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Madsen, Larson and Lindenwood University win sixth straight ACUI College Nationals

(l to r): Robert Patrick, Rahu Vithani & Andreas Madsen

No surprises here.
It’s no surprise that over the past six years, the oldest continuously-run pool tournament in the country, dating back to 1937 – The American College Union International’s Collegiate Pocket Billiards Championship – has been dominated by the only school in the country with a full-scale billiards athletic program.
It’s also not a surprise that in her first year with this program at Lindenwood University in St. Charles, Missouri, April Larson went undefeated through a field of 12 to win the 2019 Women’s title, along with the event’s Sportsmanship award. The 80th Women’s and 82nd Men’s Collegiate Championship was hosted by the University of Illinois at its Champaign campus on the last weekend in May. No surprise, either, that last year’s male champion from Lindenwood, Andreas Madsen, originally from Copenhagen, Denmark, successfully defended his title this year, going undefeated through a field of 28.
And, just a step outside the realm of professional relevance, it’s not too much of a surprise that Larson and Madsen have, in a manner of speaking, found each other.
Ladies first. Not only did Larson win the title and the Sportsmanship award, but she defeated last year’s champion, Taylor Hanson, twice, to do it. They’re both from Minnesota and have a long history of competing against each other. Hanson entered the Lindenwood University program, a year ahead of Larson. Now, they spend most of the year on the same university pool team, which went 13-2 on the college year season. The university program’s dominance extends well beyond the sixth straight time that they’ve captured both the men’s and women’s titles, which, by the way, included an unprecedented four straight titles for Briana Miller (2014-2017).
According to Larson, her switch from high school and professional competition, to the rigors of a college education and college sports, has been a matter of focus.
“Focusing on school and improving my pool game,” she said. “Combining those things so you don’t slack off on the school work, and show up for practice. It’s about balancing those things. Finding time to do them both.”
[photo id=51129|align=right]Larson, of course, is used to playing against much larger (not to mention higher skilled) fields of competitors, but with Lindenwood University as the only school to offer a structured athletic program around pool, it was yet another example of ‘no surprise’; no surprise that there were only 12 women competing.
“We had nine qualify this year,” said the program director, Mark Wilson. “It’s the largest group we’ve ever taken and it was the largest group in attendance at this year’s event.”
“Last year,” he added of the women’s championship, “there were only five in the field.”
A preliminary round of eight players, yielded four winners, who advanced to compete against four women who’d been awarded a bye. Larson shut out her first two opponents, China Concepion and Taylor Hammonds, which put her into a winners’ side semifinal against YuShi Hou. Defending women’s champion, Taylor Hanson shut out her first two opponents, as well – Adamaris Andrade and Madison Bond – to face Ava Schieferstein in the other winners’ side semifinal.
Larson and Hanson advanced to their first match, battling for the hot seat. Larson had sent Hou to the loss side 7-3, as Hanson was busy sending Schieferstein over 7-1. Larson claimed the hot seat 7-4 and waited for Hanson to get back from the semifinals.
On the loss side, Schieferstein picked up Hammonds, who’d defeated Cierra Staton, double hill and Amanda Adams 7-2. Hou drew Bond, who’d eliminated Jenne Harasin and Concepcion, both 7-2. Bond shut out Hou and in the quarterfinals, faced Schieferstein, who’d defeated Hammonds 7-1. Schieferstein ended Bond’s bid 7-5 in those quarterfinals, before she was shut out by Hanson in the semifinals.
The college format dictated a true double elimination final, requiring Hanson to defeat Larson twice to successfully defend her title. She came as close as you could get without winning it. She and Larson fought to double hill before Larson claimed her first, though likely not her last, college title.
Madsen and Vithani battle twice for Men’s title
Andreas Madsen was cruising through his first few matches in the Men’s tournament. He arrived at a winners’ side semifinal having given up only four racks over three matches and 25 games. He opened his bid to defend the college title with a 7-1 victory over Bradley Degener, shut out Anthony Brown and gave up three to Abdulaziz Altamimi, which set him up to face Taren Stewart in one winners’ side semifinal.
Rahul Vithani, in the meantime, gave up 10 racks over three rounds of play and 31 games. He got by Wade Darr 7-2, Aun Lakhani 7-3 and Woda Ni 7-5 to arrive at his winners’ side semifinal match against Robert Patrick.
Madsen continued to roll, advancing to the hot seat match with a 7-1 victory over Stewart. Vithani and Patrick locked up in a double hill fight that eventually did send Patrick to the loss side and Vithani on to faced Madsen. Vithani came within a game of chalking up as many racks against Madsen as all of his previous opponents combined. Madsen, though, claimed the hot seat 7-4 and waited for Vithani to get back.
Patrick and Stewart moved on over to the loss side. Patrick picked up Alatamimi, who, following his defeat at the hands of Madsen had downed Sarmanya Bhiwaniwaia 7-2 and Dakota Knudson 7-1. Stewart drew Anthony Brown, who was on a four-match, loss-side streak that had included wins over Zishan Cai 7-3 and Woda Ni 7-4.
Patrick advanced to the quarterfinals 7-1 over Altamimi. Brown and Stewart battled to double hill before Brown finished it, extending his loss-side streak to five. Patrick ended that streak in the quarterfinals 7-1, only to have his own two-match, loss-side streak come to an end 7-5 in the semifinals against Vithani.
The wait apparently had no effect on Madsen. Vithani had to win twice to take the title away from him, but failed to chalk up a second rack, let alone second match. Madsen won it 7-1 to successfully defend the ACUI collegiate men’s title.
He’s back home in Denmark, now, but will be back in the early part of August to continue his education at Lindenwood. He’s uncertain at this point, whether he’ll be pursuing a pool career full-time.
“It’s a good question,” he said. “I’m going to finish college and then, maybe take a year off. I’d like to have a job that would allow me to travel.”
Until such time as other universities find a rationale and ultimately, the funds to replicate the Lindenwood University athletic pool program, students from Lindenwood will likely continue to dominate the annual ACUI Collegiate Tournament. According to director Wilson, he receives a lot of inquiries about his program and its success, but they’re from the wrong people; students, not schools.
“University inquiries (about the program) are rare,” he said. “We’re starting to get a hint at progress toward more programs, but (the university administrators) don’t see the value.”
For the most part, Wilson’s athletes compete locally against established leagues and for the most part, don’t have to over-exert themselves to come out on top.
“We’ll rarely play our top 6 players,” noted Wilson.
April Larson will be back at the tables for the WPBA’s Signature Event on the weekend of August 8-11 and be back at Lindenwood for her second year, shortly thereafter. She has every intention of maintaining the 4.0 grade average she established in her first year, on her way to a degree in finance. Madsen, too, after a trip home to Copenhagen will be back in early August to resume his quest for another 4.0 grade average year in pursuit of degree in International Relations.
The pair could be a threat at almost any Scotch Doubles Tournament in the nation, and are likely, individually, to be making more and more progress in their game. They’re likely to be a dual sight to see for some time to come.

