Shea wins seven on the loss side, downs Clark in finals to claim her first 2021 title

Carol V. Clark, Nicole Nester, Kia Burwell, April Hatcher, Melissa Jenkins and Linda Haywood Shea

It wasn’t quite enough to catch and overtake Caroline Pao, who’s been sitting atop the J. Pechauer Northeast Women’s Tour standings for months, but she came close. Tour director Linda Shea came into the weekend’s tour stop (July 17-18) nestled into third place behind Pao and Nicole Nester and just ahead of Kia Burwell. Pao didn’t compete on the tour’s 6th stop, which drew 19 entrants to Champion Billiards in Frederick, MD. Shea, though, got by both Nester and Burwell (Burwell, twice), won seven on the loss side and downed Carol V. Clark in the finals to claim her first 2021 event title.

The win put Shea about 15 points behind Pao, who retained her top spot. Nester slipped into third place, with Burwell in fourth place. Carol V. Clark, in the meantime, who came into the event in 8th place, made it to the hot seat and finished as runner-up to Shea, jumped three places to 5th, just behind Burwell. April Hatcher, who battled Clark in the hot seat match and finished in third place, jumped from her entrance spot at #25 to just outside the top 10.

Things started out on the right foot for Shea, but that didn’t last long. She won an opening round, double hill battle versus Burwell, only to be relegated to loss-side competition by ending up on the wrong side of her second straight double hill fight, this one against Nicole Nester. Nester went on to defeat Teri Thomas 7-4 to draw April Hatcher in one of the winners’ side semifinals. After being awarded an opening round bye, Carol V. Clark, in the meantime, downed Lynn Richard and Colleen Shoop, both 7-3, to pick up Melissa Jenkins in the other winners’ side semifinal.

Hatcher guaranteed herself a minimum, third place finish by defeating Nester 7-3 and advancing to the hot seat match. Clark and Jenkins battled to double hill before Clark was able to join Hatcher. Then she and Hatcher engaged in a double hill fight for that hot seat. Clark won it and watched, likely with some sense of foreboding, as Shea kept chalking up loss-side wins that would eventually put her into the finals.

On the loss side, Nester drew a rematch versus Shea, who was four matches into her loss-side streak with an aggregate (loss-side) score of 28-6, that had recently included victories over Shoop 7-2 and Kelly Wyatt 7-1. Jenkins picked up Burwell, who, following her opening round loss to Shea, had begun her own loss-side winning streak. Like Shea, she reached the 5/6 matches with four behind her, including wins over Billie Billing 7-4 and Teri Thomas 7-5.

Shea downed Nester 7-4, while Burwell secured the quarterfinal rematch against her with a double hill win over Jenkins. The quarterfinal rematch between Shea and Burwell shaped up as a nail-biter at the outset, but in the end, Shea pulled out in front by two to win it 7-5. Shea then downed Hatcher 7-3 for a shot at Clark, waiting for her in the hot seat.

It was clear from the outset that neither Shea nor Clark was going to give up easily in their quest to chalk up a first 2021 tour win. Shea jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead, but from that point on, through to the 9th rack, every time Shea tried to extend the lead, Clark came back to narrow that lead to one; 2-0, 2-1, 3-1, 3-2, 4-2, 4-3, 5-3. Shea broke the pattern in the 9th rack to take her first three-game lead, which she quickly extended to four and then, reaching the hill, to five at 8-3. Clark rallied to win the 12th and then, the 13th rack to make it 8-5, but Shea closed it out in rack #14 to claim the event title.

Shea thanked the ownership and staff at Championship Billiards, as well as title sponsor J. Pechauer Custom Cues, Bitzel and Associates PTPA (Physical Therapy), George Hammerbacher (Advanced Pool Instructor) and (for the live stream) Britanya E Rapp of angle aim Art. The next stop on the JPNEWT (#7) August 14-15, will be hosted by Triple Nines in Elkridge, MD.