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Pao stops Miller’s four-event winning streak, comes from loss side to win JPNEWT stop in NJ

Briana Miller and Caroline Pao

Next up, WPBA qualifier to inaugural Helena Thornfeldt Memorial – The Sledgehammer Open 

As Briana Miller began the process of assimilating duties she will be performing as full-time tour director of the J. Pechauer Northeast Women’s Tour in January, she signed on to compete in its latest event, looking to chalk up her fifth straight win since the 2022 season began in March at Triple Nines in Elkridge, MD. Current tour director Linda Shea won the only 2022 event in which Miller did not compete back in May. This past weekend (July 30-31), Caroline Pao, who’d been runner-up to Miller in the March season opener, battled her twice this time out, hot seat and finals; Miller, winning the first and Pao, claiming the title by winning the second. The event drew 19 entrants to Shooter’s Family Billiards in Wayne, NJ.

During her absence from JPNEWT events since March, Pao had not been idle. She cashed in five events elsewhere, one per month, including three WPBA tournaments (Northern Lights Classic, Ashton Twins Classic and WPBA Masters), a stop on the Joss Tour and a 5th place finish at the SBE’s Women’s 9-Ball Pro Players Championship. She was looking for her first 2022 victory and found it in New Jersey. 

Pao opened her bid for that win with a 7-1 victory over Carol V. Clark and a 7-2 victory over Melissa Jenkins to arrive at a winners’ side semifinal against Kris Consalvo Kemp. Miller, in the meantime, got by Kathy Croom 7-3 and in a present/future TD match downed Linda Shea 7-4, to arrive at her winners’ side semifinal match against the tour’s #3 competitor, Kia Burwell.

Pao got into the hot seat match with a 7-1 victory over Kemp and was joined by Miller, who’d defeated Burwell 7-3. Miller claimed the hot 7-3.

On the loss side, Burwell picked up Kathy Croom, who’d lost her opening match to Miller and went on to defeat Ginny Lewis 7-2, Melissa Jenkins 7-5 and Susan Kimble 7-2. Ada Lio, who’d lost her opener to Shea and following victories over Anna Marks 7-2, Sheila Joner 7-1 and Alyssa Solt 7-3, won her rematch versus Shea 7-3 to draw Kemp.

Lio advanced to the quarterfinals 7-5 over Kemp and was joined by Burwell, who’d eliminated Croom 7-4. By the same score, Burwell defeated Lio in those quarterfinals. Both semifinalists – Burwell and Pao – were looking for a second shot at Miller in the hot seat and predictably, the battle that ensued went double hill. Pao prevailed.

With that pool-player’s friend ‘momentum’ in play, Pao came into the finals looking for her first 2022 title. She edged out in front of Miller in those finals, eventually extended the lead to four racks and claimed her first JPNEWT and 2022 title 9-5.

Shea and Miller thanked the ownership and staff at Shooter’s Family Billiards, as well as title sponsor J. Pechauer Custom Cues and George Hammerbacher (Advanced Pool Instructor, Baltimore, MD). The next stop on the JPNEWT (#8), scheduled for the weekend of Aug. 13-14 at Triple Nines in Elkridge, MD, will be a WPBA qualifier. The winner will receive entry to the WPBA’s $10,000-added Sledgehammer Open, a tribute to the late Helena Thornfeldt. That event, scheduled for Oct. 19-23, will be hosted by Janet Atwell at her Borderline Billiard’s room in Bristol, TN.

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Current and future JPNEWT tour directors battle in finals at Champion Billiards

Linda Shea and Briana Miller

As the current (Linda Shea) and future (Briana Miller) director of the J. Pechauer Northeast Women’s Tour began the process of switching places that will culminate with the start of the 2023 season, they met in Frederick, MD this past weekend (Saturday, July 16), renewing a rivalry that began when Miller was a teenager and Shea had just begun her tenure as the tour’s director (see report on the ‘peaceful transition of power’ outlined in our News archives; Friday, July 15). As the two were no doubt consulting on and sharing in the varied chores that comprise the work of tour director, they also met in the tournament itself, twice; hot seat and finals. Miller won both matches, completing an undefeated run that marked her fourth victory of the season. Shea, who’d won the only event at which Miller did not compete (Stop #4; Stop #3 was cancelled), moved ahead of Kia Burwell in the tour standings. The event drew 16 entrants to Champion Billiards Sports Bar in Frederick, MD. 

Miller, who would go on to win four out of every five games she played in the event (35-8) defeated Melissa Mason 7-2 and Susan Kimble 7-1 to arrive at a winners’ side semifinal against Shanna Lewis. Until she encountered Miller, Shea had faced her most challenging opponent (by score) in the opening round, when Lynn Richard chalked up four against her. Shea then defeated Judie Wilson 7-3 and drew Kelly Wyatt in the other winners’ side semifinal.

