Archive Page

Corr dominates North American Pool Tour’s Coupe du Quebec

Karen Corr not only went undefeated at the North American Pool Tour’s (NAPT) Coupe du Quebec, she damn near went unscored upon. Through seven round robin flights and five rounds in a double elimination final bracket, she gave up only 11 games of the 88 she played to claim the event title. She shut out four of her round robin opponents and three of the five she faced in the final double elimination phase. She was the only player to go undefeated in both phases of the event. The Division 1 Pro event drew 32 entrants to Dooly’s in Quebec, Canada on the long weekend of October 24-27.

The Round Robin phase of the event split the field of 32 into four flights of eight players each. At the end of seven rounds in each of the four flights, the top four in each flight (based on win/loss records and point differentials for ties) advanced to the double elimination bracket of 16.

Corr’s flight in the round robin phase pitted her against (among others) fellow J. Pechauer Northeast Women’s Tour player, Nicole King, as well as Nathalie Chabot, and Chantal Bergeron, all of whom finished with 4-3 records to advance to the final 16.

California’s Callado sisters played in separate round robin flights. Eleanor finished with a 5-2 record, as did Nathalie Jacob, Amanda Soucy and Marie-France Blanchette; all advancing to the double elimination bracket. Sister Emilyn finished with a 6-1 record and was joined in the double elimination bracket by Toni Sakamoto, Farla Salmonovitch and Judie Wilson. The woman who’d defeated Emily Callado, Dorah Cornell, did not advance; Emilyn being the only opponent she defeated.

Veronique Menard was at the top of her round robin group and finished with a 6-1 record. Joining her in advancing were Roxanne Ryan Aucoin, Fanny Giroux (Menard’s only loss), and Sandra-Line Michel.

Corr wasn’t scored upon until she reached the hot seat match, downing Sandra-Line Michel, Nathalie Jacob and in the winners’ side semifinal, Emilyn Callado by shutout; thus spoiling any hope for a Callado sister hot seat match. Eleanor Callado’s path to the hot seat match went through Farla Salmonovitch 7-4, Marie-France Blanchette 7-3 and in the other winners’ side semifinal, Veronique Menard 7-4. Corr gave up her first rack of the double elimination phase defeating Callado 7-1 to claim the hot seat.

On the loss side, Emilyn Callado picked up Blanchette, who, after her winners’ side quarterfinal loss to Eleanor Callado, had defeated Judie Wilson 7-5 and Fanny Giroux 7-2. Menard drew Nathalie Jacob, who, after her quarterfinal loss to Corr, had defeated Toni Sakamoto 7-5 and shut out Roxanne Aucoin.

Emilyn Callado and Blanchette locked up in a double hill fight that eventually advanced Callado to the quarterfinals. She was joined by Menard, who’d defeated Jacob 7-1.

With the hope of a Callado sister semifinal looming, Menard spoiled that with a 7-3 win over Emilyn in the quarterfinals and turned for a second shot against her sister, Eleanor in the semifinals. Menard downed her 7-4 and got a shot at Corr in the hot seat.

To her credit, Menard chalked up more racks against Corr in the finals than all four of Corr’s previous opponents, or any one opponent in both the round robin and double elimination phases. But it wasn’t nearly enough, as Corr finished the proceedings with a 7-4 win.

NAPT President Adrianne Beach thanked Elvis Joubert and his staff for their hospitality, as well as event sponsor, Turtle Rack.

Callado wins four to capture NAPT Desert Challenge in Las Vegas

(l to r): Tara Williams, Gigi Callejas, Veronique Menard & Eleanor Callado

In a short field of 23 entrants, some of whom competed last year at the same event, Eleanor Callado won four straight matches to capture the North American Pool Tour’s (NAPT) 4th Desert Challenge title on the weekend of September 19-22 at Griff’s in Las Vegas, NV. Callado faced separate challengers in the hot seat and finals of this 10-ball competition – Gigi Callejas (hot seat) and Canada’s Veronique Menard (finals) – to complete her undefeated run.
 
Granted an opening round bye, as eight of the event’s 12 competitors squared off in a play-in round, Callado drew Kim Pierce off that play-in round and defeated her 7-5 to open her four-match march to the winners’ circle. She then faced Melissa Herndon in one of the winners’ side semifinals. Gigi Callejas, in the meantime, who’d defeated Christina Gonzalez 7-5 in the play-in round, went on to get by Tara Williams 7-5 and draw Veronique Menard in the other winners’ side semifinal.
 
Callado and Callejas advanced to the hot seat match with identical 7-4 wins over Herndon and Menard, respectively. Callado grabbed the hot seat with a 7-2 win over Callejas and waited on the return of Menard.
 
