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Corr and Miller split top two prizes in JPNEWT season finale

Karen Corr, Bethany Sykes, CC Strain and Briana Miller

Tour director Linda Shea officially hands tour reins to Briana Miller

Though it lacked the formality of any sort of official transfer of power, the season finale of the 2022 J. Pechauer Northeast Women’s Tour (JPNEWT) was significant as the last event at which Maryland’s Linda Shea would preside as its tour director, a title she has held for 14 years. This was announced and for all intents and purposes begun back in July when it was first reported that beginning officially with the season opener of the 2023 JPNEWT season, Pennsylvania’s Briana Miller would be the tour’s new director. Beginning with the fifth stop on the 2022 tour, Shea and Miller have been working side by side, co-directing the last seven stops on the tour. It’s been a transfer of power unlike anything that could be dreamed of in a political arena; an incoming US Senator, for example, working side by side with the incumbent to ‘learn the ropes’ of the job, while at the same time, beginning to exert a measure of influence, actually acting as the in-power Senator to accomplish specific policy objectives, so that when the time came, he/she could hit the ground running, to the benefit of the entire country. 

Day by day, month by month over the past five of them, Shea and Miller have worked together toward this past weekend, Shea’s last tournament as its director. Miller has, in consultation with various long-standing members of the tour, including Shea, begun to change things, bringing a new ‘look’ to the tour Web site, seeking out new rooms, making plans to include more ‘bar box’ events, investigating ways of marketing the tour, initiating a new event format to the JPNEWT mix and making plans to grow the tour beyond Shea’s leadership. At this past weekend’s season finale, for example, Miller, Shea and other tour competitors were engaged in a combination round-robin, single-elimination format event that hadn’t been experienced by them on the tour before.

The $500-added season finale drew 26 entrants to Triple Nines in Elkridge, MD this past weekend (Dec. 3-4). Both Briana Miller and Karen Corr went undefeated through both stages to arrive at a final match and then opt out of playing it, choosing instead to split the top two cash prizes. More on the event itself later.

There was also an unofficial, low-key ‘transfer of power’ moment at the event, during which Shea, who, like the incoming tour director, Briana Miller, competed in the event itself, was presented with a trophy/plaque, recognizing and commemorating her 14 years of service to the tour. 

The new round-robin/single-elimination format offered existing and potential future competitors on the tour an opportunity to play more pool. Previously, the JPNEWT was adhering to standards that by rule, aligned them with the WPBA; in game choice (9-ball), format (double elimination) and without handicaps. According to Shea, some of the previous WPBA requirements have been relaxed to accommodate such format (and other) changes. But throughout most of Shea’s tenure as tour director, it meant that a newcomer to the tour might, as an example, travel some distance to compete, find themselves up against two tour veterans in an early draw and be headed home before mid-afternoon of the first day. With the round robin format as a beginning, such a player would, for their entry fee money, play all day, win or lose. Two losses wouldn’t disqualify her from further competition, although she wouldn’t likely be moving on to the single elimination phase of the event.

“I enjoyed it,” said outgoing tournament director, Shea. “With its (round robin format) races to 4, you had to come out concentrating hard.”

“Getting to four doesn’t take much,” she added, “and I liked it in the sense that you had to come out focused.”

And she did. There were five ‘flights’ of round robin matches, four of them with five competitors and one with six. Shea won all four of her round robin matches, advancing with nine others to the single elimination phase of the event. 

Also advancing to the event’s second stage undefeated were incoming TD Briana Miller, Bethany Sykes and Eugenia Gyftopoulous. Advancing on the strength of 3-1 records were Ada Lio, Carol V. Clark, Kia Burwell, June Prescop and Karen Corr. Cecilia Strain advanced with a 3-2 record and a better, overall game-winning percentage than two other competitors with 3-2 records in the round robin phase. Shea, Miller, Corr, Burwell, Sykes and Gyftopoulous were awarded opening-round byes in the single-elimination bracket.

In the two matches that comprised the opening round of single-elimination play, Clark defeated Prescop 7-3 and Strain got by Lio 7-4. In the quarterfinals, Sykes defeated Clark 7-5, Corr downed Gyftopoulous 7-3 and Miller eliminated Burwell 7-2. Shea and Strain battled to double hill before Strain advanced to meet Miller in one of the semifinals. Corr and Sykes squared off in the other one.

In their first match of the event, in the round robin phase, Sykes had handed Corr what turned out to be her only loss in the tournament 4-2. Corr came back in the event semifinals to win their second match 7-4. Meeting for the first time (in this event), Miller defeated Strain 7-4 as well. It was at this point that Corr and Miller opted out of a final and split the top two cash prizes. It was also the final match held under the auspices of Shea, whose reign as JPNEWT TD came to something of an unofficial end. The opening of the tour’s 2023 schedule will be solely under Briana Miller’s direction.

“I haven’t been the director for the last few months, really,” said Shea. “I just helped her, introduced her to the people and assisted.”

“It felt good,” she added of her thoughts following the end of her official TD duties, noting that there were no sad thoughts about her ‘retirement’ from director status. “None at all. I get to just play now. I get to come in and not have to be there two hours early. I might even play in the Super Billiards Expo next year.

