Archive Page

Stephanie Hefner Wins NAPT Division II Championship

Stephanie Hefner

A field of forty six of the top ladies in the country, representing seven different regional tours, made their way to Bullshooters in Phoenix, Arizona to compete in the North American Pool Tour’s Division II Championship on February 13th – 16th.
 
The event kicked off on Thursday with six round robin groups competing in seven rack matches. With the top four players from each group advancing based on total games won, players could not take any opponent lightly at any point in the match. 
 
After two days of play, the field was narrowed to just twenty four players. The top player from each group, as well as the top two runner-up finishers from round robin play, all earned first round byes, with the remaining sixteen “top four” finishers being forced to play first round matches. 
 
Home field advantage proved to be valuable coming out of the groups, with four of the eight byes earned by Arizona Woman’s Billiard Tour (AWBT) players. The pool gods proved fickle though, as three of those four players (Leandrea Gaff, Susan Williams and Jaye Succo) were all knocked to the one loss side after their first matches. Bernie Store was the only local player to win her first double elimination stage match. Store then went on to defeat the Northwest Women’s Pool Association (NWPA) tour’s Michelle Hughes to remain unbeaten going into Sunday. She was joined by the NWPA Tour’s Stephanie Hefner, Gigi Callejas (West Coast Women’s Tour) and Suzanne Smith (NWPA). 
 
On the one loss side, Hughes earned her place in Sunday play with a hill-hill win over Succo, and was joined by Williams, Marian Poole and a player who had clawed her way through the entire event, Bonnie Ogg from the West Coast Women’s Tour. 
 
Ogg’s play all weekend was noteworthy in that she escaped her group as the 4th player, and then lost her first match on Saturday to Suzanne Smith. Ogg then came within a rack of a “two and out” elimination, beating Khahn Ngo hill-hill on the one loss side Ogg’s last match on Saturday saw her trailing Ricki Casper 6-3, but she dug down and won four straight racks to earn her spot in Sunday play. 
 
Sunday play saw Hefner face off with Store. Store was the top ranked player in the event and Hefner knew she was going to be an obstacle that she had to overcome. She rose to the occasion and beat Store 7-5 to advance to the hot-seat match. “Going into this tournament, I really had ambition. I wanted to do well, and I knew she was going to be the toughest opponent. Not just because of her Fargo, but she’s the hometown girl. I’d never played her, so I didn’t know how we’d match up. It felt like an accomplishment getting through her, but I knew I couldn’t relax. “
 
Hefner then went on to hand Callejas a 7-3 loss to take the hot-seat, but she knew her job still wasn’t done as she headed to a practice table to stay sharp while waiting for an opponent. “I knew they would be fresh and I wanted to make sure that if I missed any balls, it wasn’t because I wasn’t in stroke.” she said. 
 
On the one loss side, Ogg continued her improbable run. A 7-3 win over group 4 winner Marian Poole was followed up by a 7-5 win over Store. Ogg’s next match was a true example of how brutal the pool gods can be. Ogg led Suzanne Smith 6-5, but left herself a tough 9-ball in the twelfth, that required the mechanical bridge. She missed that shot, allowing Smith to tie things at 6-6. Smith quickly took control of the final rack and ran to the 9 with textbook pattern play. She took her timeout and gathered herself to make the final 9-ball. That might have taken her out of her rhythm though, as she missed the 9-ball and left the match for Ogg to cleanup. Ogg had a much easier time with Callejas in the semi-final match, breaking a 3-3 tie to win 7-3.
 
The final match looked to be “advantage Hefner” on paper, as she eclipsed Ogg’s 508 Fargo rating by nearly 50 points, and Ogg would have to beat Hefner twice. Ogg had momentum though, and obviously wasn’t going to just give up. The turning point of the match appeared to happen with Hefner leading 4-2. Both players were caught up in a safety battle on the 8-ball, when Hefner took on a bank shot that would have made a one pocket player proud. She banked in the 8 and then banked the 9-ball into the same hole … left handed. “I almost played the same safe back, but I thought it was two way. Even if I rattled the eight, she might not get back for the nine so I just decided ‘screw it’ and went for it. I was a little less confident taking the shot left handed, but sometimes when I’m in it, the banks just happen and I don’t think about it.“ Ogg would fight back to get within one at 5-4, but it was Hefner who then won the last two racks for the 7-4 win. 
 
