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Arnold Rolls Undefeated at Romines

Laura Bendikas, Bonnie Arnold, Pamela Kelly and Barb Arndt

Supporters of the North Central Pool Tour (NCPT) gathered at Romine’s High Pockets in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, this past weekend for the tour’s 9th stop of the year. The tournament attracted 18 of the top women players from the region. 
 
Bonnie Arnold, a local favorite, rolled through the bracket undefeated. She sent Sally Steinbach (7-4), Cindy Sherrod (6-2), and Amy Rice (6-4) all to the B side. For the tournament win, Arnold ended up facing Pamela Kelly, another local powerhouse player. Kelly had sent her fair share of players to the one-loss side, too, including Jeanne Cyganiak (7-2), Kelly Nickl (6-3), and Laura Bendikas (6-1). But Kelly came up short in a hill-hill battle against Arnold.
 
The complete bracket and final standings are available at challonge.com. Players who cashed were:
1st Bonnie Arnold ($530)
2nd Pamela Kelly ($255)
3rd Barb Arndt ($125)
4th Laura Bendikas ($60)
 
The NCPT will return to Romine’s next month for the last tour stop of the year. The 10th stop is a qualifier for the U.S. Open being held in Las Vegas in April 2020! The event is limited to the first 32 players who pay their entry fee. In addition to the cash payout, the winner receives a paid entry to the U.S. Open worth $1,000. For more details, visit NCPTplay.com.

Callado wins four to capture NAPT Desert Challenge in Las Vegas

(l to r): Tara Williams, Gigi Callejas, Veronique Menard & Eleanor Callado

In a short field of 23 entrants, some of whom competed last year at the same event, Eleanor Callado won four straight matches to capture the North American Pool Tour’s (NAPT) 4th Desert Challenge title on the weekend of September 19-22 at Griff’s in Las Vegas, NV. Callado faced separate challengers in the hot seat and finals of this 10-ball competition – Gigi Callejas (hot seat) and Canada’s Veronique Menard (finals) – to complete her undefeated run.
 
Granted an opening round bye, as eight of the event’s 12 competitors squared off in a play-in round, Callado drew Kim Pierce off that play-in round and defeated her 7-5 to open her four-match march to the winners’ circle. She then faced Melissa Herndon in one of the winners’ side semifinals. Gigi Callejas, in the meantime, who’d defeated Christina Gonzalez 7-5 in the play-in round, went on to get by Tara Williams 7-5 and draw Veronique Menard in the other winners’ side semifinal.
 
Callado and Callejas advanced to the hot seat match with identical 7-4 wins over Herndon and Menard, respectively. Callado grabbed the hot seat with a 7-2 win over Callejas and waited on the return of Menard.
 
Over on the loss side, Menard picked up Nicole King, who’d defeated Laura Bendikas 7-3 and Kim Pierce 7-5 to reach her. Herndon drew Tara Williams, who’d eliminated Debra Aarens 7-3 and shut out Bernie Store.
 
Menard downed King 7-5 and in the quarterfinals, faced Williams, who’d survived a double hill battle versus Herndon. Menard took the quarterfinal match 7-5 over Williams to earn a rematch against Callejas in the semifinals.
 
Menard earned her slot in the finals with a 7-3 rematch win over Callejas in the semifinals. Callado, though, punctuated her brief, but successful run on the Desert Challenge by giving up only a single rack to Menard in the event finals.
 
NAPT President Adrienne Beach thanked Mark Griffin and his staff for their hospitality, as well as Rail2Rail Productions for their live streaming of selected matches throughout the weekend. The next NAPT event, scheduled for October 24-27 will be the Division I Pro Coupe Du Quebec, hosted by Dooly’s in Quebec, Canada.

Bishoff Walks Away with the Win at Red Shoes Billiards

Jenna Bishoff

Red Shoes Billiards in Alsip, Illinois, is known for hosting quality pool tournaments. The weekend of August 24 was no exception. The seventh stop of the year for the North Central Pool Tour (NCPT) was a 10-ball tournament that featured some of the best women players in the region. 
 
Jenna Bishoff, on a break from the road, posted early wins against Laura Bendikas (7-5) and Vanessa Hood (7-2). To secure the hot seat, she battled it out with Amy Latzko, winning on the hill (7-6). Before losing to Bishoff, Latzko cruised through the bracket with wins over Kelly Nickl (7-3) and Laura Semko (7-1). She would best Semko (6-2) again on her way to the finals.
 
In the final set, Bishoff was quickly up 4 to 0, punctuated by a break and run in game 3. Latzko finally got on the board with a win in game 5. And a 1-10-ball combination in game 8 brought her within 2 games of breaking even with Bishoff. But Bishoff took control of the match after that. She won the next 4 games in a row to finish the event with a final score of 9 to 3.  
 
