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Molina Ortiz Over Cole for NWPA Win

TD Chris Rogers, Maryann McConnell, Liz Cole, Molina Ortíz, room manager Tammy Culbertson and room owner Vic Albertson.

The 2022 Northwest Women’s Pool Association (NWPA) tour headed to Kennewick, Washington for Stop #2 at Player’s Sports Bar & Grill.

35 players traveled to eastern Washington to compete in this venue’s first Tour Stop. The game was alternate break 10-ball on 7 footers with a race of 6/6. Player turnout ranged from Oregon, Washington, Idaho and even drew British Columbians despite the distance. The tour continues to grow as we counted a few more new players at this stop.

Player’s Sports Bar & Grill proved to be an excellent venue. Room owner Vic Albertson graciously added $1,000 to the tour pot while manager Tammy and staff were very accommodating with setup and service. The players competed on 10 beautiful 7 ft diamonds with freshly cleaned Predator Arcos ballsets. John Scudder Diamond Table Sales was the tour’s livestream equipment sponsor.

Molina Ortíz picked up her second NWPA win in a thrilling final against fellow Portlander and multi-time tour champion Liz Cole. Ortíz came out strong on Day One. She went through the A side undefeated with a 6-1 win over Jeanne Christiansen, 6-0 against tour veteran Suzanne Smith and 6-1 over Andy Camping.

Liz Cole also made it through the first day unscathed. She started by winning 6-1 against Tammy Woollet, secured a tight 6-5 match against Regene Lane and ended with a strong 6-0 win over Celia Curry.

Vancouver WA’s Nicole Donisi stayed on the A side with 6-2 wins over both Joyce Robinson and Julie Fraser. Wapato’s Selena Polk proved stiffer competition with some impressive shotmaking, but Donisi moved on with a 6-5 win.

No stranger to tour stop wins, Tacoma’s Cindy Sliva made it to finals day with decisive 6-2 wins over both Elaine Eberly and Sheila Clark. Jessie Blayden of Puyallup, WA put up some resistance but Sliva prevailed 6-5 to join the others for Day 2.

Over on the B Side, Maryann McConnell of B.C. lost her first match to Idaho’s Sheila Clark. She was not deterred though, as she defeated Elaine Eberly 6-1, Donna Totten 6-1, Julie Fraser 6-1 and Celia Curry 6-3 to secure her Day 2 slot. Her fellow Canadian Kathie MacDonald had a similar path, losing 6-3 to Andy Camping in the first round but grinding out wins to make it through. She defeated Melinda Hoffman 6-3, Tammy Culberston 6-4, Regene Lane 6-5 and Selena Polk 6-1.

Andy Camping was knocked to the B side with a 6-1 loss to Ortíz but was able to defeat Sheila Clark 6-5 and move on. Jessie Blayden was downed 6-4 earlier by Cindy Sliva, but ground out a 6-4 win over Suzanne Smith to stay afloat into finals day.

Spectators at Players’ filtered in on Day 2 as the opening matches got started with Ortíz vs Donisi, Cole vs Sliva, Camping vs MacDonald and McConnell vs Blayden.

On the A side, Donisi and Ortíz started by exchanging racks. Ortíz attempted to gain the upper hand with safety play but Donisi hung on, kicking her way out and providing opportunities to secure herself another rack. However, Donisi wasn’t able to capitalize on further opportunities, giving away a few key racks. Ortíz’s composure and experience provided her a strong 6-2 win. Cole and Sliva met on the winners side as well and battled out a close match. Both players uncharacteristically hung a few game balls but it was Cole who prevailed with a 6-2 win.

Blayden had a gritty showing but was not able to stop seasoned player McConnell from a 6-2 win. Camping had beaten strong players the whole event but was eliminated by Kathie MacDonald, who worked her way to a 6-2 win, playing steady the whole way. Camping and Blayden finished 7-8th in the money.

Ortíz met Liz Cole next and was well warmed up on the stream table. Cole was not able to match Ortíz’s racks though she played well, and fell 6-3 to give Ortíz the hot seat. On the B side, Sliva lost to MacDonald in an excellent match with few mistakes. Playing strong the whole time, only one misstep by Sliva cost her two racks that made the difference. Donisi and McConnell matched up next and fought through several messy racks. However, McConnell had been picking up steam the whole tournament and found her groove. Donisi was eliminated in a 6-2 loss and finished 5/6th along with Sliva.

McConnell and MacDonald faced off next, but a few early 10s gave McConnell the advantage she needed to win 6-2 and leave MacDonald with 4th.

McConnell finally found resistance as Cole played an excellent match, leaving her few opportunities. Though she had won at their last WPBA meeting, this time it was Cole who handed her a 6-2 loss. McConnell finished 3rd and Cole moved on for a rematch with Ortíz.

