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Lai Li goes undefeated to win her first JPNEWT stop since 2019

Kia Sidbury, Shanna Lewis, Colleen Shoop, Lai Li, Linda Shea, Caroline Pao

Lai Li may not have intended for the Dynaspheres Cup 8-Ball Championships, held in Bowie, MD a little over a week ago (June 4-6) to be a warmup for this past weekend’s stop on the J. Pechauer Northeast Women’s Tour (JPNEWT), but it seemed to be just what the pool doctors ordered. Li was among only a handful of women who competed in the 8-ball event that drew 108 entrants to Center Pocket in Bowie, and though she finished out of the money (49th), she won over half of the games she played (16-14). A week later (June 12-13) and about half an hour north of Bowie, she signed on for her third appearance on the 2021 JPNEWT and went undefeated to claim her first title on the tour since November, 2019. Both of Li’s wins were hosted by Triple Nines in Elkridge, MD, which drew 23 entrants to this most recent stop (#4) on the tour.

Also noteworthy of this most recent JPNEWT stop was a 3rd place finish for Caroline Pao, who’d won two of the season’s first three stops and was runner-up in the other one, was looking for her eighth win on the tour since 2019. She was sent to the loss side early by Kia Burwell, and though she’d win six on the loss side to appear in the semifinals, Shanna Lewis stopped her loss side streak to earn a second shot at Li, waiting for her in the hot seat.

Awarded a bye in the opening round, Li got by Melissa Mason 7-4 and Judie Wilson 7-2 to arrive at a winners’ side semifinal against Colleen Shoop. Shanna Lewis, in the meantime, had also been awarded an opening round bye, after which she defeated Teri Thomas 7-5 and Cecilia Strain 7-3 to draw tour director Linda Shea in the other winners’ side semifinal.

It came within a game of being two double hill matches for the right to battle for the hot seat. Shea and Lewis battled to double hill before Lewis prevailed. Li downed Shoop 7-5 to join Lewis in the hot seat match. Li and Lewis battled to double hill to claim the hot seat and it was Lewis who moved west to face Pao in the semifinals. 

On the loss side, Shea walked right into a rematch versus Kia Burwell, who’d followed her victory over Caroline Pao in the opening round with a defeat at the hands of Shea in the second round. Burwell won four straight on the loss side, including a 7-5 win over Sharon O’Hanlon and a 7-4 victory over Teri Thomas to draw the rematch versus Shea. Shoop drew Pao, four matches into her loss-side streak that had most recently included eliminating Cecilia Strain 7-1 and Kelly Wyatt 7-5.

Pao advanced to the quarterfinals 7-2 over Shoop and was joined by Shea, who defeated Burwell a second time 7-4. Pao then defeated Shea 7-4 in those quarterfinals before herself being eliminated by Lewis 7-5 in the semifinals.

The final match, unlike the one they’d fought for the hot seat, did not require a 13th deciding game. It did, however, require 12 of them. Li completed her undefeated run 7-5 and claimed the event title. 

The top four in the tour standings remained the same, with Pao at the top, Liz Taylor in 2nd place, Nicole Nester in 3rd and Linda Shea in 4th. Lai Li, though, jumped from 13th to 5th, edging Judie Wilson out of that slot into 6th. Rounding out the top 10 were Kia Burwell, Carol V. Clark, Shelah Joner and Christine Pross.

Tour director Linda Shea thanked the ownership and staff at Triple Nines for their ongoing hospitality, as well as title sponsor J. Pechauer Custom Cues, Bitzel and Associates PTPA Physical Therapy, George Hammerbacher (Advanced Pool Instructor), and Britanya E Rapp of angle aim Art (for the live stream). The next stop on the JPNEWT, scheduled for June 26-27, will be hosted by Shooter’s Family Billiards in Wayne, NJ. 

