Schmidt and Hines win Emerald Coast 9-Ball Classic

John Schmidt

The Emerald Coast 9 Ball Classic in Ft Walton Beach, FL may be the 1st ever 9 ball event held at a regional fair. The promoter, David Wellema of Emerald Coast Produtions, did a fantastic job of setting up the playing area. It looked like a min version of the US Open. The 8 Olhausen Grand Champions were surrounded by a soft wall of banners describing all the sponsors. The inside of the playing arena was covered with red carpet, and raised 'player's chairs were provided at each table. The rest of the 15,000 sq. ft. building was taken by vendor's booths, including cars, spas, and pool tables.

We started the women's division on Monday at 1 PM and played until 10 PM. The spectator crowd was small, due to inclement weather, and the fairgrounds proper was closed because of rain. The rain continued into Tuesday, but the crowd was larger on Tuesday night for the finals. The final match featured Tracie (Majors) Hines and Shauna Alexander. Tracie (from Cairo, GA) was the betting favorite, but Shauna (a local standout) didn't let it bother her. She kept up nicely until the score was 6-4, Tracie, in the race to 9.

After that Tracie pulled away and won the event 9-5. 1st paid $700 and free entry into the Open division. 2nd paid $450 and free entry into open also. 3rd went to Sandy Morgan (Panama City, FL), $250, and 4th place went to Monica Fox (Gainesville, FL), $100.

Wednesday morning, the player's met for the Open division. Play started at 2 PM with 60 players. Several nationally known players were entered, including Wade Crane, Mike Massey, Rick Howard, Tommy Kennedy, and .John Schmidt. Regional standouts,Michael Staubes, Robert Newkirk, David Broxson, John 'Stoney' Stone, Jonathan Pinegar, David Strawn, Pablo Matheu, Denny Fox, and Jamie Farrell further strengthened the field.

On Thursday night, Loree Jon Jones, representing Olhausen tables, gave a stellar exhibition for about an hour, and then was surrounded by fans seeking autographs. On Saturday night, Mike Massey performed his always awesome repertoire of trick shots, stroke shots, and finger pool.

After the smoke had cleared, and the music from The Good, the Bad, and The Ugly had been turned down, John Schmidt (California transplant living in Milton, FL) and John 'Stoney' Stone (Sneads, FL) were ready to tee up for the final match, a single race to 12. Enroute to the finals, Schmidt was undefeated, sending Joey Purswell, Ralph Fortune, Tracie Hines, Patrick Brown, Jonathan Pinegar, and David Broxson to the west side of the chart. Stone had defeated David Strawn in his 1st match and lost to Broxson in his 2nd. On the loser's side he disposed of Greg Gibson, Donny Pinson, T.F. Whittington, Jamie Farrell, Tom Kennedy, Sean Dowling, Jonathan Pinegar, Wade Crane, and David Broxson.

The finals bore promise of a great match, and the fans weren't disappointed. Stone jumped out to a 3-0 lead early, but Schmidt kept coming and was soon leading 5-3. Schmidt reached the hill while Stone was stuck at 7, but this match was far from over. Stone found new life and was able to join Schmidt on the hill. Stone broke and made a ball and was left with a long difficult shot on the one. He over cut the shot, and Schmidt quickly ran out for the $5000 top prize. An interesting side note to this match was that in March of this year, Schmidt and Stone met in the finals of the Starcade Annual Fall Tournament. The scenarios were almost the same, with Schmidt reaching the hill while Stone was on 8. Stone got to the hill and was running out, but over hit position from the six to the seven and partially hooked himself. He made a good hit on the seven, but left Schmidt out. After the finals of the most recent event, Stone made the comment "he's a nice guy, but I sure am tired of losing to him in the finals."

Plans are being made for this to become an annual affair. The sponsors were all happy, the managers of the fair were happy, and the players were happy. The promoter had added more money than advertised (how many times does this happen?) to boost the prize fund even more. His plans are to make it 'bigger and better' next year.

Photo courtesy of Diana Hoppe - Pool Pics by Hoppe

Total Prize breakdown:
1st John Schmidt $5000
2nd John Stone $2500
3rd David Broxson $1600
4th Wade Crane $1100
5th Michael Staubes and Jonathan Pinegar $650
7th Mike Massey and Sean Dowling $450
9th Jerry Ritzer, Patrick Brown, Tom Kennedy and Rick Howard
13th Rick Rogers, Billy Miles, Jamie Farrell and Robert Newkirk