Archive Page

Fisher downs Baretta twice to win first WPBA Virtual 9-Ball Ghost Challenge

There was reportedly very little trouble finding members of the Women’s Professional Billiards Association (WPBA) who were anxious to play some competitive pool with each other, albeit from the comfort of their own home and/or pool room. Based on an idea brought up by Dawn Hopkins, Angela Janic, a relatively new member of the WPBA, volunteered to organize and coordinate the organization’s first (and definitely not the last) Virtual 9-Ball Ghost Challenge during the week of May 10-16. While so-called ‘ghost’ matches and isolated streaming events have been cropping up on the Internet since the restrictions brought on by the pandemic began, this was something relatively new; a 16-entrant, double elimination tournament with prize money that pitted players from around the globe against each other, playing against the ‘ghost,’ a ‘player’ normally only encountered in practice, when a player is alone.

From her home pool room in Dumfries, Scotland, Kelly Fisher went undefeated through the field and downed Jennifer Baretta, playing from her pool room in Brooklyn, NY (Skyline Billiards), twice; once, battling for the hot seat and again, in the finals. Talking to both players, it was apparent that winning or losing wasn’t among the things that resonated in their minds about playing in the tournament.

“It was really good fun,” said Fisher. “I really enjoyed it.”

Baretta had played some ‘ghost’ matches in a recent USA vs. Europe matchup and found the experience to be “kind of nerve wracking.”

“But now,” she said, “I want to play more of them.”

“In practice, I play the ghost all the time,” she added. “I play a race to 7, but I play so that if I miss, I have to kick and/or bank (subsequent balls).”

This WPBA event was based on playing 10 racks, per player, per match. Players were allowed to begin shooting after their break with ball-in-hand. Essentially, each ball was worth one point, though if you ran the rack, you’d get an extra point for 10 points total, available per rack. There were 15 points available for a rack if you chose not to take advantage of ball-in-hand after the break. A number of the 30 matches ended before one of the competitors had completed the 10 racks, because one player had scored enough points to make ‘catching’ that player impossible.

Fisher’s path to the winners’ circle ran through Lonnie Fox-Raymond and April Larson, before coming up against Monica Webb in one of the winners’ side semifinals. Baretta downed Eugenia Gyftopoulos and Canada’s Suzanne Peters to arrive at her winners’ side semifinal against Dawn Hopkins.

With Allison Fisher and LoreeJon Hasson commentating on the live stream, Kelly Fisher defeated Webb 104-70. Baretta sent Hopkins to the loss side 83-69. In the hot seat match that followed, Fisher chalked up the event’s highest score of 120, when she ran all 10 racks, four of them which she ran without benefit of ball-in-hand at the start.

Upon her arrival on the loss side of the bracket, Dawn Hopkins picked up an immediate rematch against Mary Rakin Tam, whom she’d defeated in the opening round and who was working on a three-match, loss-side winning streak during which she’d eliminated Cheryl Baglin, April Larson and one of the event’s significant organizers, Angela Janic. Webb drew Line Kjorsvik, who’d lost her opening round match to April Larson and was also working on a three-match, loss-side winning streak that had eliminated Lonnie Fox-Raymond, Ewa Mataya Laurance and Suzanne Peters.

Rakin Tam and Kjorsvik advanced to the first money round, the quarterfinals. Tam defeated Hopkins 74-60, as Kjorsvik downed Webb 79-58. Kjorsvik then eliminated Tam 90-75.

The semifinals of this event – Kjorsvik versus Baretta – had a way of demonstrating the best that this particular format had to offer viewers. At the end of their 9th rack, the two were separated by a single point; Baretta ahead by one at 74-73. Baretta refused the ball-in-hand option after her break of the final rack, looking to chalk up 15 points instead of just 10. Unfortunately, she only added three balls to her score; missing the fourth ball and finishing her 10 racks with a score of 77. All Kjorsvik had to do was sink five balls. With two of the five down, she found herself hooked and forced to make a jump shot, which she missed to finish at 74.

