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Fisher ‘twins’ are winner and runner-up at 5th Annual WPBA Ashton Twins Classic

Brittany Bryant, Kelly Fisher and Allison Fisher

About two months ago, Kelly and Allison Fisher squared off in the finals of the WPBA’s Northern Lights Classic, which was the first time they’d met in an event final in six years, when Allison downed Kelly twice in the 2016 finals of the 19th Annual International Women’s Tournament of Champions at the Taj Mahal in Atlantic City. It didn’t take anywhere near that long between final meetups this time around, because following their finals match in the Northern Classic (won by Kelly), they squared off again this past weekend (June 23-26) at the 5th Annual Ashton Twins Classic. Allison was the event’s defending champion, having defeated Jennifer Baretta in the finals of the event the last time it was held in 2020. Kelly claimed the title this time, coming from the loss side to do it at the event which drew 63 entrants to The Hidden Spot in Calgary, Alberta.

With the Northern Lights Classic and the Super Billiards Expo, the WPBA competitors had been getting back into the stroke of things, to include renewing acquaintances and enjoying the companionship that had marked their days pre-COVID. The Ashton Twins Classic continued that process as the cream of the WPBA crop gathered. Kelly was the event’s #1 seed, with Brittany Bryant as #2. Allison was #3 with Caroline Pao #4 and Janet Atwell #5. Rounding out the top 10 seeds were Ashley Burrows, Emily Duddy, LoreeJon Brown, Kim Newsome and Teruko Cuccelelli.

Kelly’s path to the hot seat match was relatively undramatic; in races to 8, downing Katherine Robertson (2), Eleanor Callado (2), Kelly Cavanaugh (3) and Maria Teresa Ropero Garcia (1), she drew Pao in one of the winners’ side semifinals. Allison, in the meantime, got by Jana Montour (2), Sandra Badger (1), Stephanie Mitchell (1) and Kyoko Sone (6) to arrive at her winners’ side semifinal versus Bryant.

The event’s top four seeds went at it in their respective winners’ side semifinals. Allison sent Bryant to the loss side 8-3, while Kelly was sending Pao over 8-2. Allison grabbed the hot seat 8-4 and waited for Kelly to get back from the semifinals.

On the loss side, Bryant picked up Eleanor Callado, who’d been defeated by Kelly Fisher in the second winners’ side round and was working on a six-match, loss-side winning streak that had recently eliminated Susan Mello 8-4 and Ashley Burrows in a double hill battle. Pao drew Sone, who, after losing her winners’ side quarterfinal to Allison Fisher, had defeated Maryann McConnell 8-1 and Tamami Okuda 8-2.

Sone, who was seeded just outside the top 10 (#11), downed the #4 seed, Pao 8-6, while Bryant was eliminating Callado 8-1. Bryant stopped Sone’s loss-side run at three matches with a subsequent 8-5 win in the quarterfinals.

And there they were, the event’s top three seeds as the last three standing on Sunday afternoon. Kelly Fisher defeated Bryant 8-4 for a second shot at Allison, waiting for her in the hot seat.

The final was a single race to 10. Allison had chalked up twice as many racks as Kelly to claim the hot seat. Kelly chalked up twice as many as Allison in the finals, 10-5, to claim the 5th Annual Ashton Twins Classic.

The Ashton twins, Beverly and Joanne, who finished 49th and 25th, respectively (Beverly allowing Joanne to advance when they were scheduled to meet in the first loss-side round), along with the WPBA thanked the ownership and staff of The Hidden Spot for their hospitality, along with sponsors Simonis, Esports, Diamond Billiards Products, RAD and ATC. 

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Earl the Pearl tops Friday night battles in the Diamond Open 9-Ball Players Championship

Earl Strickland

Fishers still alive in the WPBA 9-Ball Pro Players Championship. 

He’d played twice already. On Friday night at 9:30, Earl Strickland stepped to the tables of the Super Billiards Expo’s arena in search of his second win in the Diamond Open 9-Ball Professional Players Championship. On Thursday, after a bye, he’d lost his opening match, double hill, to Alan Rolon Rosada and at 11:30 a.m. on Friday, downed Tyler Henninger 9-6. Both matches were very lightly attended. Modest crowds, dotting the three-level risers to either side of the 16 tables, laid end to end, side by side.

Friday night, though, was different. This was weekend-is-here Earl the Pearl time. And he got himself an audience. While there were certainly people in the crowd of some 200 or so spectators who were itching to see a show; not a pool show necessarily, but an Earl show, as only he can bring it. Instead, they got the professional ‘Earl’s here to win’ show, full of rock-solid shooting that saw him take control of a 2-2 match and win six in a row before some of the audience had even settled in. People (though not many) started leaving, like baseball fans leaving a stadium when the score is 12-0 in the seventh inning, wanting to get ahead of the traffic jam. Those who remained were switching their attention between what was left of Earl’s match and what was going on at the tables on either side of him (Shannelle Lorraine and Ada Lio were playing south of him, while Jesus Atencio and Mason Koch were battling it out north of him). 

Gomez managed to chalk up three racks and the remaining crowd went wild. Very quietly and not for long.

Earl finished off Gomez, quickly, only giving up one more rack and moved to the lobby outside the arena where folks gathered around the hand-written brackets to see who was coming up against who in today’s (Saturday) matches. Earl was scheduled to play Bart Czapla at noon, in a match that will determine whether he advances to the 16-player, single elimination phase of the event. The first round of that phase will play out at 6 p.m.

Earl was among those looking to see what was coming up next, and he took the opportunity to play to the audience that had been relatively quiet during his win over Gomez. They were lined up two or three deep around him, cameras at the ready, as he gave them a genteel comedian to play with. Standing for one shot with a broad grin on his face, he said that the woman to his left was prettier than he was, riffing on this to talk about his sagging limbs and a “face that looked like a truck hit me and then backed up.” Manifestly not true, but it got a laugh. He embellished on that central joke for a while before moving on to chat with spectators who’d obviously been paying strict attention to his match as it played out; questions and comments about shot situations and potential solutions, back and forth.

Jayson Shaw, still on the winners’ side of the bracket, looking to advance to the final 16 today, as well (2:30 p.m. against Billy Thorpe), joined the throng gathered around him and it took about two seconds for them to launch into a discussion about the tables and how they ‘played’ in a given match.

