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Fisher stays atop WPBA rankings with come-from-the-loss-side win at Sledgehammer Open

Kelly Fisher, Janet Atwell and Kristina Tkach

The late Helena Thornfeldt remembered in heartfelt 1st Annual event named in her honor

She was nicknamed the Sledgehammer because of her powerful break. Whenever conversations about Helena Thornfeldt broke out among friends and competitors at the 1st Annual WPBA Cherokee Sledgehammer Open, named in her honor this past weekend (Wed., Oct. 19 – Sun., Oct. 23), more than just a few of the gathered women had cause to remember it; the loud whack of initial contact and the way the balls spread out as though desperate for space beyond the rails to dissipate the energy of it. It had taken over two years for the pool community’s widespread respect and admiration for the late Helena Thornfeldt to arrive at a gathering in her honor. The WPBA Hall of Famer died in August of 2019 and though Janet Atwell, in an attempt to organize a 2020 event, began work on it almost immediately, COVID had other ideas, that persisted.

This past weekend, Atwell’s room, Borderline Billiards in Bristol, TN had one of Thornfeldt’s favorite things, sunflowers, on prominent display. A table was set aside to hold a variety of individual and collections of photos. The trophies that were handed to the winner, Kelly Fisher and runner-up Kristina Tkach were accompanied by two actual sledgehammers, made by Robert Ingold of Team SuperShaft. Atwell is working on the creation of a permanent wall plaque at Borderline Billiards with engraving space for the event’s present and future winners, along with a pair of crossed sledgehammers. The event began on Wednesday with words from Janet Atwell and a video made by Bonnie Arnold that featured, among other things, Thornfeldt singing a karaoke version of Born to be Wild. The event officially opened with the National Anthem sung by Christina Druen.

“I think it was an emotional event for everyone,” said Atwell. “Some went through some struggles with it.”

“Absolutely,” agreed Kelly Fisher. “A very emotional event, that first night. There wasn’t a dry eye in the place.”

Kelly Fisher

“We all missed her really,” she added, “and we hadn’t had a chance to show that or feel that, as a family, together. I know that for myself, during that final and a during a few other close matches as well, I could just imagine Helena saying things to me. I went outside at one point to get a breath of air and Monica (Webb) said something to me that Helena would have said and I got kind of fired up there. So for me, personally, she was definitely a presence in my heart and mind.”

Among those in attendance, including Fisher, Tkach and Atwell of course, was Jeannette Lee, who had, in a 2017 interview, called Thornfeldt “the best female straight pool player in the world.” Lee joined Atwell as a member of a ProAm team (one of many) that played a social tournament on opening night, full of blatant sharking and fun. Monica Webb, who ran a restaurant business with Thornfeldt for a number of years, was there, as well. So, too, was the WPBA’s Peg Ledman, a personal friend of Thornfeldt. Not present, though there in spirit, was Allison Fisher, who was in England being awarded an MBE title (a Member of the British Empire) for her “contributions to sport,” many of those, from Britain’s point of view, earned as a snooker player there. The event also featured a strong contingent of (now) relatively well-known junior competitors like Hayleigh Marion (for whom Borderline Billiards is a home room), Sofia Mast, Skylar Hess and recipient of a great deal of attention, 12-year-old Savannah Easton.

The $10,000-added Sledgehammer Open drew a total of 80 entrants to Borderline Billiards, 32 of them drawing byes exempting them from Stage One competition. The 48 others, 16 of whom drew opening round byes in Stage One, played in a double-elimination bracket until there were eight on each side of it. Stage Two awarded byes to the top 16 in the WPBA standings, as the double-elimination bracket got underway, and . . . they were off. 

Headlining the eight competitors who advanced to Stage Two from the winners’ side of the Stage One bracket was Sofia Mast, one of the 16 who’d been awarded opening round byes in Stage One. Her first opponent was Savannah Easton, setting up an early junior marquee matchup. Mast advanced on the winners’ side 7-2, while Easton would move to the loss side, winning three by an aggregate score of 21-5 and advancing to Stage Two. Also advancing on the winners’ side of the Stage One bracket were Kathy Friend, Jaye Succo, Nathalie Chabot, Christy Norris and the Callado sisters, Eleanor and Emilyn. Along with Easton, loss-side competitors advancing to Stage Two were junior competitors Skylar Hess and Precilia Kinsley, along with Nicole Albergaria, Dawn Oldag, Kim Housman, Lisa Cossette and Casey Cork.

Kristina Tkach

The opening round of Stage Two, with Kelly Fisher (among others) idle with opening round byes. Kristina Tkach played and won her opening round against Casey Cork 8-3 and then downed Stephanie Mitchell 8-3 in a match that set her up to face Fisher. Savannah Easton opened the Stage Two part of her title bid with a successful, double-hill match versus J. Pechauer Northeast Women’s Tour (JPNEWT) veteran Kia Burwell. Easton advanced to face another JPNEWT veteran and the #1-ranked American player in the WPBA rankings, Caroline Pao, where she (Easton), as they say, met her match; Pao winning the contest 8-5. Mast lost her opening Stage Two match to Meng-Hsia (Bean) Hung 8-2, and moved west for an eventual rematch against Easton. 

Fisher, in the second round, downed Eleanor Callado 8-3 and then, in a late match, fell to Tkach 8-6. Tkach advanced to the other winners’ side semifinal against Pao.

“She obviously had worked very hard and perfected that cut break and I just wasn’t getting my break going,” said Fisher. “She obviously played very well to beat me. I knew she was in good shape and thought “Oh, my!”

At the other end of the bracket, Margaret Fefilova, with relative ease, was working her way through the winners’ side for an eventual matchup against Jennifer Baretta in the other winners’ side semifinal. Fefilova got by Lisa Cossette 8-3 before running into what turned out to be her toughest opponent (as gauged by racks-against), Janet Atwell, who chalked up five against her. Fefilova moved on to down Ashley Rice 8-2 and record a shutout over the #3 competitor in the WPBA rankings, Brittany Bryant, which set her up against Baretta.

Fefilova got into the hot seat match with an 8-3 win over Baretta and was joined by Tkach, who’d sent Pao to the loss side 8-4. On Saturday night, Tkach claimed the hot seat 8-2 over Fefilova and would wait until Sunday afternoon to see who came back from the semifinals.