Over on the loss side, Menard picked up Nicole King, who’d defeated Laura Bendikas 7-3 and Kim Pierce 7-5 to reach her. Herndon drew Tara Williams, who’d eliminated Debra Aarens 7-3 and shut out Bernie Store.
 
Menard downed King 7-5 and in the quarterfinals, faced Williams, who’d survived a double hill battle versus Herndon. Menard took the quarterfinal match 7-5 over Williams to earn a rematch against Callejas in the semifinals.
 
Menard earned her slot in the finals with a 7-3 rematch win over Callejas in the semifinals. Callado, though, punctuated her brief, but successful run on the Desert Challenge by giving up only a single rack to Menard in the event finals.
 
NAPT President Adrienne Beach thanked Mark Griffin and his staff for their hospitality, as well as Rail2Rail Productions for their live streaming of selected matches throughout the weekend. The next NAPT event, scheduled for October 24-27 will be the Division I Pro Coupe Du Quebec, hosted by Dooly’s in Quebec, Canada.

Ng goes undefeated to win Women’s Open Division of 46th Annual Texas Open

Ming Ng (Photo courtesy Jerry Olivier Pool Tour)

The two finalists at the $1,000-added Women’s Open Division of the 46th Annual Texas Open were coming off recent victories. Ming Ng had chalked up a win on the Gulf Coast Women’s Regional Tour in June, while her finals opponent, Taylor Hansen had won a Division I Pro event on the North American Pool Tour (NAPT) in mid-August. It was the second time in a little over two weeks that 20-year-old Taylor Hansen squared off against an opponent who’d been competing as long as she’d been alive. In August, Hansen defeated Eleanor Callado in the finals of the NAPT’s 4th Summer Classic. This time, though, the veteran prevailed. Ming Ng went undefeated through the field of 32, meeting and defeating Hansen in the finals to claim the event title.
 
Though Ng had a pair of relatively easy opening matches in this event, downing Nicole McDaniel and Tracie Voelkering, both 7-1, things tightened up pretty quickly. Robyn Petrosino managed more racks against her than Ng’s first two opponents combined (three), as Ng advanced to a winners’ side semifinal against Chris Fields. Ellen Robinson, in the meantime, who’d been challenged, double hill, by Courtney Peters in the opening round, shut out Michelle Abernathy in the second and sent Teresa Garland to the loss side 7-3 in the third, faced Taylor Hansen in the other winners’ side semifinal.
 
Both matches for advancement to the hot seat match went double hill, as did the hot seat match. It was Ng and Robinson who advanced as Hansen and Fields moved to the loss side. Ng claimed the hot seat, double hill, over Robinson and waited on Hansen’s return.
 
On the loss side, Chris Fields picked up Liz Galvan, who’d been defeated by Julia Rapp in the event’s opening round of play and was in the midst of a five-match, loss-side winning streak that was about to end, and had most recently included victories over Teresa Garland, double hill, and Kim Pierce 7-5. Taylor Hansen drew Jennifer Kraber, whom she’d faced at the end of the Texas Open’s Women's 10-Ball ring game. Kraber and Hansen ended up splitting 1st and 2nd in that event.  In the Women’s event, Kraber had been sent to the loss side by Chris Fields, double hill, in a winners’ side quarterfinal and then eliminated Nicole McDaniel 7-3 and Robyn Petrosino, double hill, to draw Hansen.
 
Fields advanced to the quarterfinals 7-2 over Galvan and was joined by Hansen, who’d defeated Kraber 7-5. Hansen then shut Fields out, advancing to a rematch against Robinson in the semifinals.
 
Hansen defeated Robinson 7-3 and came within a game of forcing a deciding match in the finals against Ng. Ng, though, edged out in front and won it 7-5 to claim the 46th Annual Texas Open Women’s title.
 
Co-tour directors James Davis, Sr. and John Palmore thanked Sue and John Cielo and their Skinny Bob’s Billiards staff, as well as Sleep Inn, Mints Amusement, and James Hanshew. They also acknowledged Ray Hansen and his PoolActionTV crew for the live stream of the event throughout the long weekend.

Hansen goes undefeated to take 4th Annual NAPT Summer Classic

Taylor Hansen and NAPT President Adrianne Beach

The two stories moved in opposite directions. For a while. Until they didn’t, and two female pool professionals met in the finals of the North American Pool Tour’s 4th Annual Summer Classic.
 
