Utz and Meraglio Shine in Sterling

Dickie Utz

Dickie Utz proved his worth as an 8-Ball player by securing a win on the Tiger/Planet Pool Amateur 8-Ball Tour stop at First Break Cafe in Sterling, VA this weekend--his first ever on the tour. Utz, a long-time supporter of the 9-Ball leg of the tour, has always finished consistently in the upper ranks in the latter, but no one knew that he had such strong 8-Ball skills, especially his trail of victims en route the final. After surviving a hill-hill scare from Paul Adolini in the first round and another two rounds later from tour number three, Ed Deska, he cruised through the rest of the field to take the hotseat.

Thuan Bui was having a great tournament at the same time, knocking off some of the top guns on the points list. He put the number one player, Dave Hunt in the elimination bracket by a 5-1 score, then did the same to Brandon Shuff (number two) before running into Utz in the winners' bracket semi-finals. After suffering at the hand of Utz, he continued to carve his way to the final by repeating his win against Shuff in the elimination bracket semi's. He then faced Jimmy Endara, who had earlier lost to Utz in the winners' side finals. After being 3-1 ahead, Bui scraped through by a one-game margin against Endara to have another shot at Utz. But Utz proved too strong for Bui, who was enjoying his best finish on the tour. The final score was 7-3. Shuff took fourth.

In the women's event, it was Ohio's Tina Meraglio who outshined all her peers with an all-round solid performance. The number two and three players on the points list, Cheree Adams and Kathleen Lawless, fell victim to Meraglio's confident play and experience (Meraglio is a multiple-time winner on the 9-Ball tour over the past five years), while tour number one, Janet Keith was struggling to maintain her narrow lead on the points list. Lawless put Keith in the elimination bracket, where she fought back to finish third after Lawless repeated their earlier result. But then it was Meraglio who dealt Lawless a similar fate by beating her 5-0 in the finals. Paula Brown filled out fourth place.

The next Tiger/Planet Pool event is also an 8-Ball event, and takes place at Bill & Billies in Arnold, MD on July 16-17.