“I hit this shot,” said Shaw at one point, “that went into the hole and bounced out. The cue ball jumped up onto the rail, travelled all the way down table, jumping over the side pocket and then went back on the table, giving me a straight shot at the 4-ball.”

Lives of the legends playing out in one of their homes away from home.

There’ll be 32 competitors in the Players Championship facing advancement to pool’s version of the Sweet 16 today. Among those 32, on the winners’ side of the bracket, will be Thorsten Hohmann, Warren Kiamco, Ralf Souquet, Fedor Gorst, Darren Appleton and Shane Wolford.  In addition to Strickland, other loss-side competitors looking to make the cut and who’ll have to play two rounds to do it (or not), will be Danny Olson, Lukas Fracasso-Verner, Joe Dupuis, Landon Hollingsworth, BJ Ussery, Jr. and Bucky Souvanthong. As of noon today, the potential for Strickland to face Rosado a second time remained alive, as Rosado stepped to the tables, looking for advancement beyond Eric Roberts.

The two Fishers continue to play for advancement to the final 16 of the WPBA Pro Players event 

Competition at the WPBA 9-Ball Pro Players Championship will dominate the afternoon schedule at the pro player arena. All 16 women who step to the tables at 2:30 p.m. today, haven’t played a match since Thursday; half of them on Thursday afternoon and the other half on Thursday night.

On Friday afternoon, the Fishers, Allison and Kelly, squared off in a game of 8-ball that was not part of the official proceedings and did not involve cue sticks, felt cloth or actual pockets. Instead, they settled into another kind of table to play an 8-Ball Pool Board Game that’s on display and being pre-sold (prior to publication) to attendees at the SBE from a vendor booth surrounded by cue manufacturers. Kelly is acting as the game’s Brand Ambassador and has been at the booth where it’s being demonstrated a number of times, playing against, among others, Darren Appleton, who reportedly broke and ran the first game of it he played. 

While the game doesn’t employ any of pool’s tactile qualities with cues or aiming skills (there are basically no missed shots if you’ve lined up the cue and target properly), it does manage to offer a degree of strategy and tactics, very similar to the kinds of decision-making involved in the actual game of 8-ball. There are opportunities for bank shots (played out on strict horizontal/vertical target paths) safety play and you can scratch, for example, all of which plays out in ways unique to the board game.   

Though new to the game, Allison won the single game against Kelly. They could play a real game of 9-ball against each other before the end of the women’s tournament, but only, for starters, if both of them advance to the event’s final 16. Kelly, who’s only played a single match so far, defeating Jessica Barnes on Thursday night, was to play Liz Taylor at 2:30 today and if successful, would play the winner of an Ashley Burrows/Emily Duddy match in the opening round of the single-elimination phase at 8:30 p.m. Allison, who played two women from the J. Pechauer Northeast Women’s Tour (JPNEWT) on Thursday (Judie Wilson and Kathy Friend) will be facing Angela Janic at 2:30 and if successful, will also play at 8:30, against the winner of a Monica Webb/Kim Newsome match (check the SBE Web site for streaming options).

Other competitors, still on the winners’ side of the bracket, looking for a slot among the final 16 women, include Emilyn Callado, Brittany Bryant, Caroline Pao and LoreeJon Brown. On the loss-side of the bracket, at noon today, also looking for advancement to the final 16, will be,  among others, Janet Atwell, Jennifer Baretta, and both Kia Burwell and Judie Wilson, representing the JPNEWT. Matches at 6 p.m. on the loss-side of the bracket will determine the eight loss-side competitors among the Sweet 16.

Super Seniors get underway, as Amateur Ladies, Seniors continue, with Juniors in the wings 

The original Super Seniors tournament, with long lines hoping for a waiting-list entry, gathered early this morning, while the 996-entrant Open Amateur event looked to enter its Final 16 phase at 1 p.m. today. The four-brackets of the Amateur Ladies event is still ongoing, as is the (plain, so to speak) Seniors tournament. Two junior competitions (17U & 12U) are set to begin today, as well. 

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“Kwikfire” goes undefeated to win second straight WPBA title

Kelly Fisher

Fresh off her undefeated win two weeks ago at the WPBA’s Northern Lights Classic in Minnesota, where she faced Allison Fisher for the first time in a final match since 2016, Kelly Fisher came to the CSI/Predator US Pro Billiard Series’ Alfa Women’s Las Vegas Open, held this past weekend (March 31-April 3) and went undefeated a second time to capture her second straight WPBA title. Though Allison Fisher was, once again, ‘in the house,’ the two did not meet up at this latest event. Allison was eliminated in the opening round of the single-elimination final phase to which they’d both advanced. The event drew 64 entrants to the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas.

The event was divided into two phases; an opening, 64-entrant, double-elimination Phase 1, followed by a 16-entrant, single-elimination Phase 2 that eventually crowned Kelly as the champion. The format was best-two-out-of-three races to 4. If the competitors were tied after two matches, a “spot shootout’ followed to determine the winner.

Kelly, who was in a 16-player, Phase 1 bracket that included eventual runner-up, Brittany Bryant, advanced to be among the eight winners’ side entrants in Phase 2 without having to play a third match. She played a total of 27 games against three opponents in Phase 1 and gave up only three of them, downing Sarah Kapeller (4-0, 4-1), Ashley Burrows (4-0, 4-0) and Cathy Metzinger (4-1, 4-1). To join Kelly in advancement to Phase 2, Bryant, in the meantime, had to play 44 games and lost 18 of them. She got by Anna Riegler and junior competitor Savannah Easton, both 4-2, 4-2, before facing Jennifer Baretta, who won the opening set 2-4. Bryant came back to win the second set and the “spot shootout,” both double hill.

Angela Ticoalu got by Jeannie Seaver, Nicole Keeney and Woojin Lee with an aggregate score of 24-15 to qualify for Phase 2, as did Susan Williams from the same 16-entrant section of the opening bracket. Williams sent June Maiers, Vang Bui Xuan and Joanne Ashton to the loss side to join Ticoalu in the winners’ side advancement to Phase 2.

Allison Fisher chalked up an even more impressive Phase 1 than Kelly had. She, too, advanced to Phase 2 without having to play a third match against any of her three opponents, downing Susan Wilbur, Veronique Menard and Naomi Williams and giving up only two racks (to Menard, in their second race-to-4). Kyoko Sone joined Allison in advancement to Phase 2 from the same 16-entrant section of the opening bracket, downing Sandy Badger, 13-year-old junior competitor Sofia Mast and Amalia Matas Heredia.