A good crowd had gathered by now and the finalists provided an intense hill-hill battle for the audience. Both players exchanged racks early and were playing excellently. After a close match the whole way, one of Cole’s safeties went awry and Ortíz was able to gain a rack to make it 7-5. Cole was not done however and when Ortíz challenged her with the leave of a difficult cut shot table length down the rail, she nailed it. They exchanged a few more racks, bringing it to 8-8. The finals match was just one race to 9 and Ortíz broke the last rack well, running out the table for the win in an exciting match.

Robin Adams won the 2nd chance tournament, which had $200 additional added by the venue.
A big thank you to Player’s Sports Bar & Grill.

The next stop will be at Sam’s Billiards in Portland, OR on September 17th-18th. Watch a replay of the final on our youtube channel: “Northwest Women’s Pool Association.” Bracket & tour schedule can be found on our website at playnwpa.com.

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Ortiz goes undefeated to claim first 2022 title on Northwest Women’s Pool Association Tour

Chris Rogers (TD), Molina Ortiz and Stephanie Drakulic (Photo courtesy Sandro Menzel)

Youngest player to ever compete on NWPA Tour, 13-year-old Marissa Du, wins Second Chance 

Before this past weekend, the last time the women of the Northwest Women’s Pool Association (NWPA) gathered was this past December when they met for a tournament in Everett, WA to celebrate the tour’s 20th anniversary. It was the one and only stop of what could, only by default, be called a season; in effect, a combination season opener and finale. Prior to that event, they’d held their last stop, at the same location, in February, 2020, in what was the only stop of that season, thanks to the pandemic.

Though plans were afoot last December to get back into stroke for a 2022 season, those plans didn’t reach fruition until this past weekend, July 9-10, when they gathered once again, this time at Legends Billiards in Beaverton, OR, for the first of five events scheduled through December. Attended by competitors from four states (OR, WA, CA and ID) and one Canadian Province (BC), a show of hands yielded information that just a little under one-third of the entrants (15) were brand new players on the tour, including the winner, Molina Ortiz, who moved to Portland, OR two years ago from New York. Her FargoRate of 626 made her the highest-rated competitor in the third season-opening tournament in a row. In the finals, Ortiz downed the NWPA’s current President, Stephanie Drakulic, who was the tour’s runner-up to Liz Cole in standings for the two years prior to the unexpected hiatus. This past weekend’s $1,000-added event drew 47 entrants to Legends Billiards.

Ortiz and Drakulic met twice in this one; hot seat and finals. Though the tour’s two champions over the last five years were on hand – Liz Cole; ’20, ’19, ’18 and ’16 and Suzanne Smith; ’17 – Ortiz didn’t get the opportunity to compete against either of them. Smith was defeated in the opening round of play by Marian Poole, who advanced to meet Ortiz in the third round. Cole was sent to the loss side in the second round by Jeanne Christiansen, who was defeated in a winners’ side quarterfinal by Melissa Rushton, who advanced to meet Ortiz in one of the winners’ side semifinals. Drakulic experienced a kind of roller-coaster trip to the other winners’ side semifinal, winning her opener against Stephanie Lyon by shutout, her second-round match versus Andi Beebe, double hill and a 6-1 victory over Angele Silveira, to draw Kathie MacDonald in the other winners’ side semifinal.

Ortiz and Rushton battled to double hill before Ortiz advanced to the hot seat match. Drakulic downed MacDonald 6-4 to join her. Ortiz claimed the hot seat 6-3 and waited on Drakulic’s return from the semifinals.

On the loss side, Smith was working on a seven-match, loss-side winning streak that would end in the quarterfinals. She chalked up loss-side wins #5 and #6 against Donna Kingsbury 6-4 and Kat Guest 6-1 to draw Rushton. Cindy Sliva was working on a four-match, loss-side streak that had begun with the elimination of Liz Cole 6-4 in the third loss-side round and had recently eliminated Regene Lane and Jeanne Christiansen, both 6-1, to pick up MacDonald.

MacDonald stopped Sliva’s loss-side run 6-1 and, in the quarterfinals, faced Smith, who’d given up only a single rack to Rushton. Smith and MacDonald locked up in a double hill battle in those quarterfinals, eventually won by MacDonald, who advanced to her re-match against Drakunic in the semifinals.

Drakulic defeated MacDonald a second time, 6-3, to advance to her rematch against Ortiz in the finals. The final match came within a game of going double hill, but Ortiz edged out in front of Drakulic near the end to claim the NWPA’s first 2022 title.

As noted, 13-year-old Marissa Du from Seattle, won the event’s 12-entrant Second Chance tournament. Du is one of 16 girls competing in the 13 & Under Girls Division of the Junior International Championships’ second season. She traveled to Aiken, SC in March to compete in the third stop of that season, finishing in the tie for 5th/6th.

NWPA President Stephanie Drakulic and Tour director, Chris Rogers thanked Legends Billiards owner, Michelle Bean and its GM, Dave McDowell for their hospitality, as well as John Scudder, Diamond Pool Tables’ Northwest representative, for payment of the live-streaming equipment, instrumental in NWPA’s live-streaming of events on YouTube. Live stream information can be found at playnwpa.com/livestream. Sandro Menzel is the NWPA’s official photographer.