One story was about a young woman who’s already made her mark, winning VNEA junior Championships, chalking up wins on the North Star Ladies Pool Tour and at the age of 16, winning the US Bar Box Women’s 10-Ball Championships. Taylor Hansen, 20, is currently a member of Lindenwood University’s billiards team, under the tutelage of Mark Wilson, and competing with fellow-Minnesotan April Larson, who joined the program this past year. Hansen and Larson battled twice at the recent (June) American College Union International Tournament,  with Larson capturing her first of (presumably) many college titles ahead. Hansen has competed in the North American Pool Tour’s (NAPT) annual Division I Pro 10-Ball Summer Classic three of its four years already, and at this most recent event – August 15-18 at Shooter’s Sports Bar & Billiards in Grayslake, IL – she won it, going undefeated through a field of 27 entrants.
 
The second story was about an older woman who’s been competing professionally longer than Taylor Hansen has been alive. Eleanor Callado has been a regular winner on the West Coast Women’s Tour for a number of years, a regular competitor at WPBA events, and a competitor in all four of the NAPT’s Summer Classics, including 2017, when she finished as runner-up to Karen Corr. According to our records, she had a breakout year, financially, in 2009, but she recorded her best earnings year, to date, last year (2018). At this most recent NAPT Summer Classic, she lost her opening round match to Caela Huddleston and embarked on an eight-match, loss-side winning streak that led to her challenging Hansen in the finals. Her loss-side run had included a 7-4 victory over her sister, Emilyn Callado, who’s in possession of an equally impressive pool resume.
 
As Eleanor Callado was beginning her loss-side run, Hansen and Christy Dickerson advanced toward a meeting in the hot seat match. Hansen almost got sent over in her opening match as she survived a double hill battle versus Ellen Robinson. She reversed her fortunes in the second round with a shutout over Vanessa Hood and then, downed Veronique Menard 7-3 to draw Kaylin Wikoff in one of the winners’ side semifinals. Dickerson defeated her first opponent, Kelly Jones 7-5, before meeting up with the woman who’d sent Callado to the loss side, Caela Huddleston. Dickerson sent her over 7-5 and then defeated Laura Semko 7-3 to pick up Sarah Rousey in the other winners’ side semifinal.
 
Hansen shut out Kaylin Wikoff and in the hot seat match, faced Dickerson, who’d survived a double hill battle against Rousey. Hansen gave up only a single rack to Dickerson and claimed the hot seat. She had given up only 10 racks over 45 games.
 
On the loss side, Eleanor and Emilyn Callado were working on their respective winning streaks. Emilyn had lasted one more round on the winners’ side than sister, Eleanor. Eleanor got by Kelly Jones, Theresa Ballinger, Ronnette Chop and Tara Williams to draw sister, Emilyn, who’d defeated Chris Honeman, Vanessa Hood, and Laura Semko to get to that point. Eleanor defeated Emilyn 7-4 to draw Wikoff. Rousey picked up Marian Poole, who was working on her own four-match, loss-side winning streak that had included recent wins over Veronique Menard 7-5 and Tina Larsen 7-4.
 
Callado advanced to the quarterfinals with a 7-4 victory over Wikoff. Rousey joined her after surviving a double hill battle against Poole. Callado then chalked up two straight 7-5 wins, downing Rousey in the quarterfinals and Dickerson in the semifinals to earn a shot against Hansen in the finals.
 
Callado became only the second competitor to chalk up more than three racks against Hansen and in the finals, came within a game of forcing a single deciding game. Hansen, though, prevailed 7-5 to claim the event title.
 
Tour director Adrienne Beach thanked the ownership and staff at Shooter’s Sports Bar & Billiards, and noted that the next stop on the NAPT, scheduled for Sept. 19-22, will be the Division I Pro 3rd Annual Desert Challenge, to be hosted by Griff’s in Las Vegas.

Herndon hangs on to win NAPT West Coast Challenge

Melissa Herndon, Eleanor Collado, Khanh Ngo and Veronique Menard

It’s the kind of match that spectator fans love to see. A player sends an opponent to the loss side in an early round and that opponent treks all the way back through the loss side to face that opponent in the finals. And then, it’s a double elimination final and the loss side opponent wins the first set, double hill. They battle a second time to double hill and the hot seat occupant finally wins it. So went the North American Pool Tour’s (NAPT) Division I West Coast Challenge, a 10-ball tournament, held on the long weekend of June 20-23 at Hard Times Billiards in Sacramento, CA. It was Melissa Herndon who sent Veronique Menard to the loss side in the event. Menard won seven on the loss side and defeated Herndon double hill in the opening set of the double elimination final. Herndon returned the favor, defeating Menard in the second set, double hill to claim the title. The event drew 33 entrants to Hard Time Billiards.
 
