Danny Smith fights back to defeat Nevel in Music City finals; Keeney takes Ladies event


Larry Nevel and Danny Smith played 59 games against each other in the 26th Annual Music City Open, held from January 16-20. Nevel won 31 of those games, but Smith won his last 22 in a gut-wrenching, double elimination final that allowed him to claim the event title. The $6,000-added tournament drew 108 entrants to JOB Billiards in Madison, TN.

Nicole Keeney gave up a set to Liz Lovely in the true double elimination finals of the $1,000-added Ladies tournament, and just did survive a double hill battle in the second set to claim the event title that had drawn 32 women to the same location.

Smith and Nevel met first among the winners' side final four. Josh O'Neil and Kurt Durbin squared off in the other winners' side semifinal. Nevel sent Smith to the loss side 11-6, as O'Neil was busy downing Durbin 11-5. In the hot seat battle that ensued, Nevel sent O'Neil after Smith 11-3 and sat in the hot seat, having won his last match.

Smith moved west to meet Shannon "The Cannon" Daulton, who'd been sent over by Jonathan Pinegar in the second round of play. With a string of loss side victories behind him, Daulton eliminated Nolan Rentequi 11-4 in the 9/12 matches and then, wreaked his revenge on Pinegar 11-8, to pick up Smith. Durbin faced Joey Grey, who'd gotten by Jared McGee 11-3 and eliminated the event's two-time champion, Johnny Archer, 11-7. 

Smith ended Daulton's loss-side streak 11-7, and in the quarterfinals, faced Grey, who'd eliminated Durbin 11-3. Smith defeated Grey 11-8, and then dropped O'Neil in the semifinals 11-9.

Nevel opened the first set of the double elimination final with a six-pack that had commentators from Ray "Big Truck" Hansen's UStream broadcast of the event believing that it would be over soon. They reckoned without the resilience and determination of Smith, who promptly took advantage of a 7th rack turn at the table to run up a six-pack of his own that tied things.

Nevel took advantage of an opportunity Smith handed him in the 13th rack and immediately chalked up four racks to reach the hill. Smith battled right back and won four of his own, which included a win after a dry break in the 19th rack. Knotted at double hill, Smith sunk a ball breaking the deciding rack, but found the 4-ball in his way for a shot at the 1-ball. He pushed. Nevel stepped to the table and gave the shot back to him. Shooting long, Smith jumped the 4-ball and dropped the 1. Faced with an almost direct, side-to-side shot at the 2-ball, he banked it in, and then ran the rest of the rack to claim the opening set.

The second set proved to be almost a carbon copy of the first set. Nevel took an early 6-1 lead, Smith fought back, Nevel reached the hill first and Smith, once again, clawed his way to double hill.  In the final rack, Smith sunk three on the break, but with a tough shot at the 2-ball, he attempted a safe shot, which left Nevel with a side-to-side, oblique-angle bank to drop the 2-ball in a corner pocket. Nevel went for the bank, and the 2-ball rattled in the hole, signaling his doom, as it turned out. Smith dropped it and ran the table to complete his 22-20, double-set finals victory and claim the 2013 Music City title.

In the Ladies tournament, Nicole Keeney claimed the title, though not before she was severely challenged by Liz Lovely, who'd won five on the loss side to meet her in the finals. Lovely had been sent to the loss side by Sharon Miller, from among the winners' side final eight. Miller went on to defeat Samantha Patton, and faced Keeney in the hot seat match. Keeney won that match, and waited for what turned out to be the return of Lovely. Lovely won three on the loss side, and met and defeated both Patton in the quarterfinals, and took advantage of a second chance against Miller, defeating her in the semifinals.

Lovely dominated the first set of the finals, allowing Keeney only a single rack. In the second set, they battled to double hill before Keeney prevailed to win it.