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‘Kamikaze’ Kelly Willis Jumps Her Way to Victory at JOB’s

Kelly Willis

The SEAL members arrived in Nashville on Saturday morning, November 10th, dressed in their Sunday Best for the group photo and to vie for the title at Stop #2 at JOB Billiards. Jim Blaylock, our gracious host, was on hand to welcome the ladies to his special tournament room, complete with bleacher seating, featuring specially designed Kasson tables with professional-grade pockets that caused balls to hang in pockets for even the most skillful players.
Accuracy was the key word this weekend, and with many upsets and a display of above-average play across the board, two very predictable players emerged to face off in the finals.
Kelly Willis began her road to the finals by defeating Korene Sneed (7-3), Margo Yoder (7-6), Beverly Knight (7-1), and Kim Young (7-3), before losing to Janet Atwell 7-4 in the winners bracket final. Kelly's match with Margo would prove to be her closest match of the tournament, in which Margo found herself trailing 6-2 and clawed her way back to double-hill before Kelly confidently ran out the last game. With her sights set on the finals, Kelly took her trip to the one-loss side to play Betty Sessions.
Betty's run for the title began with wins over Christy Simpson (7-5), Judy Kingry (7-1), Stacy Gravitt (7-5) and Jessica Crooks (7-2), only to be stopped short by Janet (7-5). She then posted decisive wins over Marcia Manuel (7-0) and Kim Young (7-2) but then appeared to run out of steam against the 'Kamikaze' from North Carolina, who ousted her by a score of 7-2 to earn a rematch with Jumpin' Janet and leave Betty with a 3rd place finish.
Janet had gone undefeated throughout the tournament with wins over Laura Blount (7-3), Michelle Davis (7-0), Julie Turco (7-3), Suzanne Jesse (7-3), Betty Sessions (7-5) and Kelly Willis (7-4), and she seemed to be destined for yet another tournament win. Kelly, however, had other plans, but she would have her work cut out for her as she would have to beat Janet twice. Janet started off the first game with a 2-9 combination and won the next two games to take an early 3-0 lead. Kelly fired back with tough shots and a break-and-run to knot the score at 3-3. They traded wins on the next two games with the score 4-4. Capitalizing again on an unusual miss by Janet, Kelly took the lead for the first time and in the next game pocketed a 2-9 combo to bring the score to 6-4. Janet, with a chance to close the gap, had another uncharacteristic miss, giving Kelly the final game and forcing Janet to play a second set for the title.
Kelly started with a win in the first game. Janet, after playing a safe, came to the table to run out, only to hang the 9-ball, giving Kelly a 2-0 lead. The third game saw Kamikaze Kelly using her newfound talent with a jump cue to clear the 8-ball and make the 2-ball in the corner, but she then missed the 8-ball, and Janet proceeded to win the next 2 games to tie it up 2-2. Janet broke and ran four balls and then played safe on the five. Kelly again jumped out of the safety to pocket the 5-ball in the side but missed the 6-ball and snookered Janet. Janet attempted to return the jump but missed. Kelly still could not capitalize, and Janet got out to lead the set 3-2. After seesawing back and forth for several games, the score was again tied at 5-5 with a race to 2 for the title.
Kelly broke but scratched on the 1-ball, leaving Janet with a 1-9 combo, which she failed to convert. Kelly's fierce determination became obvious as she proceeded to fire balls into the tight pockets with dead-on precision and near-perfect position play to run the table and reach the hill first at 6-5. Kelly broke and again scratched on the 1-ball. Janet attempted another combination, this time on the 2-9, but again missed to allow Kelly back to the table. Kelly was not able to get out, and with only the 8 and 9 remaining, it looked as if we would have a hill-hill match. But fate seemed to be on Kelly's side as the 9-ball failed to fall for Janet, and Kelly cleanly pocketed it for the 7-5 win.
Special thanks to Jim Blaylock and the entire staff of JOB Billiards for the hospitality and for providing the perfect tournament room for our event. We appreciate your continued support of the SEAL Tour!