It was Kelly Fisher. But she wouldn’t play that semifinal until Sunday. In the meantime, Pao and Baretta had business to attend to on what was left of Saturday night. Baretta picked up Savannah Easton, whose improbable and impressive run among this roomful of professional female pool players was still happening as the bracket whittled down to its final six. Easton had followed her loss to Pao with a loss-side, double-hill win over Beth Fondell and then, looking to advance into the first money round (17th/24th), she had the opportunity to avenge her Stage One loss to Sofia Mast. She did so, in a match that appropriately came within a game of going double hill. Easton then eliminated Laura Smith and won a double-hill battle against Emily Duddy. She then downed Monica Webb 8-6 and Dawn Hopkins 8-3.

Larry Easton, Savannah’s father, no stranger to his daughter’s talent, turned to Atwell as he was watching this, as amazed as many of the spectators at how far his daughter had come, in a lot of ways.

“I don’t even know what to say,” he told Atwell.

“She’s got great cue ball control, thinks ahead and plays very smart for her age,” Atwell would comment later. “She’s very strategic and plays great safeties. She plays like an adult and (her career) is off to a great start.”

Pao, in the meantime, drew Fisher, who’d started what she called a “grueling Saturday,” playing five matches in a row from noon to 8:30. She played and eliminated Meng-Hsia Hung (at noon), Janet Atwell (2 p.m.), Susan Williams (4:30) and the WPBA’s #2-ranked competitor, Brittany Bryant (6:30), all 8-4. Fisher defeated Pao 8-3 (8:30), as Baretta elicited a variety of mixed emotions from all assembled by ending Savannah Easton’s run 8-1. There was a lot of spectator applause in the moment, some of it for both of them, but a lot of it for the talented junior.

“People were excited to see her play,” said Atwell, “and happy with her finish.”

In a quarterfinal battle appropriate to the circumstances, played the following morning, Fisher and Baretta went double hill before Fisher prevailed. In the semifinals, Fisher went back to the loss-side pattern she’d established and punching her ticket to the finals, defeated Fefilova 8-4. Fisher might have played six matches to be in the finals, but thanks to Tkach, it required eight, including a loss. The rematch came within a game of double hill, but not before Fisher found herself down 2-5 and later, 5-8; Tkach a rack away from the hill.

“I was spurred on by pure determination really and the will to win it,” she said of her comeback. “I told Helena, I looked at her picture and like that, ‘Come on, do this for you’ kind of thing and whether you believe in that kind of thing or not, it’s not about who or what it takes to spur you on, but doing whatever it takes.” 

“Whatever it was,” she added, “things turned around. I dug in my heels, hit a gear and took charge of the match.”

From 2-5 down, Fisher won eight of the last 11 games, including the last five in a row. Quite the gear, all things considered. Whether it was herself, Helena, or just the adrenaline of a final push to the finish line, Fisher brought it all to bear and claimed title to her close friend’s first and likely not the last memorial.

Helena Thornfeldt

The 1st Annual WPBA Cherokee Sledgehammer Open came about through the efforts of any number of people, all of whom host Janet Atwell thanked, from the players and spectators to the members of her staff. She also thanked event sponsors the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, Brad Hendricks Law Firm (Little Rock, ARK), Patty and Walter Harper of Knoxville and the streaming services of DigitalPool with Upstate Al, Zach Goldsmith and a number of competitors who joined them in the booth.

Editor’s note: Helena Thornfeldt died on August 20, 2019 at the age of 52. Originally from Borlange, Sweden, she was living in Villa Rica, about 35 miles west of Atlanta, when she died. She had opened a new restaurant, Pizza Mania, 15 days before she passed. The “Sledgehammer” turned professional in 1994, was a three-time European straight pool champion and won the 2002 US Open Championship in New Mexico, downing Allison Fisher in the finals. In the year she was inducted into the WPBA Hall of Fame in 2017, she was ranked 9th among American pool players. We here at AZBilliards join with members of the ever-expanding pool community in mourning her loss and in the years to come, celebrating the life of such a vibrant, widely-admired and respected member of our community at an annual Sledgehammer Open.

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Tiger Florida Tour Champion, Jeannie Seaver, goes undefeated at 14th Annual Cues for the Cure

Helene Caukin, Kaylee McIntosh, Stephanie Mitchell (room owner), ; Michell Monk and Jeannie Seaver

At the 14th Annual Cues for the Cure breast cancer awareness fundraiser, held under the auspices of the Tiger Florida Tour’s season finale this past weekend (Oct. 15-16), it was important to keep one’s eye on the ball, so to speak. While the event signaled the end of the tour season, with the determination of its Tour Champion and the marquee matchups on the modified double elimination bracket on the line, it was important to remember that the event had other benefits going on. It would provide benefits to the Florida chapter of the Susan G. Komen Foundation in its ongoing attempt to fund breast cancer research and services to communities all across the country. That was the ‘ball’ that the 36-entrant, all-female field at the event were keeping their eyes on as they spent their time trying to drop real balls into holes to win games, matches, tour rankings and a cash deposit into their Christmas shopping account. The $1,500-added event was hosted by Corner Pocket in Largo, FL, owned by one of the competitors, Stephanie Mitchell.

So before, during and after fund-raising activities that included raffles with themed mystery baskets (among other things) and an opportunity to guess at the number of M & Ms and Hershey’s Kisses in containers (both won by Dixie Sutton, who guessed the closest number of Kisses in a pumpkin jar and the exact number of M & Ms in a vase; 2,741), the ladies played some pool. 

There was a possible scenario emerging from this Tiger Florida Tour’s season finale that would have seen Stephanie Mitchell crowned as the tour’s 2022 champion. It could have happened if Jeannie Seaver had not competed and Stephanie did, finishing among the event’s final eight. Neither of those two things happened. With both of them competing, Stephanie had to finish well ahead of Jeannie to pass her in ranking points. That didn’t happen either. What also didn’t happen was a repeat of the 2021 Cues for the Cure event in which a mother and daughter (Debbie and Kaylee McIntosh) competed in the finals. Both mother and daughter competed this year, with daughter defending her title. 