“I’m happy that Briana was interested in the position,” she went on to say. “I think she’s going to do a good job and it’s going to be great.”

Shea knew when it was over that she was leaving the tour in good hands. Though she admitted to a twinge of sadness that she was saying goodbye to the role of tour director, she was, overall, thankful for it.

“Very true,” she said. “Yes.” 

In parting, Shea offered thanks to all of the players and tour assistants with whom she has worked over the past 14 years, and those who participated in her TD ‘swan song.’ She, along with Briana Miller thanked tour sponsor J. Pechauer Custom Cue and George Hammerbacher, pool instructor and commentator on the tour’s live streams. Information on the JPNEWT 2023 schedule will appear on the tour’s listing, to be found in the “Tours/Events” tab on the AZBilliards Web site. 

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Switzerland downs Poland in 17th American 14.1 Straight Pool Championships

Dimitri Jungo

Jungo wins roller coast final vs. Zielinski/Tkach defeats Corr in Women’s event.

You had to be there.

As it’s been for a number of years, the annual American Straight Pool Championships, held this past week (Oct. 24-29) at Q-Master Billiards in Virginia Beach, VA were not just about who beat who, by how much. Or the specifics of about how the male and female fields whittled down from 56 men and 15 women to Switzerland’s Dimitri Jungo, who won the Men’s event and Russia’s Kristina Tkach, who won the Women’s event; each, right after it was over, holding their 17th annual traditional clock and collecting their envelopes with $10,000 and $5,000, respectively.

It was, too, about the gathering of world-class competitors, kicking back in the highly-congenial atmosphere of this country’s largest pool room, regaling each other with stories of past exploits, current battles in their individual matches and where they’re headed next. It’s a pool player knocked out of the competition early, preparing for this week’s International Open, about 20 miles away, by practicing one type of shot (a corner-to-corner, stop shot) for hours. Or a female competitor describing the dancing skills of two female friends in a long-ago moment after an event that had an entire table of people in stitches. It’s about the photos of all the US Open Champions crowned in the room, the commendations from 50+ years of pool players, and of course, scores aside, the quality of play.

“The quality of play this year was just unbelievable,” founder and Chairman of the American 14.1 Straight Pool Championships, Peter Burrows told a packed arena at the conclusion of the Men’s event. “It’s why we come here every year.”

“(Jungo and Zeilinski) had a number of exquisite safety battles tonight that were really remarkable,” he added of the final match.

In his first time competing in these straight pool championships, Jungo revealed that it was only the second time that he had played the game competitively all year. He recalled being here in the US in 2001; a year he referenced as ‘9-11.’

“And now,” he said, shortly after claiming the Men’s title, “here I am, 18 years later.”

Though hesitant to single out one particular discipline as his ‘favorite,’ he admitted to an affection for straight pool that has lasted for a long time. He admits to playing it a lot more by himself than in competition.

“I like it,” he said. “When I play it alone, I can challenge myself.”

In the more-than-just-winning-or-losing department, he was impressed with the milieu associated with Q Master Billiards. He admitted to being enchanted by it and used a somewhat dated expression to describe it.

“I like the ‘groove’ here,” he said. “It’s like. . . pool, where it’s born. I feel like it’s home. The way they treat the people here is very special.”

“I was very comfortable here,” he added of the week he’d spent at the tables, moments after that week was over, “and I’m feeling good.”

As well he might have, having just won a tournament that at its start a week ago, had other competitors ‘pegged’ for the win; among the others – Jayson Shaw, Fedor Gorst, the surging-in-Europe Francisco Sanchez-Ruiz, final European member of the 2022 Mosconi Cup Team, David Alcaide, Josh Filler and Filipino Lee Van Corteza, who would finish the Round Robin Phase of the event with the highest point differential (504) of the eight groups of seven players each. Jungo would finish third overall in that department at 460, behind Van Corteza and Josh Filler (498).

Jungo finished #1 in his seven-man group, downing Jasmin Ouschan, Corey Deuel, Bob Madenjian, Ed Culhane and countryman Michael Schneider (who would later introduce himself as the “other one from Switzerland.”) Jungo’s loss came at the stick of Darren Appleton.

Poland’s Wictor Zielinski, in the meantime, was #1 in his group, as well, downing his own list of top-ranked pros – Thorsten Hohmann, Ralf Souquet, Denis Grabe, Bart Czapla and the USA’s Pascal Dufresne, who, when he done competing, became a statistician for the event, seated behind a computer, using a 14:Straight Pool program he had written to input analytic data about each match he was able to witness. Zielinski’s loss in the Round Robin phase was to Finland’s Jani Uski.

All four of the event’s semifinalists – Jungo, Zielinski, Mario He and Mieszko Fortunski – were #1 in their Round Robin groups. They, along with the other four top competitors to come out of the Round Robin phase – Josh Filler, John Morra, Francisco Candela and Lee Van Corteza were awarded opening round byes as second- and third-place competitors (16 of them) squared off in the opening round of the single elimination phase of the event, racing to 150. Gone at the conclusion of that opening round were (among others) Jayson Shaw, Darren Appleton and Albin Ouschan. In the final 16 round, Lee Van Corteza, Ralf Souquet, Sanchez-Ruiz (downed by Zielinski), The Lion (Alex Pagulayan) and Carlo Biado (defeated by Jungo) were gone as well.

