Relaxed Paul puts on a show

JOHN ALEXANDER
Last updated 11:14 07/06/2012

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Marlborough snooker ace Greg Paul turned on an unexpected masterclass at the Clubs of Marlborough competition night recently.

Playing in the Crucible snooker interclub competition for Simmons Transport, Paul compiled an outstanding break of 64 which could quite easily have culminated in a century-plus break.

He had already completed the pairs competition that night, having played by his own admission, below par, so expectations leading into his singles match against Steve Roberts were not high.

"I basically relaxed and didn't put pressure on myself and played how I know I can. It's like golf – it's a mental game."

Roberts began well, compiling a neat break of about a dozen points and Paul replied with a good first-up shot, as he recalled.

"I slotted quite a nice difficult red to the top corner. After that it was quite blurry until I got to 63. Then everyone had started watching, I sunk another red then I missed a relatively easy black with a real chance that could possibly have cleaned up the table. There were 35 points left on the table when I missed."

Paul is a vastly experienced and talented snooker and pool player so while some may have been surprised at his top-class break, it's certainly not the first time he's achieved it.

"My highest break was 93 playing at home back in the days when I practiced daily. I scored a 77 break at the old Workingmen's Club in the 1990s."

Snooker is like any other sport, the more you play it, the better you get Paul said. "The key to being a good player is table time. Once you have learnt the skills of the game it comes down to table time and then it's a mental game.

"You try and get into the zone. Most of the time when I'm at the table I can't hear a thing. If I can, I know I'm not focussed.

"Getting in the zone. That's what all sports people aspire to be in. It's a good feeling when you are in the zone."

Paul has won several snooker titles including the Marlborough Open. While the game is not as popular as it was in the 1980s and early 90s, Paul said the weekly Monday night Crucible interclub competition at the Clubs of Marlborough was very good and provided good competition.

Four teams contest the top division Crucible Trophy. They are Redwood Tavern, Simmons Transport, Presidents and Sounds Hire, while Ray Barrett Builders, Whistlers, Pink Flamingos, an all-female team, and After Shocks contest the second tier Crucible Plate.

There are now 50 players participating each week and another 20 playing in the Tuesday afternoon over-55 years division competitions, running through until November.

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Paul is equally skilled on the pool table, having played firstly for Redwood Tavern and now the Clubs of Marlborough team. He's represented Canterbury and Marlborough in eight-ball.

What's the big attraction of the two games?

"I love winning. I like the analytical side of the games. Standing back and working out how to pot the balls, thinking several shots ahead.

"The challenge is to execute it. You aren't playing the opposition, you are playing what's on the table. That's how you should look at it, but you can tailor your game around your opposition. Play tighter against some players."

Interclub pool is played at the same venue as the snooker but on Tuesday nights and Paul is part of a strong Marlborough team preparing to take on Nelson this month, in Nelson, and later in the year trying to win back the Seddon Shield against Westland, West Coast, Buller and Nelson.

Paul has obviously retained his good form from the snooker table, a game which he said helps your pool skills considerably. Last weekend at Timaru, playing at the South Island pool champs, he made the last 10.

Anyone wanting to play competition pool or snooker is welcome to come along. While teams are generally filled at this stage of the year, there are often gaps to fill.

- The Marlborough Express

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