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Hansen goes undefeated to take 4th Annual NAPT Summer Classic

Taylor Hansen and NAPT President Adrianne Beach

The two stories moved in opposite directions. For a while. Until they didn’t, and two female pool professionals met in the finals of the North American Pool Tour’s 4th Annual Summer Classic.
 
One story was about a young woman who’s already made her mark, winning VNEA junior Championships, chalking up wins on the North Star Ladies Pool Tour and at the age of 16, winning the US Bar Box Women’s 10-Ball Championships. Taylor Hansen, 20, is currently a member of Lindenwood University’s billiards team, under the tutelage of Mark Wilson, and competing with fellow-Minnesotan April Larson, who joined the program this past year. Hansen and Larson battled twice at the recent (June) American College Union International Tournament,  with Larson capturing her first of (presumably) many college titles ahead. Hansen has competed in the North American Pool Tour’s (NAPT) annual Division I Pro 10-Ball Summer Classic three of its four years already, and at this most recent event – August 15-18 at Shooter’s Sports Bar & Billiards in Grayslake, IL – she won it, going undefeated through a field of 27 entrants.
 
The second story was about an older woman who’s been competing professionally longer than Taylor Hansen has been alive. Eleanor Callado has been a regular winner on the West Coast Women’s Tour for a number of years, a regular competitor at WPBA events, and a competitor in all four of the NAPT’s Summer Classics, including 2017, when she finished as runner-up to Karen Corr. According to our records, she had a breakout year, financially, in 2009, but she recorded her best earnings year, to date, last year (2018). At this most recent NAPT Summer Classic, she lost her opening round match to Caela Huddleston and embarked on an eight-match, loss-side winning streak that led to her challenging Hansen in the finals. Her loss-side run had included a 7-4 victory over her sister, Emilyn Callado, who’s in possession of an equally impressive pool resume.
 
As Eleanor Callado was beginning her loss-side run, Hansen and Christy Dickerson advanced toward a meeting in the hot seat match. Hansen almost got sent over in her opening match as she survived a double hill battle versus Ellen Robinson. She reversed her fortunes in the second round with a shutout over Vanessa Hood and then, downed Veronique Menard 7-3 to draw Kaylin Wikoff in one of the winners’ side semifinals. Dickerson defeated her first opponent, Kelly Jones 7-5, before meeting up with the woman who’d sent Callado to the loss side, Caela Huddleston. Dickerson sent her over 7-5 and then defeated Laura Semko 7-3 to pick up Sarah Rousey in the other winners’ side semifinal.
 
Hansen shut out Kaylin Wikoff and in the hot seat match, faced Dickerson, who’d survived a double hill battle against Rousey. Hansen gave up only a single rack to Dickerson and claimed the hot seat. She had given up only 10 racks over 45 games.
 
On the loss side, Eleanor and Emilyn Callado were working on their respective winning streaks. Emilyn had lasted one more round on the winners’ side than sister, Eleanor. Eleanor got by Kelly Jones, Theresa Ballinger, Ronnette Chop and Tara Williams to draw sister, Emilyn, who’d defeated Chris Honeman, Vanessa Hood, and Laura Semko to get to that point. Eleanor defeated Emilyn 7-4 to draw Wikoff. Rousey picked up Marian Poole, who was working on her own four-match, loss-side winning streak that had included recent wins over Veronique Menard 7-5 and Tina Larsen 7-4.
 
Callado advanced to the quarterfinals with a 7-4 victory over Wikoff. Rousey joined her after surviving a double hill battle against Poole. Callado then chalked up two straight 7-5 wins, downing Rousey in the quarterfinals and Dickerson in the semifinals to earn a shot against Hansen in the finals.
 
Callado became only the second competitor to chalk up more than three racks against Hansen and in the finals, came within a game of forcing a single deciding game. Hansen, though, prevailed 7-5 to claim the event title.
 