The next stop on the NWPA Tour, scheduled for the weekend of August 27-28, will be hosted by Players Pub & Grill in Kennewick, WA.

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Liu goes undefeated on 20th Anniversary celebration and season finale of NWPA Tour

Kim Jones, Jing Liu, Melissa Rushton and TD Chris Rogers

It was kind of a “hello/goodbye” situation.

On the weekend of Dec. 11-12, the North American Women’s Pool Association (NWPA) returned to the tables after a year-plus hiatus, courtesy of the pandemic. It returned with a new President – Stephanie Drakulic (née Hefner) – who, immediately upon recognizing that 2021 was actually the tour’s 20th anniversary (Sept., 2001), decided that the tour would celebrate that anniversary in style.

“I knew I wanted a kick-ass banquet with delicious food,” she wrote in a Facebook post of her thoughts when she ascended to the presidency of the tour in early 2020. “I wanted a big turnout. A HUGE celebration!”

“And then,” she added, “COVID hit and laughed at me for making plans.”

In June of this year, she detected a “shift,” as mask mandates were reduced and vaccination availability was widespread. Her desire for a 20th anniversary celebration had survived and she started making plans, which culminated in the Dec. 11-12, $550-added event that was, in effect, the only event of the year and thus, the season opener and finale, simultaneously. The event drew 33 entrants to Golden Fleece Billiards in Everett, WA. 

For the winner, it was kind of a “hello”/“I’m back” situation. Jing Liu went undefeated through the field, chalking up her first (recorded) win anywhere since she’d won the NWPA’s 5th Annual Martha Hartsell Memorial, back in April, 2015, downing Liz Cole in the finals. Half of Liu’s six opponents in the most recent event forced a single, deciding match against her, including the last one, when she and Melissa Rushton battled for the title.

Liu and Rushton advanced through the field to arrive at their winners’ side semifinal matches. Rushton, who’d just sent the aforementioned Liz Cole to the loss side, faced Nicole Donisi, while Liu squared off against the aforementioned new President of the NWPA, Stephanie Drakulic. 

Both matches for advancement to the hot seat match went double hill. Rushton played her first of two double hill matches in the event, sending Donisi to the loss side, while Liu played her second double hill match and sent Drakulic west. In their first of two, Liu claimed the hot seat 7-4 over Rushton and waited on her return.

On the loss side, Donisi picked up Suzanne Smith, who’d lost a winners’ side quarterfinal to Drakulic and then downed Tamre Rogers 6-2 and Andy Camping 6-3. Drakulic drew Cassie Francois, who’d lost her opening match to Rushton and was working on a six-match, loss-side winning streak that had recently eliminated Jo Woodward 6-4 and Kim Jones 6-3.

The potential Smith/Drakulic rematch did not happen. Smith got by Donisi 6-3, but Francois advanced one more step, downing Drakulic 6-4. Smith put an end to Francois’ loss-side trip 6-4 in the quarterfinals, only to have her own loss-side journey halted by Rushton 6-3 in the semifinals. Befitting the occasion, the “hello/goodbye” season opener and finale, along with the 20th anniversary of the tour ended with a double hill match, won by Liu to claim the title.

Drakulic and tour director Chris Rogers thanked the ownership and staff at Golden Fleece Billiards for their hospitality, as well as sponsors BCA Pool League’s Players Club Limited, Coava Coffee, OX Billiards, Robin Dreyer Billiards Instruction, Jam Up Apparel and Nicole Donisi Designs for her graphic arts work associated with an overhaul of NWPA designs for the tour’s flyers.

“Getting to compete alongside and with so many fantastic players is an honor and a privilege,” wrote President Drakulic on her Facebook page after the event. “Getting to be a part of this tour and help guide it and push it forward, is one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.”

“I love the NWPA,” she added, “and I love being a part of an organization with so much history and dedication to growing women’s pool.”

According to Drakulic, the full schedule of NWPA events for 2022 is still a work in progress. Check back with the AZBilliards calendar where that schedule will be posted as soon as it becomes available. Questions may be directed to NWPA’s e-mail account at playnwpa@gmail.com.

Stephanie Hefner Wins NAPT Division II Championship

Stephanie Hefner

A field of forty six of the top ladies in the country, representing seven different regional tours, made their way to Bullshooters in Phoenix, Arizona to compete in the North American Pool Tour’s Division II Championship on February 13th – 16th.
 
The event kicked off on Thursday with six round robin groups competing in seven rack matches. With the top four players from each group advancing based on total games won, players could not take any opponent lightly at any point in the match. 
 
After two days of play, the field was narrowed to just twenty four players. The top player from each group, as well as the top two runner-up finishers from round robin play, all earned first round byes, with the remaining sixteen “top four” finishers being forced to play first round matches. 
 