Herndon and Menard clashed first in the second round of play. Herndon had opened with a 7-1 victory over Samantha Hill, while Menard was busy downing Sher Ahola 7-3. Herndon took the first of their three matches 7- 4 and moved on past Bernie Store (7-3) to arrive at a winners’ side semifinal against Rachel Lang. Eleanor Callado, in the meantime, who’d almost been sent to the loss side in the opening round, survived that double hill match against Laura Bendikas and advanced to defeat Amani Ali 7-1, and shut out Kelly Nickl to arrive at the other winners’ side semifinal against Khanh Ngo.
 
On the loss side, it was Lang who ran into Menard, four matches into her loss side streak, which had most recently eliminated Stephanie Hefner 7-3 and Nickl 7-5. Ngo picked up Bernie Store, who, following her defeat at the hands of Herndon, had survived two straight double hill fights against Janna Sue Nelson and Sher Ahola. 
 
Bernie Store’s third straight double hill match was not the proverbial ‘charm’ she’d hoped it would be. Ngo hung on to win the match and advance to the quarterfinals, where she was met by Menard, who’d chalked up loss-side win #5 against Lang 7-1. Menard then put an end to Ngo’s weekend with a 7-3 win in the quarterfinals and followed up with a 7-5 win over Callado in the semifinals. 
 
It was clear from the opening set of the final that neither of these women was going to go quietly. Menard had the usual momentum boost from seven matches on the loss side and Herndon knew she only had to win one more set to go home with the top prize. Herndon arguably had more at stake than Menard did. They’d both been around competing since the turn of the century, but in recent years, Herndon had been taking time off for a job and a husband routine. For her, standing on the brink of her first major title in years, there was an “I’m back” feel to the whole process, which would have felt good no matter how the finals turned out, but winning it was clearly on her mind and in her game.
Menard took an early, short lead in the opening set, but Herndon caught up to tie things at 4-4. The ninth rack turned into a back-and-forth safety battle as they both worked at dropping the 5-ball. Menard broke through, but jumped up, shooting at the 8-ball and turned the table over to Herndon. Herndon dropped it, but scratched shooting at the 9-ball, giving Menard a ball-in-hand shot at the 10-ball and immediately thereafter, the lead.
 
Herndon took the 10th rack to tie things at 5-5. Menard took game 11 to reach the hill first. With a connect-the-dots finish to rack #12, Menard missed the 9-ball, allowing Herndon to finish and force a deciding rack. Menard broke and ran rack #13, claiming the first set and forcing a second.
 
Tension mounts in the second set of a true double elimination final like an old-fashioned Jack in the Box. Especially when it goes back and forth as this one did. The crank keeps turning, ratcheting up the tension, as you brace for that damn clown to jump out at you.
 
Two things were evident right from the start of the second set. No one was going to jump out to any kind of substantial lead. They were both tight and cautious, one game at a time. And they were getting a bit tired. Making mistakes; missing shots, rattling them in holes, putting each other in tough situations and alternately shooting right out of them.
 
They established a lead/tie pattern right from the start, with Menard taking the first rack, Herndon, the second. Back and forth to a 2-2 tie, until Herndon threatened to go out in front for the first time as she aimed at the 10-ball. She missed it, tapping the 10-ball to concede the rack and the pattern resumed, all the way to a 4-4 tie.
 
Herndon broke the pattern, and took her first lead, 5-4, in game #9, and with nothing byt the 9 and 10-ball to go in rack #10, she threatened to go up by two. She left herself in an awkward position shooting at the 9-ball and missed it, allowing Menard to knot things at 5-5.
 
Herndon misjudged a position shot in game #11 that left a 5-ball hanging in the pocket and allowed Menard to recapture the lead and reach the hill first at 6-5. 
 
At this point, Menard was probably the only person in the room, or the extended chat world that didn’t want Herndon to tie things up at 6-6 to force a deciding game. Herndon being the strongest proponent for forcing a game #13, tried to accomplish it a little early, going for a 5-10 combo, which she rushed and missed. Menard dropped the 5-ball and with five balls down and five to go, things looked grim for Herndon.
 
Menard made it to a shot at the 8-ball, which she attempted to put into a side pocket. But she over-anxiously hit it way too hard and when it caromed off the rail next to the side pocket, it looked as though it had enough speed on it to reach a table in New York City. Herndon stepped to the table and promptly tied the match at 6-6.
 
Herndon broke the final rack, sinking the 8-ball and giving herself a decent look at the 1-ball. But like Menard, she got a little over-anxious and bounced the 1-ball off the side rail. Subsequent ball action dropped two other balls. Since the ball at which Herndon was shooting didn’t drop, 10-ball rules dictated that Menard had the option of taking over or allowing Herndon to keep shooting. Menard chose to shoot, ran to the 5-ball and rattled it in and out of the side pocket. 
 
