AZBilliards Picks the Players of the Year

Shane Van Boening & Kelly Fisher, AZB'S picks for 2013
©JP Parmentier / T. Chengzhe

AZBilliards has named Shane Van Boening as the Male Player of the Year for 2013. Our Female Player of the Year is Kelly Fisher.

Shane Van Boening had an exceptional year. In the last year he won 15 events and played in the final match twenty times. He won 75% of the finals in which he participated. He had 37 Top Ten finishes in the year. So he had three top ten finishes every month on average. He won his second U.S. Open 9-Ball Championship in a row and is now poised to become the first player ever to win three times on the trot. In the finals of the Open Van Boening took down Lee Vann Cortezza 13-10.

Van Boening stepped up in a lot of major events this year. He won the US Open 8-Ball Championship at the Rio, The Super Billiards Expo Players Championship, and Turning Stone XX. Plus, he added the Andy Mercer Memorial, The Decider, the Steinway Classic, the Accu-Stats One Pocket invitational, the Wyoming Open and five TAR events where he was perfect for the year. With TAR he took on and shot down Efren Reyes, Dennis Orcullo, Corey Deuel, Darren Appleton and Mike Dechaine. These are all truly great players and the races at TAR are long enough to be meaningful. None of these are short-race luck-outs.

On only the earnings that have been reported to AZBilliards Mr. Van Boening earned $153,400 for the year.
The only place we can find for Van Boening to improve is in his presence overseas. Like many wines, Van Boening does not travel well. Players who do not beat him here in the USA wind up ‘upsetting’ him overseas. His best finish off of American soil is a fifth-place finish he took at the World Pool Masters. At the World Cup of Pool he partnered with Johnny Archer (another player who has struggled of late with travel) and could fare no better than 9th. At the WCOP they barely edged the team from Kuwait 6-5 and then lost by the same margin to Team Japan made up of Naoyuki Oi and Lo Li-wen. Finally, he came in 17th at the World 9-Ball Championship where he lost in the second round of the event to Carlo Biado 11-10. Van Boening had defeated Biado in the finals of the US Open 8-Ball Championship some three months earlier. He had also beaten him during the Ultimate Ten Ball Championships (again on the hill).

But Van Boening more than balanced out his overseas troubles with domination at home. In 2013 he was either first or second nearly half of the time. He only came in worse than tenth four times out of 41 events. That pretty much defines consistency and demands the description of dominating.

Kelly Fisher also has a lot to say about consistency. As the opportunities for women were scanty in 2013 Ms. Fisher only had seven events in which she could compete. She won two of them and finished in the top five in six of them. In the other she took 9th. Top Ten in every event played.

Her first-place finishes came at big events with nice paydays. When she won the Amway eSpring Open (The Amway Cup) she brought home $34,000 and the Challenge of Champions garnered her another $17,500. Those two wins alone took her earnings for the year far above any of her competitors in tournament play. In tournament competitions reported to AZBilliards MS. Fisher earned $75,000 last year while her closest competitors (Yu Han and Liu Sha Sha ) were shy of the $50,000 mark.

Fisher comes with displays of cueing power that amaze and delight. At the Amway Open she cruised through her initial group with a 4-0 record, winning 28 of the 35 racks that she played there. In the final elimination stage she went unscathed with victories over Chihiro Kawahara, Xiao Ting Pan, Chieh Yu Chou and Jasmin Ouschan.  Then, at the Women’s World 10-Ball in Manila, Fisher was undefeated going into the final match and favored to win. But on that day the balls favored home-town hero Rubilen Amit and Amit played a very solid final to leave Fisher in second place 10-7.

Kelly Fisher was only one match away from yet another finals at the China Open. She had won the event in 2012 and was knocking players over consistently with wins over quality players like Tsai Pei Chen (9-3) and Lan Hiushan (9-5).  But when she played Siming Chen her cue ball speed slipped just the tiniest amount. Always the realist, Fisher afterward admitted she missed her standard in the match. “It was a quality match. She played solid but I made a few mistakes in the middle of the match that cost me. In the last rack I thought the safety I played on the 2 was perfect but I guess she could see just a little bit of that ball.”  

At the Ultimate Ten Ball Championship Kelly Fisher had to fight for her bread. She dropped her second-round contest to Melissa Little 7-4. That loss must have opened up a large can of kickbutt in Ms. Fisher because she then went on a march that left her victims ravaged.  She demolished Emily Duddy 7-2. Elanor Callado fought hard to lose 7-4. Janet Atwell lost 7-2  and Angel Paglia was unceremoniously dumped 7-1.

Jasmin Ouschan was the next victim at 7-4. World Champion Siming Chen was tossed aside 7-3. Monica Webb would fall next (7-4) and it was only then that Fisher proved herself fallible when Line Kjoersvik was able to send her to the sidelines with a hotly contested double-hill thriller of a match.

Ms. Fisher finished in third-place at the World Games in Cali, Colombia. In this single-elimination format she lost only to the Champion, Chieh-Yu Chou of Chinese Taipei. But she paid that little debt with a victory over Karen Corr to take the title of 2013 Champion of Champions.

Our congratulations go out to both of these Professionals not only for their performance in the past year but also for the manner in which they choose to represent the game. They are acutely aware of their positions in the sport and they lead their professional lives accordingly.