Tour director Adrienne Beach thanked the ownership and staff at Shooter’s Sports Bar & Billiards, and noted that the next stop on the NAPT, scheduled for Sept. 19-22, will be the Division I Pro 3rd Annual Desert Challenge, to be hosted by Griff’s in Las Vegas.

Rousey Routs the Competition at City Pool Hall

Sarah Rousey

At the sixth NCPT stop of the year on July 20, it was hard to tell what was hotter–the temperature outside or the competition inside. The $500 added 10-ball tournament at City Pool Hall in downtown Chicago drew 14 women from Illinois and Wisconsin. 
 
Sarah Rousey went undefeated, besting Amy Latzko (6-5), Darlene Dantes (6-2), Laura Bendikas (6-5), and Bonnie Arnold (6-0). In the finals, she met up against Kassy Werner, who had put some serious work in to get there. Werner took an early round loss but then notched six wins in a row.  
 
The final race to nine teetered back and forth early. Both players struggled to pocket the seven ball in several games. After eight racks, the score remained close at 5-3. But then Rousey took advantage of her opportunities at the table. She won the next four games in a row, finishing the match 9-3.
 
Top finishers of the event were:
1st Sarah Rousey ($550)
2nd Kassy Werner ($300)
3rd Bonnie Arnold ($165)
4th Amy Latzko ($85)
 
To see the full bracket for the event, visit www.leaguepoolstats.com. You can also view streamed matches at RailbirdsTV’s YouTube page. The NCPT thanks its sponsors and City Pool Hall for adding $500 to this tour stop.
 
Want to get in on the fun and action? Visit the NCPT facebook page or NCPTplay.com for details on upcoming events. You can also find the NCPT on Instagram and Twitter.
 

Tkach downs defending champ Corr, wins SBE Women’s 9-Ball Pro Players Championship

Kristina Tkach (Photo courtesy of Erwin Dionisio)

The first time that Russia’s Kristina Tkach showed up on the AZBilliards’ database radar was almost exactly five years ago (April 12, 2014) when she finished as runner-up to Austria’s Jasmin Ouschan at a stop on the EuroTour; the Dynamic Billiard North Cyprus Open. Ouschan played the proverbial ‘lights out’ at that tournament, giving up only seven racks over six matches and none at all to Tkach in the finals. At the time, Tkach was 15 years old. Later that same year, Tkach won the European Girls Championship in 8-ball. Two years later, she came back to that North Cyprus Open and came from the loss side to win it. She also went on that year to win all three disciplines of the European Girls Championships (10-ball, 9-ball & 8-ball), all on the same weekend. In her best recorded earnings year, to date (2018), she chalked up three wins on the EuroTour.

This year, she showed up on US payout lists, with an appearance at the Derby City Classic, at which she cashed in the 9-Ball Division (47th) and 9-Ball Banks (91st). In February, she finished 7th at the WPBA Masters at which she ended up as one of the loss-side competitors to fall victim to Kelly Fisher, who, at the time, was working on a nine-match, loss-side winning streak that would eventually put her into the finals for an unsuccessful rematch against Siming Chen.

In the ‘what have you done for me lately’ department of the pool world, Tkach came to the 2019 Super Billiards Expo (March 28-31) at the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center and went undefeated through a field of 47, on-hand for the Expo’s Diamond Women’s 9-Ball Pro Players Championship. Along the way, in the event semifinals, she eliminated the event’s defending champion, Karen Corr, who ended up winning more racks against her (6) than any of Tkach’s previous opponents, or her finals opponent, Sarah Rousey.

The Diamond Women’s Pro Players Championships were, of course, only one of 11 events at the SBE, including the 27th Annual Allen Hopkins’ Super Billiards Expo’s Diamond Open 10-Ball Pro Players Championships, the results of which have been posted in a separate article. Details about the ProAm Bar Box Championships and highlights of the varied Amateur events will be posted here in a third report.