Herndon played safe and Menard safed her right back, but not quite good enough. Herndon made a terrific, long-table, oblique angle shot on that 5-ball that drifted it within less than an inch or two of two other balls on its way into the corner pocket. Herndon dropped the last three balls and claimed the NAPT’s West Coast Challenge title.
 
NAPT President Adrianne Beach thanked the ownership and staff at Hard Time Billiards, as well as Cue Sports Live and the players who made it out to play. The next Division I NAPT event, scheduled for August 15-18 will be the 4th Annual NAPT Summer Classic, to be hosted by Shooter’s Sports Bar and Billiards in Grayslake, IL.

Corr goes undefeated to win NAPT Coupe de Quebec in Canada

Karen Corr (Photo courtesy of NAPT)

In the two years between January, 2017 and the soon-to-be January of 2019, Irishwoman Karen Corr has chalked up nine major titles (so far). She’s split her competition between wins in WPBA events and with the North American Pool Tour (NAPT), while also cashing in two successive Turning Stone events (XXVII & XXVIII). Last year, she won the WPBA’s Rivers US Open, three events on the NAPT and a stop on the J. Pechauer Northeast Women’s Tour (JPNEWT). This year, she’s added three wins on the JPNEWT and a victory at the Super Billiards Expo’s Women’s Championship to her growing and continuing to be impressive resume.
 
On the long weekend of Nov. 1-4, she added another NAPT win to the list. Corr went undefeated through a field of 42 entrants, on-hand for the $5,000-added NAPT Women’s Division 1 Pro event, held at Dooly’s in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, about 25 miles southeast of Montreal in Quebec, Canada.
 
The event was preceded by a pro-am charity event in which Division 1 players were matched up with a local amateur player for a modified single elimination, blind draw Scotch Doubles tournament. A $20 donation by the amateur players will be used by the venue, Dooly’s, to fund a charity of their choosing.
 
Following an opening round bye and victories over Krista Walsh, Maria Juana and Laura Semko, Corr moved into the first of what would be two against Canada’s Brittany Bryant in a winners’ side semifinal. Eleanor Callado, in the meantime, having defeated Anick Cadorette, Nathalie Chabot, Denise Belanger, and Veronique Menard, squared off against her own sister, Emily Callado, in the other winners’ side semifinal.
 
Eleanor downed sister Emily 7-5, as Corr was busy defeating Bryant 7-4; the first opponent to chalk up that many against Corr. Corr gave up only a single rack to Callado and sat in the hot seat awaiting what turned out to be the return of Bryant.
 
On the loss side, Bryant picked up Naomi Williams, who’d been defeated by Maria Juana in the opening round of play and was in the midst of a six-match, loss side winning streak that was about to come to an end. Williams had most recently eliminated Teruko Cucculelli 7-4 and Menard 7-1. Emily Callado ran into Jia Li, who’d lost a double hill fight to Bryant in a winners’ side quarterfinal and on the loss side, shut out Marilou Therrien and eliminated Denise Belanger 7-4.
 
Bryant ended Williams’ loss-side run, but not before Williams forced a deciding 13th game in the race to 7. Li joined Bryant in the quarterfinals following a 7-3 win over Emilyn Callado.
 
Bryant downed her next two opponents 7-4; Jia Li in the quarterfinal and Eleanor Callado in the semifinal for second shot at Corr in the hot seat. Among many things Bryant may not have expected in the event’s final match, a shutout would have been high on the list. But that’s how Corr punctuated her undefeated run, shutting Bryant out to claim the event title.

Bryant goes undefeated to win NAPT Desert Classic at Griff’s in Las Vegas

Brittany Bryant (Photo courtesy of Erwin Dionisio)

With her victory in the Sept. 22-23 NAPT Desert Classic in Las Vegas, Brittany Bryant officially made 2018 her best recorded earnings year in the dozen that she’s been appearing on our payout lists. She went undefeated through a field of 34 and faced Melissa Little twice to claim the event title, her first since winning the Music City Classic in January. In addition to these two 2018 victories, Bryant finished as runner-up twice; at the Super Billiards Expo in April and the 3rd Annual Ashton Twins Classic in June (to Karen Corr and Vivian Villareal, respectively). The $5,000-added, 10-Ball event was hosted by Griff’s in Las Vegas.
 
Following victories over Christina Gonzalez, Gigi Callejas and Veronique Menard, Bryant moved into a winners’ side semifinal against Eleanor Callado, who’d just sent her sister, Emilyn Callado to the loss side. Melissa Little, in the meantime, got by Mary Coffman, Tina Malm (double hill), and Sara Miller to draw Kaylin Wikoff in the other winners’ side semifinal.
 
