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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.

Pulley Tops AWBT Stop 4 And Points List

Susan Williams and Amanda Pulley

Amanda Pulley bounced back from a late Saturday loss to win her second AWBT tour stop of the season and jump to the top of the tour’s point list. Pulley was just one of the early favorites in the field of 53 players at Main Street Billiards in Mesa on July 7th – 8th. 

 

Pulley was joined in the field by such notables as Susan Williams, Sara Miller, Pearl Ortiz and Justine Bishop.
 
Things were going well for Pulley early Saturday with wins over Tonya Kurtz and Ilyana Flores but her path took a detour late Saturday after a 7-5 loss to Pearl Ortiz. A 7-2 win over Kristi St Ange was enough to earn Pulley her place in Sunday’s matches.
 
Ortiz came back on Sunday morning for a lopsided 7-0 win on the winner’s side over Sara Sorg, who had a great weekend of matches. The other half of the bracket saw AWBT veteran Susan Williams scoring a 7-1 win over Pati Martinez, who also turned in an outstanding performance all weekend long. The hot-seat match saw Williams with a convincing 7-3 win over Ortiz.
 
On the one loss side, Pulley had wins over Tommy Holben, Martinez and Dawn Polotto before a rematch with Ortiz in the semi-finals. “I wasn’t thinking revenge,” said Pulley, “but I felt strong during the match and this (plus an energy drink) empowered me”. Pulley was definitely empowered as she eliminated Ortiz 7-3 to earn her spot in the finals against Williams.
 
The final race to 9 was a true back and forth battle. Williams took an early 2-0 lead, but Pulley quickly knotted things at 2-2. The players stayed close until Williams was able to pull ahead for a 7-4 lead and she got to the hill at 8-6 but wasn’t able to put Pulley away. Pulley clawed back to 8-8, leaving the ladies playing one game for the title. The pressure of the final game appeared to get to both players as they both had problems pocketing the final 9-ball. After a missed bank by Williams though, Pulley cut the final ball into the heart of the pocket for the win. “I just told myself that I know how to make this shot, and I wasn’t going to give Susan another chance at the table,” Pulley said.
 
Sunday saw 29 players come back for the second chance tournament where Gigi Callejas took first place and Heather Cortez finished in second. Ed Scott and Evans Bishop split the men’s event that was ran alongside the main event. The AWBT will take it’s annual trip to Tucson on August 18th – 19th for an event at Pockets Pool & Pub.

Tagley Returns To AWBT Winner’s Circle

Nina Tagley and Heather Cortez

She had knocked on the door all season, but Nina Tagley finally broke through into the winner’s circle at the AWBT’s 3rd stop of the season at Kolby’s on June 2nd – 3rd.

 

The field of thirty-two players held it’s usual assortment of monsters, but an unusually large number of those monsters found themselves on the one loss side early as four former tour stop winners (Susan Williams, Jaye Succo, Amanda Pulley and Bernie Store) dropped their first-round matches. Of those monsters, Succo was out in two rounds while Store would only make it one more round as she lost in three rounds.
 
Back on the winner’s side, Tagley had her work cut out for her as she scored wins over April runner-up Justine Bishop, Windy “Five Rounds Deep” Breck, Pearl Ortiz and Rae Evans. As if that wasn’t a tough enough draw, Tagley then had to face “The Torpedo” Heather Cortez. Tagley would drop the match to Cortez 7-3.
 
The left side of the board came down to Evans and Ortiz, who were both looking to avenge their early losses to Tagley and then take on Cortez. Evans got past Ortiz 6-5, but Tagley then made quick work of Rae Evans, beating her by the same 7-2 score that she beat her on the right side of the board.
 
The extended final set between Cortez and Tagley saw Tagley score a hard-fought 9-6 win for her first tour stop win in well over 10 years.
 
Tagley credited home field advantage with helping her get back to the winner’s circle in this one. “I’ve played at Kolbys for nearly 30 years, and last year it was Heather and I 1st and 2nd at this event at Kolbys” Tagley remembered. She also pointed out how close she has been in recent stops. “If you look at the last six events, I’ve scored 2nd, 3rd and 4th place finishes. I think my focus level has changed a bit recently, I’m a bit more disciplined now than I used to be.” she said.
 
Eleven players came back on Sunday to compete in the second chance tournament, with Mary Walczak defeating Justine Bishop for the hot-seat, and then Sandi Wilson in the finals, for first place.

Pulley Wins Freezers’ AWBT Tour Stop

Amanda Pulley and Justine Bishop

They came out in droves at the 2nd stop of the Arizona Women’s Billiard Tour, with a field of 56 players at Freezer’s Ice House on April 28th – 29th.

 

Surprisingly in a field of that size, early rounds held their fair share of marquee matchups with #3 ranked Amanda Pulley starting her tournament off with a 6-3 win over #1 ranked Bernie Store and Las Vegas’ Mary Coffman scoring a first round 7-2 win over Sara Miller. While those matches were not necessarily upsets, junior player Tory Conley’s 5-5 win over Jaye Succo was an eye opener and just went to show how much the junior player’s games are improving.
 