Hefner took the trophy, and $1400 in prize money, back to Oregon. Ogg settled for $1000 in prize money and the knowledge that her Fargo ratings is due for a major increase. 

Sykes from the JPNEWT wins first major at NAPT Division II Championships in Phoenix

Bethany Sykes (photo courtesy of NAPT – Playnapt.com)

Prior to her start and victory at the $5,000-added North American Pool Tour’s 3rd Annual Division II Championships, held from February 21-24 at Bullshooters in Phoenix, AZ, Bethany Sykes had only one major victory on her brief, two-year, four-event, cash payout resume; two of those payouts were earned on the J. Pechauer Northeast Womens’ Tour (JPNEWT) and two, including the only victory, came on the Action Pool Tour (APT), where, this past November, she won the Virginia State Ladies 8-Ball Championships. It should be noted that the Ladies’ VA State 8-Ball event featured a field of only five entrants, although as they say, a win is a win is a win. For Sykes, though, the NAPT Div. II Championships were her “first big tournament” and the win was like gravy on a main meal of just being thrilled to be there and the four-day joy of participation.
 
“It was an incredible feeling,” she said of her first impressions, “just to be there with that many women in the room (64 entrants).”
 
“It was an awesome experience,” she went on to say, noting that it was her first time playing in a round robin event, and the first time she’d ever had to deal with a shot clock. “I found that the 30 seconds gave me no time for indecision about what could go wrong. There was no thinking about anything but the shot.”
 
As her resume indicates, she’s only been playing the sport competitively for the past couple of years, although she says she’s been in love with the game since she was about nine years old. She got her first cue when she was 16 and now, at 31, she’s crossed a big threshold and won her first major tournament. Her appearances on the JPNEWT and APT over the last year or two helped her to identify and improve some of the basics to which she had not been exposed previously.
 
“I never knew where to put my feet,” she said of her early attempts to develop a stance. “I got a lesson from Karen Corr about five months ago, and she told me where to put my feet.”
 
With her feet sorted out, Sykes joined 63 other women from seven regional ladies pool tours at these Division II Championships; six from the United States and four women from a ladies tour out of Quebec. The most heavily represented tour among the seven was the Texas-based Jerry Olivier Pool Tour (JO), with 14 entrants, about 22% of the field. The Northwest Women’s Pool Association (NWPA) was next with 12, followed by the ‘hometown’ Arizona Women’s Billiards Tour (AWBT), which had 11. The West Coast Women’s Tour (WCWT) sent 9. The JPNEWT contributed 8 (including Sykes), the North Central Pool Tour (NCPT) checked in with 6, while  four women represented the ‘Circuit de Billard Feminine du Quebec.’
 
They broke up into eight round robin flights of eight players each, beginning on Thursday, February 21. Sykes, in Group Two, representing the JPNEWT, was paired with a primarily West Coast field; Cassie Francois and Elaine Eberly from the NWPA, Ginger Bowen from the WCWT, Jaye Succo and Leandra Gaff from the AWBT, Tam Trinh from the JO and Marilou Therrien from the Canadian league.
 
Sykes opened her campaign at 10:30 a.m. on Thursday morning with a 5-2 win over Francois. In round two, she got by Eberly 4-2 and then, in the final match of the opening day, she survived a double hill fight (4-3) against Trinh, which would prove to be highly significant later. As measured by total games won, she was the ‘flight’ leader at the end of that first day, with 13 games won. Gaff, Trinh and Therrien were second with 12 each.
 
Day two didn’t start out as well. Succo defeated her 5-2. Though Gaff and Therrien had been defeated, as well in the fourth round, Trinh downed Bowen 5-2, putting her out in front (by game points) 17-15.
 
