Corr and Orcollo claim the hot seats in Vegas
EnjoyPool.com 9-ball Championships down to six shooters
By Paul Berg, Inside POOL Magazine Staff
With a battle plan clearly at her side, Karen Corr has reminded any doubters why she is the top money winner in the history of this event. With a convincing pair of victories, “The Irish Invader” will have the day off tomorrow as ESPN films the semi-finals in both the men’s and women’s divisions of the EnjoyPool.com 9-ball Championships, running concurrently with a host of BCA Open events. Filipino champion Dennis Orcollo will share that privilege with a similarly impressive pair of wins.
While Orcollo and Corr certainly earned their places, most of Thursday’s play was consumed by those with one loss attempting to come through as many as five consecutive matches to earn more than just the prestige, cash, and shot at the title. Time in front of the television cameras is worth at least as much for professionals, and amazing runs through the B-side were made by some of the game’s greats. Current U.S. Open champion John Schmidt came through four races to 11, having lost his second round on the winners’ side to Warren Kiamco. In succession, Schmidt tackled Earl Strickland, Satoshi Kawabata, Ronnie Wiseman, and finally Jose “Amang” Parica. Parica took both of his losses today, and is joined in a tie for fifth place with Mika “The Iceman” Immmonen. To further explain the strength of Thursday at this event, Immonen had just ousted feared Francisco Bustamante, who in turn had just come back against a long one-loss grinder in Johnny “The Scorpion” Archer. Archer lost in the first round, and had beaten back a host of amazing players just to tie for ninth.
Schmidt took home fourth place in the elite field of 64, falling short in his fifth set of the day 11-8 to Mike Davis, who will play tomorrow evening in a rematch with his ouster, Shane Van Boening. Ayoung standout in backrooms across the country, Van Boening is hearing impaired, but is subject to play jokes with his hearing aid, and certainly heard his heart pounding as he bested Davis. The Fayetteville, NC born traveler who has come to rest in Maryland, and has had his share of success, most recently as part of the Mosconi Cup team. Davis went down 11-6 in an error-plagued match, but earned his way back for the final three in the mens’ draw with close victories over Immonen and Schmidt.
For his part, Orcollo has remained undefeated through strong opposition, toppling pal Parica 11-8 and holding Van Boening, the BCA league players’ selection for entry into the tournament, to a mere six games. The pride of Sioux Falls, SD, Van Boening has shown the heart of a champion on many occasions throughout the week, but suffered from an inability to get shots at the 1ball after the break, and a problem named Orcollo. With the poise of a stalking wolf, Orcollo eyed any possible interruption to his graceful run-out play with care. He measured his decisions well at all times, and seems to have a knack for getting to the shot before the other man. All of the Filipino hallmarks of play, between kicking for safety, spinning the ball with ease, and precision breaking, exist in Orcollo as well, making him a rising fear for his strongest Pinoy friends.
Karen Corr was equally brilliant, holding down offensively explosive defending champion Jasmin Ouschan 9-4. Corr’s ability to control the pace of the match, occasionally using safeties where many top players would attempt to run out, undid Ouschan’s early lead, and seemed to cause her to lose rhythm and miss some routine shots. The veteran move comes from someone who has won as many titles as the Austrian has had birthdays. That’s twenty-one, sports fans.
Ouschan will return tomorrow night, having dispatched Gerda Hofstatter and Ga Young Kim, the latter in a near comeback win for the impressive player from Chinese Taipei. Kim was narrowly denied a hill-hill chance after trailing 7-2, and the eventual 9-7 loss came around the same time as Schmidt’s, after nearly as long a trek. She finished in fourth place, having deposited Atlanta’s Monica Webb in a tie for fifth with Hofstatter in a thrilling 9-8 nail-biter.
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Alison Fisher will be there to face Ouschan, having held off Webb 9-6 before falling to Corr in the hot seat match. The 9-3 result speaks for itself, but there are many chapters in the battle between the number one and two players on the WPBA Tour, and another could be written Saturday if Ouschan cannot take advantage of the race to seven format for the ESPN semi-finals and finals. The alternate break is another hurdle for the most offensively impressive parts of 9-ball, but each of these six players deserves some time under the television lights, and they will have every chance of taking home a major championship in the next two days. Fisher and Corr have yet to bask in that pressure yet this tour year, and with “The Duchess of Doom” holding the top spot (which #2-ranked Corr shook her of for the only stretch this century), you can bet Corr will be looking to put it on either her old snooker rival or the impertinent kid who snatched her favorite crown last year.
Stay tuned to InsidePOOLmag.com for continuing coverage of all the pool and billiard related events through Saturday at the Riviera in Las Vegas.