Rounding out the field of eight winners’ side competitors to advance to Phase 2 were Jasmin Ouschan and Line Kjorsvik. Ouschan got by two of her opponents without having to play a “spot shootout” third match, downing Tamami Okuda 4-2, 4-1 and Beth Fondell 4-1, 4-2, before splitting her first two against Mary Tam 1-4, 4-3. Ouschan won the shootout 3-2 to advance. Kjorsvik did not play a third, tie-breaking “spot shootout” against any of her first three opponents either, joining Ouschan in advancement after defeating Gigi Callejas (4-1, 4-2), Camille Campbell (4-2, 4-0) and Melissa Helland (4-0, 4-1).

After five losers’ side rounds, Kaylee McIntosh, Woojin Lee, Angela Janic, Heather Cortez, Melissa Helland, Mary Tam, Amalia Matas Heredia and Ashley Burrows joined the eight winners’ side competitors in advancement to Phase 2, which in some ways, was notable for those left behind as much as for those who advanced. Among those who failed to make the cut were long-time WPBA veterans (in no particular order) Stephanie Mitchell, Teruko Cucculelli, Monica Webb, Jeannie Seaver, Liz Cole, Kim Newsome, Emily Duddy, Dawn Hopkins, Loree Jon Brown, Janet Atwell and Caroline Pao. It should also be noted that while both 13-year-old junior competitors, Sofia Mast and Skylar Hess, failed to advance, one (Mast) fell to an opponent (Angela Janic) who was among the final 16 and the other (Hess) was eliminated by someone (Cucculelli) who arguably should have been. It was the first appearance for these two extraordinarily talented and professionally-composed young women and WPBA competitors should be on notice that these two will be back and barring any unforeseen life changes, for many years to come.

The Final Four in this event competed in plenty of time for those so inclined to turn their attention to the NCAA Final Four, which got started well after the four ladies in Vegas got underway at about 2 p.m. on Saturday. It was an International Final Four, which was absent representation from the United States.  Kelly Fisher, representing the UK was matched up against Austria’s Jasmin Ouschan. Spain’s Amalia Matas Heredia, who, in February, chalked up her first win on the European Ladies’ Tour, faced Canada’s Brittany Bryant.

Kelly Fisher had kept her no-third-match streak going through the opening round against Heather Cortez, whom she defeated 4-1, 4-0 before drawing Angeline Ticoalu, who took the opening set against Fisher 4-2. Fisher came back to win the second set 4-1 and then, in something of a nail-biter, the “spot shootout” 6-5. Ouschan, who got by Kaylee McIntosh 4-0, 4-1 in the opening round of Phase 2 had her own nail-biter in the second round, where she won two straight double hill fights against Kyoko Sone to draw Kelly.

Advancing to the other semifinal, Bryant had played 24 games against two opponents, eliminating Woojin Lee 4-2, 4-1 and then Ashley Burrows 4-2, 4-3 to advance. Heredia proved to be Allison Fisher’s downfall in the opening round of Phase 2. Fisher took the opening set, double hill, but Heredia came back to win the second set and the “shootout,” double hill. Heredia went on to down Mary Tam 4-1, 4-3 to pick up Bryant.

Kelly Fisher downed Ouschan 4-2, 4-1 in their semifinal matchup. She was joined in the finals by Bryant, who’d defeated Heredia 4-2, 2-4 and 4-2 in the “shootout.” 

It’s not hard to imagine Fisher’s “I’ve got this,” and Bryant’s “Uh, oh, trouble right here in Sin City” when Fisher shut Bryant out in the opening set of the final. It’s also not hard to imagine the spectator’s rooting for Bryant in the second set when she and Kelly finished the 6th game, tied at 3 apiece. Fisher, though, completed her undefeated run by winning the second set to claim the event title.

Tour representatives thanked the ownership and staff at the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino, as well as sponsors and partners the WPBA, Alfa Coin, CueSports International, Predator Group, Kamui, Seybert’s, Medalla Light, Rums of Puerto Rico, BCA Pool League and the USA Pool League.

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Kelly Fisher goes undefeated, Allison Fisher is runner-up at WPBA Northern Lights Classic

Allison Fisher and Kelly Fisher (Photo courtesy WPBA)

There are any number of back stories to the $20,000-added, WPBA Northern Lights Classic, held this past weekend (March 16-20) that offer a striking ‘snapshot’ of the WPBA’s past, present and future. Encompassing all three of those time periods, at the event to which 64 entrants were invited to the Northern Lights Casino Hotel and Event Center in Walker, MN, were the competitors who squared off in the event finals; the Fishers, Kelly and Allison, who’ve played so many matches against each other over the years, that they have no idea how many times it has actually happened. 

The last time they faced each other in an event final was a little hazy to them, as well. Two days after the Northern Classic, from Allison’s home in Charlotte, NC, they pondered the question together over coffee. Kelly came up with a possibility, and after a moment or two of mutual reflection, they both settled on 2016 as the last time they’d met in a final. At that event – the 19th Annual International Women’s Tournament of Champions, held in September at the Taj Mahal Casino in Atlantic City – Kelly started both sets of the races-to-four finals, up 2-0, but Allison came back to win four straight, twice, and claimed the title.

“We’ve played against each other since then,” said Allison, “and the last time was pre-COVID, of course, but I think that was the last time we were in a final together.”

Kelly had won the WPBA’s Sondheim Kiwanis Invitational Tournament last year, while it had been just weeks over three years since Allison had last appeared in a WPBA event, which, as it turned out, was the last time they’d faced each other in a match that wasn’t a final. It was the 2019 WPBA Masters Tournament, held in September at the Soaring Eagle Casino and Resort in Michigan. Kelly had been sent to the loss side of the event in the second round by the eventual winner (Siming Chen) and went on a nine-match, loss-side run that would propel her to the finals. Six matches into that loss-side run, Kelly ran into Allison, who’d been sent to the loss side by Kristina Tkach in a winners’ side semifinal. Kelly advanced and was eventually defeated by Chen in the finals.

