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Wisconsin Billiards Hall of Fame Welcomes Classes of 2020 and 2021

Class of 2020 – Craig Powers, Gene Albrecht Sr. Pamela Kelly and Claudio Parrone Sr.

After a year off due to Covid, the Wisconsin Billiards Hall of Fame was back with a spectacular weekend of events in Oshkosh, Wisconsin Oct 1st-3rd.

Friday evening’s induction ceremony and banquet featured recognition of the Class of 2020 (Gene Albrecht, Pamela Kelly, Claudio Parrone Sr and Craig Powers). Also inducted were the Class of 2021 (Jim Fitzpatrick, James McDermott, Larry Nevel and Mark Wilson).

Speeches were genuine, tearful, and filled with stories highlighting the talents and dedication these individuals have made over decades to the sport of billiards.

Friday evening through Sunday featured member-only tournaments with over 120 players competing in banks, one-pocket, three-cushion and 10-ball. WIBHOF weekend is an opportunity to form relationships and friendships outside of the competitive arena.

Class of 2021 – Jim Fitzpatrick, Jesse McDermott (Son of James), Larry Nevel, Phyllis McDermott (daughter of James) and Mark Wilson

To date, WIBHOF has donated over $8,000 back to players in need for medical care and travel to junior competitions. Wisconsin is proud to offer such a prestigious event to preserve history and honor pool players to have made a profound impact on the sport we all love!

Barretta and Thorpe Wins Highlight Derby City Day Eight

Jennifer Barretta (Photo courtesy of Dave Thomson – Mediumpool.com)

Diamond Derby City Classic XXII, January 24-Feb.2, 2020
 
Caesars Southern Indiana, Elizabeth, IN
 
This just in! The All Around Champion leaderboard has Billy Thorpe ahead of Orcollo by 4.2 points.
 
DIAMOND 9-BALL CHAMPIONSHIP
 
David Thomson
 
408 entrants. 9 on the spot, compliant break, Outsville Template Rack.
 
Jennifer Barretta vs. Joey Korsiak was the nail-biter of the day in the Accu-Stats Arena.
 
Jennifer proved fighting fit as she overcame a 4-1 deficit to tie the match at 7.
 
On the 8, which would have, put her on the hill, alas, she mis-cued. 
 
Joey, with only 2 balls to pocket, captured that spot and was soon breaking. Then, mid-rack, it was his turn to commit the unforgivable. He missed a makable ball in the side.
 
Jennifer, exercising perfect fundamentals, looked like she’d been coached at Mark Wilson’s pool school. With grace and poise, she, calmly, closed out the rack.
 
Barretta, now battle ready, broke the last rack. It was compliant. Composed and considerate, she negotiated the layout with extraordinary ease. Within moments, she was straight in on the 9. There was no chance of mishap now. Smiling and relaxed, she powered the remaining orb home. 9-8.
 
More action in the Accu-Stats TV Arena had Corey’s .887 Total Performance Average(TPA) over Mika’s .796 pretty much speak for itself. 9-5, 
 
Then, Skyler Woodward and Omar Al Shaheen had the audience’s attention.
 
Omar, empowered by his decent performance in Banks and One Pocket, was in his comfort zone and never wandered from the task.
 
Skyler, playing catch-up was about to tie the match at 7 when he hooked himself, missed the kick and Shaheen was on the hill and on his way upward. 9-6.
 
They would meet again in the evening’s Banks Ring game.
 
Shane Van Boening, Joshua Filler, Justin Bergman, LeeVann Corteza, Justin Bergman are all undefeated.
 
Efren Reyes was removed by John Demet and Mieszko Fortunski, who gave Melling his first loss as did Jayson Shaw to Konrad Juszczyszyn.
 
Konrad, having his best result ever, later eliminated Melling who had been sent to the booth by Jesus Atencio.
 
German Can Salim canned Jeff DeLuna, and Shaw, to be later eliminated by Filler.
 
Lee Vann Corteza exited Olinger, Immonen, and Bustamante. Dennis Orcollo got Gomez and Tyler Styer.
 
Chris Melling had sent Corey Deuel buying back.
 
Billy Thorpe, before being ejected by Japan’s Naoyuki Oi, had gotten Max Eberle who had sent Tim DeRuyter home.
 
Justin Bergman removed Marty Turpin and later handed Tyler Styer his 1st loss and much later, removed Omar.
 
Francisco Bustamante relieved Evan Lunda.
 