Little got into the hot seat match rather handily, allowing Wikoff only a single rack in their race to 7. Byrant and Eleanor Callado locked up in a double hill fight that eventually sent Callado to the loss side and Bryant to the hot seat match. In their first of two, Bryant defeated Little 7-5 and sat in the hot seat awaiting the outcome of the semifinals.
 
On the loss side, Wikoff picked up Veronique Menard, who’d been sent west by Bryant in a winners’ side quarterfinal and then, after defeating Jia Li 7-5, survived a double hill challenge by Tina Malm. Eleanor Callado drew Teruko Cucculelli, who’d been defeated by Eleanor’s sister, Emilyn, double hill, in the second round and was in the midst of a seven-match, loss-side winning streak that would take her as far as the semifinals.
 
Wikoff stopped Menard’s short loss-side streak 7-5, and in the quarterfinals, faced Cucculelli, who’d eliminated Eleanor Callado by the same 7-5 score. Cucculelli advanced one more step, downing Wikoff in the quarterfinals 7-4.
 
Cucculelli and Little battled back and forth in what proved to be a relatively lengthy semifinal. Each had opportunities they took advantage of and others they failed to capitalize on. It was tied at 5-5, at which point, Little took command to win the next two and earn herself a rematch against Bryant in a true double elimination final.
 
Their individual Fargo Ratings were 21 points apart, with Bryant holding the advantage (662-641) and in the matchup projections, held a 60.5-39.5 edge. Bryant jumped out to an early lead in what could have been a two-set final, but, at 6-2, advantage Bryant, didn’t appear likely. Little rallied, however, and won three to make a second set possible. In the 12th game, Bryant missed a shot, leaving Little a slam-dunk shot at the 3-ball, giving her an opportunity to clear the table and knot the opening set at 6-6. Little failed to capitalize, and Bryant ended it to claim her second 2018 title since winning the Music City Classic in January.
 

“Duchess of Doom” goes undefeated to win 3rd Annual NAPT Summer 10-Ball Classic

Mary Rakin, Molly Bontrager, Allison Fisher and Helena Thornfeldt (Photo – Tony Fox)

 

Allison Fisher went undefeated through a field of 52 entrants to win the 3rd Annual North American Pool Tour’s Summer 10-Ball Classic on the long weekend of August 16-19. And for the second year in a row, the winner of this tournament had to go through relative newcomer, Molly Bontrager. Bontrager battled for the hot seat against Karen Corr last year, then, was defeated in the semifinals by Eleanor Callado. This year, she finished as runner-up to Fisher, whom she faced twice, in the hot seat and finals. The 3rd Annual $5,000-added event drew its 52 entrants to Shooter’s Sports Bar & Billiards in Grayslake, IL.
 
Though the annual event’s defending champion, Corr, was not in attendance, the event’s debut champion, April Larson, did compete. When Larson won in 2016 (at the age of 16), it was her first professional win, which had followed on the heels of five straight victories at the BEF Junior Nationals; three in the 14-and-under Girls Division and two in the 18-and-under Girls Division. She was so excited to have actually won the event, that while she collected the trophy, she forgot to collect the $3,400 check that went with it (later hand-delivered by NAPT President Adrianne Beach). In this year’s event, Larson was moved to the loss side in a tightly-contested, double hill match against Teruko Cuccelelli, and after winning five on the loss side, was eliminated by Canada’s Brittany Bryant.
 
In something of a prescient move, CueSportsLive’s first two streamed matches featured the eventual winner (Fisher) and runner-up (Bontrager). Bontrager played first at 10 a.m. on Friday, July 16 and made something of an opening statement by shutting out Darlene Dantes. She went on to defeat Laura Semko (double hill), Farla Salmanovitch 7-3, and Taylor Hansen (double hill) to draw JPNEWT veteran Jia Li in one of the winners’ side semifinals.
 
Fisher, in the meantime, who stepped up to the streaming table at noon on Friday, downed Rae Noregard 7-1, and then defeated Autumn Duncan 7-3, shut out Krista Walsh, and then survived a double hill fight against last year’s runner-up Eleanor Callado, to draw Helena Thornfeldt in the other winners’ side semifinal.
 
Fisher and Thornfeldt locked up in something of a predictable double hill fight to determine advancement to the hot seat match. Fisher won it. Bontrager joined her with a 7-3 win over Li. Fisher claimed the hot seat 7-3 over Bontrager and waited on her return.
 
On the loss side, Thornfeldt picked up Bryant, who was in the midst of a four-match, loss-side winning streak that included a 7-5 win over Kaylin Wikoff and the aforementioned double hill win over Larson. Jia Li drew Mary Rakin, who, following her defeat at the hands of Thornfeldt, had defeated Cuculelli 7-2 and survived a double hill fight against Callado.
 
