2009 US Amateur Champion Underway

Mary Rakin Photo Courtesy of Mike Fieldhammer, BilliardCoach.com

The 15th annual U.S. Amateur Championship is held this year on November 6-8, 2009. The prestigious event is presented each year by the American Poolplayers Association. After the past four years at Mr. Cues II in Atlanta, GA, the players will be competing at a new venue this year, at Strokers II in sunny Tampa, Florida.

“The players seem very happy with the new location. Florida actually has the largest population of APA players,” said Jason Bowman, Public Relations Manager for the APA, “Participation in the preliminary rounds is also up from last year.” Aside from the venue change, the women's finals are scheduled for 9:30p.m. Saturday night versus the usual Sunday evening finals alongside the men. This new schedule change is a trial run to accommodate for shorter wait times in the smaller women's field.

This three day event kicked off promptly at 1 o'clock on Friday with a players' meeting and lunch buffet. This tournament format includes both 8-ball and 9-ball. The winner of the lag chooses the starting game or the opening break, race to 7 for the men and race to 5 for the women. 128 men and 31 women qualified.

Some surprising faces missing from the main event this year include previous champs Henry Brodt from Glenview, Illinois and Jason Richko of Trinity, Florida. Both players competed in the preliminary round but did not earn spots this year. “Henry has played in this thing every year in the last ten years that I've been here,” said Bowman. Brodt is also the only player to win back-to-back titles in 1998 and 1999.

2000 champion, David Rowell from Burmingham, Alabama was sent west in the first round by Robert Lea of Conyers, Georgia. In round two, 2006 champ, local Michell Monk also suffered her first loss, hill-hill, to Samm Diep of Denver, Colorado. Last year's champions, Amy Chen of Norcross, Georgia and Travis Gunn of Hewitt, Texas both remain undefeated and return in the a.m.

Also undefeated of last year's top six are Carl Gay, third-place finisher Brian Parks, and runner-up Chris Walls. Other notable players in the women's bracket to watch out for are California juniors' champion, Mary Rakin and Atlanta's favorite Betty Sessions. Sessions has finished in the top three for the past three consecutive years.

Play continues with 9:30a.m. matches. Visit USAmateurChampionship.com for more information, online tournament brackets, and photos.