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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.

Hansen goes undefeated to take 4th Annual NAPT Summer Classic

Taylor Hansen and NAPT President Adrianne Beach

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

Corr takes an unusual loss-side route to win JPNEWT stop

(l to r): Karen Corr & Lai Li

Forced to forfeit an opening round match because she was late in arriving, Karen Corr started her August 10-11 weekend on the J. Pechauer Northeast Women’s Tour on the loss side of the bracket. This was good news/bad news for some of the tour regulars. For a few of the tour’s top competitors who would potentially have faced her in one of the four winners’ side matches and possibly, the hot seat match, it was likely a comfort to have her toiling away on the loss side, early. For those competitors who would normally toil away on the loss side, not having to worry about facing Corr until an undefined ‘later,’ which could be the event final, it was more of a bad news scenario. It meant that any hope that a competitor had of reaching the final was likely to necessitate facing Corr first, although at least some of the loss-side women could look forward to a few matches before that became an issue.
 
In any event, Corr ended up winning seven on the loss side, three of which entailed giving up a total of only two racks. She then defeated Lai Li in the finals to claim her second 2019 JPNEWT title. It was the second JPNEWT stop in a row which featured a winner who’d won seven on the loss side to defeat a hot seat occupant; Caroline Pao defeated TD Linda Shea in the finals last month. The $1,400-added (by Coins of the Realm) event this past weekend drew 22 entrants to Triple Nines Bar & Billiards in Elkridge, MD.
 
In an expression usually employed to introduce loss-side action . . . . meanwhile, on the winners’ side, 21 other competitors wended their way towards the hot seat match, including eight of the tour’s top ten players in the tour standings. Kathleen Lawless (#6) and Lai Li (#3) would emerge to do battle for the hot seat. After an opening round bye, Lawless opened with a double hill win over Nicole Christ and a 7-2 win over Teri Thomas to face Elaine Wilson (#11) in one of the winners’ side semfinals.  Li would face the tour’s #1, Linda Shea, in the opening round and defeat her 7-4. She went on to down Sharon O’Hanlon 7-1 and Leslie Furr 7-2 to face Nicole King (#2) in the other winners’ side semifinal.
 
Lawless moved on to the hot seat match with a 7-3 win over Wilson and was joined by Li, who’d sent King to the loss side 7-5. Li claimed the hot seat 7-5 to wait on the arrival of Corr.
 
Over her first 23 loss-side games, Corr gave up only two racks; one each to Kim McKenna and Leslie Furr, while, in the middle, she gave up none at all Noel Rima. Then she came up against Linda Shea, who, like her, was riding a three-game, loss-side winning streak. Shea would chalk up more racks against Corr (5) than anyone in the tournament and move on to pick up Elaine Wilson. King drew Kelly Wyatt, who was making her second appearance on the tour, having finished in the tie for 9th place in May and was in the midst of a four-match, loss-side winning streak. She’d recently defeated Teri Thomas and Ceci Strain, both 7-3 to draw King.
 
Wyatt made it five in a row with a 7-5 victory over King, as Corr was busy eliminating Elaine Wilson 7-3. Corr ended Wyatt’s loss-side run 7-1 in the quarterfinals. She then downed Lawless in the semifinals 7-2, bringing her loss-side (and as it happened, event) aggregate score to 49-13. She the defeated Li in the finals 7-3 to claim her second 2019 JPNEWT title.
 
Linda Shea thanked the ownership and staff at Triple Nines and Coins of the Realm, as well as title sponsor J. Pechauer Custom Cues, angle aim Art (Britanya Rapp), The Turtle Rack, Baltimore City Cues, and Billy Ray Bunn Cue Repair. The next stop on the JPNEWT, scheduled for September 14-15, will be hosted by First Break Bar & Grill in Sterling, VA.

Corr returns to the JPNEWT, goes undefeated to win Stop #3

(l to r): Linda Shea, Karen Corr & Nicole King

In her first appearance on the 2019 J. Pechauer Northeast Women’s Tour on the weekend of May 18-19, Karen Corr went undefeated to claim her first 2019 JPNEWT title. The $500-added (by Coins of the Realm) event drew 23 entrants to First Break Bar & Grill in Sterling, VA.
 
