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Olinger gets by Gabriel twice to go undefeated in Midwest 9-Ball Open event

Alex Olinger sliced through a daunting field of 120 entrants to go undefeated in the Midwest 9-Ball Tour's $3,250-added Open event on the weekend of February 20-23. Liz Lovely did the same thing in the $750-added, Ladies Tournament, which drew 30. Both, along with a One-Pocket event (separate story), were hosted by Shooter's in Olathe, KS.
Olinger, who picked up two victories on the Midwest 9-Ball Tour last year (March and August), and won the Great Southern Billiard Tour's tour championship in December, met up with the runner-up in the weekend's One Pocket event, John Gabriel, twice; first in the hot seat match, and later, the finals. Olinger had sent Gordon Van Der Veer to the losers' bracket 9-5, as Gabriel was busy doing likewise to Billy Thorpe in a double hill match. Olinger took the first of his two against Gabriel 9-5 and sat in the hot seat, awaiting his return.
On the loss side, Van Der Veer drew Dustin Gunia, who'd just eliminated two Midwest 9-Ball Tour heavyweights; Gabe Owen (who won the One Pocket event) 9-6 and Shane McMinn 9-4 (McMinn had eliminated Joey Gray). Thorpe drew a third Midwest 9-Ball Tour heavyweight, Chip Compton, who'd defeated Ryan Cobb 9-5 and survived a double hill battle against Manny Perez.
Thorpe advanced to the quarterfinals with a 9-5 victory over Compton. Van Der Veer did not, falling to Gunia 9-6. Gunia completed his loss-side run with a double hill win over Thorpe and was then stopped by Gabriel in the semifinals 9-7. Olinger completed his undefeated run with a 9-4 win over Gabriel in the finals.
Liz Lovely and Melissa Little played twice in the Ladies event, with Lovely winning both. She'd defeated Allison Hardwick in one of the winners' side semifinals as Little was sending Heather Middleton over 7-1. Lovely and Little battled to double hill in the winners' side final, before Lovely prevailed.
On the loss side, Hardwick and Middleton were handed their second straight losses immediately. Hardwick fell 7-3 to Brittany Colbert, who'd already gotten by Jessica Frideres 7-5 and Barb Avery 7-1. Middleton was shut out by Julia Gabriel, who'd defeated Karen Lincoln 7-2 and Michelle Davis 7-4 to reach her. Gabriel won the quarterfinal over Colbert 7-5 and was then, herself, eliminated by Little 7-3. Lovely then chalked up her second victory over Little 7-4 to claim the Ladies title.

King and Little win 2nd Annual Summer Heat 9-Ball Classic

Melissa Little went undefeated to win the Ladies portion of the 2nd Annual Summer Heat 9-Ball Classic, held under the auspices of the Midwest 9-Ball Tour and hosted by Jamaica Joe's in Midwest City, OK. Sean King gave up the first set of the double elimination finals, but came back to win the second and claim the Open title. The $2,000-added Open event drew 45 entrants, while the $500-added Ladies event drew 12.
King faced Chip Compton three times; the first, in a winners' side semifinal, as Mark Haddad and Richard Pierce squared off in the other. King sent Compton west in the first of their three 9-7, and in the hot seat match, met Pierce, who'd sent Haddad over by the same score. King and Pierce fought to double hill before King prevailed.
Compton moved over and picked up John Gabriel, who'd defeated James Walden 9-7 and survived a double hill battle against Ken Jennings to reach him. Haddad drew Shane McMinn, who'd gotten by Greg Hogue 9-7, and J.C Riley 9-3. Compton and Haddad advanced to the quarterfinals; Compton with a 9-6 win over Gabriel and Haddad 9-7 over McMinn.
Compton advanced to the semifinals with a 9-6 victory over Haddad, and then, denied Pierce a re-match against King with a 9-5 win. With momentum on his side, Compton took the opening set of the finals 9-1. King, though, came back in the second set to win it 9-5 and claim the event title.
In the Ladies' event, Melissa Little's undefeated run ended with two wins over Rhonda Pierce. They met first in the hot seat match, when Little sent Pierce to the semifinals 7-4. On the loss side, Debi Aldridge won the quarterfinal match over Michelle Davis 7-3, but was stopped by Pierce in a double hill, semifinal match. Little and Pierce fought to double hill in the finals, but Little survived to claim the Ladies' title.