The top half of the board saw Pulley score wins over Windy Breck, Pearl Ortiz and #2 ranked Heather Cortez to earn her place in the hot-seat match on Sunday. The bottom half of the bracket was all about Justine Bishop as she dominated her matches, not allowing an opponent more than three games against her. As if that performance wasn’t strong enough already, Bishop then went on to beat Pulley 6-1 for the hot-seat.
 
On the one loss side, Susan Williams was on a run. After a first-round loss to Store, Williams won seven straight matches on the left side of the board, including over such notable opponents as Cathy Kelley, Conley, Tracie Hamman and Cortez. Williams’ run was finally brought to an end by Pearl Ortiz who had put together a four-match winning streak after the earlier loss to Pulley. The win over Williams earned Ortiz another shot at Pulley, but she wouldn’t fare any better with a 6-3 loss.
 
Bishop won the first two games in her first AWBT finals appearance in more than a decade. Pulley pulled the brakes on her and won the next 8 games in a row to clinch the match
 
When asked about this tournament – her 4th tour win – Pulley commented on the tough field. “In this tournament, each time I discovered my next opponent, I was like, “Awww, man, another monster?” And each time with luck and skill, I found a way to work through the match. I was calm after the initial anxiety, and without expectation; that helped a lot.”
 
Twenty-two players came back for Sunday’s second chance tournament, where Veronica Poore defeated Jaye Succo in the finals for first place.
 
The AWBT will next be in action on June 2nd and 3rd at Pockets in Tucson.

Texas Tornado Lays Waste to AWBT Field

Vivian Villarreal (Photo courtesy of Rick Schmitz)

As the field is filling up at an AWBT event, players are used to seeing the same group of regulars arrive to throw their hat in the ring. Williams, Store, Cortez, Mello, etc. So, it probably came as a pretty big surprise to most of them when they saw WPBA veteran, Vivian "The Texas Tornado" Villarreal walk into Main Street Billiards for the third tour stop on July 8th and 9th. While Villarreal might have been the most experienced player in the field, she was joined by the largest field at an AWBT stop this season, 37 players. 
 
When play got underway, Villarreal quickly laid to rest any doubts as to who the favorite was at this event. Villarreal spun her way through the winner’s side on Saturday with identical 7-1 wins over Beth Orth, Claudia Morado and road partner, Barbara Lee. Villarreal was joined by New Mexico’s Pearl Ortiz, Bernie Store and Priscilla Hernandez on the winner’s side at the end of Saturday play. The left side of the board was also full of dangerous opponents in the form of Jaye Succo, Barbara Lee, Heather Cortez and Sara Miller
 
Sunday play looked a lot like what the fans had watched on Saturday, with Villarreal getting things underway with a 7-1 win over Ortiz, and then a 7-2 win over Bernie Store to take the hot-seat. 
 
On the one loss side, Barbara Lee eliminated Succo and Hernandez, but couldn’t get by Ortiz and settled for 4th place. Ortiz then dropped the semi-final match to Store 7-2, setting up a rematch between Store and Villarreal in the finals. 
 
While most fans might have expected another lopsided score in the extended final match, Store had other plans completely. “Vivian shoots very fast, and I caught myself shooting at her pace in the first match. In the second match, I concentrated on playing at my usual pace, and it helped a lot” said Store after the event. Store came out and ran the first rack to remind Villarreal that she wasn’t going to just hand her the title. The players battled back and forth, until Store held the lead at 6-5 in the race to 9. From there though, it was all Villarreal, as she won four straight games for the 9-6 win and first place. 
 
Two players in the event earned invites for an upcoming North American Pool Tour (NAPT) stop in Illinois. Barbara Lee’s 4th place finish earned her one spot, with Justin Bishop earning the second.
 
Fourteen players returned to Main Street on Sunday for the second chance tournament, where Veronica Poore turned in a dominating performance to take first. Veronica lost a total of two racks over five complete matches, and was never challenged on her way to first place.

Bernie Store Wins AWBT Season Opener

Bernie Store and Heather Cortez

The AWBT kicked off their 2018 season on March 10th – 11th at Bullshooters with a field of 43 players and Bernie Store coming back from the one loss side to win and stake early claim to the AWBT points list. 

 

Store’s path through the brackets started off with wins over Stephanie Woodman, Carol Strong and Sandi Wilson before running into Heather Cortez in the final eight. Cortez, the 2017 points list winner, sent Bernie packing to the one loss side in a hill-hill match. 

 
After her win over Store, Cortez went on to defeat Nina Tagley in the final four and then Amanda Pulley for the hot-seat 7-3.
 
On the one loss side, Store got down to business with wins over Justine Bishop, Beth Orth, Jaye Succo (a hill-hill nail biter), Tagley and then Pulley in the semi-finals.
 
As is always the case on the AWBT, the finals were an extended race to 9 and Store cruised to a comfortable 9-5 victory for first place.
 
Sixteen players came back to Bullshooters on Sunday to compete in the second chance event, where Pearl Ortiz defeated Justine Bishop in the finals for first place. 
 
In addition to the ladies events, the AWBT also held their first “Balls Only” event where Jason Melm completed an undefeated run with back to back wins over James Main in the finals for first place and $310 in prize money.
 
The AWBT will be at Freezer’s for the second stop of the season on April 28th – 29th where they will be playing 9-ball on the 9 foot tables with $500 in added prize money.