James Aranas got over Josh Roberts and, fellow countrymen be damned, killed Bustamante and Kiamko.
 
Last Chance for 9-Ball. It commences at noon, the Finals at night.
 
Check out the schedule at Accu-Stats.com.
 
FRIDAY NIGHT BANKS RING GAME
 
Featuring Skyler Woodward, Billy Thorpe, Jayson Shaw, Jonathan Demet, Justin Hall and Omar Al Shaheen.
 
Billy Thorpe strikes again. At $800 a ball, Skyler Woodward couldn’t contain him, but it took a while.
 
$1500 ante, Diamond added $3k, equals $12,000.
 
The difference this year, rather than the winner take all, they were paying $8k for first and $4k for second.
 
The last 2 standing played ’til one gutted the other and was declared the winner.
 
The action began at $50 a ball. Every 3 racks they would reshuffle the order and the $s would raise to 100, 200, 400, etc.
 
The shocker was that Shaw was the first to go, followed swiftly by Demet, then last year’s Banks semi-finalist Omar Al Shaheen. By $300 per orb, Hall was bankrupt. That left Skyler and Billy battling for the cash.
 
Woodward had $5700 and Billy had $3300. 3 racks later, The bank rolls were reversed and it was Sky $5700, Billy $3300.
 
That’s when the bloodbath began. at $700 a ball, Billy moved into slaughter mode. The sky was falling in on Woodward and with $2100 to Billy’s $6900, the action raised to $800.
 
Sky had 2 and a half bullets. Billy, smelling blood, upped it to smiling assassin mode and soon had the moolah!
 
Then it was all hugs and beers, back to good buddies and, “What time’s your 9-Ball match?”
 
Don’t miss a stroke at accu-stats.com
 
Accu-Stats thanks its Arena Sponsors: Diamond Billiards, Simonis Cloth, Cyclop Balls, Cuetec Cues, Cue and Case, MEZZ Cues, McDermott Cues, National Billiard Academy.

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.

Madsen, Larson and Lindenwood University win sixth straight ACUI College Nationals

(l to r): Robert Patrick, Rahu Vithani & Andreas Madsen

No surprises here.
 
It’s no surprise that over the past six years, the oldest continuously-run pool tournament in the country, dating back to 1937 – The American College Union International’s Collegiate Pocket Billiards Championship – has been dominated by the only school in the country with a full-scale billiards athletic program.
 
It’s also not a surprise that in her first year with this program at Lindenwood University in St. Charles, Missouri, April Larson went undefeated through a field of 12 to win the 2019 Women’s title, along with the event’s Sportsmanship award. The 80th Women’s and 82nd Men’s Collegiate Championship was hosted by the University of Illinois at its Champaign campus on the last weekend in May. No surprise, either, that last year’s male champion from Lindenwood, Andreas Madsen, originally from Copenhagen, Denmark, successfully defended his title this year, going undefeated through a field of 28.
 
And, just a step outside the realm of professional relevance, it’s not too much of a surprise that Larson and Madsen have, in a manner of speaking, found each other.
 
Ladies first. Not only did Larson win the title and the Sportsmanship award, but she defeated last year’s champion, Taylor Hanson, twice, to do it. They’re both from Minnesota and have a long history of competing against each other. Hanson entered the Lindenwood University program, a year ahead of Larson. Now, they spend most of the year on the same university pool team, which went 13-2 on the college year season. The university program’s dominance extends well beyond the sixth straight time that they’ve captured both the men’s and women’s titles, which, by the way, included an unprecedented four straight titles for Briana Miller (2014-2017).
 
According to Larson, her switch from high school and professional competition, to the rigors of a college education and college sports, has been a matter of focus.
 
“Focusing on school and improving my pool game,” she said. “Combining those things so you don’t slack off on the school work, and show up for practice. It’s about balancing those things. Finding time to do them both.”
 
[photo id=51129|align=right]Larson, of course, is used to playing against much larger (not to mention higher skilled) fields of competitors, but with Lindenwood University as the only school to offer a structured athletic program around pool, it was yet another example of ‘no surprise’; no surprise that there were only 12 women competing.
 
“We had nine qualify this year,” said the program director, Mark Wilson. “It’s the largest group we’ve ever taken and it was the largest group in attendance at this year’s event.”
 
“Last year,” he added of the women’s championship, “there were only five in the field.”
 
