Gunn and Chen Crowned new U.S. Amateur Champions

Amy Chen

On November 7-9, Mr. Cues II in Atlanta, GA hosted the 14th annual U.S. Amateur Championship, presented by the APA. From a field of 128 men and 25 women, only one man and one woman stand alone in the end.

Move over veterans, the new-comers are taking over! Travis Gunn from Hewitt, TX and Amy Chen of Norcross, GA are the new U.S. Amateur Champions. Both players went undefeated into the single-set finale where Gunn met up with Florida's Chris Walls for a race to 11, while Chen and New Jersey's Rhio Anne Flores raced to 9. The finals would be rematches for both divisions.

Of the top six finalists in the men's division, two of them were former champs. Last year's winner Jason Richko from Trinity, FL finished fourth after two hill-hill losses and Robert Hall from Huntsville, AL brought home the gold in 2001.

In the men's division, Gunn handed Walls his original loss earlier that day. Walls would now face Bakersfield, CA's star Brian Parks. Parks lost his second match on day one to former champ Henry Brodt, then rolled through ten matches on the B-side. Though he had momentum behind him, it wasn't quite enough. The 7-2 victory advanced Walls for a rematch with Gunn.

The final match began with 9-ball. Immediately, Gunn dominated the match. He jumped to a strong lead. The score was 7-0 before Walls would win his first game. Once he did, the floodgates were open. Before Gunn could stop him, the score was tied 7-7 and they were switching to the 8-ball games. “I was ready for 8-ball. I don't even like 8-ball but I was ready for the change,” said Gunn. With that change, Gunn would stop the bleed and secure his title with an 11-7 victory.

On the ladies side, Chen had dished Flores her first loss in the driver's seat match. Flores would again face last year's runner-up and local favorite, Betty Sessions. Different match, same results. Top three finishes three consecutive years for Sessions is definitely not too shabby. This would advance Flores to the finals for a rerun with Chen.

The ladies kicked off with some shaky 8-ball games. While the men were at 5-0, their score was 1-1. There were several safeties and a handful of missed shots until they both finally got in gear. They traded racks up until 5-4 when Chen took off with the match. While ahead 8-6, Flores missed the one ball and Chen thoughtfully maneuvered through the rack for the championship. Chen's received great support from her family and sponsor, Mr. Cues II.

Gunn and Chen both receive paid travel, lodging, and entry fees into their respective 2009 U.S. Open 9-Bal event.

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Men's Division
1st Travis Gunn - Hewitt, Tx
2nd Chris Walls - High Springs, Fl
3rd Brian Parks - Bakersfield, Ca
4th Jason Richko - Trinity, Fl
5th Robert "Carl" Gay - North Augusta, NC
Robert Hall - Huntsville, Al

Women's Division
1st Amy Chen - Norcross, Ga
2nd Rhio Anne Flores - Jersey City, Nj
3rd Betty Sessions - Conyers, Ga