Chou wins 9 on the loss side, downs Tkach in finals to win WPBA Soaring Eagle Masters

Chieh Yu Chou

In what the WPBA described as a ‘spectacular’ debut, Taiwan’s Chieh-Yu Chou (known as “Rita”) came from deep on the loss side to down the woman who’d sent her there (Kristina Tkach) and claim her first WPBA title. The $40,000-added Soaring Eagle Masters, held this past weekend (June 19-23), drew 80 entrants to the Soaring Eagle Casino & Resort in Mount Pleasant, MI. 

Chieh-Yu, who entered the tournament as the reigning 9-Ball Women’s World Champion, went undefeated through the 48-entrant, Stage 1 of the proceedings. That double-elimination bracket yielded 16 competitors, eight from each side of the bracket, who moved on to join 32 seeded competitors in a second, double elimination bracket. In races to 7 in Stage 1, Chieh-Yu downed Kathy Friend and Laura Smith, both 7-2 and Ashley Benoit 7-3 to become one of the eight competitors who advanced to the second bracket from the winners’ side of the Stage 1 Bracket. Her second round and eventual opponent in the finals of Stage 2, Kristina Tkach, was one of the 32 women who were seeded into Stage 2 from the start.

Joining Chieh-Yu from the winners’ side of the Stage 1 bracket were Pia Filler, Shui-Ching Chiang, Kelly Isaac, Wan-Ling Wang, Shanna Lewis, Miina Tani, and Lisa Cossette. From the loss side, Nguyen Bich Tram, Naomi Williams, Billie Billing, Jordan Helfrey, Rachel Lang, Olivia Cheng, Ashley Benoit, and Janet Ritcey joined the Stage 2 bracket.

Chieh-Yu’s Stage 2 work began well with an 8-4 victory over veteran WPBA competitor LoreeJon Brown, before she ran into Kristina Tkach for their first of two matches. In an early, exciting match, the two fought to double hill, before Tkach advanced and Chieh-Yu began her nine-match, loss-side winning streak that would culminate in a finals rematch. 

For Tkach, who’d been awarded an opening-round bye, that double-hill, opening-match victory was apparently a motivator as she turned to her next opponent Bean Hung and began a four-match march to the hot seat. She downed Hung, 8-3, gave up just a single rack to Janet Atwell and drew Allison Fisher in one of the winners’ side semifinals. Margaret Fefilova, in the meantime, defeated Ashley Benoit (5), Pia Filler (double hill), and JoAnn Mason Parker (1) to draw Brittany Bryant in the other winners’ side semifinal.

Tkach and Fisher battled to double hill, before Tkach advanced to the hot seat match, as Fefilova defeated Bryant 8-3 to join her. Tkach claimed the hot seat 8-5 over Fefilova.

On the loss side, Fisher and Bryant arrived to meet up with two formidable obstacles to further advancement; Bean Hung and (of course) Chieh-Yu, respectively. Hung had followed her loss to Tkach by defeating Lonnie Fox-Raymond 8-2, surviving a double-hill battle versus Jasmin Ouschan, winning an almost double-hill match against JoAnn Mason Parker and then, eliminating the WPBA’s top-ranked competitor, Kelly Fisher 8-5.

Bryant drew Chieh-Yu six matches into her loss-side streak, that had included victories over Kristina Zlateva (4), the WPBA’s 2nd top-rated competitor Tzu-Chien Wei (6), and in a double-hill battle, Germany’s Pia Filler (double hill), just prior to her match versus Bryant.

Fisher defeated Hung 8-4 and advanced to the quarterfinals. Chieh-Yu gave up just a single rack to Bryant and joined her. Chieh-Yu completed her loss-side run with two 8-5 victories, over Fisher in the quarterfinals and Fefilova in the semifinals.

In a way, just getting the chance to be in a final match against the opponent who’d made your your ‘day’ nine matches longer than it might have been otherwise would have been redemption enough. Not quite, though. Chieh-Yu and Tkach played a ‘spirited’ match that didn’t quite live up to any double-hill expectations that might have arisen. Chieh-Yu pulled ahead and won the extended-race match 10-7 to claim her first WPBA title.

Tour representatives thanked the ownership and staff at the Soaring Eagle Resort and Casino, as well as sponsors Viking Cues, Olhausen, Jacoby Custom Cues, Brunswick, Diamond Billiard Products, Aramith Balls, Kamui Tips, Iwan Simonis, How Tips, Big Family Custom Creations,, Outsville, Iowa City Metro Pool League, Holt Family Dental Care and Iowa City Women’s 8-Ball League.

The next event on the WPBA calendar, scheduled for the weekend of July 24-28, will be the Iron City Billiards Invitational IV at Iron City Billiards in Birmingham, AL.

Go to discussion...


Leave a comment

Please log in to comment