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Current and future JPNEWT tour directors battle in finals at Champion Billiards

Linda Shea and Briana Miller

As the current (Linda Shea) and future (Briana Miller) director of the J. Pechauer Northeast Women’s Tour began the process of switching places that will culminate with the start of the 2023 season, they met in Frederick, MD this past weekend (Saturday, July 16), renewing a rivalry that began when Miller was a teenager and Shea had just begun her tenure as the tour’s director (see report on the ‘peaceful transition of power’ outlined in our News archives; Friday, July 15). As the two were no doubt consulting on and sharing in the varied chores that comprise the work of tour director, they also met in the tournament itself, twice; hot seat and finals. Miller won both matches, completing an undefeated run that marked her fourth victory of the season. Shea, who’d won the only event at which Miller did not compete (Stop #4; Stop #3 was cancelled), moved ahead of Kia Burwell in the tour standings. The event drew 16 entrants to Champion Billiards Sports Bar in Frederick, MD. 

Miller, who would go on to win four out of every five games she played in the event (35-8) defeated Melissa Mason 7-2 and Susan Kimble 7-1 to arrive at a winners’ side semifinal against Shanna Lewis. Until she encountered Miller, Shea had faced her most challenging opponent (by score) in the opening round, when Lynn Richard chalked up four against her. Shea then defeated Judie Wilson 7-3 and drew Kelly Wyatt in the other winners’ side semifinal.

Miller and Shea advanced to the hot seat match by identical 7-2 scores; Miller over Lewis and Shea over Wyatt. Miller allowed Shea only a single rack in the hot seat match.

On the loss side, Lewis picked up Judie Wilson, who’d followed her loss to Shea with two straight double hill wins; over Melissa Mason and then, the #2-ranked competitor on the tour, Kia Burwell. Wyatt drew Lynn Richard, who’d followed her loss to Shea with victories over Susan Kimble and Melissa Jenkins, both 7-5.

Wyatt downed Richard 7-5 and was joined in the quarterfinals by Lewis, who’d shut Wilson out. Lewis then eliminated Wyatt in those quarterfinals 7-2. 

Both of the semifinalists, Shea and Lewis, were looking for a rematch against Miller, waiting for one or the other of them in the hot seat. Shea earned the privilege, downing Lewis 7-2.

Miller defeated Shea a second time, this time 7-2, to claim her fourth 2022 JPNEWT title.

Shea and Miller, who was no doubt participating in this part of the process, thanked the ownership and staff at Champion Billiards for their hospitality, as well as title sponsor J. Pechauer Custom Cues and George Hammerbacher (Advanced Pool Instructor, Baltimore, MD). The next stop on the JPNEWT, scheduled for the weekend of July 30-31, will be hosted by Shooters Family Billiards in Wayne, NJ. 

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Shaw and Kelly take Pro Championship titles on closing night of the SBE

Jayson Shaw and Kelly Fisher

Bruner and Malm capture Amateur titles

The Annual Super Billiards Expo (SBE), like other tournaments of similar size and length, has a way of building momentum and speed as the week of it goes by. This varies slightly, depending on whether you’re a spectator or a player. As an example, Kelly Fisher, who emerged from a 63-entrant field and went on to become the undefeated WPBA Women’s Pro Players Champion on Sunday, played a single match on Thursday (she’d been awarded an opening round bye) and didn’t play again until Saturday, when she played twice. On Sunday, already among the event’s 16 players to enter the single-elimination phase, she played three times in a row to claim the title. Jayson Shaw, who went on to become the undefeated, 73-entrant Diamond Open 9-Ball Pro event winner had the same experience. In both cases, the Thursday and Friday experience was a little slower. The Saturday and Sunday experience seemed to flash by like proverbial greased lighting.

The Amateur Players Championship, which featured four short of 1,000 entrants (by far, the most heavily attended event) began on Wednesday and like the Pro events, ended on Sunday. That single-elimination process began with a lot of layover time for the competitors; time which narrowed and eventually, went flying by. Its champion, Chris Bruner, though, was used to it. As a participant at the SBE for about 20 years, he’d finished third at the last one and over the years, had five or so finishes of 5th or better. But playing in the APA, he’d also been a veteran of similar, large-entrant fields, requiring days and days of non-stop pool, or in the early going of such competition, waiting for the non-stop pool to begin.

