Maria Catalano Crowned 2006 Florida State Champion

Maria Catalano

Twenty-three players competed for the Florida State Championship held at Capone's Billiard Lounge in Spring Hill, Florida, during the weekend of September 23-24, 2006. The Ladies Spirit Tour event was a qualifier for the WPBA 2007 US Open, sponsored by The event drew players from as far away as Trinidad and England, as well as WPBA pros such as Jeannie Seaver, Tracie Hines, Ellen Van Buren, and Gail Grecar, all who wanted to vie for the State Champion title. These very capable players all wanted to take home a piece of the $2150.00 prize fund, which included $1000.00 added by Capone's owner Rocky McElroy.

Eight players fought their way through the field to return for more competition on Sunday. On the undefeated side, Maria Catalano threw Nicolle Rasmussen to the other side with a 7-5 score, and Debbie Schjodt sent Tracie Hines to work the other side of the chart, also with a 7-5 score. On the one-loss side, Jeannie Seaver tackled Stephanie Mitchell by 7-2 and Simone Hospedales ousted Amanda Davidson 7-3.

New member Catalano had her eyes on the hotseat as she handled Debbie Schjodt with a 7-3 score, sending her to the one-loss side. Meanwhile, Seaver had no intentions of letting any player get in her way and it was obvious by sending Tracie Hines and Nicolle Rasmussen both home with 7-1 scores. This set up the match between frequent points-leader Jeannie Seaver and the upcoming threat Debbie Schjodt. However, Seaver would make certain that Schjodt would not win her third qualifier this time, by finishing the match with a 7-5 result.

In the final match, it looked as though Catalano would make a quick win over Seaver when she started it off with a couple of 9-ball combos, bringing the score to 3-1. However, Seaver would not give up that easily, as she returned the score to an even 3-3. The two players continued to keep the score even, making the spectators guess at who would claim the final point first.

Seaver was able to take lead for the first time in the 9th game, at 5-4, when Catalano bobbled the 9-ball in the corner. Seaver capitalized on the momentum and carefully navigated around a messy table in the 10th game, in order to bring the score to 6-4. The next game showed the players were wearing down, and most of their misses were because of their own mistakes in position play. With several snooker championship titles under her belt, Catalano is not new to playing under stress. She packed up her nerves, finished that mistake-ridden game to bring the score 6-5. With determination, she broke and ran the next rack to tie up the score 6-6. At this point, Catalano knew that she could either win the final point and finish the tournament, or if she let Seaver have a chance at it, then she'd be forced to play another race to seven for the true double elimination.

In the 13th and final game, Seaver hooked Catalano on the 2-ball in order to get ball-in-hand, but she fell to a scratch after making the 2-ball. Catalano swiftly used that chance to run the remainder of the rack and claim the Florida State Championship and the WPBA Qualifier. results:

1st Maria Catalano $700 + WPBA Qualifier
2nd Jeannie Seaver $440
3rd Debbie Schjodt $340
4th Nicole Rasmussen $240
5/6th Tracie Hines & Simone Hospedales - $150
7/8th Amanda Davidson & Stephanie Mitchell - $65