Fresh from VA State Championship, Taylor goes undefeated on JPNEWT Season Finale

Liz Taylor and Kia Burwell

The last two times that Liz Taylor played on the J. Pechauer Northeast Women’s Tour, finishing as winner, and later, 9th place in the spring of 2010, Barack Obama was President of the United States. Now, 10 years later, as the world waits to see who will be the 46th President, Liz Taylor made a somewhat triumphant return and went undefeated on the tour’s 2020 season finale. The victory came a week after she had successfully defended her title in the 2020 VA State 8-Ball Championships. The tour’s season finale drew 18 entrants to On Cue Sports Bar & Grill in Front Royal, VA.

After being awarded an opening round bye, Taylor advanced to defeat Tiffany Lear and Lynn Richard, both 7-3, to draw the tour’s second highest ranked player, Kia Burwell in one of the winners’ side semifinals. Playing in the other one was the tour’s #1-ranked player, tour director Linda Shea, who had also been awarded an opening round bye, and then shut out Dawn Takacs and defeated Christie Hurdel 7-2 to draw 4th-ranked Lai Li.

Taylor and Shea advanced to the hot seat match with identical 7-4 wins over Burwell and Li, respectively. In what would prove to be one of the more entertaining matches of the event, Shea and Taylor traded the opening two racks, before Shea began edging out to what appeared to be a commanding 5-1 lead. Taylor, though, won the next rack to make it 5-2, before Shea reached the hill at 6-2. Taylor won the next four to force a 13th and deciding game.

With three balls left in the deciding rack (6, 8, & 9), Taylor took a long, two-rail kick shot in an attempt to hit the 6-ball and it sent both the 6-ball and the cue ball, down table, where Shea had herself a bit of a connect-the-dots pattern to finish the rack and the match. The 6-ball went down smoothly, Shea had positioned herself well for the 8-ball and it went down, too. The cue ball fell either a little short or a little long, depending on your perspective. Shorter, and Shea would have had a credible shot to put the 9-ball in a corner pocket. Longer, and she could have put it straight into a side pocket. Where it lay, she had an oblique angle shot at putting it in a side pocket, and she came within half a ball of doing just that. But the half that didn’t make it, bounced the 9-ball out into the center of the table, as the cue ball meandered into place for a fairly straight-in shot for Taylor. She made it and claimed the hot seat, as Shea moved to the semifinals. 

On the loss side, Burwell began her three-match march back to the finals against Christie Hurdel, who’d followed her defeat at the hands of Shea with victories over Kelly Costello 7-3 and Shelah Joner 7-4. Li drew Shanna Lewis, who’d lost a winners’ side, double hill battle versus Burwell and then, defeated Sharita Green 7-3 and Misti Zamora 7-2.

Li advanced to the quarterfinals 7-3 over Lewis, as Burwell downed Hurdel 7-5. Burwell then eliminated Li 7-3 in those quarterfinals. In the semifinal battle between the tour’s top two ranked players, #2 (Burwell) downed #1 (Shea) 7-1 for a shot at Taylor waiting in the hot seat. 

It was Burwell’s third appearance in a 2020 JPNEWT final and she was still looking for a win. She’d been runner-up to Shea in July and to Caroline Pao in October. The wait, for Taylor, which included the quarterfinal and semifinal matches, did not appear to affect her game at all.

She broke out to a 4-0 lead, before Burwell got on the board with a rack; the only one she would record. Taylor came back and won three straight to complete her undefeated run.

Based on their number of appearances and how they finished throughout the year, Shea and Burwell will finish the JPNEWT season as the top two players on the tour. Lai Li’s 4th place finish edged her ahead of Kathy Friend into third place. Friend and Caroline Pao round out the tour’s 2020 top five.

Shea thanked the ownership and staff at On Cue Sports Bar & Grill for their hospitality, as well as title sponsor J. Pechauer Custom Cues, angle aim Art (Britanya E Rapp) and Turtle Rack. She also added her gratitude for the “girls” on the tour, who consistently lend a hand when needed, like Sharon O’Hanlon and Judie Wilson.

Though like most pool tours, the JPNEWT was affected by the pandemic, it had to cancel only tthree of its events; one each in April, May and June. At the same time, according to Shea, the tour attracted new players at almost every event.

