Cole fights back from the one-loss side to take NWPA stop

Liz Cole (File photo courtesy of Anne Craig)

The race for the top spot in the Northwest Women's Pool Association (NWPA) rankings tightened up a bit on the weekend of September 18-19 at the tour's sixth stop. Liz Cole, the 2009 NWPA point leader, moved up from fifth place to third place on the 2010 rankings with a first place finish she earned with eight straight victories on the one-loss side of the bracket.  The $500-added event drew 34 entrants to The Golden Fleece in Kenmore, WA.

With the opening round bracket extended to 64, 30 players received byes for that opening round. The winners of the two matches that comprised the event's official opening round – Jana Montour and June Maiers – entered the event ranked # 1 and #2 in the NWPA standings . They proceeded to win three more matches to move among the winners' side final four.  Maiers faced Andrea (Andy) Ruth, while Montour squared off against Mary Hopkin. Maiers sent Ruth west 7-4, as Hopkin moved into the hot seat match with a 7-5 win over Montour.  Maiers gained the hot seat with a double hill victory over Hopkin.

After an opening round victory over Tayla Markus, Cole ended up on the one-loss side thanks to a 7-4 victory by Suzanne Smith. She then embarked on a seven-match march back to the finals. Following victories over Stacy Eilts and Mikki Small, Cole defeated Regene Wentzell  and Jackie Karol, both 6-3, to meet Ruth.  Montour drew Andrea Saenz-Maes, who'd gotten by Kimberly Kirk 6-4 and Smith 6-3 (thereby denying Cole the satisfaction of a rematch versus Smith). Montour and Cole advanced to the quarterfinals; Montour with a 6-2 victory over Saenz-Maes and Cole with a 6-3 win over Ruth.

Cole defeated Montour in those quarterfinals 6-3, and squeaked by Hopkin in a double hill semifinal match. Cole then went on to meet and defeat Maiers in the extended race-to-9 finals.

By advancing on this stop to the winners' side final four, Montour virtually locked up her ranking as # 1 on the 2010 NWPA tour.  Her fourth place finish on this latest stop gave her a total of 860 points on the year with Maiers in second place, trailing by 140 points.  If Montour participates in the tour's final stop (November 6-7 at the Parlor in Bellevue, WA), she need only finish in the tie for ninth place to guarantee her maintenance of the # 1 slot. Even if Maiers wins the event, she'll have only tallied a total of 920 points. A ninth place finish in the tour finale would give Montour 65 points, for a total of 925.