Home field advantage proved to be valuable coming out of the groups, with four of the eight byes earned by Arizona Woman’s Billiard Tour (AWBT) players. The pool gods proved fickle though, as three of those four players (Leandrea Gaff, Susan Williams and Jaye Succo) were all knocked to the one loss side after their first matches. Bernie Store was the only local player to win her first double elimination stage match. Store then went on to defeat the Northwest Women’s Pool Association (NWPA) tour’s Michelle Hughes to remain unbeaten going into Sunday. She was joined by the NWPA Tour’s Stephanie Hefner, Gigi Callejas (West Coast Women’s Tour) and Suzanne Smith (NWPA). 
 
On the one loss side, Hughes earned her place in Sunday play with a hill-hill win over Succo, and was joined by Williams, Marian Poole and a player who had clawed her way through the entire event, Bonnie Ogg from the West Coast Women’s Tour. 
 
Ogg’s play all weekend was noteworthy in that she escaped her group as the 4th player, and then lost her first match on Saturday to Suzanne Smith. Ogg then came within a rack of a “two and out” elimination, beating Khahn Ngo hill-hill on the one loss side Ogg’s last match on Saturday saw her trailing Ricki Casper 6-3, but she dug down and won four straight racks to earn her spot in Sunday play. 
 
Sunday play saw Hefner face off with Store. Store was the top ranked player in the event and Hefner knew she was going to be an obstacle that she had to overcome. She rose to the occasion and beat Store 7-5 to advance to the hot-seat match. “Going into this tournament, I really had ambition. I wanted to do well, and I knew she was going to be the toughest opponent. Not just because of her Fargo, but she’s the hometown girl. I’d never played her, so I didn’t know how we’d match up. It felt like an accomplishment getting through her, but I knew I couldn’t relax. “
 
Hefner then went on to hand Callejas a 7-3 loss to take the hot-seat, but she knew her job still wasn’t done as she headed to a practice table to stay sharp while waiting for an opponent. “I knew they would be fresh and I wanted to make sure that if I missed any balls, it wasn’t because I wasn’t in stroke.” she said. 
 
On the one loss side, Ogg continued her improbable run. A 7-3 win over group 4 winner Marian Poole was followed up by a 7-5 win over Store. Ogg’s next match was a true example of how brutal the pool gods can be. Ogg led Suzanne Smith 6-5, but left herself a tough 9-ball in the twelfth, that required the mechanical bridge. She missed that shot, allowing Smith to tie things at 6-6. Smith quickly took control of the final rack and ran to the 9 with textbook pattern play. She took her timeout and gathered herself to make the final 9-ball. That might have taken her out of her rhythm though, as she missed the 9-ball and left the match for Ogg to cleanup. Ogg had a much easier time with Callejas in the semi-final match, breaking a 3-3 tie to win 7-3.
 
The final match looked to be “advantage Hefner” on paper, as she eclipsed Ogg’s 508 Fargo rating by nearly 50 points, and Ogg would have to beat Hefner twice. Ogg had momentum though, and obviously wasn’t going to just give up. The turning point of the match appeared to happen with Hefner leading 4-2. Both players were caught up in a safety battle on the 8-ball, when Hefner took on a bank shot that would have made a one pocket player proud. She banked in the 8 and then banked the 9-ball into the same hole … left handed. “I almost played the same safe back, but I thought it was two way. Even if I rattled the eight, she might not get back for the nine so I just decided ‘screw it’ and went for it. I was a little less confident taking the shot left handed, but sometimes when I’m in it, the banks just happen and I don’t think about it.“ Ogg would fight back to get within one at 5-4, but it was Hefner who then won the last two racks for the 7-4 win. 
 
Hefner took the trophy, and $1400 in prize money, back to Oregon. Ogg settled for $1000 in prize money and the knowledge that her Fargo ratings is due for a major increase. 

Sykes from the JPNEWT wins first major at NAPT Division II Championships in Phoenix

Bethany Sykes (photo courtesy of NAPT – Playnapt.com)

Prior to her start and victory at the $5,000-added North American Pool Tour’s 3rd Annual Division II Championships, held from February 21-24 at Bullshooters in Phoenix, AZ, Bethany Sykes had only one major victory on her brief, two-year, four-event, cash payout resume; two of those payouts were earned on the J. Pechauer Northeast Womens’ Tour (JPNEWT) and two, including the only victory, came on the Action Pool Tour (APT), where, this past November, she won the Virginia State Ladies 8-Ball Championships. It should be noted that the Ladies’ VA State 8-Ball event featured a field of only five entrants, although as they say, a win is a win is a win. For Sykes, though, the NAPT Div. II Championships were her “first big tournament” and the win was like gravy on a main meal of just being thrilled to be there and the four-day joy of participation.
 
“It was an incredible feeling,” she said of her first impressions, “just to be there with that many women in the room (64 entrants).”
 
“It was an awesome experience,” she went on to say, noting that it was her first time playing in a round robin event, and the first time she’d ever had to deal with a shot clock. “I found that the 30 seconds gave me no time for indecision about what could go wrong. There was no thinking about anything but the shot.”
 
