Wagner wins 10 straight on the one-loss side to take WPBA Amateur Nationals

Rebecca Wagner, from Las Vegas, NV, won 10 straight on the one-loss side and defeated hot seat occupant Betty Sessions from Conyers, GA in the finals of the WPBA Amateur Nationals, held on the weekend of November 19-21.  Boasting female players from all over the country, including the Northeast's Borana Andoni, the Southwest's Wagner, Samm Diep, and Sunny Griffin, and both the Northwest's # 1-ranked player, Jana Montour, and the region's # 3 player, June Maier, the $1,500-added event drew a total of 49 entrants to the Wynkoop Brewing Company in Denver, CO.

It was a tournament in which just over one-third of the 48 matches played on the winners' side ended up at double hill, including the race-to-9 finals (9, altogether), or with 7-5 scores (eight). A little less than half of the 47 matches on the one-loss side ended up the same way (20 out of 47). In the opening round of play on Friday, with 17 players having been awarded a bye, winners in the 16 matches that were actually played in that opening round (including Andoni, Diep, Griffin and Maier) advanced by an average score of 7-3. There was only a single match that went to double hill, and two shutouts. It was the same story in the 16 matches of the second round; winners (which now included Montour) advanced with a 7-3 average again, though this time, with only one double hill match.

Things tightened up in the third round's eight matches. Half of them went to double hill, two went to 7-5 and one, to 7-4 (one shutout; Tammie Jones over Jennifer Combs). Angela Jackson, who, after an opening round bye, had defeated Kim Toops, and survived one of the third round's four double hill matches (against Lisa Davids), advanced to the winners' side final four with a 7-4 win over Natasha Hook. Jackson faced Sunny Griffin, who'd defeated Wagner in the opening round, Linda Carter, and chalked up one of the other double hill wins in the third round (versus Andoni), then advanced to the winners' side final four with a 7-3 win over Jana Montour.

Tammie Jones advanced to the winners' side final four with a four-match aggregate score of 28-7, having defeated Silvia Hater 7-2, Nicole Winters 7-3, shutout Combs and sent Diep west 7-2. She faced Sessions, who ended up, after victories over Martha Zanetis, Bert Maestes, Susan Mello and Jaqui Herrera Schroeder, with an aggregate score of 28-17.

Griffin got into the hot seat match with a 7-4 victory over Jackson. Sessions joined her with a double hill victory over Jones.  Sessions gained the hot seat with a shutout over Griffin, and sat watching Wagner's approach.

On the one-loss side, in the meantime, Jackson picked up Wagner, who, after dropping her opening set 7-4 against Griffin, was on a five-match winning streak that went to six and seven matches with double hill victories over both Jaqui Herrera Schroeder and Samm Diep. Jones drew Natasha Hook, who'd been sent west by Jackson and gotten by Gail Glazebrook 7-1 and Stacy Bourbeau 7-3. Wagner and Jones advanced to the quarterfinals; Wagner with a 7-1 victory over Jackson and Jones with a 7-5 victory over Hook.

Wagner went on to defeat Jones 7-3 and squared off against Griffin in the semifinals, in which she chalked up her 10th straight win on the one-loss side. She prevailed 7-2 and moved into the finals against Sessions.

Sessions took a commanding lead in the single, race-to-9 finals, and was ahead by five when she reached the hill. Wagner persevered, however, and as she had done with her matches on the one-loss side, won six games in a row to take the amateur title. Having drawn within one at 8-7, Wagner hooked herself shooting at the 7-ball, the only one remaining other than the 9-ball. She kicked it in, and sunk the 9-ball to knot things at double hill. Working on her ‘out' in the final rack, Wagner, with again, only the 7- and 9-ball left, came off a rail a little too strongly to get the shot she wanted at the 9. She looked at the shot closely and then calmly banked the 9-ball into a corner pocket to complete her amazingly resilient run that earned her the first place prize.