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Williams goes undefeated to win her second 2022 DFW 9-Ball Ladies Tour stop

Jessica Demello, Tara Williams and April Gonzales

Veteran Williams and rookie, April Gonzales meet in hot seat and finals

In eight of the 12 years that Tara Williams has been competing in regional tours and professional tournaments, there have only been a handful of times when at least once in a given year, she didn’t finish as either the winner or runner-up at one tournament or another. She won 12 stops in four years on the OB Cues Ladies Tour, including one each in her first two (known) years competing on the tour (’09, ’10). The other 10 wins came in two years; six in 2015 and four in 2016, ahead of a hiatus from (recorded) competition in 2017 and 2018. It took her a while to get back into a groove when she came back. She won a stop on the Jerry Olivier Ladies Tour in 2020 and earlier this year, won her first stop on the DFW 9-Ball Ladies Tour.

This past weekend (July 9-10), she recorded her second win on the DFW Ladies Tour, leading one to speculate that she’s more or less back in stroke, working toward the level of consistency she exhibited midway through the new century’s second decade. Time will tell. This past weekend’s $500-added tour stop #4 drew 24 entrants to Rusty’s Billiards in Arlington, TX.

After a bye, Williams won her two opening matches against a pair of Jennifers, Cayot and Hooten, both 7-2, to arrive at a winners’ side semifinal against Krystle Suarez. Her eventual opponent in both the hot seat and finals, 14-year-old April Gonzalez, who competes in both the 18U and 13U Girls division of the Junior International Championships (she turned 14 in the middle of the JIC’s 2nd season), got by Jacky Halper 4-2 and shut out Jennifer Kim to face Rachelle Dytko in the other winners’ side semifinal.

Williams sent Suarez to the loss side 7-5, while Gonzales and Dytko locked up in a double hill fight that eventually sent Gonzales to join Williams in the battle for the hot seat. Gonzales forced a deciding game in the hot seat match, as well, but Williams prevailed 7-3 (Gonzales racing to 4) to claim the hot seat. 

On the loss side, Dytko drew Hooten, who’d followed her lost to Williams with victories over Jacky Halper 4-1 and Amber Stice, double hill. Suarez picked up Jessica Demello, who’d lost her winners’ side quarterfinal to Dytko and followed that with wins over Becky Smith 4-2 and Jennifer Cayot 4-2.

Demello and Dytko advanced to their rematch in the quarterfinals; Demello, downing Suarez 4-5 (Suarez racing to 7) and Dytko, surviving a double hill match versus Hooten. Demello won the first of two straight double hill matches for her, defeating Dytko in their quarterfinal rematch, but fell to Gonzales in the semifinals.

After three straight double hill matches (winners’ side semifinal win, hot seat loss and semifinal win), Gonzales put up a fight in her rematch against Williams. She came within a game of a fourth double hill match, but Williams pulled out in front to claim the event title 7-2 (Gonzales racing to 4).

Tour representatives thanked the ownership and staff at Rusty’s Billiards, as well as sponsors Fort Worth Billiards Superstore, Kamui and Doc’s Billiard Office. The next stop on the DFW 9-Ball Ladies Tour, scheduled for the weekend of September 10, will be hosted by Stixx & Stones in Lewisville, TX.

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Tara Williams goes undefeated to claim Stop #2 on DFW Ladies 9-Ball Tour

Tara Williams, Ginger Abadilla, Aryana Lynch and Alicia Stanley

Since Tara Williams recorded her first win on the former OB Cues Ladies Tour in 2009, she had gone on to the winners’ circle of that tour numerous times, including, in what turned out to be her best recorded earnings year (2015), victories on six stops of the tour and just for variety that year, added a win on the Gulf Coast Women’s Regional Tour. This past weekend (Saturday, March 12), the multiple BCA and ACS state and national champion chalked up her first recorded 2022 win, going undefeated to claim a DFW Ladies 9-Ball Tour title. The $500-added event drew 36 entrants to Snookered Billiards in Frisco, TX.

By the time Williams reached her winners’ side semifinal matchup versus Jamie Tidmore, she’d won 21 of her first 27 games, having sent Anna Billington (1), Monica Anderson (2) and Crystal Jones (3) to the loss side. Ginger Abadilla, in the meantime, one of the lower-rated competitors in the event (at a 3), parlayed her handicap into a successful race to the hot seat match. She got by Kathy Knuth 3-3 (Knuth racing to 4, so double hill), Francisca Riza Pili 3-2 (Pili racing to 4) and Melissa Britt 3-2 (Britt racing to 5), which brought her to a winners’ side semifinal against Alicia Stanley (racing to 7).

Williams downed Tidmore 7-2, as Abadilla punched her ticket to the hot seat match with a 3-3 win over Stanley (once again, racing to 7). Abadilla’s ship of good fortune (and not to downplay her efforts, combined with skill and persistence) ran aground in the hot seat match. No doubt cognizant of Abadilla’s success getting to the hot seat match, Williams shut her out to claim the hot seat.

Meanwhile, back at the Loss-Side Ranch, there was another competitor making her presence known – Aryana Lynch, two-time Billiards Education Foundation Junior National Champion (2018; 16 & Under and 2021; 18 & Under), and twice, winner on the 2021 DFW Ladies 9-Ball Tour. Lynch won her opener against Snowy Belt 6-2 and then, ran into Alicia Stanley, who sent her to the loss side 7-2. Lynch proceeded to embark on a four-match run that saw her win 18 of the 20 games she played against three opponents, giving up one each to Rachelle Dytko and Brooklyn Kanady, before recording a forfeit win over Melissa Britt and then, shutting out Orietta Strickland to draw Tidmore, coming over from the winners’ side semifinal. 

