Archive Page

Big Names Fall In Medalla Light Puerto Rico Open

Alex Kazakis

Alex Kazakis, Ko Ping Han and Chang Yu-Lung were among the big names knocked out of the Medalla Light Puerto Rico Open on the second day of play at the Puerto Rico Convention Center, San Juan, while the likes of Kelly Fisher, Margaret Fefilova and Chia Hua Chen are already into the last 16 of the Women’s event.

A goliath match up between Ko Pin-Yi and Alex Kazakis would usually be reserved for the closing stages of any tournament, but here it was a match in the second round on the losers’ side of the draw. Ko had been beaten by Denis Grabe on the opening day but a 4-1, 4-0 win over another Estonian, Gert Gnadeberg, got the two-time World Champion up and running.

A shootout defeat to Jonas Souto Comino in the first winners’ round earlier in the day had sent Kazakis to the one-loss side and, like Ko, he now needed three wins to qualify for the straight-knockout last 32.

Ko looked certain to take the first set 4-1 but missed a straight 3 by going rail first in attempt to gain position on the 4. However, another chance presented itself and was taken in the sixth rack as Ko took the set 4-2.

The first two racks of set two were shared and it was Kazakis who had a clear opening in the third, only to miss the 1 to the side when a simple 2/10 was waiting. Ko took the gift but Kazakis was level again at 2-2 one rack later. The Greek was then able to lead for the first time when Ko missed the 9, but the Taiwanese leveled at 3-3 to move a rack away from victory.

Kazakis needed to hope for a chance as Ko broke on the hill, and he got one immediately as Ko struggled to find power with his break, leaving Kazakis a layout from which he took a clear path to the shootout.

In the tie break, neither player so much as clipped a jaw in their four regulation innings, forcing sudden death where it was Kazakis who blinked first. Ko had already taken a 5-4 shootout lead when the Greek missed his fifth shot to be eliminated from the tournament. Ko’s next opponent will be Tyler Styer.

However, Ko’s brother Ping Han is out of the event after suffering a shootout defeat to Puerto Rico’s Miguel Batista. The home player took the first set 4-3 before Ko fired back, only to lose 3-2 in the shootout. Another local favorite, USA’s Puerto Rico-born Tony Robles, awaits Batista in the next round.

With $100,000 in the prize pot of the 128-player Open, and $75,000 for the 64-player Women’s event, the Medalla Light Puerto Rico Open is the final stop of the 2022 Predator Pro Billiard Series and will be followed in Puerto Rico by the Predator World Junior 9-Ball Championships and Predator World 8-Ball Championship.

In the Women’s Open, eight of the last 16 are now known. Kelly Fisher defeated Kristina Tkach by shootout to reach the single-elimination stage, while Canada Open champion ‘Amber’ Chen was winner over Japan’s Yuki Hiraguchi. Pia Filler, Allison Fisher and Margaret Fefilova make it four Europeans already through.

The other four players to reach the last 16 undefeated are all from Asia, with Filipino speed-shooter Chezka Centeno and Chinese Taipei’s Wang Wan-Ling and Tzu-Chien Wei joining compatriot Chen in the last 16 draw.

The Open event moves to single elimination with 32 players remaining. Winners’ qualification matches commence at 10am local time with Fedor Gorst, Carlo Biado and Francisco Sanchez-Ruiz among those with two chances to qualify. Wiktor Zielinski, Roberto Gomez and Yukio Akagariyama are some of the experienced players who will have to win two matches on the losers’ side of the draw if they are to make it.

The Medalla Light Puerto Rico Open continues from 10am AST on Thursday with six more matches streamed from Table 1 on Billiard TV,  the World Billiard TV YouTube channel and at Kozoom.com. Table 2 has full coverage and commentary on the Predator Pro Billiard Series Facebook Page. All tables can be watch live for FREE at Kozoom.com

Brackets and scores can be found at www.probilliardseries.com

Follow @probilliardseries on Facebook, @probilliardseries on Instagram or @PBilliardSeries on Twitter.

Go to thread

Fisher Fights Through As Medalla Light Puerto Rico Open Begins

Kelly Fisher

Four-time Predator Pro Billiard Series champion Kelly Fisher had to come from 3-2 down to eventually win the second set against 12-year-old American Savannah Easton and move to the winners’ qualification stage of the Medalla Light Puerto Rico Open.

At the impressively set-up Puerto Rico Convention Center in San Juan, 192 pro players from 44 countries opened the 2022 Caribbean CueSports International Expo on Tuesday. With $100,000 in the prize pot of the 128-player Open, and $75,000 for the 64-player Women’s event, the Medalla Light Puerto Rico Open is the final stop of the 2022 Predator Pro Billiard Series and will be followed in Puerto Rico by the Predator World Junior 9-Ball Championships and Predator World 8-Ball Championship.

In the Open event, Fedor Gorst, Francisco Sanchez-Ruiz and Darren Appleton won twice to reach winners’ qualification, the latter defeating Chang Jung-Lin 4-0, 4-1.

After beating Elise Qiu on a shootout at the start of the day, Fisher faced Easton on the TV table in her hunt for an unprecedented fifth Predator Pro Billiard Series title. Easton has been making waves this year, most recently taking fifth in the WPBA’s Sledgehammer Open in Bristol, TN last month.

The 12-year-old had seen off Emilyn Callado in straight sets in the opening round and earned a huge ovation from the Puerto Rican crowd for her efforts against Fisher, who was almost taken to shootout by the youngster nicknamed ‘Roadrunner’.

Having won the first set 4-2, Fisher took a 2-0 lead in the second. However, the American youngster, who will take part in the Predator World Junior 9-Ball Championships starting Friday, cut that lead in half after making the 5 with the bridge. Easton then leveled the set at 2-2 after a safety battle with just the 9 and 10 remaining and a long 8 opened up the fifth game of the set for the junior, who took a 3-2 lead.

A dry break from the hill allowed Fisher to play a safety which Easton couldn’t escape but ball in hand was returned by the Brit when she completely missed the 7. However, Easton left a long 9 in the jaw and Fisher was finally level again at hill-hill in the second set.

The final rack brought more drama as Easton battled for the shootout but the pressure showed as she overcut the 10. Both players had another chance to close out the set but it was Fisher who got over the line to advance to winners qualification tomorrow.

“What a great player, she has nerves of steel and definitely one to watch for the future,” said Fisher. “She should have had me there, it should have been a shootout. I was all over the place but she missed some crucial balls at the end.

“What a great future she knows she must have, she is a great player and we are going to see her in the future. I, personally, don’t want to play her again; she put me under pressure, she got me, could have had me, and I don’t want to play her again until she’s 18!”

