Pao goes undefeated to chalk up her seventh win on the JPNEWT since 2019

Caroline Pao and Nicole Nester

Last month (April 10-11), Caroline Pao joined 18 other competitors at stop #2 on the J. Pechauer Northeast Women’s Tour, looking for her seventh straight win on the tour, dating back to 2019. Liz Taylor defeated her twice; once, in a winners’ side semifinal and again, in the finals. This past weekend, as 24 women gathered to compete at stop #3, hosted by First Break Sports Bar in Sterling, VA, there was some speculation that Taylor v. Pao might go at it again, in search of the event title. It didn’t happen. In fact, they didn’t meet in this one at all. Pao, though, went undefeated through the field to claim that seventh, though not ‘seventh straight’ JPNEWT title.

Pao faced separate opponents in the hot seat and finals. She was awarded an opening round bye and opened her campaign with a 7-3 win over Kia Burwell. She then shut out Judie Wilson and drew Kelly Wyatt in one of the winners’ side semifinals. Carol V. Clark, in the meantime, also with an opening round bye, survived a double hill fight against Ashley Burrows and defeated Lai Li 7-5 to draw Nicole Nester in the other winners’ side semifinal. Nester, who would go on to face Pao in the finals, had just survived her own double hill challenge versus Liz Taylor, sending her to the loss side in their winners’ side quarterfinal match. 

Clark sent Nester to the loss side 7-4 and in the hot seat match, faced Pao, who’d defeated Wyatt 7-3. Pao gave up just a single rack to claim the hot seat over Clark.

Tour director Linda Shea, who’d started out in a promising direction on the winners’ side with two straight shutouts over Calaia Jackson and Kimberly Smith-Martin, ran into Kelly Wyatt in one of the winners’ side quarterfinals. When Wyatt sent her to the loss side 7-3, she downed Melissa Jenkins 7-4 and then, survived a double hill battle versus Ashley Burrows to draw Nester. Wyatt, in the meantime, picked up Liz Taylor, who’d followed her defeat at the hands of Nester with victories over Cecilia Strain 7-2 and Kia Burwell 7-1.

There were, at this point, six competitors left. Five of the six were among the top 10 in the tour standings going into this third stop. Pao, Taylor, Nester and Shea were, in order, #1 through #4, while Carol V. Clark was #6.  There were two rematch possibilities in the quarterfinals. It was Taylor and Nester who advanced to meet a second time. Taylor eliminated Wyatt 7-3, as Nester was busy in a double hill fight that she eventually won over Shea.

Any hopes for a second straight tour stop with Pao and Taylor in the finals was eliminated in the quarterfinals, when Nester downed Taylor 7-2. Nester earned her spot in the finals with a 7-5 win over Clark in the semifinals. 

Pao completed her undefeated run with a 7-5 win in the finals, which allowed her to maintain her top spot in the tour standings. In fact, the tour’s top five in the standings maintained their positions with the points they earned at this event. Pao, Taylor, Nester, Shea and Wilson (who finished in tie for 9th place) remained as the top five. Kia Burwell moved up a single spot to #6, while Carol V. Clark’s third-place finish moved her up from #9 to a tie with Burwell.

Tour director Shea thanked the ownership and staff at First Break Sports Bar for their hospitality, as well as title sponsor J. Pechauer Custom Cues, Bitzel and Associates PTPA (Physical Therapists), George Hammerbacher (Advanced Pool Instructor/stream commentator) and for the live stream, Britanya E. Rapp of angle aim Art. The next stop on the JPNEWT (#4), scheduled for June 12-13, will be hosted by Triple Nines Bar & Billiards in Elkridge, MD.