In the finals that followed, with the racks-necessary extended to 13, and Jeremy Jones in the streaming ‘booth,’ commentating, Baretta was ahead by seven points after four racks, 45-38. Though Baretta would extend her lead by opting out of ball-in-hand in the 5th rack and running the table to hit 60 points, while Fisher had her 5th rack stopped at 6 balls, the tables started to turn, as Fisher started to pick up speed, reminding everyone of her “KwikFire” nickname.

They would both run racks #6 & 7 without ball-in-hand, leaving Baretta out in front by 16 (80-64). Fisher would go on to opt out of ball-in-hand for racks # 8, 9, 10 & 11 and ran all four, leaving her at 124 when she was through. Baretta, now working two racks behind Fisher, picked up only three in rack #8, and though she ran racks #9 & 10, she was, for the first time since her fourth rack, no longer in the lead, but behind Fisher by six at 109-103.

Fisher closed out her run with two break and runs, opting for ball-in-hand in both to finish her 10 racks with 144 points. In order to defeat Fisher, Baretta, at the time, was preparing to break her 11th rack and would have had to play all three of her last racks without ball in hand. Two without and one with ball in hand (assuming she ran the table) would have left her one point shy of Fisher’s 144 total. Baretta missed a shot in the 11th rack and conceded the victory, punctuating the concession by going down on her knees and bowing. Fisher extended a hand to shake and all smiles, the two of them traded an across-the-ocean-via-Internet handshake.

In some ways, the entire event, to include how quickly it came together and successfully it occurred came as a bit of surprise. Angela Janic thanked particularly Jennifer Hamilton for her work on the live stream, noting that Hamilton had “kept us all organized and just did a fantastic job.”

“Thanks, too,” Janic added,” to everybody on the WPBA, the board and all the players. I had just sent messages out and asked people for help and everybody just jumped in and said yes. I’d read names but there are just too many of them.”

According to Janic, another edition of the WPBA’s Virtual 9-Ball Ghost Challenge will occur on Memorial Day weekend (May 31-June 6) and while no names have been confirmed for participation, she expects another field of 16.

“Nothing’s going to change much,” she said of the upcoming event. “It’ll probably get a little easier.”

After the imaginary handshake, and Janic thanking her for her participation, Fisher added her thanks to all those who’d been involved.

“It was such short notice and it happened so quickly,” said Fisher. “You did an absolute fantastic job putting it together and running it smoothly.”

“It was great for the sport and great for the WPBA,” she added. “Thank you very much for doing this for us.”

Cucculelli Upsets Fisher at WPBA Dr Pool Classic

Teruko Cucculelli (Photo courtesy of Erwin Dionisio)

With an 8-5 win over #1 ranked Allison Fisher, Teruko Cucculelli is through to the final eight on the winner’s side at the WPBA Aramith / Dr Pool Classic. 
 
Cucculelli, hailing from Lancaster Ohio, had wins over Suzanne Peters and Jenna Bishoff to get her day started, but those paled in comparison to her win over Fisher. 
 
“I’m elated to have beat the #1 ranked player on tour. I felt very fortunate to capitalize on the opportunities that were given to me. Allison is a true champion and, although i had won the match, she had kind words of encouragement.” said Cucculelli after the match. 
 
Cucculelli will face #8 ranked Jia Li Saturday, while Fisher will wait for the winner between Laura Smith and Maureen Seto on Saturday. Cucculelli and Li are joined on the winner’s side by Jasmin Ouschan, Dawn Hopkins, Brittany Bryant, Taiwan’s Wei Tzu Chien, Jennifer Barretta and Kelly Fisher
 
The WPBA Aramith / Dr Pool Classic is being held at the Central Wisconsin Convention and Expo Center in Rothschild, Wisconsin. Online bracket coverage is available at compusport.us and online streaming of select matches is available at the WPBA’s Youtube page at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCz3nECcig-zgKYfFvkS15hQ

Corr Wins Rivers Casino Open

Karen Corr and Si Ming Chen

Karen Corr defeated Siming Chen in a heart-pounding, sudden death finale, capping off a four-day competition featuring the top 48-ranked pros of the Women’s Professional Billiard Association. The event ran April 19th-23rd, bringing back the final four players for Sunday’s performance. Brittany Bryant (Canada) and Line Kjorsvik (Norway) also made the cut, tying for third place.
 