“In that morning match (on the second day),” said Sykes, “(Succo) came out on fire. And from being ahead by one, I was all of a sudden behind by two games.”
 
Sykes survived a double hill (4-3) battle against Therrien in round 5, as Trinh lengthened her game lead by one more, with a 5-2 defeat of Eberly. With the game score between them now at 22-19, in favor of Trinh, they both chalked up 5-2 wins; Sykes over Bowen and Trinh over Succo. The game score between Sykes and Trinh was now at 27-24, with a single match to play.
 
Since the top four in each flight would advance to a 32-player, double elimination bracket, Sykes’ advancement at that point, short of being shut out or winning only a single game in the final match, was pretty much assured. Sykes sealed the deal with a 6-1 victory over Gaff that left her with 30 total wins. When Trinh fell to Francois 5-2 in that final round, she ended up with 29 total wins, allowing Sykes, by a single win (reflected in their earlier match), to enter the double elimination phase as the winner of her individual flight.
 
Heather Cortez, from the AWBT, with 37 total wins in her round robin flight was the top winner in her flight as well as the overall winner of the round robin phase of the event. Other top winners from the individual round robin flights were Michelle Cortez, from the Jerry Olivier Tour, in second place overall with 36 total wins. Susan Williams, with 35, from the AWBT was third. Suzanne Smith, from the NWPA, was fourth with 34, Natalie Chabot (from Canada) and Sykes’ eventual opponent in the hot seat and finals, Kim Pierce from the JO, were tied for fifth with 33 wins each. Yang Liu from the West Coast Women’s Tour was sixth with 31 total wins. Though she’d enter the double elimination phase of the event as the winner of her flight, Sykes was last among the individual flight winners advancing to the final two days of the event. Advancement to the double elimination rounds guaranteed all 32 participants at least of the share of the total $11,400 prize package.
 
“The Round Robin was so scary,” she said. “Every single game mattered. I grew from the experience, though. That Round Robin hardened me.”
 
Seven down, seven to go.
 
Over the next two days, Sykes played seven more matches; four on the winners’ side, one on the loss side, and two in the double elimination final. None were against the opponents she’d faced in her own round robin flight, one was against the overall winner of the round robin phase of the event (Heather Cortez) and three were against Pierce.
 
To get into their first match together, Sykes and Pierce would eventually, in the two winners’ side semifinals, have to get by two AWBT opponents. Sykes opened her winners’ side campaign on Saturday morning, February 23, against Gigi Callejas from the West Coast Women’s Tour, downing her 7-3. She followed that with victories over Jennifer Kraber (JO) 7-3 and then, defeated the overall round robin winner, AWBT’s Heather Cortez 7-4, to arrive at a winners’ side semifinal match against a formidably more experienced opponent, another AWBT entrant, Bernie Store. Pierce, in the meantime, had defeated Nicole Donisi from the NWPA 7-3, both Janna Nelson (7-5) and Khanh Ngo (7-3) from the West Coast Women’s Tour and arrived at her winners’ side semifinal match against yet another AWBT entrant, Susan Williams.
 
Sykes and Pierce got into the hot seat match with identical 7-5 wins over Store and Williams. In their first of three, Pierce claimed the hot seat in a double hill match.
 
“I got on the hill and things just fell apart,” said Sykes of that hot seat match, “and I couldn’t get it back together.”
 
On the loss side, Store picked up Ngo, who, following her defeat at the hands of Pierce, had defeated Stephanie Hefner 7-2, and survived a double hill match against Michelle Cortez. Williams drew Heather Cortez, who, following her defeat at the hands of Sykes, had shut out Kelly Jones and eliminated Tam Trinh 7-5.
 
Heather Cortez and Williams locked up in a double hill fight that eventually advanced Cortez to the quarterfinals. She was joined by Ngo, who’d defeated Store 7-4. Cortez and Ngo had faced each other on the opening day of the round robin matches, with Cortez winning that battle 5-2. This time, in the quarterfinals, it was Ngo who came out on top, winning it 7-5.
 
