It’s that time of the year when we ask you to pick your most deserving player of the last twelve months on the Tour. The season has sadly been cut short for all of us, but we still look at all the positives from another incredible season. We have a shortlist of seven players, selected by the SMPT team, for you to choose from, one Belgian, one Englishman, two Swedes, and three from Ireland. Who will be your 2019/20 players player of the season?
So, let’s have a look at the nominees…
1, Mark Beattie (Ireland)
A great season for Mark, he’s back at the top of the World rankings and has captured his third Order of Merit title. The season started off with Mark captaining the Irish team to World Cup glory in a tight final against Sweden. Two days later and it was a fifth singles title, this time winning his second UK Open with victory over Jonas Häger. Cup qualification, as usual, followed in the remaining events for the man from Strabane and a quarter-final appearance in the Norwegian Open would prove to be his best run.
2, Benny Sjögren (Sweden)
Just three events for Benny this season but yet again showing why he’s becoming one of the best singles players on the Tour! His first event, the World Cup, saw him remain unbeaten all day on the way to a Silver medal with his Swedish team mates. His only losses of the season came at the UK Open where he made it all the way to the plate final, losing out to Don McNamara. Benny excelled once again in Skien in Norway and became the second player to defend a title by winning the Norwegian Open again. Played 20, won 19 and drawn 1 is some record at this hard floor venue. Benny will surely break into the top 30 next season.
3, Alex Kley (England)
Continuing his great form of last year, Alex yet again produced some stunning performances in the three events he played in. An up and down World Cup as he and his England team mates bowed out at the Semi-final stage. A stronger performance in the defence of his UK Open title saw Alex breeze through the group but eventually lost out in a very tight Quarter-final to Mark Beattie 13-12. Alex did however, join an exclusive group of players by winning his 2nd SMPT singles title at the English Masters in February. His 15-3 demolition of Lawrence Moffat in the final was graced with some of his best bowling ever! Some unlucky rubs for Lawrence in a match he was hoping would mirror their 7-7 draw in the group. If Alex can play more events, he will certainly challenge for World No1.
4, Gary McNabb (Ireland)
Three tournaments this season and two titles, which included a magnificent run of 28 unbeaten matches. A first match loss to Elliott James of England then saw Gary start his unbelievable run. It culminated in a tie-break Irish Open victory over William Boggs. It then became back to back tournament wins with victory at the British Open in York, this time defeating England’s Tony Ealham. The run continued at the English Masters in February before a narrow 12-9 defeat by Scotland’s Lawrence Moffat in the last 16. Gary finished with a 93.33 win percentage for the season and an all-time high of 8 in the World rankings. He also joins Alan Paul on four SMPT singles titles.
5, Jonathan Payne (Belgium)
Another very consistent season from the former World No1. A rocky start at the World Cup but It’s been cup qualification in all of the five singles events with yet another podium finish at the British Open, this time taking home the Bronze medal. It’s testimony to Jon’s great consistency that’s sees him remain in the World’s top 5, which he has been in for the past five years and again has challenged for the coveted Order of Merit title, this year finishing joint second. Another Gold medal will be firmly in his sights next season.
6, Nathan Haire (Ireland)
Nathan has won several medals at SMPT pairs events but is now becoming a real presence on the singles scene. A great performance at the season opening World Cup with five victories that helped his Irish team mates take home yet another Gold medal. A third full season of cup qualification has seen the 28yr old rise from No128 to No6 in the World and a well-deserved second spot in this seasons’ Order of Merit. It’s only a matter of time now until we see him on the podium and a possible SMPT singles title to boot.
7, Jonas Häger (Sweden)
It’s been a season of oh so nearly for the 17yr old from Ödeborg, Sweden. Despite this, I’m sure any of us would take the results he’s had from the three events he’s played in this season. A silver medal started things off in the World Cup in a narrow defeat to Ireland. This was followed up by two final appearances in his remaining events, The UK Open & Norwegian Open. Another two Silver medals were earned and we know it won’t be long until he earns his maiden SMPT title. Jonas also earns his third Ryan O’Neill award as best placed under 18 in the Order of Merit and it’s great to see the youngster fulfilling the potential we saw at such a young age when the SMPT first started.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org – 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 Tuesday 26th May 2020. The winner will be announced on our website on Sunday 31st May.