King goes undefeated at third stop on JPNEWT

Judie Wilson, Linda Shea, Jackie Rivera, Nicole King, Kia Sidbury and Kathy Friend

In addition to the visible struggle that plays out on the pool tables, regional tour competitors participate in a meta-game of tour rankings. At the end of a given season, based on those tour rankings, someone ends up as a given tour’s champion, which can accrue benefits ranging from cash, entry fees to major events, or, in some cases, nothing more significant than bragging rights. This meta-game tends to play out within a relatively small circle of a tour’s members, because ascension to the top of a tour’s rankings requires a combination of superior skills and consistent participation.
On the weekend of May 19-20, there was another early-season shuffle in the upper ranks of the J. Pechauer Northeast Women’s Tour (JPNEWT) rankings. Going into the $500-added (from Coins of the Realm), third stop on the tour, which drew 18 entrants to First Break Café and Billiards in Sterling, VA, Erica Testa, with a win and runner-up finish to her credit, was the tour’s #1-ranked player. When it was over, tour director Linda Shea (third going in) had become #1. Testa (who did not compete in this event) was sharing the second spot with Kia Sidbury, who came into and out of the event as the tour’s #2 player (albeit, tied at that spot). Nicole King, who went undefeated in the event, moved into the fourth slot, while Judie Wilson, dropped a spot into #5.
The players don’t spend a lot of their time (if at all) thinking about this meta-game aspect of a single tournament, but it’s there, and highlights the generally tight group of women (in this case) who get together on seven separate occasions (in this case) to battle for area supremacy in the sport. It may only be the tour’s third stop, but it’s just shy of half the battle. King’s trip to the winner’s circle went through two players just below her in the rankings – Sharon O’Hanlon (7-4) and Melissa Jenkins (7-5) – and one above her (Kia Sidbury; 7-3), before meeting up with a woman in a winners’ side semifinal, Jackie Rivera, who, at this stage, had yet to figure into the current rankings.
Shea, in the meantime, got by Elaine Wilson 7-5 and Kelly Wyatt 7-2 to draw Kathy Friend in the other winners’ side semifinal. Shea moved into the hot seat match with a 7-3 win over Friend, as King was busy surviving a double hill match against Rivera. King downed Shea 7-3 and sat in the hot seat, awaiting her return.
On the loss side, Rivera picked up Judie Wilson, who’d lost her opening match to Friend, and was in the midst of a four-match, loss-side run that included a recent double hill win over Wyatt and a 7-4 win Bethany Sykes. Friend drew Sidbury, who, following her defeat by King on the winners’ side had defeated Elaine Wilson and Teri Thomas, both 7-4.
Rivera eliminaTed Wilson 7-3 and was joined in the quarterfinals by Friend, who’d defeated Sidbury 7-5. Friend just did survive the quarterfinal 7-6 but had her bid for further advancement derailed by Shea, who took the semifinal match 7-4.
In the meta-game of ranking points, Shea was moving into the top spot, no matter what happened in her finals match against King, who, no matter what happened in the finals, was going to end up in the #4 ranking spot. Both, however, were looking to chalk up their first win on the tour, which, one would assume, carried much more weight in the double hill fight that followed than the meta-rankings-game. King won it to complete her undefeated run and take that first 2018 event title.
The meta-rankings-game and the individual battles that define it will continue at stop #4  on the JPNEWT, scheduled for the weekend of June 23-24. The event will feature a separate amateur division and will be hosted by Champion Billiards and Sports Bar in Frederick, MD.