As her resume indicates, she’s only been playing the sport competitively for the past couple of years, although she says she’s been in love with the game since she was about nine years old. She got her first cue when she was 16 and now, at 31, she’s crossed a big threshold and won her first major tournament. Her appearances on the JPNEWT and APT over the last year or two helped her to identify and improve some of the basics to which she had not been exposed previously.
 
“I never knew where to put my feet,” she said of her early attempts to develop a stance. “I got a lesson from Karen Corr about five months ago, and she told me where to put my feet.”
 
With her feet sorted out, Sykes joined 63 other women from seven regional ladies pool tours at these Division II Championships; six from the United States and four women from a ladies tour out of Quebec. The most heavily represented tour among the seven was the Texas-based Jerry Olivier Pool Tour (JO), with 14 entrants, about 22% of the field. The Northwest Women’s Pool Association (NWPA) was next with 12, followed by the ‘hometown’ Arizona Women’s Billiards Tour (AWBT), which had 11. The West Coast Women’s Tour (WCWT) sent 9. The JPNEWT contributed 8 (including Sykes), the North Central Pool Tour (NCPT) checked in with 6, while  four women represented the ‘Circuit de Billard Feminine du Quebec.’
 
They broke up into eight round robin flights of eight players each, beginning on Thursday, February 21. Sykes, in Group Two, representing the JPNEWT, was paired with a primarily West Coast field; Cassie Francois and Elaine Eberly from the NWPA, Ginger Bowen from the WCWT, Jaye Succo and Leandra Gaff from the AWBT, Tam Trinh from the JO and Marilou Therrien from the Canadian league.
 
Sykes opened her campaign at 10:30 a.m. on Thursday morning with a 5-2 win over Francois. In round two, she got by Eberly 4-2 and then, in the final match of the opening day, she survived a double hill fight (4-3) against Trinh, which would prove to be highly significant later. As measured by total games won, she was the ‘flight’ leader at the end of that first day, with 13 games won. Gaff, Trinh and Therrien were second with 12 each.
 
Day two didn’t start out as well. Succo defeated her 5-2. Though Gaff and Therrien had been defeated, as well in the fourth round, Trinh downed Bowen 5-2, putting her out in front (by game points) 17-15.
 
“In that morning match (on the second day),” said Sykes, “(Succo) came out on fire. And from being ahead by one, I was all of a sudden behind by two games.”
 
Sykes survived a double hill (4-3) battle against Therrien in round 5, as Trinh lengthened her game lead by one more, with a 5-2 defeat of Eberly. With the game score between them now at 22-19, in favor of Trinh, they both chalked up 5-2 wins; Sykes over Bowen and Trinh over Succo. The game score between Sykes and Trinh was now at 27-24, with a single match to play.
 
Since the top four in each flight would advance to a 32-player, double elimination bracket, Sykes’ advancement at that point, short of being shut out or winning only a single game in the final match, was pretty much assured. Sykes sealed the deal with a 6-1 victory over Gaff that left her with 30 total wins. When Trinh fell to Francois 5-2 in that final round, she ended up with 29 total wins, allowing Sykes, by a single win (reflected in their earlier match), to enter the double elimination phase as the winner of her individual flight.
 
Heather Cortez, from the AWBT, with 37 total wins in her round robin flight was the top winner in her flight as well as the overall winner of the round robin phase of the event. Other top winners from the individual round robin flights were Michelle Cortez, from the Jerry Olivier Tour, in second place overall with 36 total wins. Susan Williams, with 35, from the AWBT was third. Suzanne Smith, from the NWPA, was fourth with 34, Natalie Chabot (from Canada) and Sykes’ eventual opponent in the hot seat and finals, Kim Pierce from the JO, were tied for fifth with 33 wins each. Yang Liu from the West Coast Women’s Tour was sixth with 31 total wins. Though she’d enter the double elimination phase of the event as the winner of her flight, Sykes was last among the individual flight winners advancing to the final two days of the event. Advancement to the double elimination rounds guaranteed all 32 participants at least of the share of the total $11,400 prize package.
 
“The Round Robin was so scary,” she said. “Every single game mattered. I grew from the experience, though. That Round Robin hardened me.”
 
Seven down, seven to go.
 
Over the next two days, Sykes played seven more matches; four on the winners’ side, one on the loss side, and two in the double elimination final. None were against the opponents she’d faced in her own round robin flight, one was against the overall winner of the round robin phase of the event (Heather Cortez) and three were against Pierce.
 
To get into their first match together, Sykes and Pierce would eventually, in the two winners’ side semifinals, have to get by two AWBT opponents. Sykes opened her winners’ side campaign on Saturday morning, February 23, against Gigi Callejas from the West Coast Women’s Tour, downing her 7-3. She followed that with victories over Jennifer Kraber (JO) 7-3 and then, defeated the overall round robin winner, AWBT’s Heather Cortez 7-4, to arrive at a winners’ side semifinal match against a formidably more experienced opponent, another AWBT entrant, Bernie Store. Pierce, in the meantime, had defeated Nicole Donisi from the NWPA 7-3, both Janna Nelson (7-5) and Khanh Ngo (7-3) from the West Coast Women’s Tour and arrived at her winners’ side semifinal match against yet another AWBT entrant, Susan Williams.
 
