Linares, Flores capture college 9-ball titles

Veteran Raymond Linares and newcomer Andrea Flores emerged victorious in the annual Association of College Unions International (ACUI) collegiate 9-ball Championships at Arizona State University on June 28-30, 2013.  Linares, capturing his third ACUI title, is a student at Miami Dade College-Kendall Campus, while Andrea Flores, in her first ACUI appearance, hails from Portland Community College in Oregon.  
Throughout the college pool season (October through April), hundreds of students played in various regional and independent qualifying tournaments across the nation.  All in all, 48 men and 24 women were able to make the trip to Arizona State.
Linares was a favorite before the first ball was sunk, having won two previous ACUI titles and several APA amateur titles.  After falling short in his attempt last year to tie for a record third consecutive win, Linares dedicated himself to mental and physical preparation, surging through the winners’ bracket with victories over Zak McKee (8-4), Gilmer (8-2), Elvis Tran (8-2), David Anderson (8-3), and Barker (8-3) to position himself comfortably in the hot seat.  Barker emerged from the One-loss side with confidence and prowess, defeating Linares 8-5 in the first set of the finals.  Between sets, though, Barker agreed to Linares’ request to rack-your-own, and this gave Linares just the edge he needed to capture a decisive victory in the second set, 8-1.  
Meanwhile, the quiet, unknown Flores was undefeated in the Women’s chart, perhaps shocking her more experienced opponents.  After a first-round bye, she defeated Samantha Adler (7-5), Annie Nord (7-6), and Audrey Wong (7-2) before defeating her eventual finals foe, Karen Zeng, another newcomer out of Carnegie Mellon University (7-3). On the one-loss side, Zeng dispatched 3-year veteran Cindy Ho (7-3), to face Flores again in a late-night finals matchup.  The score see-sawed early, but Flores jumped ahead 4-2, only to lose 4 straight games to a deficit of 6-4, and it looked like she would force a second match to claim the victory.  But Flores never gave up, and battled back to hill-hill, eventually winning the nail-biter game for the Women’s Division victory.  
Sportsmanship winners, chosen by peer vote, were Cindy Ho of Sacramento State University and Stefan Le of University of North Carolina-Charlotte.  Break Contest winners were Georgia Tech’s Pete Vieira and UNC Charlotte’s Lilly Pham.  
ACUI has sponsored a collegiate national billiards championship since 1937, except during wartime; past winners include touring pros Max Eberle and Eleanor Callado, as well as Hall-of-Famer Nick Varner.  ACUI wishes to thank the staff of Arizona State University for their outstanding support for this year’s event.  The organization is currently seeking hosts for sectional and independent qualifying tournaments in the 2013-2014 season, as well as a national host for next summer’s 2014 Table Tennis and 9-ball Championships.  For additional information about the ACUI 9-ball Championships, visit or the Facebook groups “ACUI 9-ball” and “2013 ACUI 9-ball Championships.”