Mark Wilson stands down as United States captain

Following three years at the helm of the USA Mosconi Cup side, Mark Wilson has stood down as captain after the recent heavy defeat at the Alexandra Palace, London. Wilson was appointed in January 2014 following a run of defeats and was in charge of all team affairs for the next three Mosconi Cups, all of which resulted in losses.
Commented Wilson; “The three year record speaks for itself and while it is personally painful and deeply disappointing, it is the reality. Sport is about winning and a philosophy change is due when the scoreboard reflects a team's shortcomings.
“Despite the pain of losing there have been victories towards building the sport and I hold no regrets in terms of the efforts, support, and direction chosen. The tremendous individual people and businesses that have shared the vision and contributed wilfully to create a brighter future for billiards all have my deepest gratitude.
“I completely respect the opportunity afforded me to be part of the best event that our sport has to offer. All of us look forward to the day that Team USA reclaims the Mosconi Cup.”
Matchroom Sport Chairman Barry Hearn said, “I’d like to go on record to thank Mark and his team for all the hard work they put in to try and turn American fortunes around in the Mosconi Cup. Mark is a man of great integrity and has a deep passion for the sport and it is a personal disappointment to me that the results didn’t come for him.”
Matchroom Sport hopes to announce new leadership details in the New Year.

Atwell successfully defends VA State 10-Ball title against Jacki Duggan

Ozzy Reynolds (APT Owner), Jacki Duggan, Janet Atwell and Raymond Walters (APT Tour Director)

For the second year in a row, the Women's VA State 10-Ball Championships came down to Janet Atwell and Jacki Duggan squaring off in both the hot seat match and the finals. And also for the second year, Atwell won both matches to claim that title. The 2016 event drew 18 entrants to Diamond Billiards in Midlothian, VA, on the weekend of February 13-14.
In her first 34 games, over five matches, Atwell chalked up an aggregate score of 30-4. She'd shut out Kristine Wylie (opening round), and given up only a single rack to Nicole Monaco (third round). In between, Tina Scott, who finished third in 2015, managed to take three against her in the second round.  Atwell chalked up her third shutout against Buffy Jolie in a winners' side semifinal.
Duggan, in the meantime, was awarded an opening round bye, before being challenged, double hill, by Sierra Reams. Duggan advanced to defeat Kia Sidbury and in the other winners' side semifinal, Judie Wilson, both 7-2. Atwell added a fourth shutout, over Duggan, to claim the hot seat. Atwell had also shut Duggan out in the 2015 hot seat match.
On the loss side, Buffy Jolie picked up Meredith Lynch, who'd gotten by Cheryl Pritchard 5-3 and survived a double hill fight over Sidbury. Wilson drew Nicole Monaco, who, after her defeat at the hands of Atwell on the winners' side, had defeated Nicole King 5-3 and Kassandra Bein 5-2. 
Monaco defeaTed Wilson, as Jolie eliminated Lynch, both 5-2. It was Lynch's second straight finish in the tie for fifth place, while Wilson improved from 21st in 2015 to fifth this year. 
Monaco defeated Jolie 5-2 in the quarterfinals, but ran into a very determined Duggan, who gave up only a single rack to her in the semifinals. Atwell, though, proved to be equally determined. Though Duggan would improve on her 2015 performance in the finals against Atwell (1-9), Atwell prevailed in 2016, 8-3, to claim her second straight VA State 10-Ball Championship.