“It’s tough,” he said, “but with things like the APA Nationals in Vegas, you get used to those long days. You get accustomed to it; the mindset that you have to chill out, relax and go play your game.”

“I’ve been doing it for so long that in the last five or six years, I’ve learned what to do and what not to do,” he added. “Get as much rest as you can, get enough sleep, and just take it day by day.”

Bruner ended up winning 10 matches and only lost two sets. Only once did he compete against someone he knew; Brent Hensley, with whom he has been friends for a long time. To him, the reward had less to do with the $5,000 in cash that he received as the Amateur Champion, than it was about, after all of the years he’d been attending, finally winning it. 

“I’m still on Cloud Nine,” he said, about three hours after the event had ended, around 6:30 on Sunday night. “I’ve been so close for so many years.”

A field of 166 entrants competed in the Women’s Amateur Players Championship. Tina Malm went undefeated through that field to claim the title, downing Ashley Benoit in the finals.

By Saturday night, the WPBA’s 63-entrant Women’s 9-Ball Professional Championship had whittled down to its 16-entrant single elimination phase. The 16 women advancing (in fact, the entire field of the event) featured many of the most highly recognizable names in women’s pool and with the exception of two from the UK (the Fishers, Kelly and Allison), all were from the North American continent; two, being Canadians (Brittany Bryant and Veronique Menard). Among the 47 who did not make the cut were a few junior competitors – Skylar Hess, Savannah Easton and Hayleigh Marion – along with Jeri Engh, who, in her 80s, was the event’s oldest participant. Women of the J. Pechauer Northeast Women’s Tour were well-represented, along with the presence of, though not participation on the part of the tournament’s director, Linda Shea. Along with Kia Burwell and Caroline Pao, who did become two of the final 16, and C.C. Strain, who acted as the tournament director for all of the SBE’s Amateur events, tour members Ada Lio, Kathy Friend, Eugenia Gyftopoulos, Judie Wilson and Shanna Lewis competed.

On Sunday morning, the final eight paired up in four quarterfinal matches. The marquee pairing among them featured the Fishers, who’d last met in the finals of the WPBA’s Northern Lights Classic last month. Joann Mason-Parker took on Caroline Pao, Jennifer Baretta faced Kim Newsome and Canada’s Veronique Menard matched up with Teruko Cucculelli.

In races to 11, Kelly Fisher defeated Allison Fisher 11-8 and Joann Mason Parker downed Caroline Pao 11-2. “9mm” Baretta shot down Kim Newsome 11-6 and Cucculelli eliminated Menard 11-9. In the semifinals that followed, Kelly Fisher defeated Mason-Parker 11-4 and in the finals, met Baretta, who’d defeated Cucculelli 11-4.

Fisher and Baretta traded racks through the first five games, after which Kelly was ahead 3-2. She added a rack, off Baretta’s break for a two-rack lead before Baretta came back with two to tie things for the third time at 4-4. Fisher won seven of the next eight games to claim the title.

Look for a report on the Diamond Open NineBall Professional Players Championship and the top finishers from the eight Amateur events in a separate report on these pages. 

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Briana Miller takes season opener on J. Pechauer Northeast Women’s Tour

Briana Miller and Caroline Pao

She’s back.

After almost three years in which she had failed to record any sort of a payout in any pool tournament (that we know of), Briana Miller returned to Pennsylvania from St. Charles, MO, where she’d attained a degree in finance, thanks to a pool-related scholarship to Lindenwood University. She got a job upon graduation and then, later, just beyond the height of the pandemic, was allowed to transfer and do that job remotely, back at home in Allentown, PA. Just this past weekend (March 5-6), Miller went undefeated to chalk up her first win on the J. Pechauer Northeast Women’s Tour (JPNEWT) in five years. Her last two recorded payouts came during the 2018 and 2019 Super Billiards Expo’s Women’s Championships in which she finished 9th and 5th, respectively.

