Fisher/Van Boening down Tkach/Gorst in finals of Omega Diamond Open Scotch Doubles

Mike Hoang, Allison Fisher and Shane Van Boening

The finals of the Omega Billiards Diamond Open’s $7,500-added Mixed Doubles Invitational got underway late on Saturday night (Oct. 2) and some of the wear and tear of five straight days of high-level competition for its four participants was starting to show. It had no apparent effect on their quality of play, but it made for a very deliberate pace. The team of Shane Van Boening and Allison went undefeated through the field of teams to claim the event title. The competition, one of three still being contested at the week-long event, drew eight teams of two to The Rack & Grill III in Aiken, SC.

Scotch Doubles is the only type of competitive play that allows between-shots chit-chat and part of the fun of watching Allison Fisher and Shane Van Boening compete against Fedor Gorst and Kristina Tkach was witnessing the way that the two (relative) youngsters and the two (relatively) older veterans used their time between shots.

Gorst and Tkach had a tendency to roam, moving around the 9 ft. Diamond table, sometimes communicating across the felt, as they discussed where they wanted their partner to leave the cue ball for the next shot, if it came. They’d exchange words back and forth for a while and then, when the matter was settled, the shooting partner would step into the shot. Van Boening and Fisher would get together at one spot on the table, usually near one of the short rails, side by side. They’d exchange maybe two or three words, sometimes turning their heads to make eye contact, nod in agreement and one of them would step to the table and execute. 

As befitted their professional history, you couldn’t tell by watching them whether Van Boening and Fisher were ahead by a number of racks or stepping to the table at a double hill juncture, on the brink of losing. To their credit, Tkach and Gorst stayed within themselves well, even as their elders took command of the match about halfway through it.

The event got underway on Thursday night, with Van Boening/Fisher downing Naoyuki Oi and Sakura Muramatsu 7-1. They awoke the following morning to face Dennis Orcollo and Jennifer Baretta. A 7-3 win in that contest set them up to face the Filler family, Mr. and Mrs. (Joshua and Pia). Meanwhile, at the opposite end of the bracket, The Lion, Alex Pagulayan, and the five-time BEF Junior National Champion (aka The Grinder), April Larson, began their trek toward the hot seat, opening with a 7-4 win over Roland Garcia and Bethany Sykes. They then dispatched the team of Jayson Shaw and Caroline Pao 7-3 to arrive at their winners’ side semifinal versus Sky Woodward and Monica Webb, the team that had sent Tkach and Gorst to the loss side in the opening round.

Van Boening/Fisher got into the hot seat match 7-4 over the Fillers, as The Lion & Grinder sent Woodward and Webb west 7-5. Van Boening/Fisher made short work of Pagulayan and Larson (7-1) and sat in the hot seat, waiting for Tkach and Gorst to complete their six-match, loss-side winning streak. 

That streak opened against Dennis Grabe and Janet Atwell and after eliminating them 7-2, moved on to shut out Roland Garcia/Bethany Sykes and give up only a single rack to the Woodward/Webb team. They then defeated the Fillers 7-5 in the quarterfinals and Pagulayan/Larson 7-2 for a shot at the South Dakota Kid and The Duchess of Doom in the finals.

As noted above, as a result of a general lack of high-wire tension in the atmosphere of Scotch Doubles, one might never have known that these two teams were competing for all of the proverbial marbles in an event final; cool, calm and collected with no drama.

They opened by trading racks to a 3-3 tie, after which Tkach/Gorst took what would prove to be their last lead. At 3-4, Van Boening and Fisher took command, and as with the general atmosphere, it did not entail any dramatic shooting, beyond the occasional and almost-anticipated evidence that this was not the couple’s first rodeo. They won four in a row, methodically, and all smiles and handshakes, claimed the Scotch Doubles title.