The quarterfinal matches saw Jungo eliminate Morra, Mario He defeat Lebanon’s Bader Alawadhi, Mieszko Fortunski get by David Alcaide in the closest match of the tournament 150-148, and Zielinski wave goodbye to Joshua Filler (not literally) in the most lopsided match of the single elimination phase, 150-38.

The racing-to-175 semifinals, which guaranteed that one of the finalists would be from Poland, saw Zielinski down Fortunski 175-55. Jungo joined him after defeating Austria’s Mario He 175-85.

As noted by Burrows earlier, the final match was a bit of a roller coaster ride. If you weren’t aware that fouls can send scores moving in the opposite direction, you might have been surprised if you stepped away when the score was tied at 55-55 and returned to find out it had backed up to 54-53 in favor of Jungo.

“(Zielinski) got out to a lead early,” noted Jungo. “but I made it to 67 (ahead by 14), and then, we had those safety battles in the middle; four or five of them.”

Zielinski kept fighting back and took the lead back at the 131-130 stage of the game, at which point, the scores went backwards again, to 129-128. Jungo re-established the lead and expanded it to 147-136. With 28 balls to go, he got them all. At 162-136, right after his break had left 14 on the table, with only 13 to go, Jungo ran the table to claim the title.

Kristina Tkach

After protracted absence since 2019, Ireland’s Karen Corr makes it to Women’s final

Ireland’s Karen Corr has been making her presence known on the women’s circuit since her somewhat unofficial return from an unofficial absence since 2019. She’d appeared on the J. Pechauer Northeast Women’s Tour this year, finished 3rd at the WPBA’s Michigan Open (tied with Allison Fisher) and made an appearance at last week’s Sledgehammer Open, the 1st memorial tournament for Helena Thornfeldt. She ‘chose’ to record her highest return-finish in Virginia Beach at an event not without its favored competitors. Some were looking ahead almost from the start to a rematch between Tkach and the event’s defending champion, Kelly Fisher, who had matched up twice against each other at the Sledgehammer Open; Tkach taking the first in a winners’ side semifinal and Kelly, the second in the final.

Not so fast. There were three round robin ‘flights’ with five players each, from which Corr, Tkach and Fisher emerged undefeated. Joining them in an opening, single-elimination round were Bethany Sykes (vs. Tkach), Dawn Hopkins (vs. Corr), Billie Billing (vs. Fisher) and Bean Hung, squaring off against Pia Filler. Racing to 80, Tkach allowed Sykes one ball, Hung gave up 23 to Filler, Fisher gave Billing 42, while Corr and Hopkins played the closest match; won by Corr 80-50.

The potential Fisher/Tkach final was still on, but not for long. In the semifinals, Tkach downed Hung 100-49, as Corr was likely surprising Kelly Fisher with a 100-36 win that put her in her first (recorded) final in two years.

Tkach has won the European straight pool championships twice, though like many others, it’s not a discipline that she gets to play that often.

“When I was very young, about 16 or 17, I played a full-year of straight pool every day,” she said, noting that her coach at the time was trying to get her to that oft-elusive first run of 100 balls, “but I was at a different level back then, too.”

“It is a game that you play maybe once a year,” she added, “but once you learn how to play it, it’s like riding a bicycle. Once you understand it, it’s really just about making balls.”

She got on the bike, made the balls and claimed the second American Women’s 14.1 Straight Pool Championship Title.

Many of the competitors who were in Virginia Beach over the past week have already moved on to Norfolk, VA, about 20 miles west of Q Master Billiards, to compete in Pat Fleming’s International Open, which began on Friday, Oct. 28 with a $10,000-added One Pocket tournament (to which many knocked out of the straight pool at Q Master Billiards migrated). The One Pocket will conclude today (Sunday, Oct. 30) and give way to the $50,000-added 9-Ball Tournament set to begin tomorrow (Monday, Oct. 31), which should make for an interesting Halloween night. Later in the week, the Junior International Championships will conclude their 2022 season with championship tournaments for the 18 & Under Boys and Girls divisions of the series.

And a final unofficial and unquoted word from Peter Burrows about the 18th Annual American 14.1 Straight Pool Tournament next year, which he has promised (with a little help from his friends) will be bigger and better with more players and more money.

“You have to be there!”

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Corr to face Tkach in 5 p.m. Women’s final at American 14.1 Straight Pool Championships

Karen Corr

Jungo will face either Miesko Fortunski or Wictor Zielinski in final Men’s match at 8 p.m.

Prior to this year, Ireland’s Karen Corr had not recorded a payout with us here at AZBilliards since 2019. When she returned in August to make an appearance on the J. Pechauer Northeast Women’s Tour, finishing 4th and a month later, at the WPBA’s Michigan Women’s Open, she finished in a tie for 3rd with Allison Fisher. Last week at the 1st Annual Sledgehammer Open at Janet Atwell’s room, Borderline Billiards in Bristol, TN, Kelly Fisher and Russia’s Kristina Tkach played a pair of matches; Tkach winning the first in a winners’ side semifinal and Fisher winning the final. When pool-watchers woke up this morning (Sat.Oct. 29), with their eyes focused to the ongoing brackets of the American 14:1 Straight Pool Championships being held at Q Master Billiards in Virginia Beach, VA this week, they would have noticed that Fisher and Tkach were still a possibility for a repeat final. 