Miller’s last win on the JPNEWT, in November of 2017, featured two, back-to-back victories (hot seat and finals) over Tour Director Linda Shea. In a circumstance that at the time, we described to be “as rare as a teenager that doesn’t play video games,” Miller shut Shea out in both matches. Like that event, the tour’s 2022 season opener, with its 29 entrants, was hosted by Triple Nines in Elkridge, MD.

“It’s great to see her out and playing again,” said Shea after this past weekend’s event. “I loved it. She’s all grown up now; nice and settled and doing well. Her game showed it. She shot the lights out.”

It was, all told, a big come-back weekend for Miller that happened to accompany a turning point for the JPNEWT, as well. Their season opener capped an overall effort to revitalize the tour. Their 2022 season has begun with a new ‘look.’ They’ve partnered with a new streaming company – TTMD Streaming (ThinkTechMD) – which has brought a degree of professionalism and new vitality to the streaming services, including such improvements as multiple camera angles, the ability to do instant replay and steady commentary from the familiar face and voice of pool instructor George Hammerbacher and Wayne Everhart, owner of TTMD. The company has also undertaken to improve the tour’s presence on varied forms of social media and have been instrumental in creating a new tour Web site.

“They were very professional,” noted Shea of TTMD Streaming’s presence at the tour’s season opener, “and I’m looking forward to a great union with them.”

“Not only that,” she added, ‘but feature this: we held an amateur event, as well, for 450 and below Fargo rates that I’ve been trying to grow for two years. TTMD’s on board for our first event of the season and they get 25 women to participate. The most I ever got was eight. They worked that very hard and for sure, get all the credit for that 450 and under event. They even put four players in the main event, sponsored them.”

The winner of the ‘450 and under’ event was Lynn Richard, who came from the loss side (three matches) and claimed the title, with Linda Cheung as runner-up. There was also a preliminary, 17-entrant ‘chip tournament’ on Friday night, March 4, with races to one that proved immensely popular. 

“It was a lot of fun,” said Shea. “Only 17 people (mixed genders, won by Pete Boyer), but it was a blast and they want it to come back every week.”

In main event, Millers runs a gauntlet of some of the better-known competitors on the tour

In spite of what Miller encountered as a lot of new faces, she ended up facing people that she knew, beginning with Lai Li and following with Judie Wilson and Linda Cheung, which brought her to a winners’ side semifinal against another familiar face, Eugenia Gyftopoulos. Kathy Friend, in the meantime, got by Melissa Jenkins, Alyssa Solt and survived a tough double hill challenge by Caroline Pao before advancing to her winners’ side semifinal against Ada Lio.

Friend downed Lio 7-3 and met up with Miller, who’d sent Gyftopoulos to the loss side by the same 7-3 score. Miller claimed the hot seat, her first in a long while, 7-2.

On the loss side, Lio picked up Linda Shea, who’d lost her opening match to Shanna Lewis and embarked on a six-match, loss-side winning streak that was almost derailed by Melissa Mason’s double hill challenge in the second, losers’ side round. Shea survived that, advancing to eventually eliminate Linda Cheung and Kia Burwell. Gyftopoulos drew Caroline Pao, who, following her defeat at the hands of Friend, had eliminated Lewis 7-4 and Judie Wilson 7-1.

Pao defeated Gyftopoulos 7-5, as Shea was busy getting by Lio 7-3. It set up a classic JPNEWT quarterfinal match between two of the tour’s most enduring event champions; Pao and Shea. Pao won this round of that ongoing rivalry 7-4 and then, dropped Friend 7-3 in the semifinals.

The finals of the 2022 season, pitting Pao against Miller, was, by almost any standard, a classic of the tour’s long-standing and still ongoing history. Behind them, at this event, were quite a few former JPNEWT champions; Shea, Burwell, Friend, Lewis, Lai Li and in absentia, the memory of Karen Corr. Ahead of them, as is always the case, was the table in front of them. Miller completed her undefeated run with a 7-4 victory over Pao to reclaim her spot among the tour’s best.

She’d taken a break and had now come back, to her hometown and pool. 

“After I graduated (in 2018, from Lindenwood), I felt like a needed a break,” she explained. “I’d been playing since I was eight (but) felt as though I wasn’t having as much fun anymore. So, I shifted my focus to other things.”