Sykes, though, having so unexpectedly, but joyfully arrived at this spot in her “first big tournament” was in no mood to let it go. She downed Ngo 7-2 in those semifinals and turned for a second and, necessary in a double elimination format, third shot at Pierce in the hot seat. They locked up in their second straight double hill battle in the opening set, but this time, it was Sykes coming out of it with the win. She completed her 12-2 run with a decisive 7-2 win over Pierce in the second set.
 
“People tell me I have no sense of tension,” said Sykes. “I always feel as though I’m in the right place at the right time. That was what made the whole thing exciting.”
 
“I went out there to get into the top four,” she added. “That was my goal as soon as I read about the tour. This was my first opportunity to get to that level and I spent the week before, imagining what it would be like; thinking of how I’d be telling my Dad about it afterwards.”
 
Exactly one week later, on the first weekend in March, Sykes rejoined her JPNEWT comrades, competing on the tour’s season opener at Triple Nines in Elkridge, MD. In a field of 22, Sykes had the misfortune of running into tour director Linda Shea, who defeated her in the opening round. She’d win two on the loss side before finishing in the tie for 9th place when she was defeated by Sharon O’Hanlon.
 
And so it goes, in the world of the emerging amateur into the world of the best in pool. Up one day, down the next. She remains somewhat in awe of her “first big tournament” win and is looking ahead at better things to come. She expects, looking ahead to competing at the Super Billiards Expo’s Women’s Pro 9-Ball event, her first shot at the Pro level, to continue improving. She is also keenly aware that pool careers, like the tournaments along the way, can be a relentless series of hills and valleys.
 
“My goal,” she said, “is to make the gaps between them smaller and smaller.”
 
“I expect to be playing with the best of them,” she said of her hopes for the next five years. “I have no aspirations of anything in particular, just to be playing at that level.”

Tagley Returns To AWBT Winner’s Circle

Nina Tagley and Heather Cortez

She had knocked on the door all season, but Nina Tagley finally broke through into the winner’s circle at the AWBT’s 3rd stop of the season at Kolby’s on June 2nd – 3rd.

 

The field of thirty-two players held it’s usual assortment of monsters, but an unusually large number of those monsters found themselves on the one loss side early as four former tour stop winners (Susan Williams, Jaye Succo, Amanda Pulley and Bernie Store) dropped their first-round matches. Of those monsters, Succo was out in two rounds while Store would only make it one more round as she lost in three rounds.
 
Back on the winner’s side, Tagley had her work cut out for her as she scored wins over April runner-up Justine Bishop, Windy “Five Rounds Deep” Breck, Pearl Ortiz and Rae Evans. As if that wasn’t a tough enough draw, Tagley then had to face “The Torpedo” Heather Cortez. Tagley would drop the match to Cortez 7-3.
 
The left side of the board came down to Evans and Ortiz, who were both looking to avenge their early losses to Tagley and then take on Cortez. Evans got past Ortiz 6-5, but Tagley then made quick work of Rae Evans, beating her by the same 7-2 score that she beat her on the right side of the board.
 
The extended final set between Cortez and Tagley saw Tagley score a hard-fought 9-6 win for her first tour stop win in well over 10 years.
 
Tagley credited home field advantage with helping her get back to the winner’s circle in this one. “I’ve played at Kolbys for nearly 30 years, and last year it was Heather and I 1st and 2nd at this event at Kolbys” Tagley remembered. She also pointed out how close she has been in recent stops. “If you look at the last six events, I’ve scored 2nd, 3rd and 4th place finishes. I think my focus level has changed a bit recently, I’m a bit more disciplined now than I used to be.” she said.
 
Eleven players came back on Sunday to compete in the second chance tournament, with Mary Walczak defeating Justine Bishop for the hot-seat, and then Sandi Wilson in the finals, for first place.

Pulley Wins Freezers’ AWBT Tour Stop

Amanda Pulley and Justine Bishop

They came out in droves at the 2nd stop of the Arizona Women’s Billiard Tour, with a field of 56 players at Freezer’s Ice House on April 28th – 29th.