They reckoned without Karen Corr. Making her way into the event’s final 24 with a 4-1 record in the Round Robin stage, Corr moved through the single elimination phase, downing Billie Billing 80-42 and in the semifinals, Kelly Fisher, the event’s defending champion, 100-36. Tkach, who’d defeated Bethany Sykes 80-1 in the quarterfinals and Bean Hung 100-49 in her semifinal will now have the chance to meet Corr at 5 p.m. EDT, a match that could run live (via links) on the American 14:1 Straight Pool Championships’ Web site (www.americanstraightpool.com.

Waiting in the wings for an 8 p.m EDT men’s final will be Switzerland’s Dimitri Jungo, who defeated Mario He 175-85. Jungo will play someone from Poland; either Mieszko Fortunski or Wictor Zielinski, who are continuing their semifinal match; a race to 175, with Zielinski ahead 29-13 at approximately 4 p.m, EDT.

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Caroline Pao Becomes the #1-Ranked US Player on the WPBA

Caroline Pao

On the long weekend of Sept. 21-25 in Battle Creek, MI, Caroline Pao became the top-ranked USA player on the WPBA, moving ahead of Jennifer Baretta into fourth place behind the UK’s Kelly and Allison Fisher and Canada’s Brittany Bryant. She did this after finishing in the eight-way tie for 9th place at the Predator US Pro Billiard Series at the Kellogg Arena in Battle Creek. Her rise to this pinnacle in her career, her best-recorded earnings year since she began appearing on our payout lists over 20 years ago, has been the result of hard work, dedication, practice-practice-practice, and the assistance of a number of sponsors. Not to mention a little bit of luck related to recent WPBA history, which saw the number of yearly events diminish over the past few years and gradually, over the past year or so, saw the event-numbers go up, dramatically, in part due to the tour’s ongoing association with the Predator US Pro Billiard Series.

The WPBA ranking system doesn’t work the way many regional-tour ranking systems do, confining its rankings to a single season and starting over when a new season begins. The WPBA allots points to its members over a series of associated events, and as the points associated with a recent event are recorded, the oldest event on the ongoing list drops off the ranking radar. The ranking list that was updated after the Michigan event listed 10 events, dating back to Wisconsin’s Aramith/Doctor Pool Classic in November, 2019, at which Pao finished in the tie for 17th place. The next event, moving forward in time occurred in 2020 and the next in 2021. The next seven have occurred in this calendar year; three of them (so far) associated with the Predator US Pro Billiard Series. The number of offered events had a way of drawing more foreign competition back to the North American WPBA Tour, which accounts for some of Pao’s surprise that in the midst of this rejuvenation of the tour and the return of many competitors, she has somehow managed to move from 11th place on the ranking list when the year started, to 4th on that list, and as it turned out, the top American on it.

She wasn’t surprised because she had any doubts about her skills or dedication to the task(s), but because of this particular year’s worth of challenges. It is, she’ll tell you, something that she loves to do and given the fact that she also holds down a full-time job as a representative for Mezz Cues here in the US, her status as a member of the pool community is 24/7.

“I feel really lucky to have this ranking as the top USA player on the WPBA,” she said, “However, I want to say that the competition has been a lot more stern than it has been over the last few years because of all of the international players who’ve come back to play.”

Along with the top three on the WPBA ranking list (the Fishers and Brittany Bryant) who’ve been here right through the tour’s ‘lean’ years, are (among others) such players as Taipei’s Tzu-Chien Wei (runner-up to Kelly Fisher in Michigan), Spain’s Amalia Matas and Indonesia’s Angeline Ticoalu (tied for 4th in Michigan), and in a welcome return that could signal more events to come for her, Ireland’s Karen Corr.

According to Pao, coming to terms with playing that level of player requires a kind of mental adjustment that is not easy to accomplish. As standard as the ‘play the table, not the opponent,’ may be, it is definitely easier said than done.

“I think that whenever you do play big-time players, (the Fishers, Tzu-Chien Wei, Barretta and others), their presence is known,” she said. “Whether you like it or not, or try not to focus on it, they’re there and you know it. For you to forget about that and focus on you is harder with them, just because of who they are.”

It’s a strange human trait to note the presence of a particular human being across the table from you and allow that to affect the skills, concentration and focus that as a player, you’ve put in so much time to accomplish.

“It really is and no matter how hard you try to fight it and tell yourself (not to be influenced), this game is about 80% mental,” she said. “There’s skill involved, but overall the mental process overtakes it all and while you might make a certain shot nine out of 10 times, in one moment, your percentage might fall.”

“I’ve seen so many countless players miss a key shot like that, but it’s not the same scenario,” she added. “This one moment might be the shot that can make or break you and you might have made it a thousand times, but this one time, you twisted your wrist, or your timing’s a little off, or you shanked it a little bit or held your cue too tight. It could be any of those reasons to throw that one shot off, at that particular time.”

Though she has yet to win a WPBA event, she is a regular competitor on them and is regularly among the top players at the end.

“I think it’s just that my play has been consistent and I tend to come into the top 16,” she said of her advancement to the top US spot in the rankings. “That’s how the points add up to do it.”