As for future plans, she’s keeping her expectations and specific plans on a ‘tight rein,’ so to speak. A sort of one day at a time approach.

“I think I’m going to stick with the JPNEWT for right now, to get back into the swing of things,” she said, adding that her ‘future’ eye is extended forward a little, toward future WPBA events and CSI’s Predator Pro Series, as examples. She’s considering attending this year’s Super Billiards Expo, but more likely as a spectator and to get reacquainted with some of the women she’d come to know over the years. “I might just go and say ‘Hi’ to everyone.

“I’m not at that level of play (to be) in a Pro event yet,” she added. “I’ll just get out there when I’m ready. Right now, I’m just playing pool to have fun.”

Tour director Linda Shea thanked the ownership and staff at Triple Nines for their hospitality, as well as title sponsor J. Pechauer Cues, ThinkTechMD for their streaming and social media services, as well as Gina Cunningham (real estate agent of Keller Williams Integrity) and George Hammerbacher.

The next event on the JPNEWT, scheduled for April 9-10, will be hosted by Markley Billiards in Norristown, PA.

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Lai Li goes undefeated to win her first JPNEWT stop since 2019

Kia Sidbury, Shanna Lewis, Colleen Shoop, Lai Li, Linda Shea, Caroline Pao

Lai Li may not have intended for the Dynaspheres Cup 8-Ball Championships, held in Bowie, MD a little over a week ago (June 4-6) to be a warmup for this past weekend’s stop on the J. Pechauer Northeast Women’s Tour (JPNEWT), but it seemed to be just what the pool doctors ordered. Li was among only a handful of women who competed in the 8-ball event that drew 108 entrants to Center Pocket in Bowie, and though she finished out of the money (49th), she won over half of the games she played (16-14). A week later (June 12-13) and about half an hour north of Bowie, she signed on for her third appearance on the 2021 JPNEWT and went undefeated to claim her first title on the tour since November, 2019. Both of Li’s wins were hosted by Triple Nines in Elkridge, MD, which drew 23 entrants to this most recent stop (#4) on the tour.

Also noteworthy of this most recent JPNEWT stop was a 3rd place finish for Caroline Pao, who’d won two of the season’s first three stops and was runner-up in the other one, was looking for her eighth win on the tour since 2019. She was sent to the loss side early by Kia Burwell, and though she’d win six on the loss side to appear in the semifinals, Shanna Lewis stopped her loss side streak to earn a second shot at Li, waiting for her in the hot seat.

Awarded a bye in the opening round, Li got by Melissa Mason 7-4 and Judie Wilson 7-2 to arrive at a winners’ side semifinal against Colleen Shoop. Shanna Lewis, in the meantime, had also been awarded an opening round bye, after which she defeated Teri Thomas 7-5 and Cecilia Strain 7-3 to draw tour director Linda Shea in the other winners’ side semifinal.

It came within a game of being two double hill matches for the right to battle for the hot seat. Shea and Lewis battled to double hill before Lewis prevailed. Li downed Shoop 7-5 to join Lewis in the hot seat match. Li and Lewis battled to double hill to claim the hot seat and it was Lewis who moved west to face Pao in the semifinals. 

On the loss side, Shea walked right into a rematch versus Kia Burwell, who’d followed her victory over Caroline Pao in the opening round with a defeat at the hands of Shea in the second round. Burwell won four straight on the loss side, including a 7-5 win over Sharon O’Hanlon and a 7-4 victory over Teri Thomas to draw the rematch versus Shea. Shoop drew Pao, four matches into her loss-side streak that had most recently included eliminating Cecilia Strain 7-1 and Kelly Wyatt 7-5.

Pao advanced to the quarterfinals 7-2 over Shoop and was joined by Shea, who defeated Burwell a second time 7-4. Pao then defeated Shea 7-4 in those quarterfinals before herself being eliminated by Lewis 7-5 in the semifinals.

The final match, unlike the one they’d fought for the hot seat, did not require a 13th deciding game. It did, however, require 12 of them. Li completed her undefeated run 7-5 and claimed the event title. 