A preliminary round of eight players, yielded four winners, who advanced to compete against four women who’d been awarded a bye. Larson shut out her first two opponents, China Concepion and Taylor Hammonds, which put her into a winners’ side semifinal against YuShi Hou. Defending women’s champion, Taylor Hanson shut out her first two opponents, as well – Adamaris Andrade and Madison Bond – to face Ava Schieferstein in the other winners’ side semifinal.
 
Larson and Hanson advanced to their first match, battling for the hot seat. Larson had sent Hou to the loss side 7-3, as Hanson was busy sending Schieferstein over 7-1. Larson claimed the hot seat 7-4 and waited for Hanson to get back from the semifinals.
 
On the loss side, Schieferstein picked up Hammonds, who’d defeated Cierra Staton, double hill and Amanda Adams 7-2. Hou drew Bond, who’d eliminated Jenne Harasin and Concepcion, both 7-2. Bond shut out Hou and in the quarterfinals, faced Schieferstein, who’d defeated Hammonds 7-1. Schieferstein ended Bond’s bid 7-5 in those quarterfinals, before she was shut out by Hanson in the semifinals.
 
The college format dictated a true double elimination final, requiring Hanson to defeat Larson twice to successfully defend her title. She came as close as you could get without winning it. She and Larson fought to double hill before Larson claimed her first, though likely not her last, college title.
 
Madsen and Vithani battle twice for Men’s title
 
Andreas Madsen was cruising through his first few matches in the Men’s tournament. He arrived at a winners’ side semifinal having given up only four racks over three matches and 25 games. He opened his bid to defend the college title with a 7-1 victory over Bradley Degener, shut out Anthony Brown and gave up three to Abdulaziz Altamimi, which set him up to face Taren Stewart in one winners’ side semifinal.
 
Rahul Vithani, in the meantime, gave up 10 racks over three rounds of play and 31 games. He got by Wade Darr 7-2, Aun Lakhani 7-3 and Woda Ni 7-5 to arrive at his winners’ side semifinal match against Robert Patrick.
 
Madsen continued to roll, advancing to the hot seat match with a 7-1 victory over Stewart. Vithani and Patrick locked up in a double hill fight that eventually did send Patrick to the loss side and Vithani on to faced Madsen. Vithani came within a game of chalking up as many racks against Madsen as all of his previous opponents combined. Madsen, though, claimed the hot seat 7-4 and waited for Vithani to get back.
 
Patrick and Stewart moved on over to the loss side. Patrick picked up Alatamimi, who, following his defeat at the hands of Madsen had downed Sarmanya Bhiwaniwaia 7-2 and Dakota Knudson 7-1. Stewart drew Anthony Brown, who was on a four-match, loss-side streak that had included wins over Zishan Cai 7-3 and Woda Ni 7-4.
 
Patrick advanced to the quarterfinals 7-1 over Altamimi. Brown and Stewart battled to double hill before Brown finished it, extending his loss-side streak to five. Patrick ended that streak in the quarterfinals 7-1, only to have his own two-match, loss-side streak come to an end 7-5 in the semifinals against Vithani.
 
The wait apparently had no effect on Madsen. Vithani had to win twice to take the title away from him, but failed to chalk up a second rack, let alone second match. Madsen won it 7-1 to successfully defend the ACUI collegiate men’s title.
 
He’s back home in Denmark, now, but will be back in the early part of August to continue his education at Lindenwood. He’s uncertain at this point, whether he’ll be pursuing a pool career full-time.
 
“It’s a good question,” he said. “I’m going to finish college and then, maybe take a year off. I’d like to have a job that would allow me to travel.”
 
Until such time as other universities find a rationale and ultimately, the funds to replicate the Lindenwood University athletic pool program, students from Lindenwood will likely continue to dominate the annual ACUI Collegiate Tournament. According to director Wilson, he receives a lot of inquiries about his program and its success, but they’re from the wrong people; students, not schools.
 
“University inquiries (about the program) are rare,” he said. “We’re starting to get a hint at progress toward more programs, but (the university administrators) don’t see the value.”
 
For the most part, Wilson’s athletes compete locally against established leagues and for the most part, don’t have to over-exert themselves to come out on top.
 
“We’ll rarely play our top 6 players,” noted Wilson.
 
April Larson will be back at the tables for the WPBA’s Signature Event on the weekend of August 8-11 and be back at Lindenwood for her second year, shortly thereafter. She has every intention of maintaining the 4.0 grade average she established in her first year, on her way to a degree in finance. Madsen, too, after a trip home to Copenhagen will be back in early August to resume his quest for another 4.0 grade average year in pursuit of degree in International Relations.
 