McMinn double dips Vanderveer to win Oklahoma State 8-Ball Championships

The Oklahoma State 8-Ball Championships played host to a marquee battle over the weekend of August 3-4, as two of the area's more prominent players battled; twice, in fact. The battles were not, however, for the hot seat and finals. Shane McMinn and Chip Compton each played three matches on the loss side of this Open event, with McMinn's second, proving to be Compton's last. McMinn had been sent west from among the winners' side final four by Gordon Vanderveer. He returned to double dip Vanderveer in the finals and claim the OK State title. Chip Compton, who'd been sent to the loss side by McMinn among the winners' side final eight, won three on that side of the bracket and met McMinn a second time in the quarterfinals. The $1,750-added event, held under the auspices of the Midwest 9-Ball Tour, drew 64 entrants to Magoo's in Tulsa, OK. A concurrently-run, $250-added ladies event, won by Brittany Colbert, drew nine entrants.
Once McMinn had successfully negotiated his first encounter with Compton (7-5), he moved into the winners' side semifinals, and his first of three against Vanderveer. Andy Friedhofen, in the meantime, met up with Jaron Williams. Friedhofen and Vanderveer advanced to the hot seat with 7-4 wins over Williams and McMinn. Vanderveer picked up the pace, claiming the hot seat with a 7-3 win over Friedhofen.
Compton opened his loss-side campaign with wins over K.C. Massey and David Strawn, both 5-2, which set him up to face Williams. McMinn picked up Jim Weast, who'd survived a double hill fight against Jesse James and downed Ken Jennings 5-3. Williams went down, double hill, Weast was eliminated 5-2, and the quarterfinal re-match between McMinn and Compton was on.
McMinn won that battle 5-2, and gave up only a single rack in the semifinals against Friedhofen that followed. He then went on to take the opening set of the true double elimination final 7-5, and completed his quest for the Oklahoma State 8-Ball Championship title with a 5-2 win in the second set.
In the Ladies event, Brittany Colbert punctuated a four-match, undefeated run through the short field of nine entrants with a shutout victory in the finals over Connie Williams (mother to Jaron Williams, who finished fifth in the Open event). The two had battled for the hot seat, won by Colbert 5-3. Williams moved west for a semifinal match against Michelle Davis, who'd just survived a double hill battle against Kerry Williams. Williams downed Davis 4-2 for a second chance against Colbert, only to be turned aside without a single rack, leaving Colbert in possession of the Ladies title.
The Midwest 9-Ball Tour moves to Olathe, Kansas this weekend, where Shooter's will place host to a $1,000-added One-Pocket event, and a $4,000-added 9-Ball tournament. The One-Pocket event will get underway on Thursday, August 8, with the 9-Ball tournament to follow, on Friday, August 9.

‘The Storm’ Hits Game Time

Betty Sessions

Betty Sessions stormed undefeated through the field of 42 ladies over the weekend of December 1-2 at Game Time Billiards in Greenville, South Carolina, to claim the top spot. The opponents she left in her wake included Michelle Davis (7-3), Cindy Davis (7-2), Kim Young (7-3), Tricia Barbisch (7-2), Kelly Willis (7-6), Tori Duncan (7-4), and, finally, Janet Atwell (7-1) in what was probably the shortest finals in the history of the SEAL Tour, lasting only 35 minutes, with Janet's only game coming from a 2-9 combo in the fifth rack.
Janet's road to the finals was quite a bit longer than usual. She began by defeating Anita Cravens (7-6) and Melissa Highfill (7-5) in two close matches, but lost her third match at the hands of Tricia Barbisch (4-7) to take an early trip to the one-loss side. She then had to get by Martha Hardison (7-4), Kim Young (7-5), Marcia Manuel (7-3), Margo Yoder (7-1), Kelly Willis (7-2), Tricia Barbisch in a rematch (7-2), and Tori Duncan (7-2) before meeting up with Betty Sessions who was waiting in the hot seat. Impressively, Janet has reached the finals in all three SEAL events so far this season, winning the first event, and she had her sights set on another tournament win before being stopped cold by 'The Storm.'
Finishing strongly in 3rd place, a personal best, was Tori Duncan, who is becoming quite a familiar face in Sunday's final 12. Adding to her 4th place finish at the first stop, she seemed to be on a mission as she bested Chasitity Purcell (7-3), Andrea Pridmore (7-2), Donna Wise (7-5), Marcia Manuel (7-4), and Lisa O'Boyle (7-1), making it all the way to winners bracket finals before losing to Betty (4-7) and then Janet (2-7). With her game reaching new heights, she is definitely a force to be reckoned with.
Tricia Barbisch has created quite a stir in the past 2 events as well. Playing with newfound confidence after her first-ever tournament victory in last month's Second-Chance event, she began the weekend with wins over Jackie Corley (7-2) and Janet Atwell (7-4) (quite an accomplishment for even the best of us!), but then lost to Betty Sessions (2-7). Unfazed, she proceeded to the one-loss side to defeat Jessica Crooks (7-4), Suzanne Steinhauser (7-6), and Lisa O'Boyle (7-3), before losing her rematch with Janet (2-7) but ending with a very respectable 4th place finish.
Rounding out the top eight were Lisa O'Boyle and Kelly Willis in 5th/6th place and Suzanne Steinhauser and Margo Yoder in 7th/8th place.
Many thanks to Jimmy Hodges and all the staff at Game Time for their hospitality in hosting our event in their fine establishment. The Brunswick Gold Crown tables played great all weekend, and we very much appreciate their support of the SEAL Tour.

