Comeback kid Aloysius is Singapore's first world pool champ
He was teetering on the precipice, staring at defeat.
But Aloysius Yapp never wavered.
He trailed Hsu Jui-an of Taiwan 10-9 in the race-to-11 final of the 9-ball World Junior Pool Championships (Under-19) in Shanghai, China, yesterday, but the Singapore teenager stayed calm.
With ice in his veins, Aloysius fought back and eventually triumphed 11-10 to become Singapore's first pool world champion, earning a ticket to next September's World Championships in Doha.
Speaking to The New Paper just moments after his triumph, the 18-year-old said: "I don't know how to express how I'm feeling right now, other than to say I'm just really very happy.
"I went into the tournament thinking this could be my year.
"I won the Asian Junior Pool Championships in August and I've played well throughout the year, so I thought I had a good chance."
The youngster's fightback was tremendous, especially after he had trailed Jui-an 4-0 in the first few minutes of the final.
But Aloysius insisted he was confident of clawing back.
"I was trailing 4-0, and then 5-1," he said.
"The only thing I was thinking the whole time was: Just give me one chance and I'll punish you.
"I just needed to keep calm and play my normal game when I got a chance to go to the table, because I'd been playing well throughout the tournament.
"To be honest, the match as a whole was quite scrappy and, in fact, I made more mistakes than my opponent.
"But I got some luck when he scratched the ball on the break when I was trailing 6-8, so I managed to get closer to him."
Aloysius picked up pool when he was nine, after chancing upon a match while flicking through channels on the television.
He started competing in tournaments five years ago.
His breakthrough came at last year's All-Japan Championship, where he reached the final 32 of the Open competition.
The Coleman's College student will head straight from Shanghai to Amagasaki, Japan, for this year's edition of the tournament, which will feature legends of the game like Filipino duo Efren Reyes and Francisco Bustamante, and current world No. 2 Shane van Boening of Holland.
Brimming with confidence, Aloysius intends to go as far as he can in Japan, and is also eyeing gold at the South-east Asia (SEA) Games on home soil next June.
"I feel good and this win has given me a lot of belief," he said.
"We are getting a new national coach, Ralph Eckert from Germany. I think he can help me a lot in my mental game and my defensive game.
"I want to win the SEA Games, Asian Games, World Men's Championships... all there is to win."
Cuesports Singapore president Christopher Chuah said: "This is truly a momentous occasion as no Singapore player had (previously) made it to the finals, let alone won the title in a World Championship.
"He demonstrated tremendous resilience, control and fighting spirit in coming from 4-0 down to clinch the title.
"No doubt, this milestone event augurs well for our medal prospects at the upcoming SEA Games."