Sykes and Pierce got into the hot seat match with identical 7-5 wins over Store and Williams. In their first of three, Pierce claimed the hot seat in a double hill match.
 
“I got on the hill and things just fell apart,” said Sykes of that hot seat match, “and I couldn’t get it back together.”
 
On the loss side, Store picked up Ngo, who, following her defeat at the hands of Pierce, had defeated Stephanie Hefner 7-2, and survived a double hill match against Michelle Cortez. Williams drew Heather Cortez, who, following her defeat at the hands of Sykes, had shut out Kelly Jones and eliminated Tam Trinh 7-5.
 
Heather Cortez and Williams locked up in a double hill fight that eventually advanced Cortez to the quarterfinals. She was joined by Ngo, who’d defeated Store 7-4. Cortez and Ngo had faced each other on the opening day of the round robin matches, with Cortez winning that battle 5-2. This time, in the quarterfinals, it was Ngo who came out on top, winning it 7-5.
 
Sykes, though, having so unexpectedly, but joyfully arrived at this spot in her “first big tournament” was in no mood to let it go. She downed Ngo 7-2 in those semifinals and turned for a second and, necessary in a double elimination format, third shot at Pierce in the hot seat. They locked up in their second straight double hill battle in the opening set, but this time, it was Sykes coming out of it with the win. She completed her 12-2 run with a decisive 7-2 win over Pierce in the second set.
 
“People tell me I have no sense of tension,” said Sykes. “I always feel as though I’m in the right place at the right time. That was what made the whole thing exciting.”
 
“I went out there to get into the top four,” she added. “That was my goal as soon as I read about the tour. This was my first opportunity to get to that level and I spent the week before, imagining what it would be like; thinking of how I’d be telling my Dad about it afterwards.”
 
Exactly one week later, on the first weekend in March, Sykes rejoined her JPNEWT comrades, competing on the tour’s season opener at Triple Nines in Elkridge, MD. In a field of 22, Sykes had the misfortune of running into tour director Linda Shea, who defeated her in the opening round. She’d win two on the loss side before finishing in the tie for 9th place when she was defeated by Sharon O’Hanlon.
 
And so it goes, in the world of the emerging amateur into the world of the best in pool. Up one day, down the next. She remains somewhat in awe of her “first big tournament” win and is looking ahead at better things to come. She expects, looking ahead to competing at the Super Billiards Expo’s Women’s Pro 9-Ball event, her first shot at the Pro level, to continue improving. She is also keenly aware that pool careers, like the tournaments along the way, can be a relentless series of hills and valleys.
 
“My goal,” she said, “is to make the gaps between them smaller and smaller.”
 
“I expect to be playing with the best of them,” she said of her hopes for the next five years. “I have no aspirations of anything in particular, just to be playing at that level.”

Smith goes undefeated to take NWPA stop #4 in Tacoma, WA

Clark Smith (owner of Malarkey’s), Kim Jones, Suzanne Smith and Ford

Suzanne Smith went undefeated to win the fourth stop on the Northwest Women's Pool Association Tour on the weekend of June 24-25. She had to get by Kim Jones twice to win it; once in a winners' side semifinal and again, in the finals. The $500-added, 10-Ball event drew 17 entrants to Malarkey's Pool & Brew in Tacoma, WA.
 
After an opening round bye, Smith downed Alicia Kvaanika 7-1 and Stephanie Hefner, double hill, to draw Jones in the winners' side semifinal. Cassie Francois, in the meantime, having defeated Clara Silvas and Andy Ruth, both 7-4, drew Teri Klyzek in the other winners' side semifinal. Smith sent Jones to the loss side 7-5, and in the hot seat match, faced Francois, who'd sent Klyzek to the loss side 7-2. Smith gave up only a single rack to claim the hot seat over Francois, and waited on the return of Jones.
 
On the loss side, Jones began her trek back to the finals against Ruth, who'd defeated Elaine Eberly 6-2 and Jing Liu 6-1 to reach her. Klyzek picked up Sarah Myer-Mitchell, who'd eliminated Hefner and Silvas, both 6-2, to reach her.
 
Jones and Myer-Mitchell advanced to the quarterfinals; Jones 7-2 over Ruth and Myer-Mitchell 7-3 over Klyzek. Jones won the quarterfinal match 7-3 over Myer-Mitchell and shut out Francois in the semifinals for a second shot against Smith.
 
In their second match, a race to 9 in the finals, Smith and Jones battled back and forth to a 6-6 tie before Smith jumped ahead by two to reach the hill first. Jones chalked up a seventh rack, but Smith closed it out at 9-7 to claim the title, and earn the North American Pool Tour qualification that came with the top prize money.

