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Tina Malm goes undefeated to win 1st Annual Ladies DE State 9-Ball Championship

Tina Malm

Downs Linda Shea twice, hot seat and finals, to claim title

It was a very active weekend for ladies’ pool across the country. Over the Oct.15-16 weekend, Texas held two ladies events while Florida held a Cues for the Cure fundraiser for breast cancer research. Intent on not being left out of the ‘females on the felt’ fun, the state of Delaware held its 1st Annual Ladies 9-Ball Championships. It was replete with well-known and respected women who’ve been plying their trade in the regional and national tour fields for many years, including the woman who went undefeated to win it, Tina Malm, and runner-up, Linda Shea, who’s as, if not more well-known for being at the helm of the J. Pechauer Northeast Women’s Tour for as long as a lot of female competitors can remember. The event drew 28 entrants to Milford Billiards in Milford, DE.

As Shea has begun a process of turning over the reins of the JPNEWT to Briana Miller, officially in 2023, she’s ‘getting out’ a bit more these days, appearing away from the JPNEWT tables and testing her mettle at other tour and independent events. In particular, she’d been noticing that there’s a lot of money being offered in barbox competition.

“In this (Mid-Atlantic) area, everything is going barbox,” she said recently. “I took 2nd in an 8-Ball, Jack & Jill tournament at Brews & Cues (Glen Burnie, MD) recently and won $4,000, so I decided that I was going to investigate these barboxes.”

She was runner-up in this past weekend’s 9-ball event, only her second time playing on a barbox table, and will be playing in another Jack & Jill barbox event this weekend. She “enjoyed it very much,” she said of her experience at Milford Billiards, while noting that since a great deal of her tournament experience has played out on 9-ft tables, she’s having to make adjustments to the smaller, 7-ft tables.

“It’s totally different,” she said, “like a completely different game. There are a few things that are different; bank shots are a little different, you can’t do three-rail shots the same way and you have to take some of the power out of your game, shorten your stroke.

“I’m having to learn how to dumb down my stroke,” she added, “and it’s renewed my interest in learning how to downplay my game to accommodate the smaller table. I haven’t gotten that touch yet. It’s slower, but I still stroke it.”

Like Shea, Malm has a spent a lot of her title-winning career playing on 9 ft. tables and finds herself engaged recently in more 7 ft. match play because there’s a lot more of it here on the East Coast.

“It seems like I’m playing a lot more barbox pool,” she said, “but I’ve been a big table player for most of my career.”

Originally from San Diego, Malm got her start on that side of the country, winning a lot of her early titles on that side of the country. She was 1995’s Women’s Western Regional 9-Ball Tour Champion, 1999’s California State Women’s 9-Ball Champion and 2005’s Arizona Women’s Billiards Tour Champion, to name just a few. She and Shea crossed paths during a time when she was here about midway through the second decade of the century to be (among other things) the 2017 Delaware State Women’s 8-Ball Champion and Pennsylvania’s Women’s 9-Ball Champion, as well. She won this past April’s Women’s Player Championship at the SBE, too.

Though she and Malm have similar longevity curves on the ladies tour/event circuit, neither of them has a clear recollection of ever having played against each other.

“I feel like I’ve played against her before, when I was here in 2017-2018,” she said, “but I couldn’t tell you what our record against each other was.”

“This may have been the first,” was Shea’s recollection. “She came out (on the JPNEWT) once or twice, but I don’t recall ever having played her.”

It’s likely to be the last time that Shea ever says that.

Set up on opposite ends of the bracket, if they were going to meet at all on the winners’ side of that bracket, it was going to happen in the hot seat match. And it did. Malm got by Lisa Haas Kerrigan, Danielle Denola and Rachel Walters to arrive at a winners’ side semifinal against Nicole Nester. Shea downed Belinda Parker, Sharon O’Hanlon (long-time assistant to Shea on the JPNEWT) and Jennifer Tully to arrive at her winners’ side semifinal match against Sandy MacDonald Labar.

Shea defeated Labar 6-4, as Malm was busy sending Nester over 6-4. In their first of two, battling for the hot seat Malm and Shea went double hill, but not before some early and late drama.  

“She had me down 4-1,” Shea recalled, “and I came back to 5-5. I broke the last rack, scratched and she ran out.”

She noted that overall, “some funky things happened” in their two matches. She wasn’t being critical or making excuses for her play in either match. Just noting one of the fundamental axioms of the games.

“She definitely got the balls down and won,” she said. “That’s the way it works.”

On the loss side, in the semifinals, Shea drew Nicole Nester, who, following her loss to Malm, had not given up a rack. Nester shut out Jennifer Tully in her first loss-side match and in the quarterfinals, shut out Rachel Walters, who’d chalked up her own shutout against Labar to reach her. Shea turned the tables on that 10-rack run for Nester, giving up only a single rack to her in the semifinals.

Malm didn’t lose a step in the delay between sending Shea to the loss side and her return. She completed her undefeated run with a 6-2, single set win over Shea in the finals and claimed the 1st Annual Ladies Delaware State Barbox 9-Ball Championship.

Tarek Elmalla, event organizer, thanked Leo and Sherrie Weigand and their Milford Billiards staff for their hospitality, as well as Ray Netta with Tuff Cuts (for streaming the event), Alyssa Solt for commentating on the stream, Ran Ji, and the newly-married Ben and Andrea Thomas-Davis for “helping with everything.”