Starting at the end, so to speak, it should be noted that while Tkach pocketed (pursed?) $5,000 and, like James Aranas in the 10-Ball Pro Players event, a Waterford crystal trophy, valued somewhere in the vicinity of $500, the trophy never made it to Tkach’s transportation out of the Expo Center. According to reports, the trophy came in two pieces; a base and its crystal bowl. As it was being carried out to a vehicle in preparation for Tkach’s exit from the Expo Center, the box it was in, was dropped, shattering the bowl into the proverbial ‘million pieces.’ The box was being carried by a member of Ms. Tkach’s entourage, who, according to varied reports initiated immediate plans to have the bowl replaced.

Tkach’s trip to the winners’ circle was handled with much more dexterity. As with the 10-Ball Pro Players, the 47 women were organized into an original, double elimination bracket, out of which emerged a final group of 16 (8 from the winners’ side and 8 from the loss side). The final 16 moved into two winners’ and losers’ side, single elimination brackets.

Tkach was not afforded the luxury of ‘easy going’ in her opening rounds. She first drew J. Pechauer Northeast Womens Tour director and always-dangerous Linda Shea. A 9-4 win in that opening round led to a match against Dawn Fox, who’d been awarded a bye in the opening round. Tkach downed Fox by the same 9-4 score, and then defeated Stacie Bourbeau 9-3 to become one of the eight winners’ side’s Final 8. Also advancing to the Final 16 from the winners’ side were Karen Corr, Kim Shaw, Kelly Wyatt, April Larson, Dawn Hopkins, Briana Miller and Kelly Isaac.

Meanwhile, on the loss side, Tkach’s eventual opponent in the finals, Sarah Rousey, earned her spot on the losers’ side’s final 8, when she defeated Kim Whitman 9-4. Rousey, who fell ill, temporarily, before her final winners’ side match against Kelly Wyatt, was forced to forfeit that winners’ side match. Joining Rousey from the losers’ side were Dawn Fox, Veronique Menard, Lai Li, Stacie Bourbeau, Tara Williams, Nathalie Chabot and Kaylin Wikoff.

The winners’ side single elimination bracket set Tkach and Corr onto a collision course that would end in the winners’ side final. Tkach downed Kelly Isaac 11-4 and Briana Miller 11-3 to draw Corr in those semifinals. Corr eliminated Kim Shaw 11-7 and April Larson 11-8 to face Tkach.

In the winners’ side finals that followed, Tkach chalked up more racks against Corr than all of Corr’s first three opponents combined; Tkach 11, Corr’s first three 8. Corr had won just over 77% of the games she played in three double elimination matches, (27-8), but entering the finals, only 59% of the two games she’d played in the single elimination phase. Tkach, by comparison, had a lower winning percentage than Corr in her double elimination matches (71%; 27-11), but in her two single-elimination matches, prior to meeting Corr, she’d won just under 76% of the  games (22-7). When the winners’ side final (event semifinal) was over, won by Tkach 11-6, Tkach advanced to the finals with a 71% game-winning percentage. Corr was eliminated, having won 62% of her games.

On to Sarah Rousey, who, on the loss side, had defeated Dawn Fox, Veronique Menard and in the loss-side bracket final, Tara Williams 11-5. She came into the finals having won 65% of her games, overall (60-32). That percentage was 71% through the first two matches (she’d forfeited the third match) and 61% in the three loss-side matches.

As happened in the 10-Ball Pro Players event, the SBE’s Web site failed to record the fact that a match between Kristina Tkach and Sarah Rousey happened at all. As noted in the earlier 10-Ball Pro Player report, a final did, in fact occur. Tkach gave up only four games in the race-to-11 finals to claim the event title, which, according to our records is her first major event victory here in the US.

Larson wins first pro event, goes undefeated to take second stop on North American Pool Tour

Tara Williams and April Larson

When 16-year-old April Larson first arrived at Shooter's Sports Bar & Billiards in Greyslake, IL on the weekend of August 18-21 to compete in the second stop on the North American Pool Tour, she got a glimpse of the winning trophy. She reportedly got very excited and mentioned to her traveling companion that she didn't care about the winning prize money. She wanted that trophy.
 