“I was this close, I was so close,” said Easton. “In the first set when I was 2-2 I thought I might be able to beat her, and in the second set when it was 3-2 and I took that break, I was so excited but I tried to hold it in as much as I could. It was so fun, I couldn’t believe it.”

Fisher will now face Kristina Tkach for a place in the last 16. Yuki Hiraguchi of Japan will take on Chia Hua Chen after ‘Amber’ beat World Women’s 10-Ball Champion Chieh Yu-Chou in the opening round. Pia Filler, Tzu-Chien Wei, Kristina Zlateva, Jasmin Ouschan and Allison Fisher are among the other players still unbeaten in the women’s event.

In the men’s tournament, local favorite Alan Rolon was well-supported as he Wu Kun Lin by shootout and then Alex Montpellier to earn a day off and set up a winners’ qualification match against Badar Alawadhi on Thursday morning.

A strong field spelt early casualties as the likes of Ko Ping-Han, Aloysius Yapp and Ko Pin-Yi all lost in the first round and now face a long road to reach the last 32 and single elimination.

The Medalla Light Puerto Rico Open continues from 10am AST on Wednesday with six more matches streamed from Table 1 on Billiard TV,  the World Billiard TV YouTube channel and at Kozoom.com. Table 2 has full coverage and commentary on the Predator Pro Billiard Series Facebook Page. All tables can be watch live for FREE at Kozoom.com

Brackets and scores can be found at www.probilliardseries.com

Follow @probilliardseries on Facebook, @probilliardseries on Instagram or @PBilliardSeries on Twitter.

Go to thread

Switzerland downs Poland in 17th American 14.1 Straight Pool Championships

Dimitri Jungo

Jungo wins roller coast final vs. Zielinski/Tkach defeats Corr in Women’s event.

You had to be there.

As it’s been for a number of years, the annual American Straight Pool Championships, held this past week (Oct. 24-29) at Q-Master Billiards in Virginia Beach, VA were not just about who beat who, by how much. Or the specifics of about how the male and female fields whittled down from 56 men and 15 women to Switzerland’s Dimitri Jungo, who won the Men’s event and Russia’s Kristina Tkach, who won the Women’s event; each, right after it was over, holding their 17th annual traditional clock and collecting their envelopes with $10,000 and $5,000, respectively.

It was, too, about the gathering of world-class competitors, kicking back in the highly-congenial atmosphere of this country’s largest pool room, regaling each other with stories of past exploits, current battles in their individual matches and where they’re headed next. It’s a pool player knocked out of the competition early, preparing for this week’s International Open, about 20 miles away, by practicing one type of shot (a corner-to-corner, stop shot) for hours. Or a female competitor describing the dancing skills of two female friends in a long-ago moment after an event that had an entire table of people in stitches. It’s about the photos of all the US Open Champions crowned in the room, the commendations from 50+ years of pool players, and of course, scores aside, the quality of play.

“The quality of play this year was just unbelievable,” founder and Chairman of the American 14.1 Straight Pool Championships, Peter Burrows told a packed arena at the conclusion of the Men’s event. “It’s why we come here every year.”

“(Jungo and Zeilinski) had a number of exquisite safety battles tonight that were really remarkable,” he added of the final match.

In his first time competing in these straight pool championships, Jungo revealed that it was only the second time that he had played the game competitively all year. He recalled being here in the US in 2001; a year he referenced as ‘9-11.’

“And now,” he said, shortly after claiming the Men’s title, “here I am, 18 years later.”

Though hesitant to single out one particular discipline as his ‘favorite,’ he admitted to an affection for straight pool that has lasted for a long time. He admits to playing it a lot more by himself than in competition.

“I like it,” he said. “When I play it alone, I can challenge myself.”

In the more-than-just-winning-or-losing department, he was impressed with the milieu associated with Q Master Billiards. He admitted to being enchanted by it and used a somewhat dated expression to describe it.

“I like the ‘groove’ here,” he said. “It’s like. . . pool, where it’s born. I feel like it’s home. The way they treat the people here is very special.”

“I was very comfortable here,” he added of the week he’d spent at the tables, moments after that week was over, “and I’m feeling good.”

As well he might have, having just won a tournament that at its start a week ago, had other competitors ‘pegged’ for the win; among the others – Jayson Shaw, Fedor Gorst, the surging-in-Europe Francisco Sanchez-Ruiz, final European member of the 2022 Mosconi Cup Team, David Alcaide, Josh Filler and Filipino Lee Van Corteza, who would finish the Round Robin Phase of the event with the highest point differential (504) of the eight groups of seven players each. Jungo would finish third overall in that department at 460, behind Van Corteza and Josh Filler (498).

Jungo finished #1 in his seven-man group, downing Jasmin Ouschan, Corey Deuel, Bob Madenjian, Ed Culhane and countryman Michael Schneider (who would later introduce himself as the “other one from Switzerland.”) Jungo’s loss came at the stick of Darren Appleton.

Poland’s Wictor Zielinski, in the meantime, was #1 in his group, as well, downing his own list of top-ranked pros – Thorsten Hohmann, Ralf Souquet, Denis Grabe, Bart Czapla and the USA’s Pascal Dufresne, who, when he done competing, became a statistician for the event, seated behind a computer, using a 14:Straight Pool program he had written to input analytic data about each match he was able to witness. Zielinski’s loss in the Round Robin phase was to Finland’s Jani Uski.

All four of the event’s semifinalists – Jungo, Zielinski, Mario He and Mieszko Fortunski – were #1 in their Round Robin groups. They, along with the other four top competitors to come out of the Round Robin phase – Josh Filler, John Morra, Francisco Candela and Lee Van Corteza were awarded opening round byes as second- and third-place competitors (16 of them) squared off in the opening round of the single elimination phase of the event, racing to 150. Gone at the conclusion of that opening round were (among others) Jayson Shaw, Darren Appleton and Albin Ouschan. In the final 16 round, Lee Van Corteza, Ralf Souquet, Sanchez-Ruiz (downed by Zielinski), The Lion (Alex Pagulayan) and Carlo Biado (defeated by Jungo) were gone as well.

The quarterfinal matches saw Jungo eliminate Morra, Mario He defeat Lebanon’s Bader Alawadhi, Mieszko Fortunski get by David Alcaide in the closest match of the tournament 150-148, and Zielinski wave goodbye to Joshua Filler (not literally) in the most lopsided match of the single elimination phase, 150-38.

The racing-to-175 semifinals, which guaranteed that one of the finalists would be from Poland, saw Zielinski down Fortunski 175-55. Jungo joined him after defeating Austria’s Mario He 175-85.

