Last Saturday November 1st 44 players came to Le Skratch Laval for the second stop of Quebec Federation Pro Circuit. Alain “The Dancing Bear” Martel, who finished third in the first event held at Dooly’s Valleyfield then followed that up by winning the Quebec Provincials a few weeks later, continued his winning ways in Laval.
I left Dorion after being defeated in an “A” class tournament, and decided to drive another 30 minutes east to watch the Pro event. By this time it was about 5 pm and I was able to watch the end of the Sylvain Grenier / Alain Martel match-up deep on the winners side bracket. This was my first time getting a glimpse of Grenier as he like many players have done, has taken a few years off from competition.
After talking to some of the players who are familiar with Grenier, he was often described as a “monster.” As I squeezed in between fellow railbirds to get a glimpse of this match-up I could immediately understand what people meant. Grenier has a break that when people hear it, automatically turn to their head to see what just happened. And he does so with enough precision to have a reasonable opening shot each rack.
It was his break and running percentages that kept this match close with the wiley veteran Martel. Grenier eventually was able to overtake Martel in a thrilling 9-8 victory. Grenier continued on to do what few have been able to do since Martel and Salvas came on the scene which was to beat them both in the same tournament. He did so with a scoreline of 9-7 with his break once again being the difference in the match.
Both Martel and Salvas then went on to win their matches on the losers side until they met up to figure out who would finish in 4th position. This was by far the most entertaining match I have seen so far this season. Being that these two are virtual hero’s in the Quebéc pool scene, this match had the interest of everyone who was not playing at the time.
Combined with the 50 plus fans watching the match with the history and friendship of these two this was truly an epic set. There was a moment at 5-5 where a bad break left the 1 ball on the top rail nearly frozen to two other balls. With no shot, available a six shot safety battle ensued with Martel continuously kicking one rail and just thinning the ball enough for it to be a legal hit and leaving no shot.
This thrilled the very educated crowd in attendance as they watched both players skillfully executing their safeties. Eventually an opportunity came for Martel and he took advantage running out to go ahead 6-5. Salvas then won the next rack, then at double hill another safety battle began with once again Martel barely getting the best of Salvas winning 7-6.
In his next match in the losers side final Martel had a chance at redemption as Martin Daigle beat Grenier in the winners side final. This match was not as close as before as Martel won 7-4. The final also turned out to be very entertaining with Martel getting a substantial lead at 9-3 in a race to eleven. Then Daigle began stringing racks together and made it a very close affair, but in the end Martel went on to win 11-9.
On a side note the hot streak for both Danny Hewitt and Martin Daigle continued on this week. In the last three weeks these two have each won a Joss Tour event and have both finished in the top 5 in the Joss event they did not win. This was followed up with them both securing a top 5 position in this tournament. The next Québec Federation tournament will be held at Dooly’s Neufchatel on December 6th.