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Gigi Callejas Wins AWBT Season Opener

Heather Cortez and Gigi Callejas

Thanks to all the ladies that showed up march 14th – 15th for our 1st stop of the season. Thank you Bull Shooters Michael & Jamie Bates for hosting the 1st stop adding money and excellent service!

45 Ladies showed up for the main event and 24 Guys for the ‘Balls Only’

Big Congratulations to all the ladies that cashed in the Main Event. After day one it was all Heather winning her 1st four matches 7-0 (28-0 total). Day 2 was 8 Ladies that came back. The hot seat match was between Heather vs Leandrea with Heather winning Hill-Hill (7-5). On the B Side after Gigi lost to Leandrea, Gigi won her next 3 matches to make it to the finals. The extended race to 9 Final was all Gigi, winning it with a 9-4 score.

24 Ladies showed up for the 2nd chance with $300 in the pot. Congrats Susan Smith Williams for her 1st place finish.

Thank you to all the sponsors for the support and Edward LaRue for adding money to both the Main Event and 2nd Chance Event! Much appreciated.

Stephanie Hefner Wins NAPT Division II Championship

Stephanie Hefner

A field of forty six of the top ladies in the country, representing seven different regional tours, made their way to Bullshooters in Phoenix, Arizona to compete in the North American Pool Tour’s Division II Championship on February 13th – 16th.
 
The event kicked off on Thursday with six round robin groups competing in seven rack matches. With the top four players from each group advancing based on total games won, players could not take any opponent lightly at any point in the match. 
 
After two days of play, the field was narrowed to just twenty four players. The top player from each group, as well as the top two runner-up finishers from round robin play, all earned first round byes, with the remaining sixteen “top four” finishers being forced to play first round matches. 
 
Home field advantage proved to be valuable coming out of the groups, with four of the eight byes earned by Arizona Woman’s Billiard Tour (AWBT) players. The pool gods proved fickle though, as three of those four players (Leandrea Gaff, Susan Williams and Jaye Succo) were all knocked to the one loss side after their first matches. Bernie Store was the only local player to win her first double elimination stage match. Store then went on to defeat the Northwest Women’s Pool Association (NWPA) tour’s Michelle Hughes to remain unbeaten going into Sunday. She was joined by the NWPA Tour’s Stephanie Hefner, Gigi Callejas (West Coast Women’s Tour) and Suzanne Smith (NWPA). 
 
On the one loss side, Hughes earned her place in Sunday play with a hill-hill win over Succo, and was joined by Williams, Marian Poole and a player who had clawed her way through the entire event, Bonnie Ogg from the West Coast Women’s Tour. 
 
Ogg’s play all weekend was noteworthy in that she escaped her group as the 4th player, and then lost her first match on Saturday to Suzanne Smith. Ogg then came within a rack of a “two and out” elimination, beating Khahn Ngo hill-hill on the one loss side Ogg’s last match on Saturday saw her trailing Ricki Casper 6-3, but she dug down and won four straight racks to earn her spot in Sunday play. 
 
Sunday play saw Hefner face off with Store. Store was the top ranked player in the event and Hefner knew she was going to be an obstacle that she had to overcome. She rose to the occasion and beat Store 7-5 to advance to the hot-seat match. “Going into this tournament, I really had ambition. I wanted to do well, and I knew she was going to be the toughest opponent. Not just because of her Fargo, but she’s the hometown girl. I’d never played her, so I didn’t know how we’d match up. It felt like an accomplishment getting through her, but I knew I couldn’t relax. “
 
Hefner then went on to hand Callejas a 7-3 loss to take the hot-seat, but she knew her job still wasn’t done as she headed to a practice table to stay sharp while waiting for an opponent. “I knew they would be fresh and I wanted to make sure that if I missed any balls, it wasn’t because I wasn’t in stroke.” she said. 
 
On the one loss side, Ogg continued her improbable run. A 7-3 win over group 4 winner Marian Poole was followed up by a 7-5 win over Store. Ogg’s next match was a true example of how brutal the pool gods can be. Ogg led Suzanne Smith 6-5, but left herself a tough 9-ball in the twelfth, that required the mechanical bridge. She missed that shot, allowing Smith to tie things at 6-6. Smith quickly took control of the final rack and ran to the 9 with textbook pattern play. She took her timeout and gathered herself to make the final 9-ball. That might have taken her out of her rhythm though, as she missed the 9-ball and left the match for Ogg to cleanup. Ogg had a much easier time with Callejas in the semi-final match, breaking a 3-3 tie to win 7-3.
 