To see the full list of players and bracket, visit leaguepoolestats.com. Players in the money were:
1st Jenna Bishoff ($305)
2nd Amy Latzko ($110)
3rd Laura Semko ($40)
 
More NCPT events–both open and women’s–are in the works for the current year. Watch for upcoming tournament announcements at NCPTplay.com and the NCPT Facebook page.
 

Rousey Routs the Competition at City Pool Hall

Sarah Rousey

At the sixth NCPT stop of the year on July 20, it was hard to tell what was hotter–the temperature outside or the competition inside. The $500 added 10-ball tournament at City Pool Hall in downtown Chicago drew 14 women from Illinois and Wisconsin. 
 
Sarah Rousey went undefeated, besting Amy Latzko (6-5), Darlene Dantes (6-2), Laura Bendikas (6-5), and Bonnie Arnold (6-0). In the finals, she met up against Kassy Werner, who had put some serious work in to get there. Werner took an early round loss but then notched six wins in a row.  
 
The final race to nine teetered back and forth early. Both players struggled to pocket the seven ball in several games. After eight racks, the score remained close at 5-3. But then Rousey took advantage of her opportunities at the table. She won the next four games in a row, finishing the match 9-3.
 
Top finishers of the event were:
1st Sarah Rousey ($550)
2nd Kassy Werner ($300)
3rd Bonnie Arnold ($165)
4th Amy Latzko ($85)
 
To see the full bracket for the event, visit www.leaguepoolstats.com. You can also view streamed matches at RailbirdsTV’s YouTube page. The NCPT thanks its sponsors and City Pool Hall for adding $500 to this tour stop.
 
Want to get in on the fun and action? Visit the NCPT facebook page or NCPTplay.com for details on upcoming events. You can also find the NCPT on Instagram and Twitter.
 

Cohen Claims Top Spot at the Fifth NCPT Stop

Scott Cohen

The North Central Pool Tour (NCPT) hosted its fifth event of the year at Pyramid Sports Bar and Pizzeria on Saturday, June 29. Twenty-seven players signed up to compete in the open 10-ball tournament. By the end, the two players vying for the top spot were Scott Cohen (McHenry, IL) and Mason Koch (Menasha, WI).
 
Young gun Koch cruised through the A side to claim the hot seat. He downed Joe Ulanowski (7-2), Olivia Cheng (7-4), Tom Karabatsos (7-4), and Marcus Wronski (7-4) on his undefeated streak. He even sent fellow finals contestant Scott Cohen (7-4) to the one-loss side in a late-round A-side match. Undeterred, Cohen rebounded with solid wins against Donald Branson (6-3), Andrew Mackey (6-5), and Marcus Wronski (6-2) to secure a rematch against Koch.
 
In the final set, one race to nine, Koch started off strong. He was quickly up 2-0 on Cohen, snagging his second win with a bank on the 10. But then Koch made some uncharacteristic mistakes. Cohen closed the gap–and then some–winning the next six games in a row. Koch attempted a late-match rally with some impressive play, even making a four-rail bank shot on the 9. But the late hour may have affected his focus as he then missed two 10 balls. Cohen cleaned up the match with a 9 to 4 finish. 
 
To watch streamed matches from this event, visit the RailbirdsTV’s YouTube page at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uy7rtHkZxl4&feature=share. To see a full list of players and the brackets, visit challonge.com. The final standings for the event are:
1st Scott Cohen ($450)
2nd Mason Koch ($285)
3rd Marcus Wronski ($180)
4th Andrew Mackey ($115)
5/6th Donald Branson and Robert Madison ($75)
7/8th Greg Pitts and Mensur Kahric ($45)
 
The NCPT thanks Pyramid Sports Bar and tour sponsor Eric Nelson for adding $300 to this event. A big thanks, too, to RailbirdsTV for streaming all the action. The new tour directors for the NCPT (Vanessa Hood, Laura Semko, Rho Reyes, and Laura Bendikas) are sincerely grateful to Kelly Nickl for all her work over the past 3 years. She set the groundwork for the successful continuation of this tour.
 
The NCPT will be hosting two ladies division events July 20 at City Pool Hall and August 24 at Red Shoes Billiards. At least one more open event is also in the works for the fall. Visit the NCPT facebook page or NCPTplay.com for more details! You can also find the NCPT on Instagram and Twitter.

