What a season we’ve had, and as the dust settles, it’s that time of year where you get to select your SMPT Players’ Player of the Season. We take a look at the players who have stood out above the rest. With one Belgian, four Englishmen, three Irish players, a Swede and a Welshman to pick from, who will get your vote and become the 2018/19 PPOTS?
So, in no particular order, here are the nominations…
1, Ed Sawbridge (England) | Stats profile
The Englishman has enjoyed a very good season. Cup knockout qualification in all competitions has taken Ed to the top of the World Rankings and he also walks away with the coveted Order of Merit title. Ed really stepped up to the mark in arguably the toughest venue in Belfast with a bronze medal at the Irish Open and a silver medal at the season ending World Masters. Ed now gets the privilege of leading out the England team at the World Cup in August.
2, Alex Kley (England) | Stats profile
A vastly improved season for the young rising star. A near on 90% win percentage from his 45 matches this season shows this young man has a bright future ahead. Alex took his first SMPT title at the opening event, the UK Open with a hard fought 11-9 victory over former World No1 Jon Payne. More silverware was to follow as Alex took a bronze medal at the English Masters, and alongside playing partner Thomas Perris, a second SMPT title by winning the World Pairs Masters in December. Good progression in the remaining events sees Alex climb to 13 in the singles rankings and 4 in the pairs. A berth in the England World Cup team also awaits.
3, Alan Paul (Ireland) | Stats profile
Although Alan has only played in two events this season, his sheer dominance earns him a place on the shortlist. Playing alongside John Quinn, Alan managed to progress to the Quarter Finals of the Belfast Open before losing to eventual Champions Adam Rankin & Robbie Foster. It was business as usual however in the singles as Alan notched up his fourth SMPT title by taking the 2019 World Masters trophy with a near perfect record. Just one draw in the competition now sees Alan unbeaten in singles in 33 matches and just one defeat in 40! His win percentage over six seasons is now 90.63%
4, Stephen Williams (Wales) | Stats profile
It was back to the sort of form that made Stephen one of the most feared opponents in the past. The Dragon Master took back to back titles midway through the season. A dramatic last bowl victory in York against England youngster Benny Bass in one of highest quality matches we’ve ever witnessed, was followed up by another great match against fellow countryman Sean Hughes that saw Stephen edge to a 12-10 win. Stephen, I’m sure, will look to continue this form heading into next season which starts with him leading out the Welsh team in the World Cup.
5, Benny Sjögren (Sweden) | Stats profile
A surprising yet deserved winner of this seasons Norwegian Open. Benny showed what an improvement he’s made over the last couple of seasons and a run of 14 straight victories during his two tournaments is testament to this. With his noticeable victories at home and in other recent tournaments, the 40 year old from Färgelanda will be one to watch at the season opening UK Open and throughout the year!
6, Nathan Haire (Ireland) | Stats profile
It’s been cup qualification all the way this season for Nathan, and this consistency has earned him a top ten spot in the Order of Merit, with an 80% win percentage. His best run in the singles came at both the Norwegian Open & World Masters with defeat in the last 16 of both by just one shot. It’s been business as usual in the pairs events this season as the World No1 maintained his ranking position and captured another title. This time it was the European Open, which he won alongside regular partner Terry Crawford.
7, James Trott (England) | Stats profile
Another very consistent season from the man from Devon. Four final appearances earning him a second SMPT title and three further silver medals. First up was another runner up spot at the World Cup as England continued to look for their first title, then silver came in Skien, Norway in James’ first singles final. In December, a very productive weekend saw James lift the World Fours Masters for a second time alongside Craig Burgess, Mikey Ivings & Simon Pridham. A day later saw another silver medal in the World Pairs Masters playing with Mikey Ivings.
8, Raymond Stubbs (Ireland) | Stats profile
One of the world’s most respected and revered players finally took his maiden SMPT title with victory in the Irish Open back in September with a 10-5 win over countryman Ian Hobson. Raymond’s quest to make it an Irish event double at the World Masters in April became unstuck following defeat to England’s Ed Sawbridge who exacted revenge for his defeat to Raymond in the Semi-final of the Irish open. We’re sure Ray will be back again next season and of course will be looking to add another title to his name and maintain his excellent win percentage.
9, Jonathan Payne (Belgium) | Stats profile
Another steady season for the Belgian international. Jon spent the majority of the season at World No1, only to relinquish it at the final event in Belfast. The season started so well, with a great run at the UK Open in which in he picked up the silver medal. Further cup runs ensured Jon gathered many points to keep him in the hunt for the order of merit title. As it was, Jon finished 4th in this and ended at World No3. In the Pairs, Jon remains 2nd in the rankings following his cup qualification in all the events. We expect Jonathan to be challenging for more silverware again next season.
10, Benny Bass (England) | Stats profile
Another big step forward in performance from the young man from Devon. A flawless display in the group stages in the UK Open, including a win over SMPT Champion Dimitri Payne was then ended with narrow defeat to Sam Harvey in the first knockout round. Then again, at the British Open in York, Benny made it all the way to the final with some scintillating displays before losing out to Stephen Williams with the last bowl in one of the best finals ever witnessed. In his final outing at the English Masters, Benny can feel a tad unfortunate, ending up in the Shield from the group of death. And whilst we concentrate on SMPT achievements here, His victory at the England National Singles cannot be overlooked!! We look forward to seeing him in action again next season.
To cast your vote simply log in to your profile and follow the link from the player dashboard or the user menu, or if you are already logged in, click here.
The Short Mat Players Tour’s (SMPT) selection of short-listed players is final. Voting is open to all players who have a SMPT Player Profile on our website. Players who have previously played in a SMPT event but do not have a Player Profile can register for one by emailing email@example.com – any player wanting a profile should send their email from the email address that is to be used for their profile, confirming the name of the last SMPT event they entered. Once a Player Profile has been set up, the player is eligible to vote. Players may vote only once, through one registered profile under their name. Simply login to your Player Profile and register your top three choices in order of preference. All votes must be received by the SMPT in the required format before 8pm on Sunday 30th June 2019. The winner will be announced on our website and social media pages on Sunday 7th July.