Four days, six opponents and seven matches later, she'd won her first pro event – the $5,000-added Summer 10 Ball Classic that had drawn 58 entrants to Shooter's Sports Bar and Billiards. Proving the point, Larson accepted the trophy and walked away without collecting the $3,400 check that went along with it. NAPT Predidant Adrianne Beach, a fellow competitor and regular on the Northwest Women's Pool Association Tour, chased her down and handed it to her. Larson glanced at it once, and then, a second time, at which point, according to Beach, her eyes went wide, her mouth dropped open, and she was rendered, literally, speechless.
 
"Is it the most you've ever won?" Beach asked her.
 
All the youngster could do was nod. It had been a busy summer for Larson. In July, she'd represented the USA at the Atlantic Cup Challenge. Two days after the conclusion of that event (won by Team EUROPE 11-3), Larson won her fifth straight Billiards Education Foundation Junior Nationals Championship. A week or two after that, she traveled to Las Vegas for the BCAPL Championships, competing in three events. She was part of the Women's Gold Scotch Doubles team that finished ninth, finished fifth in the Women's 9-Ball Singles Platinum division, and third in the Women's 8-Ball Singles Platinum Division, having defeated (on the loss side) Briana Miller and Eleanor Callado before being eliminated by Vivian Villareal in the semifinals.
 
In Illinois, Larson opened her winning campaign with a 7-3 win over Beth Fondell, and then, shut out Adrianne Beach, who would later present her with the winning trophy and even later, the winning check.
 
"She wasn't missing," said Beach. "Her fundamentals are so solid, and they don't change. It's like her heart rate never increases. She plays without fear."
 
"She's very steady, very composed and very solid," Beach added, noting that she'd never seen anything like Larson before. "Not at that age, no, especially with her composure."
 
Larson advanced, sending Jacqui Schroeder and JPNEWT veteran Jia Li to the loss side, both 7-5. This set her up to face Bonnie Arnold in a winners' side semifinal, as Tara Williams and Cassie Francois squared off in the other one. Larson defeated Arnold 7-2, and in the hot seat match, faced Williams, who'd downed Francois 7-1. In their first of two, Larson defeated Williams 7-4 and sat in the hot seat awaiting her return.
 
On the loss side, Arnold picked up Naomi Williams, who'd eliminated Janet Atwell, double hill and Briana Miller 7-2 to reach her. Francois drew another junior champion Taylor Hansen, who had, a week or so earlier, defeated Vivian Villareal in the finals of the BCAPL's Women's 8-Ball Singles (Platinum Division), in which Larson had placed third. Sent to the loss side by Bonnie Arnold, Hansen defeated Sarah Rousey and Jia Li, both 7-5, to reach Francois.
 
Hansen advanced to the quarterfinals over Francois 7-2, as Williams spoiled a potential Hansen/Arnold re-match with a 7-1 victory over Arnold. Williams took the subsequent quarterfinal match 7-5 over Hansen, and was then, herself, eliminated 7-5 by Tara Williams in the semifinals.
 
Larson, though, really wanted the winning trophy for this event. She punctuated her undefeated run in her first pro event by shutting Williams out in the finals to claim the event title.

Winters/Frost come to Big Dog Billiards’ One Pocket/9-Ball tourney in Des Moines

Scott Frost (File photo courtesy of Rick Schmitz)

While daytime temperatures in Des Moines, Iowa were still in the 80s, with overnight lows dipping into the upper 50s, Scott Frost and Shane Winters came to town. On the weekend of September 10-13, the two of them, separately, won Big Dog Billiards' $2,000-added 9-Ball Open and the $5,000-added One Pocket Championships. They both went undefeated; Winters, through a 9-ball field of 150 and Frost, through a One Pocket, 'pro' mine field of 11 entrants.
 
