As our sixth full season draws to a close, 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, five Englishmen, six Irish players, a Swede and a Welshman to pick from, who will get your vote and become the 2017/18 PPOTS?
So, in no particular order, here are the nominations…
1, Stephen Proctor (England)
The Englishman has continued his consistent form of last season starting with his captaincy of the England team at the World Cup as they made their second Final appearance. Two Cup knockout qualifications helped him move from 14 to 3 in the rankings as he headed for Norway. A superb display over the weekend saw him lift his first SMPT title in Skien and with it the coveted No.1 spot which he would hold for the rest of the season. He finished just 41 points off of top spot in the Order of Merit making it two second places in consecutive seasons. Stephen will be keen to stay top of the rankings next season and look to finally clinch the Order of Merit and of course another title to boot!
2, Alan Paul (Ireland)
The man from Maghera simply cannot stop winning on the Tour! Just one event this season and his third title. A 9-4 victory over five times SMPT Champion Joe Beattie at the Irish Open saw Alan continue his astonishing run of wins, making it twenty two in a row. Having played in 6 tournaments he has won 3. He rightly sits at the top of the win percentage records and will surely be favourite to complete an Irish Open hat-trick come September this year!
3, Dom Reed (England)
The 30 year old from Essex can look back at this season with some satisfaction and maybe a slight tinge of disappointment too. Two singles and one pairs Final appearance, more than any other player in ranking events, but he had to settle for second spot on each occasion. This however shows that Dom is back to his near best. Cemented in the top five of both the pairs & singles rankings and with a World Cup appearance to come later this summer, can Dom finally secure that elusive title?
4, Nathan Haire (Ireland)
No singles action for Nathan this season but what a season in the pairs! A silver medal at the World Pairs Masters was followed up with victory at the Welsh 3-Bowl Grand Prix and a Semi-Final appearance a day later in the 2-Bowl competition. With all to play for at the inaugural Belfast Open, a defeat in the group saw Nathan facing a Plate run. However, with a Semi-Final appearance gained, Nathan had done enough to secure the very first Pairs Order of Merit title and will start as the World No.1 ranked pairs player next season.
5, Sam Harvey (Wales)
It was the perfect start to the season for Sam. Just one singles appearance and a SMPT gold medal to take home! His UK Open title was earned with some fantastic bowling and a very well deserved 11-2 victory over Dom Reed in the Final. Sam also failed to lose a group game in the three pairs events he entered this season but then failed to build on that with first round exits in each knockout phase. We look forward to seeing him again next season.
6, Joe Beattie (Ireland)
Last years’ winner of this award, Joe, secured back-to-back World Cup glory with his Irish team mates in August, continuing where he left off at the end of last season. A Last 32 appearance in the UK Open was followed up by another stunning performance on home turf as Joe made the final of the Irish Open, losing out 9-4 to Alan Paul. It was another Final appearance in Joe’s next event but this time it was gold as he and wife Pauline took home the World Pairs Masters title in Chelmsford. A Last 32 spot in the Belfast Open and a defeat in the Last 64 at the World Masters saw Joe not get as far as he’d hope at the end of the season, but with two golds and a silver from his six events, Joe will no doubt be delighted with that return.
7, Nigel Nicholls (England)
A very impressive 81.13 win percentage has helped Nigel have arguably his best season yet. Beginning the year at No.42 in the World Rankings, a Last 16 appearance at the UK Open started his climb to the summit. Further Cup qualification at both the Irish & Norwegian Opens saw Nigel take great form to York for our first British Open. Some impressive bowling from the man from Penzance, Cornwall helped him take his first SMPT title. There was another medal at the very next event, this time a bronze at the English Masters. A strong showing at the World Masters also helped Nigel finish top of the Order of Merit and a career high of No.4 in the World Rankings. Nigel also managed three Cup runs in the pairs events he entered, finishing 23rd in the pairs rankings.
8, Terry Crawford (Ireland)
This season was all about the pairs for 25 year old Terry. Playing in all four ranking events, it started pretty well as he and partner Darren Witherspoon reached the Semi-Final of the World Pairs Masters narrowly losing out 10-9 to Nathan Haire & James Newell. Things got better however in Cardiff as Terry, now teamed up with Nathan cruised to victory in the Welsh 3-Bowl event, defeating Dom & Nigel Reed 11-3. They almost pulled off another stunning victory the very next day in the 2-Bowl event but were beaten by Welsh duo Andrew & Paul Hudson in the Semi-Final. With those performances Terry sat 2nd in the rankings just behind Nathan. It was not such a good day at the final event as Terry, alongside Nathan again, only managed to qualify for the Plate at the Belfast Open. A Semi-Final berth was however, enough to maintain his spot at No.2 in the rankings. A great season for the Belfast man with more to come for sure.
