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Arnold Rolls Undefeated at Romines

Laura Bendikas, Bonnie Arnold, Pamela Kelly and Barb Arndt

Supporters of the North Central Pool Tour (NCPT) gathered at Romine’s High Pockets in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, this past weekend for the tour’s 9th stop of the year. The tournament attracted 18 of the top women players from the region. 
 
Bonnie Arnold, a local favorite, rolled through the bracket undefeated. She sent Sally Steinbach (7-4), Cindy Sherrod (6-2), and Amy Rice (6-4) all to the B side. For the tournament win, Arnold ended up facing Pamela Kelly, another local powerhouse player. Kelly had sent her fair share of players to the one-loss side, too, including Jeanne Cyganiak (7-2), Kelly Nickl (6-3), and Laura Bendikas (6-1). But Kelly came up short in a hill-hill battle against Arnold.
 
The complete bracket and final standings are available at challonge.com. Players who cashed were:
1st Bonnie Arnold ($530)
2nd Pamela Kelly ($255)
3rd Barb Arndt ($125)
4th Laura Bendikas ($60)
 
The NCPT will return to Romine’s next month for the last tour stop of the year. The 10th stop is a qualifier for the U.S. Open being held in Las Vegas in April 2020! The event is limited to the first 32 players who pay their entry fee. In addition to the cash payout, the winner receives a paid entry to the U.S. Open worth $1,000. For more details, visit NCPTplay.com.

Rousey Routs the Competition at City Pool Hall

Sarah Rousey

At the sixth NCPT stop of the year on July 20, it was hard to tell what was hotter–the temperature outside or the competition inside. The $500 added 10-ball tournament at City Pool Hall in downtown Chicago drew 14 women from Illinois and Wisconsin. 
 
Sarah Rousey went undefeated, besting Amy Latzko (6-5), Darlene Dantes (6-2), Laura Bendikas (6-5), and Bonnie Arnold (6-0). In the finals, she met up against Kassy Werner, who had put some serious work in to get there. Werner took an early round loss but then notched six wins in a row.  
 
The final race to nine teetered back and forth early. Both players struggled to pocket the seven ball in several games. After eight racks, the score remained close at 5-3. But then Rousey took advantage of her opportunities at the table. She won the next four games in a row, finishing the match 9-3.
 
Top finishers of the event were:
1st Sarah Rousey ($550)
2nd Kassy Werner ($300)
3rd Bonnie Arnold ($165)
4th Amy Latzko ($85)
 
To see the full bracket for the event, visit www.leaguepoolstats.com. You can also view streamed matches at RailbirdsTV’s YouTube page. The NCPT thanks its sponsors and City Pool Hall for adding $500 to this tour stop.
 
Want to get in on the fun and action? Visit the NCPT facebook page or NCPTplay.com for details on upcoming events. You can also find the NCPT on Instagram and Twitter.
 

Bryant goes undefeated to take WPBA title at Janet Atwell’s Borderline Billiards

Brittany Bryant, Janet Atwell and Mary Rakin (Photo courtesy of Barbara Lee)

It’s hard to know just how exactly the proverbial ‘luck of the draw’ can impact a tournament field. Is there ever an easy path through a strong field? Does early ‘luck of the draw’ influence a player’s ability to face increasingly difficult competition? With ‘no’ as the answer to the ‘easy path’ question, one would think that getting a few relatively ‘easy’ matches under your belt before facing any heavy hitters would have to be of benefit. On the weekend of October 18-21, Canada’s Brittany Bryant went undefeated through a field of strong opponents to win the WPBA BLU-EMU Southern Open Signature Tour Stop.
 
With a Fargo Rate of 663, Bryant opened the tournament with matches against opponents whose ratings were in the 500 range, slowly graduating to matches against higher ranked opponents, and then, in the finals, squaring off against Mary Rakin with exactly the same rating of 663. The $10,000-added event drew 64 entrants to Janet Atwell’s Borderline Billiards in Bristol, TN.
 
That said, it didn’t take Bryant long to get into the thick of things. Following victories over Autumn Duncan (Fargo Rating 585) 7-2 and Bonnie Arnold (553) 7-3, Bryant faced the Texas Tornado, Vivian Villarreal, sporting a higher Fargo rate of 685 (the top Fargo-rated female in the US). They locked up in a double hill fight that eventually advanced Bryant against Jia Li (654) and a second double hill fight, which Bryant won, advancing to a winners’ side semifinal match against Karen Corr (722; as an Irish competitor, Corr is not on the US Top 10 list, and doesn’t appear among the top 10 World List, dominated by seven Chinese women, whose ratings range from 782 to 744).
 
Meanwhile, Line Kjorsvik (675) was running her own gauntlet of top-notch talent. She defeated Ji-Hyun Park, Jeannette Lee, Ashley Rice and Helena Thornfeldt to draw (out of the frying pan into the fire, so to speak) Allison Fisher (724). Fisher had sent Bryant’s eventual finals opponent, Mary Rakin, to the loss side in the second round.
 