The pair could be a threat at almost any Scotch Doubles Tournament in the nation, and are likely, individually, to be making more and more progress in their game. They’re likely to be a dual sight to see for some time to come.

Wisconsin Billiards Hall of Fame Inducts Inaugural Class

Jerry Briesath, Bruce Venzke, Willie Munson and Connie O’Heron

The Wisconsin Billiards Hall of Fame held their Inaugural Hall of Fame Weekend at the Mad Apple Billiards in Appleton, WI on October 12-14th, 2018.  
 
On Friday evening there were 135 people in attendance for the induction ceremony and dinner.  The inaugural Hall of Fame class of inductees were Jerry Briesath, Willie Munson, Connie O’Heron and Bruce Venzke.  Guest speakers included Jeanette Lee, Mark Wilson, Randy Goettlicher and others chosen by the Hall of Famers to introduce them.
 
This first class event was truly a remarkable one, exceeding the expectations of most in attendance.  The entire weekend was restricted to members only, who in addition to being able to attend the banquet, also receive voting rights on the ballot each year, are entered into monthly prize give-a-ways, and can play in the Hall of Fame Tournaments.
 
Following the banquet, ten of the best bank pool players in the state were part of the Invitational Ring Banks Chip Tournament.  Playing for chips for every bank made, the crowd watched on as Pete Heard from Milwaukee took down Mosconi Cup Team USA hopeful Tyler Styer in the finals.
 
Saturday and Sunday kicked off the main events with 128 players coming to the Mad Apple for an Upper 10-Ball and Lower 9-Ball tournament.  After two days of stiff competition, Sergio Rivas defeated Duncan Kaufman to claim the 10-Ball title, and Dakota Knutson took down Cody Wedig for the 9-Ball crown.
 
Each year, the Wisconsin Billiards Hall of Fame Weekend will take place at a new venue, and during the banquet it was announced that 2019 will move to Dave Cole’s Carom Room in Beloit the second weekend of October.  The tournament formats will also change year after year.
 
WIBHOF was formed on October 1st, 2017 as a non-profit organization that operates both as a Hall of Fame, but also as a foundation of support for pool players in need.  The board of directors, comprised of Jon Kramer, Gregg Andler and Kyle Boers and four other volunteers, have grown the company rapidly in its first year.  Currently with 11 sponsors and over 500 paid members, Kramer, the President of the organization said “The amount of support we have seen from the Wisconsin billiards community in our first year has been overwhelming.”  The website also hosts tournament flyers for the state, a large image gallery of historical Wisconsin billiard photos, game rules and more.  In the voting period of November 1st – January 31st members are also able to log into the site and cast their votes for next year’s Hall of Fame class.  In its first year, wibhof.org has been viewed over 50,000 times by more than 2,000 people across the country and even international viewers from 60 different countries.

Team USA Completes Training Camp In Preparation For 2018 Atlantic Challenge Cup

One of the first ideas BCA Hall of Fame member Allison Fisher had as the newly selected captain of the 2018 Atlantic Challenge Cup team was to create a team camp to allow the newly established group an opportunity to come together before competing in November. The camp was led by the expertise of Fisher and assistant Team USA captain Mark Wilson. With sponsors Tweeten Fibre and Iwan Simonis helping the Billiard Congress of America fund the experience, the idea quickly became reality. The team recently completed three days of training at Lindenwood University in Saint Charles, Missouri.
 
"It was great to get everyone together," said Fisher. "The kids really bonded as a team! Both Mark and I are so pleased with the attention and effort each player put into learning over the weekend. We are excited about the enthusiasm this team is displaying and are looking forward to seeing them maintain this dedication of excellence leading up to and throughout the Atlantic Challenge Cup."
 
I believe that having our team practice and drill under the supervision of Mark and Allison is going to pay great dividends for these players as they gear up for the competition in Las Vegas," said Ivan Lee of Iwan Simonis and Aramith. "With such fine facilities and quality instruction, the team gained fantastic experience."
 
"I'd like to thank Mark Wilson, Allison Fisher, Lindenwood University and the BCA for hosting the ACC Team USA training camp this year," said Skip Nemecek of Tweeten Fibre. "What a great opportunity for our young athletes to experience such a high level of instruction in a professional and educational environment with a bit of fun and relaxation on the side. Everyone involved should be proud of this year's team as well as the amount help from so many people behind the scenes. I am confident Team USA will have a great 2018 Atlantic Challenge Cup in Las Vegas. Well done BCA and everyone in the cue sports world for providing such a special opportunity for the current and future stars of our sport!"
 