The final match looked to be “advantage Hefner” on paper, as she eclipsed Ogg’s 508 Fargo rating by nearly 50 points, and Ogg would have to beat Hefner twice. Ogg had momentum though, and obviously wasn’t going to just give up. The turning point of the match appeared to happen with Hefner leading 4-2. Both players were caught up in a safety battle on the 8-ball, when Hefner took on a bank shot that would have made a one pocket player proud. She banked in the 8 and then banked the 9-ball into the same hole … left handed. “I almost played the same safe back, but I thought it was two way. Even if I rattled the eight, she might not get back for the nine so I just decided ‘screw it’ and went for it. I was a little less confident taking the shot left handed, but sometimes when I’m in it, the banks just happen and I don’t think about it.“ Ogg would fight back to get within one at 5-4, but it was Hefner who then won the last two racks for the 7-4 win. 
 
Hefner took the trophy, and $1400 in prize money, back to Oregon. Ogg settled for $1000 in prize money and the knowledge that her Fargo ratings is due for a major increase. 

Flores Wins First AWBT Tour Stop

Final eight players (minus one)

With tour points leader Amanda Pulley (as well as Leandrea Gaff and Sara Miller) in Illinois for the NAPT’s Summer 10-Ball Classic, the AWBT’s stop at Pockets on August 18th and 19th was a prime opportunity for one of the other top points list players to make a move on first place.

 

Those players would find out quickly that even without Pulley, Gaff and Miller, the field of 38 players was still going to be a tough one. “A” players started dropping to the one loss side in the first round with Claudia Morado’s 5-4 win over Justine Bishop. Bishop would be joined by a handful of top players in the second round with Tammy Holben, Pearl Ortiz, Tracie Hamman, Rae Evans and Michelle Trevino all suffering early losses.
 
As the winner’s side narrowed, the final four players only contained one “A” player in the person of Susan Williams. Williams was joined by Pati Martinez, Diana Leon and Mary Helen Mondragon.
 
The one loss side was no more kind to top players as Bishop finished tied for 25th place with such notables as Hamman and Jordyn Flores. The top players would keep falling as Saturday play went on and the day ended with Sonia Flores, Stephanie Benavidez and Carmen Osenton joining Rae Evans for Sunday play.
 
Winner’s side action on Sunday saw Martinez score a 5-4 win over Williams and Mondragon with a lopsided 4-1 win over Leon. Mondragon then went on to capture her first ever AWBT hot-seat with a 4-2 win over Martinez.
Sonia Flores had lost a late Saturday match to Martinez on the winner’s side and she wasn’t going to go away without a fight in this one. A 5-1 win over Terri Johnson-McCauley on Saturday night was followed up by a 5-3 win over Benavidez early Sunday morning and then back to back 5-1 wins over Leon and Evans. Flores would then get her revenge against Martinez with a 5-2 win in the semi-final match.
 
The final match between Mondragon and Flores was an extended match with players adding another two games to their individual races. That left Flores going to seven and Mondragon going to six. Mondragon came out early with a 2-0 lead, but Flores then took control and won four straight racks. Mondragon fought back to 4-4, but Flores then regained control and won three straight for the 7-4 win and first place.
 
In addition to the main event, a second chance tournament was played on Sunday with Sara Sorg going through the field undefeated for first place. A “Balls Only” event was also held on Saturday with 29 guys competing. That event saw AJ Jones and Chris Paradowski split first and second place.
 
The AWBT will take September off, but will be back in Phoenix on October 13th – 14th for 9-ball on the 7’ tables at Bullshooters.

The Texas Tornado goes undefeated to win the 3rd Annual Ashton Twins Classic

With its two previous winners ‘in the house’ – Brittany Bryant and April Larson – the 3rd Annual Ashton Twins Classic got underway on June 14, at 6 p.m. in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Though Bryant would get two chances, hot seat and finals, to win her second Ashton Twins Classic, the attempts were disrupted by a Texas Tornado known as Vivian Villareal, who went undefeated to claim the event title. Defending champion, April Larson, was sent to the loss side in the third round by Line Kjorsvik in a live-streamed match on Saturday and was eliminated in a double hill, loss-side match by Liz Cole to finish in the tie for 9th place. Emily Duddy, who was third in the inaugural event and battled Larson in the finals for the title last year, defeated one of the Ashton twins (Beverly) in a second-round match, and then, after being sent to the loss side by Cathy Metzinger, was defeated in her second loss-side match by the second Ashton twin, Joanne. The $8,000-added event drew 46 entrants to The Hidden Spot in Calgary.
 