Noting something of a protracted absence away from a more regular schedule of WPBA events, together, they made note of the fact that it was good to gather with their mutual WPBA friends and acquaintances, old and new. 

“The WPBA competition is back on schedule and it was great to see a lot of the old faces, and some new faces, some youngsters, too,” said Kelly, “and the future is bright.”

“I think it’s wonderful that we had juniors at this event, especially by WPBA invitation,” said Allison. “It’s nice for us to see them, because they represent well, they look good, they’re playing great. . . 

“Professional,” Kelly interjected.

“Yes, they’re very professional,” Allison said, “and I think that’s the move, anyway. To invite more younger players as much as we can.”

It should be noted before moving on to the event itself, that in addition to its junior contingent which included 12-year-old Savannah Easton, it also featured 84-year-old Jeri Engh, making the demographic representation at this WPBA event, span almost four generations of the WPBA’s ongoing history.

Appearing in the same half of the upper bracket, the Fishers meet in the only two places possible 

They knew from the start, that they were not going to play in the hot seat match. Positioned in the upper half of the 64-entrant bracket, it put the Fishers in a possible first match against each other in the winners’ side semifinals. The second possibility was in the finals and both were exactly what happened.

Kelly Fisher got by Kelly Isaac (forfeit), Bonnie Arnold 8-4 and Dawn Hopkins 8-1 to reach Allison Fisher. Allison Fisher shut out Peg Haggerty and Catherine Tschumper before downing Kim Newsome 8-3 and Monica Webb 8-6, to draw Kelly. From the lower half of the bracket, Joann Mason Parker, who, prior to winning a stop on the Garden State Pool Tour, a 3rd place finish on the Tri-State Tour and cashing in three events of a New Jersey-based Women’s Invitational event last year, had not won or even cashed in a tournament in over a decade, sent LoreeJon Brown, Cathy Metzinger, Janet Atwell (double hill) and Brittany Bryant to the loss side, drawing Jennifer Baretta in the other winners’ side semifinal.

Kelly sent Allison to the loss side 8-6, as Baretta and Parker locked up in a double fight that eventually sent Parker to the loss side. Kelly claimed the hot seat 8-4 over Baretta and waited for Round 2 of Fisher v. Fisher.

On the loss side, Allison picked up Bryant, who’d followed her loss to Parker with a victory over Sara Miller 8-5 and survived a double hill battle against Ashley Burrows. Parker drew Monica Webb, who’d followed her loss to Allison Fisher in a winners’ side quarterfinal with victories over Sarah Rousey 8-2 and Angela Janic 8-4.

Parker’s somewhat improbable run was ended by Webb 8-5. Allison advanced to the quarterfinals after eliminating Bryant 8-5. Fisher leap-frogged over the quarterfinals on a Webb forfeit and then, defeated Baretta 8-5 for a second shot at Kelly, waiting for her in the hot seat.

In a race to 10, the two Fishers came within of game of forcing a 19th deciding game, but Kelly pulled out in front to claim the WPBA’s Northern Classic title 10-8.

“She’s at the top of her game,” said Allison of Kelly. “She’s always improving, rarely misses a shot. She’s a tough opponent and you have to be in top form to play her.”

“All the stuff she’s been doing in the past year is showing up in her game,” she added. “We’re good friends, so she’s helped me out with my game, too. It’s always fun playing her.”

“Both matches we played were really good, high standard, great quality matches,” said Kelly, “and the final was very, very exciting for spectators, I’d say; a high standard match.”

“Allison’s thoughts of retiring are going to have to go out the window,” she added. “She’s playing too good for that, to be honest. She’s playing great.”

Kelly will be headed for Las Vegas to be competing in both the WPA 10-Ball World Championships (March 28-April 1) and the WPBA Predator Event (March 31-April 3), both being held at the Rio All Suite Hotel and Casino. Allison will follow to participate in the later of those two events. 

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Final 16 set for American 14.1 Straight Pool Championships, Ladies finish opening Round Robin phase

Tyler Styer was the beneficiary of an Earl Strickland disqualification

Day Three of the 16th Annual American 14.1 Straight Pool Championships featured some surprises and the start of the first-ever Women’s division, featuring 15 of the world’s top female competitors. The day began with the final Round Robin matches in eight divisions of the Men’s copmpetition, which cut the initial field of 48 entrants in half. Of the 24 that remained, eight competitors were awarded an opening round bye in the single elimination phase, while the other 16 squared off for the right to advance to the final 16.

By evening the Round Robin phase had ended, but not before some creative decision-making had advanced Tyler Styer, who’d already finished 4th and been eliminated within his group. Late in the day, Earl Strickland was disqualified from the tournament when, after the match was over,  he reacted to some distractions that had occurred during his match against Albin Oushchan. Both had entered the final match of their Round Robin group with 4-0 records. The disqualification led to a ‘hole’ in the upcoming single elimination phase, and instead of moving a 4th player from the group into that spot (which would have been Michael Yednak), tournament officials compared the match records and ultimately, the point differentials of two of the eight 4th place finishers, advancing Tyler Styer to the final 24.

The Round Robin phase had finished with seven competitors going undefeated; Shane Van Boening, Wiktor Zielinski, Albin Ouschan, Michael Lechner, Aloysius Yapp, Mario He and Alex Kazakis. The eighth competitor to receive an opening round bye in the single elimination phase went to defending champion, Ruslan Chinakhov, who’d finished with the best record (4-1) in his Round Robin group.

High run honors for the Round Robin phase of the event (players must have a minimum run of 100 at the time they reach the number of balls designated for the win to proceed) went to Joshua Filler, who, in his match versus Pagulayan on Wednesday, ran to 213. Shane Van Boening’s run of 210 was the next highest run in his match versus Lee Van Corteza.

Brittany Bryant

Five women finish with 2-0 records on Day One of Ladies competition’s Round Robin phase

Two of the three groups of five women ended up with two women who went 2-0 on their first day of competition. Kelly Fisher downed Billie Billing 80-27 and Emily Duddy 80-10, while Monica Webb also defeated Billing, 80-58 and Mary Rakin Tam 80-52 to finish as the two undefeated women from Group A. Ashley Burrows and Brittany Bryant from Group C finished their first day undefeated; Burrows, downing Gail Eaton 80-49 and Bethany Sykes 80-44, while Bryant defeated Janet Atwell 80-62 and Bethany Sykes 80-53. Pia Filler was the only woman from Group B to finish undefeated. She downed April Larson 80-41 and Liz Taylor 80-38.