As noted by Burrows earlier, the final match was a bit of a roller coaster ride. If you weren’t aware that fouls can send scores moving in the opposite direction, you might have been surprised if you stepped away when the score was tied at 55-55 and returned to find out it had backed up to 54-53 in favor of Jungo.

“(Zielinski) got out to a lead early,” noted Jungo. “but I made it to 67 (ahead by 14), and then, we had those safety battles in the middle; four or five of them.”

Zielinski kept fighting back and took the lead back at the 131-130 stage of the game, at which point, the scores went backwards again, to 129-128. Jungo re-established the lead and expanded it to 147-136. With 28 balls to go, he got them all. At 162-136, right after his break had left 14 on the table, with only 13 to go, Jungo ran the table to claim the title.

Kristina Tkach

After protracted absence since 2019, Ireland’s Karen Corr makes it to Women’s final

Ireland’s Karen Corr has been making her presence known on the women’s circuit since her somewhat unofficial return from an unofficial absence since 2019. She’d appeared on the J. Pechauer Northeast Women’s Tour this year, finished 3rd at the WPBA’s Michigan Open (tied with Allison Fisher) and made an appearance at last week’s Sledgehammer Open, the 1st memorial tournament for Helena Thornfeldt. She ‘chose’ to record her highest return-finish in Virginia Beach at an event not without its favored competitors. Some were looking ahead almost from the start to a rematch between Tkach and the event’s defending champion, Kelly Fisher, who had matched up twice against each other at the Sledgehammer Open; Tkach taking the first in a winners’ side semifinal and Kelly, the second in the final.

Not so fast. There were three round robin ‘flights’ with five players each, from which Corr, Tkach and Fisher emerged undefeated. Joining them in an opening, single-elimination round were Bethany Sykes (vs. Tkach), Dawn Hopkins (vs. Corr), Billie Billing (vs. Fisher) and Bean Hung, squaring off against Pia Filler. Racing to 80, Tkach allowed Sykes one ball, Hung gave up 23 to Filler, Fisher gave Billing 42, while Corr and Hopkins played the closest match; won by Corr 80-50.

The potential Fisher/Tkach final was still on, but not for long. In the semifinals, Tkach downed Hung 100-49, as Corr was likely surprising Kelly Fisher with a 100-36 win that put her in her first (recorded) final in two years.

Tkach has won the European straight pool championships twice, though like many others, it’s not a discipline that she gets to play that often.

“When I was very young, about 16 or 17, I played a full-year of straight pool every day,” she said, noting that her coach at the time was trying to get her to that oft-elusive first run of 100 balls, “but I was at a different level back then, too.”

“It is a game that you play maybe once a year,” she added, “but once you learn how to play it, it’s like riding a bicycle. Once you understand it, it’s really just about making balls.”

She got on the bike, made the balls and claimed the second American Women’s 14.1 Straight Pool Championship Title.

Many of the competitors who were in Virginia Beach over the past week have already moved on to Norfolk, VA, about 20 miles west of Q Master Billiards, to compete in Pat Fleming’s International Open, which began on Friday, Oct. 28 with a $10,000-added One Pocket tournament (to which many knocked out of the straight pool at Q Master Billiards migrated). The One Pocket will conclude today (Sunday, Oct. 30) and give way to the $50,000-added 9-Ball Tournament set to begin tomorrow (Monday, Oct. 31), which should make for an interesting Halloween night. Later in the week, the Junior International Championships will conclude their 2022 season with championship tournaments for the 18 & Under Boys and Girls divisions of the series.

And a final unofficial and unquoted word from Peter Burrows about the 18th Annual American 14.1 Straight Pool Tournament next year, which he has promised (with a little help from his friends) will be bigger and better with more players and more money.

“You have to be there!”

Go to thread

Corr to face Tkach in 5 p.m. Women’s final at American 14.1 Straight Pool Championships

Karen Corr

Jungo will face either Miesko Fortunski or Wictor Zielinski in final Men’s match at 8 p.m.

Prior to this year, Ireland’s Karen Corr had not recorded a payout with us here at AZBilliards since 2019. When she returned in August to make an appearance on the J. Pechauer Northeast Women’s Tour, finishing 4th and a month later, at the WPBA’s Michigan Women’s Open, she finished in a tie for 3rd with Allison Fisher. Last week at the 1st Annual Sledgehammer Open at Janet Atwell’s room, Borderline Billiards in Bristol, TN, Kelly Fisher and Russia’s Kristina Tkach played a pair of matches; Tkach winning the first in a winners’ side semifinal and Fisher winning the final. When pool-watchers woke up this morning (Sat.Oct. 29), with their eyes focused to the ongoing brackets of the American 14:1 Straight Pool Championships being held at Q Master Billiards in Virginia Beach, VA this week, they would have noticed that Fisher and Tkach were still a possibility for a repeat final. 

They reckoned without Karen Corr. Making her way into the event’s final 24 with a 4-1 record in the Round Robin stage, Corr moved through the single elimination phase, downing Billie Billing 80-42 and in the semifinals, Kelly Fisher, the event’s defending champion, 100-36. Tkach, who’d defeated Bethany Sykes 80-1 in the quarterfinals and Bean Hung 100-49 in her semifinal will now have the chance to meet Corr at 5 p.m. EDT, a match that could run live (via links) on the American 14:1 Straight Pool Championships’ Web site (www.americanstraightpool.com.

Waiting in the wings for an 8 p.m EDT men’s final will be Switzerland’s Dimitri Jungo, who defeated Mario He 175-85. Jungo will play someone from Poland; either Mieszko Fortunski or Wictor Zielinski, who are continuing their semifinal match; a race to 175, with Zielinski ahead 29-13 at approximately 4 p.m, EDT.

Go to thread

Fisher stays atop WPBA rankings with come-from-the-loss-side win at Sledgehammer Open

Kelly Fisher, Janet Atwell and Kristina Tkach

The late Helena Thornfeldt remembered in heartfelt 1st Annual event named in her honor

She was nicknamed the Sledgehammer because of her powerful break. Whenever conversations about Helena Thornfeldt broke out among friends and competitors at the 1st Annual WPBA Cherokee Sledgehammer Open, named in her honor this past weekend (Wed., Oct. 19 – Sun., Oct. 23), more than just a few of the gathered women had cause to remember it; the loud whack of initial contact and the way the balls spread out as though desperate for space beyond the rails to dissipate the energy of it. It had taken over two years for the pool community’s widespread respect and admiration for the late Helena Thornfeldt to arrive at a gathering in her honor. The WPBA Hall of Famer died in August of 2019 and though Janet Atwell, in an attempt to organize a 2020 event, began work on it almost immediately, COVID had other ideas, that persisted.