What did happen was that Jeannie Seaver went undefeated to claim the 2022 tour champion title, downing Michell Monk in the finals. Stephanie Mitchell, who finished in the tie for 17th/24th at the event, finished second in the tour rankings, with Jeannie Seaver’s older sister, Vanessa (finishing 13th/16th) in third place and junior competitor, Sofia Mast, not in attendance, finishing in 4th place. 

The modified double elimination bracket whittled the field of 36 down to four players on each side of the bracket and then, entered a single elimination phase of eight playing a single match to advance as far as they could. The younger Seaver’s path to the winners’ circle went through Jennifer Merritt 5-3 and then ran into big sister, Vanessa. A double hill, live version of sibling rivalry ensued, after which Jeannie moved on to defeat Sonya Chbeeb 5-1, advancing to become one of the winners’ side’s final four.

Michell Monk earned her way to the winners’ side final four as well, winning three matches by an aggregate score of 15-1 against Kimberly Housman (0), Margie Soash (0) and Carrie Vetrono (1). Two of the three winners’ side matches Lisa Perez played to be among the final four went double hill; her opener against Danielle Marie Fee and the match against Helene Caukin that put her in the final four. Autumn French fell 5-3 in the middle. The last to join the winners’ side advancement was defending champion and junior competitor Kaylee McIntosh, who, like Monk, gave up only a single rack to one of her first three opponents; Lyn Remsen (0), Mimi McAndrews (1) and Jessica Barnes (0).

Two of the four people who’d failed to make the winners’ side list in the last deciding match on that side of the bracket came back from the loss side to join the cash-generating single elimination phase and have a second shot at claiming the title. Sonya Chbeeb faced and defeated her one loss-side opponent, Kim Caso, 5-3 and would face Kaylee McIntosh in the first single-elimination round. Helene Caukin moved over, eliminated Jessica Karamia Human 5-3 and came back for a second shot against Lisa Perez. Keeping aspirations for a second straight mother/daughter final alive, Debbie McIntosh, who’d lost her second match to Carrie Vetrono, won two on the loss side before downing Jessica Barnes 5-3 to be among the loss side’s final four.  Jeri Bouvette, who’d been shut out by Barnes in the second round, won two on the loss side and then shut out Carrie Vetrono. Moving out of the frying pan into the fire, she faced Jeannie Seaver in the opening, single-elimination round. 

Daughter advances to final four against Seaver, Mom falls to eventual runner-up, Michell Monk

Winners in the quarterfinals that followed advanced to the semifinals by an aggregate score of 20-5. Had the McIntosh family advanced together, they would not have faced each other in the semifinals and might have realized the potential for a second straight mother/daughter final. Daughter Kaylee downed Chbeeb 5-1 and advanced to the semifinals against Jeannie Seaver, who’d eliminated Bouvette 5-1. Mom Debbie fell 2-5 to Michell Monk, who advanced to take her spot in the semifinals versus Caukin, who’d won her rematch against Perez 5-2.

One match shy of her second straight appearance in the Cues for Cure final, Kaylee McIntosh was downed by Jeannie Seaver 5-3. Monk joined Seaver in the finals after eliminating Caukin 5-1. Seaver completed her undefeated run (the tour championship title already in her pocket), with a 5-3 victory over Monk in the finals.

With a request to direct your (the reader’s) attention to the ‘ball’ that was the cornerstone of this event, the Susan G. Komen Foundation, tour representatives hope that you’ll take time to read through this list of people who made it all possible. In addition to all of the players and spectators who came out in support of this event, tour representatives thanked Stephanie Mitchell and her Corner Pocket staff for their hospitality and continuing support of the Tiger Florida Tour and the Cues for the Cure event. They also thanked title sponsor Tiger Products and Tony Kalamdaryan, Larry Wood with Boynton Billiards for donations and continued support of the tour, Stitch It To Me (Nicolle Cuellar; for event t-shirts, and raffle gifts), Brutal Game Gear (Michell Monk; gift certificates), Dixie and Rick Sutton and Estates by Dixie (designer basket donation and pizza for all), Rob Charles for tech help, Texas Roadhouse Grill (St. Petersburg; gift buckets), Deanna Laney (raffle help), Josh Arnold (running a smooth tournament), Andy Cloth and AZBilliards.

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Jeannie Seaver goes undefeated to claim Stop #5 on Tiger Florida Tour

Michell Monk, Jeannie Seaver and Stephanie Mitchell

When the day started – Saturday, August 27 – Jeannie Seaver was atop the Tiger Florida Tour’s leaderboard, having competed in all four of its 2022 events and winning the tour’s previous stop (#4) in July. The four women immediately behind her in the standings were on hand for stop #5, at Diamond Billiards in Cape Coral, FL, as were 20 other entrants. The top five were separated by 110 points (dependent on attendance, usually around 200 points for a win), with two events to go; the one at hand and the season finale on October 15, the tour’s annual “Cues for the Cure” breast cancer awareness fundraiser, to be hosted by The Corner Pocket in Largo, FL. 

The Corner Pocket’s owner, Stephanie Mitchell, was in 2nd place in the standings, only 40 points behind Seaver. The Pink Dagger (14-year-old Sofia Mast) was 20 points behind Mitchell and Jeannie Seaver’s sister, Vanessa, was 10 points behind Mast. Jessica Barnes was in fifth place, 40 points behind Vanessa. In the day ahead, almost anything could have happened. All five of the top five were capable of winning the event and whoever did so would have the proverbial ‘leg up’ on the tour championship title, which would go to the competitor at the top of the heap at the conclusion of the “Cues for the Cure” fundraiser, seven weeks away. The Stop #5 winner would also receive a qualifying spot in the WPBA’s Dr. Pool Classic in December.

Jeannie Seaver went undefeated, maintaining her position at the top of the tour standings. All four of the competitors behind her in those standings stayed right where they were; Mitchell, Mast, Vanessa Seaver and Barnes. ‘Almost anything could have happened’ turned into ‘nothing about the tour’s top five happened at all,’ except. . . the 110-point gap between 1st and 5th place in the standings, which went from 110 points to 250.

