Appleton wins One-Pocket event, while veteran Loree Jon Hasson wins the Ladies 9-Ball Open
Last year, at Allen Hopkins' 24th Annual Super Billiards Expo, John Morra denied Shane Van Boening his sixth Diamond Open 10-Ball Professional Players Championship title, defeating him 13-10 in the finals. At the time, Van Boening had won five of his seven attempts at the title, including three in a row between 2102-2014. On the weekend of March 30-April 2, at what was the 25th anniversary of the Super Billiards Expo, held at the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center at Oaks, PA, Van Boening chalked up that sixth win (in eight attempts), downing Johann Chua from the Phillipines 13-10 in the finals. The 10-Ball Championships drew 64 entrants.
Over at the One Pocket tables that drew 32 entrants, Darren Appleton emerged as the winner, downing Derek Schwager in the finals. In the Diamond Women's Open 9-Ball Professional Players Championships that also drew 32, a familiar name, Loree Jon Hasson (formerly Loree Jon Jones), bested Jennifer Baretta in the finals to claim her first title.
The total fields of the above three Pro events (128) were but a fraction of the nearly 2,000 entrants (1,856) in seven different tournaments, not including a couple of junior tournaments, held for the 17 & under and 12 & under crowd of relative newcomers to the sport. Making up just over 55% of the total number of competitors at this year's event was an Open Division Amateur event, which drew 1,024 entrants, broken up, initially, into 16 brackets of 64 entrants each (a tip of the hat to C.C. Strain for her tournament directing job of coordinating this massive tournament). Each original, double-elimination bracket yielded a single winner, who advanced to a single elimination field of 16. Christopher Byers won five matches to emerge from his individual bracket, and won four more in the single elimination phase of the tournament, including a 5-1, 4-5, 5-3 victory over Larry Kressel in the finals to win his first major Amateur title.
By the time the Open 10-Ball Championships (the fifth of 15 Mosconi Cup Qualification Events in 2017) had boiled down to its final 16 players and its single elimination phase, the field was like a 'dream team' for any promoter looking to draw spectator crowds to an event. Half of them were former members of either the European or USA Mosconi Cup teams, including two members of the 2016 USA Mosconi Cup team (Skyler Woodward and Van Boening), and three members of earlier Mosconi Cup teams (Dennis Hatch, Earl Strickland, and Oscar Dominguez). The 'Sweet 16' also featured two members of the 2016 European Mosconi Cup team (Darren Appleton and Jayson Shaw) and one member of an earlier European Mosconi Cup team; twice MVP Mika Immonen.
Half of those eight were gone after the single elimination phase's opening round was over. The Iceman, Mika Immonen, had been defeated by eventual finalist Johann Chua in a double hill match, Hatch downed Strickland 13-7, Kevin Cheng defeated Sky Woodward 13-10, and Carlo Biado eliminated Appleton 13-6. Also advancing to the final eight were Van Boening (13-9 over Lee Van Corteza), Jayson Shaw (13-4 over Hunter Lombardo), Jeffrey DeLuna (13-10 over Dennis Orcullo), and Oscar Dominguez (13-4 over Sergio Rivas).
In the event quarterfinals, Johann Chua and Jayson Shaw locked up in a double hill match that eventually sent Shaw packing. Hatch downed DeLuna 13-8, Biado eliminated Kevin Cheng 13-10 and Van Boening kept on trucking, 13-5 over Oscar Dominguez. Fighting for an appearance in the finals, Chua bested Dennis Hatch 13-7, as Van Boening took care of Biado 13-8. Van Boening closed it out to claim his sixth SBE title with a 13-9 victory over Chua in the finals.
Hasson returns to the playing field to claim Women's Open 9-Ball title
The 32-entrant Women's Open 9-Ball event was not without its marquee names. Karen Corr was the most prominent among them, but the field also included The Texas Tornado, Vivian Villareal, and Jennifer Baretta, who advanced to the finals. There was also a contingent of outstanding (and long-standing) regional tour competitors, like Linda Shea, Kia Sibury, Emily Duddy, Borana Andoni, Caroline Pao, and Rhio Anne Flores (to name just a few). The field also featured former junior champions, Brittany Bryant and the teenager, April Larson. It also contained a name that people hadn't heard in a while; 8X BCA Champion and Hall of Fame inductee, Loree Jon Hasson, who would emerge from the loss side, and eventually claim the title.
The double elimination phase of the event advanced until there were four left on the winners' side (Corr, Bryant, Duddy, and Heather Cortez) and four on the loss side (Hasson, Baretta, Villareal, and Flores). Hasson, who'd lost in the event's opening round to Villareal 9-2, worked her way through four loss-side opponents, eventually defeating Erin McManus to earn her right in to the Final Eight. Baretta, who'd been defeated by Corr in a winners' side final eight battle, played only one loss-side match, ending a four-match, loss-side run by April Larson. Villareal, who'd also been downed by Corr in a winners' side final 16 matchup, got through three loss-side opponents (Andoni, Shea and in the final loss-side win, Sidbury). In her only loss-side match, Annie Flores, who'd been defeated by Duddy in a winners' side final eight match, defeated her only loss-side opponent, Dawn Fox, to join the event's final eight competitors.
Loree Jon Hasson's credentials as a champion showed up in her first two, single elimination matches, in which she defeated, first, Karen Corr, and then, in a re-match, Vivian Villareal. Both matches went double hill to put Hasson into the finals. As Hasson was busy with Corr, Villareal was eliminating Brittany Bryant 11-6, Annie Flores was downing Emily Duddy 11-9 and Jennifer Baretta was ending Heather Cortez' weekend 11-4.
Hasson advanced to the finals with the aforementioned double hill defeat over Villareal, while Baretta ended what was a remarkable overall performance by Rhio Anne Flores 11-9. After two double hill matches against the best in the business, Hasson got out in front of Baretta in the finals and stayed there, winning the Women's Open 9-Ball title 11-5.
Appleton claims SBE One Pocket title
The 32-entrant Diamond Open One-Pocket Professional Players Championship advanced through initial double elimination brackets to produce eight, single elimination opponents, who were three matches away from the title. In the opening round of this final phase (best of three matches, with ties after two, decided by a single, sudden death game), Adam Kielar defeated Phillip Wines 2-3, 3-0, and 1-0 (sudden death), Appleton shut Corey Eulas out twice, Derek Schwager eliminated Eddie Crespo 3-1, 3-1, and Vincent Cimarelli downed Jonathan Ailstock 3-0, 3-1.
Appleton and Schwager advanced to the finals with identical 3-1, 3-1 victories over Kielar and Cimarelli, respectively. Appleton completed his title run with a 3-1, 3-0 victory over Schwager in the finals.
While the winners of the varied events of this 25th Annual Super Billiards Expo, held under the auspices of Allen Hopkins productions, got to bring home both cash and bragging rights, the unsung heroes of the event were Doug Ennis (assisted by Frank Del Pizzo), who coordinated the Pro events, and C.C. Strain, who kept the Amateur events, including the massive, 1,024-entrant Amateur Open running. They did it all in four days, thanks in no small measure to the facility that hosted the event - The Greater Philadelphia Expo Center at Oaks. Also on hand to keep those who couldn't attend in person entertained were Upstate Al (and a variety of guest commentators) and the production crew of AZBTv.
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