“I’m feeling grateful,” said Shea, the day after the season finale and three days ahead of Thanksgiving. “It was a good year, everybody (in a broad circle of family, friends and members of the pool community) is healthy.”

Shea said that the 2021 JPNEWT schedule is in the works and that the tour will be improving on location and numbers.

“We have a lot of league pool players in the area, who generally play on bar boxes,” she said, “so this coming year, we’ll be at a total of 12 locations and two of them will have bar box tables to bridge to the area’s league players.”

“Overall,” she added, embracing activities beyond her direction of the pool tour, “I don’t think I have a thing to complain about.”

Friend comes back from semifinals to down Shea and win Stop #6 on JPNEWT

Nicole King, Lai Li, Kathy Friend and Linda Haywood Shea

This does take a little getting used to. The J. Pechauer Northeast Women’s Tour leapfrogged over three of its scheduled 2020 stops and returned to action on the weekend of July 25-26. Rather than re-number the tour stops throughout the rest of the season, they opted to keep the original numbers. Thus, the actual third stop on the 2020 tour, held this past weekend (August 15-16), is still considered for documentation intents and purposes as Stop #6.

Though Tour Director Linda Haywood Shea would make it to the hot seat in her quest for a second straight event title since the tour returned to action, Kathy Friend, making her first appearance on the 2020 tour, thwarted that effort in the finals, downing Shea to claim her first 2020 title. Participation doubled for this event over the numbers realized in the tour’s first stop back last month (9). The $500-added (by Coins of the Realm) event, hosted by Triple Nines in Elkridge, MD, drew 19 entrants.

It was an extraordinarily competitive weekend for the JPNEWT ladies. They played a total of 36 matches; 19 on the winners’ side (including the final) and 17 on the losers’ side. Of those 36, 15 of them were either double hill or 7-5 contests. Five of the eight matches played in the second round on the winners’ side went double hill or 7-5. The hot seat match and semifinal went double hill, as well.

Shea’s path to the hot seat went through Eugenia Gyftopoulos and Kia Burwell, both 7-5, to arrive at a winners’ side semifinal against Char Dzambo. Kathy Friend opened her campaign up with a double hill win over Kelly Daniel and then sent Nicole King to the loss side 7-5 to arrive at her winners’ side semifinal match against Melissa Jenkins.

Shea got into the hot seat match on the heels of a shutout over Dzambo. Friend joined her after sending Jenkins west 7-3. Shea claimed the hot seat, double hill, and waited on Friend’s return.

On the loss side, Dzambo picked up Nicole King, who, after being defeated by Friend on the winners’ side, had eliminated April Hatcher 7-4 and Sharon O’Hanlon 7-2. Jenkins drew Lai Li, who’d won a double hill match versus Sharon O’Hanlon on the winners’ side and then lost one to Dzambo, before showing up on the loss side to down Lynn Richard 7-3 and then, survive a third double hill fight against Kia Burwell.

Li downed Jenkins 7-3, as King was eliminating Dzambo 7-4. Li took the subsequent quarterfinal match 7-3 over King, but in her fourth double hill fight, Li was defeated by the apparently determined Kathy Friend in the semifinals.

Friend passed on closing out the JPNEWT’s 6th stop with a double hill final. In the single race to 9, she defeated Shea 9-5 to claim the event title and rocket her way to third on the tour’s standings, behind Shea and Burwell and tied with Shanna Lewis, who won the season opener back in March.

Shea thanked the ownership and staff at Triple Nines, as well as title sponsor J. Pechauer Custom Cues, Coins of the Realm, angle aim Art (Britanya E. Rapp) and Turtle Rack. The next stop on the JPNEWT, scheduled for Sept. 19-20, will be hosted by First Break Bar & Grill in Sterling, VA.