Action will begin for the ladies on Day Two of their Round Robin stage at noon.

Final 16 men will get underway at 10 a.m., tomorrow (Friday)

The 16 male competitors in the opening round of the tournament’s single elimination phase got underway last night (Thursday) at around 7:30 p.m. and finished before 11 p.m. The winners of the eight matches will meet the eight competitors who’d received byes as a result of their work in the Round Robin phase of the event.

Konrad Juszczyszyn defeated Corey Deuel 150-77 to face Albin Ouschan tomorrow. Also advancing were Joshua Filler, who defeated Tyler Styer 150-27 for the right to meet Alex Kazakis. John Morra got by Dennis Grabe 150-44 for the right to meet Wictor Zielinski. Mieszko Fortunski defeated Alex Paguluyan 150-27 (after which, as he collected his winnings, Pagulayan was heard to say that he was absolutely going to quit the sport). Fortunski will meet Aloysius Yapp in the morning.

Rounding out the advancing eight will be Fedor Gorst, whose 202-45 victory over Bader Alawadhi put him among the final 16 against Mario He. The Iceman, Mika Immonen, eliminated Darren Appleton 150-44 and will face Max Lechner. The Kaiser, Ralf Souquet, got by Mohammad Ali Beriaoui 150-114 and will face defending champion Ruslan Chinahov. Oliver Szolnoki def Thorsten Hohmann 150-125 to face Shane Van Boening.

The first eight matches will commence at 10 a.m. The event quarterfinals, scheduled for 1 p.m.  will (roughly) follow the 2nd Round Robin sets for the ladies at noon. 

Free streaming is available on the American 14.1 Facebook page, the AZBtv Facebook page and from Istreampool on Youtube. Online brackets are available at Cuescore.com. All matches are played on Diamond Pro-Am tables with Simonis 866 cloth and Predator balls. Corner pockets are 4.5” and the sides are 5”.

Burwell goes undefeated for the first time to claim her first JPNEWT title since 2018

Nicole Nester, Linda Shea, Melissa Jenkins, Kia Burwell and Naoko Dabreo

Kia Burwell has been a consistent performer on the J. Pechauer Northeast Women’s Tour (JPNEWT) and other professional and semiprofessional tours and events since about 2015. An oddity of our AZB Money Leaderboard had her climbing to her highest number on that leaderboard (141) last year, even though her best earnings year, to date, has been 2018, when she came from the loss side to win her first JPNEWT stop in March of that year. This past weekend (June 26-27), Burwell won her second JPNEWT stop and went undefeated for the first time.

The tour returned to New Jersey for the first time since August, 2016 and welcomed a new venue. The event drew 21 entrants to Shooter’s Family Billiards in Wayne, NJ.

As the JPNEWT approaches the midway point of its 2021 season (with stop #6 of 12, scheduled for July 17-18), the tour standings experienced a bit of a shuffle among its top players. Caroline Pao, who continues to look for her 8th win on the tour since 2019, finished out of the money in this one, though her previous two victories, runner-up and 3rd place finish in the first four events put her far enough ahead that she still sits atop the tour standings. In the absence of Liz Taylor at this event, Nicole Nester moved up a spot to be 2nd behind Pao. Tour director Linda Shea moved up a spot, too, to #3. Burwell, who came into the event in 7th place in the standings, moved up three slots to take over 4th place. Taylor moved down three to end up in 5th place, while Judie Wilson maintained her position in 6th place.

Burwell’s path to the winners’ circle took her past Jennifer Tully 7-3, Ashley Burrows 7-5 and Alison Davis 7-1 to arrive at a winners’ side semifinal against Linda Shea. Nicole Nester, in the meantime, downed Kris Consalvo-Kemp 7-3, Naoko Dabreo 7-5 and Ada Lio in a shutout to draw Melissa Jenkins in the other winners’ side semifinal.

Burwell downed Shea 7-4 and moved into the hot seat match. Nester joined her after dispatching Jenkins 7-5. Burwell claimed the hot seat 7-3 over Nester.

On the loss side, Shea picked up Ashley Burrows, who was working on a four-match, loss-side streak that had begun with her loss to Burwell and recently eliminated Ashima Butler 7-4 and Ada Lio 7-2. Jenkins drew Dabreo, who was also working on a four-match, loss-side streak and had most recently defeated Joanne Corbett 7-2 and Jay Pass 7-5. 

Jenkins put a stop to Dabreo’s loss-side run 7-5 and advanced to the quarterfinals. Shea leap-frogged over Burrows, who ran into transportation issues associated with her return on Sunday and was unable to compete.

Shea gave up only a single rack to Jenkins in the quarterfinals. She then defeated Nester in the semifinals 7-3. Burwell completed her first undefeated run on the tour with a 7-4 victory over Shea in the finals.

Tour director Linda Shea thanked Kris Consalvo-Kemp and her staff at Shooter’s Family Billiards, as well as title sponsor J. Pechauer Custom Cues, Bitzel and Associates PTPA Physical Therapy, George Hammerbacher (Advanced Pool Instructor) and Britanya E Rapp (angle aim Art) for the event’s live stream. Stop #6 on the JPNEWT, scheduled for the weekend of July 17-18, will be hosted by Champion Billiards Sports Bar in Frederick, MD. 

Pao goes undefeated, downing Burrows twice to win second straight JPNEWT stop

Caroline Pao and Ashley Burrows

It’s rare that a pool player sneaks by the usual pattern of first appearing in a number of events, then cashing in one or two, then finishing among an event’s top five and after years (sometimes, many), chalks up an event victory on a tour somewhere. Caroline Pao’s second straight victory on the J. Pechauer Northeast Women’s Tour this past weekend (Nov. 7-8) was not a surprise from the WPBA-ranked player (#12). To a certain extent, though, her competitor in the hot seat and finals of the event was a bit of a surprise. Ashley Burrows, who turned Pro in 2018, and is currently ranked as #30 with the WPBA, has four recorded cash finishes in the AZBilliards’ database. All but one of those was recorded last year; two 17th place finishes in WPBA events (the Masters in February/March of 2019 and the Aramith/Dr. Pool Classic, almost exactly a year ago; Nov. 21-24) and until this past weekend, only one recorded victory, a shared one on the Tri-State Tour in June of 2019. 