Almost, but not quite, trumping Winters' undefeated run through the 9-ball tournament, was Bobby McGrath, who lost his opening match, and proceeded to win 14 on the loss side before meeting up with Winters in the finals. Winters advanced to a winners' side semifinal against Steve Boutcher. Jody McLaughlin faced Bob Andrews in the other. Winters and McLaughlin chalked up 7-3 wins over Boutcher and Andrews, before Winters chalked up a third 7-3 score to claim the hot seat over McLaughlin.
 
With nine loss-side wins to his credit already, Bobby McGrath got by Ron Govafenski 7-2 and Randy Hanson 7-4 to meet Boutcher. Andrews drew Chris Siefkan, who'd eliminated Mike Bennett and Mitch Ellerman, both 7-5. Among the 144 already vanquished at this stage of the game were Mike Massey, Lee Brett, Gene Albrecht, and a not-seen-lately, presumably-out-of-retirement Sarah Rousey. McGrath chalked up win #12, 7-3, over Boutcher. Andrews defeated Siefkan 7-4. And then there were four.
 
McGrath defeated Andrews 7-3 in the quarterfinals, McLaughlin 7-4 in the semifinals, and it was down to two. The final match was Winters' eighth. It was McGrath's 15th. Winters took advantage of a 'gas tank' that had to be running on fumes, and completed his undefeated run 7-2 to claim the 9-ball title.
 
The short field of 11 that signed up for the One Pocket Championships included all of the usual suspects, headlined by Alex Pagulayan, Corey Deuel, Frost, Josh Roberts, and Jeremy Jones. The other six were Danny Smith, Jesse Bowman, Justin Hall, Tony Chohan, Chris Bartram and Jason Chance.  
 
Frost and Roberts squared off in one of the winners' side semifinals, while Jones and Bowman met up in the other. Frost ended up getting by Roberts twice; the first time, double hill. Bowman defeated Jones 5-2. Frost claimed the hot seat 5-3 over Bowman.
 
On the loss side, Chance, Hall, Chohan, Smith and Bartram were gone by the time Jones picked up Deuel, who'd eliminated Chance and Smith, both 5-2. Roberts picked up Pagalayun, who'd eliminated Bartram 5-2. Deuel and Roberts got by Jones and Pagalayun 5-2, as well, and met up in the quarterfinals.
 
Roberts defeated Deuel 5-3, and then, downed Bowman 5-2 for a second shot at Frost, now in the hot seat. Based on their earlier, double-hill meeting, spectators and commentators on PoolActionTV's live stream (Jeremy Jones, among them) were expecting a similar struggle in the finals. Frost was not. He got out in front and stayed there to claim the One Pocket title 5-2.

Ellerman undefeated at Desert Classic Tour Season Finale

Mitch Ellerman (Photo courtesy of Rick Schmitz)

The Desert Classic Tour closed out their 2014 season at Bullshooters in Phoenix on December 6th and 7th, and Mitch Ellerman took the opportunity to remind the Arizona pool player community that he is still the man to beat on the Desert Classic Tour.
 
Ellerman rode the winners side on Saturday with wins over Mike Hamman, Rudy Alameda and tour director Dennis Orender. Pacing Ellerman on the winners side was John Ritonya who had notable wins over Jose Gonzalez, Chuck Evans and Brian Reich.
 
Chuck Evans looked to be on his way to another strong finish until he ran into Ritonya on the winners side. The loss to Ritonya was followed by by a loss to Will Sexton and Evans finished out of the money.
 
A welcome guest on the tour for this event was WPBA veteran Sarah Rousey. Rousey admitted that she was out of stroke and took a “two and out” finish after losing to Sexton and Ray Robles
 
Sunday play got underway with six players left in the running. Ellerman and Ritonya were the final two on the winners side, with Tim Daniel, Dennis Orender, Brian Reich and Rudy Alameda all hoping they could still win the event from the one loss side.
 
Daniel ended Orender’s tournament with an 8-5 scoreline, and Reich sent Alameda back to Tucson in 5th place with an identical 8-5 score.
 
