Top Filipina pool players Iris Ranola and Rubilen Amit opened their campaign in the Women’s World 9-Ball Championships on a high note on Monday in Shenyang, China.
Ranola, double gold medalist in the last Southeast Asian Games in Indonesia, got the ball rolling with a methodical 7-4 victory over Nicola Rossouw of Pretoria, South Africa in their Group C match.
Amit, the former world 10-ball champion, followed suit later, scoring a close 7-6 win over local bet Wu Zhiling in Group E.
No player outside of China has won the tournament since its inception in 2009 -- a record Ranola and Amit are hoping to break.
Amit, named 2009 Athlete of the Year by the Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA), is currently ranked 16th in the world, while three notch lower at 19th place is Ranola.
Up next for Ranola is Chinese bet Yu Han, a 7-4 winner over Keiko Yukawa of Japan. Amit will meet Junko Tsuchiya also of Japan, who carved out a 7-5 win over Russia’s Nataliya Seroshtan.
Defending champion Bi Zhu Qing also got off to a hot start, along with former title holders Liu Shasha and Fu Xiaofang.
Qing blanked Hyun Jin Won, 7-0, in a Group A preliminary; Xiaofang, the 2010 winner, edged out Kjorsvik Line of Norway in Group F, 7-5; while inaugural champion Shasha turned back compatriot Meng Gao, 7-5, in Group G.
A total of 64 players are vying in the meet that offers a total prize of US$300,000, with the champion receiving US$40,000, and the runner up US$20,000.
Tournament format calls for eight groups of eight players each seeing action in a double elimination set-up in the group stage – a race-to-seven, alternate break game.
The top four players from each group will advance to the final 32 – a knockout, race-to-nine, alternate game.
The championship round is a race-to-11 match.