2014 Mosconi Squad to Visit Industry Expo

WITH THE ANNUAL billiards industry gathering set for the Billiard Congress of America Summit 2014 in Louisville from 25th to 27th June, American PartyPoker Mosconi Cup captain Mark Wilson is delighted to announce that his team will be in attendance for the duration of the event.


Wilson, who competed in the first two years of the event, has been charged with reinvigorating US fortunes in the annual transatlantic pool showdown, and will be on hand along with team members John Schmidt, Justin Bergman and Justin Hall.


All the interaction will take place at Booth 649 and team members will be available for challenge games – giving everyone the opportunity to win an “I Should Have Been Picked for the Mosconi Cup” T-shirt. 


CommenTed Wilson, “We are there to engage with the billiards community and promote our journey to the 2014 Mosconi Cup. The Junior Nationals are being held simultaneously and Team USA will support and interact with those players who are the future of the game.


“Included with the festivities will be the use of a radar gun, the opportunity for pictures and autographs. The coaching staff will handle specific training questions. Everyone will meet special team member and retired Navy SEAL, Amir Pishdad.


“We expect this to be the most fun booth in the entire show and we will generate a lot of interest, excitement, and support, for both the Mosconi Cup and the future of the sport. This is a "grassroots" effort to stimulate interest by all that attend.


“I envision that we can aid unity with the billiards community and simultaneously do something good for the sport. This is an important step to re-establishing pride regarding the sport that we love,” he added.


Taking place in Blackpool, England from 1st to 4th December, the Mosconi Cup is now in its 21st year and features two five-man team doing battle over four days in what is pool’s Ryder Cup.


Wilson has also announced that Lieutenant Commander (retired) Amir Pishdad Jr has joined his coaching staff as he leaves no stone unturned in his efforts to inspire and rejuvenate US hopes.


A former Navy SEAL, Pishdad has graciously offered to give Team USA an up close and personal view of the SEAL’s secrets of success – dedication, hard work, “no excuses,” relentless positivity, and honor above everything. 


Commented Wilson, “Our players were so impressed with his message that we made him part of our team.  If we can dedicate even a fraction of the effort that Amir gave for our country, we will be well on our way to improving the sport.


“Amir is a man that has lived a life of dedication, hard work, and sacrifice.  He has graciously offered to share that experience with our team; and the sport will be much better for his efforts.”


Both Pishdad and Captain’s Assistant Don Wardell will be in attendance in Louisville and the whole squad will be available to discuss all things pool, Mosconi Cup and Team America as well as offering information on Pool Awareness Week (November 2nd through 9th, 2014) – an initiative that everyone in the industry will want to support. 


The 2014 PARTYPOKER.COM Mosconi Cup is sponsored by, the world's leading online poker site. The Official Table of the Mosconi Cup is supplied by Diamond Billiards, the cloth is supplied by Iwan Simonis and the Official Balls are Super Aramith by Saluc. Predator is the Official Cue and Mosconi Cup clothing is supplied by Universe.


Follow the PartyPoker Mosconi Cup of Facebook and Twitter @mosconicup

Apa Members Pocket More Than $500,000 In Cash And Prizes At National Singles Championships