Bryant downed Corr 7-3, and in the hot seat match, faced Kjorsvik, who’d survived a somewhat predictable double hill match against Fisher. Bryant claimed the hot seat 7-5 over Kjorsvik and waited for Rakin to complete her nine-match, loss-side winning streak that would bring her into the final match.
 
Six matches had put Bryant in the hot seat, and while they included those back-to-back wins over Villareal, Li, Corr and Kjorsvik, the run paled (somewhat) in the face of what Rakin accomplished to meet her in the finals. Wins over Kaylin Wykoff and Maureen Seto put Rakin into the first money round (17th-24th) against Gerda (Hofstatter) Gregerson. A subsequent win over Dawn Hopkins led to five straight wins over Thornfeldt, Jennifer Baretta, Corr, Fisher and Kjorsvik.
 
She defeated Thornfeldt 7-4 and Baretta 7-3 to pick up Corr, coming over from the winners’ side semifinal. Fisher drew Jia Li, who’d defeated LoreeJon Hasson 7-5 and Melissa Little 7-4 to reach her.
 
Rakin defeated Corr 7-5 and in the quarterfinals, faced Fisher, who’d eliminated Li 7-2. Rakin and Fisher locked up in a double hill fight that eventually advanced Rakin to the semifinals against Kjorsvik. A second straight double hill fight, won by Rakin, gave Rakin her shot at Bryant in the finals.
 
The finals, according to FargoRate, was a 50/50 proposition. Rakin had the intangible of momentum and recent wins over higher ranked competitors going for her, though two straight double hill wins over quality opponents might have taken a little out of her. Bryant had the wait, which can sometimes work for you with a little rest or against you, in terms of going a little cold at the table. By the same token, her own list of recently defeated quality opponents suggested that either way, it was going to be a good match between two quality opponents who had more than earned their way into the finals. Bryant won it 7-4 to claim the event title.

Fisher goes undefeated for the second time in a month, winning WPBA Ho-Chunk Classic

Ga Young Kim and Allison Fisher (Photo courtesy of the WPBA)

Fresh off her August 16-19 victory at the NAPT Summer 10-Ball Classic, Allison Fisher proved once again that age is just a number, and a fairly insignificant one at that. On the long weekend of September 13-16, Fisher joined what turned out to be 63 WPBA entrants in a multi-stage/bracket format at the Ho-Chunk Casino in Wisconsin Dells, WI and went undefeated through that field to capture her second title in a month. Fisher had to get by Korea’s Ga-Young Kim twice to claim that title.
 
The multi-stage format of this event created preliminary, 32-entrant rounds of play for 64 invited and seeded players, based on current WPBA standings going into the event. The lower-ranked invitees faced off against each other on Thursday, Sept. 13, in a standard 32-player bracket. Sixteen players, eight on each side of the bracket, emerged and advanced to play against a group of 16 players already selected to compete on Friday. When that Friday bracket came down to a final 16, those 16 advanced to compete against the WPBA’s top 16 players on Saturday (chosen from among the invitees who were able to attend). It was in this third, Saturday bracket that Fisher began her quest for the title.
 
On Thursday in races to 7, Kaylin Wikoff, Caroline Pao, Tonya Wiser, Naomi Williams, Kristie Bacon, Cathy Metzinger, Jia Li, and Jenna Bishoff won two matches each to advance to Friday’s bracket. In her second match, Jia Li downed LoreeJon Hasson 7-5 to get into that winners’ side final eight. Metzinger was among the final eight as the result (in part) of a forfeit by Jeannette Lee in her opening round of play. Lee came back through two rounds of loss-side play to become one of the 16 that advanced to Friday. Hasson won her only match on the loss side of the Thursday bracket and advanced, as well, along with Maria Juana, Lisa Cossette, Susan Wilbur, Sonya Chbeeb, Bonnie Arnold and Stephanie Mitchell.
 
On Friday in races to 8, Pao, Metzinger, and Arnold made it through their second day, winning two matches each to become one of the winners’ side final eight advancing to Saturday. Joining the event for the first time and winning their first two were Maureen Seto, Siming Chen, We Tzu Chien, April Larson and Kia Sidbury. Sidbury was originally scheduled to start on Thursday but a no-show for the tournament led to the 63-entrant field and an opening on Friday, into which she slipped. On the loss side of Friday’s bracket, Juana, Bishoff, Williams, Li, and Jeannette Lee advanced to their third day of competition. Lee had been defeated by April Larson, double hill, in Friday’s opening round and won two to join everybody on Saturday. Also winning two on the loss side and advancing to Saturday were Janet Atwell (defeated by Pao, double hill, in Friday’s opening round), Sara Miller and Robin Parker.
 
On Saturday in races to 8, Fisher said ‘hello’ to everybody and opened with an 8-1 victory over Juana, before running into Jeannette Lee (first of a series of classic women matchups during the day). Lee had defeated Kim Newsome 8-5 to start her day. Fisher defeated Lee 8-4 and then picked up the Texas Tornado, Vivian Villareal, who’d defeated Jennifer Barretta 8-2 in the previous round. An 8-2 win over Villareal sent Fisher to a winners’ side semifinal against Siming Chen, who’d defeated Line Kjorsivik 8-4 and Caroline Pao 8-3 to reach her. Melissa Little and Ga Young Kim squared off in the other winners’ side semifinal.
 