After being awarded an opening round bye, Villareal got by her first three opponents by an aggregate score of 27-4, giving up two racks to Leandrea Gaff, and one each to Claire Pipestem and Valerie Franiel, which set her (Villareal) up to face Monica Webb in one of the winners’ side semifinals. Bryant, in the meantime, who was not awarded an opening round bye, worked her way to the other winners’ side semifinal with an aggregate score of 36-17, sending Elizabeth Jensen (1), Aryana Lynch (5), Sandy Badger (4) and Line Kjorsvik (7) to the loss side and turning to face Cathy Metzinger in the other winners’ side semifinal.
 
Monica Webb put up a fight against the Tornado, chalking up more racks against her in the winners’ side semifinal than all of Villareal’s previous opponents combined. Villareal, though, advanced to the hot seat match 9-5, and faced Bryant, who’d sent Metzinger west 9-1. Bryant proved to be Villareal’s second strong challenge in a row. She chalked up seven against her, but once again, Villareal advanced, sitting in the hot seat, waiting for what turned out to be Bryant’s return.
 
On the loss side, Webb picked up Teruko Cucculelli, who, after a defeat by Metzinger in a winners’ side quarterfinal, had downed Bonnie Plowman 9-3 and eliminated Kjorsvik 9-6. Metzinger drew Joanne Ashton, who, after eliminating Emily Duddy 9-6, had also eliminated Franiel 9-5 and Liz Cole 9-7 (Cole had just eliminated Larson).
 
Webb ended Cucculelli’s loss-side run 9-3, and in the quarterfinals, faced Metzinger, who’d eliminated the last-standing Ashton twin 9-2. Metzinger and Webb locked up in a double hill, quarterfinal battle that eventually advanced Metzinger to the semifinals against Bryant.
 
Bryant, apparently very determined to get a second shot at Villareal, allowed Metzinger only two racks in those semifinals. In what proved to be a nail-biting, extended-race-to-13 final, Bryant got out in front early, staking herself to a 5-1 lead, which by rack #13 had been extended to a 9-4 lead and then, quickly, an 11-6 lead.
 
Over the next 40 minutes of the match, Villareal had cut that lead down to a single game. She capped the four-game run by attempting an 8-9 combination which initially failed, only to have the 8-ball continue to travel and drop into a side pocket, leaving Villareal with a straight-on shot at the 9-ball in the opposite side pocket. It was 11-10, with Villareal breaking.
 
Bryant stopped the bleeding to reach the hill first at 12-10, but the Texas Tornado, which had been lurking on the horizon through much of the match, started to pick up some speed. She won game #23 and when Bryant missed a tough shot on the 7-ball in rack #24, Villareal jumped on it and won the rack to force a single deciding game.
 
Bryant broke the last rack, sunk a ball and had a clean, albeit bridge-necessary shot at the 1-ball. She dropped the 1-ball in a lower corner pocket, but as she drew back from the shot, her right wrist nudged the 9-ball forward, out of its original position by about an inch. Tournament officials took a minute or two to sort that out to Villareal’s satisfaction, as Bryant contemplated the difficult shot she’d left herself on the 2-ball. She made the 2-ball, but on a much easier shot, rattled the 3-ball in a corner pocket.
 
Villareal pocketed the 3-ball and played safe, leaving Bryant with a potential jump shot to make the 4-ball. She opted for a kick off the long rail, putting the 4-ball back up-table on a short rail with the cue at the opposite end of the table, leaving Villareal a long, sharp cut shot. A subsequent missed bank shot by Bryant left Villareal with a long-rail cut shot at the 4-ball, which she made, and proceeded to drop the next four balls, including the 9-ball to claim the 3rd Ashton Twins Classic title. 
 

Tina Malm Wins NAPT Division II Championship

Tina Malm

With pool players, you never know what will motivate them at different moments in their pool playing career. With Tina Malm (formerly Pawloski), it was an off night of APA league play in 2016 that lit the fire she needed to get back into serious competitive pool. After multiple state championships and top finishes in major events, Malm had basically stepped away from serious competition for roughly six years to focus on her family, but that wouldn’t be the end of her days under tournament pressure. “I went to On Cue Billiards one night and was just hitting some balls to warm up before league, and it hit me that my game was completely unacceptable to me. That made me want to practice and then I caught the bug to play again”.
 
