Rakin and Ko New Junior World Billiard Champions
Mary Rakin of the United States and Pin Yi Ko of Taipei are the new Junior Champions of the World. They took their titles today in Willingen, Germany at the conclusion of the WPA World Junior Championships for 2007.
This is nothing new for Mary Rakin. She won this same event last year, but took the longest road possible to repeat the feat. Coming into the event as the number one seed she dropped her very first match (7-4) to Denise Wilkinson of New Zealand. From there she went on an undefeated romp through the rest of the field.
Her second match was nearly the end of her road, but she got by Anja Wagner of Germany (7-6) and then easily took down both Hui Ching Yap of Singapore (7-2) and fellow American Briana Miller (7-2), the 12-year-old wonder with a very big future. This put her into the redraw that signals the start of single-elimination play and her first match there was another close one as she escaped Kristina Schagan of Germany by a single game (9-8). When she then stepped on Kim Witzel of Germany (9-4) it meant she had once again made the finals of the Worlds.
Her opponent in the final attempt was Tina Buhnen. Strangely, Buhnen had also lost her first match of the week, and to the same Denise Wilkinson that had sent Rakin left as well! (Wilkinson wound up in fifth place.) Buhnen had easily taken down Sabrina Naverschnig of Austria (9-4) in the Semi-Finals prior to finding herself across the felt from Rakin. This would not prove a comfortable spot to be as Rakin found her best game of the week and simply tortured Buhnen to win going away at 9-2 to take her second consecutive World Title. Asked if pool would be in her future she replied: “Yes, but not until after I finish school. School first, then pool.” Pressed as to whether she would be knocking on the door of the WPBA after college she grinned: “Yeah, I think so!”
The young men had watched for the last three years as Yu Lun Wu of Taipei had owned the field and won three World Championships on the trot. When he defeated Yusuke Shibata of Japan 11-7 in the Semi-Finals it seemed a near certainty that history was about to repeat itself. But coming through the field undefeated (as had Wu) was last year’s runner-up, Pin Yi Ko, also of Chinese Taipei. Ko had to defeat another Taiwanese player, Kui Ming Lin (three of our four semi-finalists were Taiwanese) in order to get to the final stage again but after he managed that (11-8) he walked out into the main arena with an air of confidence that was palatable.
Ko took an early lead and never looked back. He won the first three racks, dropped one, and then won three more to lead 6-1 in the race to eleven. After eleven racks he led the race 8-3 in a shining match that had displayed eight break and runs to that point. Wu made a strong charge from there and brought the match close at 8-7. But then Ko took control again and won the next three racks to take the crown 11-7. How well did they play? According to Stan Shuffett, who was tracking every shot, Ko shot an Accu-Stat score of .962 (1.000 is perfect and nearly unheard of) while Wu fired an .858 in his failed bid. Adult pros shoot those same types of scores to win major titles.
The WPA wishes to heartily thank all of the sponsors whose efforts made this fine event possible. These include bwin.com, Iwan Simonis, Dynamic Billiards, Aramith Billiard Balls, Gutshoff Itterbach, the City of Willingen, Germany, The EPBF, The WPA, the IBP Foundation, and the host site, the beautiful Sauerland Stern Hotel.
1) Pin Yi Ko (TPE)
2) Yu Lun Wu (TPE)
3) Yusuke Shibata (JPN), Kui Ming Lin (TPE)
5) Mathew Lawrenson (GBR), Attila Bezdan (HUN), Thomas Luttich (GER), Hee Sup Kim (KOR).
9) Nico Wehner (GER), Fabian Breuer (GER), Landon Shuffett (USA), Rusian Chinahov (RUS), Tomoya Iima (JPN), Nick Pera (NZL), Petri Makkonen (FIN), Hao Xiang Han (HKG)
1) Mary Rakin (USA)
2) Tina Buhnen (GER)
3) Sabrina Naverschnig (AUT), Kim Witzel (GER)
5) Kristina Schagan (GER), Si Ming Chen (CHN), Sina Petry (GER), Denise Wilkinson (NZL)