In her first (that we know of) appearance on the JPNEWT, Burrows got by the tour’s #12, #11, #3 and #4 players to arrive at the hot seat battle versus Pao. They played the last two matches of the $1,200-added event that drew 25 entrants to Triple Nines in Elkridge, MD. Triple Nines added $500 of that money, while Coins of the Realm contributed $700, $200 of which was added in memory of a recently-deceased area player, Danny Green. Pao went undefeated through the field to claim the event title.

Pao was awarded an opening round bye, after which she shut out Lynn Richard (#18 in tour rankings) and sent Melissa Jenkins (#5) to the loss side 7-1 to draw tour director Linda Shea (#1) in a winners’ side semifinal. Burrows, in the meantime, shut out Melissa Mason (#12), survived a double hill battle versus Carol V. Clark (#11) and sent Kathy Friend (#3) to the loss side 7-5, to draw Lai Li (#3) in the other winners’ side semifinal.

Pao moved into the hot seat match with a 7-3 win over Shea, as Burrows got by Li 7-4 to join her. Pao gave up only a single rack in the hot seat match to be a single step away from winning her second straight stop on the tour.

On the loss side, Shea picked up Kathy Friend, who, after her defeat at the hands of Burrows, had survived a double hill battle against April Hatcher and eliminated Sharita Green 7-5. Li drew Kia Burwell, who was runner-up to Pao in her last JPNEWT win last month. Burwell had been sent to the loss side by Friend in the second round and was working on a six-match, loss-side winning streak that would end in the semifinals against Burrows. She’d most recently eliminated Melissa Jenkins 7-2 and Noel Rima 7-4.

Friend chalked up a 7-3 win versus Shea, who hadn’t finished that far back (5th/6th) since the JPNEWT season opened in March, when she finished in the tie for 7th. Burwell and Li locked up in a somewhat predictable double hill fight that eventually advanced Burwell to join Friend in the quarterfinals.

In what would prove to be her final victory, Burwell defeated Friend in the quarterfinal match that came within a game of double hill (7-5). Burrows ended Burwell’s loss-side winning streak at six with a 7-4 win in the semifinals.

In the finals that followed, Burrows was looking to reach 7 racks first, in which case the race would extend to 9. If Pao reached 7 first, it would be over. Though they were far from pretty or straight-forward runs, Pao opened the extended-race-to-9 finals with four straight racks. She almost made it five, but her shot at the 9-ball in that rack rattled in a corner pocket and Burrows got on the board at 4-1.

Pao rattled the 8-ball in the same corner pocket that she’d attempted with the 9-ball in the previous rack and Burrows finished the rack to double her production from the hot seat match and cut Pao’s lead in half. Then, it was Burrows’ turn. She rattled a ball in a corner pocket in rack #7 that allowed Pao to finish the rack and make it 5-2.

Pao chalked up the eighth rack to reach the hill. Burrows won what proved to be her last rack to make it 6-3 and after dropping two balls on the final rack, Pao used a subsequent, fortuitous cue-ball bounce off the tip of a side pocket, to close it all out 7-3.

Adjustments to the tour rankings after this event resulted in a single adjustment to the top five players. Pao’s second straight win in only her second appearance on the 2020 tour, allowed her to move in between Lai Li in 4th place and Melissa Jenkins in 5th place. Shea retained her spot at the top of the rankings, ahead of Kia Burwell, Kathy Friend and Lai Li 

Tour director Linda Shea thanked the ownership and staff at Triple Nines for their hospitality, as well as title sponsor J. Pechauer Custom Cues, Coins of the Realm, angle aim Art (Britanya E Rapp) and Turtle Rack. The next stop on the JPNEWT, scheduled for the weekend of November 21-22, will be hosted by Cue Sports Bar & Grill in Front Royal, VA.  

“Jawz” Joins Team Break Out

BreakOut Apparel would like to welcome our newest member to the family, D’Angelo “Jawz” Spain! We can’t say enough about this young man. At only 9 years old, he is an absolute beast on the table. He not only competes against other juniors but adults as well. He learned how to play pool at the young age of 4 years old. He is currently coached by his father, Frank Spain, and we are excited to see what the young man can do. He’s poised, confident, respectful, and a fierce competitor on the table. Check out his list of accomplishments at only 9 years old.

TOURNAMENT ACCOMPLISHMENTS
2020 – Brews and Cues 9 Ball Tournament (Glen Burnie, MD)
• 1st Place
2020- TAP Short Stack 8 Ball Tournament (Glen Burnie, MD)
• 1st Place
2020 – Joss North East 9 Ball Juniors Event (Amsterdam, NY)
• 1st Place 12 & Under
2019 – APA Junior Nationals Tournament Skill Level 5’s (St. Louis, MO)
• 49th place out of 101 players
2019 – Summer Classic Scotch Doubles Tournament (Baltimore, MD)
• 1st Place
2019 – APA Juniors National Qualifier (Laurel, MD)
• 1st place – Advanced to Nationals in St. Louis in July
2019 – Maryland State Juniors BEF 9ball Tournament 12&U (Laurel, MD)
• 3rd Place
2019 – Billiards Education Foundation Nationals Qualifier (Greenville, SC)
• 5th Place

His other SPONSORS include:
• Jacoby Custom Cues • Risky Shotz Billiards

Please welcome “Jawz” to the #BreakOutFamily. Jawz is the second junior player to join the Break Out Family, joining Skylar Hess. The complete roster of Break Out players is Allison Fisher, Loree Jon Hasson, James Aranas, Shaun Wilkie, Del Sim, James Blackburn, Ashley Burrows, Manny Perez, Clint Palaci, Steve Fleming, Tina Malm, Chuck Sampson, Dylan Spohr, Shanna Lewis, Skylar Hess and D’Angelo Spain.

We have more exciting news in the works, so stay tuned to your news feed!

You can follow Jawz on Facebook & Instagram:
@JawzSpain

Fisher comes from the loss side to win second WPBA Virtual 9-Ball Ghost Challenge

After a slow start in which she won two winners’ side matches and was then moved to the loss side by Jeannie Seaver, UK’s Kelly Fisher came back and won five in a row for a shot at Chinese Taipei’s Wei Tzu Chien, waiting for her in the hot seat. Fisher took full advantage of the opportunity she’d created for herself and won her second straight WPBA Virtual 9-Ball Ghost Challenge, held from June 1-6, primarily in the US, but also from the UK (Kelly), Norway (Line Kjorsvik) and Chinese Taipei (Wei Tzu-Chien).