The top four in the tour standings remained the same, with Pao at the top, Liz Taylor in 2nd place, Nicole Nester in 3rd and Linda Shea in 4th. Lai Li, though, jumped from 13th to 5th, edging Judie Wilson out of that slot into 6th. Rounding out the top 10 were Kia Burwell, Carol V. Clark, Shelah Joner and Christine Pross.

Tour director Linda Shea thanked the ownership and staff at Triple Nines for their ongoing hospitality, as well as title sponsor J. Pechauer Custom Cues, Bitzel and Associates PTPA Physical Therapy, George Hammerbacher (Advanced Pool Instructor), and Britanya E Rapp of angle aim Art (for the live stream). The next stop on the JPNEWT, scheduled for June 26-27, will be hosted by Shooter’s Family Billiards in Wayne, NJ. 

Shanna Lewis gets by Lai Li twice, double hill, to win JPNEWT season opener

Shanna Lewis

Pool tournaments will often play host to competitors who, for one reason or another, have been away from the game for a while. Depending upon the skill level they’d attained before they stopped competing, how long they’ve been away and the overall competitive level of the field they enter upon their return, the result could go either way. The competitor could go ‘two and out,’ if they’re seriously out of practice and stroke, or they could make it seem as though pool’s like riding a bicycle, where one can more or less pick up where they left off.

Shanna Lewis, whose last reported cash payout in a pool tournament was at a Q Master Billiards Mid-Atlantic Women’s 9-Ball Open in 2015 (9th place), returned to the tables this past weekend (March 7-8) to compete in the season opener of the J. Pechauer Northeast Women’s Tour. Lewis chose the ‘like riding a bicycle’ option and went undefeated through the field of 31, downing last year’s runner-up in the Tour Championship standings, Lai Li, twice. The $500-added (by Coins of the Realm), NAPT Div. II Semi-Pro event drew 31 entrants to Triple Nines in Elkridge, MD.

Her own assessment of her TAFT (time away from table) was more in the vicinity of 10 years. It was an absence prompted by a decision to focus on the business career side of her life. She’s back, now, still working on the business side of her career, but with some flexibility to spend more TAT (time at table). While acknowledging that she’s returned with her skills more or less intact, she noted that it wasn’t as easy as it looked from the nature of the undefeated run and her two victories over Lai Li might indicate.

“Yeah, there were times during the tournament when I was thinking, ‘Yeah, this is great,” she said, “but there were other times when I felt like I couldn’t put a ball in the hole that was a straight shot.”

That said, Lewis was back on the bicycle right from the start, winning 14 of her first 17 games. She gave up only one rack to Judie Wilson and then two to Melissa Mason before running into Elaine Wilson, who, in essence, by chalking up five racks against her, applied some brakes to Lewis’ bicycle. It dropped Lewis’ game-winning percentage by 10 points in a single match. Lewis won, though, and advanced to face Teri Thomas in a winners’ side semifinal.

Lai Li, in the meantime, had opened with a 7-1 victory over Charlynn Dzambo, defeated Kelly Wyatt 7-4 and downed the tour’s 2020 champion, Linda Shea, 7-4 in a winners’ side quarterfinal.  The draw wasn’t getting any easier as Li advanced to face Kia Sidbury in the other winners’ side semifinal.

Lewis got into the hot seat match with another 7-1 victory, over Thomas, and faced Li, who’d sent Sidbury to the loss side 7-4. In their first of two, they battled to double hill before Lewis prevailed to sit in her first hot (bicycle) seat in a while.

On the loss side, Nicole Nester and Sharon O’Hanlon were working on modest three-match, loss-side winning streaks that had begun when they’d lost their winners’ side quarterfinal match to  Teri Thomas and Kia Sidbury, respectively. Nester and O’Hanlon both won two loss-side double hill battles; Nester, versus Colleen Shoop and Eugenia Gyftopoulos; O’Hanlon, over two ‘powerhouse’ opponents – Nicole King and Tour Director, Linda Shea. They did not, however, draw rematches because Nester drew Sidbury and O’Hanlon drew Thomas.

Nester advanced to the quarterfinals 7-4 over Sidbury, as Thomas eliminated O’Hanlon 7-3. Nester then downed Thomas 7-3 in those quarterfinals, before herself being eliminated in a double hill fight versus Li in the semifinals.