Miller and Shea advanced to the hot seat match by identical 7-2 scores; Miller over Lewis and Shea over Wyatt. Miller allowed Shea only a single rack in the hot seat match.

On the loss side, Lewis picked up Judie Wilson, who’d followed her loss to Shea with two straight double hill wins; over Melissa Mason and then, the #2-ranked competitor on the tour, Kia Burwell. Wyatt drew Lynn Richard, who’d followed her loss to Shea with victories over Susan Kimble and Melissa Jenkins, both 7-5.

Wyatt downed Richard 7-5 and was joined in the quarterfinals by Lewis, who’d shut Wilson out. Lewis then eliminated Wyatt in those quarterfinals 7-2. 

Both of the semifinalists, Shea and Lewis, were looking for a rematch against Miller, waiting for one or the other of them in the hot seat. Shea earned the privilege, downing Lewis 7-2.

Miller defeated Shea a second time, this time 7-2, to claim her fourth 2022 JPNEWT title.

Shea and Miller, who was no doubt participating in this part of the process, thanked the ownership and staff at Champion Billiards for their hospitality, as well as title sponsor J. Pechauer Custom Cues and George Hammerbacher (Advanced Pool Instructor, Baltimore, MD). The next stop on the JPNEWT, scheduled for the weekend of July 30-31, will be hosted by Shooters Family Billiards in Wayne, NJ. 

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The JPNEWT and a peaceful transfer of power this weekend, as Miller prepares to take charge

Briana Miller (Vincent Rochefort)

This weekend, at the 6th stop on the 2022 J. Pechauer Northeast Women’s Tour, the beginning of a slow, but steady process to peacefully transfer tour power from its current director, Maryland’s Linda Shea to Pennsylvania’s Briana Miller will begin. Shea is retiring from the oldest, continuously-operating women’s tour on the East Coast that she has been running and competing in for 14 years.

Though it’s difficult to trace the tour’s origins precisely, according to Dawn Hopkins it began as a women’s tour she founded in the early 90s, an adjunct to her All About Pool Magazine and its All About Pool Men’s Tour in Massachusetts. The All About Pool Ladies Tour (and Hopkins) shifted from a New England base to New Jersey, where it would become the Northeast Women’s Tour, operating at first, under the leadership of Colleen Shoop and Candy Rego, and later, Barbara Stock and Micaela Games. It was under their leadership that the tour began its association with and eventual name change to the J. Pechauer Northeast Women’s Tour at the end of 2001 season. 

Shea will be handing the reins of the tour over to a woman who’s been a key competitor on that tour since Shea took over from Barbara Stock in 2008. Miller, who was 13 years old and in the midst of a seven-year run as a BEF Junior National Champion when Shea took over, will be ‘learning the ropes’ in the course of the tour’s next seven stops, commencing with this weekend’s event at Champion Billiards Sports Bar in Frederick, MD, through the season finale (Stop #12) on the weekend of Dec. 3-4 at Triple Nines in Elkridge, MD. Miller will assume tour director duties full-time with the commencement of the 2023 season.

“My husband retired,” Shea explained of the decision. “It was time for me to spend time with him.”

“I saw it coming beforehand,” she added, “that it was what I was going to do.”

Shea ‘landed’ on the idea of Briana Miller as her successor, shortly after Miller returned to the area from a three-year hiatus from the sport, while she attended Lindenwood University on a pool scholarship that earned her a finance degree. She graduated from Lindenwood and got a job in the St. Charles, MO area. As the pandemic played out, more or less at its height, she obtained permission to keep her job and to do it remotely from her hometown in Allentown, PA. She returned home and to competition on the JPNEWT.

“Briana came back from college, all settled down to stay in the game,” Shea said. “She was very excited. She grew up on this tour like I did.”

And very much in stroke, as it turned out. Miller won the JPNEWT season opener, her first on the tour in five years. The last time she and Shea had met in an event before that, Miller had shut Shea out in both the hot seat and finals. They did not meet in this year’s season opener. Miller went on to win two more of this season’s stops on the tour, including the last one in June at Triple Nines in Elkridge, MD, where the season had begun, as well. Shea commented on her return after the opener.

“It (was) great to see her out and playing again,” she said at the time. “I loved it. She’s all grown up now; nice and settled and doing well. Her game showed it.”

The measured transition to her position as the tour’s director will likely start out slowly, as Miller starts doing some of the things she’s been watching people do since she was a teenager. She had actually started to do a few things to help out during the last stop at Triple Nines.

“This week, I’ll just start helping out with the tour,” she said. “(Things like) assigning tables, calling matches, updating brackets, things like that. I’ve been around these things my entire life, so it’s not anything new to me.”