She is already looking ahead, not only to specific events in the future, but to ways that she can improve her skill set and approach to the game. And though “grateful and excited” with her recent results, she’s not quite where she wants to be. Yet.

“My dream, and it’s a long shot, is to win a WPBA event,” she said. “It is so hard with (the likes of) Kelly, Allison and Kristina (Tkach). It’s great to come out on top with one of these players in a match or event, but to do it consecutively is Hard!!”

“I think I still need to fine-tune some things in my game,” she added, “things that they’ve already taken care of. For me to beat them consistently, aside from confidence and a strong mentality, I still need to work on a lot of aspects of my game.”

“Pocketing the balls and running out, for example, is one big part of the game, but defense, safety play, kick safes, kicking balls in, all of that also is a big part of the game. The (higher-level players) are better in that part of the game. Even if I play a decent safe, their chances of kicking it in or kick-safing it back to me are a little higher in percentage than me.”

She’s also looking ahead to some events that will not offer her WPBA opportunities in pursuit of the dream, like an upcoming stop on the Joss NE 9-Ball Tour and continuing to compete on the J. Pechauer Northeast Women’s Tour, at which she has had considerable success over these past couple of years. She’ll also continue her dream quest at the WPBA’s Sledgehammer Open, a Helena Thornfeldt Memorial event at Janet Atwell’s room (Borderline Billiards in Bristol, TN; Oct. 19-23), could compete in another of the Predator US Pro Billiard Series event in Puerto Rico (Nov. 15-19) and travel to Rothchild, WI to compete in the Dr. Pool Classic (Dec. 7-11).

She is immensely grateful to her sponsors – Mezz Cues, Sugartree Cues, Raxx Pool Room (West Hempstead, NY), Kurweil’s Country Meats, Three-Second Cases.

“Without them,” she said, “honestly, it would have been pretty rough to attend all the events.”

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Yapp Wins Seybert’s Michigan Open Again; Fisher Is Women’s Champion

Aloysius Yapp and Kelly Fisher

Aloysius Yapp successfully defended his Seybert’s Michigan Open title with a 4-2, 4-1 win over Robbie Capito in the final, and Kelly Fisher won her fourth Pro Billiard Series event with a shootout victory over Wei Tzu Chien in the women’s final at the Kellogg Arena in Battle Creek.

Fisher, previously a Pro Billiard Series winner in Austria, Las Vegas and Germany, came back from losing the first set against Wei to win a high-quality final by shootout and admitted that, given the way she played earlier in the week, she hadn’t been expecting to take home the title.

Yapp had defeated Chang Jung-Lin by shootout in his semi-final earlier on Saturday but didn’t allow the final to go that far as he took every chance offered to him to earn the trophy for a second successive year.

Capito had reached the final with a 4-0, 4-1 win against Vitaliy Patsura in the semi-finals earlier on Saturday and when Yapp missed a jump to the 1, it was Capito who had the first opening of the match, and he took full advantage to clear for the first rack.

However, a dry break presented Yapp a shot on the 1 and this time it was the Singaporean who took a rack on his opponent’s break.

A break and run took Yapp into the lead for the first time but he broke dry in the fourth. Capito had a clear shot at the 1 but after finding perfect position, missed a simple 3 to the middle. He would get another chance when Yapp left a long effort at the 3 and Capito made a tough shot down table.

At the recent Predator Canada Open, Capito was in the corner as partner Chia Hua Chen took the title, and this time it was roles reversed as ‘Amber’ was supporting Capito from the bleachers. She watched on as he made it 2-2 but Yapp regained his set lead when Capito overhit a 5, which had only required the feintest of touches to find the middle pocket. Yapp then completed the set, despite breaking dry, after executing a jump shot on the 1.

The Singaporean continued his run into the second set, taking the first rack and then cutting the 4 with plenty of speed to land perfectly on the 5 as he doubled his set advantage to 2-0, and another break and run took him to the hill before Capito could register a rack.

Capito finally got an opening when Yapp left him sight of the 4, but after making the 5, the cue kicked the 7 to the side rail. A glance off the 10 helped Capito line up position for the 7, but he overhit it and the cue ran into the 8. A thin cut made it to the left corner but Capito then needed to jump the 10 in order to make the 9. He executed that shot superbly, and then made a difficult, high-pressure 10 to give himself hope.

However, unable to afford a mistake, Capito came up dry on his break again. Yapp had a clear shot at the 1 but missed a 2/7 combo he called. Yapp didn’t have to wait too much longer; a chance to seal the title for a second consecutive year came after Capito played an aggressive bank but left a straight 3.

It was a nervy runout at times from there, but Yapp completed it to earn the $20,000 prize and keep hold of his Seybert’s Michigan Open title.

The final of the women’s event was a fitting finale to a high-quality event, with Wei and Fisher both in fine form as they battled for the $13,000 title.

After Wei took the first rack of the opening set, a brilliant 8/10 carom had Fisher level. Wei’s lead was reinstated after Fisher’ dry break left an open table, and 2-1 soon became 3-1 after Fisher scratched when making the 6 ball in the fourth rack.

A great bank to make the 4 got Fisher on her way to 3-2 and the Brit, gold medal winner at The World Games this summer, got the better of a safety battle in the sixth rack to tie the set at hill-hill.

