By: Erik Hjorleifson
The final day at the U.S. Open took place on Sunday and what a day it was. The field was down to 4 players on Sunday with Shane Van Boening and Nikos Ekonomopolus being the two remaining on the winners side and Dennis Orcollo and Mike Dechaine were left on the losers side to match up in the 4th place match. I was not in attendance for the winners side final and the 4th place match but both matches were one sided affairs. Van Boening advanced undefeated through the winners side with an 11-4 score line and Dechaine went down to Orcollo by a score of 11-2.
In the third place match Ekonomopolous showed his inexperience in the final stages of major international tournaments, making a handful of errors in the first 8 games. From there Orcollo took control with several break and runs and did not give Ekonomoplous much of a chance between the score lines of 5-2 until 9-2. During these games Orcollo was hitting the break very soft at a speed where the wing ball would go near the corner and then get kicked in by another ball.
I think it was the opposite wing ball coming around 3 rails that was kicking it in but regardless you could tell that he was playing this break and that it was very relative to speed. I have seen this break happen before with the 9 ball racked on the spot. It was nice to see a player attempting to play a consistent break that did not involve manipulating the rack to make the wing ball directly in the corner.
After Orcollo made a great jump on the 7 when the score was 9-2 he went on to miss the 9. Ekonomopolous made a nice cross bank on the 9 to bring the score to 9-3 but would not be able to manage another game as Orcollo took the win 11-3. Still a very strong showing for the player from Greece, and this should cement his spot on the European Mosconi Cup team, however there are so many champions on the European side that nothing is guaranteed.
This victory for Orcollo would set up a rematch of the winners side semi-finals where Van Boening beat Orcoolo 11-8. Van Boening had been living on the edge all week making large comebacks in two of his victories that ended up in 11-10 wins for him. He was attempting to make history in this final; in the 39 years of the event no player has ever won the title on three consecutive occasions.
Three other players have won the title back to back in the past: Darren Appleton, Mika Immonen and Nick Varner. Van Boening and Orcollo have been among the most consistent finishers in the last 5 years and the consistency in which they finish near the end or winning all kinds of major tournaments is truly staggering. The two players have played in the final of the U.S. Open before, in 2012 with Van Boening coming out on top 13-7. This was billed as a battle for the ages and did not disappoint.
Both players are a contrast in style, Orcollo has a shorter, faster backstroke and stands about 5 foot 5. Van Boening has a longer fluent backstroke and stands over 6 feet tall. Van Boening also tends to lean more toward the power side of the game where as Orcollo tends to play more of a finesse style. Both players obviously have all the tools that it takes to be a world class player and it is just interesting to watch how they go about it.
In watching Orcollo today I was particularly impressed by how much action he can get on the cue ball without hitting it very hard. Both players play at a faster pace but not rushed, Orcollo plays a little faster than Van Boening. The match started out with Orcollo taking a 6-3 lead with a few break and runs thrown in.
At 6-3 Orcollo missed the first ball of the match, a tough thin cut on the 2 ball. Van Boening took advantage and got the score near even. At around 7 all Van Boening pulled off one of many amazing shots in the match, he jumped in a ball using two rests, the shot literally brought the house down! In the next rack Van Boening missed I believe the only ball he missed in the match. Orcollo ran out and took the lead, however he didn't make a ball on the next break.
The break was really the difference in this match as Orcollo only made a ball on about half the breaks. Van Boening ran out, then went on to break and run two of the next three games to take and 11-8 lead. The two exchanged the next two racks putting Van Boening on the hill at 12 -9. He broke on the hill and pushed out to a jump, Orcollo refused and Van Boening barely missed making the jump attempt. At 12 -10 with Orcollo breaking, he surprisingly failed to execute a legal break. Van Boening had to jump in the 3 ball and make a very tough shot on the 4 with the bridge, but he held his nerve and ran out for the win. WHAT A MATCH and a fitting end to a great week of 9 ball in Chesapeake, Virginia.
Cuesport Nation would like to extend a big congratulations to Van Boening and all the players that threw their hats in the ring this week. We will be back later in the week with some insight on the format changes and the current state of the U.S. Open. Thank you for following along with us this week and we are excited to have now launched our website cuesportnation.com. Stay tuned for some new features that we will be releasing soon.