Shanna Lewis gets by Lai Li twice, double hill, to win JPNEWT season opener

Shanna Lewis

Pool tournaments will often play host to competitors who, for one reason or another, have been away from the game for a while. Depending upon the skill level they’d attained before they stopped competing, how long they’ve been away and the overall competitive level of the field they enter upon their return, the result could go either way. The competitor could go ‘two and out,’ if they’re seriously out of practice and stroke, or they could make it seem as though pool’s like riding a bicycle, where one can more or less pick up where they left off.

Shanna Lewis, whose last reported cash payout in a pool tournament was at a Q Master Billiards Mid-Atlantic Women’s 9-Ball Open in 2015 (9th place), returned to the tables this past weekend (March 7-8) to compete in the season opener of the J. Pechauer Northeast Women’s Tour. Lewis chose the ‘like riding a bicycle’ option and went undefeated through the field of 31, downing last year’s runner-up in the Tour Championship standings, Lai Li, twice. The $500-added (by Coins of the Realm), NAPT Div. II Semi-Pro event drew 31 entrants to Triple Nines in Elkridge, MD.

Her own assessment of her TAFT (time away from table) was more in the vicinity of 10 years. It was an absence prompted by a decision to focus on the business career side of her life. She’s back, now, still working on the business side of her career, but with some flexibility to spend more TAT (time at table). While acknowledging that she’s returned with her skills more or less intact, she noted that it wasn’t as easy as it looked from the nature of the undefeated run and her two victories over Lai Li might indicate.

“Yeah, there were times during the tournament when I was thinking, ‘Yeah, this is great,” she said, “but there were other times when I felt like I couldn’t put a ball in the hole that was a straight shot.”

That said, Lewis was back on the bicycle right from the start, winning 14 of her first 17 games. She gave up only one rack to Judie Wilson and then two to Melissa Mason before running into Elaine Wilson, who, in essence, by chalking up five racks against her, applied some brakes to Lewis’ bicycle. It dropped Lewis’ game-winning percentage by 10 points in a single match. Lewis won, though, and advanced to face Teri Thomas in a winners’ side semifinal.

Lai Li, in the meantime, had opened with a 7-1 victory over Charlynn Dzambo, defeated Kelly Wyatt 7-4 and downed the tour’s 2020 champion, Linda Shea, 7-4 in a winners’ side quarterfinal.  The draw wasn’t getting any easier as Li advanced to face Kia Sidbury in the other winners’ side semifinal.

Lewis got into the hot seat match with another 7-1 victory, over Thomas, and faced Li, who’d sent Sidbury to the loss side 7-4. In their first of two, they battled to double hill before Lewis prevailed to sit in her first hot (bicycle) seat in a while.

On the loss side, Nicole Nester and Sharon O’Hanlon were working on modest three-match, loss-side winning streaks that had begun when they’d lost their winners’ side quarterfinal match to  Teri Thomas and Kia Sidbury, respectively. Nester and O’Hanlon both won two loss-side double hill battles; Nester, versus Colleen Shoop and Eugenia Gyftopoulos; O’Hanlon, over two ‘powerhouse’ opponents – Nicole King and Tour Director, Linda Shea. They did not, however, draw rematches because Nester drew Sidbury and O’Hanlon drew Thomas.

Nester advanced to the quarterfinals 7-4 over Sidbury, as Thomas eliminated O’Hanlon 7-3. Nester then downed Thomas 7-3 in those quarterfinals, before herself being eliminated in a double hill fight versus Li in the semifinals.

A second, slightly longer double hill fight, Li’s third straight, ensued in the finals. Lewis won it 9-8 to claim the title to JPNEWT’s 2020 season opener.

Tour director Linda Shea thanked the ownership and staff at Triple Nines, as well as title sponsor J. Pechauer Custom Cues, Coins of the Realm, The Turtle Rack (www.mezzusa.com), Baltimore City Cues, and the live stream, sponsored by Britanya E. Rapp, billiards artist (angle aim Art). The next stop on the JPNEWT, scheduled for the weekend of April 4-5, will be hosted by Markley Billiards in Norristown, PA.

