Empress Ming Wins 2009 Regional Tour Championship

Ming Ng

Ming Ng, better known as "Empress Ming", has secured her place on the 2009 WPBA Classic Tour with a dominating performance at the Regional Tour Championship.

Sixty four players from the nine regional tours in North America made their way to Parlor Billiards in Bellevue, Washington for this annual event. Tour directors Chris Rogers and "Ford" ran a great event all weekend, and player ran smooth as silk on the thirteen beautiful Brunswick Gold Crown IV's and the even nicer Brunswick Manhattan's in the private room. Room owner Steve Olson, Manager Dave Lauer and all of the great staff at Parlor took care of the players all weekend long.

With the players playing for four paid qualifiers on the WPBA Classic Tour as well as over $10,000 in prize money, tensions were high as the event moved into it's latter stages.

Day two dawned with just twenty four remaining players and eight on the undefeated side of the board. That number was quickly cut in half as Ming Ng (Tiger Tour), Jacqui Herrera (Great Lakes Tour), Tina Larsen (Great Lakes Tour) and Bonnie Plowman (OB Cues Ladies Tour) won their early matches. Ng would later defeat Herrera 7-2 and Plowman would defeat Larsen 7-2 to set up the match for the hot-seat.

The hot-seat went to Ng with a 7-3 win that saw Ng continue to play at the level that she had been displaying all weekend. She ran balls and got shape as if it were all effortless and she was certainly the best player on the winners side on Sunday.

The final match is fought by a player from the winners side and losers side however, and there was a different player who was making her way through the one loss side. Nicole Keeney (Arizona Women's Tour) had lost her third match on Saturday to Ng 7-4, and had been bulldozing through the one loss side ever since that loss. Keeney defeated Cheryl Squire (Tiger Tour), Cindy Sliva (NWPA), Susan Williams (AWBT), Holly Sholes (AWBT), Jacqui Herrera, Morgan Steinman (Northeast Women's Tour) and Plowman on her way to the finals. Keeney's play had been solid all day and just seemed to get better as the day went on and she played match after match. Displaying no outward emotion, Keeney looked like a woman on a mission and she took mission very seriously. She was easily playing the best pool seen on the one loss side.

The final started out close, but Ming quickly applied pressure to Keeney with a couple of early runouts and took control of the match. Ming kept the pressure on and for the first time, cracks started appearing in Keeney's game. It appeared as if the large number of back to back matches on Sunday were finally getting the best of Keeney. Ng played numerous strong safeties and took advantage of any mistake by Keeney. Ng was first to reach the hill, but strangely, she appeared to take her foot off the gas at that point. Ming missed a couple of shots that she was not missing early in the match and Keeney slowly started coming back to life. Keeney started mounting a comeback but the deficit was just too large for Keeney to make up as Ng finally sent the last 9-ball home with a 9-5 win.

Ming commented after the match that she wanted to thank the Washington DC Union Local 22 For Stage Hands as well as her friends on the Tiger Tour, on the internet and around the country for their support.

Ming earned $900 in prize money in addition to the four paid qualifiers for the 2009 WPBA season, while Keeney settled for $1500 in prize money. Considering that Keeney was the top player on the AWBT, she has qualified for the 2009 WPBA season and the fans will certainly be seeing more of her on the WPBA this year.

The event was livestreamed on the internet by the WPBA and a good time was had by all of the fans who tuned in over the weekend to watch the play. WPBA stars Allison Fisher, Melissa Herndon and Megan Smith were on hand at different times to comment on the play and most likely make notes as to what they would be facing from these players in the upcoming year.