Herndon hangs on to win NAPT West Coast Challenge

Melissa Herndon, Eleanor Collado, Khanh Ngo and Veronique Menard

It’s the kind of match that spectator fans love to see. A player sends an opponent to the loss side in an early round and that opponent treks all the way back through the loss side to face that opponent in the finals. And then, it’s a double elimination final and the loss side opponent wins the first set, double hill. They battle a second time to double hill and the hot seat occupant finally wins it. So went the North American Pool Tour’s (NAPT) Division I West Coast Challenge, a 10-ball tournament, held on the long weekend of June 20-23 at Hard Times Billiards in Sacramento, CA. It was Melissa Herndon who sent Veronique Menard to the loss side in the event. Menard won seven on the loss side and defeated Herndon double hill in the opening set of the double elimination final. Herndon returned the favor, defeating Menard in the second set, double hill to claim the title. The event drew 33 entrants to Hard Time Billiards.
 
Herndon and Menard clashed first in the second round of play. Herndon had opened with a 7-1 victory over Samantha Hill, while Menard was busy downing Sher Ahola 7-3. Herndon took the first of their three matches 7- 4 and moved on past Bernie Store (7-3) to arrive at a winners’ side semifinal against Rachel Lang. Eleanor Callado, in the meantime, who’d almost been sent to the loss side in the opening round, survived that double hill match against Laura Bendikas and advanced to defeat Amani Ali 7-1, and shut out Kelly Nickl to arrive at the other winners’ side semifinal against Khanh Ngo.
 
On the loss side, it was Lang who ran into Menard, four matches into her loss side streak, which had most recently eliminated Stephanie Hefner 7-3 and Nickl 7-5. Ngo picked up Bernie Store, who, following her defeat at the hands of Herndon, had survived two straight double hill fights against Janna Sue Nelson and Sher Ahola. 
 
Bernie Store’s third straight double hill match was not the proverbial ‘charm’ she’d hoped it would be. Ngo hung on to win the match and advance to the quarterfinals, where she was met by Menard, who’d chalked up loss-side win #5 against Lang 7-1. Menard then put an end to Ngo’s weekend with a 7-3 win in the quarterfinals and followed up with a 7-5 win over Callado in the semifinals. 
 
It was clear from the opening set of the final that neither of these women was going to go quietly. Menard had the usual momentum boost from seven matches on the loss side and Herndon knew she only had to win one more set to go home with the top prize. Herndon arguably had more at stake than Menard did. They’d both been around competing since the turn of the century, but in recent years, Herndon had been taking time off for a job and a husband routine. For her, standing on the brink of her first major title in years, there was an “I’m back” feel to the whole process, which would have felt good no matter how the finals turned out, but winning it was clearly on her mind and in her game.
Menard took an early, short lead in the opening set, but Herndon caught up to tie things at 4-4. The ninth rack turned into a back-and-forth safety battle as they both worked at dropping the 5-ball. Menard broke through, but jumped up, shooting at the 8-ball and turned the table over to Herndon. Herndon dropped it, but scratched shooting at the 9-ball, giving Menard a ball-in-hand shot at the 10-ball and immediately thereafter, the lead.
 
Herndon took the 10th rack to tie things at 5-5. Menard took game 11 to reach the hill first. With a connect-the-dots finish to rack #12, Menard missed the 9-ball, allowing Herndon to finish and force a deciding rack. Menard broke and ran rack #13, claiming the first set and forcing a second.
 
Tension mounts in the second set of a true double elimination final like an old-fashioned Jack in the Box. Especially when it goes back and forth as this one did. The crank keeps turning, ratcheting up the tension, as you brace for that damn clown to jump out at you.
 
Two things were evident right from the start of the second set. No one was going to jump out to any kind of substantial lead. They were both tight and cautious, one game at a time. And they were getting a bit tired. Making mistakes; missing shots, rattling them in holes, putting each other in tough situations and alternately shooting right out of them.
 
They established a lead/tie pattern right from the start, with Menard taking the first rack, Herndon, the second. Back and forth to a 2-2 tie, until Herndon threatened to go out in front for the first time as she aimed at the 10-ball. She missed it, tapping the 10-ball to concede the rack and the pattern resumed, all the way to a 4-4 tie.
 
Herndon broke the pattern, and took her first lead, 5-4, in game #9, and with nothing byt the 9 and 10-ball to go in rack #10, she threatened to go up by two. She left herself in an awkward position shooting at the 9-ball and missed it, allowing Menard to knot things at 5-5.
 
Herndon misjudged a position shot in game #11 that left a 5-ball hanging in the pocket and allowed Menard to recapture the lead and reach the hill first at 6-5. 
 
At this point, Menard was probably the only person in the room, or the extended chat world that didn’t want Herndon to tie things up at 6-6 to force a deciding game. Herndon being the strongest proponent for forcing a game #13, tried to accomplish it a little early, going for a 5-10 combo, which she rushed and missed. Menard dropped the 5-ball and with five balls down and five to go, things looked grim for Herndon.
 
