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Aft comes from the loss side to take 2nd Annual South Carolina Women’s 9-Ball Championship

Dana Aft

In 2013, Dana Aft was defeated by Crystal Lloyd in the battle for the hot seat at the 1st Annual South Carolina Women's 9-Ball Championship, held under the auspices of Belinda Calhoun's Tiger Southern Mid-Atlantic Regional Tour (SMART). Janet Atwell then defeated Aft in the semifinals, and went on to win the tournament. This year, in the 2nd Annual event, Aft, once again, found herself on the loss side; this time, a little earlier. This time, though, she won five on the loss side and successfully challenged Tour Director Belinda Calhoun in the finals to claim the top prize. The $500-added event drew 14 entrants to Grady's Billiards in Lexington, SC.
"We started the Tiger SMART Tour last year," said Calhoun, "because there wasn't a ladies tournament in the Carolinas.
"We had four stops in 2013," she added of the tour, which takes in both Carolinas, as well as Georgia, "and after this first one, have five more planned for this year."
Calhoun worked her way into the hot seat at this event, after defeating Beverly Knight and Betty Lea, both 7-3. Lea, after sending Aft to the losers' bracket 7-2, survived a double hill battle against Wendy Kinzer, before falling to Calhoun in the battle for the hot seat.
Aft opened up her loss-side campaign with back-to-back, 7-3 wins over Lisa Cossette and Marianne Merrill, which set her up to face Knight. Kinzer, in the meantime, drew Crystal Lloyd, who'd gotten by Melody Duvall, double hill, and Cheryl Pritchard 7-4. 
A replay of last year's hot seat match (Aft vs. Lloyd) was set up when Aft downed Knight 7-2 and Lloyd eliminated Kinzer 7-5. Aft feasted on her cold dish of revenge in the quarterfinals, ending Lloyd's day 7-3 and then feasted on a somewhat warmer dish by downing Lea in a double hill semifinal.
"That match could have gone either way," said Aft of the semifinals. "She (Lea) over-ran her shape on the 9-ball in that last game."
 Aft brought some momentum into the finals; a single, race-to-9. She defeated Calhoun 9-3 to claim the 2nd Annual South Carolina Women's Championship.
"It was a good field," said Aft of the general competition. "It was a small field, but very, very tough; a lot of quality players."

‘Kamikaze’ Kelly Willis Jumps Her Way to Victory at JOB’s

Kelly Willis

The SEAL members arrived in Nashville on Saturday morning, November 10th, dressed in their Sunday Best for the group photo and to vie for the title at Stop #2 at JOB Billiards. Jim Blaylock, our gracious host, was on hand to welcome the ladies to his special tournament room, complete with bleacher seating, featuring specially designed Kasson tables with professional-grade pockets that caused balls to hang in pockets for even the most skillful players.
Accuracy was the key word this weekend, and with many upsets and a display of above-average play across the board, two very predictable players emerged to face off in the finals.
Kelly Willis began her road to the finals by defeating Korene Sneed (7-3), Margo Yoder (7-6), Beverly Knight (7-1), and Kim Young (7-3), before losing to Janet Atwell 7-4 in the winners bracket final. Kelly's match with Margo would prove to be her closest match of the tournament, in which Margo found herself trailing 6-2 and clawed her way back to double-hill before Kelly confidently ran out the last game. With her sights set on the finals, Kelly took her trip to the one-loss side to play Betty Sessions.
Betty's run for the title began with wins over Christy Simpson (7-5), Judy Kingry (7-1), Stacy Gravitt (7-5) and Jessica Crooks (7-2), only to be stopped short by Janet (7-5). She then posted decisive wins over Marcia Manuel (7-0) and Kim Young (7-2) but then appeared to run out of steam against the 'Kamikaze' from North Carolina, who ousted her by a score of 7-2 to earn a rematch with Jumpin' Janet and leave Betty with a 3rd place finish.
Janet had gone undefeated throughout the tournament with wins over Laura Blount (7-3), Michelle Davis (7-0), Julie Turco (7-3), Suzanne Jesse (7-3), Betty Sessions (7-5) and Kelly Willis (7-4), and she seemed to be destined for yet another tournament win. Kelly, however, had other plans, but she would have her work cut out for her as she would have to beat Janet twice. Janet started off the first game with a 2-9 combination and won the next two games to take an early 3-0 lead. Kelly fired back with tough shots and a break-and-run to knot the score at 3-3. They traded wins on the next two games with the score 4-4. Capitalizing again on an unusual miss by Janet, Kelly took the lead for the first time and in the next game pocketed a 2-9 combo to bring the score to 6-4. Janet, with a chance to close the gap, had another uncharacteristic miss, giving Kelly the final game and forcing Janet to play a second set for the title.
Kelly started with a win in the first game. Janet, after playing a safe, came to the table to run out, only to hang the 9-ball, giving Kelly a 2-0 lead. The third game saw Kamikaze Kelly using her newfound talent with a jump cue to clear the 8-ball and make the 2-ball in the corner, but she then missed the 8-ball, and Janet proceeded to win the next 2 games to tie it up 2-2. Janet broke and ran four balls and then played safe on the five. Kelly again jumped out of the safety to pocket the 5-ball in the side but missed the 6-ball and snookered Janet. Janet attempted to return the jump but missed. Kelly still could not capitalize, and Janet got out to lead the set 3-2. After seesawing back and forth for several games, the score was again tied at 5-5 with a race to 2 for the title.
Kelly broke but scratched on the 1-ball, leaving Janet with a 1-9 combo, which she failed to convert. Kelly's fierce determination became obvious as she proceeded to fire balls into the tight pockets with dead-on precision and near-perfect position play to run the table and reach the hill first at 6-5. Kelly broke and again scratched on the 1-ball. Janet attempted another combination, this time on the 2-9, but again missed to allow Kelly back to the table. Kelly was not able to get out, and with only the 8 and 9 remaining, it looked as if we would have a hill-hill match. But fate seemed to be on Kelly's side as the 9-ball failed to fall for Janet, and Kelly cleanly pocketed it for the 7-5 win.
Special thanks to Jim Blaylock and the entire staff of JOB Billiards for the hospitality and for providing the perfect tournament room for our event. We appreciate your continued support of the SEAL Tour!

