Shea stops a strong, loss-side bid by Friend to go undefeated on JPNEWT finale

Kathy Friend, Stanley Nasiatka and Linda Shea

As the two finalists squared off in the finals of the last stop on the 2016 J. Pechauer Northeast Women’s Tour on the weekend of Nov. 12-13, it was a question of whether it was going to be a Cinderella story or the expected finish. It turned out to be the expected finish, as tour director Linda Shea completed an undefeated run with a finals victory over Kathy Friend, who’d been defeated in the event’s opening round and chalked up six on the loss side for the right to face Shea in the finals. It was Shea’s second victory on this year’s tour. She had won the first event at the same location back in March. This $1,000-added event ($500 from Coins of the Realm) drew 20 entrants to Triple Nines in Elkridge, MD.

Following an opening round bye, Shea defeated Tina Malm 7-4, and just did survive a double hill battle versus Dawn Fox to advance to a winners’ side semifinal against the tour’s #2-ranked player, Kia Sidbury. The other winners’ side semifinal featured Jenn Keeney and Eugenia Gyftopoulos. Shea shut Sidbury out and in the hot seat match, faced Gyftopoulos, who was making only her fifth appearance on the 2016 tour, and had defeated Keeney 7-3. A double hill fight ensued, won by Shea, who waited in the hot seat for Friend to complete her loss-side run.

On the loss side, Friend, after her opening round, double hill loss to Meredith Lynch, had opened what would turn into a six-match winning streak against Nicole Fleming, who almost ended Friend’s weekend on a two-and-out note. Friend hung on, though, to defeat Fleming, double hill, and advance through Teri Thomas 7-4, and Melissa Jenkins 7-3 to pick up Keeney. Sidbury drew Lynch, who’d ousted Elaine Wilson 7-4 and Sharon O’Hanlon 7-2 to reach her.

Friend and Lynch advanced to the quarterfinals for a re-match; Friend, 7-5 over Keeney and Lynch, 7-3 over Sidbury. Friend took the quarterfinal re-match against Lynch 7-2, and then, in her second, loss-side double hill match, downed Gyftopoulos in the semifinals.

Going into the finals, Friend was in pursuit of her third win on the tour in 10 years. She’d won an event back in June of 2006, and most recently, had chalked up her second tour victory in October of 2015. The finals came within a game of being Friend’s fourth double hill match. Shea, though, pulled out in front and ended it at 7-5 to claim the event title and finish the 2016 JPNEWT season atop its ranking board. Sidbury was comfortably in second place in those rankings, while Sharon O’Hanlon, finishing in the tie for 7th at this most recent event, retained her third place spot in the tour rankings. By virtue of her runner-up finish at this event, Friend moved into the fourth slot in the rankings, previously held by Lynch, who slipped into fifth place.

The top finishers on this year’s tour (the number of them had yet to be determined) will qualify for the North American Pool Tour’s Division II Championships, to be held at a to-be-determined date in February of 2017.