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Heather Cortez Goes Undefeated for AWBT Win

Justine Bishop and Heather Cortez

A broken hand might have sidelined Heather Cortez’s pool playing career, but it was only a temporary setback as she went undefeated to win stop four on the Arizona Women’s Billiard Tour at Pockets Billiards in Tucson, Arizona on July 10th – 11th.

Cortez had wins over Morgan Serventi, Audrey Chua, Stephanie Parker, and tournament director Priscilla Hernandez to get to the hot-seat match, where she faced stop three winner Rebecca Wagner. Cortez commented on the pressures of those last couple matches, “I was fighting nerves all day and did not play my best my first match (on Sunday) against Priscilla and almost lost. Then I found out I was playing Rebecca and it lit a fire in me. I wanted that match. I thought it would be her and I in the finals. I honestly don’t remember much of the match. That’s how I know I was focused”. That focus was rewarded in the form of a 7-2 win over Wagner.

The finals were not a rematch with Wagner, as tour director Justine Bishop came into the semi-finals on a seven-match winning streak and then sent Wagner home in third place. Bishop dropped her first match of the weekend to tour veteran Anne Gray, but bounced back to run through a who’s who of top AWBT players on the one-loss side. Bishop had notable wins over multiple event winner Rae Evan, multiple event winner Amanda Pulley, multiple multiple event winner Susan Williams and then a 5-3 win over Wagner to get to the finals. Bishop commented on that run of left-side matches, “honestly I kept imagining I was in a video game where you gotta beat the level bosses all the way to the end to meet the final boss”.

The final match was an extended 9-8 race and Bishop took control early. “I thought Justine had me beat. I started out down 3-0 and spotting her a game to 9. I told myself to just relax and enjoy it.” said Cortez. Cortez fought back to tie the match at 4-4, but Bishop reached the hill first at 7-7. Bishop hung what would have been the case 9-ball, leaving the two players one rack to determine the event winner. “The last rack I told myself to just be smart. I made a ball, got an open shot, and took it one ball at a time from there.” said Cortez. That strategy paid off as she ran that last rack for the tournament win.

In addition to the broken hand, and Covid, Cortez had to deal with her Mom passing away recently. Just before her Mom’s passing, Cortez received the invite to play in the WPBA event in Las Vegas back in March. She cashed in that event and took that as a sign that she needed to get back to her pool game. “I’m a big believer in the universe and karma and everything happens for a reason and I felt like the universe knew I needed something good and that was it”. With her 9th place finish in Vegas, Cortez was ready to get serious about her game again. “It’s been a few months now and I decided I wanted to really give this a shot and see what could come of it. So now I practice almost everyday and am trying to make it to as many events as possible.” Cortez’s next event will be the WPBA Masters in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan next week. Her next AWBT event will be stop five at Metro Sportz Bar in Phoenix on September 10th – 11th.

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