St Neots woman gets on to England pool team

AN EYNESBURY woman has qualified to represent England at pool again and hopes to compete in the World Championships in June. Niki Bayes, 29, represented England in 2007 and is back in the team after missing out last year. She has been playing pool for th

AN EYNESBURY woman has qualified to represent England at pool again and hopes to compete in the World Championships in June.

Niki Bayes, 29, represented England in 2007 and is back in the team after missing out last year. She has been playing pool for the Cambridgeshire County team and after finishing seventh qualified to enter the trials in Great Yarmouth to represent England.

The trials saw players from across England and Wales have three 'lives' and a minimum of six matches if they kept those 'lives', with the highest placed players qualifying for the England team.

Bayes got a bye in the first round before defeating her next two opponents 3-0. She then lost 3-2 to ex-England player Susan Fletcher, who described the game as "one of the best" she had played that day. Bayes then defeated one of her Cambridgeshire team mates 3-0 before coming from two games behind to win 3-2 and take her total to five wins and one defeat.


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England player Michelle Brown then beat Bayes 3-1, before she won her next game 3-1. The total of six wins and two defeats was enough to ensure Bayes qualified for the England team.

On May 23 she will compete in the internal England trials in Cambridge with the aim of qualifying for the World Eight-Ball Pool Championships in Blackpool from June 29 to July 10.

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Bayes started playing snooker when she was 11 but only started playing competitive pool five years ago after she met her husband Tony, 38. Last year she captained her St Neots side Plough B to win the local pool league. "People say pool is easier than snooker but I would prefer to play pool as it's a lot more tactical," said Bayes.

"When I didn't get into the team in 2008 I didn't understand the tactics and I just wanted to pot every ball, but in this game it can actually be more about covering pockets and snookering the opponent rather than just potting. This time I concentrated more on that and managed to beat the other players at their own game.

"I would class pool and snooker as two totally different games. You can relax a little in snooker as it's a longer game but in pool you have to be careful because the table could be cleared within minutes.

"You still have to think several shots ahead in pool and I always aim to try and get a good break and see that as really important. I played really well at the weekend and was pleased with how I performed tactically as I wasn't always just trying to pot, I was making sure the balls were in the right position.

"You have to finish perfectly and be very confident to try and clear the table from the start. I've always been good at potting because I played snooker and was used to even longer shots on a larger table but sometimes all you have to do is miss the final ball and they can win."

Bayes' father died on December 1 and she has used his support to focus and achieve in his memory. "He was always behind me and it gives me a lot of determination to do well for him," said Bayes.

"We cared for him the week before he died and he never got to see me in my England waistcoat this time and it was hard for me not to be able to tell him that I'd got into the team again. He inspired me to get where I did and I told him a couple of days before I'd qualify so I reckon he must be the happiest person up there now.

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