Menard made it to a shot at the 8-ball, which she attempted to put into a side pocket. But she over-anxiously hit it way too hard and when it caromed off the rail next to the side pocket, it looked as though it had enough speed on it to reach a table in New York City. Herndon stepped to the table and promptly tied the match at 6-6.
 
Herndon broke the final rack, sinking the 8-ball and giving herself a decent look at the 1-ball. But like Menard, she got a little over-anxious and bounced the 1-ball off the side rail. Subsequent ball action dropped two other balls. Since the ball at which Herndon was shooting didn’t drop, 10-ball rules dictated that Menard had the option of taking over or allowing Herndon to keep shooting. Menard chose to shoot, ran to the 5-ball and rattled it in and out of the side pocket. 
 
Herndon played safe and Menard safed her right back, but not quite good enough. Herndon made a terrific, long-table, oblique angle shot on that 5-ball that drifted it within less than an inch or two of two other balls on its way into the corner pocket. Herndon dropped the last three balls and claimed the NAPT’s West Coast Challenge title.
 
NAPT President Adrianne Beach thanked the ownership and staff at Hard Time Billiards, as well as Cue Sports Live and the players who made it out to play. The next Division I NAPT event, scheduled for August 15-18 will be the 4th Annual NAPT Summer Classic, to be hosted by Shooter’s Sports Bar and Billiards in Grayslake, IL.

Menard double dips Williams to win NAPT Division II Championships

Veronique Menard and Susan Williams

It was Canada versus the US in the finals of the North American Pool Tour's Division II Championships on the weekend of February 24-26. The US, in the person of Susan Williams, representing the Arizona Women's Billiard Tour, grabbed the hot seat, but Canada, represented by Veronique Menard, with the Circuit de Feminin du Quebec, came back to double dip Williams in the finals and claim the title. The $5,000-added event, hosted by Hard Times Billiards in Sacramento, CA drew 54 entrants, drawn from 10 Division II Regional Tours. The event was streamed live throughout the weekend by Rail2Rail Productions.
 
The 54 entrants were divided up into eight round robin 'flights,' each yielding four players who competed in a 32-player, double elimination bracket that assured each of them some portion of the $10,400 prize package. Winning their flights and advancing, along with their three closest point-earning competitors were Nicole Keeney, Tina Malm, Veronique Menard, Michelle Cortez, Meredith Lynch, Susan Williams, Jeannie Seaver, and Julia Gabriel.
 
Following victories over Katrina Lyman, Revelina Um, and Liz Lovely, Susan Williams advanced to a winners' side semifinal against Tina Malm. On her end of the bracket, Veronique Menard got by Laura Bendikas, Marion Poole, and Jeannie Seaver, to draw Maria Juana in the other winners' side semifinal.
 
Williams had been alternating between relatively easy matches (if anything at this level can be considered 'easy') and highly competitive matches, including a double hill fight against Lovely in the winners' side quarterfinals. By comparison, she got into the hot seat match with a 7-2 win over Malm.  Menard, on the other hand, saw Juana chalk up two more racks against her (5) than any other opponent to that point. In their first of three, Menard and Williams locked up in a double hill battle that eventually left Williams in the hot seat.
 
On the loss side, Malm met up with Jeannie Seaver, the WPBA's most recent Regional Tour Champion from that January event in Tallahasse, FL. After her defeat at the hands of Menard in a winners' side quarterfinal, Seaver got by Leslie Bernardi 7-1 and Stephanie Hefner 7-2 to draw Malm. Juana drew Lovely, who, following her defeat at the hands of Williams, had downed Nicole Fleming, double hill, and Meredith Lynch 7-5.
 
Malm squeaked by Seaver 7-6, and in the quarterfinals, met up with Lovely, who'd eliminated Juana 7-5. In her 'easiest' loss-side match, Lovely downed Malm 7-2. In what proved to be her toughest loss-side match, Lovely fell to Menard 7-3 in the semifinals.
 
Menard took the opening set of the true double elimination final against Williams 7-4. She took the second set by the same score, and claimed (for Canada) the event title.
The North American Pool Tour thanked the ownership and staff at Hard Times in Sacramento, along with sponsors J. Pechauer Cues, EYO Cues, Rail2Rail Productions, Tara Williams, and MZTam Trinh Designs. Though the complete NAPT schedule of events is still undergoing revisions, the next firmly scheduled event will be the Summer Classic, to be hosted by Shooter's in Chicago on the weekend of August 17-20. Another event has been firmly scheduled for November 2-5 at Mark Griffin's new pool venue, Griff's Billiards in Las Vegas.