Rebecca Wagner wins opening AWBT event

Rebecca Wagner

The Arizona Women's Billiard tour began their 2011 season in Phoenix at Bullshooters with a $400 added 9-ball on the 9' table tournament. Bullshooters has been a generous longtime supporter of the AWBT. With their 20,000 sq. ft. they easily accommodated the 28 ladies who showed up from all parts of Arizona, Las Vegas and even Wisconsin. Their capable staff still had time to take care of a ‘broomstick’ tournament, ping pong tournament, dart tournament, and even Jr. pool league on Sunday. A true three ring circus. Owners, Mike and Julie Bates, and Lenny Orlando seem to be doing a lot of things right and making a lot of people happy.
Saturday started off a little late due to a surge in player numbers. The AWBT added 10 new members as well as welcoming back some faces who hadn't played in a while. One veteran tour member expressed how exciting the event was with "everybody" coming out.
Rebecca Wagner of Las Vegas, reigning WPBA Amateur National Champion and a new mother to a 4 week old, looked to be the woman to beat. She started with a win over Jeri Engh 7-5. That would be the most games she would give up until the finals. She continued with wins over Jessica Bunnell 7-0 and Veronica Poore 7-1 to reach the final four winner’s Sunday. Spectators were impressed by her deep focus and flawless execution.
Matches were selected to showcase the many talented ladies of the AWBT. Lenny Marshal of donated his time for 2 long days to provide live streaming of the event. Many players were either excited or nervous about playing in front of the camera, but after moments, their games came back to them. Hats off to ya Lenny.
After a long Saturday we finally came down to 8 players for Sunday. Four on the Winners side: Rebecca Wagner vs. Susan Williams, Sara Miller vs. Kristin Haney. Four on the B side: Edwidge Cavanna vs. Sunny Griffin, Justine Bishop vs. Susan Wilbur. On the winners side, Rebecca won over Susan Williams and Sara won over Kristin in a tight hill-hill match. Edwidge and Justine  won their matches but 5th-6th was as far as they would go as they were beaten by  Susan Williams and Kristin dropping down from the winners side. The loser's semi saw Susan Williams over Kristin 7-5. In the winners final Rebecca beat Sara 7-3. This set up the loser's final between Williams and Miller. These two ladies have played each other countless times with Susan usually coming out on top. But this time Sara was all smiles in a 7-3 victory.
The finals between Rebecca and Sara was one race to 9. The match was close for the first 7 games but in the end Rebecca had to much focus as she took the set and the Championship 9-5. Congratulations Rebecca. Way to go. Congratulations to Sara for a great tournament. She put on a great display of aggressive position play, ball jumping, and masse shooting.
Honorable mention goes out to Justine Bishop who took a break from motherhood and returned to the tour for a 5th-6th finish. Newcomer Jessica Bunnell of Prescott, while not in the cash, showed a lot of fight and promise in her first AWBT event.
Hard luck to Veronica Poore who had to forfeit her last match to get to Sunday’s final 8, due to a family emergency.
The free entry 2nd Chance tournament was played Sunday with 8 ladies trying to grab their share of the $200 prize fund. In the end it was Las Vegan’s Amy Encinias and Sondra Friestad getting 1st, 2nd, while Prescottonian Lynda Niichel, got 3rd. With first place in the main event and 1st, 2nd in the 2nd Chance event, the Vegas bunch had plenty of money to buy energy drinks for their long 5 hour journey home.
AWBT wishes to thank:
Our host Bullshooters and for donating $400 to the tournaments.
Lenny Marshal from for the live streaming.
To a friend of the AWBT for donating $100. We encourage this behavior.
Amy Encinias covering for
All the ladies who came out and made it a great weekend.
My co-director Kristie Ortega for making it happen.