Purple Tier Winner Dustin Gunia of Omaha, NE

LAKE SAINT LOUIS, MO (May 10, 2013) — More than $500,000 in cash and prizes were awarded to APA members at the APA National Singles Championships held April 24 – 27 in Las Vegas at the Riviera Hotel & Casino.  The National Singles Championships consisted of both the 8-Ball Classic and 9-Ball Shootout Singles Championships, the Wheelchair Challenge and the Jack & Jill Doubles Championship.
The final round of the 9-Ball Shootout featured three championship matches, one for each Skill Level Tier, with two shooters in each match competing for $10,000 in cash and prizes. 
In the Green Tier, Tom Williamson of Billerica, Mass., defeated Cheri Schroth of Murfreesboro, Tenn.  Williamson advanced to the finals after a semifinal round victory over Kathy Tingler of Tyler, Texas.  Schroth advanced to the finals as a result of a disqualification following the semifinal round.  Tingler finished in 3rd Place.  
In the White Tier, Eddie Conklin, Jr. of Bayonne, N.J., defeated Rodger Doyen of Brandon, Fla.  Conklin Jr. defeated Mathis Martines of Greensboro, N.C., in the semifinal round to advance to the finals.  Doyen advanced to the finals by defeating Erick Carrasco of Ridgewood, N.Y.  Martines and Carrasco tied for 3rd Place.
In the Black Tier, David Apollos of Gallatin, Tenn., defeated Jan Mierzwa of Garfield, N.J.  Apollos advanced to the finals after defeating Herb Wilburn of Longview, Texas, in the semifinals.  Mierzwa advanced to the final round match after a victory over Jessica Schuddekopf of Clifton Park, N.Y., in the semifinal match.  Wilburn and Schuddekopf tied for 3rd Place.
Each of the three Champions received a prize package worth $10,000.  Runners-Up in each tier took home a prize package worth $5,000.  Third Place finishers each received $3,000 in cash and prizes.
Daniel Praty of San Diego, Calif., was awarded the Sportsmanship Award in the 9-Ball Shootout.
More than 4,000 poolplayers made it to the Regional Level of the 9-Ball Shootout before the field was whittled down to 310 men and women competing for 9-Ball crowns in each of three Skill Level Tiers.
Nearly 6,400 APA members advanced to regional competition of the 8-Ball Classic, and 489 of those players advanced to the championship in Las Vegas.
In the finals of the 8-Ball Classic, four champions each took home a prize package worth $15,000 for their performances.
In the Blue Tier, Faith Rubin of Fayetteville, N.C., defeated Joe Fickett of Chicago Ridge, Ill.  Rubin defeated Freida Swain of Lapeer, Mich., in the semifinals to advance, while Fickett defeated Summer Turner of St. Augustine, Fla.  Swain and Turner tied for 3rd Place.
In the Yellow Tier, Steven Davis of Minneapolis, Minn., defeated Clayton Fulcher of Loganville, Ga.  Davis advanced to the finals by defeating John Falco of Benton, Ark., earlier in the day in the semifinal round.  Fulcher defeated Douglas Moe of Easton, Conn., in the semifinals.  Falco and Moe tied for 3rd Place.
In the Red Tier, David Templeton of Jackson, Mo., defea Ted Wilson Chung of South San Francisco, Calif.  Templeton defeated Charles Swan of Pickering, Ont., in the semifinals to advance, while Chung defeated Matthew Witschonke of Seattle, Wash.  Swan and Witschonke tied for 3rd Place.
In the Purple Tier, Dustin Gunia of Omaha, Neb., defeated Nathan Moore of Warren, Mich.  Gunia defeated John Scudder of Portland, Ore., in the semifinal round.  Moore advanced after defeating Ever Valasques of Hyattsville, Md. Scudder and Valasques tied for 3rd Place.
First Place winners received cash and prizes worth $15,000.  Each Runner-Up received cash and prizes worth $9,000.  Third Place finishers each received $4,000 in cash and prizes.
Michael Andrew of Oshawa, Ont., was awarded the Sportsmanship Award in the 8-Ball Classic.
In the annual Jack & Jill Doubles Championship, held during the Singles Championships, Long Shots (Jaime Guajardo & Amber Kwasigroch) of Joliet, Ill., defeated Ride the Rail (James Giorella & Evaughn Hall) of Athens, Ga.  The victory earned them a $5,000 payday.  As Runners-Up, Ride the Rail took home $3,000.  The Jack & Jill Doubles field included 256 teams.
The Wheelchair Challenge made its debut at the National Singles Championships after being held in August during the National Team Championships for many years.  In the finals, Charlie Hans of Middletown, Ohio defeated Ron Bates of Coldwater, Mich., to take home $2,000 in prize money.  Bates received $1,000 as the Runner-Up. Forty-two players competed in the Wheelchair Challenge.
The APA, based in Lake Saint Louis, Mo., sanctions the world’s largest amateur pool league, known as the APA Pool League throughout the United States, and as the Canadian Pool League in Canada.  Nearly 270,000 members compete in weekly 8-Ball and 9‑Ball League play.  The APA is generally recognized as the Governing Body of Amateur Pool, having established the official rules, championships, formats and handicap systems for the sport of amateur billiards.
The APA produces three major tournaments each year—the APA National Team Championships, the APA National Singles Championships and the U.S. Amateur Championship—that, together, pay out nearly $1.5 Million in cash and prizes annually!
The APA and its championships are sponsored by Aramith, Action Cues and PoolDawg.
For more information on the American Poolplayers Association, visit