A second, slightly longer double hill fight, Li’s third straight, ensued in the finals. Lewis won it 9-8 to claim the title to JPNEWT’s 2020 season opener.

Tour director Linda Shea thanked the ownership and staff at Triple Nines, as well as title sponsor J. Pechauer Custom Cues, Coins of the Realm, The Turtle Rack (www.mezzusa.com), Baltimore City Cues, and the live stream, sponsored by Britanya E. Rapp, billiards artist (angle aim Art). The next stop on the JPNEWT, scheduled for the weekend of April 4-5, will be hosted by Markley Billiards in Norristown, PA.

NAPT Announces First Tour Stop

The excitement is building as the North American Pool Tour announces their first event, the NAPT Inaugural 10-Ball Invitational, to be held June 3-5, 2016. The event will be hosted by Breakers Sky Lounge (2445 Centreville Rd, Herndon, VA 20171), which will be sponsoring the event with $5,000 added prize fund. 
 
“We at Breakers are so proud to be the first venue to host the first professional event of the NAPT!” Shanna Lewis, Manager, Breakers Sky Lounge (www.breakersskylounge.com)  
 
The event is a women’s Division I (pro) tournament. The format is double elimination, limited to 64 players, and with a full field will have a $21,000 minimum purse. Professional players will be receiving invitations in the coming week. Division II (semi-pro/regional) players can qualify for a spot in the event by entering a Division II tour qualifier; a list of NAPT Division II tours can be found at www.PlayNAPT.com. 
 
For more information, contact Linda Shea, NAPT Event Coordinator at office@playnapt.com or (443) 852-0020.
 

Corr chalks up another one on the JPNEWT

Karen Corr

They've come at her from every angle; the hot seat/final route, where Karen Corr gets challenged twice by the same player; the three-match, loss-side route, in which a player loses a winners' side semifinal and wins three on the loss side to get a second chance at her, and most recently, the deep-from-the-loss-side route, in which a player comes from deep on the loss side (say, five matches or more) to challenge her in the finals.  
 
The occasion this time around, on the J. Pechauer Northeast Women's Tour, was the Q Masters Mid-Atlantic Women's 9-Ball Open, held on the weekend of August 15-16, offering a $6,000 prize fund, and hosted by the US Open's Barry Behrman at his Q Master Billiards facility in Virginia Beach, VA. Pretty much everyone on the 47-entrant roster was looking to deny Karen Corr her seventh straight win on the JPNEWT. Corr responded with a six-match, 35-8 performance that secured that seventh straight win, and for the third time this year, Briana Miller challenged her in the finals, choosing the only method of the three noted above that she hadn’t tried yet; the ‘deep from the loss side’ (seven wins) route.
 
Four matches in, with victories over Connie Eddins, Barb Yeager, Nicole Monaco, and Shanna Lewis, Corr had given up only three racks; one each to Eddins, Yeager and Lewis. At this point, in a winners’ side semifinal, she ran into a familiar nemesis, who’d challenged her three times in the finals this year – Tour director Linda Shea. In the meantime, Jia Li, who’d been runner-up to Corr earlier in the month, faced Kim Whitman, who would finish third for the third time this year.
 
Shea became the first player to chalk up more than a single rack against Corr, but moved to the loss side 7-2. Whitman, in the meantime, sent Li packing 7-4. Corr, apparently not happy with Shea’s second rack against her, gave up only one to Whitman, and sat in the hot seat waiting for Miller to complete her seven-match, loss-side run.
 
Following victories over Nicole Fleming and Borana Andoni, Miller had been sent to the loss side, by TruTV Hustler, Emily Duddy 7-4. She began her loss-side run with 7-4 victories over Kassandra Bein and Belinda Calhoun, and followed them with a 7-1 win over Iris Cabatit, and a 7-4 victory over Nicole Monaco. This set her up against Shea. Li, in the meantime, picked up Duddy, who’d survived a double hill match against Jacki Duggan and defeated Colleen Shoop 7-2. 
 
Miller downed Shea 7-2 and was denied a rematch against Duddy, when Li defeated her 7-4. Miller took the quarterfinal match against Li 7-4, and gave up only a single rack to Whitman in the semifinals. Corr completed her (yet again) undefeated run with a 7-2 win in the finals.
 

