Ortiz goes undefeated to claim first 2022 title on Northwest Women’s Pool Association Tour

Chris Rogers (TD), Molina Ortiz and Stephanie Drakulic (Photo courtesy Sandro Menzel)

Youngest player to ever compete on NWPA Tour, 13-year-old Marissa Du, wins Second Chance 

Before this past weekend, the last time the women of the Northwest Women’s Pool Association (NWPA) gathered was this past December when they met for a tournament in Everett, WA to celebrate the tour’s 20th anniversary. It was the one and only stop of what could, only by default, be called a season; in effect, a combination season opener and finale. Prior to that event, they’d held their last stop, at the same location, in February, 2020, in what was the only stop of that season, thanks to the pandemic.

Though plans were afoot last December to get back into stroke for a 2022 season, those plans didn’t reach fruition until this past weekend, July 9-10, when they gathered once again, this time at Legends Billiards in Beaverton, OR, for the first of five events scheduled through December. Attended by competitors from four states (OR, WA, CA and ID) and one Canadian Province (BC), a show of hands yielded information that just a little under one-third of the entrants (15) were brand new players on the tour, including the winner, Molina Ortiz, who moved to Portland, OR two years ago from New York. Her FargoRate of 626 made her the highest-rated competitor in the third season-opening tournament in a row. In the finals, Ortiz downed the NWPA’s current President, Stephanie Drakulic, who was the tour’s runner-up to Liz Cole in standings for the two years prior to the unexpected hiatus. This past weekend’s $1,000-added event drew 47 entrants to Legends Billiards.

Ortiz and Drakulic met twice in this one; hot seat and finals. Though the tour’s two champions over the last five years were on hand – Liz Cole; ’20, ’19, ’18 and ’16 and Suzanne Smith; ’17 – Ortiz didn’t get the opportunity to compete against either of them. Smith was defeated in the opening round of play by Marian Poole, who advanced to meet Ortiz in the third round. Cole was sent to the loss side in the second round by Jeanne Christiansen, who was defeated in a winners’ side quarterfinal by Melissa Rushton, who advanced to meet Ortiz in one of the winners’ side semifinals. Drakulic experienced a kind of roller-coaster trip to the other winners’ side semifinal, winning her opener against Stephanie Lyon by shutout, her second-round match versus Andi Beebe, double hill and a 6-1 victory over Angele Silveira, to draw Kathie MacDonald in the other winners’ side semifinal.

Ortiz and Rushton battled to double hill before Ortiz advanced to the hot seat match. Drakulic downed MacDonald 6-4 to join her. Ortiz claimed the hot seat 6-3 and waited on Drakulic’s return from the semifinals.

On the loss side, Smith was working on a seven-match, loss-side winning streak that would end in the quarterfinals. She chalked up loss-side wins #5 and #6 against Donna Kingsbury 6-4 and Kat Guest 6-1 to draw Rushton. Cindy Sliva was working on a four-match, loss-side streak that had begun with the elimination of Liz Cole 6-4 in the third loss-side round and had recently eliminated Regene Lane and Jeanne Christiansen, both 6-1, to pick up MacDonald.

MacDonald stopped Sliva’s loss-side run 6-1 and, in the quarterfinals, faced Smith, who’d given up only a single rack to Rushton. Smith and MacDonald locked up in a double hill battle in those quarterfinals, eventually won by MacDonald, who advanced to her re-match against Drakunic in the semifinals.

Drakulic defeated MacDonald a second time, 6-3, to advance to her rematch against Ortiz in the finals. The final match came within a game of going double hill, but Ortiz edged out in front of Drakulic near the end to claim the NWPA’s first 2022 title.

As noted, 13-year-old Marissa Du from Seattle, won the event’s 12-entrant Second Chance tournament. Du is one of 16 girls competing in the 13 & Under Girls Division of the Junior International Championships’ second season. She traveled to Aiken, SC in March to compete in the third stop of that season, finishing in the tie for 5th/6th.

NWPA President Stephanie Drakulic and Tour director, Chris Rogers thanked Legends Billiards owner, Michelle Bean and its GM, Dave McDowell for their hospitality, as well as John Scudder, Diamond Pool Tables’ Northwest representative, for payment of the live-streaming equipment, instrumental in NWPA’s live-streaming of events on YouTube. Live stream information can be found at playnwpa.com/livestream. Sandro Menzel is the NWPA’s official photographer.

The next stop on the NWPA Tour, scheduled for the weekend of August 27-28, will be hosted by Players Pub & Grill in Kennewick, WA.

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