Fisher had the advantage of the break but, despite making the wing ball, found herself with the cue tied to the 9. Wei took out a difficult 1 down the rail to earn herself an opening and followed it up with a long 3. The 6 presented another challenge but Wei found no problems in completing the rack to take the set and a big step towards the title.

A high-quality final showed no sign of abating in the second set. Both players won two of the first four racks but when Wei snatched at the 3, it clipped the 8, missed the pocket, and Fisher cleared to lead 3-2.

Breaking for the last time, Kwikfire Fisher took the 1 down and had nice position on the 2. She had work to do in the rack and played the 5 nicely along the top rail to gain position on the 6 and from there completed a controlled clearance to win the set 4-2 and take the final to shootout.

Having won the lag, Wei was first to shoot and found the heart of the pocket from the spot. Fisher did exactly the same but Wei’s second clipped both jaws and returned up table. Fisher seized the advantage with her second shot, piling the pressure on Wei, who missed again with her third.

That meant Fisher needed one successful shot to win the title. However, she then missed for the first time herself. Wei would still have to make her fourth shot and hope Fisher missed again for the shootout to go to sudden death, but it didn’t go that far as Wei missed for a third time, crowning Fisher a Pro Billiard Series champion for the fourth time.

“I am a bit in shock,” said Fisher. “I got to the final and that was unexpected of me this week. I never got settled until my last match last night against Angeline Ticoalu, that was the first match where I felt I got flowing, so I had a battle all week just trying to find myself, find my game, let alone expecting to go on and win it.

“Once I got that gear it carried on today, thankfully. Today, I performed really well against Karen and pretty steady in the final. Wei came up with all different shots, put me under pressure and I held it together through the shootout.

“I am really ecstatic to win and get another title under my belt. These events, the excitement they create, I really like; when we have a shootout and the crowd is crammed around the table. The format is tough on the players but it is the future to put this sport on the map. It has been a great event and I am looking forward to the next one.”

Fisher had beaten Karen Corr 4-1, 4-0 in an impressive semi-final performance, while Wei had reached the final with a shootout win over Allison Fisher. The Duchess of Doom won the first set 4-1, but Wei took the second 4-2 before winning the shootout 2-1 to reach her second final of the month.

The next US Pro Billiard Series event is the Fargorate Ohio Open, October 19-22 in Wilmington, Ohio.

Brackets and scores for the Men’s event can be found at https://probilliardseries.com/seyberts-michigan-open/

Brackets and scores for the Women’s event can be found at: https://probilliardseries.com/seyberts-michigan-womens-open/ 

The Seybert’s Michigan Open is streamed for free on Billiard TV,  the World Billiard TV YouTube channel and at Kozoom.com

Go to Billiard TV to watch 24/7 Billiard Videos on any device
Follow @probilliardseries on Facebook, @probilliardseries on Instagram or @PBilliardSeries on Twitter to follow the next events.

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Three Brits Make Seybert’s Michigan Women’s Open Semi-Finals

Karen Corr

Karen Corr will face Kelly Fisher and Allison Fisher will take on Wei Tzu-Chien in the Seybert’s Michigan Women’s Open semi-finals, while the open division is down to the last eight with Jayson Shaw, Chang Jung-Lin, Fedor Gorst and defending champion Aloysius Yapp all still standing.

Vitaly Patsura, Joven Bustamante, Robbie Capito and Mika Immonen are also into the quarter-finals at the Kellogg Arena, on what is the fourth stop of the year on the Predator US Pro Billiard Series, presented by CSI.

Both the open and women’s events will play to a conclusion on Saturday, and the semi-finals on the women’s side have a very British feel after a trio of decorated Hall of Famers all made it through.

On the TV table, Corr was up against Margaret Fefilova. After the first two racks were shared, Corr took the third and banked the 1 for a 1/7 combo to open up the fourth rack and run the table for a 3-1 lead. Fefilova pulled one back but a scratch on the break brought the Brit back to the table, and the three-time Women’s World Snooker Champion took advantage of an open table to take the set 4-2.

Corr had stayed on the winners’ side to qualify for the last 16 and had claimed some big wins on her way to the quarter-finals, including a shootout victory against Canada Open champion ‘Amber’ Chia Hua Chen.

She began the second set as she ended the first, adding two racks to the board to leave Fefilova needing a quick turnaround. However, a foul during a safety battle allowed Corr to line up the 1/10 with ball in hand to reach the hill 3-0 up.

A dry break afforded Fefilova an opportunity she couldn’t afford to let slip. The 25-year-old, who has played so well this week, didn’t have a clear path and both players had several visits during the rack before Corr attempted and brilliantly executed an 8/10 combo to the middle to wrap up a 4-2, 4-0 win.

“It’s amazing,” said Corr. “It’s one match at a time and I have been nervous all the way through but in that match I felt comfortable. I felt like I have nothing to lose; I didn’t expect a lot of myself coming into this event because I haven’t played for four years.”

Corr is certainly no stranger to her semi-final opponent, fellow Hall of Famer Kelly Fisher. The pair have met many times in major pool and snooker events over the last three decades and will face off for a place in the final after Fisher won four matches on Friday.