Launched in 2015, the Atlantic Challenge Cup features the best youth players from Europe and America in a Mosconi Cup style event. Six players on each team, four boys and two girls, battle it out on an annual basis to see who has bragging rights across the Atlantic. The event is the result of a joint venture between the Billiard Congress of America and the European Pocket Billiard Federation.
 
 
Stay tuned to AtlanticChallengeCup.com for continuous updates on the 2018 event. 

Europe Announces 2018 Atlantic Challenge Cup Team Captain

Tomas Brikmanis

The European Pocket Billiard Federation today announced they will be sticking with a tried and tested method by selecting their youth sports director Tomas Brikmanis, to lead Team EUROPE during the 2018 Atlantic Challenge Cup in Las Vegas, November 29 – December 1, 2018.
 
 "Europe has won the first three Atlantic Challenge Cup annual competitions and Tomas Brikmanis has been with the team for the last two," said EPBF President Gre Leenders. "He brings invaluable experience to the team as we head to the Las Vegas for the 2018 event."
 
Partnered in 2017 with Europe's top gun, Austria's Albin Ouschan, Brikmanis also captained the team on his own in 2016. The team's early victory that year allowed them to make a trip to downtown Chicago for sightseeing and shopping. Asked whether he'll be thinking about shopping this year in Vegas he replied, "That was crazy in Chicago, but a lot of fun, too. We had a great team and they deserved a celebration in Chicago. What we have here in Europe is special, with a pond full of ripe talent, and a qualifying system that allows only the very best to be selected. Youth European champion in 10-ball or straight-pool is no guarantee you get on the team," Brikmanis said with a smile.
 
Starting November 29th, this year Brikmanis will be up against the legendary Allison Fisher who was recently named as the USA Atlantic Challenge Cup team captain. Helping Alison is the ever-present Earl Munson and former USA Mosconi Cup team captain Mark Wilson.
 
Asked whether the task ahead looked daunting considering the three heads on the USA team, Brikmanis replied, "Of course I have a lot of respect for all of them, but I faced five heads in Chicago, Allison included. I'm sure that result still hurts and she'll be up for reversing it. I am really looking forward to taking my team to Las Vegas and I know they will be ready. So, we are going for that trophy and the shopping can wait," Brikmanis replied with a laugh.
 
Launched in 2015, the Atlantic Challenge Cup features the best youth players from Europe and America in a Mosconi Cup style event. Six players on each team, four boys and two girls, battle it out on an annual basis to see who has bragging rights across the Atlantic. The event is the result of a joint venture between the Billiard Congress of America and the European Pocket Billiard Federation.
 
Stay tuned to AtlanticChallengeCup.com for continuous updates on the 2018 event.

USA Announces 2018 Atlantic Challenge Cup Team Captain

The Billiard Congress of America today announced its team's captain to face the Europeans during this year's staging of the Atlantic Challenge Cup taking place November 29 – December 1, 2018 in Las Vegas.
 
"We are delighted to appoint Allison Fisher to lead Team USA as its captain for the 2018 Atlantic Challenge Cup," said BCA CEO Rob Johnson. "Allison's accomplishments as a player speak for themselves and now she is not only committed to competing at the highest level, but also working with our next generation of players. She has been on our radar for some time and the stars aligned for her to be able to lead our team in 2018. We are also excited to announce Allison will be supported by former ACC Team Captain and BEF Junior Nationals Tournament Director Earl Munson and former Mosconi Cup Team USA Captain and current head coach of Lindenwood University's billiards program, Mark Wilson. Team USA is fortunate to have these three individuals donate their time and energy to supporting our junior players."
 
A 2009 Billiard Congress of America Hall of Fame inductee, Fisher won 80 Snooker titles, including 11 world championships (four of those in doubles competition). She moved to the U.S. in September 1995 to try her hand on the WPBA Classic Tour, and promptly won two 9-ball titles in three months and finished 3rd in her first World 9 ball Championship. Fisher won an astounding 80 Classic Tour and WPA titles in the next two decades. She also won the WPA World 9-Ball Championship in 1996, 1998, 2001 and 2002. During Fisher's reign, she earned POY honors from both Billiards Digest and Pool & Billiard Magazine 11 times in 12 years. In 2009 she won a World Games Gold medal.
 
