Local Pool Pro Continues Comeback at WPBA Cuetec Cues US Open 9-Ball Championship

Nicole Albergaria

After hanging up her cue in 2003, former Women's Professional Billiard Association (WPBA) World # 14 Nicole (Mancini) Albergaria will be back in tournament play as an unseeded promoter's selection when the tour rolls into Twin River (formerly Lincoln Park) in Lincoln, RI for its most prestigious tournament of the year, the Cuetec Cues U.S. Open 9-Ball Championship, August 2 - August 5. Nicole, who hails from Johnston, RI, is expecting her first child with husband, Alan, and will be competing despite being seven months pregnant.

"I am playing as well as I have since coming back from my absence" says Nicole. "It is only a matter of time before I get back to my championship form. I could never let the WPBA come to RI to play without competing in the tournament.

"The only difference I've noticed with being pregnant is that it when I am stretching over the table it takes a little longer to get settled into the right position." She adds. "It makes me smile though, so it relaxes me."

Nicole started playing pool at 19. By her 22st birthday, she had won three regional qualifiers and decided to tackle the challenge of the pro tour. She notched multiple top ten finishes and quickly rocketed to a world ranking of 14th. She was one of five players who represented US in the World Championships in 2002, playing as the third ranked American.

After Nicole's mother, Jo-Ann, the biggest supporter of her pool career, passed away in August of 2002 she lost her drive to compete. Despite the fact that she was at the apex of her career, beating the then #1 ranked Karen Corr in a Joss Event in Providence, RI, she walked away from pool entirely. After four years off, her husband, Alan, a soccer coach and sports enthusiast, reignited her competitive fire and inspired her to pick up the cue again. She just missed Player of the Year honors last year on the New England Regional Tour, placing fourth in the Regional Tour Championship in January, 2007. She is sponsored in this year's US Open by Automated Business Solutions, an office equipment dealer in Warwick, RI.

Total purse for the event is $110,000. The Saturday and Sunday rounds will be taped to be televised on the ESPN Network. Tickets are on sale at ticketmaster.com, and range from $10 single session general admission to $200 for a VIP All Event Pass. The Championship kicks off with a media night / Charity Pro/Am on Wed. Aug. 1 at 7 p.m. Admission to the Pro/Am is a $20 donation. For more information, visit www.wpba.com.

File photo courtesy of Roberta Case