In addition to winning the event for the second time, Fisher also had the highest individual score in both events (120). Each rack, if run from the break, can represent either 10 or 15 points, depending on whether you take BIH after the break (10) or you don’t (15). If you fail to run the rack, you score the number of balls you did pocket in that rack. In this second event, the field of 16 averaged 64.43 points per rack (3,737 total points over 29 matches featuring 58 players). Though she’d fail to score above 90 points in her first two matches (85, 81) Fisher would finish the event (eight matches, 83 racks) with an average of 94.6 per match, which was achieved, in part, by scoring over 100 in two of her last three matches and 99 in a fourth.

Fisher seemed to be headed in the wrong scoring direction at the outset, as she defeated Kristie Bacon 85-46 in the opening round and was then defeated by Jeannie Seaver 87-81. Wei Tzu-Chien moved into the hot seat match with a 93-59 win over Seaver and was met by Webb, who’d sent Little to the loss side 88-28. In one of only three matches (Fisher scored the other two) that saw either competitor score over 100 points, Chien claimed the hot seat over Webb 107-74.

Over on the loss side, Seaver ran into Line Kjorsvik, who’d been sent to the loss side by Jennifer Barretta in a 74-73 nail biter in the opening round and was working on a three-match, loss-side winning streak that saw her send Dawn Hopkins (97-76), Ashley Burrows (73-63) and Kristie Bacon (61-45) home; check that, they were already home. It was Little who had the misfortune of running into Fisher, working on her (eventual) five-match, loss-side streak, having eliminated Kia Sidbury 86-36, and in a rematch featuring the winner and runner-up of the first event’s hot seat and finals, Jennifer Barretta 93-62.

Seaver advanced into the quarterfinals with a 70-66 win over Kjorsvik. Fisher joined her after eliminating Little 99-34. Seaver ended up as the unfortunate competitor on the other side of the event’s highest score (120-81) in those quarterfinals.

Fisher slipped a little in the semifinals that followed. Her loss side average dropped from 99.5 down to 95.6 when she defeated Webb 80-57 in those semifinals. Though she’d not maintained her high average, she’d prevailed for a chance to win it all.

“I feel good,” said Fisher at the conclusion of her match against Webb. “I had a little trouble in the last couple of matches, but so it goes; a couple of awkward layouts, a couple of unforced errors and a couple of silly errors.

Fisher’s reputation, as represented by her nickname (Kwikfire), was enhanced by her work in the finals. In the extended race to 13 racks, she was done, with a score of 113, as Tzu-Chien was preparing to break her 9th rack, having already scored 68 points. The dynamic of this created something of a nail-biter for Fisher, as she watched Tzu-Chien draw closer in the final racks. Those watching the stream watched Fisher, watching Tzu-Chien.

Tzu-Chien took ball-in-hand at the start of rack #9 and ran the table to bring her score to 78; 35 points away from Fisher with four racks to go and needing to score an average of 9 points per remaining rack to defeat Fisher. Tzu-Chien snookered herself shooting at the 6-ball in rack #10, and missed the shot, giving her 83 points total; 30 points away with three racks to go. If she were to use the ball-in-hand option for the remaining three racks and assuming a successful runout of each of them, she’d tie Fisher at 113 and the event would move to a rack-by-rack tie breaker.

Tzu-Chien took BIH in the 11th rack, but missed a shot after dropping four. Now at 87 points, Tzu-Chien would need to run the final two racks without BIH. Running one rack with and one rack without BIH would net her 112 points, one shy of a tie.

She broke the 12th rack and as it was her only option, she began her run without BIH. With Fisher watching anxiously, she ran to the 9-ball and then missed it. She scored only eight points, for a total of 95, which put the win out of reach. She broke the 13th rack anyway, dropped a single ball and missed the next one to finish the match.

For the second time, Fisher had nothing but praise for the WPBA and the individuals who organized and coordinated this and the previous ghost challenge events.

“I know it’s a tough schedule for you,” Fisher told event organizer Angela Janic and fellow stream commentator, Dawn Hopkins at the conclusion of the week-long event. “We really do appreciate all your hard work. It allows us to play, to do what we enjoy doing, and what we do for a living. Without you guys we couldn’t do that, so we really do appreciate it.”

Fisher and runner-up Wei Tzu-Chien are long-time opponents and friends and noting this friend’s frustration at the end of the match, Fisher suggested to the woman she knows as “Wei-Wei” to not say what she was thinking.

“I can’t speak English, right now,” said Tzu-Chien. “There is an appropriate Chinese term for what just happened.”

“Aiyee ya!!,” she added.

Fisher comes back from hot seat loss to down Barretta and claim Ashton Twins Classic in Alberta

Holem, Plowman, Osborn and Lane win four concurrently-run Amateur/Open events

 

Two of pool’s old-school professionals battled in the hot seat and finals of the WPBA’s 4th Annual Ashton Twins Classic over the weekend (Dec. 2-5). Allison Fisher, who entered the tournament as the WPBA's #1 competitor,, and Jennifer Barretta (#3) fought to double hill in the hot seat match, before Barretta prevailed. Fisher came back from the semifinals to meet and defeat her in the finals and claim the 4th Ashton Twins Classic title, her 82nd pro title. Since the event debuted in 2017, it’s been won by two ‘new-school’ professionals, Brittany Bryant (2017, currently #2) and April Larson (2018, currently #23) and in the past two years, by old-school professionals, Vivian Villareal (2019, currently #48) and Fisher this year. The $20,000-added event drew 50 entrants to the Grey Eagle Resort & Casino in Calgary, Alberta.

 

The long weekend also featured four, concurrently-run Amateur and Open events; an Amateur Men’s 9-Ball (51 entrants), a Women’s Amateur 9-Ball (26), a Men’s 8-ball (71; the highest number of the weekend’s events) and a Women’s 8-Ball event (56). A summary of these four events, to include winners and runners-up will follow the Pro event details.

