David Cardenas earns Top Senior Title

David Cardenas, promoter/director Bill Tippit, and runner-up Gary Tavener

Breakers Billiards on NASA Parkway in Webster, Texas was the site of the second annual Friendswood Senior 9-Ball Tournament. Event promoter and director, Bill Tippit, filled the invitational event with 32 top seniors (55 and older), who represented more than a dozen communities in Houston-Galveston Bay Area.

Poolroom owner Sonny Daughtry arrived early on Saturday morning, rejected the rap and hip-hop selections still queued on the jukebox from Friday night, turned down the volume, and selected a program of songs from the ‘50s and ‘60s.

As the competitors assembled for the player's meeting, there was no shortage of geriatric jokes. Among notable players, Lucille Donahue graced this year's event. Lucille is a longtime board member of the Hunter Classics Amateur Women's Tour, and she is the first woman to play in this seniors' event. The unofficial “super senior” award this year went to veteran Bay Area competitor, Barney Garza, age 86. Then as the player's meeting concluded and tournament time approached, the expressions on the 32 lined faces changed from humor to determination.

Eight hours later, the championship match evolved into a duel between David Cardenas and Gary Tavener. Cardenas, considered one of the Bay Area's stronger players, was required to give his opponents the “wild eight” throughout the tournament. Tavener, from Houston's far southwest side, was considered something of a dark horse. They met for the first time on the winners' side, and Tavener sent Cardenas to the one-loss side, 7 to 4.

The true double-elimination finals proved to be a classic match-up. Tied at 6 in the race-to-7 in the first set, Cardenas had the final break of the set. The cue-ball crashed into the rack and balls scattered. Almost as an afterthought, the 9-ball slowly rolled toward the corner pocket, and then dropped. The crowd let out a whoop, and both players shook their heads — Cardenas in relief, and Tavener in disbelief.

Riding his momentum, Cardenas broke to a quick lead in the final set, and then held on and allowed Tavener to get only one game in the final set. For their day's work, Cardenas took home $1,000 and the Tejas Trophy, and Tavener received $500 and the runner-up plaque.

Wayne Sadlin and Tom O'Neil finished third and fourth. Defending champion, Charlie McKinley, who also had to give his opponents the “wild 8” throughout the tournament, finished in a fifth place tie with Mac Vereen.