This past weekend, Atwell’s room, Borderline Billiards in Bristol, TN had one of Thornfeldt’s favorite things, sunflowers, on prominent display. A table was set aside to hold a variety of individual and collections of photos. The trophies that were handed to the winner, Kelly Fisher and runner-up Kristina Tkach were accompanied by two actual sledgehammers, made by Robert Ingold of Team SuperShaft. Atwell is working on the creation of a permanent wall plaque at Borderline Billiards with engraving space for the event’s present and future winners, along with a pair of crossed sledgehammers. The event began on Wednesday with words from Janet Atwell and a video made by Bonnie Arnold that featured, among other things, Thornfeldt singing a karaoke version of Born to be Wild. The event officially opened with the National Anthem sung by Christina Druen.

“I think it was an emotional event for everyone,” said Atwell. “Some went through some struggles with it.”

“Absolutely,” agreed Kelly Fisher. “A very emotional event, that first night. There wasn’t a dry eye in the place.”

Kelly Fisher

“We all missed her really,” she added, “and we hadn’t had a chance to show that or feel that, as a family, together. I know that for myself, during that final and a during a few other close matches as well, I could just imagine Helena saying things to me. I went outside at one point to get a breath of air and Monica (Webb) said something to me that Helena would have said and I got kind of fired up there. So for me, personally, she was definitely a presence in my heart and mind.”

Among those in attendance, including Fisher, Tkach and Atwell of course, was Jeannette Lee, who had, in a 2017 interview, called Thornfeldt “the best female straight pool player in the world.” Lee joined Atwell as a member of a ProAm team (one of many) that played a social tournament on opening night, full of blatant sharking and fun. Monica Webb, who ran a restaurant business with Thornfeldt for a number of years, was there, as well. So, too, was the WPBA’s Peg Ledman, a personal friend of Thornfeldt. Not present, though there in spirit, was Allison Fisher, who was in England being awarded an MBE title (a Member of the British Empire) for her “contributions to sport,” many of those, from Britain’s point of view, earned as a snooker player there. The event also featured a strong contingent of (now) relatively well-known junior competitors like Hayleigh Marion (for whom Borderline Billiards is a home room), Sofia Mast, Skylar Hess and recipient of a great deal of attention, 12-year-old Savannah Easton.

The $10,000-added Sledgehammer Open drew a total of 80 entrants to Borderline Billiards, 32 of them drawing byes exempting them from Stage One competition. The 48 others, 16 of whom drew opening round byes in Stage One, played in a double-elimination bracket until there were eight on each side of it. Stage Two awarded byes to the top 16 in the WPBA standings, as the double-elimination bracket got underway, and . . . they were off. 

Headlining the eight competitors who advanced to Stage Two from the winners’ side of the Stage One bracket was Sofia Mast, one of the 16 who’d been awarded opening round byes in Stage One. Her first opponent was Savannah Easton, setting up an early junior marquee matchup. Mast advanced on the winners’ side 7-2, while Easton would move to the loss side, winning three by an aggregate score of 21-5 and advancing to Stage Two. Also advancing on the winners’ side of the Stage One bracket were Kathy Friend, Jaye Succo, Nathalie Chabot, Christy Norris and the Callado sisters, Eleanor and Emilyn. Along with Easton, loss-side competitors advancing to Stage Two were junior competitors Skylar Hess and Precilia Kinsley, along with Nicole Albergaria, Dawn Oldag, Kim Housman, Lisa Cossette and Casey Cork.

Kristina Tkach

The opening round of Stage Two, with Kelly Fisher (among others) idle with opening round byes. Kristina Tkach played and won her opening round against Casey Cork 8-3 and then downed Stephanie Mitchell 8-3 in a match that set her up to face Fisher. Savannah Easton opened the Stage Two part of her title bid with a successful, double-hill match versus J. Pechauer Northeast Women’s Tour (JPNEWT) veteran Kia Burwell. Easton advanced to face another JPNEWT veteran and the #1-ranked American player in the WPBA rankings, Caroline Pao, where she (Easton), as they say, met her match; Pao winning the contest 8-5. Mast lost her opening Stage Two match to Meng-Hsia (Bean) Hung 8-2, and moved west for an eventual rematch against Easton. 

Fisher, in the second round, downed Eleanor Callado 8-3 and then, in a late match, fell to Tkach 8-6. Tkach advanced to the other winners’ side semifinal against Pao.

“She obviously had worked very hard and perfected that cut break and I just wasn’t getting my break going,” said Fisher. “She obviously played very well to beat me. I knew she was in good shape and thought “Oh, my!”

At the other end of the bracket, Margaret Fefilova, with relative ease, was working her way through the winners’ side for an eventual matchup against Jennifer Baretta in the other winners’ side semifinal. Fefilova got by Lisa Cossette 8-3 before running into what turned out to be her toughest opponent (as gauged by racks-against), Janet Atwell, who chalked up five against her. Fefilova moved on to down Ashley Rice 8-2 and record a shutout over the #3 competitor in the WPBA rankings, Brittany Bryant, which set her up against Baretta.

Fefilova got into the hot seat match with an 8-3 win over Baretta and was joined by Tkach, who’d sent Pao to the loss side 8-4. On Saturday night, Tkach claimed the hot seat 8-2 over Fefilova and would wait until Sunday afternoon to see who came back from the semifinals.

It was Kelly Fisher. But she wouldn’t play that semifinal until Sunday. In the meantime, Pao and Baretta had business to attend to on what was left of Saturday night. Baretta picked up Savannah Easton, whose improbable and impressive run among this roomful of professional female pool players was still happening as the bracket whittled down to its final six. Easton had followed her loss to Pao with a loss-side, double-hill win over Beth Fondell and then, looking to advance into the first money round (17th/24th), she had the opportunity to avenge her Stage One loss to Sofia Mast. She did so, in a match that appropriately came within a game of going double hill. Easton then eliminated Laura Smith and won a double-hill battle against Emily Duddy. She then downed Monica Webb 8-6 and Dawn Hopkins 8-3.

Larry Easton, Savannah’s father, no stranger to his daughter’s talent, turned to Atwell as he was watching this, as amazed as many of the spectators at how far his daughter had come, in a lot of ways.

“I don’t even know what to say,” he told Atwell.

“She’s got great cue ball control, thinks ahead and plays very smart for her age,” Atwell would comment later. “She’s very strategic and plays great safeties. She plays like an adult and (her career) is off to a great start.”

Pao, in the meantime, drew Fisher, who’d started what she called a “grueling Saturday,” playing five matches in a row from noon to 8:30. She played and eliminated Meng-Hsia Hung (at noon), Janet Atwell (2 p.m.), Susan Williams (4:30) and the WPBA’s #2-ranked competitor, Brittany Bryant (6:30), all 8-4. Fisher defeated Pao 8-3 (8:30), as Baretta elicited a variety of mixed emotions from all assembled by ending Savannah Easton’s run 8-1. There was a lot of spectator applause in the moment, some of it for both of them, but a lot of it for the talented junior.