"I am very honored to be chosen to lead Team USA," said Fisher. "Preparing our junior players for such a prestigious event is very exciting. With Earl and Mark assisting me, I look forward to working with the team to prepare them for what to expect and how to handle the pressures of this format. We will work with them in advance of the event and during the matches to help them play to the best of their abilities. We have a very formidable opponent, so we know we have our work cut out for us."
 
Fisher has also chosen Munson and Wilson to support her efforts to prepare Team USA. Munson has nearly two decades of experience working with US junior players, including serving as captain for the first two Atlantic Challenge Cup events. Munson also brings more than a decade of experience working with juniors as the USA BEF Junior National tournament director and five-time USA team leader for WPA World Junior Championship events.
 
Wilson, has been a billiards instructor and coach for more than 40 years and as a professional player, has been ranked in the top 25 in the world. He is currently the head coach for Lindenwood University, one of the country's premier collegiate billiard programs. He is also a former Team USA Mosconi Cup captain.
 
Launched in 2015, the Atlantic Challenge Cup features the best youth players from Europe and America in a Mosconi Cup style event. Six players on each team, four boys and two girls, battle it out on an annual basis to see who has bragging rights across the Atlantic. The event is the result of a joint venture between the Billiard Congress of America and the European Pocket Billiard Federation.
 
Stay tuned to AtlanticChallengeCup.com for continuous updates on the 2018 event.

Shaw Shows the World

Jayson Shaw (Photo courtesy of Elmer Dionisio)

Jayson Shaw has defeated Eklent Kaci to become the U.S. Open Champion.
 
The final day of the 2017 U.S. Open gave up some of the finest pool ever seen with unbelievable shotmaking and impossible reaches of position.
 
The day began with the hot seat match between Jayson Shaw and Francisco Sanchez-Ruiz. These two kept it close early, with the two men trading racks until  the score line got to four games apiece. Jayson Shaw then waved at his young daughter in the stands and he caught fire. From there it was all the Shaw show as he took on table-length razor cuts, jump shots, and wove through heavy traffic for position. There was just nothing Francisco could do as Shaw commanded the table. The match ended with Shaw an 11-4 winner.
 
The ‘B’ side match to determine our fourth place finisher was between Jung-Lin Chang and Eklent Kaci. They also kept it close early with the score reaching a tie at 7 games apiece. Eklent then took charge and dominated the table with precise, no-mistake pool. Plus, his break began to work and gave him layouts that he could manage without needing miracles from above. Kaci won this one 11-8 and Chang took fourth place after finishing second here last year to Shane Van Boening.
 
Our semi-final match featured Francisco Sanchez-Ruiz and Eklent Kaci. This match was something of a contrast in styles as Francisco hurries around the table and Kaci strolls slowly. Ruiz took first blood in this one but gave up ball in hand in the second rack when he missed a fairly routine short kick to contact the two ball. However, he was able to get back to the table after a safety war and win the rack to go up 2-0. He then broke and ran to go up 3-0.
 
A scratch on the next break got Kaci out of his chair. He ran the table to get on the board 3-1.  When he broke and ran the next rack he trailed only 3-2. They then traded racks for a 4-3 score. The score was quickly tied at 5 racks each and the players then once again traded racks to tie at 6.
 
Kaci then began to take control of the table and won the next rack, then broke and ran the next three to arrive at the hill 10-6. Kaci had no runout in the next rack but he gave Ruiz no air. Ruiz’s best opportunity was a jump-bank shot that failed to find the corner pocket and Kaci looked poised to take it home. To everyone’s surprise, Kaci missed the eight ball and gave Ruiz life at 10-7 and breaking.
 
Ruiz made a legal break but had no shot on the two ball. Kaci emerged the winner of the safety engagement that followed and ran out to gain entry to the final match with Jayson Shaw. Francisco Sanchez-Ruiz settled for third place.
 
Our Grand Final, a race to thirteen games, between Kaci and Shaw began with Shaw winning the lag.
All of the balls wound up on the right side of the table. Shaw played safe on his first shot  Kaci could not escape well enough and Shaw quickly ran the table for the first mark. The second rack was a bit of a back and forth affair but Shaw once again prevailed. Shaw broke and ran the next rack but the break on the fourth rack once again found all of the object balls on the right side of the table and the cueball locked in a pocket’s jaws.  He pushed but it was handed back and he banked the one ball safe. Kaci missed the contact on a thin safety nick and Shaw ran down to a three-nine combo. He made it to go 4 up on Kaci who was yet to drop a nine.
 