As usual, in a way that makes other competitors think in terms of ‘second place,’ Corr not only went undefeated, but until the final match, didn’t give up more than a single rack in each of the four matches that put her in the hot seat. After being awarded an opening round bye, Corr chalked up 7-1 victories over Jenn Sylvester and Elaine Wilson to draw Bethany Sykes in one of the winners’ side semifinals. Nicole King, in the meantime, had to do some work to get to the same place. King defeated Leslie Furr and Ceci Strain 7-5, and gave up only three racks to Kathleen Lawless, to draw Kia Sidbury in the other winners’ side semifinal.
 
Corr chalked up her third straight 7-1 victory, over Sykes, while King and Sidbury locked up in a double hill fight that eventually sent King to the hot seat match versus Corr. Corr then chalked up her fourth 7-1 victory, over King, to claim the hot seat and await her return from the semifinals.
 
On the loss side, Sidbury picked up Elaine Wilson, who, following her defeat at the hands of Corr in a winners’ side quarterfinal, defeated Sharon O’Hanlon 7-5 and Anita Sowers 7-4. Sykes drew a re-match against tour director Linda Shea, last month’s winner at Markley Billiards in PA, who had been sent to the loss side by Sykes in the 2nd round and was in the midst of a six-match, loss-side winning streak that would take her as far as the semifinals. She had most recently eliminated Kathleen Lawless 7-4 and Lai Li 7-3.
 
Wilson downed Sidbury 7-4 and in the quarterfinals, met Shea, who’d advanced in a successful 7-3 rematch against Sykes. Shea then chalked up what proved to be her final loss-side win with a 7-4 victory over Wilson in those quarterfinals.
 
From the standpoint of what was expected to happen after the semifinals (although no guarantees), it was no surprise that the semifinals became a struggle for (however it turned out) second place. It was thus, a predictable double hill fight that eventually ended Shea’s loss-side winning streak and gave King a second shot at Corr in the hot seat. Although King would chalk up as many racks in the finals as all four of Corr’s previous opponents combined (herself included), to no one’s surprise, Corr won 7-4 to claim the title.
 
Tour director Linda Shea thanked the ownership and staff at First Break Bar & Grill, as well as title sponsor J. Pechauer Custom Cues, event sponsor Coins of the Realm, angle aim Art (Britanya E Rapp), The Turtle Rack Combo (Mezzusa.com), Baltimore City Cues and Billy Ray Bunn Cue Repair. The next stop (#4) on the JPNEWT, scheduled for the weekend of July 27-28, will be hosted by Champion Billiards Sports Bar in Frederick, MD.

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

Kristina Tkach (Photo courtesy of Erwin Dionisio)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

China’s Siming Chen gets by Britain’s Kelly Fisher twice to win 2019 WPBA Masters

Kelly Fisher and Siming Chen (Photo courtesy of WPBA)

In what proved to be her best recorded earnings year, to date (2017), China’s 24-year-old Siming Chen won five major events between March and November, opening with a win at the Amway Cup in Chinese Tapei, followed by victories in the China Open (June), the Dynamic Klagenfurt (part of the Euro Tour in Austria; Oct.)  and a week apart in November, the Women’s World 9-Ball Championships (Nov. 8-11) and the All-Japan Women’s Championship (Nov. 16-26).
 
In the Women’s World 9-Ball Championships that year, there was only one competitor among the top eight finishers who was not from China or Chinese Taipei. That lone competitor, who finished in the four-way tie for 5th place was Britain’s Kelly Fisher. Five months earlier, Fisher had finished in the four-way tie for 5th place at the China Open, sharing the spot with Chihiro Kawahara (Japan), Rubilen Amit (Philippines) and Xiao-Ting Pan (China).
 
And this is just that one year, her best recorded earnings year, to date. Chen’s been winning money on the international pool scene since 2009, when she was 16. All this, by way of an introduction to who she is – the #1-ranked female pool player in the world right now – and why, to no one’s surprise, she went undefeated through a field of 64 entrants to win the 2019 WPBA Masters, held from February 27-March 3 at the Soaring Eagle Casino & Resort in Mount Pleasant, MI. Also to no one’s surprise, Kelly Fisher recovered from an early round loss to Chen and fought back though nine matches on the loss side to face her a second time in the finals.
 
