Shea wins JPNEWT season finale, secures top spot in tour rankings


During the season finale of the tour she directs - the J. Pechauer NorthEast Women's Tour - Linda Haywood-Shea concluded her best year at the tables in 10 years; this, according to our own information on tour earnings over that span of time. She chalked up her third victory on the 2012 tour on the weekend of November 10-11, defeating Judy Wilson twice, and ending the season as the tour's #1-ranked player. Her reported earnings on this year's tour (12 stops, at which she won or placed second eight times) checked in at $2,465, about $100 more than she earned in 2002. The $500-added season finale drew 15 entrants to Triple Nines in Elkridge, MD.

From among the winners' side final four, Shea faced Kia Sidbury, who'd entered the tournament at #8 in the tour rankings. Wilson, in the meantime, who came in at #5, faced Kathy Friend (#16). Shea sent Sidbury west 7-3, as Wilson was busy surviving a double hill match that sent Friend over. Shea then defeated Wilson 7-3 and sat in the hot seat, waiting for her to come back.

On the loss side, Sidbury picked up Nicole Nester, who'd defeated Nicole Vincent 7-5 (the two Nicoles had entered the tournament tied at #21), and Denise Reeves 7-2. Friend drew Colleen Shoop, who'd gotten by Jennifer Nhek and Ji Hyun Park, both 7-3. Friend got back on the winning track with a 7-5 victory over Shoop, but by the same score, Nester downed Sidbury.

Friend and Nester battled to double hill in the quarterfinals, before Friend prevailed and got a second shot at Wilson. They'd battled to double hill among the winners' side final four, but Wilson took command in the semifinals, defeating Friend 7-2, and earning her own second shot at Shea. 

In the modified race-to-7 (if Wilson reached 7 first, they'd have battled to 9), Shea chalked up the same score she'd recorded in the hot seat match, 7-3, to complete her undefeated trip through the field, and maintain her top tour ranking.

The JPNEWT is awaiting word from the WPBA, regarding the number of women from the tour who will be eligible for the Regional Tour Championships. Though Shea would be eligible as the top-ranked player on the tour, her role as a mother has led her to recuse herself from consideration as a competitor in the RTC.

"When they (the WPBA) look at points," she explained, noting that she has no plans to give up motherhood, "they don't see me."

Last year, 14 members of the JPNEWT competed, though Shea suspects that this year, the number will be lower; more like seven or eight, which, based on end-of-season rankings, should qualify Brianna Miller, Megan Smith, Sharon O'Hanlon, Wilson, My-Hanh Lac, Shanna Lewis, Kia Sidbury, and with the extra spot vacated by Shea, perhaps Pauline Mattes. Eugenia Gyftopoulos, and Ji-Hyun Park complete the Top Ten (11) in the rankings and could qualify if the WPBA selects 10.