As the weeks and months progress toward 2023, she’ll also be looking into who, among people with whom she has been competing and interacting for years on the tour, will be likely candidates to help her in the multitude of tasks she’ll be confronting in the New Year. There are more than a few among the JPNEWT’s membership who could do so.

“I’ll be trying to keep things in-house,” she said, “working with people I trust.”

There are a few things that are causing her some minor anxiety about the transition. Aspects of running a tour that she wisely has identified as things she knows she doesn’t know. Yet.

“Relationships with room owners, for example,” she said. “Establishing new relationships and maintaining existing ones.”

Shea, in the meantime, will be looking forward to time with her husband, John, which prompted the decision to give up her role as JPNEWT’s tour director in the first place. Without his support, she said, her time on the tour would have been a lot harder. She is also quick to point out that while she might be retiring the tools of the tour director trade, she’s not going to be hanging up her pool cue just yet.

“I still hope to play,” she said, “only it will be without having to load up 300 pounds of equipment before I go.”

“I don’t think I have regrets,” she added. “I love this game and I hope I did my part. I’m hoping that I’m leaving the tour when it’s better than I found it.”

Plans for the immediate future with her husband are indeterminate as yet, although they have reportedly discussed the idea of attaining a small travel trailer and taking trips around the country, where Shea can compete in tournaments other than the JPNEWT. It’s not the first thing on her retirement list, however.

“The first thing I’m going to do is show up for one of our events an hour before it starts, not three hours earlier to set up,” she said. “Briana and I will be working together until the end of the year, so I’ll be lending her some assistance.”

“I have no doubt that she’ll blend right in.”

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Briana Miller takes season opener on J. Pechauer Northeast Women’s Tour

Briana Miller and Caroline Pao

She’s back.

After almost three years in which she had failed to record any sort of a payout in any pool tournament (that we know of), Briana Miller returned to Pennsylvania from St. Charles, MO, where she’d attained a degree in finance, thanks to a pool-related scholarship to Lindenwood University. She got a job upon graduation and then, later, just beyond the height of the pandemic, was allowed to transfer and do that job remotely, back at home in Allentown, PA. Just this past weekend (March 5-6), Miller went undefeated to chalk up her first win on the J. Pechauer Northeast Women’s Tour (JPNEWT) in five years. Her last two recorded payouts came during the 2018 and 2019 Super Billiards Expo’s Women’s Championships in which she finished 9th and 5th, respectively.

Miller’s last win on the JPNEWT, in November of 2017, featured two, back-to-back victories (hot seat and finals) over Tour Director Linda Shea. In a circumstance that at the time, we described to be “as rare as a teenager that doesn’t play video games,” Miller shut Shea out in both matches. Like that event, the tour’s 2022 season opener, with its 29 entrants, was hosted by Triple Nines in Elkridge, MD.

“It’s great to see her out and playing again,” said Shea after this past weekend’s event. “I loved it. She’s all grown up now; nice and settled and doing well. Her game showed it. She shot the lights out.”

It was, all told, a big come-back weekend for Miller that happened to accompany a turning point for the JPNEWT, as well. Their season opener capped an overall effort to revitalize the tour. Their 2022 season has begun with a new ‘look.’ They’ve partnered with a new streaming company – TTMD Streaming (ThinkTechMD) – which has brought a degree of professionalism and new vitality to the streaming services, including such improvements as multiple camera angles, the ability to do instant replay and steady commentary from the familiar face and voice of pool instructor George Hammerbacher and Wayne Everhart, owner of TTMD. The company has also undertaken to improve the tour’s presence on varied forms of social media and have been instrumental in creating a new tour Web site.

“They were very professional,” noted Shea of TTMD Streaming’s presence at the tour’s season opener, “and I’m looking forward to a great union with them.”

“Not only that,” she added, ‘but feature this: we held an amateur event, as well, for 450 and below Fargo rates that I’ve been trying to grow for two years. TTMD’s on board for our first event of the season and they get 25 women to participate. The most I ever got was eight. They worked that very hard and for sure, get all the credit for that 450 and under event. They even put four players in the main event, sponsored them.”

The winner of the ‘450 and under’ event was Lynn Richard, who came from the loss side (three matches) and claimed the title, with Linda Cheung as runner-up. There was also a preliminary, 17-entrant ‘chip tournament’ on Friday night, March 4, with races to one that proved immensely popular. 

“It was a lot of fun,” said Shea. “Only 17 people (mixed genders, won by Pete Boyer), but it was a blast and they want it to come back every week.”

In main event, Millers runs a gauntlet of some of the better-known competitors on the tour

In spite of what Miller encountered as a lot of new faces, she ended up facing people that she knew, beginning with Lai Li and following with Judie Wilson and Linda Cheung, which brought her to a winners’ side semifinal against another familiar face, Eugenia Gyftopoulos. Kathy Friend, in the meantime, got by Melissa Jenkins, Alyssa Solt and survived a tough double hill challenge by Caroline Pao before advancing to her winners’ side semifinal against Ada Lio.