It’s not unusual for fans of the billiard sports to be more keenly attuned to players from their own countries and/or players who compete regularly in their country. We here in the US of A are aware of many female competitors who are not native to this country, but are well-known by virtue of their presence competing (and in some cases, living) here. Allison Fisher (Britain), Karen Corr (Ireland), Kelly Fisher (England), Ga Young Kim (South Korea), and Jasmin Ouschan (Austria), as just a few examples of those who competed at this year’s WPBA Masters. The home-grown female talent on hand was larger and made its presence known, just not for as long, as the visiting competitors flexed their considerable muscle and advanced toward the finals.
 
Jennifer Baretta made it to a winners’ side semifinal (right after defeating Janet Atwell), and made it to the quarterfinals before giving way to Kelly Fisher. Gerda (Hoffstater) Gregerson, a member of the WPBA Hall of Fame, originally from Austria, later from Sweden and currently residing in Charlotte, NC made it to a winners’ side quarterfinal against Siming Chen.
 
Siming Chen’s trip started with the proverbial bang, as she shut out Indiana’s Tonya Wiser and then ran right into Kelly Fisher for the first, though not the last time. Chen gave up only a single rack to Fisher in their first meeting and then defeated Billie Billing 9-1 to arrive at her winners’ side quarterfinal match against Gregerson. A 9-3 victory over Gregerson gave Chen a 36-5 game winning record moving into her winners’ side semifinal match against Jennifer Baretta.
 
Chinese Tapei’s Tzu Chien Wei, in the meantime, who’d cashed in three of the four events won by Siming Chen back in 2017, worked her way through a slightly more resistant field of competitors, downing Caroline Pao 9-2 in her opening match, and Jessica Barnes 9-3 in her second. She then survived a double hill battle against 20-year-old Russian Kristina Tkach to sport a 27-13 game record, going into her winners’ side semifinal match against Allison Fisher.
 
Chen advanced to the hot seat match with a 9-2 win over Baretta, as Wei defeated Fisher 9-5 to join her. Chen claimed the hot seat 9-7 over Wei and waited for what turned out to be the return of Kelly Fisher.
 
Fisher, over on the loss side, was working on a nine-match winning streak that would carry her all the way back to a finals rematch against Chen. She started that trip with three victories in which she gave up only a single rack each to Ewa Mataya Laurance, Caroline Pao and Kaylin Wykoff. Jenna Bishoff put up a bit of a fight in the following round, chalking up more racks against Fisher (5) than her first three loss-side opponents combined. Fisher returned to form with a 9-1 victory over Janet Atwell and then gave up three to Kristina Tkach. This put Kelly Fisher into a match against Allison Fisher, fresh from the winners’ side semifinal.
 
Jennifer Baretta drew Jasmin Ouschan, who’d been defeated by Allison Fisher 9-7 in a winners’ side quarterfinal and then defeated Helena Thornfeldt 9-4 and Line Kjorsvik 9-7 to face Baretta.
 
Everybody got caught up in a double hill fight for advancement to the quarterfinals. Baretta eventually defeated Ouschan, and Fisher eliminated Fisher (that’s Kelly over Allison). Kelly Fisher ended Jennifer Baretta’s run 9-5 in those  quarterfinals and then got wrapped up in another double hill fight, which she won, against Tzu Chie Wen in the semifinals.
 
As she’d describe it later from an airport in Detroit, awaiting a flight to Newark, and eventually, home to England, three matches in a row on that last Sunday just about did Kelly Fisher in, and “the wheels sort of came off.” Siming Chen completed her undefeated run at the 2019 WPBA Masters with an 11-2 victory over Kelly in the finals.
 
WPBA representatives thanked the Soaring Eagle Resort & Casino for their hospitality, as well as sponsors Outsville AccuRack, Aramith, PoolActionTV, Simonis Cloth and Diamond Billiard Products.

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.”

Strickland and Corr Hold Master Class in Pa.

Pool players in Pennsylvania have a once in a lifetime opportunity coming up when two world champions hold their Master Class at Fusco’s the Spot in Trevose, Pa.
 
Earl Strickland and Karen Corr are holding this Master Class on Saturday December 8th from Noon to 3pm. This class is limited to 12 students and costs $200 per student. 
 