Li goes undefeated, downing Sykes twice to win JPNEWT season finale

Bethany Sykes & Lai Li

The finalists in the season finale of the J. Pechauer Northeast Women’s Tour were both in the midst of their best earnings year to date and were looking for their first win on the tour. Though Bethany Sykes was the State of Virginia’s 8-Ball Champion almost exactly a year ago, had chalked up a win on the gender-mixed Action Pool Tour in January and a month later, had won the Division II Championship on the (presently) all-female North American Pool Tour in February, she had yet to win an event on the JPNEWT. Lai Li, her opponent in both the hot seat match and finals, was looking for her first regional tour win ever and found it, as she went undefeated to win the tour’s season finale on the weekend of Nov. 16-17. The $500-added (by Coins of the Realm) event (Stop #8) drew 22 players to Triple Nines in Elkridge, MD.

The victory elevated Lai Li one spot on the Tour Standings list to #2. Tour director Linda Shea, who, for obvious reasons, has competed in all eight of the tour’s stops, finished 3rd in the season finale to retain her spot at the top of the tour standings. Caroline Pao, who won the three stops in which she competed and finished 3rd in the tour standings, did not compete in the season finale.

Following victories over Ceci Strain 7-1, Teri Thomas 7-3 and Melissa Jenkins 7-4, Lai Li advanced to a winners’ side semifinal against Anita Sowers. Sykes’ trip to the hot seat match was almost derailed at the outset. After being awarded an opening round bye, Sykes drew Eugenia Gyftopoulos, who battled her to double hill before finally giving way for Sykes to advance. Sykes went on to down Kelly Wyatt 7-5 and advance to her winners’ side semifinal match against Judie Wilson.

By identical 7-5 scores, Li and Sykes defeated Sowers and Wilson and advanced to the hot seat match. Li took the first of their two matches 7-5 and waited on her return.

On the loss side, Sowers picked up tour director Linda Shea, who’d been sent to the loss side by Judie Wilson in a winners’ side quarterfinal and had then defeated Serafina Concannon 7-5 and Sharon O’Hanlon 7-3. Wilson drew a rematch against Kia Sidbury, whom she’d defeated in an early round and was in the midst of a six-match, loss-side winning streak that had most recently included victories over Carol V. Clark 7-3 and a double hill win over Melissa Jenkins.

Shea defeated Sowers 7-3 and in the quarterfinals, faced Sidbury, who’d had a successful rematch against Wilson 7-4. Shea then ended Sidbury’s loss-side streak 7-5 in those quarterfinals.

Sykes, though, ended Shea’s four-match, loss-side trip with a 7-3 victory in the semifinals. Li, apparently unaffected by the wait, defeated Sykes in their second match, the finals, 7-3.

Tour director Shea thanked the ownership and staff at Triple Nines for their hospitality as well as title sponsor J. Pechauer Custom Cues, Coins of the Realm, Mezz USA, Baltimore City Cues, and for the live stream, Britanya E Rapp with angle aim Art. The tour will be back at Triple Nines in Elkridge, MD for their 2020 season opener on the weekend of March 7-8, 2020.

Pao goes undefeated to take JPNEWT stop #6 in Sterling, VA

(l to r): Caroline Pao, Bethany Sykes & Ada Lio

Caroline Pao has appeared on the J. Pechauer Northeast Women’s Tour only twice in 2019 and she’s won both events. On the weekend of July 27-28, following a defeat at the hands of tour director, Linda Shea, Pao won seven matches on the loss side to earn a rematch and defeat Shea in the finals of Stop #4. On the weekend of September 14-15, she opted for an undefeated route to the winners’ circle, downing separate opponents in the hot seat (Ada Lio) and finals (Bethany Sykes). The $500-added (from Coins of the Realm) event drew 26 entrants to First Break Sports Bar in Sterling, VA.
 
Luck of the draw kept Pao from having to face Shea early in this event. Instead, she opened with a 7-1 victory over Noel Rima and followed it with a 7-4 win over Melissa Mason. Shea, in the meantime, had defeated Jenn Sylvester 7-1, but was subsequently defeated 7-5 by Kia Sidbury, who advanced to meet Pao.
 
