Kraber wins two-match battle against the Grinder to win OTB Ladies Tour finale

April Larson, Kim Sanders, Jennifer Kraber and Rhio Anne Flores

There’s a lot of it going around these days. A younger generation of pool players going head to head against an older generation of players who were around before they were born. In Puerto Rico recently, the phenomenon featured WPBA top pro Kelly Fisher doing battle against 12-year-old Savannah Easton and in the early going, the 12-year-old was ahead 3-2, albeit not for long. That sort, though not precisely that sort of generational ‘combat’ was on display this past weekend at the On the Ball Ladies Tour in the finale of the tour’s season. Veteran Texas competitor, Jennifer Kraber, whose recorded-to-us career got its start when she finished 17th on the Hunter Tour back in 2000, and former five-time BEF Junior National Champion (2012-2016) and current WPBA competitor April Larson (aka The Grinder) squared off twice in the hot seat and finals of the $3,000-added ($2,000, On the Ball Co., $1,000, Skinny Bob’s) season finale, that drew 28 entrants to Skinny Bob’s in Round Rock, TX. 

Kraber went undefeated at the event to claim the title, while Larson ended the tour’s season as its tour champion, beating out Ming Ng by a mere five points. In all, the tour handed out over $1,000 in awards and giveaways over the weekend. Its Most Improved Player award went to Chris Fields, who was also credited with the Most Break & Runs award. Natalie Mans was acknowledged as the tour’s top competitor at making the Most 9’s on the Snap, while Natalie Rocha received the tour’s Best Sportmanship award.

Kraber’s path to the winners’ circle in the tour’s season finale went through Rhio Anne (“Annie”) Flores, Kim Pierce and Gail Roles to arrive at a winners’ side semifinal matchup against Kim Sanders. The Grinder, in the meantime, got by Erica Hanlon, Molly McWhorter and Zoe Lozano to reach her winners’ side semifinal opponent, Michelle Cortez.

Kraber downed Sander 7-3, as Larson was dispatching Cortez to the loss side 7-2. The two generations battled to double hill in the hot seat match before Kraber won it and sat in the seat, awaiting Larson’s return. 

On the loss side, Sanders picked up Ming Ng, who’d lost her third winners’ side match to Cortez, double hill and then defeated tour director Teresa Garland 7-5, and Chris Fields, double hill to face Sanders. Cortez, in the meantime, drew “Annie” Flores, who’d followed her opening round loss to Kraber with four loss-side wins, giving up only three total racks to Brenda Viola (1), Brittany Kromer (1), Carmel Luttrell (1) and Nicole McDaniel (0). 

Flores made it five in a row, eliminating Cortez 7-4. Sanders and Ng locked up in a double hill fight that eventually put Sanders into the quarterfinals against Flores.

Another double hill battle ensued, this one eventually sent Sanders to the semifinals against Larson. Larson got a second shot at Kraber, waiting for her in the hot seat with a 7-4 win over Sanders in those semifinals.

The finals came within a game of double hill. Kraber, though, edged out in front near the end and won it 7-5, claiming the OTB Tour’s season finale title.

Tour director Teresa Garland thanked the ownership and staff at Skinny Bob’s for their hospitality, as well as title sponsor On the Ball Co., and Backwards Billiards for the free live streaming on YouTube. The On the Ball Ladies Tour for 2023 will be coming soon and available on the tour’s page here at AZBilliards.

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