Friend downed Lio 7-3 and met up with Miller, who’d sent Gyftopoulos to the loss side by the same 7-3 score. Miller claimed the hot seat, her first in a long while, 7-2.

On the loss side, Lio picked up Linda Shea, who’d lost her opening match to Shanna Lewis and embarked on a six-match, loss-side winning streak that was almost derailed by Melissa Mason’s double hill challenge in the second, losers’ side round. Shea survived that, advancing to eventually eliminate Linda Cheung and Kia Burwell. Gyftopoulos drew Caroline Pao, who, following her defeat at the hands of Friend, had eliminated Lewis 7-4 and Judie Wilson 7-1.

Pao defeated Gyftopoulos 7-5, as Shea was busy getting by Lio 7-3. It set up a classic JPNEWT quarterfinal match between two of the tour’s most enduring event champions; Pao and Shea. Pao won this round of that ongoing rivalry 7-4 and then, dropped Friend 7-3 in the semifinals.

The finals of the 2022 season, pitting Pao against Miller, was, by almost any standard, a classic of the tour’s long-standing and still ongoing history. Behind them, at this event, were quite a few former JPNEWT champions; Shea, Burwell, Friend, Lewis, Lai Li and in absentia, the memory of Karen Corr. Ahead of them, as is always the case, was the table in front of them. Miller completed her undefeated run with a 7-4 victory over Pao to reclaim her spot among the tour’s best.

She’d taken a break and had now come back, to her hometown and pool. 

“After I graduated (in 2018, from Lindenwood), I felt like a needed a break,” she explained. “I’d been playing since I was eight (but) felt as though I wasn’t having as much fun anymore. So, I shifted my focus to other things.”

As for future plans, she’s keeping her expectations and specific plans on a ‘tight rein,’ so to speak. A sort of one day at a time approach.

“I think I’m going to stick with the JPNEWT for right now, to get back into the swing of things,” she said, adding that her ‘future’ eye is extended forward a little, toward future WPBA events and CSI’s Predator Pro Series, as examples. She’s considering attending this year’s Super Billiards Expo, but more likely as a spectator and to get reacquainted with some of the women she’d come to know over the years. “I might just go and say ‘Hi’ to everyone.

“I’m not at that level of play (to be) in a Pro event yet,” she added. “I’ll just get out there when I’m ready. Right now, I’m just playing pool to have fun.”

Tour director Linda Shea thanked the ownership and staff at Triple Nines for their hospitality, as well as title sponsor J. Pechauer Cues, ThinkTechMD for their streaming and social media services, as well as Gina Cunningham (real estate agent of Keller Williams Integrity) and George Hammerbacher.

The next event on the JPNEWT, scheduled for April 9-10, will be hosted by Markley Billiards in Norristown, PA.

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Madsen, Larson and Lindenwood University win sixth straight ACUI College Nationals

(l to r): Robert Patrick, Rahu Vithani & Andreas Madsen

No surprises here.
 
It’s no surprise that over the past six years, the oldest continuously-run pool tournament in the country, dating back to 1937 – The American College Union International’s Collegiate Pocket Billiards Championship – has been dominated by the only school in the country with a full-scale billiards athletic program.
 
It’s also not a surprise that in her first year with this program at Lindenwood University in St. Charles, Missouri, April Larson went undefeated through a field of 12 to win the 2019 Women’s title, along with the event’s Sportsmanship award. The 80th Women’s and 82nd Men’s Collegiate Championship was hosted by the University of Illinois at its Champaign campus on the last weekend in May. No surprise, either, that last year’s male champion from Lindenwood, Andreas Madsen, originally from Copenhagen, Denmark, successfully defended his title this year, going undefeated through a field of 28.
 
And, just a step outside the realm of professional relevance, it’s not too much of a surprise that Larson and Madsen have, in a manner of speaking, found each other.
 
Ladies first. Not only did Larson win the title and the Sportsmanship award, but she defeated last year’s champion, Taylor Hanson, twice, to do it. They’re both from Minnesota and have a long history of competing against each other. Hanson entered the Lindenwood University program, a year ahead of Larson. Now, they spend most of the year on the same university pool team, which went 13-2 on the college year season. The university program’s dominance extends well beyond the sixth straight time that they’ve captured both the men’s and women’s titles, which, by the way, included an unprecedented four straight titles for Briana Miller (2014-2017).
 
According to Larson, her switch from high school and professional competition, to the rigors of a college education and college sports, has been a matter of focus.
 
“Focusing on school and improving my pool game,” she said. “Combining those things so you don’t slack off on the school work, and show up for practice. It’s about balancing those things. Finding time to do them both.”
 
