2nd Annual Simonis US Amateur Open
Players from around the globe joined the 2nd Annual Simonis Amateur Open at Bankshot Billiards in Jacksonville, Florida. Pros,semi-pros and top rated amateurs were not allowed to enter. 8-Ball and 9-Ball events were played over five days during the same time and same venue as the Predator World 10-Ball Championships. Players were allowed to play in multiple divisions without any conflicts or forfeitures, so many seniors, women, and juniors took advantage of this special rule. The equipment was superb with green Simonis 860 cloth, Super Aramith balls played on over size 8 ft and a half tables. Matches were on a time schedule for the convenieince of the players.
In the Open 8-Ball division, 36 players joined to compete for the guaranteed $1000 first place prize. New Jersey’s Matt Tetrault went undefeated to the finals including a win over Florida’s Bruce Choyce in the winner’s bracket finals. Three ladies joined the open and 19 year old female Yu Ram Cha of Korea had a nice run with a 9th place finish including a win over Jacksonville’s own Wayne Skillern, winner of the Senior 9-Ball US Amateur Open. Choyce put Cha on the loser’s side but succumbed to Tetrault, and then again faced defeat at Tetrault’s hands in the finals. Matt Tetrault went onto to become the 2007 US Amateur 8-Ball Open Champion. Germany’s top junior Fabian Breuer finished a respectable 5th place.
The Women’s 8-Ball Open was full of top notch amateur talent including Spain’s Amalia Matas, top Korea juniors Bo Ram Cha and Eun Ji Park as well as USA’s reigning 14 and under champion Liz Lovely of Ohio. The 19 year old Matas defeated Park and Lovely to reach the finals. Lovely then eliminated Bo Ram Cha at 3rd Place to re-match Matas again. Lovely was no match for Matas and lost again and Matas went onto win for the second year in a row. This eliminated her eligibility for the 9-Ball Womens Open but she was able to enter the men’s division.
The Senior’s 8-Ball was won by Dan Lattau as he defeated Billy Schmidt two times in the true double elimination format and earned himself $350.
In the 9-Ball Amateur Open, 82 players came to play in this anticipated main event with $1500 going to the winner. Julio Delpozo of Orlando, FL returned to defend his crown but was facing steep competition this year. Delpozo wasn’t able to win again but finished in the money tied for 13th. Bruce Choyce was on a roll on the one loss side and finished a strong 5th when he lost to New Mexico’s top junior Nick Tafoya, who in turn finished 4th. Matt Tetrault looked unstoppable again winning his first 4 matches till he met local Jacksonville native Ramsey Barrett. Tetrault would later bounce back and in the rematch with Barrett win the second time around to go to the finals. However, Ramsey Barrett and Matt Tetrault were not yet finished as there were other divisions that they were still alive to play.
The real story of the Mens 9-Ball Division was actually a young lady. Teenage Korean superstar and pool powerhouse Yu Ram Cha (who was barred from the women’s division) went undefeated in this field of strong male amateurs with seven consecutive wins to go all the way to the finals including a victory over Barrett. Barrett, still dizzy from his loss to the young female phenom, could not take Tetrault a second time. Tetrault would then face Cha in the finals and attempt to take down the 8-Ball and 9-Ball crowns in the same week. Cha, who had just hours earlier won the World Junior 10-Ball Championship crown, seemed to free stroke and steam roll the older, bigger male competition. Intimidation and fear seemed to grip all her manly opponents, and the finals would be no different as she dominated Tetrault to win the US Amateur 9-Ball Open title. The win would unfortunately eliminate Cha from future amateur men’s events as well as women’s. Tetrault would also be excluded in future US Amateur Opens.
I’m glad to have done so well and be barred, said the good natured Tetrault after the finals. It means I’m improving and that’s a good thing. I had lots of fun here.
There was so much pressure and expectation in the junior girls event. When I won earlier, it felt as if a heavy burden was lifted and I just played freely against the men. It’s a great feeling to play like that! said a glowing Yu Ram Cha. Cha had won the 128 player women’s event at Super Billiards Expo in Valley Forge in March, and now the large field at the men’s US Amateur Open. In only her second trip to the USA, Cha has won four events of the seven she has entered.
In the Womens Division, 14 year old Liz Lovely dominated the field and went undefeated with her finals win over Korea’s Eun Ji Park. Brook Thomason of California finished 3rd while Bo Ram Cha of Korea took 4th. Favorites such as beauty queen Denmark’s Katrine Jensen and Guam’s lovely Shanelle Loraine took early exits.
The Seniors 9-Ball was won by Wayne Skillern and Smokey Joe Bartlett took runner up.
Special thanks to Steve Holzman of Jacksonville, Florida for running all six events during the five days of competition.