Starting the day on the losers’ side of the brackets, the three-time Pro Billiard Series champion beat Cristina Schneider 4-1, 4-0 and then knocked out Kristina Tkach 3-1 in a shootout. The Brit was then forced to come from behind to defeat Silviana Lu 3-4, 4-3, 3-1 by shootout but she ended the day with a straight-sets win against Angeline Ticoalu, 4-1, 4-0.

Allison Fisher will face Wei Tzu-Chien in the streamed semi-final after both won quarter-final shootouts. Wei was runner-up in the Predator World Women’s 10-Ball Championship earlier this month and made the semi-finals with a win against Amalia Matas. Wei took the first set 4-2 but Matas inflicted Wei’s first set defeat of the week by taking the second 4-3, only to lose 3-0 in the shootout after missing her first two spot shots.

Fisher lost the first set of her quarter-final 4-2 to Jasmin Ouschan but a reversal of that scoreline in the second set took the match to a shootout, and the Brit, finalist at last month’s Canada Open, made all four of her spot shots for a 4-2 shootout success.

“I’m ecstatic to be in the semi-final,” said Fisher. “Today wasn’t my best day at the table so I am really, really delighted. I have come through two good shootouts this week and made four in a row tonight; I can’t believe it.”

In the open event, Aloysius Yapp’s defense of his title continued with a shootout win over John Morra. Yapp took the first set 4-1 but Morra clinched a hill-hill second set after the 2021 champion conceded ball in hand by failing to hit a rail after a safety shot.

Both players were faultless with their first two spot shots, as many in attendance at the Kellogg Arena gathered around the TV table to witness the drama. Yapp made it three out of three before the first mistake was made by Morra, allowing the Singaporean a spot shot for a place in the quarter-finals, which he made to complete a perfect shootout.

Yapp will face Jayson Shaw in the quarter-finals after the Scot defeated Sharik Sayed 4-1, 4-2. A monster semi-final is in store in the bottom half of the draw with Shaw or Yapp to face the winner of the Chang Jung-Lin vs. Fedor Gorst quarter-final. Chang has only lost one set all week while Gorst has won two shootouts to remain undefeated.

Ukraine’s Vitaliy Patsura recently won the biggest tournament check of his career so far at the Texas Open and has carried his form on to Michigan. Like Chang, he has only lost one set this week, against Alex Pagulayan, and will face Jovan Bustamante in the quarter-finals.

Robbie Capito takes on Mika Immonen in the other quarter final after both players won shootouts in the last 16. Immonen was 4-2, 1-4, 4-3 winner over Kang Lee while Capito defeated Wu Kun Lin 3-4, 4-2, 4-3.

Play continues from 10am local time on Saturday, with six more matches to be broadcast live on watchbilliard.tv and the World Billiard TV YouTube channel.

Brackets and scores for the Men’s event can be found at https://probilliardseries.com/seyberts-michigan-open/

Brackets and scores for the Women’s event can be found at: https://probilliardseries.com/seyberts-michigan-womens-open/ 

The Seybert’s Michigan Open is streamed for free on Billiard TV,  the World Billiard TV YouTube channel and at Kozoom.com

Go to Billiard TV to watch 24/7 Billiard Videos on any device
Follow @probilliardseries on Facebook, @probilliardseries on Instagram or @PBilliardSeries on Twitter to follow the next events.

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Impressive Immonen Into Last 16

Mika Immonen

Jayson Shaw, Mika Immonen and defending champion Aloysius Yapp are all through to the last 16 of the Seybert’s Michigan Open, while Jasmin Ouschan, Allison Fisher and Margaret Fefilova are into the single elimination stage of the women’s event at the fourth 2022 stop on the Predator US Pro Billiard Series presented by CSI.

Fefilova followed her opening-day victory over Kelly Fisher with a 4-0, 4-1 win against Shanelle Loraine to come through the winners’ side of the draw and into the last 16. Karen Corr rolled back the years to beat Canada Open champion ‘Amber’ Chia Hua Chen by shootout for her place in the single elimination stage, and Allison Fisher defeated Kristina Tkach, also by shootout.

In the open event, Immonen produced a strong performance to beat Naoyuki Oi 4-0, 4-3 for a place in the single elimination stage. The Finnish Hall of Famer won the lag and ran three racks before a dry break allowed Oi out of his chair. However, a misplayed 1-ball bank left a 1/10 combo for Immonen to win the set.

In a reversal of the first set, Oi took the first three racks of the second. However, Immonen was determined to avoid the shootout and put together a brilliant four-pack to win the set 4-3.

“That is probably the best I have played in a little while,” said Immonen. “It was nice to come out of the gates strong and put a three pack on him. He got into the game a little bit in the second set and was 3-0 up. I made a few mistakes but I finally ran out and broke and ran three to close the door to him. When you win the first set, the worst case is you go to shootout, but it was nice to close the door.”

Chang Jung-Lin was taken to a shootout by Sharik Sayed after their first two sets finished 4-1, 2-4. Sayed had sent Carlo Biado to the losers’ side earlier in the day with a 4-3 shootout win, but wasn’t as sharp from the spot against Chang, missing his first two as Chang made three in three to advance to the last 16.

