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2023 Local sport achievements (4): Maltese cueists bring home world and European titles

Clayton Castaldi was crowned world pool champion in 2023.

Cue sport has provided a lot of satisfaction to Maltese sport in both pool and blackball during the past months. Both federations managed two world and European titles to further strengthen their reputation on the international scene. Valhmor Camilleri looks at their major achievements in the past 12 months…

The Malta Pool Association started the year in some style, winning three titles at the European Championships that were held in Malta.

The Men’s B team formed by Tony Drago, Scott Muscat, Troy Zammit, Darren Schembri, Warren Falzon and Ryan Falzon reached the final when they ousted France B 8-6 in the semi-finals before edging Ireland 8-6 in the title match.

There was also success for the Men’s U-18 team who secured the continental title when they had the better of Ireland 5-2 in the final.

The Maltese contingent added two more titles in these championships when the men’s Over 60 team brushed aside England 5-1 to lift the crown while Tonio Mifsud was crowned as European champion in the Over 50 category when he beat team-mate Conrad Catania 7-6 in a thrilling final.

There was heartache for Dejan Grech who was one step away from successfully defending the European title but was beaten by England’s Luke Gilbert 8-3 in the final. 

The major title success of 2023 was achieved by Clayton Castaldi at the World Championships in Agadir, Morocco.

Castaldi rewrote the history books in the game of pool in Malta after he was crowned as world champion after triumphing in the singles tournament final.

Facing English professional player Josh Kane, Castaldi had his work cut out in his bid to become the first-ever Maltese player to lift the world title in the singles competition.

But the Maltese player continued to show his best form in the tournament showcase to come out victorious 11-9 in a thrilling final.

It was a stunning performance from the Maltese player who had reached the final when he knocked out Indian player Hiten Patel 9-4 in the quarter-finals before edging past Richard Gifford, of Wales, 10-9 in the semi-finals stage.

Castaldi’s triumph was the second title won by the Malta Pool Association in Morocco as, the men’s U-18 team beat South Africa in the final to add the world championship crown to the European Championships success achieved last February.

The Malta Blackball Federation also achieved some excellent results on the international scene during the past 12 months.

The local federation had the honour of hosting the European Championships at the Dolmen Hotel and the Maltese players gave the home crowd something to cheer about when they claimed three continental titles.

In fact, on the final day of the championship, Jake Castaldi and Steve Muscat were crowned as European champions as they triumphed in their respective categories.

Castaldi secured the European crown in the U-15 category after he had the better of Welsh player Mason Lorey 6-1.

It was a stunning display from the young Maltese player who cruised to victory in emphatic fashion.

The Maltese fans present at the Dolmen Hotel had more cause for celebration as Steve Muscat took the title in the Under 18 category.

In the final he beat English player Solly Simpson 6-3 in a very balanced game.

The Malta Blackball U-18 national team who were crowned European champions this year.

Ryan Pisani came agonisingly close to handing Malta a third singles European title but was beaten in the men’s seniors final by Welsh professional player Craig Marsh in the final.

In the teams’ competition, the U-18 side won the title in their class but Malta A just missed out on the European crown when they were beaten by England A 13-10.

The Maltese players put on a stirring fightback after trailing 5-0 after the opening session and managed to bridge the gap to 12-10 with three frames to play.

But the English side kept their composure to take the match-winning frame and lift the championship trophy.

Malta B1 were beaten by England 8-3 in the U-15 category while English A edged Malta A 13-12 in the U-18 class.

In the senior singles final, Ryan Pisani was defeated by the Welsh player Craig Marsh 6-4.

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