Cha and Immonen Victorious in Korea

Yuram Cha and Mika Immonen

An anxious TV audience arrived quickly filling up the seats to see the first semi-finals with the two Cha sisters vying to see who would advance to the finals. 21 year old Boram Cha had taken a 3 year break from pool and returning strong in her first international event in 3 years. 19 year old Yuram in those three years has risen to be #1 on tour, but had yet to win a major international title, especially a televised event. Both sisters fighting to accomplish a new height in their career.

Yuram gave her sister an easy game for Boram's first TV debut, with just the 8ball and 9ball hanging. But then Yuram turned up a notch and started playing her A game and made a great break and run. A dry break from Boram gave Yuram another great run out to take the lead 2-1. Another break and run from Yuram gave her some space away from her sister at 3-1. Boram broke and looked shaky as she missed position on the five ball and left herself a long bank on the 5 ball or potential tough safety. Boram went for the backwards cut bankshot and split the pocket perfectly and ran out to make it 3-2. Yuram would not let up an ounce though as she broke and ran the next rack again. Many strong players were watching in the audience wowed by this young woman's performance. Filipino players Ronnie Alcano and Dante Razalan looked on, laughing and shaking their head on the great shots Yuram was coming with. Boram attempted a tough draw shot off the one ball to carom nto the 9ball and almost made it but didnt have enough power to drop the 9ball, and she watched helplessly as Yuram sank the 1ball and speedily fired in the 2 - 9 combo for the win.

"She plays just as good as Kajitani(Japan's #1 woman). Difference is only experience. Maybe in one year she's better than all the women." commented World Champion Ronnie Alcano.

The women's second semi-finals was in contrast full of errors by Miyuki Sakai and Kyoko Sone. Both players made many errors and no break and runs. But Sone of Japan kept her nerve a little better than Sakai and was able to win the match 5-2 to advance to the finals.

The championship match between Cha and Sone drew a packed crowd in the arena with as many people standing as sitting. Both players playing for their country. Japans #3 Sone the more experienced and seasoned pro taking on Korea's #1 Cha, young, hungry and looking for her first major win. Yuram came out the gate strong and took the first game. Sone seemed to not be able to shake off her performance from the last match while Yuram kept up her relentless offense. 1-0, 2-0, 3-0, 4-0 in favor of Cha. It was no contest and finally Sone caught a break with Cha missing and leaving an easy 7, 8, 9 on table. Sone missed the first shot and sat while Cha quickly ran to the 9ball, took a deep breath, and fired it in the hole for the victory.

The TV networks were advertising the event as "The Last Event of Yuram Cha before She Goes to USA". Yuram didn't disappoint and will be leaving Korea with a bang.

On the men's side, Mika Immonen seemed unstoppable. Getting stronger every match, he obliterated Japan's Takano 7-1 to reach the finals. Alcano was taking on the other Japanese player, a first year rookie named Kenji Masauchi. Alcano similarly seemed destined to be in the finals as he won 7-2. So was it Alcano's destiny to defend his title in Korea...or would it be the newly motivated Immonen making his point to the world again?

Alcano might have made some people superstitious with a 9Ball on the break in the first game. But Immonen just laughed it off in his chair and came back with a break and run. Both players traded games and both played superbly until 3-3. Finally Mika caught a break and took the lead for the first time at 4-3. The rolls started to go sour on Alcano as Mika crept up to a 6-4 lead. Immonen seemed completely focused and supremely confident as he shot, kicked,and broke and ran his way to the hill. The final game saw Alcano push to an off angle bankshot on the 1ball. Mika looking like the player who captured the 2001 World Championships, did not hesitate in taking on the bank and fired it cross side and ran out for the win. Pumping his fist in triumph after the 9ball dropped, Mika couldn't contain his joy and satisfaction on a well played event.

"I've been working so hard on my game and training in the gym. I know this is no accident me winning here." said a jubilant Mika Immonen.

Cindy Lee, President of Dragon Promotions who produced the event commented , " Mika played the best of all the players here this week. In fact, he's won so many DP events. More than any other player combined."

Immonen in 5 years time has won The US Pro Tour Championship, The Predator Florida Open, back to back UPA Atlanta Opens, Peninsula Open, Korea International Championships, and now the Korea Pro Tour Championships. All Dragon Promotions events.

Mika laughs, " Yeah, it's a little freaky. I definitely love Dragon Promotions events. Guess it helps they also manage me. I've done well in Asia and USA....maybe I'll convince them to do some European events? "