New TD, Briana Miller, comes from the loss side to win JPNEWT season opener

Giovanna Napolitano, Briana Miller, Kia Burwell and Charlene Capers

The former J. Pechauer Northeast Women’s Tour director and the current tour director met in the 2023 season opener of the tour this past weekend (Saturday, March 4th, spilling deep into the wee hours of Sunday, March 5). The two of them – Linda Shea (former) and Briana Miller (current) – came within a game of double hill in a winners’ side quarterfinal, but when the smoke cleared, it was Shea advancing and Miller heading off to the loss side. Shea followed her over immediately afterwards, following a winners’ side semifinal loss to Kia Burwell, last year’s tour rankings champion. Miller and Shea almost had a rematch in the event’s quarterfinals, but Shea got eliminated in the matches for 5th/6th and Miller went on to challenge Burwell in the finals, eventually claiming the event title. The $500-added event drew 30 entrants to Shooter’s Family Billiards in Wayne, NJ.

Burwell’s path to the hot seat went through Lynn Richard, Jenn Sylvester and Cheryl Sporleder to arrive at the winners’ side semifinal against Shea. Charlene Capers, in the meantime, got by Lenore Donovan-Chen, survived a double hill match against Ada Lio and defeated Char Dzambo to arrive at her winners’ side semifinal against Christine Pross.

Both battles for advancement to the hot seat match went double hill, with Burwell advancing over Shea and Capers defeating Pross. Burwell claimed the hot seat 7-4 over Capers and waited on the 3:30 a.m., Sunday morning return of Miller.

On the loss side, it was Pross drawing Miller, who, following her loss to Shea had defeated Jennifer Tully 7-2 and Cheryl Sporleder 7-1. Shea picked up Giovanna Napolitano, who’d lost her second-round match to Sporleder and began a five-match, loss-side streak that had recently eliminated Dzambo by shutout and Roseann Daw 7-4.

Miller got herself into the quarterfinals with a 7-2 win over Pross, while Napolitano crashed the Miller/Shea rematch party by downing Shea 7-5. Miller ended Napolitano’s loss-side streak at six with a 7-1 victory in the quarterfinals and then, got a shot at Burwell in the finals with a 7-4 win in the semifinals.

Time stamps on the brackets show the hot seat match concluding at 11:12 p.m. on Saturday night. The quarterfinals finished at 2:13 a.m. on Sunday morning and the semifinals at 3:29 a.m. At that point, Burwell, waiting in the hot seat, had been idle, except (one assumes) for some practice to stay loose and in-stroke, for over four hours. There are very few veteran, competitive pool players of any gender or age who’ll make excuses for a loss, but when the loss-side momentum of a continually active player is set against a hot seat occupant who’s been more or less idle for a long period of time, the final matchup has a way of stacking up against the idle player. It’s not a sure thing, of course, but momentum seems to have a way of showing up as the victor in such circumstances enough times to make the otherwise intangible factor, significant.

It was an extended race to 9. Briana Miller brought momentum into the finals and captured her first 2023 JPNEWT title with a 9-5 victory over Kia Burwell that concluded at 4:43 a.m. on Sunday morning.

Tour director Briana Miller thanked the ownership and staff at Shooter’s Family Billiards for their hospitality, as well as title sponsor J. Pechauer Custom Cues, George Hammerbacher (Advanced Pool Instructor), Mezz Cues and Turtle Rack. The next stop on the JPNEWT, scheduled for the weekend of April 1-2, will be a $1,000-added event, hosted by Champion Billiards Sports Bar in Frederick, MD. 

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