Karen Corr Wins the Season Finale of the New England 9 Ball Series

Karen Corr

The New England 9 Ball Series held its series finale May 5-6, 2007 at Buster's Billiards in Somersworth, NH. Forty-eight players turned out for the event. In addition to top local players Dave Fernandez, Gary Abood, Tony Ruberto, Randy LaBonte, Ray Mack, and Joey Dupuis pro players Karen ‘The Irish Invader' Corr and Al ‘Jalpeño' Lapeña attended the event. Special thanks go to the ‘C' and ‘D' level tour members, who comprised a third of the field and help support the tour. It is a true love of pool and desire to improve that drives players of this level to compete in an open event. MD Promotions encourages them to keep practicing and hopes to see some of them as tomorrow's ‘A' players.

The event opened with the presentation of the Player of the Year award to Dave Fernandez. Fernandez received a plaque, a Schuler custom cue, and a hearty congratulations from the tour for his achievement. MD Promotions also presented a Schuler custom cue signed by Karen Corr and Al Lapeña to Buster's Billiards owner Frank Gravel in recognition of his contributions to the tour. Gravel hosted several of the tour stops and added money to the prize funds.

This was an exciting weekend filled with great pool matches and surprising outcomes. Corr, Lapeña, Abood, Labonte, and Ruberto were regarded as favorites in the event. The crowd seemed to genuinely enjoy watching the action. There are only a handful of female players on the tour, so it was quite a treat to watch a woman of Corr's caliber play. One of the pool hall's patrons, who clearly does not follow professional pool, was in absolute awe and remarked “I can't believe ‘that girl' is doing so well in the tournament!” In the first day of the event Lapeña, who recently defeated Santos Sambajon Jr. to take first place at the April 15th stop of the Blaze 9 Ball Tour, played as hotly as his nickname implies. Some even described him as looking ‘superhuman' on the table. Unfortunately for Lapeña the second day of the event was a different story. In his first match of the day he was defeated 9-8 by local ‘A” player Phil Stevens. Stevens stepped his game up a great deal during this event and would end up taking second place and earning a new respect from the tour members and audience. Lapeña went to the consolation side to face another local Randy Labonte. Labonte is a great player but was not the favorite to win the match. He however did so convincingly with a score of 9-4.

Roy Morgridge, Peter Bowman, and Gary Abood all played fantastic matches during the event but at the end it was Karen Corr that would be undefeated. It was by no means an easy path to the finals for Corr. Her first match was against Abood, who was considered one of the few players in the event capable of defeating the top professional players. Corr went on to defeat other well known players like Chris Leal, Tony Ruberto, and Peter Bowman before facing Phil Stevens in the hot seat match where she dominated him 9-3.

Phil Stevens went to the one-loss side to face Roy Morgridge in the semi-final. This was an exciting match that could have gone either way. Stevens took the first 2 games. Morgridge took advantage of missed 3-9 combination shot on Steven's part to run the rest of the rack and put him on the board. The men got into a safety battle in game 4 but eventually Morgridge left Stevens a shot and he was able to run out. Morgridge missed a 1-9 combination in game 5, then Stevens drew the cue ball off the one ball to carom in the 9. The men traded games back and forth until Morgridge won three in a row to tie the match at 6-6. In game 13 Stevens scratched on the break but Morgridge later scratched on the 3 ball and Stevens ran out. Morgridge failed to pocket a ball on the next break in this alternating break format but the 9 hung in the pocket, which led to an early rack for Stevens and put him on the hill 8-6. Morgridge took advantage of Steven's dry break in the next game and ran out. Morgridge looked poised to run game 16 but he unexpectedly missed pocketing the 4 ball. Stevens finished out that rack to take the match 9-7.

Phil Steven moved on to the finals to face the undefeated Karen Corr in a single race to 13. Corr looked like she was going to crush Stevens as she won 10 of the first 11 games of the race. Game 8 was particularly interesting because the players repeatedly played similar safeties. At one point Corr came to the table with the cue ball near the head rail, the 9 ball near the foot spot, and the 8 ball behind the 9. Corr showed why she is champion player as she measured up the table, shot the cue into the foot rail, and kicked the 8 ball into the side pocket. The beauty of the shot was that even if she had not pocketed the 8 ball she would still have the cue ball in a safe position behind the 9 ball. One spectator noted that the shot was right out of the playbook of her purported former mentor, the legendary late Larry ‘Boston Shorty' Johnson, and that he would have been proud to have seen it. Stevens had a lot of heart and was not about to give up so easily. Putting aside whatever nervousness he might have had about playing someone who can be seen regularly on ESPN, he took game 12 to bring the score to 10-2. Corr won the next game, but Stevens took the next 4 in a row and had the crowd excited that he might be able to make a comeback. Unfortunately for him he could not pocket a ball on the next break and Corr ran out to put her on the hill 12-6. Corr also came up dry on the next break, but Stevens did not have a run out opportunity and had to play a safety on the 1 ball. Corr was able to pocket a 1-8 combination shot but did not get good position on the 2 ball. She attempted a 1-9 combination shot but missed, giving Stevens another chance at the table. Stevens ran a few balls but missed the 6, then Corr finished off the rack to take the set 13-6. Congratulations to Karen Corr for winning the event and Phil Stevens for winning six games against a champion and playing amazingly throughout the entire event.

MD Promotions would like to than Schuler Cues, Predator, Simonis, Uni-Lock, Aramith, Tiger, and AZ Billiards for sponsoring the New England 9 Ball Series.

File photo courtesy of Roberta Case