Yapp and Shaw both also needed shootouts to advance. Yapp, winner of this event last fall, won 4-1, 1-4, 3-2 against Bader Alawadhi and Shaw was a 4-2, 1-4, 4-3 winner against Pijus Labutis.

Fedor Gorst, Vitaliy Patsura, Robbie Capito and Joven Bustamante complete the eight players who have made it through to the last 16 from the winners’ side, with three rounds of play on Friday set to determine the other half of the single elimination draw.

Among the big-name players returning on the losers’ side are Alex Pagulayan, who lost in a shootout to Ukraine’s Vitaliy Patsura on Wednesday, John Morra, who was defeated 4-0, 4-1 by Shaw, and Biado after his defeat to Sayed.

In the Women’s event, Amalia Matas, Jennifer Barretta and 12-year-old Savannah Easton need two wins to qualify for the last 16, while Chen, Tkach and Kristina Zlateva are among those returning in the losers’ qualification round.

Recent World Women’s 10-Ball Championship runner-up Wei Tzu-Chien is among the players who join Fefilova, Corr, Allison Fisher and Ouschan in reaching the last 16 without defeat.

Play continues from 10am local time on Friday, with six more matches to be broadcast live on watchbilliard.tv and the World Billiard TV YouTube channel.

Brackets and scores for the Men’s event can be found at https://probilliardseries.com/seyberts-michigan-open/

Brackets and scores for the Women’s event can be found at: https://probilliardseries.com/seyberts-michigan-womens-open/ 

The Seybert’s Michigan Open is streamed for free on Billiard TV,  the World Billiard TV YouTube channel and at Kozoom.com

Go to Billiard TV to watch 24/7 Billiard Videos on any device
Follow @probilliardseries on Facebook, @probilliardseries on Instagram or @PBilliardSeries on Twitter to follow the next events.

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Miller wins her 5th on the JPNEWT; qualifier for WPBA “Sledgehammer Open” in October

Briana Miller and Nicole Albergaria

Corr returns, Albergaria wins qualifying spot

One can only imagine that while the entrants on this past weekend’s (Aug. 13-14) stop on the J. Pechauer Northeast Women’s Tour were happy to see Ireland’s Karen Corr back at the tables, and in spite of the pool mantra of ‘playing the table, not the opponent,’ there had to be an underlying sense of trepidation. Some, arguably many, remembered that the last time Corr had lost a JPNEWT event in which she had appeared had been seven years ago. As it happened, it was also the year (2015) that she was the tour champion, winning the first eight stops of 11 that year and for reasons lost to the mists of time, finishing 9th at that year’s season finale.

The assumed ‘trepidation’ didn’t affect the JPNEWT’s current, #1-ranked player, Briana Miller, at all. In fact, she opened what turned out to be an undefeated run to her fifth win of the 2022 season by defeating Corr in the opening round. Corr fought back, winning four on the loss side before she became ill and had to withdraw from the event quarterfinals, which would have put her up against Kia Burwell. 

The event was a qualifier for the WPBA “Sledgehammer” Open, a memorial event for the late Helena Thornfeldt, scheduled for the weekend of Oct. 19-23 at Janet Atwell’s room, Borderline Billiards in Bristol, TN. Though won by Miller, she deferred the qualifying spot to runner-up, Nicole Albergaria. The $750-added event drew 13 entrants to Triple Nines in Elkridge, MD, the same site where Corr had last lost an event on the JPNEWT. Triple Nines added the $500 to the general money-added coffers and $250 more for the entry fee to the “Sledgehammer” Open. A raffle cue netted $160 to supplement Albergaria’s travel expenses to that event.  

Following her opening-round victory over Corr, Miller advanced through Kia Burwell 7-5 (the tour’s current #3) to draw Char Dzambo in one of the winners’ side semifinals. Albergaria, in the meantime, got by Kathy Friend 7-3 and Lynn Richard 7-1 to pick up Judie Wilson.

Miller defeated Dzambo 7-3 and in the hot seat match, faced Albergaria, who’d sent Wilson to the loss side 7-3. Miller claimed the hot seat 7-1.

On the loss side, Dzambo drew Karen Corr, who’d previously eliminated Carol V. Clark, Lynn Richard and tour director, Linda Shea (#2). Wilson picked up Burwell, who’d defeated Kathy Friend 7-4 and Calala Jackson 7-1 to reach her.

Corr advanced to the quarterfinals 7-3 over Dzambo and would have been joined by Burwell, who’d eliminated Wilson 7-2. But Corr withdrew from those quarterfinals, sending Burwell to the semifinals, where she was defeated by Albergaria 7-2.

In their second of two, Albergaria, playing in her first event of the JPNEWT season, downed Burwell 7-2 for a second shot at Miller. Albergaria improved on her 7-1 hot seat performance and came within a game of forcing a 13th deciding game. Miller, though, claimed the event title 7-5.

Current and soon-to-be tour directors Linda Shea and Briana Miller thanked the ownership and staff at Triple Nines for their hospitality, as well as title sponsor J. Pechauer Custom Cues and stream commentator, George Hammerbacher. The next stop on the JPNEWT, scheduled for the weekend of September 17-18, has been cancelled. The tour will return to the tables on the weekend of October 8-9 at Eagle Billiards in Dickson City, PA.

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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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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.