CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. — Ryan Grant’s gonna try to not get snookered at the Canadian Billiards and Snooker Association (CBSA) open nationals May 22-27 in Toronto.
Grant, a 20-year veteran of the Island billiards scene, competes in 8-ball, 9-ball and 10-ball at the nationals as P.E.I.’s rep. He accepted the call after Lorne Allaire, provincial 8- and 9-ball winner, and Kevin McGee, P.E.I. 10-ball champ, couldn’t make the trip.
Grant’s no slouch, though; he finished second in all three provincial tourneys and goes up against big-time professionals like John Morra and Alex Pagulayan, a former world champion, at the national event.
And Grant’s excited to test himself against some of the world’s best shooters.
“I’d like to get five games off him (Pagulayan). That’s a goal. You’ve got to play the balls on the table the way they lay. That’s it when it’s all said and done,” said Grant. “It can leap frog your game. That’s what you take away. Playing against the top pros will be awesome.”
Grant shoots 8-ball the first two days of the tournament, followed by 10-ball the next pair of days, then finishes things off with 9-ball on the final two days.
That Grant is shooting in all three disciplines is a testament to the increasing presence of billiards in P.E.I. It didn’t happen by accident, however.
Grant and Andrew Sprague are part of the 11-member board taken from the ranks of the Charlottetown 8-Ball League as a de-facto leadership group for a new provincial organization the board hopes to launch later this year.
The idea started as a reaction to CBSA prompting. The national group holds the places in the three categories for Island players, but the Island wasn’t sending reps in all the sections, in part because no official provincial tournaments existed and in part because the game as in a lull.
“(The CBSA said) ‘Get it together, guys, or you’re going to lose those spots,'” said Sprague.
So Sprague and the dedicated crew answered the call and ramped up the game’s exposure. It’s worked as the Charlottetown league (now with 13 teams and 90 shooters) boasted two new teams and 25 new players this year, ran 8-, 9- and 10-ball provincials for the first time, secured new provincial tournament sponsors and paid out $20,000 in total prizes to its division-winning teams.
The Maritime CCS (Canadian Cue Sport Association) championship goes Oct. 19-21 in Charlottetown and Sprague and company have plans for a youth development league after the new provincial organization fires up and six to eight rankings tournaments in the regular season leading to the provincials.
Also exciting for Grant, who’s seen the game ebb and flow over his two-decade career, is seeing new players get better.
“All those players are improving tremendously. All those players are capable of running the table. They just dive right in,” Grant said.
Grant has a GoFundMe campaign with hopes to raise $1,500 by Sunday to defray the cost of attending the nationals. Visit www.gofundme.com to contribute.
Contact Sprague at 902-314-0945 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more on the Charlottetown 8-Ball League and the provincial organization.