 

Surprisingly in a field of that size, early rounds held their fair share of marquee matchups with #3 ranked Amanda Pulley starting her tournament off with a 6-3 win over #1 ranked Bernie Store and Las Vegas’ Mary Coffman scoring a first round 7-2 win over Sara Miller. While those matches were not necessarily upsets, junior player Tory Conley’s 5-5 win over Jaye Succo was an eye opener and just went to show how much the junior player’s games are improving.
 
The top half of the board saw Pulley score wins over Windy Breck, Pearl Ortiz and #2 ranked Heather Cortez to earn her place in the hot-seat match on Sunday. The bottom half of the bracket was all about Justine Bishop as she dominated her matches, not allowing an opponent more than three games against her. As if that performance wasn’t strong enough already, Bishop then went on to beat Pulley 6-1 for the hot-seat.
 
On the one loss side, Susan Williams was on a run. After a first-round loss to Store, Williams won seven straight matches on the left side of the board, including over such notable opponents as Cathy Kelley, Conley, Tracie Hamman and Cortez. Williams’ run was finally brought to an end by Pearl Ortiz who had put together a four-match winning streak after the earlier loss to Pulley. The win over Williams earned Ortiz another shot at Pulley, but she wouldn’t fare any better with a 6-3 loss.
 
Bishop won the first two games in her first AWBT finals appearance in more than a decade. Pulley pulled the brakes on her and won the next 8 games in a row to clinch the match
 
When asked about this tournament – her 4th tour win – Pulley commented on the tough field. “In this tournament, each time I discovered my next opponent, I was like, “Awww, man, another monster?” And each time with luck and skill, I found a way to work through the match. I was calm after the initial anxiety, and without expectation; that helped a lot.”
 
Twenty-two players came back for Sunday’s second chance tournament, where Veronica Poore defeated Jaye Succo in the finals for first place.
 
The AWBT will next be in action on June 2nd and 3rd at Pockets in Tucson.

Texas Tornado Lays Waste to AWBT Field

Vivian Villarreal (Photo courtesy of Rick Schmitz)

As the field is filling up at an AWBT event, players are used to seeing the same group of regulars arrive to throw their hat in the ring. Williams, Store, Cortez, Mello, etc. So, it probably came as a pretty big surprise to most of them when they saw WPBA veteran, Vivian "The Texas Tornado" Villarreal walk into Main Street Billiards for the third tour stop on July 8th and 9th. While Villarreal might have been the most experienced player in the field, she was joined by the largest field at an AWBT stop this season, 37 players. 
 
When play got underway, Villarreal quickly laid to rest any doubts as to who the favorite was at this event. Villarreal spun her way through the winner’s side on Saturday with identical 7-1 wins over Beth Orth, Claudia Morado and road partner, Barbara Lee. Villarreal was joined by New Mexico’s Pearl Ortiz, Bernie Store and Priscilla Hernandez on the winner’s side at the end of Saturday play. The left side of the board was also full of dangerous opponents in the form of Jaye Succo, Barbara Lee, Heather Cortez and Sara Miller
 
Sunday play looked a lot like what the fans had watched on Saturday, with Villarreal getting things underway with a 7-1 win over Ortiz, and then a 7-2 win over Bernie Store to take the hot-seat. 
 
On the one loss side, Barbara Lee eliminated Succo and Hernandez, but couldn’t get by Ortiz and settled for 4th place. Ortiz then dropped the semi-final match to Store 7-2, setting up a rematch between Store and Villarreal in the finals. 
 
While most fans might have expected another lopsided score in the extended final match, Store had other plans completely. “Vivian shoots very fast, and I caught myself shooting at her pace in the first match. In the second match, I concentrated on playing at my usual pace, and it helped a lot” said Store after the event. Store came out and ran the first rack to remind Villarreal that she wasn’t going to just hand her the title. The players battled back and forth, until Store held the lead at 6-5 in the race to 9. From there though, it was all Villarreal, as she won four straight games for the 9-6 win and first place. 
 
Two players in the event earned invites for an upcoming North American Pool Tour (NAPT) stop in Illinois. Barbara Lee’s 4th place finish earned her one spot, with Justin Bishop earning the second.
 
