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Tina Malm Wins NAPT Division II Championship

Tina Malm

With pool players, you never know what will motivate them at different moments in their pool playing career. With Tina Malm (formerly Pawloski), it was an off night of APA league play in 2016 that lit the fire she needed to get back into serious competitive pool. After multiple state championships and top finishes in major events, Malm had basically stepped away from serious competition for roughly six years to focus on her family, but that wouldn’t be the end of her days under tournament pressure. “I went to On Cue Billiards one night and was just hitting some balls to warm up before league, and it hit me that my game was completely unacceptable to me. That made me want to practice and then I caught the bug to play again”.
 
That bug was on full display on February 22nd – 25th at the North American Pool Tour’s (NAPT) Division II Championships at Hard Times Billiards in Sacramento. This event featured 45 of the top players from various ladies regional tours across the country, competing for their share of $5,000 in added money. Competitors fought it out over two days of round-robin play, where they were split into six groups and played each player in their group a seven game match. With that format, every game mattered as players fought to be one of the top four ladies in each group to advance. 
 
Hailing from the J. Pechauer Northwest Women’s Tour, Malm looked dominant in her group. Losing only 9 racks over her 42 games was more than enough to make her the top player to in her group. With one bye in her group (and therefore 7 fewer racks to play), Malm was tied with Shannon Dunn for second most wins overall, only trailing the Arizona Women’s Billiards Tour’s Susan Williams’ 38 wins. 
 
“I love the format. It’s 4 days of playing pool and with all of that time at the table, you hope that by day three you can catch a gear.” said Malm. “Catch a gear” she did, as she started double elimination play with an Arizona trifecta, facing Leandrea Gaff, Susan Williams and Bernie Store – all from Arizona – in her first three matches. Her 7-3 win over last year’s runner-up, Williams, was especially telling for the day. Williams, a good friend of Malm’s, commented “I played bad and she played well. She played confident and determined. Obviously a winning combination.”
 
After sending Team Arizona to the one loss side, Malm only had to deal with Leslie Bernardi from the Tiger West Coast Women’s Tour in the hot-seat match, and that quickly went her way 7-4. Bernardi found a familiar opponent waiting on the one loss side in fellow West Coast Women’s Tour player Janna Sue Nelson. Bernardi had sent Nelson to the one loss side and finished sending her to the stands with a hill-hill win in the semi-final match. 
 
Sometimes sitting in the hot-seat can get a player out of stroke, but that wasn’t the case with Malm. “I consider myself the hardest working player in any tournament. From Wednesday night, I spent every minute that I could on a table practicing” said Malm. That practice showed as she finished her week with a 7-3 win over Bernardi in the finals for a first-place finish. 
 
Reminiscing about the tournament, Malm still didn’t sound happy with her game though. “I really felt I had to work all day on Sunday. The outs just didn’t show themselves and I know I am capable of a lot more” she sad. When asked about any goals she has set for herself, Malm had a big one in mind. “I’ve noticed my Fargo dropping lately, and I want to work on that. I think I can break into the top ten US ladies list if I really put my mind to it”.

Young Stars Shine Bright at Midwest Ladies Regional Tour Stop

Liz Lovely

Sixteen women competed in the Midwest Ladies’ Regional Tour Stop #4 at 8 Ball Sports Bar & Billiards in Columbus, Ohio.  
 
The first round competitors put up the best fight against the two young stars of MLRT Stop #5: Midwest favorite 23-year-old Liz Lovely, who beat Julie Skripac-Cooper 7-6, and newcomer 21-year-old “Young Gun” Rae Norgaard, who beat Curtisha Alford 7-6. However, these two young women delivered astonishing knock-out punches in the second and third rounds: Lovely defeated Rosanna Jarvis Ramirez (7-1) and Trish Vermule (7-0), and Norgaard won against Julie Hunter (7-3) and Connie O’Heron (7-3).
 
Spectators and fellow players alike were in awe of the ferocity and focus delivered by Lovely, as she smooth-stroked her way to a victory over Norgaard in the semi-finals (7-3). Young Gun begrudgingly took her seat in the B-side chair and awaited her chance to get back to Lovely. 
 
Meanwhile on the B-side, Columbus native and local legend Shannon Dunn (who struggled in the first round against Hunter, tore through the competition. The quarter finals saw Dunn victorious over Vermule (6-5) and O’Heron won against Hunter (6-4). Dunn then defeated O’Heron in a wicked B-side semi-final round (6-4); O’Heron finished 4th.
 
Not hitting a great stride, but proving great competition, the first players out were Curtisha Alford, Adina Pelletier, Tabitha Carmack, and Chelsea Richert. Ramirez, Angela Williams, Monica Hill, and Cooper finished 9th. Angela Mears and Debbie Cervantes went out in 7th place. 
 
In the finals of the B-side Norgaard and Dunn met again. Young Gun was ready this time, and came out of the gate swinging! The battle was fast and furious, each player running balls, hitting straight as they went tit-for-tat with a mid-match score of 4-3. However, a fatal error on Dunn’s part gave the lead to Norgaard 5-3, who broke and ran the last rack. Dunn finished 3rd.
 
Fresh off her victory, and determined to redeem her earlier defeat, Norgaard was in dead-stroke, pulling out a 9-ball break and two break-n-runs, defeating Lovely in the first set 7-2! 
 
Lovely wasted no time, took no breaks before approaching the table to flip for the next set. You could see the sheer focus from the seasoned player, known across the Midwest for her stunning juniors record and major achievements since moving up to semi-professional play. Norgaard missed a total of 3 shots in the second set against Lovely, and that was all it took. Lovely returned the favor, defeating Norgaard 6-2 for the win!
 
MLRT Stop #6 will take place on September 12, 2015 at Plush Pockets in Warren, MI. For more info, see their website at www.midwestladiestour.com and/or contact the tour directors at director@midwestladiestour.com.