[photo id=51129|align=right]Larson, of course, is used to playing against much larger (not to mention higher skilled) fields of competitors, but with Lindenwood University as the only school to offer a structured athletic program around pool, it was yet another example of ‘no surprise’; no surprise that there were only 12 women competing.
 
“We had nine qualify this year,” said the program director, Mark Wilson. “It’s the largest group we’ve ever taken and it was the largest group in attendance at this year’s event.”
 
“Last year,” he added of the women’s championship, “there were only five in the field.”
 
A preliminary round of eight players, yielded four winners, who advanced to compete against four women who’d been awarded a bye. Larson shut out her first two opponents, China Concepion and Taylor Hammonds, which put her into a winners’ side semifinal against YuShi Hou. Defending women’s champion, Taylor Hanson shut out her first two opponents, as well – Adamaris Andrade and Madison Bond – to face Ava Schieferstein in the other winners’ side semifinal.
 
Larson and Hanson advanced to their first match, battling for the hot seat. Larson had sent Hou to the loss side 7-3, as Hanson was busy sending Schieferstein over 7-1. Larson claimed the hot seat 7-4 and waited for Hanson to get back from the semifinals.
 
On the loss side, Schieferstein picked up Hammonds, who’d defeated Cierra Staton, double hill and Amanda Adams 7-2. Hou drew Bond, who’d eliminated Jenne Harasin and Concepcion, both 7-2. Bond shut out Hou and in the quarterfinals, faced Schieferstein, who’d defeated Hammonds 7-1. Schieferstein ended Bond’s bid 7-5 in those quarterfinals, before she was shut out by Hanson in the semifinals.
 
The college format dictated a true double elimination final, requiring Hanson to defeat Larson twice to successfully defend her title. She came as close as you could get without winning it. She and Larson fought to double hill before Larson claimed her first, though likely not her last, college title.
 
Madsen and Vithani battle twice for Men’s title
 
Andreas Madsen was cruising through his first few matches in the Men’s tournament. He arrived at a winners’ side semifinal having given up only four racks over three matches and 25 games. He opened his bid to defend the college title with a 7-1 victory over Bradley Degener, shut out Anthony Brown and gave up three to Abdulaziz Altamimi, which set him up to face Taren Stewart in one winners’ side semifinal.
 
Rahul Vithani, in the meantime, gave up 10 racks over three rounds of play and 31 games. He got by Wade Darr 7-2, Aun Lakhani 7-3 and Woda Ni 7-5 to arrive at his winners’ side semifinal match against Robert Patrick.
 
Madsen continued to roll, advancing to the hot seat match with a 7-1 victory over Stewart. Vithani and Patrick locked up in a double hill fight that eventually did send Patrick to the loss side and Vithani on to faced Madsen. Vithani came within a game of chalking up as many racks against Madsen as all of his previous opponents combined. Madsen, though, claimed the hot seat 7-4 and waited for Vithani to get back.
 
Patrick and Stewart moved on over to the loss side. Patrick picked up Alatamimi, who, following his defeat at the hands of Madsen had downed Sarmanya Bhiwaniwaia 7-2 and Dakota Knudson 7-1. Stewart drew Anthony Brown, who was on a four-match, loss-side streak that had included wins over Zishan Cai 7-3 and Woda Ni 7-4.
 
Patrick advanced to the quarterfinals 7-1 over Altamimi. Brown and Stewart battled to double hill before Brown finished it, extending his loss-side streak to five. Patrick ended that streak in the quarterfinals 7-1, only to have his own two-match, loss-side streak come to an end 7-5 in the semifinals against Vithani.
 
The wait apparently had no effect on Madsen. Vithani had to win twice to take the title away from him, but failed to chalk up a second rack, let alone second match. Madsen won it 7-1 to successfully defend the ACUI collegiate men’s title.
 
He’s back home in Denmark, now, but will be back in the early part of August to continue his education at Lindenwood. He’s uncertain at this point, whether he’ll be pursuing a pool career full-time.
 
“It’s a good question,” he said. “I’m going to finish college and then, maybe take a year off. I’d like to have a job that would allow me to travel.”
 
Until such time as other universities find a rationale and ultimately, the funds to replicate the Lindenwood University athletic pool program, students from Lindenwood will likely continue to dominate the annual ACUI Collegiate Tournament. According to director Wilson, he receives a lot of inquiries about his program and its success, but they’re from the wrong people; students, not schools.
 
“University inquiries (about the program) are rare,” he said. “We’re starting to get a hint at progress toward more programs, but (the university administrators) don’t see the value.”
 
For the most part, Wilson’s athletes compete locally against established leagues and for the most part, don’t have to over-exert themselves to come out on top.
 
“We’ll rarely play our top 6 players,” noted Wilson.
 