Shaw then broke and ran for game 5 and was shooting a perfect 1000 on Accu-Stats at this point in the match. In the next rack, Shaw missed a thin cut on the one but left Kaci hooked. Kaci grabbed his jump cue and made the jump but snookered himself. On the safe attempt Kaci failed to hit a rail and Shaw took off with ball in hand and rode the gift through the rack for 6-0.
 
Now remember that at the World Pool Series event a few months back where Kaci got his first major victory, it was Shaw who was on the losing end of that match. Shaw had a point to make this time, and the fates seemed to be with him. He left the two ball in a corner pocket and Kaci had to go rail first to make contact and instead struck another ball while trying to execute that and once again gifted Shaw with ball in hand. Once again Shaw ran the rack out for 7-0. 
 
Commentator and Coach Mark Wilson was so impressed with Shaw’s game that he said: “Perfect position for Shaw is when the cue ball and the object ball are on the same table”.  
 
Kaci was at the table briefly to try a jump shot but left Shaw out and it was quickly 8-0. Now folks began to remember how Corey Duel had blanked Mika Immonen in his victory here. Immonen did nothing wrong. He just could not get out of the chair with a hope of a shot, and Kaci had done little wrong other than to have his arm ice up a bit from sitting in the chair so long.
 
Shaw finally showed that even he can err. He missed a carom but Kaci had to play a safe. It was effective and Kaci removed the remaining five balls to clamber up onto the score board and hear applause for the first time. Now Kaci needed to stay at the table, run balls and make points. His  break left him no clean shot on the one ball. He pushed out to a jump shot that Shaw gave back to him. Kaci made the jump shot and warmed his arm up with some tough shots on his way to his second point. 8-2.
 
Kaci broke dry in rack 11 and Shaw took the floor and the rack to lead 9-2 in our race to 13.  Shaw then broke and ran again for 10-2. Now he was showing a 938 Accu-Stats TPA.  Shaw then made the nine on the break for 11-2. He was using a cut break and cue ball came right back into the nine and knocked it in.
 
Showed played safe on his first shot in the next rack and Kaci grabbed his jump cue. He  made a great shot and gave the safety right back. Now Shaw went for his short stick. He had to jump a long nine ball and instead his cue ball left the table.  He left a shot for Kaci and Kaci ran the table for his third win.
 
Kaci could not keep the table in the next rack and Shaw got to the hill at 12-3. Shaw scratched on the next break and left a pattern for Kaci to follow for a 12-4 scoreline, but Kaci then scratched on his break  and the result was obvious. Shaw took the rack and the crown of 2017 U.S. Open Champion with a winning score of 13-4 over Eklent Kaci.

Larson goes undefeated to capture 2nd Annual Ashton Twins Classic title

April Larson

In discussing the young April Larson, in an interview about her which appeared in Billiards Digest magazine last July, Mark Wilson, captain of the US Mosconi Cup team for three years, made mention of her skills and the likelihood of their development over time.
 
"She's got the tools," he said. "It's just a matter, now, of sharpening them."
 
Since that interview, Larson, a five-time Junior Nationals Champion in two separate divisions (under 13 & 13-17), has gone on to compete at the professional level, chalking up a victory at the North American Pool Tour's (NAPT) Summer 10-Ball Classic last August, and finishing among the top 10 in four other events last year; a stop on the North Central Pool Tour (runner up), the Super Billiards Expo's Women's Championship (5th), the NAPT's Inaugural 10-Ball Invitational (7th) and The Tornado Open (9th).
 
On the weekend of June 10-11, she traveled with her sharpened tools to Calgary, Alberta and went undefeated at the $5,000-added, 2nd Annual Ashton Twins Classic to chalk up her first (recorded) win of 2017. This, in spite of a strong nine-match, loss-side winning streak by her eventual opponent in the finals, Emily Duddy, who'd finished third in the 1st Ashton Twins Classic last year.
 
In races to 9, Larson's seven opponents in this most recent event, which drew 46 entrants to the Hidden Spot in Calgary, were chalking up an average of just under five racks per match against her (4.71, to be exact), but her undefeated run through the field was surgical, none the less. What had to be frightening to her opponents was the casual ease with which she approached every shot, stroke and eventual game victory; no signs of body language hinting at nervousness, silent aggression, or frustration when an unlucky roll or unforced error led to one of those 4.71 racks against her. Just a friendly, business-like attitude that served her well through the 100 games that she played, and the 67 of them that she won to secure the title.  
 