Hall double dips Mazon to win Q City 9-Ball stop in Herndon, VA

Collin Hall chalked up a win on the Q City 9-Ball Tour on the weekend of August 1-2, and double dipped world-class pool player Jundel Mazon from the Philippines. Mazon, winner of the Guiness World Series of Pool tournament in Indonesia five years ago and more recently (February) shared the tie for 17th place at the WPA World 10-Ball Championship with the likes of Darren Appleton,  had to win 13 games in his matches versus Hall, who raced to 5. The tour stop drew 25 entrants to Breaker's Sky Lounge in Herndon, VA.
 
To no one's surprise, Mazon advanced to the hot seat in this one. He defeated Shanna Lewis (owner of Breaker's Sky Lounge) 13-2 in a winners' side semifinal (the first time in four matches that he'd given up a single rack), while Hall sent Brian Thacker to the loss side 5-4 in the other (Thacker, racing to 7). Mazon took the hot seat match 13-2 over Hall, and spectators might have been forgiven if they thought, for all intents and purposes, that it was over. Until it wasn't.
 
Lewis and Thacker moved to the loss side, picking up Joey Mastermaker and Daniel "Papa John" Adams, respectively. Mastermaker had gotten by Ethan Carson and Shane Goodrich, both 8-3, to reach Lewis. Adams had downed Rafael Reyes 7-5 and Asia Cycak 8-4 to draw Thacker. Lewis and Thacker picked up their second straight loss; Lewis falling Mastermaker 8-3, Thacker, to Adams 8-4.
 
Mastermaker took the quarterfinal match against Adams 8-4 and then had his run ended by Hall 5-3 in the semifinals. Mazon got close in the opening set of the true double elimination finals, winning 11 of the 13 games he needed to win. Hall, though, chalked up his five to force a second set. Hall claimed the event title with a 5-3 win in the second set.

World Police & Fire Games Day Five

Eric S. Townsend, Wesley Beins, John O’Sullivan, Genadijs Kaminskis and Shanna Lewis (-Bob Lerch)

FAIRFAX — Day 5 of the Pocket Billiards competition from the World Police and Fire Games has been finalized. The final 8 competitors raced to six.

 

In the end, it was gold once again for John O’Sullivan (Ireland), silver for Wesley Beins (Singapore), and bronze for Genadijs Kaminskis (Latvia). 

 

Here’s how we got there.

 

In the round of 8, the results were Wesley Beins (Singapore) def. Doug Moreau (Canada) 6-2. Genadijs Kaminskis (Latvia) def. Michael Grosso (USA) 6-1, John Griffin (Ireland) def. Joe Rodrguez (USA) 6-3, John O'Sullivan (Ireland) def. Chris Gloerson (USA) 6-0. Moreau, Grosso, Rodriguez, and Gloerson were eliminated from medal contention.

 

In the final four, it was: Wesley Beins (Singapore) def. John Griffin (Ireland), 6-5. John O'Sullivan (Ireland) def. Genadijs Kaminskis (Latvia) 6-4. Beins and O’Sullivan headed to the gold-silver match, while Griffin and Kaminskis landed in the bronze medal-4th place contest.

 

In the finals, O’Sullivan recovered nicely from an unlikely early 8 in just the third rack. He then worked like clockwork and produced a break and run to cap his 6-3 victory. It wasn’t quite the same form for Beins, who won the 9Ball tournament for Singapore earlier in the week. 

 

The real drama occurred in the bronze medal-4th place matchup between Latvia’s Kaminskis and Ireland’s Griffin. Still reeling from his hill-hill defeat to Beins (which denied an all-Ireland final), Griffin fell behind early 4-2. The Irishman fought back nobly in forcing a 5-5 lock. 

 

After a dry break from Griffin and one turn at the table apiece, the Latvian caught fire. Faced with a tricky cut on the winning 8Ball, Kaminskis dug deep and dropped the black. An understated but gritty competitor, the municipal policeman dropped to his knees, kissed his cue, and raised it triumphantly over his head several times. He was rushed by his teammate and wife as they hugged and jumped in unison. 