The 2017 Rivers Casino Open, held April 19th-23rd, proved very exciting for the spectators in attendance and those who tuned in via the WPBA live stream. With the click of a mouse, fans could tune in to live matches on any one of six tournament tables, which included live scoring updates.
 
The Charity Pro-Am kicked off Wednesday afternoon, with 8 teams, each team paired with a Pro. After three fast and furious rounds of play, it was determined that “Team Brittany Bryant” and “Team Monica Webb” scored the most game wins in each round, and would face each other in a head-to-head final. Team Webb overcame Team Bryant for the win, and a great time was had by all participants! There was also a “Challenge the Pro” session with all proceeds going to charity. Top ranked players took on all comers, offering their fans not only an opportunity to play their favorite pros, but a chance to autograph billiard memorabilia and snap photographs.
 
Thursday morning began the trek to Sunday’s semi-finals. Chen claimed the first semi spot with wins over Kristina Grim, 9-3, Naomi Williams, 9-0, Helena Thornfeldt, 9-3, and Line Kjorsvik, 9-4. The second semi spot was claimed by Karen Corr, with wins over Julie Kelly, 9-6, Jessica Barnes, 9-6, Janet Atwell, 9-6, Monica Webb, 9-7, and Brittany Bryant, 9-3. Challengers were grinding it out on the west side of the chart, hoping to make Sunday’s show. Brittany Bryant bested Kelly Cavanaugh, 9-4, Robin Parker, 9-1, and Jennifer Barretta, 9-7, before losing to Corr. Bryant went on to beat Julie Kelly, 9-6, for an opportunity to face Chen in the first semi-final. The 2017 WPBA Masters Champion and new number one ranked WPBA player, Line Kjorsvik, beat Suzanne Peters, 9-6, Teruko Cucculelli, 9-3, and Sandy Badger, 9-3, but fell to Chen. From the one-loss side, Line went on to eliminate Monica Webb, 9-6, earning herself a shot at Corr in the second semi-final. Chen overcame Bryant both sets, 4-1 and 4-2, to reach the finals. Corr experienced another sudden death match with Line, but this time, she prevailed. Corr won the first set 4-1, and Line answered back, taking the second set, 4-1. Corr responded, winning the sudden death game to face Chen in the finals.
 
Siming played lights out all week, with a stable of opponents who could score no more than four games against her. In the first set, she cruised to a 4-0, but Karen fought back and won the second set, 4-3. Even on sets, players lagged for the break in the sudden death decider. Corr won the lag, broke, and made a ball on the break. Siming never made it back to the table. Corr made a nerve-racking out, flirting with the side pocket while playing position from the 6-ball to the 7-ball. The crowd watched and gasped in horror as the cue ball settled on the rail with perfect shape on the 7-ball. In true, champion form, Corr completed the run, earning herself a brand new title, 2017 Rivers Casino Open Champion!
 
The WPBA would like to thank its sponsors for this event, Rivers Casino and their staff who provided a fabulous venue and outstanding service, Diamond Pool Tables who provided the playing equipment and set-up for the event, Simonis Cloth who provided the cloth for the playing surface, and Aramith Pool Balls who supplied the brand new balls sets. Thanks go out to Dave Jacoby for building the WPBA 40th Anniversary Custom Cue for which raffles tickets were sold during the week, and given away on Sunday.
 
For more information about the Women’s Professional Billiards Association, please visit www.WPBA.com.