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Kiwi juniors announced for world pool championship in US

Kiwi juniors announced for world pool championship in US

Fifteen Kiwi junior pool players will travel to the US to compete against the world’s best at the VNEA International Junior Pool Championships in June next year.

The team, aged 11-20, was announced recently by national pool club Massé, who has been sending junior pool players to the VNEAs since 2014. About 300 juniors from around the world take part in the VNEAs each year.

Since 2014 Massé has sent 49 junior pool players to the VNEAs, bringing home 10 world titles and several placings.

Massé chair Dene O’Kane says the competition among the juniors is tough, but the team is ready for it.

“We’ve come a long way from when we first started when we named a team and then headed straight to the States to compete, simply relying on the raw talent of the players,” he says.

“This year we named a national junior development squad of 24 who met every month with our club coaches for simulated tournaments, and they were set drills to complete every week.

“The standard of our juniors has come a long way in the past few years, as has the number of juniors playing. Whittling the team down to 15 wasn’t easy.”

A former professional snooker player, O’Kane will no doubt have some valuable tips for the team leading in to the competition. He represented New Zealand at the world championships six times, reaching 18 in the world rankings before retiring in 2007.

“I’m passionate about supporting the young talent coming through the ranks. As a club, Masse makes a substantial investment in the development of its junior players through coaching and other initiatives. We also cover their flights, accommodation and tournament fees at the VNEAs.

“There’s a lot of talent in the team, and we’re extremely proud of them. We’re confident they’ll do New Zealand proud and bring home some great results.”

Junior VNEA 8 Ball League seasons run throughout the year where juniors compete to make the New Zealand team. To qualify, players have to reach a certain number of points by competing and typically compete in around 100 games each.

A coach provides free weekly training to all interested players at Massé clubs in Hamilton, Glen Eden, New Lynn, Franklin, Pukekohe, and Hawera.

The VNEA World Pool Junior Championships kick off in Sioux City on 21 June, 2018.

New Zealand 2018 World Pool Junior Championships team:
• Jason Allen (17, Hamilton – St Pauls High School)
• Flynn Beetham (13, Hamilton – Te Kowhai Primary School)
• Alexandria Endres (13, Hamilton – Marian Catholic Primary School)
• Geffrina Harwood (17, Pukekohe – Pukekohe High School)
• Rachael Harwood (12, Pukekohe – Pukekohe High School)
• Mario Hildred (16, Hawera – New Plymouth Boys’ High School)
• Crystalee Jane (19, Hawera)
• Luxman Jeram (15, Pukekohe – Pukekohe High School)
• Zabain Jeram (13, Pukekohe – Pukekohe High School)
• Alyxandra Jones (13, Hamilton – Waikato Diocesan School for Girls)
• Riley O’Donnell (13, Hawera – Highlands Intermediate School)
• Jarrell Phillips (16, Pukekohe)
• Te Ahu Phillips (19, Pukekohe)
• Deon Rawlings (17, Glen Eden – Avondale College)
• Shontelle Shepp (Reserve, 12, Hamilton – Te Kowhai Primary School)
• Hone Tito (19, Hamilton)
• Taare Waaka-Timoti (Reserve, 16, Hamilton)
• Bailey Wilson (Reserve, 20, Hamilton)

-ENDS-

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