Jia Li over Janet Atwell for Regional Tour Championship Win

Jia Li and Janet Atwell
Janet Atwell looked nearly unbeatable all week at the WPBA's Regional Tour Championship, only dropping a 5-4 decision to the East Coast's Jia Li late on Saturday. In the end, it would also be Li who would keep Atwell from the final winner's circle.
Sixty four of the US's top female regional players made their way to Bullshooters in Phoenix, Arizona to stake their claim to over $11,000 in prize money on January 16th - 19th. 
The players were initially split into eight groups of eight players for just over two days of round robin play. Players would play each player in their group in one race to five, with the top four players from each group advancing to stage two. Each group held the winner of one of the eight regional tours - and with only two exceptions - each tour winner advanced to the second stage. The Flamingo Billiard Tour's Janis Sessions and Tina Hess were the two players to stumble in their groups and fail to advance. Advancing with no problems in stage one were three players were perfect 7-0 records; Atwell, Arizona's Bernie Store and Kim Pierce.
The second stage of the event saw the thirty two remaining players divided into eight groups of four players. Each player would play everyone in their group one race to five, with the top two players from each group advancing to the final stage of the event. Two of stage one's undefeated players - Atwell and Pierce - would cruise through stage two with 2-1 records, but Arizona's Store would pick a bad time to fall ill and crashed in her stage with an 0-3 record. Five players would advance through stage two with undefeated records; Crystal McCormick, Sheila Clark, Jai Li, Dawn Fox and Liz Cole. Li's final stage win would be at the expense of Atwell, in a possible glimpse of things to come.
The final stage of the event saw the sixteen remaining players placed in a single elimination bracket for play on Sunday. Atwell and Li would ride opposite sides of this bracket to the final race to nine, where the event's winner would be determined.
Atwell let a couple early opportunities get by her to start the finals, and Li stayed steady to take a quick 4-2 lead. Atwell took advantage of a couple mid match mistakes from Li and tied the score at 4-4 before Li would take a break to clear her head. Li would come back from the break and ride a combination of strong play and a friendly roll or two to win five of the next six racks to earn first place and $2500 in prize money, as well as a spot in the upcoming WPBA Masters on February 5th - 9th.
While the final sixteen players were battling it out on Sunday, thirty two of the already eliminated players came back for a $1000 added second chance tournament. This tournament was won by Kim Benson, who defeated Arizona's Susan Williams in the finals.
Everyone in attendance enjoyed four days of top notch pool, and a very well run event. Kristie Ortega and Tres Kane from the Arizona Women's Billiards Tour - teamed up with Bullshooters owner Mike Bates - to put on a great event. Special thanks to "friends of the AWBT" for sponsoring the second chance event for $1000.