Star player gears up for nationals

SA national pool player Joy Willenberg will represent the country at the Chinese Eight-ball pool championships in Secunda later this month.

National pool player Joy Willenberg, 31, will represent the province at the South African Confederation of Cue Sport (SACCS) national championships, in Secunda, later this month.

The star player says staying committed and disciplined is the secret to her success with the blackball.

Introduced to the game by her brother many years ago, Willenberg’s sharp shooting skills have given her the opportunity to travel around the world.

And, it never gets dull, she says. Better yet, it is travelling to different countries that uplifts her spirit, she says.

In August, at Narans Snooker Club in Lansdowne, Willenberg was crowned the Women’s SA Snooker Classics champion and she also won the Western Cape Blackball women’s singles title.

When asked by Athlone News about her love for pool, she says despite her top-five ranking in the country, she remains humbled by the opportunities created by the game.

She has already been to more than five countries, including three this year, and she is gearing up to strut her stuff in China and Britain early next year.

For those not familiar with the game, there is a difference between pool, snooker, American Nine-ball and Chinese Eight-ball, Willenberg says.

But regardless of the discipline, Willenberg succeeds in all of them. She recalls a time when the late owner of Narans Snooker Club asked her to take pool seriously as she was a competitive beginner.

She says that at the time she did not know there were so many opportunities in the game.

However, getting to speak with the right people that know the sport enabled her to find out more information on how the league works.

Back at Vadin Billiards in Tableview on Saturday, she was preparing to take part in the All Africa championships organised by the provincial pool board. And, as you can imagine, she came out tops.

She first qualified for the national team in 2012, playing back and forth around the country, including a tournament she won in Bloemfontein.

“It is sort of like a bug that bites you. You go to the nationals, you meet people and you realise this is what you want to achieve. It is a passion.

“We ask ourselves all the time why are we playing this game. But we meet people, and you become a family.

“You can even go to different countries. I was in Tanzania, Uganda, Lesotho, all for the blackball. It is life changing to see how other people live.

“When I started I was introduced by my brother. There was a competition in town and it was a Monday night competition and then I went with, and the guys said you are actually good you should trial for the province. From there we met people and they said I should join up and play in the league.

“I actually played a couple of years before I made the provincial and national team.”

Former All Africa champion and owner at Vadin Billiards, Dino Nair, said they are inspiring the next generation of pool champions. Nair received a bronze medal at the World Championships, in England, earlier this year.