Pao sent Sidbury to the loss side 7-3 and drew Bethany Sykes in one of the winners’ side semifinals. Ada Lio, in the meantime, who’d survived an opening round, double hill matchup versus Melissa Jenkins, went on to defeat Melissa Perez 7-1 and Suzzie Wong 7-4 to draw Serafina Concannon in the other winners’ side semifinal.
 
Pao and Lio met in the hot seat match, once Pao had defeated Sykes in their first of two meetings 7-2 and Lio had dispatched Concannon 7-4. Pao claimed the hot seat 7-1 over Lio and waited on the return of Sykes.
 
Concannon arrived on the loss side and drew Sidbury, who, following her defeat at the hands of Pao had defeated Lai Li 7-2 and eliminated Anita Sowers, double hill. Sykes picked up Kelly Wyatt, who’d lost to Concannon in a winners’ side quarterfinal and then defeated Judie Wilson 7-4 and spoiled whatever hopes Linda Shea had of meeting up with Pao by eliminating her double hill.
 
Sidbury downed Concannon 7-3 and in the quarterfinals, faced Sykes who’d come out on the winning side of a double hill battle against Wyatt. Sykes and Sidbury locked up in a double hill fight in those quarterfinals, as well, with Sykes prevailing again.
 
Sykes then ended Lio’s weekend 7-2 in the semifinals and turned to face Pao in the finals. Sykes was looking for her third major event victory in 2019, having won a Ladies Division stop on the Action Pool Tour in January and the NAPT Div. II Championship in February. She’d also tied for 5th place with Kia Sidbury at a JPNEWT stop (#3) in May, making 2019 her best recorded earnings year, to date. Pao, as noted, was making only her second appearance on the 2019 JPNEWT Tour, although she’d cashed in three WPBA events earlier in the year, making 2019 her best earnings year since 2008.
 
The final match was a repeat of their winners’ side semifinal match. Pao won it 7-2 to claim the event title.
 
Tour director Linda Shea thanked the ownership and staff at First Break Sports Bar, as well as title sponsor J. Pechauer Custom Cues, Coins of the Realm, Turtle Rack (www.mezzusa.com), Baltimore City Cues, Billy Bay Bunn Cue Repair and the live stream, sponsored by Britanya E. Rapp of angle aim art. The next stop on the JPNEWT, scheduled for the weekend of October 12-13, will be hosted by Eagle Billiards in Dickson City, PA.

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.

Pao wins seven on the loss side to meet and defeat Shea in JPNEWT finals

Caroline Pao (Photo courtesy of Erwin Dionisio)

Going into the finals of the July 27-28 stop on the J. Pechauer Northeast Women’s Tour (JPNEWT), Caroline Pao had something of a dismal record on the winners’ side of the bracket. Of course, she’d only played twice, downing C.C. Strain 7-1 and then, falling to tour director Linda Shea 4-7 (11-8; 57%). Over the next seven matches on the loss side of the bracket, Pao gave up an average of less than two racks per match (1.43) and chalked up a remarkable aggregate score of 49-10 (83%), that included back-to-back shutouts in the quarter and semifinals. She capped the loss-side performance with a 9-4 victory over Shea in the finals to claim the event title. The $1,600-added event drew 28 entrants to Champion Billiards Sports Bar in Frederick, MD.
 
Shea and Pao had distinctly different opening rounds, which may have contributed to their first matchup in the second round. Pao gave up only a single rack to Ceci Strain, while Shea locked up in a double hill fight that did eventually send Melissa Mason to the loss side. Odds were likely to have been good that Shea and Pao would have a double hill fight, but they didn’t. Shea prevailed 7-4, adding two matches to Pao’s event total.
 
With Pao at work on the loss side, Shea, the tour’s current #1-ranked player, advanced through Teri Thomas 7-2 and arrived at a winners’ side semifinal against the tour’s current #2-ranked player, Nicole King. Lai Li, in the meantime, the tour’s #3-ranked competitor, having dispatched Sharon O’Hanlon, Judie Wilson and Elaine Wilson to the loss side, faced Kia Sidbury (#7) in the other winners’ side semifinal.
 
