Benoit and Miller split top prizes on JPNEWT stop in Concord, NH

Stacie Bourbeau, Ashley Benoit, Savannah Easton, Briana Miller

For the second event in a row, Briana Miller, tour director and top competitor on the J. Pechauer Northeast Women’s Tour (JPNEWT), opted out of a final match against the competitor who occupied the hot seat at the ‘closing bell.’ Last month, at Yale Billiards in Wallingford, CT, that competitor was Joann Mason Parker. This past weekend, June 8-9, it was Ashley Benoit, who’s in the midst of her best recorded earnings year (of three) and defeated Miller in a winners’ side semifinal. Miller’s two previous tour stop wins, in March and April, allowed her to stay atop the JPNEWT leaderboard, ahead of Benoit, whose finish moved her ahead of Rachel Lang and Parker in the standings. The weekend’s $1,000-added, 8-ball event drew 35 entrants to Capital City Billiards in Concord, NH.

In races to 5, Benoit got by Kennedy Dunn (1), Diane Casey (0) and Sandy Cheng and drew Miller in their winners’ side semifinal match. Working from the opposite end of the bracket, 13-year-old Savannah Easton, who’s been recording payouts here on AZ since she was 10 years old, recorded her best recorded earnings year so far in 2022, missed beating her 2022 earnings in 2023 by $20, and is well on her way to making this year her best, set out to join Benoit in the hot seat match. She defeated Rachel Lang (2), Mindy Maialetti (2) and shut out Hannah Leedberg, to draw Stacie Bourbeau in the other winners’ side semifinal. 

Benoit and Miller locked up in a double-hill battle that did, eventually, send Benoit to the hot seat match. She was joined by Easton who shut out Bourbeau. Benoit gave up just a single rack to the teenager and claimed the hot seat.

On the loss side, Miller would face three opponents in her quest to get back to the finals and give up just a single rack to each one of them. She started out against Erica Testa, whom she’d defeated in the second winners’ side round. Testa moved over and won four straight to meet her a second time. In races to 4, Testa recorded every possible score against her four opponents; Susan Brooks (0), Rachel Lang (3), Stacey Tonkin (2) and Shuang Gao (1). Bourbeau drew Amanda Soucy, who’d lost her winners’ side quarterfinal match to Miller and then won two straight, double-hill battles vs. Carol V. Clark and Sandy Cheng.

Miller gave up her first single rack to Testa and advanced to the quarterfinals. Bourbeau joined her after giving up only two to Soucy. Miller defeated Bourbeua 4-1 and completed her loss-side trip with a third 4-1 win, over Savannah Easton.

Negotiations got underway between Benoit and Miller to split the top two prizes. As the undefeated occupant of the hot seat (and having defeated Miller earlier), Benoit became the event’s official winner.

In addition to the cash prizes, the event served as a qualifier for the WPBA’s Capital City Invitational, scheduled for Nov. 21-24 at the same location. With other competitors already qualified for that event, Amanda Soucy was awarded the qualifying spot. 

In her role as Tour Director, Miller thanked the ownership and staff at Capital City Billiards for their hospitality, along with title sponsor J. Pechauer Custom Cues, Fort Worth Billiards Superstore, In the Box Sportswear, PA Pro-Am Pool, Mezz Cues and George Hammerbacher (Advanced Pool Instructor). 

The JPNEWT will host another WPBA qualifying event at its next stop, scheduled for the weekend of July 13-14. The winner, or the highest finisher not already qualified, will earn an invitation to the WPBA’s Cuespeed NAPA Invitational, set for Oct. 10-13, at Railyard Billiards and Sports Pub in Louisville, KY.

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