As the dust settles after another exciting season on the Short Mat Players Tour, we are pleased to announce the 16 nominations for our new award, ‘The Players’ Player Of The Season’. Everyone with a Player Profile will be eligible to vote. Simply login to your Player Profile and register your top three choices in order of preference. Voting will close on 1 July 2016 and the winner will be announced on our website thereafter.
So, in no particular order, here are the nominations…
1, Joel Hager (Sweden)
The ever consistent Swede, has had another terrific year on the tour. Captaining the victorious Swedish team in the inaugural World Cup in August was just the start as he then went on to secure his first ranking event title, winning the European Masters back in October. Losing just six of his thirty two matches this season has enabled him to top the Order of Merit for the second time.
2, Mark Beattie (Ireland)
It’s been another good season for the World No.1 despite the lack of silverware. Whilst only making one quarter final appearance, at the European Masters, Mark’s consistency has seen him maintain his fantastic record of reaching the Cup knockout in all of the twenty tournaments he’s entered. A respectable fourth place finish in the Order of Merit and retaining the top spot in the Rankings still makes him the man to beat.
3, Paul Pomeroy (England)
What a year it’s been for the 35 year old from Devon! Paul’s silver medal at the season opening UK Open was a surprise to most, but with a fourth place finish in Belgium and three further Cup runs, including a quarter final last bowl defeat in the English Masters to eventual winner James Bucknall, Paul has shown he is a great singles player. He will feel hard done by, narrowly missing out on a top three spot in the Order of Merit by just eight points.
4, Sibe Laureys (Belgium)
Taking home the bronze medal at his home event in Herentals on his way to securing the coveted Ryan O’Neill award, 17 year old Sibe has taken his game to another level on the Tour. Now well established in the World’s top twenty and with notable victories over such players as Chris Grocott, Rob Martin & Steve Killington this season, his game continue to go from strength to strength.
5, Dick Almen (Sweden)
After an indifferent 2014/15, Dick has once again returned to some great form, picking up thirty two wins on the Tour this season. The ever popular Swede had a great start with victory in the World Cup and a fourth place finish at the UK Open. His consistency has seen him cement his place at No.5 in the World Rankings and a very respectable sixth place finish in this season’s Order of Merit.
6, Dimitri Payne (Belgium)
Victory at September’s Irish Open saw the culmination of four years hard work on the Tour for the tenacious player. Dimitri’s twelve game mid-season unbeaten run and a bronze medal in Sweden saw him rise to No.2 in the Order of Merit, where he stayed for the remainder of the year. Dimitri now sits second in the World Rankings with Cup knockout appearances a common occurrence. Many believe that a it is only a matter of time before a second Tour victory comes his way.
7, Gary McNabb (Ireland)
Gary was only able to participate in two events this season but still boasts an impressive record. Following a 10-9 loss to Chris Willies, Gary went on a thirteen match unbeaten run which saw him claim the UK Open title and a spot in the last 32 of the Irish Open. Despite his limited appearances, Gary still finished in the top thirty five of the Order of Merit and World Rankings and is sure to break into the top twenty next season.
8, Lee Toleman (England)
Having completed his first full season on the Tour, the seasoned international has shown his vast experience in making the Cup knockout at all six events. A run to the quarter finals in Sweden coupled with a final appearance in the World Fours Masters, should see Lee satisfied with his season’s performances. With his third place finish in the Order of Merit, Lee will captain the England team in the forthcoming World Cup.
9, Dom Reed (England)
It was a fairly tame start to the season by Dom’s high standards but the former World No.1 was back to his best at the turn of the year with Plate victory in Sweden. Then at the third time of asking he finally made it into an SMPT final, but had to settle for a silver medal after losing 9-6 to James Bucknall. Dom has risen from 36th to 11th in the Order of Merit and is now back in the World’s top ten in the Rankings.
10, Jonathan Payne (Belgium)
Enjoying his best ever season, Jon’s consistent appearances in the Cup knockouts ensured he remained in the mix for the Order of Merit. However, only making the Shield knockout at the World Masters cost him his third place spot. He will be buoyed however, by a fourth place finish in Sweden and a good run at the UK Open, this all following a strong performance at the World Cup. He remains a force to be reckoned with.
11, Pauline Beattie (Ireland)
Another strong showing from the Portadown player this season with the highlights being two bronze medal match appearances. Victory against Brendan Murphy at the Irish Open ensured yet more silverware. Pauline missed both Belgium & Sweden but still finished 13th in the Order of Merit. Her win percentage of 75% and a World ranking of sixth show what an outstanding bowler she is.
12, James Bucknall (England)
A very popular winner on the SMPT, the Portsmouth man is one of only two players to boast a 100% win percentage for the season. His impressive run to the final of the English Masters back in February, including wins over Paul Pomeroy, Pauline Beattie & Craig Evans, before beating Dom Reed, saw James collect the top prize at only his third attempt. We’re certain there will be a lot more to come from the Englishman.
13, Gary Burke (Ireland)
Winner of our blue ribbon event, the World Masters, Gary, like James also is undefeated for the season. Gary continued his impressive showing at the event by battling his way through no less than three tie-breaks on his way to the final. The experienced international, bettered the quarter final appearance of last season and defeated 2013 Irish Open Champion Andrew Leckey 8-7 in the final. With this victory now under his belt, Gary may look to make his mark on the tour in 2016/17.
14, Gary Moore (Ireland)
46 year old Gary has enjoyed his best ever season, demonstrating how bowlers are really improving by playing on the Tour. Whilst only making two Cup appearances, his run to the European Masters final and a silver medal show just how well Gary can play. The ever popular bowler from Foyle will look to improve his Cup qualification ratio as he hopes to remain in the top twenty of the World Rankings and make a bid to break into the top ten on the Order of Merit.
15, Marcus Almen (Sweden)
Having missed a season on the Tour, Marcus joined us again for our two mid-season events and took full advantage by winning back to back finals. First up at the European Masters, he claimed the Plate final after defeating Dom Reed, who he’d lost to in the group stages. Next up, Marcus then cruised through to the Cup final at his home event in Sweden and bagged the trophy by defeating Mike Ivings after again losing to him in the group. His natural talent will put him in good stead next season as he looks to climb the Rankings.
16, Michael Ivings (England)
The former World Pairs Masters Champion has not played as much as he’d like this season. Despite this he’s still managed to make two SMPT finals! Winning the Fours Masters in a nail biting final in December, he quickly followed this up with a silver medal at the Swedish Masters. Having slipped down the Rankings to thirty two, Michael certainly has the fire and ambition to climb into the top ten with a string of good results. He will be one to watch in the 2016/17 season!
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. All votes must be received by SMPT in the required format before 8pm on Friday 1st July 2016.