9, James Trott (England)
It was another agonising start to the season for James as yet again he had to settle for a silver medal at the World Cup, despite being unbeaten. It would however become his best season ever as evidenced by his win percentage of 76.67. James was soon over his World Cup disappointment with a fantastic bronze medal at the UK Open. A Quarter-Final appearance at the Irish Open a month later followed by four more Cup appearances helped James rise to No.2 in the Rankings and a well deserved 3rd place in the Order of Merit. Cup runs in all four pairs events helped James to No.11 in the pairs rankings and with an overall record of 46 wins from 60 matches in 2017-18, it’s been a great season for the Englishman.
10, Jonathan Payne (Belgium)
Having not been out of the World’s top 5 since 2015 shows why Jon is one of the toughest opponents to beat. It’s been the same story again this season with Jon averaging around 70 percent on wins. Another Semi-Final defeat at the World Cup for Belgium was followed by a Quarter-Final berth at the UK Open. Cruising through his groups at the singles events saw Cup qualification come in all these events and was topped with a bronze medal in Norway and a spell back as World No1. Jon finally finished the season at No.3 in the rankings and challenged again for the Order of Merit, eventually finishing 4th. It was a similar story in the pairs. Starting with an appearance in the Plate Final at the World Pairs Masters, he and son Dimitri lost out 9-7 to Nick Evans & Liz Jones. Success followed in Cardiff however as he took gold in the 2-Bowl event alongside Stephen Williams to add to his 3-Bowl victory last season. A Quarter-Final at the 3-Bowl and a Last 32 appearance at the Belfast Open gave Jon a ranking of No.4 to finish off the season.
11, Jonas Hager (Sweden)
It’s back-to-back Ryan O’Neill trophy wins for Jonas as he secured his place as the highest placed Under 18 player in this season’s Order of Merit. Further improvement on his win percentage has seen him almost double it from his first season, to just under 70%. Reaching the Semi-Finals at the World Cup with Sweden was followed by three Cup and three Plate appearances in the singles events, the highlights of which included a Last 16 showing at the English Masters with defeat to England’s Mitchell Young and a World Masters Plate Final loss to former SMPT winner P.J. Gallagher, 7-6. Jonas also made the Quarter-Final of the star-studded Belfast Open pairs, playing alongside his bowling hero Cecil Dillon.
12, Gary McNabb (Ireland)
Just four events for Gary this season but he ended it in the best possible way. Progression to the Last 32 at the UK Open was followed by a Last 16 defeat by Alan Paul at the Irish Open. Gary wouldn’t play again until we returned to Belfast and he had a decent run in the Belfast Open pairs alongside Gerard Conroy, eventually losing out in the Last 32. The following day did not start too brightly either in the World Masters with defeat to Trevor Brian in his opening group game. However, a magnificent run would then see Gary sweep everyone aside, with the exception of Alex Kley in the Last 16, who he beat by one shot. Gary eventually took his second SMPT title with a 10-6 victory over Ian Hobson. This win also ensured Gary will make his first appearance at the World Cup, eliminating P.J. Gallagher from the Irish team.
13, Jack Pye (England)
A silver medal for Jack at the World Cup was a pretty good start for the 21 year old from Norfolk. Four singles and two pairs events this season would not see Jack taste defeat in ANY group game. A Last 64 and two Last 32 appearances probably fell slightly short of his high expectations but what a tournament he had at the English Masters. We wondered this time last year whether Jack would win a SMPT event this season and he most certainly did! Edging his way through a tough group containing the likes of Dom Reed, James Bucknall & Dan Winmill, Jack then stepped up a gear and played some awesome stuff on his way to the Final, eventually beating Ireland’s Glenn Harvey 15-5. Two Cup appearances in the pairs events have set Jack up nicely for next season as he looks to break into the World’s top five.
14, Pauline Beattie (Ireland)
Pauline bagged herself a second gold medal alongside her Irish team mates at the World Cup ensuring a perfect start to the season. Next there was a Plate Final appearance at the UK Open before a Last 16 finish at the Irish Open. More SMPT silverware soon followed though with victory alongside husband Joe at the World Pairs Masters, as the dynamic duo defeated James Newell & Nathan Haire in a one-sided Final. A Last 32 spot at the Belfast Open was backed up by a Quarter-Final place at the World Masters two days later. Another successful season for Pauline who will be keen to lift her current ranking from 23rd back into the top 10.
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 Saturday 30th June 2018. The winner will be announced on our website on Sunday 8th July.