Cole returns NWPA Stop #1 favor, defeating Jones to claim Stop #2

Liz Cole (Courtesy of Sandro Menzel)

It was the same finalists, with a reverse result. For the second time on the 2017 Northwest Women's Pool Association (NWPA) Tour, Liz Cole and Kim Jones battled it out for a title. On Stop #1 in February, Jones downed Cole in the finals. On the weekend of April 29-30, at Stop #2, the $750-added Martha Hartsell Memorial Tournament, that drew 36 entrants to The Cue Ball in Salem, OR, Cole bested Jones in the final to complete an undefeated run. Selected matches were streamed live throughout the weekend by Rail2Rail Productions. 
 
In addition to the repeat performance in the finals, the event featured the return of Canadian Jana Montour, a former regular on the tour, who took about three years off from competitive pool to pursue further education. A mother of five, ranging in age from nine to 26, Montour decided that she needed time away from being a housewife, and traveled down from Canada to sign on to the NWPA's second tour stop in Salem, OR. In spite of the years off, she took fourth in the event, and said she was looking forward to getting back into the sport on a more regular basis.
 
Following victories over Alicia Kvaanika, Patricia Tipton, and Marian Poole (with an aggregate score of 21-9), Montour squared off against Jones (28-13 at that point) in a winners' side semifinal. In the meantime, Cole (21-8), squared off against Stephanie Hefner (21-10). Those four would finish first through fourth at the end. Cole and Hefner locked up in a double hill fight that eventually sent Cole to the hot seat match. She was joined by Jones, who'd defeated Montour 7-4. Cole took the first of her two against Jones 7-4.
 
On the loss side, Montour picked up Cindy Doty, who'd downed Rebecca Sivter and Natasha Hook 6-4 to reach her. Hefner drew Suzanne Smith, who'd defeated Fran Johnson 6-2, and Valerie Franiel 6-4. Hefner got by Smith 6-2, and, in the quarterfinals, faced Montour, who'd eliminated Doty 6-2.
 
Hefner ended Montour's return to the tables 6-4 in those quarterfinals, before being herself eliminated by Jones, double hill in the semifinals. Though Jones would come within a single shot at the 9-ball from forcing a deciding game, Cole completed her undefeated run with a 9-7 victory over Jones in the final.
 

Kirk come back from semifinals to defeat Cole and win third stop on the NWPA Tour

Kimberly Kirk-Lengel has been playing on the Northwest Women's Pool Association (NWPA) tour for nearly 15 years now, and on the weekend of May 14-15, she chalked up her third overall tour victory and her second within the past year. She's been working her way up the 'finish' ladder since the 2016 tour began, back in February. She was third on the first stop, second on the second, and now, has added a victory which puts her at the top of the NWPA rankings list, 165 points ahead of Suzanne Smith, and 325 points ahead of the woman she defeated in the finals of the most recent stop, Liz Cole. The $500-added event drew a short field of 16 entrants to Ballad Town Billiards in Forest Grove, OR.
 
After being awarded an opening round bye, Kirk defeated Teri Klyzek 7-5, and Kirsten Fery 7-4,which set her up in a winners' side semifinal against Rebecca Slyter. Liz Cole, in the meantime, got by Elaine Eberly 7-3, and Ricci Jeanbart 7-2 to draw Stephanie Hefner in the other winners' side semifinal. Kirk sent Slyter to the loss side 7-3, as Cole was sending Hefner over by the same score. Cole claimed the hot seat over Kirk 7-3, as well.
 
On the loss side, Hefner picked up Patrician Tipton, who'd eliminated Helen Wragg 6-4 and Elaine Eberly, double hill. Slyter drew Melyssa Chasteen, who, following a defeat at the hands of Hefner, downed Fran Johnson 6-1 and Teri Klyzek 6-2.
 
Hefner advanced to the quarterfinals 6-2 over Tipton, and was joined by Chasteen, who took a forfeit win over Slyter. Chasteen and Hefner locked up in a double hill, quarterfinal re-match  that eventually sent Chasteen to the semifinals versus Kirk. A 7-4 win in those semifinals sent Kirk back for a second shot at Cole.
 
Kirk took full advantage of the second opportunity. She and Cole battled to double hill before Kirk sunk the final 9-ball to claim the event title.

Cole comes from the loss side to win second stop on NWPA Tour

Liz Cole (Courtesy of Sandro Menzel)

Liz Cole came back from a defeat in a winners' side semifinal to meet and defeat hot seat occupant, Kimberly Kirk, during the second stop on the 2016 Northwest Women's Pool Association Tour. The $500-added event drew 27 entrants to The Cue Bar in Salem, OR.
 
Cole, following victories over Linda Smith, Claire Binci and Rebecca Slyter, faced Mary Coffman in one winners' side semifinal, while Suzanne Smith, winner of the first tour stop in February, met up with Kirk in the other. In a double hill match, Coffman sent Cole to the loss side, as Kirk downed Smith 7-3. Kirk and Coffman locked up in another double hill battle,which eventually sent Coffman to a semifinal re-match against Cole.
 