Fisher defeated Chen 8-2 and arrived at the hot seat match with an aggregate score of 32-9 (78%). Kim sent Little to the loss side 8-2, as well, and she came to the hot seat with an aggregate score of 32-14 (69%). Allison claimed the hot seat 8-3 over Kim and waited on her return from the semifinals.
 
On the loss side, Chen picked up Barretta, who was in the midst of a four-match, loss-side winning streak that had included victories over Jeannette Lee (8-5), Jia Li (8-4) and Brittany Bryant 8-5. Little drew The Grinder, teenager April Larson, who’d been defeated by Jia Li on the winners’ side of the final bracket, and was in the midst of a six-match winning streak that would take her as far as the semifinals. Larson had most recently eliminated Vivian Villareal and Caroline Pao, both 8-3.
 
Larson advanced to the quarterfinals with an 8-5 win over Little, and was joined by Chen, who’d defeated Barretta 8-2. Larson took the quarterfinal match over Siming Chen 8-5.
 
Larson’s remarkable run ended in the semifinals, when Kim defeated her 8-5. Kim’s second shot against Fisher, waiting for her in the hot seat, was a tightly contested, double hill battle. Fisher closed it out to claim the WPBA’s 2018 Ho-Chunk Classic.

Larson wins first pro event, goes undefeated to take second stop on North American Pool Tour

Tara Williams and April Larson

When 16-year-old April Larson first arrived at Shooter's Sports Bar & Billiards in Greyslake, IL on the weekend of August 18-21 to compete in the second stop on the North American Pool Tour, she got a glimpse of the winning trophy. She reportedly got very excited and mentioned to her traveling companion that she didn't care about the winning prize money. She wanted that trophy.
 
Four days, six opponents and seven matches later, she'd won her first pro event – the $5,000-added Summer 10 Ball Classic that had drawn 58 entrants to Shooter's Sports Bar and Billiards. Proving the point, Larson accepted the trophy and walked away without collecting the $3,400 check that went along with it. NAPT Predidant Adrianne Beach, a fellow competitor and regular on the Northwest Women's Pool Association Tour, chased her down and handed it to her. Larson glanced at it once, and then, a second time, at which point, according to Beach, her eyes went wide, her mouth dropped open, and she was rendered, literally, speechless.
 
"Is it the most you've ever won?" Beach asked her.
 
All the youngster could do was nod. It had been a busy summer for Larson. In July, she'd represented the USA at the Atlantic Cup Challenge. Two days after the conclusion of that event (won by Team EUROPE 11-3), Larson won her fifth straight Billiards Education Foundation Junior Nationals Championship. A week or two after that, she traveled to Las Vegas for the BCAPL Championships, competing in three events. She was part of the Women's Gold Scotch Doubles team that finished ninth, finished fifth in the Women's 9-Ball Singles Platinum division, and third in the Women's 8-Ball Singles Platinum Division, having defeated (on the loss side) Briana Miller and Eleanor Callado before being eliminated by Vivian Villareal in the semifinals.
 
In Illinois, Larson opened her winning campaign with a 7-3 win over Beth Fondell, and then, shut out Adrianne Beach, who would later present her with the winning trophy and even later, the winning check.
 
"She wasn't missing," said Beach. "Her fundamentals are so solid, and they don't change. It's like her heart rate never increases. She plays without fear."
 
"She's very steady, very composed and very solid," Beach added, noting that she'd never seen anything like Larson before. "Not at that age, no, especially with her composure."
 
Larson advanced, sending Jacqui Schroeder and JPNEWT veteran Jia Li to the loss side, both 7-5. This set her up to face Bonnie Arnold in a winners' side semifinal, as Tara Williams and Cassie Francois squared off in the other one. Larson defeated Arnold 7-2, and in the hot seat match, faced Williams, who'd downed Francois 7-1. In their first of two, Larson defeated Williams 7-4 and sat in the hot seat awaiting her return.
 
On the loss side, Arnold picked up Naomi Williams, who'd eliminated Janet Atwell, double hill and Briana Miller 7-2 to reach her. Francois drew another junior champion Taylor Hansen, who had, a week or so earlier, defeated Vivian Villareal in the finals of the BCAPL's Women's 8-Ball Singles (Platinum Division), in which Larson had placed third. Sent to the loss side by Bonnie Arnold, Hansen defeated Sarah Rousey and Jia Li, both 7-5, to reach Francois.
 
Hansen advanced to the quarterfinals over Francois 7-2, as Williams spoiled a potential Hansen/Arnold re-match with a 7-1 victory over Arnold. Williams took the subsequent quarterfinal match 7-5 over Hansen, and was then, herself, eliminated 7-5 by Tara Williams in the semifinals.
 
Larson, though, really wanted the winning trophy for this event. She punctuated her undefeated run in her first pro event by shutting Williams out in the finals to claim the event title.