Players looking for more information, can go to www.karen-corr.com for complete details. 
 

Kiamco battles Davis twice to claim VA State 8-Ball Championship Open title

(l to r): Tiger Baker, Warren Kiamco, Mike Davis, Jr. & Kris Wylie

Sykes downs Sidbury in finals of Ladies event
 
The Action Pool Tour has a way of attracting top-notch talent from both the amateur and professional levels of the sport to their regularly-scheduled events throughout the year. Its no-handicap policy is attractive to players from the semi-professional to professional end of the spectrum. Its consequent tournament entrant list proves to be attractive to amateur players, looking to challenge themselves against the best, while, depending on the draw, not running into a constant stream of pros.
 
The 2018 list of winners on the APT includes Johnny Archer (May), Ruslan Chinakhov (February, with Warren Kiamco as runner-up), Zoren James Aranas (April, with Dennis Orcollo as runner-up), Shaun Wilkie (three times, with Karen Corr as runner-up in July) and Reymart Lim (twice). On the weekend of November 10-11, at the 2018 VA State 8-Ball Championships, hosted by Diamond Billiards in Midlothian, VA, Warren Kiamco added his name to the list of 2018 winners with an undefeated run through a field of 37 entrants, that included two victories over Mike Davis, Jr. As these more recognizable names battle it out for the top spots, Steve Fleming maintains his spot at the top of the APT rankings, while other players like Jason Trigo (#2), and Eric Moore (#8), all on the basis of repeated appearances on the tour, maintain their slots, as well.
 
A concurrently-run Ladies VA State 8-Ball Championships, impacted by a local VNEA league event on the same weekend (with a trip to Las Vegas on the line), saw only five entrants compete. Bethany Sykes earned the 2018 Ladies Championship title with a 7-4 victory over runner-up Kia Sidbury in the finals. Also competing were Gwen Townsend, Kim Whitman and Melissa Mason.
 
Kiamco and Davis met in both the hot seat and finals of Open event. Kiamco opened his campaign against Reymart Lim, sending him to the loss side 7-3, and then, downing Christopher Wilburn 7-1 and Eric Moore 7-3 to draw Cary Dunn in one of the winners’ side semifinals. Davis, in the meantime, worked his way through Sean Millican 7-1, Larry Kressel 7-2, and Elias Nassif 7-3 to pick up Jason Trigo in the other winners’ side semifinal.
 
Kiamco moved on to the hot seat match with a 7-1 victory over Dunn. Davis joined him after sending Trigo over 7-2. In their first of two, Kiamco and Davis battled to double hill before Davis prevailed to sit in the hot seat.
 
On the loss side, Trigo picked up Reymart Lim, who’d come all the way back from his earlier loss against Kiamco; five loss-side wins that included recent victories over Rodney McLamb 7-3 (in the first money round) and Eric Moore 6-2. Dunn drew Chris Bruner, who’d lost a winners’ side quarterfinal against Trigo and then defeated John Newton 6-2 and Elias Nassif 6-1 to reach Dunn.
 
Lim extended his loss-side streak to six with a 6-1 victory over Trigo. Bruner extended his loss-side streak to three with a 6-4 victory over Dunn. Lim ended Bruner’s streak with a 6-3 victory in the quarterfinals.
 
By the same 6-3 score, Davis ended Lim’s streak in the semimfinals for a second shot at Kiamco. In a race to 9, Davis chalked up as many racks as he had against Kiamco in the hot seat match. Kiamco added two to his hot seat number and took the 2018 VA State 8-Ball Championship title 9-6.
 
Tour directors Tiger Baker and Kris Wylie thanked the ownership and staff at Diamond Billiards for their hospitality, as well as sponsors Predator Cues, Viking Cues, Tiger, Simonis Cloth, Aramith Balls, Diamond Billiard Products, Ozone Billiards, Kamui Tips and George Hammerbacher (Advanced Pool Instructor). The Action Pool Tour will conclude its 2018 season with a $10,000 Top 64 Invitational Tournament, scheduled for the weekend of December 15-16 at Q Master Billiards in Virginia Beach, VA (NOTE: The date was changed from its original, Dec. 8-9).

Corr goes undefeated to win NAPT Coupe de Quebec in Canada

Karen Corr (Photo courtesy of NAPT)

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