The match for 3rd and 4th place came down to a notable finish that said quite a bit about Brian Reich. Reich and Tim Daniel were tied at hill-hill and Reich had a tough shot on the 5 ball. With the fans staring at the 5-ball to see if Reich would make a good hit, Reich tapped the cue ball with his cue. Reich presented a surprised Daniel with ball-in-hand and Daniel gladly ran out the rack for the win. While someone who doesn’t know Reich might have been surprised by him calling the foul on himself, anyone who knows him would have expected nothing less.
 
Back on the winners side, Ellerman was running out at will and turned in a 10-3 trouncing of Ritonya for the hot-seat.
 
It took some time for Ritonya to recover from the loss to Ellerman and he came out slow in the semi-final against Daniel. Ritonya would come back to make it a hill-hill match, but Daniel would win the case game to win the match 8-7 and earn the right to take his shot at Ellerman in the finals.
 
Unfortunately for Daniel, he discovered just how hard it is to beat a motivated Mitch Ellerman as Ellerman cruised to a 10-1 win in the first and only set of the finals.
 
Tournament director Dennis Orender expressed his thanks to Mike and Julie Bates, as well as all of the staff at Bullshooters for hosting another great tournament.
 
While this event signaled the end of the 2014 season, plans are already underway with lots of changes for the upcoming 2015 season. In addition to the new junior program announced in these pages last month, many more announcements regarding format changes and sponsorship can be found in this month’s paper on page 8.

CSI Challenge the Pros Raises $3,810 for Junior Pool

On Tuesday, May 15th from 7-9 pm, the annual CueSports International Challenge the Pros Fundraiser and Raffle in support of junior players took place as part of the 11 day BCAPL National Championships. This year, CSI raised $3,810 during the challenge event and raffle. The raffle was for a donated Ginacue valued at $3,000. All proceeds will be used to help fund junior players to the US Junior National Championships in 2013.

For the second straight year, WPBA Professional and former Junior National Champion, Sarah Rousey, organized this fun event on behalf of CSI. She was assisted Tuesday evening by well regarded coach, Randy Goettlicher, from Master’s Pool School.  Amateur players paid $10-$40 to challenge a professional player a race to two. In addition, to the chance to beat pro, amateur participants received a certificate and a photo with the pro they played.

The professional players who donated their time to the cause were Mika Immonen, Thorsten Hohmann, Stevie Moore, Kim White, Cristina De La Garza, Christopher Lawson, Kenichi Uchigaki, Dennis Orcullo, Nick Nikolidis, Angel Paglia, Max Eberle, Oscar Dominguez, Jennifer Barretta, Hunter Lombardo, and Tom Rossman.  A huge thanks to Moore and Hohmann who stayed the entire time playing challenge matches.  Brothers Joey and JC Torres from Texas, two of the most accomplished junior players in the US, and sponsored by CSI to the Junior Nationals, also participated in the challenge.

In 2013, CSI will be moving the BCAPL National Championships and all accompanying events, including the CSI Challenge the Pros, to the Rio All-Suites Hotel and Casino and will be held July 17-27th.

For more information about the BCAPL visit www.playbca.com.

CueSports International (CSI) is dedicated to creating more choices for all players. In the past seven years CSI has directly paid out approximately Seven Million Dollars to players. CSI is the parent company of the BCA Pool League and the USA Pool League. CSI also produces independent events such as the US Bar Table Championships, the Jay Swanson Memorial, the US Open One Pocket Championship and the US Open 10-Ball Championship. Visit www.playcsipool.com, www.playbca.com and www.playusapool.com for more information about CSI and its divisions.

CSI leads the billiard industry in the development of technology. For more information on the state-of-the-art software systems for league and tournament management visit www.leaguesys.net and www.ctsondemand.com.

Osipovitch goes undefeated to win his first 2011/2012 Tri-State Tour stop

Scott Simonetti and George Osipovich

Competition for Player of the Year in the six handicapped divisions of the Tri-State Tour (and others) is dependent on a combination of skill (reflected in victories) and participation (reflected in the number of events in which a given player has competed). Special events on the tour will provide added points toward standings, but at any given point in time, all of the top players in each of the six Tri-State leader boards have participated in a majority of the tour’s stops. 

