Baker and Larsen Win U.S. Amateur Championship Titles
Nov. 21, 2019
Nov. 21, 2019
For some, the very best, it’s an annual pilgrimage of sorts. For others, it’s an opportunity to truly showcase their arrival on the amateur pool scene. For all of them, the U.S. Amateur Championship is something unique that appeals to the most passionate player. Whether they come to cement a legacy, or just to test their skill against some of the best amateur players in North America, there is no denying that to experience the U.S. Amateur Championship is to experience something truly special. Pool tournaments come and go, but securing the title of U.S. Amateur Champion is something you carry with you forever, literally, when your name is forever added to the Trophy of Champions for generations to come.
That’s what drove more than 2,100 of North America’s top amateur players to try and qualify for the 26th Annual event. That’s what brought 128 men and 42 women to Stroker’s in Palm Harbor, Fla., in early November to compete in this year’s U.S. Amateur Championship.
Of course, there are worse places to be than the sun-soaked skies of the Tampa area, one of the premier vacation destinations in the world, at a time when most of the country is getting its first taste of winter.
Winners of each division also receive an all-expenses paid trip to a pro event next year courtesy of the APA.
And, of course, the championship trophy - a combination of marble and bronze that more closely resembles a piece of art than something won in a pool tournament.
Baker Wins Title in First Appearance
Over the first quarter-century of the U.S. Amateur Championship, the event, in many ways, came to be defined by a list of seasoned veterans, who, year after year, left their mark on the event. Certain names you came to expect to see on the qualifier list each year, names like Brisbon, Brodt and Parks. Now in its 26th year, a youth movement seems to have taken hold at the U.S. Amateur Championship, with a new crop of young amateur players looking to leave their mark on the event and the sport, much like their predecessors. It began in 2018, when a previously unknown 26-year-old from Peoria, Ill., named Abe Schaad took home the title. This year, it was another 24-year-old newcomer making his mark after being inspired by the defending champion.
Blake Baker of Las Vegas went undefeated in his first U.S. Amateur Championship appearance and secured his place in amateur pool history. Baker defeated 65-year-old Bobby Stovall of Cumming, Ga., 11-5 in the championship match.
Baker controlled the finale from the get-go, taking a 4-0 lead in the 9-Ball set before Stovall finally got on the board. The players traded wins the next two games, making it a 5-2 match. Baker would win five of the final six games in the 9-Ball set and held a commanding 10-3 lead as the players began the 8-Ball set with the newcomer on-the-hill needing one final game.
Stovall managed to stave off elimination in the first two games of the 8-Ball set, making the score 10-5, but Baker’s bid for the title would not be denied. In the 16th and final game, he pocketed the 8-ball and the win.
Baker will move on to compete in a 2020 pro event courtesy of APA, and more importantly, his name will be added to the Larry Hubbart Trophy.
Stovall finishes as the Runner-up, his highest finish in the U.S. Amateur Championship.
Defending champion Abe Schaad finished in 3rd, dropping matches to only Baker and Stovall in the process.
One hundred and twenty-eight players competed in this year’s U.S. Amateur Championship.
Larsen Wins Record Third Women’s U.S. Amateur Championship
Tina Larsen of Westwell, Ind., defeated Nathalie Jacob of Montreal, Quebec in a seesaw battle by a score of 9-7. The victory earned Larsen her third Women’s U.S. Amateur Championship victory, and her first since 2007. She surpassed Tammie Jones and Amy Chen, both two-time champions, for most Women’s U.S. Amateur Championship career titles.
Before securing her third title, Larsen had to go through a strong newcomer in Jacob, whose previous playing career consisted primarily of 9-Ball, with little experience playing 8-Ball. Despite her lack of proficiency in 8-Ball, Jacob gave Larsen all she could handle in the final.
Jacob got on the board first in the 9-Ball set, with Larsen taking the next two games and a 3-2 lead. Jacob took the next rack, before Larsen secured the next two, one by way of a 9-on-the snap. With Larsen leading 4-2, Jacob showed some fight, battling back to win the next two games and even the match at 4-4. Larsen regained the lead, before Jacob again evened things up at 5-5. Larsen took the final game of 9-Ball as the match moved to the 8-Ball set.
Larsen took the first game of the 8-Ball set and the players traded wins over the next three games. In the fifteenth game of the match, the ladies engaged in a showdown of defensive shots. It was here that Jacob’s lack of experience in 8-Ball hindered her, as Larsen won the safety battle and eventually the match, 9-7.
Jacob finished as the Runner-up, the highest finish ever for a Canadian in the Women’s U.S. Amateur Championship.
Stacie Bourbeau of Orange, Mass., finished in 3rd Place.
Forty-two ladies competed in this year’s Women’s U.S. Amateur Championship.
Larsen moves on to compete in a Pro Event in 2020, courtesy of APA.
Both championship matches can now be viewed for free the APA YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/apaleagues in addition to dozens of other matches that were lived streamed from this year’s U.S. Amateur Championship. Streaming for the U.S. Amateur Championship was sponsored by www.pooldawg.com.
The entry window for the 2020 U.S. Amateur Championship is now open with the Preliminary Rounds scheduled across North America in mid-September.
The U.S. Amateur Championship is conducted by the APA, and is the only tournament produced by the APA open to both members and non-members. Preliminary qualifying rounds were held throughout the country in mid-September.
As Champions, both Baker and Larsen will return next year to defend their coveted titles.
The U.S. Amateur Championship is a double elimination tournament that offers the nation’s top amateur players the opportunity to showcase their skills through a combination of 8-Ball and 9-Ball matches, in the only APA event that does not use The Equalizer® handicap system.
The APA, based in Lake Saint Louis, Mo., sanctions the world’s largest amateur pool league, with leagues throughout the United States, Canada and Japan. Nearly 250,000 members compete in weekly 8-Ball and 9-Ball League play. The APA is generally recognized as the Governing Body of Amateur Pool, having established the official rules, championships, formats and handicap systems for the sport of amateur billiards.
The APA produces four major tournaments each year—the APA World Pool Championships, the APA Poolplayer Championships, the APA Junior Championships and the U.S. Amateur Championship—that, together, pay out more than $2 Million in cash and prizes annually!
The APA and its championships are sponsored by Aramith, Action Cues, Pool Dawg and Valley-Dynamo.
To register for next year’s U.S. Amateur Championship, visit https://usam.poolplayers.com/. For more information on the American Poolplayers Association, visit https://poolplayers.com/.