April Larson will be back at the tables for the WPBA’s Signature Event on the weekend of August 8-11 and be back at Lindenwood for her second year, shortly thereafter. She has every intention of maintaining the 4.0 grade average she established in her first year, on her way to a degree in finance. Madsen, too, after a trip home to Copenhagen will be back in early August to resume his quest for another 4.0 grade average year in pursuit of degree in International Relations.
 
The pair could be a threat at almost any Scotch Doubles Tournament in the nation, and are likely, individually, to be making more and more progress in their game. They’re likely to be a dual sight to see for some time to come.

Tkach downs defending champ Corr, wins SBE Women’s 9-Ball Pro Players Championship

Kristina Tkach (Photo courtesy of Erwin Dionisio)

The first time that Russia’s Kristina Tkach showed up on the AZBilliards’ database radar was almost exactly five years ago (April 12, 2014) when she finished as runner-up to Austria’s Jasmin Ouschan at a stop on the EuroTour; the Dynamic Billiard North Cyprus Open. Ouschan played the proverbial ‘lights out’ at that tournament, giving up only seven racks over six matches and none at all to Tkach in the finals. At the time, Tkach was 15 years old. Later that same year, Tkach won the European Girls Championship in 8-ball. Two years later, she came back to that North Cyprus Open and came from the loss side to win it. She also went on that year to win all three disciplines of the European Girls Championships (10-ball, 9-ball & 8-ball), all on the same weekend. In her best recorded earnings year, to date (2018), she chalked up three wins on the EuroTour.

This year, she showed up on US payout lists, with an appearance at the Derby City Classic, at which she cashed in the 9-Ball Division (47th) and 9-Ball Banks (91st). In February, she finished 7th at the WPBA Masters at which she ended up as one of the loss-side competitors to fall victim to Kelly Fisher, who, at the time, was working on a nine-match, loss-side winning streak that would eventually put her into the finals for an unsuccessful rematch against Siming Chen.

In the ‘what have you done for me lately’ department of the pool world, Tkach came to the 2019 Super Billiards Expo (March 28-31) at the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center and went undefeated through a field of 47, on-hand for the Expo’s Diamond Women’s 9-Ball Pro Players Championship. Along the way, in the event semifinals, she eliminated the event’s defending champion, Karen Corr, who ended up winning more racks against her (6) than any of Tkach’s previous opponents, or her finals opponent, Sarah Rousey.

The Diamond Women’s Pro Players Championships were, of course, only one of 11 events at the SBE, including the 27th Annual Allen Hopkins’ Super Billiards Expo’s Diamond Open 10-Ball Pro Players Championships, the results of which have been posted in a separate article. Details about the ProAm Bar Box Championships and highlights of the varied Amateur events will be posted here in a third report.

Starting at the end, so to speak, it should be noted that while Tkach pocketed (pursed?) $5,000 and, like James Aranas in the 10-Ball Pro Players event, a Waterford crystal trophy, valued somewhere in the vicinity of $500, the trophy never made it to Tkach’s transportation out of the Expo Center. According to reports, the trophy came in two pieces; a base and its crystal bowl. As it was being carried out to a vehicle in preparation for Tkach’s exit from the Expo Center, the box it was in, was dropped, shattering the bowl into the proverbial ‘million pieces.’ The box was being carried by a member of Ms. Tkach’s entourage, who, according to varied reports initiated immediate plans to have the bowl replaced.

Tkach’s trip to the winners’ circle was handled with much more dexterity. As with the 10-Ball Pro Players, the 47 women were organized into an original, double elimination bracket, out of which emerged a final group of 16 (8 from the winners’ side and 8 from the loss side). The final 16 moved into two winners’ and losers’ side, single elimination brackets.

Tkach was not afforded the luxury of ‘easy going’ in her opening rounds. She first drew J. Pechauer Northeast Womens Tour director and always-dangerous Linda Shea. A 9-4 win in that opening round led to a match against Dawn Fox, who’d been awarded a bye in the opening round. Tkach downed Fox by the same 9-4 score, and then defeated Stacie Bourbeau 9-3 to become one of the eight winners’ side’s Final 8. Also advancing to the Final 16 from the winners’ side were Karen Corr, Kim Shaw, Kelly Wyatt, April Larson, Dawn Hopkins, Briana Miller and Kelly Isaac.

Meanwhile, on the loss side, Tkach’s eventual opponent in the finals, Sarah Rousey, earned her spot on the losers’ side’s final 8, when she defeated Kim Whitman 9-4. Rousey, who fell ill, temporarily, before her final winners’ side match against Kelly Wyatt, was forced to forfeit that winners’ side match. Joining Rousey from the losers’ side were Dawn Fox, Veronique Menard, Lai Li, Stacie Bourbeau, Tara Williams, Nathalie Chabot and Kaylin Wikoff.

The winners’ side single elimination bracket set Tkach and Corr onto a collision course that would end in the winners’ side final. Tkach downed Kelly Isaac 11-4 and Briana Miller 11-3 to draw Corr in those semifinals. Corr eliminated Kim Shaw 11-7 and April Larson 11-8 to face Tkach.