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Burwell wins first 2022 stop on J. Pechauer Northeast Women’s Tour

Linda Haywood-Shea, Caroline Pao, Briana Miller and Kia Burwell

In a J. Pechauer Northeast Women’s Tour (JPNEWT) stop in Pennsylvania, affected by a variety of factors, including other events, gas/lodging prices and distance, Kia Burwell chalked up her first 2022 tour win this past weekend (Oct. 8-9), downing both the tour-rankings leader, Briana Miller and the top American competitor on the WPBA rankings list, Caroline Pao in the process. She also won five of her seven total matches on the loss side to be in the event finals. While the $750-added event drew a short field of 12 entrants to Eagle Billiards in Dickson City, PA, it was not without its impactful matches among the tour’s top competitors; six of the tour’s top 10 were on-hand to jockey for tour-ranking position in the 8th of 10 stops on the 2022 tour.

Following a first-round bye, Burwell (#2) lost her opening match to Carol V. Clark (#6 on the tour) 7-5. Clark advanced to a winners’ side semifinal against Miller (#1). Pao (#4), in the meantime, followed an opening round bye with a 7-3 win over tour director Linda Shea (#3) to pick up Rachel Walters in the other winners’ side semifinal.

Miller shut Clark out and in the hot seat match, faced Pao, who’d defeated Walters 7-3. Miller claimed the hot seat 7-3 over Pao and waited for Burwell to complete her loss-side run.

Two matches into her loss-side run, with victories over Shelah Joner 7-4 and Melissa Jenkins 7-2, Burwell drew Walters. Clark picked up Shea, who’d defeated Linda Cheung, double hill and Ashley Benoit 7-4 to reach her.

Burwell did her part to bring about a rematch against Clark in the quarterfinals, downing Walters 7-4, but Shea spoiled the ‘party’ by eliminating Clark 7-2. In a quite familiar scene, Shea and Burwell battled in those quarterfinals, Burwell coming out on top 7-3. 

Either way, the semifinals were going to yield a finals opponent for Miller that would not be enviable; Pao or Burwell. As it turned out, Burwell had to win two straight double hill battles to complete her run. 

No problem. She battled Pao to the hill before advancing to the extended-race-to-9 finals. There, she chalked up seven racks first to extend the race to 9 games and then, with Miller nipping at her double-hill heels, she finished up to claim the event title.

Co-Tour Directors Linda Shea and Briana Miller thanked the ownership and staff at Eagle Billiards for their hospitality, as well as title sponsor J. Pechauer Custom Cues and stream commentator George Hammerbacher (Advanced Pool Instructor, Baltimore, MD). The next stop on the JPNEWT, scheduled for the weekend of November 5-6, will be hosted by On Cue Sports Bar & Grill in Front Royal, VA.

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Ashley Benoit Wins Inaugural “Women In Pool” Championship

Ashley Benoit

A full field of 64 players from CT, RI, MA, NJ, NY, PA and several other states came together for two reasons over the weekend of September 10th – 11th at Yale Billiards in Wallingford, CT for the Women In Pool Inaugural Women’s 9-Ball Championship. 

The field was made up of skill levels ranging from APA 3’s all the way up to Fargo 650 players for this non-handicapped event. Connecticut’s Ashley Nicole Benoit may not have had the highest ranking of all of the competitors, but she had the biggest drive to win as she scored impressive wins over Dawn Fox, Lindsey Bazinet, Stacie Bourbeau and Tina Malm on her way to the hot-seat. 

On the one loss side, Pennsylvania’s Rachel Walters bounced back nicely from her loss to Malm on the winners side. Walters had wins over Bazinet, Alyssa Solt and Malm to earn her place in the finals. Walters would have to settle for second on this weekend, as Benoit was unstoppable on her way to a 7-3 win in the first set of the finals. 

While all of the ladies in attendance were there with hopes to perform well in the tournament, event director Gloria Jean explained that the ladies were there for another reason. “In my 15 years of being a Tour Director, I have never seen a more vibrant, tenacious, happy, yet competitive group of women smile so much!” said Jean. “Women met like-minded Women with the same passion for the sport, the desire to improve, hone their skills, and relate to one another on a personal level. Many walked away with not just spectacular payouts but new friends to bond with and a once in a lifetime experience.”

Jean’s Women In Pool project was born from conversations on her podcast, where she has collaborated with such notables as Kelly Fisher, Allison Fisher, Joann Mason Parker, LoreeJon Ogonowski-Brown, Ewa Laurance, Mary Kenniston and many others. Jean created the project at the start of the year and says she has always wanted a tournament like this to be a part of it. 

More information can be found online at www.facebook.com/womeninpool121 where fans can find out about the entire project. 

Jean thanked the great staff at Yale Billiards, as well as her tournament director Ty Speedwell, Sharkstream for streaming the event, Bobby Hilton for refereeing, Joe Raccio, Curtis Rohrer, Crystal Atkinson, Andy Now and all of her sponsors, Iwan Simonis Cloth, Aramith Premium Balls, N’ The Zone Sportswear, Navigator Chalk, Dragon Billiards Instruction, Harriman Real Estate, Bulletproof Break Tips, Pool League Association, NM Billiards Sales and Service, Narragansett Brewery, Outsville Templates, PoolDawg, McConnaughy’s Irish Pickles and J. Pechauer Cues.

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