“People were excited to see her play,” said Atwell, “and happy with her finish.”

In a quarterfinal battle appropriate to the circumstances, played the following morning, Fisher and Baretta went double hill before Fisher prevailed. In the semifinals, Fisher went back to the loss-side pattern she’d established and punching her ticket to the finals, defeated Fefilova 8-4. Fisher might have played six matches to be in the finals, but thanks to Tkach, it required eight, including a loss. The rematch came within a game of double hill, but not before Fisher found herself down 2-5 and later, 5-8; Tkach a rack away from the hill.

“I was spurred on by pure determination really and the will to win it,” she said of her comeback. “I told Helena, I looked at her picture and like that, ‘Come on, do this for you’ kind of thing and whether you believe in that kind of thing or not, it’s not about who or what it takes to spur you on, but doing whatever it takes.” 

“Whatever it was,” she added, “things turned around. I dug in my heels, hit a gear and took charge of the match.”

From 2-5 down, Fisher won eight of the last 11 games, including the last five in a row. Quite the gear, all things considered. Whether it was herself, Helena, or just the adrenaline of a final push to the finish line, Fisher brought it all to bear and claimed title to her close friend’s first and likely not the last memorial.

Helena Thornfeldt

The 1st Annual WPBA Cherokee Sledgehammer Open came about through the efforts of any number of people, all of whom host Janet Atwell thanked, from the players and spectators to the members of her staff. She also thanked event sponsors the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, Brad Hendricks Law Firm (Little Rock, ARK), Patty and Walter Harper of Knoxville and the streaming services of DigitalPool with Upstate Al, Zach Goldsmith and a number of competitors who joined them in the booth.

Editor’s note: Helena Thornfeldt died on August 20, 2019 at the age of 52. Originally from Borlange, Sweden, she was living in Villa Rica, about 35 miles west of Atlanta, when she died. She had opened a new restaurant, Pizza Mania, 15 days before she passed. The “Sledgehammer” turned professional in 1994, was a three-time European straight pool champion and won the 2002 US Open Championship in New Mexico, downing Allison Fisher in the finals. In the year she was inducted into the WPBA Hall of Fame in 2017, she was ranked 9th among American pool players. We here at AZBilliards join with members of the ever-expanding pool community in mourning her loss and in the years to come, celebrating the life of such a vibrant, widely-admired and respected member of our community at an annual Sledgehammer Open.

Go to thread

Caroline Pao Becomes the #1-Ranked US Player on the WPBA

Caroline Pao

On the long weekend of Sept. 21-25 in Battle Creek, MI, Caroline Pao became the top-ranked USA player on the WPBA, moving ahead of Jennifer Baretta into fourth place behind the UK’s Kelly and Allison Fisher and Canada’s Brittany Bryant. She did this after finishing in the eight-way tie for 9th place at the Predator US Pro Billiard Series at the Kellogg Arena in Battle Creek. Her rise to this pinnacle in her career, her best-recorded earnings year since she began appearing on our payout lists over 20 years ago, has been the result of hard work, dedication, practice-practice-practice, and the assistance of a number of sponsors. Not to mention a little bit of luck related to recent WPBA history, which saw the number of yearly events diminish over the past few years and gradually, over the past year or so, saw the event-numbers go up, dramatically, in part due to the tour’s ongoing association with the Predator US Pro Billiard Series.

The WPBA ranking system doesn’t work the way many regional-tour ranking systems do, confining its rankings to a single season and starting over when a new season begins. The WPBA allots points to its members over a series of associated events, and as the points associated with a recent event are recorded, the oldest event on the ongoing list drops off the ranking radar. The ranking list that was updated after the Michigan event listed 10 events, dating back to Wisconsin’s Aramith/Doctor Pool Classic in November, 2019, at which Pao finished in the tie for 17th place. The next event, moving forward in time occurred in 2020 and the next in 2021. The next seven have occurred in this calendar year; three of them (so far) associated with the Predator US Pro Billiard Series. The number of offered events had a way of drawing more foreign competition back to the North American WPBA Tour, which accounts for some of Pao’s surprise that in the midst of this rejuvenation of the tour and the return of many competitors, she has somehow managed to move from 11th place on the ranking list when the year started, to 4th on that list, and as it turned out, the top American on it.

She wasn’t surprised because she had any doubts about her skills or dedication to the task(s), but because of this particular year’s worth of challenges. It is, she’ll tell you, something that she loves to do and given the fact that she also holds down a full-time job as a representative for Mezz Cues here in the US, her status as a member of the pool community is 24/7.

“I feel really lucky to have this ranking as the top USA player on the WPBA,” she said, “However, I want to say that the competition has been a lot more stern than it has been over the last few years because of all of the international players who’ve come back to play.”

Along with the top three on the WPBA ranking list (the Fishers and Brittany Bryant) who’ve been here right through the tour’s ‘lean’ years, are (among others) such players as Taipei’s Tzu-Chien Wei (runner-up to Kelly Fisher in Michigan), Spain’s Amalia Matas and Indonesia’s Angeline Ticoalu (tied for 4th in Michigan), and in a welcome return that could signal more events to come for her, Ireland’s Karen Corr.

According to Pao, coming to terms with playing that level of player requires a kind of mental adjustment that is not easy to accomplish. As standard as the ‘play the table, not the opponent,’ may be, it is definitely easier said than done.

“I think that whenever you do play big-time players, (the Fishers, Tzu-Chien Wei, Barretta and others), their presence is known,” she said. “Whether you like it or not, or try not to focus on it, they’re there and you know it. For you to forget about that and focus on you is harder with them, just because of who they are.”

It’s a strange human trait to note the presence of a particular human being across the table from you and allow that to affect the skills, concentration and focus that as a player, you’ve put in so much time to accomplish.

“It really is and no matter how hard you try to fight it and tell yourself (not to be influenced), this game is about 80% mental,” she said. “There’s skill involved, but overall the mental process overtakes it all and while you might make a certain shot nine out of 10 times, in one moment, your percentage might fall.”

“I’ve seen so many countless players miss a key shot like that, but it’s not the same scenario,” she added. “This one moment might be the shot that can make or break you and you might have made it a thousand times, but this one time, you twisted your wrist, or your timing’s a little off, or you shanked it a little bit or held your cue too tight. It could be any of those reasons to throw that one shot off, at that particular time.”

Though she has yet to win a WPBA event, she is a regular competitor on them and is regularly among the top players at the end.