That bug was on full display on February 22nd – 25th at the North American Pool Tour’s (NAPT) Division II Championships at Hard Times Billiards in Sacramento. This event featured 45 of the top players from various ladies regional tours across the country, competing for their share of $5,000 in added money. Competitors fought it out over two days of round-robin play, where they were split into six groups and played each player in their group a seven game match. With that format, every game mattered as players fought to be one of the top four ladies in each group to advance. 
 
Hailing from the J. Pechauer Northwest Women’s Tour, Malm looked dominant in her group. Losing only 9 racks over her 42 games was more than enough to make her the top player to in her group. With one bye in her group (and therefore 7 fewer racks to play), Malm was tied with Shannon Dunn for second most wins overall, only trailing the Arizona Women’s Billiards Tour’s Susan Williams’ 38 wins. 
 
“I love the format. It’s 4 days of playing pool and with all of that time at the table, you hope that by day three you can catch a gear.” said Malm. “Catch a gear” she did, as she started double elimination play with an Arizona trifecta, facing Leandrea Gaff, Susan Williams and Bernie Store – all from Arizona – in her first three matches. Her 7-3 win over last year’s runner-up, Williams, was especially telling for the day. Williams, a good friend of Malm’s, commented “I played bad and she played well. She played confident and determined. Obviously a winning combination.”
 
After sending Team Arizona to the one loss side, Malm only had to deal with Leslie Bernardi from the Tiger West Coast Women’s Tour in the hot-seat match, and that quickly went her way 7-4. Bernardi found a familiar opponent waiting on the one loss side in fellow West Coast Women’s Tour player Janna Sue Nelson. Bernardi had sent Nelson to the one loss side and finished sending her to the stands with a hill-hill win in the semi-final match. 
 
Sometimes sitting in the hot-seat can get a player out of stroke, but that wasn’t the case with Malm. “I consider myself the hardest working player in any tournament. From Wednesday night, I spent every minute that I could on a table practicing” said Malm. That practice showed as she finished her week with a 7-3 win over Bernardi in the finals for a first-place finish. 
 
Reminiscing about the tournament, Malm still didn’t sound happy with her game though. “I really felt I had to work all day on Sunday. The outs just didn’t show themselves and I know I am capable of a lot more” she sad. When asked about any goals she has set for herself, Malm had a big one in mind. “I’ve noticed my Fargo dropping lately, and I want to work on that. I think I can break into the top ten US ladies list if I really put my mind to it”.

Williams avenges only loss on way to AWBT Win

Susan Williams

Susan Williams avenged her only loss of the event and defeated Sara Miller 9-6 in the finals to capture another Arizona Women's Billiard Tour stop victory at Bullshooters in Phoenix on the weekend of September 14th and 15th.

 

Williams had her hands full all tournament long, with two hill-hill wins and no opponent winning less than four games against her over the weekend. Even with those close calls, she was still taking on Sara Miller for the hot-seat on Sunday. That match also went to hill-hill, but it was Miller taking the hot-seat 7-6.

 

On the left side of the board, it was Las Vegas' Rebecca Wagner in control of things after suffering a 7-6 loss to Williams early on Sunday. Wagner went to the left side of the board and eliminated Jaye Succo and Leandra Gaff to earn another shot at Williams in the semi-final match. That match would start close with ties at 1-1, 2-2 and 3-3 before Williams took control and won the match 7-4.

 

The single elimination race to nine final saw Sara Miller in cruise control as she raced to a 5-0 lead. She lost her first game in rack six, regained her five rack lead at 6-1. Then the wheels fell off. Williams won game after game to tie the match at 6-6, but she wasn't done there. Williams went on to take the following three racks for the 9-6 come-from-behind victory and another AWBT Tour stop win.

 

The AWBT wanted to thank their hosts Mike and Julie Bates for adding $300 to the main tournament and $100 to the second chance event. They also wanted to thank Jose Gonzales and Las Glorias Grille for adding $100 and Brian Reich and the friends of the AWBT for adding $300 to the event.

The AWBT will be in Tucson at Pockets Billiards for their next event on October 12th and 13th.