“It will be hard for anyone to catch her,” noted tour director Mimi McAndrews, “unless Jeannie doesn’t play in our “Cues for the Cure” event in October.”

Stop #5 began with a standard, double-elimination bracket. It was played down until there were two on each side, at which point, they redrew into a single elimination bracket.

Jeannie Seaver played two of the four women below her in the standings to be one of the two that advanced to single elimination from the winners’ side of the double elimination bracket. She opened with a 7-2 win over Jessica Barnes, shut out Say Xiong and then locked up in a double hill fight with the Pink Dagger; Seaver is likely one of only a handful of competitors who don’t underestimate the 14-year-old Sofia Mast at the tables. Seaver prevailed, though, and then defeated Dawn Logan 7-4 to earn her spot among the final four.

Michell Monk, who’d climb from #20 in the standings to #8 with her eventual runner-up finish, got by Denise Gugliotta 7-3 and then faced another junior competitor, 13-year-old Gianna “Banks” Fiore, who is currently 7th in the Junior International Championships’ 13U Girls division. Monk got by her 7-3 and after defeating Danielle Marie Fee 7-4 began a two-match set against Stephanie Mitchell. Monk’s 7-4 win in the first set earned her the second winners’ side slot in the single elimination phase.

Logan and Mitchell moved to the loss side of the initial bracket. Logan drew a re-match against Crystal McCormick, whom she’d sent to the loss side in what was McCormick’s first match. McCormick advanced through four loss-side matches including wins over Debbie Hake 5-2 and Danielle Marie Fee 5-3 for a second chance against Logan. Mitchell, another member of the Don’t Underestimate the Pink Dagger Club, drew Mast, who’d followed her double-hill loss to Jeannie Seaver with loss-side wins over Vanessa Seaver 5-3 and Kira Brown 5-1. 

In what were the event’s quarterfinals, McCormick avenged her earlier loss, eliminating Logan 5-1 and drawing Jeannie Seaver in the semifinals. Not surprisingly, the tour’s #2 and #3 competitors, Mitchell and Mast, battled to double hill in the other quarterfinals. Mitchell eventually moving on to face Monk a second time.

Though on the hill, ahead by four (6-2) in the semifinals, Mitchell saw Monk rally back to knot things at double hill and then win it to advance to the finals. Seaver dropped McCormick into the tie for third place 7-2. Seaver completed her undefeated run with a 7-4 victory over Monk in the finals.

Seaver chose not to play the event for its qualifying spot in the December WPBA event, so that spot went to Monk. In addition to the cash prizes for the final six competitors, the tour awarded a $50 prize to the highest-finishing league player (APA 4-5 or equivalent). Brittany May, who’d had the misfortune of drawing Sofia Mast on the winners’ side of the early bracket, won two on the loss side before being eliminated by Danielle Marie Fee and finished in the tie for 9th/12th, took home that cash prize. 

Tour representatives thanked all of the players who attended the event and Lisa Carroll for running the side-by-side Open event, which contributed to a “great day at Diamonds.” They also thanked GM Lisa Cobb and her Diamond Billiards’ staff for their hospitality, along with title sponsor Tony Kalamdaryan and Tiger Products for their continued support of the tour and players.  Thanks, as well, went out to sponsors Boynton Billiards, Great Lakes Billiards, AZ Billiards, Stitch It To Me, Brutal Game Gear, Eastern Billiards, Andy Cloth and to Janis Sessions and the Florida Coast Ladies Tour for sponsoring the APA Prize.

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Chen Wins Predator Canada Open

Chia Hua Chen

Chia Hua Chen defeated Allison Fisher in a shootout for the second time this week to mark her return to international competition by winning the Predator Canada Open.

Fisher had to come through the one loss side to reach single elimination after her first match of the tournament had ended in defeat to Chen, who didn’t lose during the event.

Predator Canada Open Brackets

‘Amber’ Chen had won the first set of the final 4-2, but a 4-0 second set in Fisher’s favor forced the match to shootout. Fisher missed her first of four attempts but when Chen missed her last, Fisher had a chance to take it to sudden death. However, the Duchess of Doom was unable to prolong the match any further and when she missed at 3-2 down, the title was Chen’s.

“I cannot believe it,” said Chen through her partner, Robbie Capito. “This is my first international tournament after the pandemic, so I didn’t expect much coming into the tournament, so I am very happy with the win.”

Fisher took a 2-0 lead in the final but a poorly executed safety attempt on the 6 allowed Chen to fight back to 2-2. The Taiwanese star earned ball in hand when a great safety on the 7 left Fisher unable to make a connection in the fifth game. She scratched the cue ball breaking in the sixth but a brilliant bank, the length of the table, gave her a 4-2 set win.

Fisher responded with the first game of the second set and made a 7/10 combo for 2-0. The Duchess of Doom was first to take a chance after a safety battle in the third and after a thin cut to make the 9 left perfect position for the 10, Fisher was one game away from a shootout, and she wrapped a 4-0 set with a great runout.

The shootout format allows each player four innings, after which sudden death comes into play if the score is tied after the first four shots each.

Chen was first to shoot and despite having been consigned to her seat for much of the second set, found the center of the pocket. Fisher hit her first effort too thin, and Chen went 2-0 ahead in the shootout with her next shot.

Fisher could barely afford to miss again and produced a great pressure shot straight into the heart of the pocket to make it 2-1. Chen kept control with her third successful shot, meaning Fisher had to make her next; she did.

Chen had her fourth shot for the title but clipped the jaw to keep Fisher alive. The Brit had one shot to force sudden death, but she too missed. Chen had to check with referee John Leyman to confirm; Fisher’s miss meant that Chen was the Predator Canada Open champion, taking home $18,000.

In her semi-final, Chen had been forced to a shootout by the battling Australian, Bean Hung. Chen had won the first set 4-0 but her opponent didn’t give up and took the second set from hill-hill. However, the Australian struggled in the shootout, which Chen won 3-0.

Fisher had taken the longest route possible to the final, having lost her opening match – a shootout defeat to Chen. She bounced back through the one loss side with wins against Stephanie Mitchell and Maryann McConnell to reach the last 16, where close friend and three-time Pro Billiard Series winner Kelly Fisher was waiting.