Positioning on any leader board, in other words, is not necessarily an accurate indicator of a given player’s skills, as demonstrated by George Osipovich (a C+ player) and his most recent undefeated day – Saturday, April 7 – on the Tri-State Tour. He went into the competition at # 11 on the C+ leader board (on the basis of five events), and defeated Scott Simonetti (# 6 in the A+ division) twice to capture the event title. The $500-added, A-D handicapped event drew 60 entrants to Castle Billiards in East Rutherford, NJ.

Osipovich moved among the winners’ side final four to meet a C-class opponent, Michael Rodriguez, as two A+/A players, Scott Simonetti and Keith Adamik, battled it out in the other winners’ side semifinal. Osipovich sent Rodriguez packing to the loss side 6-3, while Simonetti prevailed 7-5 over Adamik. A strong 9-4 victory over Simonetti put Osipovich in the hot seat, where he waited for Simonetti to come back.

Rodriguez moved west to meet up with Ed DaCosta, who’d defeated Kim Meyer-Gabia (currently ranked as the top female player on the tour) 6-1, and Andrew Cleary 6-3. Adamik drew Bogie Uzdejczyk, who’d gotten by Sarah Rousey 7-5 and Juan Guzman 7-4. It was Uzdejczck and Rodriguez who moved into the quarterfinals, once Uzdejczyk had defeated Adamik 7-4, and Rodriguez had eliminated DaCosta 6-5. 

Rodriguez prevailed in the quarterfinals, 8-4 over Uzdejczyk, and was one match away from a second chance against Osipovich. So, though, was Simonetti, and the two battled to double hill in the semifinals before Simonetti finished it to get the chance. Waiting in the hot seat, though, Osipovich was still on his game and completed his undefeated day with a 9-7 victory that secured the event title.

Tour representatives thanked the ownership and staff at Castle Billiards, as well as sponsors Sterling-Gaming, Ozone Billiards, Ron Tarr Cues, Kamui Tips, Phil Capelle, BlueBook Publishing, and Human Kinetics. 

Lindenwood Taps World Renowned Billiard Instructor to Coach New Program

Director of Student Life Sports Tim Canavan has announced the hiring of Mark Wilson as head coach for the new Lindenwood University billiards program, which will begin competition during the fall semester.  Wilson has been a billiards instructor and coach for over 35 years and as a professional player, has been ranked in the top 25 in the World. 

“We couldn’t be more excited to have Mark Wilson to lead our billiards program,” Canavan said about the hire.  “His extensive experience and deep character makes for a perfect fit and he will be a great addition to lead one of our latest student life sports.” 

Wilson is a five-time Wisconsin State Billiard Champion and three-time Illinois State Billiard Champion. He has served as a billiard commentator for ESPN, Fox Sports and Accu-Stats Video, and has been a columnist for Billiards Digest.  He has also coached many of the sport’s top players including Jeanette Lee, Ewa Laurance, Sarah Rousey, Gerda Hofstetter, and Karen Corr.  

Wilson is looking forward to building the program.  “One of the most compelling things about Lindenwood is that it’s a first rate institution, a hidden gem,” he commented. “To be associated with something like that is a nice platform from which to teach billiards.”

Lindenwood plans to attract some of the best collegiate players in the country by offering scholarships in the sport, becoming only the second university aside from the University of Akron (Ohio) to do so.  

For information about the new billiards program at Lindenwood University or to learn more about scholarship opportunities, contact Lauren Nystrom at 636-949-4942.

Handicapping the Amway Cup

Jasmin Ouschan

The opening draw for the upcoming Amway Cup has been posted online, which leaves no time like the present to examine the various groups and pick some early favorites.

Before we get into each group, let's review the format. This event sees 48 players divided into eight groups of six players. Each group will play round robin and the top three players from each group will move into the single elimination stages. Matches are race to seven until the semi-finals and finals. Semi-finals will be race to 9 and the finals will be a race to 11.