Fourteen players returned to Main Street on Sunday for the second chance tournament, where Veronica Poore turned in a dominating performance to take first. Veronica lost a total of two racks over five complete matches, and was never challenged on her way to first place.

Bernie Store Wins AWBT Stop

Bernie Store

Bernie Store returned to the AWBT’s winners circle, with an undefeated run through a field of 28 players to capture the second stop of the season at Skip & Jan’s in Gilbert Arizona on April 30th – May 1st. 
 
Store dominated day one of the event, with wins over Kim Kauffman, Amanda Pulley and Becky Onnembo. Store finished the day with 21 game wins and 7 game losses. 
 
Joining Store on the winner’s side were Sara Miller, Heather Cortez and Sarah Geoghan
 
The one loss side saw a couple surprises as stop 1 winner Amanda Pulley, and Susan Williams both failed to make it to two day. Pulley dropped a left side match to Tami Hathcock, and Williams lost the last match of the night on Saturday to Leadrea Gaff.
 
Sunday play on the winner’s side saw Store defeat Cortez 7-3 and Miller send Geoghan to the one loss side 7-4. Store would then go on to defeat Miller in a hill-hill match for the hot-seat.
 
On the one loss side, Onnembo defeated Gaff and Jaye Succo eliminated Susan Mello. Both players coming over from the winner’s side then won matches, as Geoghan defeated Onnembo, and Cortez defeated Succo.
 
A 7-4 win by Cortez over Geoghan, kept Cortez’s tournament hopes alive, but Miller quickly snuffed those hopes out with a 7-2 win in the semi-finals. 
 
Store jumped on Miller right out of the gate in the finals, and quickly held a 5-1 lead in the extended race to 9. Miller would fight back, but it was Store scoring a 9-5 win in the end. 
 
Store’s win, combined with her runner up finish at stop 1, moves her to the top of the AWBT points list. Miller moves into second place on the list. With their first and second place finishes, Store and Miller also won invites to the North American Pool Tour’s 10-Ball Invitational in Herndon, Va this June. 
 
Eleven players returned to Skip and Jan’s on Sunday to compete in the second chance tournament. That event saw Susan Williams go undefeated for first place, with Jessica Derezinski taking second. 
 
Tour staff expressed their thanks to Natalie and her great staff at Skip and Jan’s for hosting their season opener. Thanks were also given to the “friends of the AWBT” who added $100 to the main event and $50 to the second chance tournament, as well as Las Gloria Grille for adding $100 to the main event. 
 
The AWBT will be at Stingers on June 25th – 26th, for their next stop.

Wagner Wins AWBT Tour Stop

Rebecca Wagner (Photo courtesy of Nick De Leon)

Rebecca Wagner made it a perfect “two for two” with her second win in as many appearances on the Arizona Woman’s Billiard Tour in 2015. 
 
After a shaky 7-5 start over Claudia Justus, Wagner was untouchable as she won her next two matches by a combined score of 14-2 to advance to Sunday play on the right side of the board. Matching Wagner match for match, was Fort Worth’s Tara Williams. Williams had wins over Marcy Thomas, Bernie Store and Sara Miller on Saturday to remain undefeated. 
 
Joining Wagner and Williams on the winner’s side after one day of play were Nina Tagley and Susan Williams.
 
On the one loss side, Store was mowing down the competition with her sights set on Sunday play. Wins over Sandi Wilson, Claudia Justus and Amanda Pulley were enough to get her there. Sara Miller, Jaye Succo and Justine Bishop would also make it to Sunday play on the one loss side.
 
Sunday matches saw Wagner and Tara Williams keep pace with each other as Williams beat Nina Tagley 7-5 and Wagner beat Susan Williams 7-2. Wagner and Tara Williams would face each other for the hot-seat, which was won by Wagner 7-4.
 
Sunday play on the one loss side saw Sara Miller eliminate Jaye Succo in 7th place, and then Susan Wiliams in 5th place. Meanwhile Bernie Store eliminated Justine Bishop in 7th place and then Nina Tagley in 5th place.
 