“I think it’s just that my play has been consistent and I tend to come into the top 16,” she said of her advancement to the top US spot in the rankings. “That’s how the points add up to do it.”

She is already looking ahead, not only to specific events in the future, but to ways that she can improve her skill set and approach to the game. And though “grateful and excited” with her recent results, she’s not quite where she wants to be. Yet.

“My dream, and it’s a long shot, is to win a WPBA event,” she said. “It is so hard with (the likes of) Kelly, Allison and Kristina (Tkach). It’s great to come out on top with one of these players in a match or event, but to do it consecutively is Hard!!”

“I think I still need to fine-tune some things in my game,” she added, “things that they’ve already taken care of. For me to beat them consistently, aside from confidence and a strong mentality, I still need to work on a lot of aspects of my game.”

“Pocketing the balls and running out, for example, is one big part of the game, but defense, safety play, kick safes, kicking balls in, all of that also is a big part of the game. The (higher-level players) are better in that part of the game. Even if I play a decent safe, their chances of kicking it in or kick-safing it back to me are a little higher in percentage than me.”

She’s also looking ahead to some events that will not offer her WPBA opportunities in pursuit of the dream, like an upcoming stop on the Joss NE 9-Ball Tour and continuing to compete on the J. Pechauer Northeast Women’s Tour, at which she has had considerable success over these past couple of years. She’ll also continue her dream quest at the WPBA’s Sledgehammer Open, a Helena Thornfeldt Memorial event at Janet Atwell’s room (Borderline Billiards in Bristol, TN; Oct. 19-23), could compete in another of the Predator US Pro Billiard Series event in Puerto Rico (Nov. 15-19) and travel to Rothchild, WI to compete in the Dr. Pool Classic (Dec. 7-11).

She is immensely grateful to her sponsors – Mezz Cues, Sugartree Cues, Raxx Pool Room (West Hempstead, NY), Kurweil’s Country Meats, Three-Second Cases.

“Without them,” she said, “honestly, it would have been pretty rough to attend all the events.”

Go to thread

Yapp Wins Seybert’s Michigan Open Again; Fisher Is Women’s Champion

Aloysius Yapp and Kelly Fisher

Aloysius Yapp successfully defended his Seybert’s Michigan Open title with a 4-2, 4-1 win over Robbie Capito in the final, and Kelly Fisher won her fourth Pro Billiard Series event with a shootout victory over Wei Tzu Chien in the women’s final at the Kellogg Arena in Battle Creek.

Fisher, previously a Pro Billiard Series winner in Austria, Las Vegas and Germany, came back from losing the first set against Wei to win a high-quality final by shootout and admitted that, given the way she played earlier in the week, she hadn’t been expecting to take home the title.

Yapp had defeated Chang Jung-Lin by shootout in his semi-final earlier on Saturday but didn’t allow the final to go that far as he took every chance offered to him to earn the trophy for a second successive year.

Capito had reached the final with a 4-0, 4-1 win against Vitaliy Patsura in the semi-finals earlier on Saturday and when Yapp missed a jump to the 1, it was Capito who had the first opening of the match, and he took full advantage to clear for the first rack.

However, a dry break presented Yapp a shot on the 1 and this time it was the Singaporean who took a rack on his opponent’s break.

A break and run took Yapp into the lead for the first time but he broke dry in the fourth. Capito had a clear shot at the 1 but after finding perfect position, missed a simple 3 to the middle. He would get another chance when Yapp left a long effort at the 3 and Capito made a tough shot down table.

At the recent Predator Canada Open, Capito was in the corner as partner Chia Hua Chen took the title, and this time it was roles reversed as ‘Amber’ was supporting Capito from the bleachers. She watched on as he made it 2-2 but Yapp regained his set lead when Capito overhit a 5, which had only required the feintest of touches to find the middle pocket. Yapp then completed the set, despite breaking dry, after executing a jump shot on the 1.

The Singaporean continued his run into the second set, taking the first rack and then cutting the 4 with plenty of speed to land perfectly on the 5 as he doubled his set advantage to 2-0, and another break and run took him to the hill before Capito could register a rack.

Capito finally got an opening when Yapp left him sight of the 4, but after making the 5, the cue kicked the 7 to the side rail. A glance off the 10 helped Capito line up position for the 7, but he overhit it and the cue ran into the 8. A thin cut made it to the left corner but Capito then needed to jump the 10 in order to make the 9. He executed that shot superbly, and then made a difficult, high-pressure 10 to give himself hope.

However, unable to afford a mistake, Capito came up dry on his break again. Yapp had a clear shot at the 1 but missed a 2/7 combo he called. Yapp didn’t have to wait too much longer; a chance to seal the title for a second consecutive year came after Capito played an aggressive bank but left a straight 3.

It was a nervy runout at times from there, but Yapp completed it to earn the $20,000 prize and keep hold of his Seybert’s Michigan Open title.

The final of the women’s event was a fitting finale to a high-quality event, with Wei and Fisher both in fine form as they battled for the $13,000 title.

After Wei took the first rack of the opening set, a brilliant 8/10 carom had Fisher level. Wei’s lead was reinstated after Fisher’ dry break left an open table, and 2-1 soon became 3-1 after Fisher scratched when making the 6 ball in the fourth rack.

A great bank to make the 4 got Fisher on her way to 3-2 and the Brit, gold medal winner at The World Games this summer, got the better of a safety battle in the sixth rack to tie the set at hill-hill.

Fisher had the advantage of the break but, despite making the wing ball, found herself with the cue tied to the 9. Wei took out a difficult 1 down the rail to earn herself an opening and followed it up with a long 3. The 6 presented another challenge but Wei found no problems in completing the rack to take the set and a big step towards the title.

A high-quality final showed no sign of abating in the second set. Both players won two of the first four racks but when Wei snatched at the 3, it clipped the 8, missed the pocket, and Fisher cleared to lead 3-2.

Breaking for the last time, Kwikfire Fisher took the 1 down and had nice position on the 2. She had work to do in the rack and played the 5 nicely along the top rail to gain position on the 6 and from there completed a controlled clearance to win the set 4-2 and take the final to shootout.

Having won the lag, Wei was first to shoot and found the heart of the pocket from the spot. Fisher did exactly the same but Wei’s second clipped both jaws and returned up table. Fisher seized the advantage with her second shot, piling the pressure on Wei, who missed again with her third.

That meant Fisher needed one successful shot to win the title. However, she then missed for the first time herself. Wei would still have to make her fourth shot and hope Fisher missed again for the shootout to go to sudden death, but it didn’t go that far as Wei missed for a third time, crowning Fisher a Pro Billiard Series champion for the fourth time.