 
Rakin eliminated Li 7-2 and in the quarterfinals faced Thornfeldt, who’d defeated Bryant 7-4. Rakin chalked up a commanding victory, 7-1, over Thornfeldt in those quarterfinals, only to run into an obviously determined Molly Bontrager in the semifinals. Though Rakin would score 5, Bontrager scored the requisite 7 to earn her re-match against Fisher.
 
Last year, Bontrager admitted to being in awe of the woman she faced in the hot seat (Corr), whom she’d been watching play since she (Bontrager) was in her 20s. In much the same situation, Bontrager was going into a match against someone she’d been aware of before she’d begun her still-new pool career. But this time, Bontrager was a little more seasoned than she’d been the year before. She had mentioned in an interview for Billiards Digest that she expected her “newbie attitude” to have worn off by the time she arrived to compete this year. And it did, to a certain extent.
 
“I talked to Allison on and off a couple of times before we played,” she said. “I tried to get to know her a little to break the ice, which makes it a lot easier when you’re playing a match.
 
“She’s a really fun, bubbly person,” she added, “the complete opposite of her demeanor at the table.”
 
While the seasoning that the year provided served her well in this tournament and brought her a step closer to winning the event, she was still somewhat plagued by a lack of practice on 9-ft tables (something she hopes to correct in the year to come) and just a lingering touch of the awe she experienced last year.
 
“I was pleased with the tournament overall,” she said, “and pleased with the results. As far as critiquing myself, I did OK, but not what I’m capable of.”
 
She needed to win two against Fisher in the double elimination final format of the event, but Fisher completed her undefeated run in the opening set. She duplicated her score in the hot seat against Bontrager (7-3) and captured the title. 

Corr undefeated for NAPT Desert Challenge

Karen Corr (photo courtesy of Karl Kantrowitz)

Billiards fans were filled with heyday glee on the weekend of November 4-5, at the North American Pool Tour’s (NAPT) Desert Challenge, hosted by Griff’s Bar & Billiards in Las Vegas, NV. A flashback matchup in the finals between Karen Corr and Allison Fisher thrilled the audience, with Karen Corr claiming victory and continuing her reign of the NAPT; she’s won all three of the tour’s Division I events. This event was particularly challenging, as several large names made debut appearances on the tour, adding to the grand, ‘heyday glee’ nostalgia of the event. The four-day, 10-ball tournament, played out on nine-foot Diamond tables, drew 61 entrants. 
 
Eleanor Callado not only let herself be drawn to Griff’s, but took 4th in the staggering field. After finishing only second to Karen Corr in August, this is a new notch she’s sure to remember. Along her way, Eleanor bested not only 8-time world champion Loree Jon Hasson (7-3), but also 2-time WPBA Champion Monica Webb (7-5), and 6-time European champion Line Kjorsvik (7-6). Eleanor showed herself worthy of her placings with steady position play and crowd-exhilarating shot making. 
 
During her match with Line, Eleanor at one point was at two fouls in a row (a third one would lose the game), and Line had hidden the cueball so securely that many in the audience believed there was no way to hit the object ball. Rising to the challenge, Eleanor broke out her jump cue, jumped an entire table length, kicked off a rail, and not only made contact, but left Line safe! The drama! That match went appropriately to the hill, as did her next against Hall of Famer Vivian Villarreal. Not allowing Eleanor to repeat such a close victory, Vivian took that match 7-6. Ultimately Ms. Callado was knocked out by none other than Allison Fisher (7-3), on the Duchess’s first tour appearance. 
 
Vivian, Line, and Monica were newcomers to the NAPT as well this event, all showcasing their talents long into the weekend. Vivian, also known as the Texas Tornado, is known for her quick and decisive shooting style. This weekend it was exciting to watch her whip around the table, powering balls in and playing a heavily offensive strategy. Vivian lost only to Karen Corr (7-0) in the semifinals, and then fell to the newly B-sided Allison Fisher (7-3) to take third. Allison had just fallen to Corr also.
 
Allison and Karen met twice this tournament. In their first matchup, Allison took an early lead 2-0, but didn’t hold it for long. Karen came back with tight defensive play and run outs to turn the score 6-4 to her favor and breaking the last rack. Corr shot down to the 10-ball, but ran into it, pushing it to a funny angle. She played it in the corner and it hung right in the pocket for her opponent. Stunned, Allison came to the table and shot the ball, not taking very long at all, and scratched in the opposing side! It was quite the unexpected turn of events, and Karen and Allison both scratched their heads a bit about it afterwards. 
 
