Morra brings home second straight Texas Open title, Villareal wins Ladies event
Skip Maloney
Sep. 6, 2017
John Morra (Photo courtesy of Poolactiontv.com)
John Morra (Photo courtesy of Poolactiontv.com)
You can’t be everywhere at once, so candidates vying to be among the top 10 players in the running for selection as a member of the 2017 Mosconi Cup team, had to choose where they’d spend this past Labor Day weekend; at Turning Stone XXVIII in Verona, NY or Round Rock, TX at the 44th Annual Texas Open, both of which were awarding a range of Mosconi Cup points to competitors.
 
 
Sitting atop the current list of contenders for selection to the US team, Shane Van Boening picked Turning Stone XXVIII to attend (separate story), and stayed on top of that list by defeating Jayson Shaw in the finals of that event (Shaw is a likely member of the European Mosconi Cup team). At the $8,000-added, 44th Annual Texas Open, the defending champion, Canadian John Morra, with no known interest in the acquisition of Mosconi Cup points, went undefeated through a full field of 128 to claim the title a second straight time. Morra became the first person to go back-to-back at this tournament since Jeremy Jones accomplished the feat in 2002/2003. Morra faced Devin Poteet twice in this one, in the hot seat and finals. Like Morra, Poteet had no ‘dog in the hunt’ for Mosconi Cup points.
 
 
In addition to the Open event, the Ladies had a tournament, as well; a $2,000-added event that commenced on Saturday, September 2, drew 32 entrants and was won by Vivian Villareal. Other features of this long-Labor Day weekend event included a Jack and Jill Scotch Doubles tournament (won by the veteran team of James Davis, Sr. and Jennifer Kraber), a race-to-three 9-ball event, and a Ring Game on Friday night.
 
 
Sky Woodward and Justin Bergman were the two Mosconi Cup contenders in attendance who were hoping to add points to their total. Woodward (who won this event in 2015) entered the Texas Open in fourth place among the Mosconi Cup contenders, while Bergman entered at a distant 15th place. They were both sent to the loss side in the early going of this event; Woodward, by Ryan Lane in the fourth round of play, and Bergman, by Morra, in the third round. They ran into each other in the sixth, loss-side round and fought a predictable double hill fight that eventually advanced Woodward to meet Shane McMinn. McMinn defeated him to end his run. Woodward did add 14 points to his Mosconi Cup total with his finish in the tie for 9th place. Bergman’s finish in the tie for 13th awarded him 10 points.
 
Morra and Poteet, in the meantime, advanced to winners’ side semifinal matches against James Davis, Sr. and Ryan Lane, respectively. Morra downed Davis 9-6, advancing to the hot seat match, where he was joined by Poteet, who’d survived a double hill match against Lane. The hot seat match was a battle of the former ‘young gun’ (Morra, who’s now 28) and the up and coming ‘young gun’ (Poteet, who’s 20). It went double hill before Morra was sent to the semifinals.
 
 
On the loss side, Davis, Sr. picked up Sharik Sayed, who'd defeated Justin Espinoza 9-7 and Jeff Melton 9-5 to reach him. Lane had what proved to be the misfortune of drawing long-time Texas adversary and two-time winner of this tournament, Jeremy Jones, who was in the midst of a seven-match, loss-side winning streak, to include recent wins over
Manny Chau and Shane McMinn, both 9-5.
 
Davis, Sr. moved into the quarterfinals after a 9-6 win over Sayed. Jones joined him after shutting out Lane. Davis stopped Jones’ run 9-6 in those quarterfinals, and then had his run stopped 9-1 by Morra in the semifinals (“Not bad for an old guy,” said the 65-year-old Davis of his third place finish).
 
Morra and Poteet had fought to double hill in the hot seat match, but neither of the two, true double elimination matches came close to that. Morra took the opening set 9-3, and went one better (9-2) in the second set to complete his run and claim the 44th Annual Texas Open title for the second year in a row.
 
Villareal goes undefeated to claim Ladies title
 
 
Vivian Villareal did not compete in the 2016 Texas Open, which, some would argue, left the door open for Ricki Casper to claim the 2016 title. The Texas Tornado signed on to the 2017 Texas Open and competed in both the Open event and the Ladies event, which she won, undefeated. She chalked up three wins in the Open event, before the eventual winner, John Morra, sent her to the loss side. She won a single match there, against Jon Demet, before Alex Calderon eliminated her in the 7th losers’ side round.
 
She advanced through the 32-entrant Ladies field to meet Jennifer Kraber (winner, with  Davis, Sr. of the Scotch Doubles tournament) in a winners’ side semifinal. Jennifer Yo and Michelle Abernathy met in the other winners’ side semifinal. Villareal got into the hot seat 7-3 over Kraber. Yo joined her in the hot seat match after sending Abernathy west 7-5. Villareal gave up only a single rack to Yo, claiming the hot seat 7-1.
 
On the loss side, Kraber picked up defending champion Ricki Casper, while Abernathy drew Autumn Duncan. Kraber and Duncan advanced to the quarterfinals; Kraber, double hill over Casper, and Duncan 7-4 over Abernathy.
 
Two double hill matches followed. The first, in the quarterfinals, went to Duncan over Kraber. The second, in the semifinals, left Duncan in third place and sent Yo back for a second shot at Villareal in the hot seat. Villareal completed her undefeated run in a single set, duplicating her 7-1 hot seat match effort against Yo.