Jumpin’ Janet Takes Stop One

Janet Atwell

After a moment of silence to pray for our friends, families, and fellow Americans, the first stop of the 2001/2002 SEAL season got underway.Several tough match ups in the early rounds resulted in many top players taking an early trip to the one-loss side, with Jessica Crooks defeating Betty Sessions (7-5), Janet Atwell taking Marcia Manuel (7-5), Tori Duncan nudging out Kelly Willis (7-6), Fran Taylor beating a somewhat crippled Sally Herrick (7-3), Margo Yoder defeating Kim Young (7-2), and a new sub-SEAL member, Christy Simpson, proving to be a strong competitor with a win of Lil Bunch.Betty, Sally, and Lil stuck it out to return for Sunday’s matches, along with Jessica Crooks (who subsequently lost to Tori Duncan after defeating Betty), Lisa O’Boyle, Christy Simpson, and Beverly Knight on the one-loss side.Four undefeated players remained on Sunday as well:Tori Duncan vs. Margo Yoder and Janet Atwell vs. Debi Johnson, with her first-ever return on Sunday in the main event.
With Janet defeating Debi and Margo edging out Tori after a tough hill-hill battle, Janet and Margo would play for the “hot seat” and a spot in the finals.Janet’s road consisted of wins over Marcia Manuel (7-5), Stacy Gravitt, Donna Friesen (7-6) in a very close and hard fought battle, Lisa O’Boyle (7-6), who was aptly named last year’s Most Improved Player, and Debi Johnson (7-0).Margo consistent play all weekend had resulted in wins over Kim Young (7-2), Michelle Davis (7-4), Christy Simpson (7-5), and Tori Duncan (7-6), but fell short in the winners bracket final losing to Janet 7-2.
Meanwhile in the one-loss bracket, Betty Sessions had played hard to defeat Beverly Knight and Lisa O’Boyle but was held to a 5th place finish by Tori Duncan.Jessica Crooks, who started her run with wins over Kat Griffith (7-4) and Betty Sessions (7-5) before being sent left at the hands of Tori Duncan, would alsoemerge victorious with wins over Lil Bunch (7-3), Michelle “The Comeback Kid” Vaughn (7-4), and Debi Johnson (7-1).Michelle found herself trailing in Sunday’s opening match to Christy Simpson 5-1 and turned it around to defeat Christy (7-5).Congratulations to Debi Johnson for a personal best finish of 5th place.
As the participants dwindled late Sunday afternoon, Jessica was determined that the rematch with Tori would have a different outcome, and although Tori had wowed the crowd all weekend with her great play, Jessica would prove to be unstoppable as she left Tori with a 4th place finish and prepared to face off with Margo to see who would earn the right to play Janet in the final match.The competition was fierce, and it was obvious that both ladies wanted a win as the match seesawed back and forth until it was tied at hill-hill, but Jessica was a woman with a mission and would be the one to advance to the finals with Margo earning a great 3rd place finish!
The opening set of the finals began with Jessica Crooks knowing that she must defeat Janet twice to win the tournament, and she came out of the game with a strong 4-0 lead.After a short break, Janet returned to the fifth game with a defensive shot on the 1-ball.Jessica made a good hit but left a 1-9 combination for After a short break, Janet returned to the fifth game with a defensive shot on the 1-ball.Jessica made a good hit but left a 1-9 combination for Janet’s first win.It appeared that Janet’s game plan was to slow Jessica down with outstanding safety play, this paid off for Janet because the score climbed 5-3 with Jessica in the lead.The ninth game began with Janet successfully placing Jessica on two fouls, but then Janet decided to run out the rack and close the score 5-4.Just as it looked liked the match was swinging in Janet’s direction; she scratched leaving Jessica a beautiful 2-9 combination for the 10th game and a score of 6-4.After numerous safeties back and forth in the 11th game, Jessica prevailed victorious in the first set.
The second set began with Jessica on a high after handing Janet her first loss of the weekend, but Janet came out of the gate with an early 2-0 lead.Jessica rebounded in the third game with a 2-9 combination for her first win of the 2nd set.The fourth game was highlighted by a defensive shot on the 1-ball by Jessica that forced Janet to bring out the ole’ jump cue.True to her name, “Jumpin Janet” didn’t let the spectators down as she executed an awesome jump shot over two balls to make a difficult cut shot on the 1-ball and leave perfect position for a 2-9 combination to make the score 3-1.With that, the match really began to swing in Janet’s direction as she continued her outstanding play and wrapped up all the remaining games to defeat Jessica in the Finals 7-1.Congratulations to Janet Atwell for her victory and to Jessica Crooks for an outstanding 2nd place finish.