With the 2014 Henselite UK Open fast approaching we thought it was time to look ahead to what promises to be the most exciting Short Mat Players Tour season yet!
As always, the calendar is centred around our premier series of world ranking singles events. This year sees 6 tournaments, up from 5 last season, with September’s popular Irish Open having been given world ranking status.
We’ve made some developments to the playing format too, by increasing the points available for wins in group games from 2 points to 3. We’ve also improved our ranking system, so that points are on offer throughout the group stages and in all 3 knock-out competitions – Main, Plate and Wooden Spoon. With the addition of the SMPT World Cup in the calendar, this will afford all bowlers the opportunity to enter ranking events at which they can accrue valuable points and qualify to play for their country at this new, most prestigious event.
So who are the main contenders for this year’s events? Who’s consistently impressive performances will mean they finish the season as the World No. 1 and be crowned Henselite Order of Merit Champion? History suggests the main threat will come from the Irish players. Last season’s World No. 1, Cecil Dillon, will head up the challenge along with 3 time SMPT Champion Joseph Beattie. Regular SMPT attendees such as Mark Beattie, Jal Richardson & Pauline Beattie should also feature heavily at the top of the rankings.
And what about the rest? We’ve got exciting young players from all over Europe who relish the challenge of competing in these high class fields. There will be a strong challenge from 25 year old Dimitri Payne of Belgium, who will be looking to improve on his indifferent form of last season, but with a final appearance in the English Masters under his belt you can be sure his confidence will be high. The Swedish youngsters are also on the up. Magnus Nordin, Jonas Hager, Marcus Almen & Victor Andersson, to name but a few, will pose a threat to any bowler on their day. With the inclusion of senior players such as Dick Almen, Joel Hager and Lars Hansen, the rapid progress of the Swedish nation shows no sign of slowing.
Ireland aside, the remaining home nations, will have seasoned internationals vying for silverware. Scotland’s Lawrence Moffat and England trio Dom Reed, Chris Mann and James Trott will be looking to build on previous success. 4 times World Champion Stephen Williams of Wales will be aiming for his first SMPT win and with Luke Haddon, Aled Humpries and Peter Rees contesting the UK Open, the Welsh presence within our competitions continues to build. As in previous seasons, players from new short mat countries will look to impress. We welcome back competitors from Norway, France, Cyprus, the Isle of Man and the Netherlands. We are also delighted to welcome our first competitor from Germany as Eri Wa joins us at the UK Open. Why not check out your favourite players’ profiles here.
The race for the Order of Merit will have extra significance this season with the introduction of the SMPT World Cup. This exciting competition will see the top 4 players from each country represented in the rankings, invited to compete for their nation. Participants will play singles and amass points for their team. All countries will be seeded into pots and then drawn into groups. As part of our continued effort to promote and raise the appeal of our sport on a global scale we will look to invite guest teams to the event. We have ongoing communications with countries such as the UAE, Canada, Philippines, Australia, New Zealand and Malaysia and we hope to encourage players to come over and participate in what will be a fantastic event. We are pursuing various avenues for sponsorship of this event but if you know of anyone who might be interested in working with us, please let us know.
For those of you who maybe aren’t interested in singles, we will of course be running our World Pairs Masters in November. This popular event, won last season by Jal Richardson & William Morrison of Ireland, will once again take place at our fantastic home venue in Bromsgrove, England. To make your trip there even more worthwhile we’re delighted to announce the formation of a new competition, the World Fours Masters. With 2 competitions run over one weekend, both with prize money, places will fill quickly. Why not book your spot now by visiting the ‘Tournaments’ page.
If that’s not enough for you, 2015 will see the Short Mat Players Tour heading to Paphos in Cyprus for our inaugural Cyprus Grand Prix. This event will be different to anything else in short mat bowls! More details will be released later this week.