Allison put in a strong performance to win by shootout, and then defeated Kyoko Sone in the last eight. Bulgaria’s Kristina Zlateva was Fisher’s semi-final opponent and the experienced Brit completed a 4-0, 4-2 win without wasting much time.

Full match replays from the feature table can be watched on the World Billiard TV YouTube channel.

Follow @probilliardseries on Facebook, @probilliardseries on Instagram or @PBilliardSeries on Twitter to follow the next events.

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Predator Canada Open Down To Last 16

Allison Fisher

The Predator Canada Open, the latest stop on the Women’s Pro Billiard Series, is down to the final 16 in Alberta, Canada.

The first stage of the tournament is now complete and the brackets have been redrawn for the single elimination stage, which begins 10am local time Friday.

Kelly Fisher’s quest to make it four in four on the Predator Pro Billiard Series remains strong. After winning 4-0, 4-0 against Mary Avina on Wednesday the Brit followed it up with a 4-2, 4-1 score against impressive young Bulgarian Kristina Zlateva. She’ll now face her fellow Brit and namesake Allison Fisher in the last 16.

Predator Canada Open Brackets

That is because Allison came through the one loss side of the draw but made it through with two wins on Thursday. Fisher found herself on the one loss side after a shootout defeat yesterday but hit the practice table and defeated Stephanie Mitchell and Maryann McConnell to qualify.

Fisher said: “I feel very relieved to qualify for the last 16 because my first match yesterday was a real struggle and I lost in a shootout. I practiced last night and got comfortable with the table. I felt much more settled today.”

Canada’s Brittany Bryant stayed undefeated with a 4-2, 4-0 win against Naomi Williams. Bryant has been enjoying have a Pro Billiard Series tournament in her home country and will face Bean Hung in the next round.

Other last 16 matches include Eylul Kibaroglu vs Caroline Pao, Sara Rocha vs Amalia Matas and Maite Ropero Garcia vs Kristina Zlateva. Action begins at 10am with the feature table live on Billiard TV, Kozoom and the World Billiard TV YouTube channel.

Savannah Easton, the 12 year-old from Las Vegas, exited the tournament with a shootout defeat to Kyoko Soni. Easton had moved to the one loss side of the brackets on Wednesday night but put in an impressive 4-2, 4-3 win over Toni Sakamoto to stay alive before her tournament was ended by Soni. Easton plays the final of the CSI Western Canadian Championships Junior 8-Ball tomorrow.

Play continues at 10am MT on Thursday when six more matches will be streamed live at watchbilliard.tv and on the World Billiard TV YouTube channel.

Follow @probilliardseries on Facebook, @probilliardseries on Instagram or @PBilliardSeries on Twitter to follow the next events.

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Seaver picks up her first Tiger Florida Tour title since March 2021

Stephanie Mitchell, Jeannie Seaver, Sofia Mast and Jessica Barnes

Jeannie Seaver’s gotten off to a slow start this year. Following a year (2021) in which she won three tour titles – two on the Tiger Florida Tour and one on the Sunshine State Pro Am Tour – it wasn’t until this past weekend (July 16-17) that she claimed her first 2022 tour title. In her fourth appearance on the tour this year, the victory moved her ahead of Stephanie Mitchell to the top spot in the current Tiger Florida Tour standings. She did it at Stop #4, going undefeated through a modified double elimination bracket, downing six opponents, including, in the finals, the junior competitor known as “The Pink Dagger,” 14-year-old Sofia Mast (#3 in the standings). The event drew 34 entrants to Shooters Billiards in Port St. Lucie, FL.

Initially, in the double elimination phase of the event, its 34 competitors were racing to be among the final four standing on both sides of the bracket. Among the eight who advanced to the single elimination phase were the top six in tour standings when the event began. The four who advanced to single elimination without a loss were the top four; (in order) Stephanie Mitchell, Vanessa Seaver, Jeannie Seaver and Sofia Mast.

Mitchell, in a quest to maintain her position at the top of the standings, had to deal with an opening-round, double hill match against Xare Qualis. She survived that and then defeated Ivette Fernandez and Margie Soash, both 7-3 to earn her winners’ side slot in the final eight. Vanessa Seaver got by Erin O’Brien 7-4, Jessica Karamia Human, double hill and Katie Bowse 7-1 to advance. Sister Jeannie defeated Aalyssa Gonzalez 7-4, Roe Guarnero 7-3 and Jessica Barnes 7-3 to arrive, while The Pink Dagger (Mast) sent Chris Baumgart 7-4 and Crystal McCormick 7-3 to the loss side, before battling Kaylee McIntosh to double hill, eventually sending her over as well.

Two of the four who just missed advancement from the winners’ side came right back after winning their only loss-side match. Barnes moved over and survived a double hill fight versus Julia Spinella, returning to square off against Vanessa Seaver in the opening round of the single-elimination phase. McIntosh faced Guarnero on the loss side, defeated her 5-2 and was faced with Mitchell in the single-elimination group.

Joining those two from the loss side were Human, defeated by Vanessa Seaver on the winners’ side and then defeating Susan Damschroder 5-3, Sandy Cheng, double hill and Margie Soash 5-1 to face Mast in what amounted to the event’s quarterfinals. Rounding out the single-elimination field of 8 was Tracy Mullen, who followed her initial, first-round loss to Crystal McCormick with victories over Chris Baumgart 5-2, Ashley Jones 5-3, Kira Brown 5-2 and finally, in a double hill battle, Katie Bowse. Mullen picked up Jeannie Seaver in the event quarterfinals.

Due to time constraints, the quarterfinal and semifinal matches were reduced to races to 5. Three of the quarterfinals were decided by 5-2 scores; Jeannie Seaver over Mullen, Mast over Human and Barnes over Vanessa Seaver. Mitchell advanced over McIntosh 5-3. In the semifinals that followed, Mast and Barnes locked up in a double hill battle that eventually sent Mast to the finals. She was joined by Jeannie Seaver, who eliminated Mitchell 5-3. 

After agreeing to a final race-to-3 (again, due to time constraints), Seaver and Mast opted to split the top two prizes and played the race-to-3 anyway. Seaver claimed the event title 3-1, moving her into the top spot in tour standings. Mitchell’s tie-for-third finish (with Barnes) dropped her into second place, while, as runner-up, The Pink Dagger moved up a notch, from fourth to third place in the standings.

