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Cole returns NWPA Stop #1 favor, defeating Jones to claim Stop #2

Liz Cole (Courtesy of Sandro Menzel)

It was the same finalists, with a reverse result. For the second time on the 2017 Northwest Women's Pool Association (NWPA) Tour, Liz Cole and Kim Jones battled it out for a title. On Stop #1 in February, Jones downed Cole in the finals. On the weekend of April 29-30, at Stop #2, the $750-added Martha Hartsell Memorial Tournament, that drew 36 entrants to The Cue Ball in Salem, OR, Cole bested Jones in the final to complete an undefeated run. Selected matches were streamed live throughout the weekend by Rail2Rail Productions. 
In addition to the repeat performance in the finals, the event featured the return of Canadian Jana Montour, a former regular on the tour, who took about three years off from competitive pool to pursue further education. A mother of five, ranging in age from nine to 26, Montour decided that she needed time away from being a housewife, and traveled down from Canada to sign on to the NWPA's second tour stop in Salem, OR. In spite of the years off, she took fourth in the event, and said she was looking forward to getting back into the sport on a more regular basis.
Following victories over Alicia Kvaanika, Patricia Tipton, and Marian Poole (with an aggregate score of 21-9), Montour squared off against Jones (28-13 at that point) in a winners' side semifinal. In the meantime, Cole (21-8), squared off against Stephanie Hefner (21-10). Those four would finish first through fourth at the end. Cole and Hefner locked up in a double hill fight that eventually sent Cole to the hot seat match. She was joined by Jones, who'd defeated Montour 7-4. Cole took the first of her two against Jones 7-4.
On the loss side, Montour picked up Cindy Doty, who'd downed Rebecca Sivter and Natasha Hook 6-4 to reach her. Hefner drew Suzanne Smith, who'd defeated Fran Johnson 6-2, and Valerie Franiel 6-4. Hefner got by Smith 6-2, and, in the quarterfinals, faced Montour, who'd eliminated Doty 6-2.
Hefner ended Montour's return to the tables 6-4 in those quarterfinals, before being herself eliminated by Jones, double hill in the semifinals. Though Jones would come within a single shot at the 9-ball from forcing a deciding game, Cole completed her undefeated run with a 9-7 victory over Jones in the final.

Biggs goes undefeated to create three-way tie for top spot in NWPA Tour rankings

In the end, it came down to dogged determination, rather than any dazzling display of superior skills. After a three-hour-plus final match, at the third stop on the Northwest Women's Pool Association Tour, on the weekend of May 16-17, Carissa Biggs, acting on an unforced error by her opponent, Natalie Seal, dropped the final 9-ball to chalk up an undefeated run that created a three-way tie for first place in the tour's rankings. The $500-added event, live-streamed throughout the weekend by Rail2Rail Productions, drew 26 entrants to Ballad Town Billiards in Salem, OR.
When the tournament began, Suzanne Smith sat atop the tour rankings, with Liz Cole and Jing Liu behind her, separated by a total of 80 points (Liu was the top-ranked player in 2014, with Cole second). Biggs and Seal, who would become the event's finalists, were in fifth and 14th place, respectively. Smith and Liu finished in the tie for fifth, adding 80 points to their ranking totals, while Cole finished fourth, adding 100 points to hers. Biggs' victory added 200 points to her total, while Seal added 160 as the runner-up. This created a three-way tie among Smith, Biggs and Cole, with Smith retaining the official top spot by virtue of a larger cash total in winnings. 
Biggs and Seal would meet twice; once in the hot seat and again, in the finals. Biggs advanced through Denice White, Adrianne Beach (who would be in the live stream broadcast booth at the end), and Tricia Heintz to meet Julie Valdez in one of the winners' side semifinals. Seal, winner over Juliana Goodman and Kim Toops (who'd just sent Liz Cole to the loss side), faced Jing Liu in the other. Seal survived a double hill battle over Liu, as Biggs defeated Valdez 6-4. Biggs claimed the hot seat 6-4.
On the loss side, Smith and Cole were working their way back for an eventual meeting against Valdez and Liu, both winning four to reach them. In the last two of those four, Smith had defeated Natasha Hook 6-4 and survived a double hill battle against Kim Toops to draw Valdez. Cole had gotten by Heintz and Melyssa Chasteen, both 6-1, to draw Liu. Smith's loss-side run came to an end at the hands of Valdez, double hill. Cole advanced 6-1 over Liu.
Valdez finished Cole's five-match, loss-side run with a 6-3 win in the quarterfinals. By the same score, her own three-match run on the loss side was stopped by Seal in the semifinals.
Displaying obvious signs of fatigue at this point, Biggs and Seal opened the final race-to-9 with a series of four games that made it clear it was going to be a long road to the winners' circle and left them tied at two games apiece. Seal was the first to break the back and forth pattern of the opening games, and won two in a row. Biggs, in a display of the aforementioned 'dogged determination,' then won four straight, which included the both of them attempting a 2-9 combination that eventually gave Briggs the game and tied the match at 4-4. 
Biggs took her first lead in the match at 5-4 and got her own two-game lead at 6-4. Seal closed the gap by a single game that saw them both make multiple attempts at the 9-ball, shooting long.  Seal was shooting at the 9-ball in the game that would have tied things up again, but found herself out of position. She missed her shot, and Biggs was up by two again.
Seal came back to close the gap yet again, but in game #14 at 7-6, Seal committed an unforced error, missing a straight-in shot at the 9-ball, and Biggs was on the hill. Seal came back to close the gap to within one again at 8-7. Biggs attempted a long jump shot in game #16 and gave Seal ball in hand, only to have it returned to her, when Seal scratched. Seal got another chance, but for the second game in a row, she missed her shot at the 9-ball, and Biggs closed it out at 9-7.