Shea and Li advanced to the hot seat match 7-5 over King and Sidbury. Shea downed Li 7-2 to claim the hot seat, and waited on the fateful return of Pao.
 
On the loss side, it was King who drew Pao, four matches into her winning streak. At that point in time, Pao had given up only seven racks; one each to Noel Rima, Sharon O’Hanlon and Christie Hurdel and four to Anita Sowers. Sidbury drew Thomas, who, following her defeat at the hands of Shea, had eliminated Eugenia Gyftopoulos 7-5 and survived a double hill fight against Kathleen Lawless.
 
Thomas and Sidbury locked up in a double hill fight for advancement to the quarterfinals. Thomas, who’d already improved on her two previous appearances on the 2019 tour (finishing 17th in March and May), downed Sidbury to meet Pao, who’d defeated King 7-3.
 
Pao then chalked up two straight shutouts, against Thomas in the quarterfinals and Lai Li in the semifinals, to earn a shot against the so-far undefeated hot seat occupant, Shea, who came into the finals with a 72% game-winning percentage. Thanks to her 83% loss-side performance and her two winners’ side matches, Pao entered the finals at 76%. Pao completed her run with a 9-4 victory over Shea in the finals.
 
Tour director Linda Shea thanked the ownership and staff at Champion Billiards and Sports Bar 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 August 10-11, will be hosted by Triple Nines Bar & Billiards in Elkridge, MD. 

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.

Brandon Shuff Seals the Deal at Maryland State 9-Ball Championship

Brandon Shuff, Loye Bolyard, Shaun Wilkie, Jake Lawson, Kenny Ruttman and Rick Scarlato

In yet another action-packed weekend of competitive pool, Brandon Shuff emerged as the winner of the Maryland State 9-Ball Championship. The event, which is owned and managed by On The Hill Productions, was held at the Champion Billiards Sports Bar in Frederick, MD during the weekend of May 4th-5th. This has been a successful year so far for Brandon. He recently finished 4th in the Barry Behrman Memorial in April and the VA State 10-Ball in February. In this tournament, he sailed through the field and dropped only one set to Shaun Wilkie, who came back from the B-side to try and claim the title. Brandon held firm and was able to lift the trophy in victory.
 
The 82-player field was customarily strong, loaded with such powerhouses as Shaun Wilkie, Kevin West, Brett Stottlemyer, Chip Klein, Del Sim, David Hennessy, Kenny Rutman, Matt Krah, Steve Fleming, Thomas Zippler and Scott Haas to name a few. The ladies were represented by local favorites Bethany Sykes, Eugenia Gyftopoulos, Gwen Townsend, Lai Li, Stefanie Manning and newcomer to the tournament scene, Jenny Mohammed.
 
Not to be left out, the young guns also made their presence felt. Tournament-regulars Dylan Spohr and Coen Bell were there to stir the pot, but the young man who stood head and shoulders above the rest was Justin Martin from Wilmington, NC. He had a very strong finish of fourth place and impressed everyone with his display of fundamentals, technique, and poise. Don't be surprised if he snaps off one of these big events very soon! 
 
The recent champion of the MD State 9-Ball Bar Table Championship, Brandon Sluzalis was also there, but his efforts to repeat were cut short first by Kenny Rutman, then by the straight-shooting Bobby Pacheco. He had to settle for 9th. place.
 
Congratulations to all who finished in the top 24 places this weekend. 
This event owes its success to the following sponsors:
McDermott Cues
Billiard Sports Network
Lights Out Billiard Apparel
Phillippi Custom Cues
TAP Pool League – Chesapeake Region
 
Many thanks to the owner Gary Allen & staff at Champion Billiards for hosting another successful event. The high-quality free stream was provided by Jake Lawson and Josh Setterfield of Billiard Sports Network. Tour directors Rick Scarlato Jr. and Loye Bolyard continue to provide great tournaments with the utmost professionalism and quality.