Tour director Mimi McAndrews thanked Dave Citron and his Shooters Billiards staff for their “welcoming hospitality,” along with Josh Arnold and Stephanie Mitchell for their assistance with running a smooth event. She also thanked title sponsor Tiger Products, AZBilliards, Boynton Billiards, Andy Cloth, Eastern Billiards, Stitch-It-To-Me Embroidery and Brutal Game Gear. The next stop on the Tiger Florida Tour, scheduled for Saturday, August 28, will be hosted by Diamond Billiards in Cape Coral, FL.

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Fisher ‘twins’ are winner and runner-up at 5th Annual WPBA Ashton Twins Classic

Brittany Bryant, Kelly Fisher and Allison Fisher

About two months ago, Kelly and Allison Fisher squared off in the finals of the WPBA’s Northern Lights Classic, which was the first time they’d met in an event final in six years, when Allison downed Kelly twice in the 2016 finals of the 19th Annual International Women’s Tournament of Champions at the Taj Mahal in Atlantic City. It didn’t take anywhere near that long between final meetups this time around, because following their finals match in the Northern Classic (won by Kelly), they squared off again this past weekend (June 23-26) at the 5th Annual Ashton Twins Classic. Allison was the event’s defending champion, having defeated Jennifer Baretta in the finals of the event the last time it was held in 2020. Kelly claimed the title this time, coming from the loss side to do it at the event which drew 63 entrants to The Hidden Spot in Calgary, Alberta.

With the Northern Lights Classic and the Super Billiards Expo, the WPBA competitors had been getting back into the stroke of things, to include renewing acquaintances and enjoying the companionship that had marked their days pre-COVID. The Ashton Twins Classic continued that process as the cream of the WPBA crop gathered. Kelly was the event’s #1 seed, with Brittany Bryant as #2. Allison was #3 with Caroline Pao #4 and Janet Atwell #5. Rounding out the top 10 seeds were Ashley Burrows, Emily Duddy, LoreeJon Brown, Kim Newsome and Teruko Cuccelelli.

Kelly’s path to the hot seat match was relatively undramatic; in races to 8, downing Katherine Robertson (2), Eleanor Callado (2), Kelly Cavanaugh (3) and Maria Teresa Ropero Garcia (1), she drew Pao in one of the winners’ side semifinals. Allison, in the meantime, got by Jana Montour (2), Sandra Badger (1), Stephanie Mitchell (1) and Kyoko Sone (6) to arrive at her winners’ side semifinal versus Bryant.

The event’s top four seeds went at it in their respective winners’ side semifinals. Allison sent Bryant to the loss side 8-3, while Kelly was sending Pao over 8-2. Allison grabbed the hot seat 8-4 and waited for Kelly to get back from the semifinals.

On the loss side, Bryant picked up Eleanor Callado, who’d been defeated by Kelly Fisher in the second winners’ side round and was working on a six-match, loss-side winning streak that had recently eliminated Susan Mello 8-4 and Ashley Burrows in a double hill battle. Pao drew Sone, who, after losing her winners’ side quarterfinal to Allison Fisher, had defeated Maryann McConnell 8-1 and Tamami Okuda 8-2.

Sone, who was seeded just outside the top 10 (#11), downed the #4 seed, Pao 8-6, while Bryant was eliminating Callado 8-1. Bryant stopped Sone’s loss-side run at three matches with a subsequent 8-5 win in the quarterfinals.

And there they were, the event’s top three seeds as the last three standing on Sunday afternoon. Kelly Fisher defeated Bryant 8-4 for a second shot at Allison, waiting for her in the hot seat.

The final was a single race to 10. Allison had chalked up twice as many racks as Kelly to claim the hot seat. Kelly chalked up twice as many as Allison in the finals, 10-5, to claim the 5th Annual Ashton Twins Classic.

The Ashton twins, Beverly and Joanne, who finished 49th and 25th, respectively (Beverly allowing Joanne to advance when they were scheduled to meet in the first loss-side round), along with the WPBA thanked the ownership and staff of The Hidden Spot for their hospitality, along with sponsors Simonis, Esports, Diamond Billiards Products, RAD and ATC. 

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White, Daly split top prizes on Eastern Billiards/Andy Cloth/Corner Pocket Premier 9-Ball Tour

Trenton White

It wasn’t actually the first and isn’t likely to be the last.

This past weekend (May 14-15), Eastern Billiards, Andy Cloth, Stephanie Mitchell’s The Corner Pocket pool room in Largo, FL and Jamison Daniels presented something of an official start to a series of Premier 9-Ball Tour events. Back in April, the first three of those sponsors held what they called a Shootout, that drew 32 entrants to The Corner Pocket. Won by Kyle Bova, the Shootout acted as something of a ‘proof of concept’ demonstration that led to the scheduling and eventual $2,000-added event that drew 53 entrants to the Corner Pocket this past weekend.

According to Mitchell, the endeavor is being designed as a series of independent events and though it bears the moniker of a traditional ‘tour,’ it will not be subject to traditional tour fees or any overall player-specific format; neither specifically handicapped (although the most recent event was handicapped) or Pro or Ladies events, as examples. The next planned stop on the tour, scheduled for July, at a to-be-determined specific date is being planned as a Ladies event.

Trenton White and Chris Daly, who was looking for his first recorded victory since winning a stop on the Poison Tour eight years ago, split the event’s top two prizes after the event semifinal between Daly and Kyle Bova. As occupant of the hot seat at the time, White became the event’s official winner. 

White opened his trip to the hot seat with two straight shutouts, against Wanda Crews and Cory Wilcox, before giving up his first rack (two of them, actually) to Nathan Rose and four more of them to Mike Lear. He drew Joseph Dyer in one of the winners’ side semifinals. Daly, in the meantime, went through Tom Mittnight, John Cohmer, Frank Costantino and Carlos Gomes before running into Kyle Bova in the other winners’ side semifinal. 