And the recently-turned-17-year-old has yet to graduate from high school.
 
"I have one more year left," she said, "and I can't wait to be out."
 
With plans to join Mark Wilson's program at Lindenwood University, where she will presumably further sharpen her already considerable skills, her future in the sport is bright. And being noted by those who've opposed her, like veteran pro LoreeJon Hasson, who defeated her in a one-on-one Challenge Match at The Break Room's 2nd Annual 8-Ball Classic last weekend. The match went double hill before Hasson won the challenge and then warned potential opponents in Larson's future.
 
"WPBA ladies," said Hasson, after the match, "Watch out! April is the real deal."
 
Following victories over Maria DeWolff, Shaundra Norquay, Kathie MacDonald and Denise Belanger, Larson moved into a winners' side semifinal against the opponent who would end up keeping Larson's racks-against average below 5, Rashiela Dela Cruz. In the meantime, one of the event-namesake Ashton twins (Joanne) advanced to the other winners' side semifinal versus Liz Cole.
 
Dela Cruz chalked up her event-leading seven racks against Larson, but the youngster put up her nine and advanced to the hot seat match. She was joined by Ashton, who'd defeated Cole 9-5.
Larson grabbed the hot seat 9-3 over Ashton and waited for Duddy to complete her loss-side run.
 
On the loss side, it was Dela Cruz who ran into Duddy, six matches into the streak that would put her into the finals against Larson. Duddy had most recently eliminated Theresa Lien 9-2 and Veronique Menard 9-7. Cole drew Cathy Metzinger, who'd defeated Robyn Petrosino 9-1 (Petrosino had sent Duddy to the loss side in the event's second round) and last year's Ashton Classic winner, Brittany Bryant 9-6 to reach her.
 
Duddy advanced to the quarterfinals 9-6 over Dela Cruz, where she was met by Metzinger, who'd eliminated Cole 9-7. Duddy defeated Metzinger 9-3 and then spoiled Joanne Ashton's bid for a second shot at Larson with a 9-7 win in the semifinals.
 
By virtue of her resume, her gutsy loss-side streak and natural inclinations toward self-confidence, Duddy entered the race-to-13 finals prepared to win. She maintained that air of confidence through about 14 of the eventual 18 games, in spite of chalking up only one of the first seven. At 6-1, she chalked up two in a row to cut Larson's lead in half. They traded racks to 7-4, before Larson chalked up three for a 10-4 lead. In the 15th rack, Larson took aim at an easy 9-ball shot and rattled it in the hole. Thanking goodness for small favors, Duddy dropped it to win what would prove to be her last rack.
 
In typical style, Larson shrugged off that single one of her very few unforced errors, and returned to the table for racks 16, 17 and 18. She won them all to complete her undefeated run, and claim the event title.
 
On her way back home, Larson said that underneath her apparent calm exterior throughout the tournament ("Everybody says that," she noted), was a nervous wreck. Friends who gathered around the pool table when the last match was over were surprised that she was shaking, a remnant of nerves, hidden below the surface of her calm exterior.
 
"Oh, for sure," she said. "I was glad it was over."
 
Though she'd faced and defeated Duddy before at her first SBE appearance two years ago, she was under no illusions that a win this time would be guaranteed.
 
"I told some friends of mine before the event started that if I got into a final against either Emily or Joanne (Ashton), it was going to be tough," she said. "I wanted this real bad, and I knew I had to forget who I was playing, and just play the table."
 
And she did, of course. She joined Emily and a few gathered well-wishers in a ceremonial 'shot' just after the match ended; a 'shot,' which given Canada's age restrictions on the consumption of alcohol, and her own preferences, consisted of milk. She tries not to drink anything during a match – no water, or soft drinks – to avoid any need for a bathroom break, but she reportedly welcomed the milk.
 
She'll rest up for a week, and then travel to Des Moines, Iowa to participate in Big Dog Billiards and Diveny Custom Cues' 2017 Midwest Billiards and Cue Expo, scheduled for June 21-25. Though she won't be a part of that event's Bigfoot 10-Ball Challenge, One Pocket Championship or Banks Ring Game, she will sign on to that event's $2,000-added 9-Ball Open, where she'll mix it up with the boys.
           
"I've been able to experience the best of the best women," she said, "so it's all the same to me."
 
Note to Mosconi Cup organizers: It might be time to rethink the male restriction on members of the US team.
 
" I certainly hope so," she said, "because that's what I'd like to do."