trainer as a young player. And which club did you play?
NP: ,,My only teacher in my life has been my father. He showed me how I had to stand at the table. Hopefully he has done well, haha! Further I've done it all myself. When I started, I mostly played in the club's billiard academy and also in the club where I used to work when I was a child. Now I play in Olympiada Club, in a small suburb of Athens. I prefer to stay among ordinary people, I love to be in ordinary places.''

FB: You have a company in Athens now. What kind of business, is it only focused on billiards, or is it a restaurant too? What are you doing, are you the manager, are you doing it on yourself?
NP: ,,I have a billiard club five minutes from my home in Ilioypolis. The culture in such clubs in Greece is not like in Europe, for example with food. We only serve cold dishes, such as a toast. Despite the economic crisis, we're doing well. I'm the manager of the club and I have two girls who help me. But usually my wife is helping, for example when I travel to to play billiards, she replaces me. Normally I'm working every day in the week, sometimes I take a weekend off or a holiday (Christmas, Easter). I force myself to play as much as possible, but sometimes it is not easy if you see my working hours. What's very important to me, is that my wife always supports me, she often encourages me to practice more than I do. But even when I am abroad to play, my mind is always at home, my character is that I always feel responsible.''

FB: There was a time that you seemed to start a career as a full professional player. What was your highest position in the world? And your greatest achievement?
NP: ,,The highest position was the number six in the world ranking. I think my place in the semi finals of the Worldchampionship in Rotterdam in 2004 was the best performance so far.''

FB: At what point in your life and your career, did you say, billiards is not my future as a professional?
NP: ,,I want to be realistic in my life. I live in a country far away from the heart of billiards, so I must work to survive, especially in these times of economic crisis. But nevertheless I consider myself as a semi-professional. The problem in Greece is not only the culture but the fact that nobody is interested to do something for the sport. Even if some people have tried in the past, they had no results, I think because of the crisis in our country. But I also think that some people mostly were supporting themselves and not really the game. They did it for personal wins.''

FB: You still will always enjoy the game, as we could see the Agipi Masters in Strasbourg last month, we should not think that you'll say goodbye to the billiards.
NP: ,,I love the game and I want to improve myself every time, but unfortunately that's not always possible.''

FB: With your speed at the billiard, the expression during the game, the fighting spirit, you're one of the most attractive players in
the circuit. What would you suggest to make billiard in general more attractive for the audience? Even less time on the clock? Shorter matches?
NP: ,,I really enjoy the game when it's played fast and furious! I think all the players know what to do, when the balls have stopped, so I suggest, thirty seconds is enough time to play.''

FB: The system of UMB, the world federation, is based on twelve players in the top of the rankings who get paid and are protected in the World Cup tournaments. You've always had a critical view on that system. What would be, in your opinion, a better alternative?
NP: ,,I would propose a system with eight world ranking tournaments. After that tournaments, everybody returns to zero points. And for the first tournament of the new cycle the best twelve players get protection. As it is now, for example, I can win five tournaments in two years and still be not the number one on the world ranking. That's unfair to many players. What I propose is more interesting for the players and people who follow billiard.''
FB: How did Fillipos Kasidokostas and you manage to reach the top, first in Greece, later in the world? With some help and support from the federation or completely on your own?
NP: ,,I think both of us are kind of heroes in our way, because we have reached the top without much help. Most important is that we still are there, with all the problems we meet.''

FB: You still love three cushions, Nikos, despite all the things that happen in your country and your sport?
NP: ,,Yes, I still see it as a great game and my feelings for this sport are just as strong as in the twenty years I have tried to climb to the top.''

FB: The global billiard is growing, is stronger every year, we nevertheless can expact your comeback in the top twelve?
NP: ,,I am a fighter, I never gave up in all those years and will never do so in the future.''


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My Comments

Nikos is great!
Best regards to you, Nikos, and your family.

Jorge Bastos

Message 1/1 - Publish at March 21, 2011 7:21 PM

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