Bova diverted Daly’s ‘trip to the finals’ train to the loss-side tracks 6-2 and advanced to the hot seat match. White joined him after sending Dyer west 6-4. White began the race-to-6 hot seat match with a single ‘bead on the wire’ that he didn’t need. He chalked up the five racks he needed before Bova had dropped a single 9-ball.

On the loss side, Daly picked up Mike Lear, who’d followed his loss to White with victories over Costantino and Penera Mota, both 5-1. Dyer drew Rose, who’d been another victim to White’s winners’ side exploits and then, got by Scott Tollefson, before winning back-to-back matches against Carlos Gomes and Raymond Linares, both double hill.

Daly and Lear battled to double hill, before Daly advanced to the quarterfinals. He was joined by Dyer, who’d eliminated Rose 5-3. Daly earned his rematch against Bova with a 5-3 victory over Dyer in those quarterfinals. 

Though Daly began what would prove to be the last match of the event, the semifinal race-to-5, with one ‘bead on the wire,’ Bova’s chances of winning the match (as calculated by Fargo Rate)  were just over 50%; 52.5 to Daly’s 47.5. So, statistically, almost even. Daly gave up just a single rack as he chalked up the five he needed for a shot against White, waiting for him in the hot seat. A shot, as it happened, that did not materialize, as White and Daly negotiated a split of the top two prizes.

Tour director Chad Kosier thanked Eastern Billiards’ Gary and Ruth Lucchesi for their “opportunity to keep great tournaments alive,” along with Andy Cloth, Jamison Daniels,  Stephanie Mitchell and her Corner Pocket staff for their hospitality and Rob Charles for “priceless help.” He also extended thanks to Allen Ellison of Billiard Livestream for his effort at bringing the event to members of its remote audience.

As noted above, the next event on the Eastern Billiards/Andy Cloth/The Corner Pocket Premier 9-Ball Tour is likely to be a Ladies event, scheduled for a date-to-be-determined in July. For further information, you can keep an eye on Stephanie Mitchell’s (The Corner Pocket) Facebook page and initiate a Friend request, along with any specific inquiries. 

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Cuellar goes undefeated to win Stop #3 on Tiger Florida Tour

Nicolle Cuellar, Vanessa Seaver and Jessica Barnes

Coming off of her best recorded earnings year (2021), Florida’s Nicolle Cuellar is getting a bit of a late start to better those earnings in 2022, although her undefeated run at the Tiger Florida Tour’s (TFT) third stop this past weekend (Sat. May 7) has started her off in the right direction. Her last recorded win on the TFT occurred last August. Cuellar has, in fact, had two good years at the tables, 2020 being her best recorded earnings years until the total figure improved in 2021. She’s been combining work on the TFT with appearances on the Sunshine State Pro Am Tour over the past few years, and earlier, dating back to when her efforts began notation here at AZBilliards 10 years ago, on the Flamingo Tour. The TFT’s $750-added event last weekend, Stop #3 on the 2022 tour, drew 36 entrants to Brewlands North in Lakeland, FL.

The event started out with a double elimination bracket, which, being a 64-entrant bracket, featured four matches in the opening round of play and 28 byes. Three rounds later, when the bracket had narrowed to eight players, four on each side of the bracket, it became a single-elimination race to the finals.

Cuellar’s path to the winners’ circle, after being awarded one of the 28 byes, went through Angel Kotewa (1), Kimberly Housman (3) and Stephanie Mitchell (3), at which point, she became one of the final eight. Joining her among the four to emerge from the winners’ side of the bracket were Lisa Perez, Jeri Bouvette and Jessica Barnes. Facing those four from the loss side of the bracket were Helene Caukin (facing Barnes), Jessica Karamia Human (facing Cuellar) and the Seaver sisters; Vanessa, squaring off against Bouvette and Jeannie facing Perez.

Human, who’d been sent to the loss side in the final winners’ side round by Barnes, played only one match on the loss side, surviving a double hill match versus Kaylee McIntosh to join the final eight. Cuellar stopped Human’s bid right there, downing her 7-3 and advancing to the semifinals against Barnes, who’d defeated Caukin, double hill. 

Only one of the Seaver sisters survived the first single-elimination round and as it turned out, Lisa Perez faced them both. She faced Jeannie in that first round and battled her to double hill before advancing to meet Vanessa, who’d battled to double hill before defeating Bouvette to earn her spot in the semifinals against Perez.

Time constraints forced the semifinals and finals to be cut down to races to 5. Vanessa Seaver punched her ticket to the finals with a shutout over Perez. She was joined by Cuellar, who eliminated Barnes, double hill; a ‘heartbreaker,’ according to TD Mimi McAndrews, because in the deciding game, Barnes broke and hung the 9-ball in the teeth of the side pocket. Cuellar stepped to the table and though unable to work herself into shape for an easy combination on the 9-ball, ran the table to get it and advance to the finals. 

Cuellar completed her undefeated run with a 5-2 win over Vanessa Seaver. Having not competed in the TFT season opener back in January and finishing in the tie for 8th on the February stop, Cuellar was way down in the tour standings when she began her title quest at the third stop. Her victory moved her among the tour’s top 10, into 9th place on the list that now has Stephanie Mitchell at the top. Vanessa Seaver’s runner-up finish moved her into second place with Carrie Metz, Kaylee McIntosh and Jeannie Seaver behind her. Cuellar’s victory also netted her paid qualifier spot for the WPBA’s Soaring Masters event in July.

Tour director Mimi McAndrews thanked Larry Walthall and his staff at Brewlands for their hospitality, along with title sponsor Tiger Products, AZBilliards, Boynton Billiards, Andy Cloth, Eastern Billiards, Stitch-It-To-Me Embroidery and Brutal Game Gear. She also extended thanks to Josh Arnold and Stephanie Mitchell for their assistance with running the event. The next stop on the Tiger Florida Tour, scheduled for Saturday, July 16, will be hosted by Shooter’s Billiards in Port St. Lucie, FL.

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“Kwikfire” goes undefeated to win second straight WPBA title

Kelly Fisher

Fresh off her undefeated win two weeks ago at the WPBA’s Northern Lights Classic in Minnesota, where she faced Allison Fisher for the first time in a final match since 2016, Kelly Fisher came to the CSI/Predator US Pro Billiard Series’ Alfa Women’s Las Vegas Open, held this past weekend (March 31-April 3) and went undefeated a second time to capture her second straight WPBA title. Though Allison Fisher was, once again, ‘in the house,’ the two did not meet up at this latest event. Allison was eliminated in the opening round of the single-elimination final phase to which they’d both advanced. The event drew 64 entrants to the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas.