“I am a bit in shock,” said Fisher. “I got to the final and that was unexpected of me this week. I never got settled until my last match last night against Angeline Ticoalu, that was the first match where I felt I got flowing, so I had a battle all week just trying to find myself, find my game, let alone expecting to go on and win it.

“Once I got that gear it carried on today, thankfully. Today, I performed really well against Karen and pretty steady in the final. Wei came up with all different shots, put me under pressure and I held it together through the shootout.

“I am really ecstatic to win and get another title under my belt. These events, the excitement they create, I really like; when we have a shootout and the crowd is crammed around the table. The format is tough on the players but it is the future to put this sport on the map. It has been a great event and I am looking forward to the next one.”

Fisher had beaten Karen Corr 4-1, 4-0 in an impressive semi-final performance, while Wei had reached the final with a shootout win over Allison Fisher. The Duchess of Doom won the first set 4-1, but Wei took the second 4-2 before winning the shootout 2-1 to reach her second final of the month.

The next US Pro Billiard Series event is the Fargorate Ohio Open, October 19-22 in Wilmington, Ohio.

Brackets and scores for the Men’s event can be found at https://probilliardseries.com/seyberts-michigan-open/

Brackets and scores for the Women’s event can be found at: https://probilliardseries.com/seyberts-michigan-womens-open/ 

The Seybert’s Michigan Open is streamed for free on Billiard TV,  the World Billiard TV YouTube channel and at Kozoom.com

Go to Billiard TV to watch 24/7 Billiard Videos on any device
Follow @probilliardseries on Facebook, @probilliardseries on Instagram or @PBilliardSeries on Twitter to follow the next events.

Go to thread

Three Brits Make Seybert’s Michigan Women’s Open Semi-Finals

Karen Corr

Karen Corr will face Kelly Fisher and Allison Fisher will take on Wei Tzu-Chien in the Seybert’s Michigan Women’s Open semi-finals, while the open division is down to the last eight with Jayson Shaw, Chang Jung-Lin, Fedor Gorst and defending champion Aloysius Yapp all still standing.

Vitaly Patsura, Joven Bustamante, Robbie Capito and Mika Immonen are also into the quarter-finals at the Kellogg Arena, on what is the fourth stop of the year on the Predator US Pro Billiard Series, presented by CSI.

Both the open and women’s events will play to a conclusion on Saturday, and the semi-finals on the women’s side have a very British feel after a trio of decorated Hall of Famers all made it through.

On the TV table, Corr was up against Margaret Fefilova. After the first two racks were shared, Corr took the third and banked the 1 for a 1/7 combo to open up the fourth rack and run the table for a 3-1 lead. Fefilova pulled one back but a scratch on the break brought the Brit back to the table, and the three-time Women’s World Snooker Champion took advantage of an open table to take the set 4-2.

Corr had stayed on the winners’ side to qualify for the last 16 and had claimed some big wins on her way to the quarter-finals, including a shootout victory against Canada Open champion ‘Amber’ Chia Hua Chen.

She began the second set as she ended the first, adding two racks to the board to leave Fefilova needing a quick turnaround. However, a foul during a safety battle allowed Corr to line up the 1/10 with ball in hand to reach the hill 3-0 up.

A dry break afforded Fefilova an opportunity she couldn’t afford to let slip. The 25-year-old, who has played so well this week, didn’t have a clear path and both players had several visits during the rack before Corr attempted and brilliantly executed an 8/10 combo to the middle to wrap up a 4-2, 4-0 win.

“It’s amazing,” said Corr. “It’s one match at a time and I have been nervous all the way through but in that match I felt comfortable. I felt like I have nothing to lose; I didn’t expect a lot of myself coming into this event because I haven’t played for four years.”

Corr is certainly no stranger to her semi-final opponent, fellow Hall of Famer Kelly Fisher. The pair have met many times in major pool and snooker events over the last three decades and will face off for a place in the final after Fisher won four matches on Friday.

Starting the day on the losers’ side of the brackets, the three-time Pro Billiard Series champion beat Cristina Schneider 4-1, 4-0 and then knocked out Kristina Tkach 3-1 in a shootout. The Brit was then forced to come from behind to defeat Silviana Lu 3-4, 4-3, 3-1 by shootout but she ended the day with a straight-sets win against Angeline Ticoalu, 4-1, 4-0.

Allison Fisher will face Wei Tzu-Chien in the streamed semi-final after both won quarter-final shootouts. Wei was runner-up in the Predator World Women’s 10-Ball Championship earlier this month and made the semi-finals with a win against Amalia Matas. Wei took the first set 4-2 but Matas inflicted Wei’s first set defeat of the week by taking the second 4-3, only to lose 3-0 in the shootout after missing her first two spot shots.

Fisher lost the first set of her quarter-final 4-2 to Jasmin Ouschan but a reversal of that scoreline in the second set took the match to a shootout, and the Brit, finalist at last month’s Canada Open, made all four of her spot shots for a 4-2 shootout success.

“I’m ecstatic to be in the semi-final,” said Fisher. “Today wasn’t my best day at the table so I am really, really delighted. I have come through two good shootouts this week and made four in a row tonight; I can’t believe it.”

In the open event, Aloysius Yapp’s defense of his title continued with a shootout win over John Morra. Yapp took the first set 4-1 but Morra clinched a hill-hill second set after the 2021 champion conceded ball in hand by failing to hit a rail after a safety shot.

Both players were faultless with their first two spot shots, as many in attendance at the Kellogg Arena gathered around the TV table to witness the drama. Yapp made it three out of three before the first mistake was made by Morra, allowing the Singaporean a spot shot for a place in the quarter-finals, which he made to complete a perfect shootout.

Yapp will face Jayson Shaw in the quarter-finals after the Scot defeated Sharik Sayed 4-1, 4-2. A monster semi-final is in store in the bottom half of the draw with Shaw or Yapp to face the winner of the Chang Jung-Lin vs. Fedor Gorst quarter-final. Chang has only lost one set all week while Gorst has won two shootouts to remain undefeated.

Ukraine’s Vitaliy Patsura recently won the biggest tournament check of his career so far at the Texas Open and has carried his form on to Michigan. Like Chang, he has only lost one set this week, against Alex Pagulayan, and will face Jovan Bustamante in the quarter-finals.

Robbie Capito takes on Mika Immonen in the other quarter final after both players won shootouts in the last 16. Immonen was 4-2, 1-4, 4-3 winner over Kang Lee while Capito defeated Wu Kun Lin 3-4, 4-2, 4-3.

Play continues from 10am local time on Saturday, with six more matches to be broadcast live on watchbilliard.tv and the World Billiard TV YouTube channel.