The rivalry continued between Miller and Store, with Store pulling out a 7-5 win this time. Miller had a chance to tie the score at 6-6, but missed a 9-ball that gifted the match to Store. 
 
The semi-final match, between Store and Tara Williams, looked to be on its way to a quick finish with Williams cruising to a 5-0 lead. That was when things took a bad turn for Williams. Williams missed a couple of balls that she would have made early in the match and all of a sudden her “can’t miss” confidence was shaken. Store was more than happy to take advantage of the opportunities and the match was eventually tied at 6-6. Both players struggled in the final game, but a miss on the 7-ball was all that Williams could take as she unscrewed her cue and congratulated Store for the win.
 
The extended final match started out close. Store took an early 2-0 lead, but Wagner came back to a tie at 3-3. The score would be tied again at 4-4 and 5-5 before Wagner took control and climbed to the hill at 8-5. A great 6-9 combo by Store brought her back within two racks at 8-6, but it was just delaying the finish as Wagner broke and ran the next rack for the 9-6 win.
 
The second chance tournament on Sunday saw Amanda Pulley bounce back from a loss in her first match to run the one loss side with five match wins and then defeat Tami Hathcock in the finals for first place.
 
The Arizona Women’s Billiard Tour will be back in action on October 17th and 18th at Pockets Pool & Pub in Tucson.
 
Assistant Tour director Tres Kane gave his thanks to Mike and Julie Bates, and the staff of Bullshooters for hosting and adding $300 to the main event and $100 to the second chance event, Jose Gonzales of Las Glorias Grille for adding $100 to the main event and his partner Kristie Ortega for running another fine event.

Amanda Pulley Wins AWBT Tour Stop

Amanda Pulley

The Arizona Women’s Billiard Tour drew a field of twenty four ladies to Stingers on May 22nd – 23rd for their annual Bar Table 8-Ball event, where Amanda Pulley put together an undefeated run for her second career AWBT tournament win.
 
The field was filled with the usual group of top Arizona ladies talent, including previous event winners Pulley. Bernie Store, Susan Williams, Sara Miller and Jaye Succo.
 
Saturday matches were not kind to the points list leaders, as both Store and Williams were not able to earn spots in Sunday’s matches. #1 ranked Bernie Store turned in a “three and out” performance, with losses to Pulley and Susan Williams. Williams didn’t fair much better, with losses to Sara Miller and Justine Bishop, for a 9th place finish.
 
After a 5-3 win over Succo early Sunday, Pulley faced off against tournament surprise Sarah Geoghan. Geoghan turned in her best AWBT performance yet, with four wins on the winner side and a combined games record of 20-5. Unfortunately, she had no answer for Pulley in a 5-1 loss for the hot-seat.
 
Geoghan was one game away from a rematch with Pulley in the finals, as she led Succo 3-2 in the semi-final match, but found herself unable to put the former event winner away. Succo came back to win that match 4-3 to set up a rematch between her and Pulley in the finals.
 
The final race to seven, between Pulley and Succo, couldn’t have been much closer as neither player was able to take any control in the match. Succo held multiple small leads, but could never put any distance between her and Pulley. A 5-4 lead by Succo would be her last, as Pulley dug down to win three straight games for a 7-5 victory and first place.
 
The second chance tournament on Sunday saw Sophia Morquecho, who was unable to compete in the main event, go undefeated for the win. Morquecho defeated Jamie Goodwin twice, for the hot-seat, and in the finals.
 
Assistant Tour director Tres Kane gave his thanks to Dale Hanson, and the staff of Stingers for hosting and adding $300 to the main event and $50 to the second chance event, Jose Gonzales of Las Glorias Grille for adding $100 to the main event, “friends of the AWBT” for adding $200 to the main event, and his partner Kristie Ortega for running another fine event.