The event was divided into two phases; an opening, 64-entrant, double-elimination Phase 1, followed by a 16-entrant, single-elimination Phase 2 that eventually crowned Kelly as the champion. The format was best-two-out-of-three races to 4. If the competitors were tied after two matches, a “spot shootout’ followed to determine the winner.

Kelly, who was in a 16-player, Phase 1 bracket that included eventual runner-up, Brittany Bryant, advanced to be among the eight winners’ side entrants in Phase 2 without having to play a third match. She played a total of 27 games against three opponents in Phase 1 and gave up only three of them, downing Sarah Kapeller (4-0, 4-1), Ashley Burrows (4-0, 4-0) and Cathy Metzinger (4-1, 4-1). To join Kelly in advancement to Phase 2, Bryant, in the meantime, had to play 44 games and lost 18 of them. She got by Anna Riegler and junior competitor Savannah Easton, both 4-2, 4-2, before facing Jennifer Baretta, who won the opening set 2-4. Bryant came back to win the second set and the “spot shootout,” both double hill.

Angela Ticoalu got by Jeannie Seaver, Nicole Keeney and Woojin Lee with an aggregate score of 24-15 to qualify for Phase 2, as did Susan Williams from the same 16-entrant section of the opening bracket. Williams sent June Maiers, Vang Bui Xuan and Joanne Ashton to the loss side to join Ticoalu in the winners’ side advancement to Phase 2.

Allison Fisher chalked up an even more impressive Phase 1 than Kelly had. She, too, advanced to Phase 2 without having to play a third match against any of her three opponents, downing Susan Wilbur, Veronique Menard and Naomi Williams and giving up only two racks (to Menard, in their second race-to-4). Kyoko Sone joined Allison in advancement to Phase 2 from the same 16-entrant section of the opening bracket, downing Sandy Badger, 13-year-old junior competitor Sofia Mast and Amalia Matas Heredia.

Rounding out the field of eight winners’ side competitors to advance to Phase 2 were Jasmin Ouschan and Line Kjorsvik. Ouschan got by two of her opponents without having to play a “spot shootout” third match, downing Tamami Okuda 4-2, 4-1 and Beth Fondell 4-1, 4-2, before splitting her first two against Mary Tam 1-4, 4-3. Ouschan won the shootout 3-2 to advance. Kjorsvik did not play a third, tie-breaking “spot shootout” against any of her first three opponents either, joining Ouschan in advancement after defeating Gigi Callejas (4-1, 4-2), Camille Campbell (4-2, 4-0) and Melissa Helland (4-0, 4-1).

After five losers’ side rounds, Kaylee McIntosh, Woojin Lee, Angela Janic, Heather Cortez, Melissa Helland, Mary Tam, Amalia Matas Heredia and Ashley Burrows joined the eight winners’ side competitors in advancement to Phase 2, which in some ways, was notable for those left behind as much as for those who advanced. Among those who failed to make the cut were long-time WPBA veterans (in no particular order) Stephanie Mitchell, Teruko Cucculelli, Monica Webb, Jeannie Seaver, Liz Cole, Kim Newsome, Emily Duddy, Dawn Hopkins, Loree Jon Brown, Janet Atwell and Caroline Pao. It should also be noted that while both 13-year-old junior competitors, Sofia Mast and Skylar Hess, failed to advance, one (Mast) fell to an opponent (Angela Janic) who was among the final 16 and the other (Hess) was eliminated by someone (Cucculelli) who arguably should have been. It was the first appearance for these two extraordinarily talented and professionally-composed young women and WPBA competitors should be on notice that these two will be back and barring any unforeseen life changes, for many years to come.

The Final Four in this event competed in plenty of time for those so inclined to turn their attention to the NCAA Final Four, which got started well after the four ladies in Vegas got underway at about 2 p.m. on Saturday. It was an International Final Four, which was absent representation from the United States.  Kelly Fisher, representing the UK was matched up against Austria’s Jasmin Ouschan. Spain’s Amalia Matas Heredia, who, in February, chalked up her first win on the European Ladies’ Tour, faced Canada’s Brittany Bryant.

Kelly Fisher had kept her no-third-match streak going through the opening round against Heather Cortez, whom she defeated 4-1, 4-0 before drawing Angeline Ticoalu, who took the opening set against Fisher 4-2. Fisher came back to win the second set 4-1 and then, in something of a nail-biter, the “spot shootout” 6-5. Ouschan, who got by Kaylee McIntosh 4-0, 4-1 in the opening round of Phase 2 had her own nail-biter in the second round, where she won two straight double hill fights against Kyoko Sone to draw Kelly.

Advancing to the other semifinal, Bryant had played 24 games against two opponents, eliminating Woojin Lee 4-2, 4-1 and then Ashley Burrows 4-2, 4-3 to advance. Heredia proved to be Allison Fisher’s downfall in the opening round of Phase 2. Fisher took the opening set, double hill, but Heredia came back to win the second set and the “shootout,” double hill. Heredia went on to down Mary Tam 4-1, 4-3 to pick up Bryant.

Kelly Fisher downed Ouschan 4-2, 4-1 in their semifinal matchup. She was joined in the finals by Bryant, who’d defeated Heredia 4-2, 2-4 and 4-2 in the “shootout.” 

It’s not hard to imagine Fisher’s “I’ve got this,” and Bryant’s “Uh, oh, trouble right here in Sin City” when Fisher shut Bryant out in the opening set of the final. It’s also not hard to imagine the spectator’s rooting for Bryant in the second set when she and Kelly finished the 6th game, tied at 3 apiece. Fisher, though, completed her undefeated run by winning the second set to claim the event title.

Tour representatives thanked the ownership and staff at the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino, as well as sponsors and partners the WPBA, Alfa Coin, CueSports International, Predator Group, Kamui, Seybert’s, Medalla Light, Rums of Puerto Rico, BCA Pool League and the USA Pool League.

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