Quick lives up to her reputation

Published : Nov 17, 2001 00:00 IST


TWO of the world's leading women cueists from the United Kingdom, Kelly Fisher and Lisa Quick, served up quite a feast for snooker aficionados of Mumbai during the third CCI Ladies Invitation snooker tournament, held at the Cricket Club of India's C.K. Nayudu Hall. World No. 1 Fisher, and reigning world champion Quick, both fine exponents of the multi-coloured balls of the green baize game, gave ample evidence of their skill and class as they took on the Indian challengers from the quarterfinal round onwards.

The duo showed exquisite touch over the cue ball and played their shots with finesse. The English women, also exhibited plenty of confidence and their potting, including the long shots, were outstanding. These qualities separated them from the Indians. Quick lived up to her tag as world champion, when she staved off a late challenge from Fisher and won a close eighth frame on the last colour for a satisfying victory by five frames to three in the best-of-nine final. The world champion in the process avenged her 1-4 defeat to Fisher in the LG Cup final in Preston, England in mid-October.

An elated Quick later said: "Well, though I led 3-1, it certainly was not over. During the interval, I was just thinking and knew a turnaround by Fisher was coming, as she is known to get in very quickly," she explained. About her sweet success, Quick with a larger-than-life smile on her face said: "It was exciting, especially when both were trying too hard to pot the last ball (in the eighth frame). We both had our chances. It was a lot better when I took an early lead, felt good after struggling in the quarterfinal and that nerve-wracking semi-final, I was relieved, really."

"It was strange," Fisher admitted after her defeat; "Obviously, I played badly in the first session. Lisa was potting well and I needed to click to get into rhythm. Once I made it three-all, I thought I could have won the match myself. With due credit to Lisa, she pushed me hard. She crawled her way back and the pressure was on me again. The pink in the eighth frame cost me the match. Certainly, I would have liked to play better."

Quick for a fine effort was presented the beautiful winner's trophy and a cash prize of Rs. 50,000 by World Professional Billiards champion Geet Sethi, while Asian Snooker champion Yasin Merchant presented Fisher the runner-up trophy and a cash prize of Rs. 25,000. Fisher also claimed the prize of Rs. 5,000 for the highest break - a run of 66 in the semi-final.

The 26-year-old Quick, a Weston-super-Mare shop assistant, had a somewhat bumpy ride to the final. She started off with a flourish and quickly disposed off Maharashtra's Meenal Thakur in the quarterfinal, but found a tough opposition in Varsha Majumdar (Maharashtra) in the semifinals.

The doughty Varsha, a former national table tennis champion, played with determination against the world champion and took the match the full distance before going down by three frames to four.

The Singapore-based Varsha, who won the title in the inaugural year in 1999 and finished runner-up in this year's Nationals, with a little more experience could have staged the biggest upset of her career.

In contrast, the 23-year-old Fisher, the only woman to win three straight world titles after winning her maiden world crown in 1998, was in peak form and rolled past National champion Anuja Thakur (Maharashtra) and Karnataka's Judith Walia with consummate ease into the final. She had quite a fight on hand against Anuja. The Maharashtra cueist certainly looked a bit overawed by her more illustrious opponent, but played well within her limitations and almost took a frame from Fisher in the quarterfinal. "She (Anuja) is a very good player. She has a very good cueing action and is capable of doing better," Fisher said. A statement echoed by Quick who also felt Anuja has the potential and the ability to take her game to higher levels.

The double world champion, Quick took a fancy to the game at age 10 after watching Alex Higgins play on television and forced her mum to take her to a club.

But, as she was still too small she only started playing when she grew up. She dedicates her spare time to training. Quick started off with snooker and later took up pool as well. And, recently, she got into cricket and plays for Somerset County Club in the Women's County Championship, batting at number three and opening the bowling.

Fisher from Stourbride began playing pool at an early age at her father's pub in West Yorkshire and at the age of 12 she started coaching under Lionel Payne at the Wakefield Snooker Club. She is now an accomplished cueist and has made the maximum break of 147 during practice. Her highest break in a tournament is 143. She is also a martial arts exponent and achieved a black belt in kung fu at 13, but due to injuries decided to focus on her first love - snooker.

Keeko Nicholson and his team at the CCI must be complimented for their untiring efforts in hosting a major tournament and inviting the leading women cueists in the world.

With more international players invited to play in future tournaments here, it would certainly benefit Indian women. So one can only hope that Nicholson keeps up the good work and conducts more events like this in the future.

The results:

Semi-finals (best-of-seven frames): Kelly Fisher (United Kingdom) bt Judith Walia (Karnataka) 4-0 (75-33, 91-12, 94-6, 72-9); Lisa Quick (UK) bt Varsha Majumdar (Maharashtra) 4-2 (36-67, 45-56, 56-22, 57-47, 62-20, 80-5).

Final (best-of-nine frames): Lisa Quick bt Kelly Fisher 5-3 (67-38, 72-31, 66-50, 11-68, 38-81, 1-69, 56-48, 55-52).

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