Wagner Wins AWBT Stop #2

Rebecca Wagner (Photo courtesy of Nick De Leon)

Rebecca Wagner wasn’t even planning on making the trip from Vegas to Phoenix for the AWBT’s second tour stop at Bullshooters on April 25th and 26th. It was only when she was able to get the weekend off work, that she agreed to accompany road partner Ashea Erdahl to the event. Wagner would end up mowing down a field of twenty eight players to earn first place in her first event of the new season.
 
Wagner would not have an easy path to the win however. Matches against Cynthia Haeffner and Tracie Hamman on Saturday were followed by equally tough matches against Jaye Succo and Bernie Store on Sunday. Wagner did not allow an opponent to the hill against her, and won two of those four matches 7-1. 
 
Wagner’s opponent for the hot-seat, Store, would not have a path any easier. Store scored wins over Alicia De Leon, Jodie Villegas, Susan Williams and Erdahl before dropping the hot-seat to Wagner 7-4.
 
The one loss side on Sunday was a “who’s who” of top female talent, including Williams, Amanda Pulley, Justine Bishop and Susan Mello. After Susan and Susan scored wins over Pulley and Bishop, they were joined on the left side of the board by Erdahl and Succo. Susan Williams would keep her winning ways going, with a 7-2 win over Succo, but Mello would drop a hill-hill decision to Erdahl.
 
Things were not looking good for Williams in her next match, against Erdahl, as she trailed 5-2 in the race to seven. Williams had been in that position before though, and she drew on that experience to mount a great comeback for the hill-hill win.
 
The semi-finals between Williams and Store started out well for Williams, as she took an early 2-0 lead, but then it was time for Store to mount a comeback and she won seven of the next nine games for the 7-4 win and a rematch with Wagner in the finals.
 
The single race to nine extended final was closer than their earlier battle, but it ended in the same result, as Wagner defeated Store 9-6 for first place. 
 
The win moves Wagner to second place on the AWBT points list, with Store still holding a comfortable lead over the rest of the list in first place. Williams, Haeffner and Barbara Lee fill out the top five positions on the list.
 
Although this event worked out well for Wagner, she still doesn’t see herself able to compete in many events this season due to work conflicts. 
 
The AWBT has been forced to change their schedule, and the upcoming Stinger’s event has been moved to May 23rd and 24th. 
 
The second chance event on Sunday saw Cynthia Haeffner beat Diana Leon for the hot-seat and then beat Tami Hathcock in the finals for an undefeated victory.
 
Assistant Tour director Tres Kane gave his thanks to Mike and Julie Bates, and the staff of Bullshooters for hosting and adding $300 to the main event and $100 to the second chance event, Jose Gonzales of Las Glorias Grille for adding $100 to the main event and his partner Kristie Ortega for running another fine event.

Bernie Store Wins AWBT Season Opener

Bernie Store and Heather Cortez

The AWBT kicked off their 2018 season on March 10th – 11th at Bullshooters with a field of 43 players and Bernie Store coming back from the one loss side to win and stake early claim to the AWBT points list. 

 

Store’s path through the brackets started off with wins over Stephanie Woodman, Carol Strong and Sandi Wilson before running into Heather Cortez in the final eight. Cortez, the 2017 points list winner, sent Bernie packing to the one loss side in a hill-hill match. 

 
After her win over Store, Cortez went on to defeat Nina Tagley in the final four and then Amanda Pulley for the hot-seat 7-3.
 
On the one loss side, Store got down to business with wins over Justine Bishop, Beth Orth, Jaye Succo (a hill-hill nail biter), Tagley and then Pulley in the semi-finals.
 
As is always the case on the AWBT, the finals were an extended race to 9 and Store cruised to a comfortable 9-5 victory for first place.
 
Sixteen players came back to Bullshooters on Sunday to compete in the second chance event, where Pearl Ortiz defeated Justine Bishop in the finals for first place. 
 
In addition to the ladies events, the AWBT also held their first “Balls Only” event where Jason Melm completed an undefeated run with back to back wins over James Main in the finals for first place and $310 in prize money.
 
The AWBT will be at Freezer’s for the second stop of the season on April 28th – 29th where they will be playing 9-ball on the 9 foot tables with $500 in added prize money.