In the winners’ side finals that followed, Tkach chalked up more racks against Corr than all of Corr’s first three opponents combined; Tkach 11, Corr’s first three 8. Corr had won just over 77% of the games she played in three double elimination matches, (27-8), but entering the finals, only 59% of the two games she’d played in the single elimination phase. Tkach, by comparison, had a lower winning percentage than Corr in her double elimination matches (71%; 27-11), but in her two single-elimination matches, prior to meeting Corr, she’d won just under 76% of the  games (22-7). When the winners’ side final (event semifinal) was over, won by Tkach 11-6, Tkach advanced to the finals with a 71% game-winning percentage. Corr was eliminated, having won 62% of her games.

On to Sarah Rousey, who, on the loss side, had defeated Dawn Fox, Veronique Menard and in the loss-side bracket final, Tara Williams 11-5. She came into the finals having won 65% of her games, overall (60-32). That percentage was 71% through the first two matches (she’d forfeited the third match) and 61% in the three loss-side matches.

As happened in the 10-Ball Pro Players event, the SBE’s Web site failed to record the fact that a match between Kristina Tkach and Sarah Rousey happened at all. As noted in the earlier 10-Ball Pro Player report, a final did, in fact occur. Tkach gave up only four games in the race-to-11 finals to claim the event title, which, according to our records is her first major event victory here in the US.

Miller blanks Shea twice to win JPNEWT season finale

(l to r): Jackie Rivera, Judie Wilson, Briana Miller, Sharon O’Hanlon, Kathy Friend & Linda Shea

In a circumstance about as rare as a teenager that doesn’t play video games, Linda Shea, tour director of the J. Pechauer Northeast Women’s Tour (JPNEWT) was shut out twice, in the hot seat and finals of her tour’s season finale. Briana Miller was the culprit. She went undefeated through a field of 17, on-hand for the $1,250-added ($500 from Coins of the Realm) event, hosted by Triple Nines Bar & Billiards in Elkridge, MD on the weekend of November 18-19.
 
Miller’s five-match trek to the event victory saw her win 35 of her 44 games. She gave up a single rack to Tina Marinelli in her opening round of play, and four to Carol V. Clark, which set her (Miller) up to face Judie Wilson in one of the winners’ side semfinals. Shea, in the meantime, who would finish with a 21-24 game record, got by Terri Stovall and Heather Platter, both 7-3, to draw Sharon O’Hanlon in the other winners’ side semifinal.
 
Miller sent Wilson to the loss side, as Shea was downing Hanlon, both 7-4. Miller chalked up the first of her two straight shutouts over Shea to claim the hot seat, and waited for Shea to get back from the semifinals.
 
On the loss side, Wilson and O’Hanlon drew two competitors in the middle of a three-match, loss-side winning streak. Wilson picked up Kathy Friend, who’d defeated Kia Sidbury 7-3, Melissa Jenkins 7-1 and Heather Platter 7-3. O’Hanlon drew Jackie Rivera, who’d gotten by Elaine Wilson 7-3, Eugenia Gyftopoulos 7-4 and Nicole King 7-2.
 
Friend and Rivera made it four in a row with identical 7-5 wins over Wilson and O’Hanlon, respectively. In the quarterfinals that followed, Rivera made it five loss-side wins in a row, defeating Friend 7-3.
 
Shea ended Rivera’s run with a 7-5 win in the semifinals. Miller claimed the season finale event title with her second shutout over Shea.
 
The win moved Miller up into third place (from eighth) in the tour’s season-end rankings, behind Shea, and Elaine Wilson, who, by virtue of her finish in the tie for 13th place, stayed just five points ahead of Miller in the final standings. Miller had competed in only three events this season, winning two of them and finishing as the runner-up (to Karen Corr) in the third. Rounding out the tour’s top-ten-ranked players were in order, from fourth place – Carol V. Clark, Nicole King, Kia Sidbury, Jenn Keeney, Jia Li, Sharon O’Hanlon and Judie Wilson.

Corr goes undefeated through field of 53 at North American Pool Tour Freedom Classic

(l to r): Briana Miller & Karen Corr

Karen Corr, the Irish Invader, chalked up her second North American Pool Tour (NAPT) Division I Pro event victory on the weekend of September 30-October 1. Following her victory at the NAPT Summer 10-Ball Classic at Shooter’s Sports Bar & Billiards in Grayslake, IL in August, Corr went undefeated at this past weekend’s $6,400-added NAPT Freedom Classic, that drew 53 entrants to Eagle Billiards in Dickson City, PA.