In the meantime, Stanley, in her first loss-side match, drew Jennifer Kim, who’d lost a winners’ side quarterfinal to Tidmore and embarked on a similar, albeit shorter, loss-side run. She played eight games and didn’t give up a single rack to either of her two opponents, Francisca Riza Pili and Jennifer Pavlovick.

Lynch extended her loss-side streak to five with a 6-2 win over Tidmore. Stanley joined her in the quarterfinals after putting a stop to Kim’s brief, but illustrious loss-side run 7-3. Loss-side win # 6 for Lynch ended Stanley’s run 6-2, and in the semifinals, loss-side win # 7, 6-1 over Abadilla, put her into the finals.

Williams put a stop to that potential ‘loss waiting to happen.’ She allowed Lynch a single rack and claimed the event title 7-1.

Tour representatives thanked the ownership and staff at Snookered for their hospitality, as well as sponsors Fort Worth Billiards Superstore, Cuetec, Doc’s Billiards Office and Kamui. The next stop on DFW Ladies 9-Ball Tour, scheduled for Saturday, April 9, will be a $500-added event, hosted by Stixx and Stones Billiards in Lewisville, TX.

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Jennifer Kim wins her first major tournament on DFW Ladies 9-Ball Tour

Jennifer Kim, Orietta Strickland and Jennifer Pavlovick

Like many before her, Jennifer Kim began playing in an APA league, before graduating to regional tournament play. She’d made a few appearances on the recently-launched DFW Ladies 9-Ball Tour, at which, noted tournament director Monica Anderson, “she had not fared very well.”

And then, along came Orietta Strickland, who recently began to tutor Kim.

“They’d been working together for a few months,” said Anderson, “and when we saw (Kim) this time, it was a different player.”

Different enough to have signed on with 17 others to the $500-added, July 10 stop on the DFW Ladies 9-Ball Tour, hosted by Rusty’s in Arlington, TX and chalked up her first major event victory anywhere. Kim lost only one match in the effort, battling for the hot seat. And for a second and necessary third shot in a true double elimination final against the woman who’d defeated her (Jennifer Pavlovick), Kim downed her mentor, Orietta Strickland, in the semifinals. According to Anderson, the mentor didn’t actually lie down and play dead for the student, but she did miss some critical shots at critical moments, leading to victories for Kim, who was racing to 4 throughout the tournament.

Kim faced five opponents on her way to the winners’ circle, one of them – Pavlovick – three times. In her seven matches, as a skill level “4,” she started four of them with a single bead on the wire in a race to five. She started one match in which she gave her opponent a single bead on the wire in a race to 4. After being awarded an opening round bye, she won her first match, a straight-up race to 4, double hill versus Angie Kirkpatrick and then, defeated tournament director, Monica Anderson 4-2 (Anderson racing to 5). Kim drew April Gonzales in one of the winners’ side semifinals.

Pavlovick, in the meantime, who started all of her matches by granting all four of her opponents, through six matches, a single bead on the wire in races to 5, opened with victories over Tera Saunders 5-2 and Sharolyn Sumner 5-1. She drew Crystal Dunn in the other winners’ side semifinal.

Pavlovick advanced to the hot seat match by sending Dunn to the loss side 5-1. Kim joined her after sending Gonzales over, double hill (4-2). Pavlovick, in what proved to be her last winning match, claimed the hot seat 5-2. 

On the loss side, Kim’s mentor, Orietta Strickland, who’d lost, double hill, to Charlie Marie 4-6 in the 2nd winners’ side round, survived a double hill battle versus Sheila Lowe 7-4 in her first loss-side match and then, downed Anderson 7-2. She fought and won another double hill match against Phoebe Simon, winning 7-3 to draw Crystal Dunn.  Gonzales, in the meantime, drew Sandy Harrington, who’d recently eliminated Sharolyn Sumner, double hill (4-3), and shut out Angie Kirkpatrick.

Gonzales downed Harrington 3-2. Strickland joined her for the quarterfinals, after eliminating Dunn 7-2. Strickland then shut out Gonzales and entered the semifinals against her student, Jennifer Kim, sporting a virtual ‘ton’ of momentum.

It didn’t do her a lot of good in those semifinals, as (noted earlier) she turned the table over to Kim on a number of critical occasions. Kim advanced to the true double elimination finals over her mentor, having not given up a single rack to her in the semifinals.

Strickland had apparently transferred some of the momentum that she’d built up during her five-match, loss-side run to her student. Kim battled Pavlovick to double hill in the opening set of the true double elimination final, before winning it to force the second set. Kim gave up only a single rack in that second set to claim her first major event title.

Tour representatives thanked the ownership and staff at Rusty’s for their hospitality, as well as sponsors Fort Worth Billiards Superstore, OB Cues and Doc’s Billiards Office. The next stop on the DFW Ladies 9-Ball Tour, scheduled for Saturday, September 25, will be hosted by Snookered in Frisco, TX. The next stop on the regular DFW 9-Ball Tour, scheduled for July 24-25, will be hosted by the venue which hosted this event, Rusty’s in Arlington, TX.