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Friend goes undefeated to take Stop 10 on the JPNEWT

Over the last few months, as the J. Pechauer Northeast Women's Tour has been closing in on its final 2015 event (Stop # 11; November 7-8 at Triple Nines in Elkridge, MD), the battle for any individual event title has almost been less significant than the jockeying for position on the tour rankings.  These standings are important because of their significance in determining who, from the tour, will be selected to compete in the WPBA Regional Tour Championship in January. Though the number of women to be selected for that RTC has yet to be determined, the women of the JPNEWT know, as the season draws to a close, that the closer they are to the top, the better their chances. 
 
Following tour stop # 10, held on the weekend of October 17-18, all ten of the tour's Top 10 players remained in the Top 10, although some of them were in different positions than they'd occupied prior to the event. Kathy Friend, for example, who won the $1,000-added event that drew 19 entrants to Pro Shot Billiards in Dickson City, PA, moved from her #7 slot to #5.
 
The runner-up, tour director Linda Shea, remained in the #2 spot, as did Karen Corr in the #1 spot, even though she didn't compete in this event (her eight straight wins through September made her #1 tour ranking unapproachable). Nicole Monaco, who finished in the tie for 9th place at this most recent event, maintained her position at #3, although she was joined (tied) by Jia Li, who came in at #4, and finished in the tie for 5th place. Kia Sidbury stayed put in the #6 ranking slot, while Briana Miller, who didn't compete, dropped from #5 to Friend's previous spot at #7. Tina Scott stayed where she was at #9. Kim Whitman, who didn't compete, and Nicole Fleming, who did, switched positions; Whitman dropped from # 8 to #10, while Fleming moved up from #10 to #8.
 
In addition to its significance in the overall tour rankings, this most recent event was a qualifier for the WPBA Masters Tournament, set for February 3-7 at the Soaring Eagle Casino and Resort in Mt. Pleasant, MI. It was a good time for Friend to return to the JPNEWT winners' circle, where she hasn't been in nine years. The last time she took a JPNEWT title, at Comet Billiards in Parsippany, NJ, on June 25, 2006, was also the first time she took a JPNEWT title.  In that earlier event, she lost her first match and won six on the loss side to meet and defeat hot seat occupant, Barbara Stock.
 
At this most recent event, Friend opted out of the loss-side run, in favor of the undefeated route, which, after an opening round bye, took her through victories over Tina Scott, Sharon O'Hanlon, and Boye Lu, before meeting up with Linda Shea in a winners' side semifinal. Kia Sidbury, in the meantime, had gotten by Meredith Lynch and Judie Wilson, to pick up Dawn Fox in the other winners' side semifinal. Friend and Shea locked up in a double hill fight, their first of two, before Friend advanced to the hot seat match. She was joined by Sidbury, who sent Fox west 7-1. Friend claimed the hot seat 7-2 over Sidbury and waited in the hot seat for what turned out to be Shea's return.
 
On the loss side, Shea picked up Jia Li, who'd been defeated by Dawn Fox in the opening round, and embarked on a four-match, loss-side streak that included victories over Judie Wilson 7-5 and Borana Andoni 7-1. Fox drew Nicole Fleming, who'd gotten by Lynch 7-3 and Boye Lu 7-4 to reach her.
 
Shea eliminated Li 7-3 and in the quarterfinals, met up with Fox, who'd ousted Fleming 7-2. Shea took the quarterfinal match 7-4 over Fox, and then downed Sidbury 7-5, for a second shot at Friend. 
 
Technically, their second meeting, in the finals, was not a double hill match. Friend took rack #13 to finish ahead of Shea at 7-6, but had Shea, coming from the loss side, won that rack, the match would have been extended to nine games. Friend chalked up the win to claim the title, win $600 and qualify for the WPBA Masters tournament in February.