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Aly On Track To National Snooker Title Defense
filed on Friday, July 1, 2011.   8:07pm PT/USA

Top seed Ahmed Aly Elsayed has got the defense of his United States National Snooker Championship title off to a successful start, as he has safely negotiated the group stage of this year's Championship to book his place in the Round Of 16 at the Prince Snooker Club in Brooklyn, New York.

After two day's of group play that would see the top four players from each group advance into the knockout stage of the Championship, Aly came through Group A in first position by winning three of his matches 2-0, however he withdrew from his first match against Vaishal Talati which has to be reported caused much controversy.

That outcome means that Talati is still the only player to date who has scored victories over Aly in his playing history in this Championship, as he also defeated him in the group stage 2-0 back in 2009.

New York's Kashif Rashid, making his debut in the Championship, claimed second place with three victories from his four group matches, Chicago's Talati finished third, and the proprietor of the Prince Snooker Club, Tommy Chen, clinched that all important fourth qualifying spot.

Group A - Final Positions Matches Frames
Pos. Player Won Lost Won Lost Diff.
1 Ahmed Aly Elsayed (New York) 1 3 1 6 2 4
2 Kashif Rashid (New York) 3 1 6 3 3
3 Vaishal Talati (Illinois) 2 2 4 4 0
4 Tommy Chen (New York) 1 3 4 6 -2
5 Charles Looney (Michigan) 1 3 2 7 -5

In Group B, the most interesting tie had to be between the number two seeded player Ajeya Prabhakar and his good friend and former five-times United States National Snooker Champion, Tom Kollins.

The pair faced off together in their first match, and although Kollins took the first frame, it was California's Prabhakar who won the match by securing the following two frames.

That victory put the 2000 Champion in prime position to book his place in the knockout stage, and in his next match he went onto convincingly defeat Bo Ye, playing in his first Championship, 2-0 before then surprisingly losing his third match 2-0 to New York's Chen Yan Jun.

Despite that defeat though, Prabhakar went onto claim the top position by then going onto have successive 2-0 wins over New York's Leo Lee and Kevin Wong.

Kollins gained second place with three wins and two losses, and even though he lost 2-1 to Wong who had the same win-loss record, the New Yorker was awarded third place due to his inferior frame difference.

Ye also goes forward to the knockout stage with his two victories over Wong and Chen to secure fourth place.

Group B - Final Positions Matches Frames
Pos. Player Won Lost Won Lost Diff.
1 Ajeya Prabhakar (California) 2 4 1 8 3 5
2 Tom Kollins (Illinois) 3 2 8 4 4
3 Kevin Wong (New York) 3 2 7 5 2
4 Bo Ye (New York) 2 3 5 8 -3
5 Leo Lee (New York) 2 3 4 8 -4
6 Chen Yan Jun (New York) 1 4 4 8 -4

The third seeded player Henry Wong had the most impressive group performances as he swept his way through his matches with four straight victories to top Group C.

Wong, who has gone out of this Championship at the quarterfinal stage in the past three years, lost the first frame on the final black of his initial match against Laszlo Kovacs, but he struck back to win 2-1 and then sealed 2-0 successes over Jerrol Cutler, Pravin Patel and Michael Chan respectively.

New York's Kovacs, who made the trip to California for last year's Championship, has improved on his previous performance as this year he has qualified for the knockout stage by securing second place with three wins.

Chan, who plays his snooker at the Embassy Billiards Club in San Gabriel, California, has prolonged his participation in this year's Championship by making the Round Of 16, as he also did last year at his home club, by gaining third place with two group match wins.

Playing in his fifth Championship, Patel has made it through to the knockout stage for the first time as the Texan qualified in fourth place.

Group C - Final Positions Matches Frames
Pos. Player Won Lost Won Lost Diff.
1 Henry Wong (New Jersey) 3 4 0 8 1 7
2 Laszlo Kovacs (New York) 3 1 7 4 3
3 Michael Chan (California) 2 2 5 4 1
4 Pravin Patel (Texas) 1 3 3 6 -3
5 Jerrol Cutler (Florida) 0 4 0 8 -8

Group D was the most closely fought of all the four groups, as all four of the qualifying players scored three wins from their five group matches.

The seeded player of the group was New York's Tim Lee, whose number four seeding was awarded due to him making the quarterfinals of this Championship last year, but he was drawn with some players who performed equally as well.

Although he lost against Lee, it was New York's Yan Y. Zhen who won the group on frame difference, with Championship debutant Ahmed Mehaya securing second place on frame difference, even though he too was also defeated by Lee.

Lee finished in third place even though he had the same frame difference as fourth placed Ka Lai Cheung, as he had won one extra frame during his group campaign.

Group D - Final Positions Matches Frames
Pos. Player Won Lost Won Lost Diff.
1 Yan Y. Zhen (New York) 3 2 8 5 3
2 Ahmed Mehaya (New York) 3 2 8 6 2
3 Tim Lee (New York) 4 3 2 8 7 1
4 Ka Lai Cheung (New York) 3 2 7 6 1
5 Alex Kopel (California) 2 3 5 7 -2
6 Jonathan Royalty (North Carolina) 1 4 3 8 -5


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