‘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!

Jumpin’ Janet Takes Stop One

Janet Atwell

After a moment of silence to pray for our friends, families, and fellow Americans, the first stop of the 2001/2002 SEAL season got underway.Several tough match ups in the early rounds resulted in many top players taking an early trip to the one-loss side, with Jessica Crooks defeating Betty Sessions (7-5), Janet Atwell taking Marcia Manuel (7-5), Tori Duncan nudging out Kelly Willis (7-6), Fran Taylor beating a somewhat crippled Sally Herrick (7-3), Margo Yoder defeating Kim Young (7-2), and a new sub-SEAL member, Christy Simpson, proving to be a strong competitor with a win of Lil Bunch.Betty, Sally, and Lil stuck it out to return for Sunday’s matches, along with Jessica Crooks (who subsequently lost to Tori Duncan after defeating Betty), Lisa O’Boyle, Christy Simpson, and Beverly Knight on the one-loss side.Four undefeated players remained on Sunday as well:Tori Duncan vs. Margo Yoder and Janet Atwell vs. Debi Johnson, with her first-ever return on Sunday in the main event.
With Janet defeating Debi and Margo edging out Tori after a tough hill-hill battle, Janet and Margo would play for the “hot seat” and a spot in the finals.Janet’s road consisted of wins over Marcia Manuel (7-5), Stacy Gravitt, Donna Friesen (7-6) in a very close and hard fought battle, Lisa O’Boyle (7-6), who was aptly named last year’s Most Improved Player, and Debi Johnson (7-0).Margo consistent play all weekend had resulted in wins over Kim Young (7-2), Michelle Davis (7-4), Christy Simpson (7-5), and Tori Duncan (7-6), but fell short in the winners bracket final losing to Janet 7-2.
Meanwhile in the one-loss bracket, Betty Sessions had played hard to defeat Beverly Knight and Lisa O’Boyle but was held to a 5th place finish by Tori Duncan.Jessica Crooks, who started her run with wins over Kat Griffith (7-4) and Betty Sessions (7-5) before being sent left at the hands of Tori Duncan, would alsoemerge victorious with wins over Lil Bunch (7-3), Michelle “The Comeback Kid” Vaughn (7-4), and Debi Johnson (7-1).Michelle found herself trailing in Sunday’s opening match to Christy Simpson 5-1 and turned it around to defeat Christy (7-5).Congratulations to Debi Johnson for a personal best finish of 5th place.
As the participants dwindled late Sunday afternoon, Jessica was determined that the rematch with Tori would have a different outcome, and although Tori had wowed the crowd all weekend with her great play, Jessica would prove to be unstoppable as she left Tori with a 4th place finish and prepared to face off with Margo to see who would earn the right to play Janet in the final match.The competition was fierce, and it was obvious that both ladies wanted a win as the match seesawed back and forth until it was tied at hill-hill, but Jessica was a woman with a mission and would be the one to advance to the finals with Margo earning a great 3rd place finish!
The opening set of the finals began with Jessica Crooks knowing that she must defeat Janet twice to win the tournament, and she came out of the game with a strong 4-0 lead.After a short break, Janet returned to the fifth game with a defensive shot on the 1-ball.Jessica made a good hit but left a 1-9 combination for After a short break, Janet returned to the fifth game with a defensive shot on the 1-ball.Jessica made a good hit but left a 1-9 combination for Janet’s first win.It appeared that Janet’s game plan was to slow Jessica down with outstanding safety play, this paid off for Janet because the score climbed 5-3 with Jessica in the lead.The ninth game began with Janet successfully placing Jessica on two fouls, but then Janet decided to run out the rack and close the score 5-4.Just as it looked liked the match was swinging in Janet’s direction; she scratched leaving Jessica a beautiful 2-9 combination for the 10th game and a score of 6-4.After numerous safeties back and forth in the 11th game, Jessica prevailed victorious in the first set.
The second set began with Jessica on a high after handing Janet her first loss of the weekend, but Janet came out of the gate with an early 2-0 lead.Jessica rebounded in the third game with a 2-9 combination for her first win of the 2nd set.The fourth game was highlighted by a defensive shot on the 1-ball by Jessica that forced Janet to bring out the ole’ jump cue.True to her name, “Jumpin Janet” didn’t let the spectators down as she executed an awesome jump shot over two balls to make a difficult cut shot on the 1-ball and leave perfect position for a 2-9 combination to make the score 3-1.With that, the match really began to swing in Janet’s direction as she continued her outstanding play and wrapped up all the remaining games to defeat Jessica in the Finals 7-1.Congratulations to Janet Atwell for her victory and to Jessica Crooks for an outstanding 2nd place finish.