Allison went to the B-side to fight for a spot in the finals, where she put Line Kjorsvik out (7-4), Eleanor Callado out (7-3), and Vivian Villarreal out (7-3). After that champion-ending run, the Duchess of Doom was ready for her rematch against Karen. Being a true double elimination format, to win the tournament, Allison would have to win two successful sets of 7 games to the undefeated Corr’s one set. The audience settled in for a juggernaut match and they were not disappointed. 
The lag itself garnered great applause, with Karen freezing her ball to the rail and Allison losing the first break by a fraction of an inch. It didn’t hurt her immediately though, as the English snooker player drew first blood and repeated her early lead of 2-0. Karen came back the next two games to tie it up, and the score stayed close the whole match. Allison at one point was up 5-3 after Karen hung a 6-ball. The safeties played in this match by both players were truly incredible, and well worth watching if you would like a class on when to play defensive. Karen seemed the cunning champion, choosing defense at least once a rack, utilizing a strategic play on the 9-ball to get on the hill. Fisher seemed a bit more aggressive, making an incredible 10-ball cut using the bridge to make the score even. 
 
The final rack was Karen’s break, and she had to make a combo to get going, but the rest of the rack was fairly open. A break and run would be the fitting end to the rematch we’ve all been waiting for, so that’s what Karen Corr gave us! The Irish Invader claimed her third victory in a row on the Division 1 tour, thrilling all in attendance and at home. Allison took 2nd in her premiere attendance, Vivian 3rd, and Eleanor 4th, and what a weekend was had by all! We will just have to wait to see if someone can dethrone Karen Corr until 2018, until then, it’s been incredible to watch. 
 
The NAPT would like to thank Mark Griffin and his staff at Griff’s Bar & Billiards for hosting, and POVPool for their live-streaming. The NAPT looks forward to returning to Las Vegas as Griff’s has signed on for two more years! This was the final stop for the NAPT in 2017, but next year comes quickly! Join us at www.playnapt.com for more information and to find links to watch this tournament’s live streamed matches. 
 

Jia Li comes back from winners’ side semifinal loss to defeat Pao in finals of JPNEWT Stop #5

Jia Li

Just back from an appearance in the North American Pool Tour's (NAPT) third Division I Pro tournament in Greyslake, IL, where she finished fourth on the weekend of August 18-20, Jia Li returned to the familiar confines of the J. Pechauer Northeast Women's Tour (JPNEWT) to compete in their fifth stop of the year on the weekend of August 26-27. Li came back from a loss to Caroline Pao in a winners' side semifinal of the event to meet and defeat her in the finals. The event, which drew 21 entrants to Classic Billiards in Phoenixville, PA, was a qualifier for the next NAPT Division I Pro event, scheduled for September 28-October 1 at Eagle Billiards in Dickson City, PA, and with Li already qualified, Pao picked up the invitation that will allow her to compete in that event.
 
Following a 7-5 win over Carol V. Clark in the event's opening round, Li met up with fellow NAPT competitor, Kia Sidbury, who had come within a match of meeting Li in the quarterfinals of the recent NAPT event (Sidbury was eliminated by Eleanor Callado, just prior to those quarterfinals). Li shut Sidbury out, and then defeated Jenn Keeney 7-2, to draw Pao in the winners' side semifinal. Elaine Wilson, in the meantime, who, following an opening round bye, had survived two straight double hill matches against Kathy Friend and Tina Marinelli, squared off against Tina Malm.
 
In their first of two, Pao downed Li 7-4 and advanced to the hot seat match. She was joined by Wilson, who'd sent Malm to the loss side 7-2. Pao gave up only a single rack in the hot seat match against Wilson, which proved to be her last match victory of the weekend.
 
Li moved to the loss side and picked up Marinelli, who, following her defeat by Elaine Wilson, had chalked up two straight double hill matches against Kathleen Lawless and Sidbury. Malm drew Friend, who, following her defeat by Wilson had, after a loss-side bye, chalked up three straight 7-5 wins, over Clark, Nicole King and Sharon O'Hanlon.
 
Li eliminated Marinelli 7-3, and in the quarterfinals, faced Malm, who'd defeated Friend, double hill. Li defeated Malm 7-5, and then, heating up, allowed Elaine Wilson only one rack in the semifinals, to earn her a second shot against Pao.
 
In the single race-to-9 final, Li defeated Pao 9-6 to claim her first JPNEWT victory of the year. The two could conceivably meet again, in two weeks, at the sixth stop on the JPNEWT, scheduled for September 16-17 at Q Master Billiards in Virginia Beach, VA or in a month, when they travel to Dickson City, PA for the next NAPT Division I Pro event