 
Corr had to get by Briana Miller twice in this event; a chore rendered more significant by an earlier meeting between the two, which took place in June, during the fourth stop on the J. Pechauer Northeast Women’s Tour in Frederick, MD. Looking to secure a second straight win on the 2107 JPNEWT, Miller defeated Corr, double hill, in the third winners’ side round of that event. Corr came back through the loss side to defeat Miller in the finals to win her first 2017 JPNEWT title. It was a match Corr remembered when Meredith Lynch interviewed her for the NAPT, following the Summer Classic and asked her about the influx of young female guns.
 
“There’s a lot of great talent out there,” Corr said at the time. “Briana (Miller) – I played her there in Frederick. She beat me in the one side and we had a close match in the final. It’s challenging for me, too, you know?”
 
They had two close matches in this Freedom Classic. The first one came in the battle for the hot seat. Victories over Denise Belanger, Krista Walsh, Brittany Bryant (5th in the NAPT Summer 10-Ball Classic) and Naomi Williams set Corr up to face April Larson (7th in NAPT Summer 10-Ball Classic) in a winners’ side semifinal. Miller, in the meantime, having worked her way through Alex Calabrese, Teruko Cucculelli, Nathalie Chabot, Jenna Blahoff, faced veteran LoreeJon Hasson in the other winners’ side semifinal.
 
Corr downed Larson 7-3, whiLe Miller sent Hasson to the loss side 7-4. As might have been expected, Miller and Corr locked up in a double hill fight that eventually sent Miller to the semifinals and put Corr in an NAPT Division I hot seat for the second straight time.
 
On the loss side, Larson picked up Bryant, who, after her defeat by Corr, was in the midst of a four-match loss-side streak that included recent victories over Jenna Blahoff 7-3 and Stacie Bourbeau 7-4, and was about to come to an end. Hasson drew Naomi Williams, who’d gotten by Janet Atwell 7-4 and Veronique Menard 7-5 to reach her.
 
Larson defeated Bryant 7-4, and was joined in the quarterfinal match by Williams, who’d eliminated Hasson 7-4. Larson and Williams locked up in a double hill quarterfinal that eventually sent Williams to the semifinals against Miller.
 
Miller got her second shot at Corr with a 7-4 win over Williams in the semifinals. The true double elimination final amounted to one set. As they had done battling for the hot seat, Corr and Miller fought to a deciding game, before Corr closed it out to claim her second straight NAPT title.
 
The next NAPT Division I Pro event – The Desert Shootout – scheduled for November 2-5, will be hosted by Griff’s Pool & Billiards Hall in Las Vegas, NV.
 
 

Corr returns to the JPNEWT and comes from the loss side to win Stop #4

Karen Corr

After a bit of a hiatus from competing on the J. Pechauer Northeast Women's Tour, Karen Corr, whose last win on the tour came almost exactly a year ago, returned on the weekend of June 24-25. After being sent to the loss side by Briana Miller, Corr came back to meet and defeat her in the finals to claim her first 2017 JPNEWT title. The $500-added (from Coins of the Realm) event, the fourth stop on the tour, drew 29 entrants to Champion Billiards in Frederick, MD.
 
Miller, looking to go back-to-back after her tour win in May, faced Corr in this event's third round. They battled to double hill, before Miller prevailed and advanced to a winners' side semifinal against Eugenia Gyftopoulos. Tina Malm, in the meantime, squared off against Nicole King (runner-up to Miller in May). Miller advanced to the hot seat over Gyftopoulos, and faced Malm, who'd defeated King, both by a score of 7-5. Miller sent Malm to the semifinals 7-2 and sat in the hot seat, listening to the approaching 'footsteps' of Corr.
 
Corr opened her loss-side campaign with a victory over Elaine Wilson, and followed that with a 7-5 win over Gwen Townsend, to face King. Gyftopoulos drew Heather Platter, who'd eliminated Carol V. Clark and Kassandra Bein, both 7-4, to reach her. Corr downed King 7-3, and in the quarterfinals, faced Gyftopoulos, who'd defeated Platter 7-4.
 
Corr shut Gyftopoulos out in the quarterfinals, and then defeated Malm 7-2 for a second shot against Miller. Corr captured her first JPNEWT title of 2017 with a 9-4 victory over Miller in the finals.
 
This event was a qualifier for a 2017 NAPT Division 1 Pro event of the qualifying player's choice. With Corr, Miller and Malm already qualified, the spot went to fourth place finisher Eugenia Gyftopoulos.

ACUI Collegiate Championships Underway


The 2011 ACUI Billiards Championships are underway at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Va.

The Men’s division will see Raymond Linares, from Miami Dade College,  fight off challenges from 28 other players, while the Ladies division will see a new champion as Purdue University’s Lindsey Dorn is not playing.

Matches have been going on all day on Friday and Linares’ chances of a repeat look good so far, as he is undefeated in round three of the event.

Follow all of the action with our online brackets.

Men’s Bracket | Ladies Bracket