 

While the old-school professionals were represented in this year’s final, the new-school professionals were right there behind them, finishing 3rd (Russia’s Kristina Tkach, #22) and 4th (China’s Wei Tzu-Chien, #4). The tie for 5th place featured one each from the two categories; Janet Atwell (#11), who fell to Wei Tzu-Chien and the event’s 2017 winner, Brittany Bryant, who was eliminated by Tkach. The event’s 2018 champion, April Larson was on hand for this event, as well. She was sent to the loss side by Wei Tzu-Chien and was defeated in her first loss-side match by Kim Newsome (#24). Vivian Villareal did not make the trip to Canada.

 

Following an opening round bye, Fisher opened her six-match winning campaign with three victories in which she gave up a combined total of two racks; one each to (first) Stephanie Hefner and (third) Caroline Pao, with a shutout over Laura Smith in between. This set Fisher up to face Wei Tzu-Chien in one of the winners’ side semifinals (old-school/new-school). Barretta, in the meantime, had also been awarded a bye, and though not quite the domineering performance exhibited by Fisher, she did get by Stephanie Mitchell 9-2, June Maiers 9-3 and Monica Webb 9-2 to arrive at her winners’ side semifinal against Brittany Bryant (another old-school/new-school matchup).

 

Bryant chalked up as many racks against Barretta as all three of Barretta’s previous opponents combined, but fell two short, advancing Barretta 9-7 to the hot seat match. Wei Tzu-Chien chalked up three times as many racks as Fisher’s first three opponents combined, but fell three short, advancing Fisher 9-6 to meet Barretta. As befitted their status, Barretta and Fisher locked up in a double hill fight that saw Barretta down 5-8, before mounting a four-match comeback that left her in the hot seat and Fisher headed for a semifinal matchup versus Kristina Tkach.

 

Going into the money rounds on the loss side (17-24), there were still more than just a handful of potential winners vying to get back to the finals. Among them were Janet Atwell, who’d been defeated, double hill, by Caroline Pao and dropped into the loss side’s first money round. She subsequently got by Emily Duddy 9-7, Laura Smith 9-3, Monica Webb 9-6, and Jia Li 9-6, to draw Wei Tzu-Chien, coming over from the winners’ side semifinal.

 

Also lurking on the loss side was Kristina Tkach, who’d lost her first winners' side match (after a bye) to Kyoko Sone, and then launched an eight-match, loss-side winning streak that would take her all the way to the semifinals. After eliminating Ada Lio and Ashley Burrows to make it into the money rounds, she defeated Gail Eaton 9-1, Dawn Hopkins, double hill, Caroline Pao 9-5 and the WPBA’s #1-ranked competitor going into the tournament, Line Kjorsvik 9-2, to draw Bryant.

 

Tkach dispatched Bryant 9-2 and was joined in the quarterfinals by Wei Tzu-Chien, who’d eliminated Atwell 9-7. Tkach finished up her loss-side winning streak with a 9-3 win over Chien.

 

The commentators on the Cue Sports Live stream employed a slightly different vocabulary for the semifinal match, opting to call it a match between the ‘old guard’ and the ‘new guard.’ Fisher won the opening game of the semifinal match, and though Tkach responded to tie it up, she only did that twice and never got out in front. After the tie at the end of game #2, Fisher won three straight. Tkach came back with two, Fisher got another and Tkach won another two to create the second tie at 5-5. Fisher got out in front by two again, before Tkach chalked up her sixth and final rack. Fisher closed it out 9-6 for a second shot against Barretta.

 

The assembled were expecting a second double hill fight between the two ladies left standing. The race to 11 didn’t pan out that way, although it came close. Fisher took advantage of her second opportunity and downed Barretta 11-8 to claim her first (recorded) event title since she defeated Ga Young-Kim in the finals of the WPBA’s Ho-Chunk Classic in September of 2018.

 

From her home in Charlotte, NC a couple of days later, Fisher commented about her win and the prospect of future wins for her and players like her, like Jennifer Barretta, who's eight months younger than she is.

 

"It's like your own personal battle," she said. "You're constantly wondering 'Can you do it again?' 'Is it ever going to happen?' All those things go through your mind."

 

"There's not as much (time) distance (from former major victories) with me," she added, "but I was a prolific winner and as time goes on, you question and doubt. You're competing with yourself in personal growth."

 

Fisher is also assigning value to other considerations in her life; specifically her time at home with her family, which she noted she had not had much of in her past. Now, she's finding herself elevating that time on a priority scale above shooting pool. She has found that this shift in priorities tends to elevate the significance of each accomplishment.

 

"I don't play a lot these days, because some things (events) are not worth the time to be away from my family," she said. "I don't expect to be competing in 10 years time, so any victory is very valuable to me."

 

Concurrent Amateur/Open events take center stage

 

Kudos to Brian Champayne, who coordinated this long and multi-faceted event, which, as noted at the outset, included four other tournaments, including two which drew more entrants than the main event.

 

Up first on Thursday, January 2 were the Amateur Men’s and Women’s 9-Ball events. In the Men’s event, Tyler Edey and Kevin Osborn battled twice to claim the title. Edey won the first 7-1 to claim the hot seat. Osborn came back after downing Joe Spence 6-4 in the semifinals to defeat Edey 9-7 in the final and claim the Amateur Men’s 9-Ball title. Regene Lane went undefeated to grab the Women’s Amateur 9-Ball title. She and Cindy Nana fought a double hill hot seat match that eventually sent Nana to the semifinals, where she defeated Jenny Lucas 5-2. Lane defeated Nana a second time, this time 7-3 in the final to claim that 9-ball title.

 

On Friday, January 3, Tyler Edey was also in the finals of the most heavily-attended event of the long weekend, the Men’s 8-Ball, which drew 73 players. Edey was sent to the loss side in a double hill, winners’ side quarterfinal, as Stephen Holem advanced to the hot seat, downing Mike Robinson 6-1 in the winners’ side final. Edey worked his way back through five loss-side opponents, including a double hill win over Robinson in the semifinals to face Holem in the finals. Holem completed his undefeated run with a 7-4 victory over Edey.

 

In the Women’s 8-Ball event, which drew 56 entrants, Bonnie Plowman and Tasha Thomas battled twice, hot seat and finals, to determine the winner. Plowman, who finished undefeated, took the hot seat match 5-3, and when Thomas returned from a 4-2 victory over Jana Montour in the semifinals, defeated her a second time 6-4 to claim the event title.