China's Siming Chen gets by Britain's Kelly Fisher twice to win 2019 WPBA Masters
Skip Maloney
Mar. 6, 2019
Kelly Fisher and Siming Chen (Photo courtesy of WPBA)
Kelly Fisher and Siming Chen (Photo courtesy of WPBA)
In what proved to be her best recorded earnings year, to date (2017), China’s 24-year-old Siming Chen won five major events between March and November, opening with a win at the Amway Cup in Chinese Tapei, followed by victories in the China Open (June), the Dynamic Klagenfurt (part of the Euro Tour in Austria; Oct.)  and a week apart in November, the Women’s World 9-Ball Championships (Nov. 8-11) and the All-Japan Women’s Championship (Nov. 16-26).
 
In the Women’s World 9-Ball Championships that year, there was only one competitor among the top eight finishers who was not from China or Chinese Taipei. That lone competitor, who finished in the four-way tie for 5th place was Britain’s Kelly Fisher. Five months earlier, Fisher had finished in the four-way tie for 5th place at the China Open, sharing the spot with Chihiro Kawahara (Japan), Rubilen Amit (Philippines) and Xiao-Ting Pan (China).
 
And this is just that one year, her best recorded earnings year, to date. Chen’s been winning money on the international pool scene since 2009, when she was 16. All this, by way of an introduction to who she is – the #1-ranked female pool player in the world right now - and why, to no one’s surprise, she went undefeated through a field of 64 entrants to win the 2019 WPBA Masters, held from February 27-March 3 at the Soaring Eagle Casino & Resort in Mount Pleasant, MI. Also to no one’s surprise, Kelly Fisher recovered from an early round loss to Chen and fought back though nine matches on the loss side to face her a second time in the finals.
 
It’s not unusual for fans of the billiard sports to be more keenly attuned to players from their own countries and/or players who compete regularly in their country. We here in the US of A are aware of many female competitors who are not native to this country, but are well-known by virtue of their presence competing (and in some cases, living) here. Allison Fisher (Britain), Karen Corr (Ireland), Kelly Fisher (England), Ga Young Kim (South Korea), and Jasmin Ouschan (Austria), as just a few examples of those who competed at this year’s WPBA Masters. The home-grown female talent on hand was larger and made its presence known, just not for as long, as the visiting competitors flexed their considerable muscle and advanced toward the finals.
 
Jennifer Baretta made it to a winners’ side semifinal (right after defeating Janet Atwell), and made it to the quarterfinals before giving way to Kelly Fisher. Gerda (Hoffstater) Gregerson, a member of the WPBA Hall of Fame, originally from Austria, later from Sweden and currently residing in Charlotte, NC made it to a winners’ side quarterfinal against Siming Chen.
 
Siming Chen’s trip started with the proverbial bang, as she shut out Indiana’s Tonya Wiser and then ran right into Kelly Fisher for the first, though not the last time. Chen gave up only a single rack to Fisher in their first meeting and then defeated Billie Billing 9-1 to arrive at her winners’ side quarterfinal match against Gregerson. A 9-3 victory over Gregerson gave Chen a 36-5 game winning record moving into her winners’ side semifinal match against Jennifer Baretta.
 
Chinese Tapei’s Tzu Chien Wei, in the meantime, who’d cashed in three of the four events won by Siming Chen back in 2017, worked her way through a slightly more resistant field of competitors, downing Caroline Pao 9-2 in her opening match, and Jessica Barnes 9-3 in her second. She then survived a double hill battle against 20-year-old Russian Kristina Tkach to sport a 27-13 game record, going into her winners’ side semifinal match against Allison Fisher.
 
Chen advanced to the hot seat match with a 9-2 win over Baretta, as Wei defeated Fisher 9-5 to join her. Chen claimed the hot seat 9-7 over Wei and waited for what turned out to be the return of Kelly Fisher.
 
Fisher, over on the loss side, was working on a nine-match winning streak that would carry her all the way back to a finals rematch against Chen. She started that trip with three victories in which she gave up only a single rack each to Ewa Mataya Laurance, Caroline Pao and Kaylin Wykoff. Jenna Bishoff put up a bit of a fight in the following round, chalking up more racks against Fisher (5) than her first three loss-side opponents combined. Fisher returned to form with a 9-1 victory over Janet Atwell and then gave up three to Kristina Tkach. This put Kelly Fisher into a match against Allison Fisher, fresh from the winners’ side semifinal.
 
Jennifer Baretta drew Jasmin Ouschan, who’d been defeated by Allison Fisher 9-7 in a winners’ side quarterfinal and then defeated Helena Thornfeldt 9-4 and Line Kjorsvik 9-7 to face Baretta.
 
Everybody got caught up in a double hill fight for advancement to the quarterfinals. Baretta eventually defeated Ouschan, and Fisher eliminated Fisher (that’s Kelly over Allison). Kelly Fisher ended Jennifer Baretta’s run 9-5 in those  quarterfinals and then got wrapped up in another double hill fight, which she won, against Tzu Chie Wen in the semifinals.
 
As she’d describe it later from an airport in Detroit, awaiting a flight to Newark, and eventually, home to England, three matches in a row on that last Sunday just about did Kelly Fisher in, and “the wheels sort of came off.” Siming Chen completed her undefeated run at the 2019 WPBA Masters with an 11-2 victory over Kelly in the finals.
 
WPBA representatives thanked the Soaring Eagle Resort & Casino for their hospitality, as well as sponsors Outsville AccuRack, Aramith, PoolActionTV, Simonis Cloth and Diamond Billiard Products.