On the loss side, Cole and Smith, Kirsten Fery and Patricia Tipton, respectively. A four-match, loss-side run, including victories over Melyssa Chasteen (6-5) and Stephanie Hefner (6-4), set Fery up to face Cole. Tipton, who'd been defeated in the event's opening round by Claire Binci, was on a six-match, loss-side run of her own that saw opponents chalk up an average of only two racks against her. She eliminated Elaine Eberly 6-3 and Rebecca Slyter 6-2 to draw Smith. 
 
Tipton took it a step further with a 6-4 win over Smith, as Cole was eliminating Fery 6-4. Cole took the quarterfinal match that followed, 6-2 over Tipton, to earn a re-match against Coffman in the semifinals.
 
A 6-4, successful re-match victory by Cole over Coffman gave Cole a shot at Kirk in the hot seat. Cole completed her comeback from the loss side with a 7-3 win over Kirk and claimed the event title.

Suzanne Smith defends her title – Washington State 9 Ball Championships

Cindy Sliva and Suzanne Smith (Photo courtesy of Sandro Menzel)

On March February 27-28th – the NWPA’s first tour stop of the 2016 season, the Washington State 9 Ball Championships, was hosted by Malarkey’s Pool & Brew in Tacoma, WA.  The tournament was ran on 9 9-foot Gold Crowns with Rail2Rail Productions providing a free live stream all weekend. The NWPA tour standings and 2016 schedule are available at www.nwpatour.com and is sanctioned by the newly formed North American Pool Tour. New tour sponsors include mzTam.com, who donated 5 goody bags to the NWPA player rewards program, and Dave Jones, who will be donating a custom cue towards increasing player payouts. Get in touch with your favorite NWPA ladies to learn more about purchasing raffle tickets as details are finalized.
 
Twenty-three ladies came out to compete Saturday morning. There was one new player to the tour, Miranda Sellman from Oregon originally, but now residing in Gig Harbor, WA. The tournament was ran on 9 9-foot Brunswick Gold Crowns. The format was a race to 7, alternating break, 9 ball, with a race to 6 on the B side. The main event was $500 added and a second chance tournament was held on Sunday for players who did not make it into the money rounds.
 
Sunday morning, eight players remained. A side match ups included Cindy Sliva vs. Kira North and Julie Suzanne Smith vs. Tricia Heintz. Cindy and Suzanne both advanced through their morning matches, 7-0 and 7-4. Cindy and Suzanne then squared off in the hot seat match. Suzanne advanced by the score 7-5 to earn her spot in the final. B side match ups included Kimberly Kirk vs. Clara Silvas and Deby Welfringer vs. Jeanne Christensen. Kimberly and Deby advanced through their first round of play 6-4 and 6-2, earning a shot at Tricia and Kira. Kimberly and Deby both continued on the B side, defeating their opponents 6-3 and 6-2. Kimberly then squared off against Deby. Kimberly advanced by the narrowest of margins (6-5) to play Cindy in the semifinals. Both players battled, taking that match to the hill as well, where Cindy ended up winning the final rack to earn a rematch against Suzanne.
 
Suzanne Smith path to final: Melissa D. (3), Andy R. (2), Jeanne C. (3), Tricia H. (4), Cindy S (5)
Cindy Sliva path to final: Bye, Adrianne B. (1), Kimberly K. (3), Kira N. (0), loss to Suzanne S. (7-5), Kimberly K. (5)
 
The final was one race to 9, alternating break. During the early racks, both players tried to find their groove, exchanging racks, with Suzanne then taking a two game lead at 4-2. Suzanne then turned it up a notch and closed out each of the following racks, to make it 7-2 with a break and run. Cindy answered with a break and run of her own to make it 7-3. Suzanne responded breaking and running her second rack of the finals to reach the hill. At 8-3, Suzanne faltered, made some critical errors, including a miss on what could have been her winning 9 ball. At 8-7, Cindy appeared to be running out to tie the set at 8-8, when she got funny on the 7 ball. She pocketed the 7, but left herself long on the 8, which she missed. Suzanne was able to close out the rack and win the event with the final score of 9-7. Congratulations to Suzanne for winning the event and to Cindy for a great event as well.
 
Great tournament ladies!  The NWPA’s next event is the 5th Annual Martha Hartsell Memorial and will be hosted at The Cue Ball in Salem, OR on April 23-24, 2016.  
 
Six ladies returned on Sunday for the $100 added Second Chance tournament. With the low turnout, there was no entry fee and players got lots of table time, playing a round robin, best of 5 games against each of the other players. Patricia and Anna ended up tied for first with 17 wins, however Patricia took top prize, since she had defeated Anna earlier 3-2. Newcomer Miranda Sellman wasn’t far behind in 3rd place with 15 wins. Nice job ladies!
 
Second Chance Results
1st Patricia Tipton $50
2nd Anna Busley $30
3rd Miranda Sellman $20