 

It took five trips to the World Police and Fire Games, and 16 years dating back to the Stockholm competition in 1999, but Kaminskis finally had his medal. “This was my dream,” revealed the spiritual athlete who had shown the sign of the cross before each break of the tournament.

 

After the medal ceremony, venue manager Shanna Lewis requested a photo opp with the competitors, asking them to line up and reveal their country’s colors. Beins and Kaminskis had their country’s names across their shirt backs. O’Sullivan joined the party late and instead faked a mooning. “You ask for Ireland,” quipped O’Sullivan. The audience broke into loud laughter for a fitting end to the crowd-pleasing week.

 

Here are the stat lines for the medal winners:

 

O’Sullivan (IRL), gold, 7-0 W/L, won 34 of 42 racks, .810 WPCT.

Beins (SGP), silver, 6-1 W/L, won 31 of 49 racks, .633 WPCT, losses: O’Sullivan (3-6).

 

Kaminskis (Latvia), bronze, 6-3 W/L, won 33 of 60 racks, .550 WPCT, losses: O’Sullivan (0-4), Grosso (2-4), O’Sullivan (4-6).

5-Day Billiard Event at World Police & Fire Games This Week

FAIRFAX, VA — 12,000 professional, public safety athletes from 70 countries competing in 60+ sports to qualify for over 1,600 medal events. That’s the Olympic-style competition known as the World Police and Fire Games (WPFG).

 

Held every two years, the games are being staged in Fairfax County, Virginia (USA). Previous competitions were held in Belfast (Ireland), Barcelona (Spain), Stockholm (Sweden), and Melbourne (Australia). 

 

The pocket billiards event is a 5-day competition covering 9Ball, 8Ball, and straight pool disciplines. Matches run from Monday, June 29th through Friday, July 3rd. The venue is Breakers Sky Lounge, an upscale room managed by Shanna Lewis in Herndon, VA. The tournament will adhere to BCA rules and be played on Brunswick Gold Crown tables with Super Aramith balls. “The players are in for a great week of billiards,” predicted Lewis. Athletes from Australia, Ireland, Canada, Latvia, Singapore, the United States, and more are in the field.

 

The WPFG Sport Coordinator for Pocket Billiards is Eric S. Townsend, a 10-year veteran of the American Poolplayers Association, league operator with Cue Sports International since 2009, ambassador for Joe Tucker’s American Rotation, and author of the billiard book Sharking: Don’t Get Fooled Again (GoBooklets.com, Amazon). “It’s an honor to ensure that our police and fire professionals experience the very best that pro am billiards has to offer,” shared Townsend. “It’s the very least that we can do,” he added. 

 

Townsend was hired by WPFG Sports Director Tony Shobe and Senior Games Manager Mark Kidd. “We couldn’t be happier with the enthusiasm shown by and for billiards for the better part of a year leading up to this event,” shared Shobe. “Our competitors will be grateful for the extra effort being put forth,” echoed Kidd.

 

The billiard support team is lead by Dan Madden, director of the Pennsylvania 9Ball Tour and a top amateur player himself. He is tasked with administrating the tournament and maintaining a live audio and video stream available by mobile phone, tablet, or computer. “I’m excited for the field to play our unique quadruple-qualifying format, and for those back home to enjoy the stream,” Madden said.

 

Additional attractions include professional commentator George Hammerbacher, who will call the action each afternoon from 1-6pm. “How can I not be excited for such an event?” offered Hammerbacher — a sentiment that’s been shared by many involved with the Fairfax games. Lucasi-sponsored pro Shaun Wilkie will be on hand Tuesday and Wednesday for player challenges, photo opps, and two different talks on 9Ball and straight pool tips. “‘I was excited to receive the invite for this wonderful event,” Wilkie said.  “It’s not every day that I get to tip my cap through the game that I love,” he added.

 

If you’d like to catch the live pocket billiard action this coming week (June 29th through July 3rd), then tune in any time from 9am until 6pm on the away channel at www.tvmike.tv. Commentary added 1-6pm daily. If you have any questions, then please email the WPFG Sport Coordinator at eric.s.townsend@gmail.com.