Sakai Steals Spirit Tour Win

Miyuki Sakai

Holiday, FL - The Ladies Spirit Tour third event of the season was held April 27-28, 2007, at Hammer Heads Billiard Lounge, in Holiday, Florida, where forty-six women competed in the Qualifier event for the WPBA Florida Classic. Top players included WPBA Pros Ellen Van Buren, Tracie Hines, and Miyuki Sakai, along with Spirit Tour regular top finishers such as Debbie Schjodt, Jeannie Seaver, Stephanie Mitchell and Jessica Barnes. With a prize fund of more than $3400 plus the Qualifier, the event drew six new players as well, many of which cashed at the end of the event.

Tour sponsors Olhausen Billiard Manufacturing, McDermott Handcrafted Cues, Tiger Billiard Products, Saluc , and Sterling Gaming donated cues, sets of Super Aramith Pro billiard balls, cue cases, and hand towels, that were awarded to many players during the event.

The event drew fierce determination and competition, with some players as far away as Holland, Japan, Indiana, and North Carolina, and with many matches enduring hill-hill scores. Saturday evening finished on the one-loss side with Vanessa Seaver, Laura Lindauer, Jessica Barnes, Dawn Fox, Shanna Lewis, Tamara Rademakers, Jennifer Jennekens, and Ellen Van Buren. On the winners ‘side of the bracket, Sunday's return would see Stephanie Mitchell vs. Debbie Schjodt, and Miyuki Sakai vs. Jeannie Seaver.

The match between Mitchell and Schjodt seemed to be a repeat of last month's battle for the Qualifier, where the two players posted hill-hill games. However, this match would end with Mitchell posting the seventh game first in the double hill game. Meanwhile, Sakai sent Seaver to the other side with a 7-4 score, setting up the match for the Queen of the Hotseat between Mitchell & Sakai. It was the WPBA Pro who would claim the seat with a 7-5 score.

On the one-loss side, Fox eliminated Barnes and Lindauer while Rademakers forced Jennekens and Van Buren out of the event. Tour regulars Seaver and Schjodt sent Fox and Rademakers home with 5/6th place finishes, setting up the next match of Seaver and Schjodt. A long-time friendship did not prevent Seaver from posting a 7-5 score against Schjodt, because Seaver wanted a chance at the first place prize fund. However, in the match with Seaver, Mitchell would soon let it be known that she fully intended to win the Qualifier as well as her first Ladies Spirit Tour event. Seaver had to settle for 3rd place with a 7- 3 score against Mitchell.

The finals were set, with Mitchell and Sakai playing once again. With the true double elimination format, Mitchell would be required to beat Sakai in two races to seven. Sakai took the lead, winning the lag and first game, but Mitchell replied quickly with a two game lead. Mitchell's bank shots seemed to be working in her favor, as she brought the score up to 1-4, but Sakai was not to be put away so easily. Sakai has been known to take control of a table like a machine at work, and she managed to bring the score up to 3-4. Mitchell was not to be intimidated and took the next game, and then added one more game by snapping a nine-ball on the break, with a score of 3-6. Again, Sakai answered the challenge with a one-nine combo and two additional games to give the audience a double-hill match. On the final game, Sakai attempted to shoot the three ball, bringing the cue ball three rails around the table to bump the 9-ball into the nearest pocket. Sakai took the first place prize money of $750, along with a set of Super Aramith pro billiard balls, and Mitchell claimed the Qualifier entry, second place money, and a beautiful new cue case.

The next Ladies Spirit Tour event will be held June 2-3, 2007, at Stroker's in Palm Harbor, Florida.