Brackets and scores for the Men’s event can be found at https://probilliardseries.com/seyberts-michigan-open/

Brackets and scores for the Women’s event can be found at: https://probilliardseries.com/seyberts-michigan-womens-open/ 

The Seybert’s Michigan Open is streamed for free on Billiard TV,  the World Billiard TV YouTube channel and at Kozoom.com

Go to Billiard TV to watch 24/7 Billiard Videos on any device
Follow @probilliardseries on Facebook, @probilliardseries on Instagram or @PBilliardSeries on Twitter to follow the next events.

Go to thread

Impressive Immonen Into Last 16

Mika Immonen

Jayson Shaw, Mika Immonen and defending champion Aloysius Yapp are all through to the last 16 of the Seybert’s Michigan Open, while Jasmin Ouschan, Allison Fisher and Margaret Fefilova are into the single elimination stage of the women’s event at the fourth 2022 stop on the Predator US Pro Billiard Series presented by CSI.

Fefilova followed her opening-day victory over Kelly Fisher with a 4-0, 4-1 win against Shanelle Loraine to come through the winners’ side of the draw and into the last 16. Karen Corr rolled back the years to beat Canada Open champion ‘Amber’ Chia Hua Chen by shootout for her place in the single elimination stage, and Allison Fisher defeated Kristina Tkach, also by shootout.

In the open event, Immonen produced a strong performance to beat Naoyuki Oi 4-0, 4-3 for a place in the single elimination stage. The Finnish Hall of Famer won the lag and ran three racks before a dry break allowed Oi out of his chair. However, a misplayed 1-ball bank left a 1/10 combo for Immonen to win the set.

In a reversal of the first set, Oi took the first three racks of the second. However, Immonen was determined to avoid the shootout and put together a brilliant four-pack to win the set 4-3.

“That is probably the best I have played in a little while,” said Immonen. “It was nice to come out of the gates strong and put a three pack on him. He got into the game a little bit in the second set and was 3-0 up. I made a few mistakes but I finally ran out and broke and ran three to close the door to him. When you win the first set, the worst case is you go to shootout, but it was nice to close the door.”

Chang Jung-Lin was taken to a shootout by Sharik Sayed after their first two sets finished 4-1, 2-4. Sayed had sent Carlo Biado to the losers’ side earlier in the day with a 4-3 shootout win, but wasn’t as sharp from the spot against Chang, missing his first two as Chang made three in three to advance to the last 16.

Yapp and Shaw both also needed shootouts to advance. Yapp, winner of this event last fall, won 4-1, 1-4, 3-2 against Bader Alawadhi and Shaw was a 4-2, 1-4, 4-3 winner against Pijus Labutis.

Fedor Gorst, Vitaliy Patsura, Robbie Capito and Joven Bustamante complete the eight players who have made it through to the last 16 from the winners’ side, with three rounds of play on Friday set to determine the other half of the single elimination draw.

Among the big-name players returning on the losers’ side are Alex Pagulayan, who lost in a shootout to Ukraine’s Vitaliy Patsura on Wednesday, John Morra, who was defeated 4-0, 4-1 by Shaw, and Biado after his defeat to Sayed.

In the Women’s event, Amalia Matas, Jennifer Barretta and 12-year-old Savannah Easton need two wins to qualify for the last 16, while Chen, Tkach and Kristina Zlateva are among those returning in the losers’ qualification round.

Recent World Women’s 10-Ball Championship runner-up Wei Tzu-Chien is among the players who join Fefilova, Corr, Allison Fisher and Ouschan in reaching the last 16 without defeat.

Play continues from 10am local time on Friday, with six more matches to be broadcast live on watchbilliard.tv and the World Billiard TV YouTube channel.

Brackets and scores for the Men’s event can be found at https://probilliardseries.com/seyberts-michigan-open/

Brackets and scores for the Women’s event can be found at: https://probilliardseries.com/seyberts-michigan-womens-open/ 

The Seybert’s Michigan Open is streamed for free on Billiard TV,  the World Billiard TV YouTube channel and at Kozoom.com

Go to Billiard TV to watch 24/7 Billiard Videos on any device
Follow @probilliardseries on Facebook, @probilliardseries on Instagram or @PBilliardSeries on Twitter to follow the next events.

Go to thread

Ashley Benoit Wins Inaugural “Women In Pool” Championship

Ashley Benoit

A full field of 64 players from CT, RI, MA, NJ, NY, PA and several other states came together for two reasons over the weekend of September 10th – 11th at Yale Billiards in Wallingford, CT for the Women In Pool Inaugural Women’s 9-Ball Championship. 

The field was made up of skill levels ranging from APA 3’s all the way up to Fargo 650 players for this non-handicapped event. Connecticut’s Ashley Nicole Benoit may not have had the highest ranking of all of the competitors, but she had the biggest drive to win as she scored impressive wins over Dawn Fox, Lindsey Bazinet, Stacie Bourbeau and Tina Malm on her way to the hot-seat. 

On the one loss side, Pennsylvania’s Rachel Walters bounced back nicely from her loss to Malm on the winners side. Walters had wins over Bazinet, Alyssa Solt and Malm to earn her place in the finals. Walters would have to settle for second on this weekend, as Benoit was unstoppable on her way to a 7-3 win in the first set of the finals. 

While all of the ladies in attendance were there with hopes to perform well in the tournament, event director Gloria Jean explained that the ladies were there for another reason. “In my 15 years of being a Tour Director, I have never seen a more vibrant, tenacious, happy, yet competitive group of women smile so much!” said Jean. “Women met like-minded Women with the same passion for the sport, the desire to improve, hone their skills, and relate to one another on a personal level. Many walked away with not just spectacular payouts but new friends to bond with and a once in a lifetime experience.”

Jean’s Women In Pool project was born from conversations on her podcast, where she has collaborated with such notables as Kelly Fisher, Allison Fisher, Joann Mason Parker, LoreeJon Ogonowski-Brown, Ewa Laurance, Mary Kenniston and many others. Jean created the project at the start of the year and says she has always wanted a tournament like this to be a part of it. 

More information can be found online at www.facebook.com/womeninpool121 where fans can find out about the entire project. 

Jean thanked the great staff at Yale Billiards, as well as her tournament director Ty Speedwell, Sharkstream for streaming the event, Bobby Hilton for refereeing, Joe Raccio, Curtis Rohrer, Crystal Atkinson, Andy Now and all of her sponsors, Iwan Simonis Cloth, Aramith Premium Balls, N’ The Zone Sportswear, Navigator Chalk, Dragon Billiards Instruction, Harriman Real Estate, Bulletproof Break Tips, Pool League Association, NM Billiards Sales and Service, Narragansett Brewery, Outsville Templates, PoolDawg, McConnaughy’s Irish Pickles and J. Pechauer Cues.

Go to thread