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Carom Billiard - 3-Cushion - Dutch Cup - Oosterhout (NED)

Zundert finally wins the Cup

Posted by on June 3, 2018

Zundert finally wins the Cup

© Ton Smilde/Kozoom
The winning team STZ Zundert, and their happy captain Jan van Kerkoerle

OOSTERHOUT - The team from Zundert had ended up second-best so many times, both in the league and in the Cup. The eternal silver winners, they were mockingly called. This Saturday evening, they finally hit the jackpot: Roland Forthomme, Peter Ceulemans, Barry van Beers, Roland Uijtdewillegen and Raymon Groot lifted the trophy in the arena of De Bussel in Oosterhout. Jan van Kerkoerle, the team captain (75), could barely contain his emotions. Peter Ceulemans was the one who made the winning point, in the fifth set of his match against Dave Christiani of  L&B Ledermode. The chalice was finally in the hands of the Zundert players.

The fans from Brabant stormed the arena, where Peter Ceulemans first hugged  Roland Uijtdewillegen, Raymon Groot, tean captain Jan van Kerkoerle and then his other team mates. ,,It took us a while, but we have finally won one of the main prizes'', said Roland Forthomme all smiles. Peter Ceulemans: ,,I can't say how I did it, and I can't put into words how happy this makes me.'' Barry van Beers and Roland Uijtdewillegen shared their joy with Jan van Kerkoerle (75), who has been with the team for more than twenty years, and with Hans Snellen, the other driving force behind the Zundert formation. Raymon Groot says goodbye with a big win under his belt. The player from Noord Holland will soon move to the U.S.A. to live with the woman he loves.

The team from Zundert missed out on the first prize twice in the play-off's in the last three years, and twice in the Cup. Paul Brekelmans, interim chairman of the 3-cushion section of the Dutch Federation, said during the ceremony: ,,This is a victory for friendship and togetherness.'' He handed a Cup to Raymon Groot and a second one to Jan van Kerkoerle and Hans Snellen. Paul Brekelmans: ,,I can say: finally, finally you have won this Cup. Thank you for all you have done for billiards in Zundert, and in the Netherlands as a whole.''

Eddy Merckx and Dave Christiani of L&B Ledermode, opponents in the final, kept things on a knife-edge for a long time. Merckx's superb match against Forthomme was one of the high points of the week. The Belgian world number two was a set behind but then won three on the trot, with runs of 9, 7 and 13 and a general average of 2.700 (2.316 for Forthomme). Dave Christiani kept Peter Ceulemans in check until it was 2-2 in sets, but in the decider, Ceulemans only needed 6 points to secure the win. As soon as he had made the 6th, the room lights went on, the match was stopped and the fans took over the arena.

The early work had already been done by Barry van Beers and Roland Uijtdewillegen, who had given STZ Zundert a 4-0 lead. The L&B teammates and friends Gerwin Valentijn and John Tijssens were not in shining form and could not produce a good explanation afterwards. ,,We were just not good enough'', said Tijssens, on behalf of himself and Valentijn.

Roland Uijtdewillegen was ahead by a set twice, saw Tijssens come back both times but he had the calmest nerves in the decider: 15-6 in 15 innings. John Tijssens showed some brilliance in the fourth set, which he won in four innings.  Barry van Beers had a poor start in the first set, which he lost (15-8 in 12), but he made up for it with three straight wins: 15-8 in 11, 15-10 in 10 and 15-9 in 12.

Semifinals

The team captain from The Hague said it well after his team had lost the semi: ,,You can only win if you are a good loser.'' His SIS Schoonmaak foursome, table leader in the league, had just been eliminated by L&B Ledermode.  In the other semi, STZ Zundert had a narrow escape against HCR Prinsen. It was a fascinating battle to the end, with decisive wins by Dave Christiani (against Jean van Erp) and Peter Ceulemans (against Anno de Kleine).

Star players in the last session were Glenn Hofman and Roland Forthomme. The lead players of The Hague and Zundert booked victories over Eddy Merckx and Eddy Leppens, and they did it with a flourish. Roland Forthomme saw his fine play rewarded with a place in the final, Glenn Hofman remained empty-handed because Jean van Erp lost 3-0 to Dave Christiani.

Roland Forthomme, half-limping as a result of back pains, was unexpectedly dominant against Eddy Leppens. The Belgian clash was one-way traffic, because Forthomme controlled the table from start to finish: 15-9 in 8, 15-10 in 7 and 15-1 in 6 innings, 2.143 for Roland and 1.000 for Eddy who tried to explain what had happened. ,,I don't get it. I've played nothing but quality matches fort wo months now, and in this important one today I could not have hit water if I stood on a boat. I missed five hangers, the break shot twice, it was awful. That's billiards for you. I did not float lately, but even if I had, I'd be firmly back on the ground now.''

After Barry van Beers had lost to Jelle Pijl (3-1) and Raymon Groot to Raymund Swertz (3-2), Roland Forthomme and Peter Ceulemans had to both win in the second session, and not concede too many sets. Forthomme did the ground work with his 3-0 over Leppens, Ceulemans beat de Kleine 3-1 and that was it.

L&B Ledermode and SIS Schoonmaak were tied as they started the second session. John Tijssens had beaten Jeffrey Jorissen 3-1, but Raimond Burgman levelled when he beat Gerwin Valentijn 3-2. It was a spectacular win, because Valentijn was inches away from a 3-0 win at 14-11 in the third set. He did not realize he was out of time-outs, missed the clock and conceded the break to Burgman who ran four to win the set, later adding sets 4 and 5. ,I should have been ready two hours ago, celebrating a 3-0 win'', said Valentijn later. ,,But that one mistake makes me the loser now, it is almost incomprehensible.''

The second session turned out in L&B's favor, because Dave Christiani found his stride after three days and beat Jean van Erp 3-0. ,,I have left those three days behind me, and regrouped'', said the player from Limburg. He was obviously relieved that he had been able to bring his team to the final after all. His win over van Erp was key, because on the other table Glenn Hofman created an upset against the world number two, Eddy Merckx.

Hofman lost the first set, 15-12 in 7 innings. From there, he dealt Merckx blow after blow: 15-2 in 4, then 15-1 in 9 and finally 15-5 in 6 with a tremendous closing run of 11. The last three sets had a remarkable score line: 45-8 in Hofman's favor, in 19 innings. The averages: 2.192 for Hofman, and a rarely seen 0.920 for Merckx, who would redeem himself in the final.

Peter Ceulemans after the last point in the final: Zundert takes the cup

Roland Uijtdewillegen raising his cue after his victory in the final

Roland Forthomme played a fantastic final day: a win against Eddy Leppens, a loss against Eddy Meckx, both over 2 average

Eddy Merckx: a world class match in the final, but no victory for his team

Barry van Beers in action during the final match

 

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