Now on the groups…

Group A:
Yuan-chun Lin
Yukiko Oi
Julie Kelly
Joanne Ashton
Hu-Lin Li
Qualifier 8

Lin shocked the world and won this event last year with back to back wins over Allison Fisher and Ga Young Kim. Prior to that win, Lin was relatively unknown. She is the #1 seed in this event and she should have no problem advancing into the single elim stages.

Former World Champion Julie Kelly has struggled the past couple of years, with a 5th place at the 2007 WPBA Nationals as her best finish in the last two years. She could struggle in this group, but should make it into the single elim stages.

Canadian Joanne Ashton had a nice finish at the WPBA San Diego Classic, and a good performance in Taipei would do big things for her confidence.

Group B:
Chieh-Yu Chou
Monica Webb
Akira Otani
Val Finnie
Zhi-Wei Chai
Qualifier 7

Monica Webb is the hottest player on the planet at the moment and she should advance into the single elim stages pretty easily here.

Chou is the 6th ranked player on the WPA points list and should also advance with relative ease.

Otani was a runner-up in the 2007 All Japan event and she should be able to make it to the final 24.

Group C:
Allison Fisher
Rubilen Amit
Shu-Han Chang
Estelle Binjin
Janine Schwan
Qualifier 6

The Amway Cup press is referring to this group as the "Group of Death". While it is a tough group, it would best be called the "Group of Doom" as The Duchess of Doom, Allison Fisher, should have no problems here.

Schwan just turned in a runner up finish to Jasmin Ouschan at the European Chamionships, and her #5 seeding is not really fair. She should advance into the single elim stages.

Amit was thought of as the top female in the Philippines before Iris Ranola burst on the scene. Amit could make it out of this group, but Chang is probably a bigger favorite to advance.

Group D:
Xiao-Chi Lin
Kelly Fisher
Miyuki Fuke
Rena Boelman
Hilda Lucrecia Guerreo Blandon
Qualifier 5

Kelly Fisher is obviously a favorite to advance out of this group and should have no problem.

Lin earned her #1 seeding in this based on her 5th place finish last year. Considering the field, she should advance.

Fuke finished third at this year's Japan Open Championship and should be one of the three advancing from this group.

Group E:
Ga-Young Kim
Hsiang-Lin Tan
Helena Thornfeldt
Grace Nakamura
Marika Poikkijoki
Qualifier 4

Kim advancing from this group is a no-brainer.

Tan is the reigning Japan Open Champion and should have no problems here.

Thornfeldt would be a safe bet to also advance here.

Group F:
Yum-Mi Lem
Karen Corr
Pei-Chen Tsai
Sarah Rousey
Johanna Espinoza Fajardo
Qualifier 3

Lim finished 5th here last year and has won this event in the past, but seeding her above Corr seems to be a mistake.

If the injury that hampered Corr in San Diego is healed, she should be a lock to advance from this group.

Tsai was a third place finisher here last year and should advance.

Sarah Rousey is the wild card here. Her #4 seeding would indicate that she is not a favorite to advance, but she should outplay that ranking and join Corr and Tsai as players advancing from this group.

Group G:
Jasmin Ouschan
Shin-Mei Liu
Iris Ranola
Tamara Rademakers
Suet-Yee Kwan
Qualifier 2

Now this is a tough group. The top three seeds are certainly the favorites to advance.

With Ouschan just winning the 8-ball and 9-ball divisions at the European Championship, she would be a favorite to advance from any group; this one included.

Rademakers is rightfully the #4 seed, but she could surprise some people and advance past Liu or Ranola.

Group H:
Jeanette Lee
Xiao-Ting Pan
Gerda Hofstatter
Kynthia Orfandis
Camilla Khodjaeva
Qualifier 1

Another very tough group.

Lee has taken her game back to the level it was at 10 years ago, Pan should play even stronger with the home field advantage and Hofstatter just finished 3rd in San Diego.

The bottom three players are going to have to work hard to edge out any of the top three.