US Amateur Billiards Champions Crowned
Winners of Men’s Division and Women’s Division Advance to ‘08 Pro Event
The top amateur players in the country came to Mr. Cues II in Atlanta in early November to compete for the coveted U.S. Amateur Championship title.
The finals of the Women’s Division pitted Tina Larsen of Palatine, Ill., against hometown favorite Betty Sessions.
Larsen and Sessions traded wins the first two games of the 8-Ball set before Larsen was able to open a slight 3-1 lead. Sessions managed a win in the fifth game to pull within one. Larsen closed out the 8-Ball set with a win and a 4-2 lead.
Larsen won the first game of the 9-Ball set and appeared well on her way to victory with a 5-2 lead. But Sessions showed the kind of adversity that had secured her a 3rd Place finish in 2006 and led her undefeated to the finals this year. She scored three consecutive wins to even the match at 5-5.
But it was Larsen’s turn to put on a clinic in adversity. With many in the local crowd rooting for Sessions, it was Larsen taking the next three games, putting her on-the-hill.
Sessions wasn’t about to give up without a fight though, winning the fourteenth game, and pulling within two.
But in the fifteenth and final game, Larsen secured the game and the match. She becomes the first two-time U.S. Amateur Women’s Champion and now moves on to compete in a 2008 WPBA Classic Tour event.
“To come through such an outstanding field of players twice is truly amazing and it feels incredible,” said Larsen of accomplishing the feat.
The Men’s Division featured Jason Richko of Trinity, Fla., versus former U.S. Amateur Champion Robert Hall of Huntsville, Ala. The match began in the 8-Ball set with Hall getting on the board first. Richko quickly countered and evened the match 1-1 in the second game.
Hall continued to build a lead over his opponent, winning the next two games, but Richko wasn’t backing down, again matching his counterpart with two consecutive victories of his own. The pair traded wins in the seventh and eighth games of the match, and switched to the 9-Ball set tied at four games apiece.
Once in the 9-Ball set, Richko set the tone with a break-and-run to take his first lead of the match. Behind his exceptional break, Richko managed to take the next four games, barely giving Hall a chance at the table. When Hall did finally make it to the table, he didn’t have much to shoot at, thanks to Richko’s defensive play.
“Pro player Tony Crosby came out with a new break cue a few weeks ago called the Sniper II, and it really helped with my break and my jumps. I had been using a soft break for most of the tournament, but it went dry on me, so I went harder in my last few matches and it worked out well,” said Richko.
A missed combination shot on the 9-ball by Richko, and a miscue in the 14th game, gave Hall the game and a glimmer of hope. After Richko failed to make a shot on the 8-ball in the 15th game, Hall again capitalized on the mistake, winning that game and the next, and cutting the deficit to two, 9-7.
Richko would simply not be denied though, winning the next game to put him on-the-hill. Needing only one more game for the match and the title, Richko punctuate his victory with a 9-on-the-snap.
Afterwards, Richko credited Frank Touloumis, who had coached him early on in his career, and Bob Savidio, who has worked with him this past year.
“I played last year and finished 25th, so Bob has really been helping me focus on the mental side of the game,” added Richko.
He now moves on to compete in the 2008 U.S. Open.
The 2007 U.S. Amateur Championship, produced and conducted by the American Poolplayers Association (APA), was held at Mr. Cues II in Atlanta, Ga., Nov. 2-4. Preliminary qualifying rounds were held throughout the country in mid-Sept., with more than 1,500 players attempting to qualify.
Larsen and Richko competed with the nation’s most highly skilled amateur players who were all vying for the U.S. Amateur Champion title. The Men’s Division consisted of 127-players, while the Women’s Division featured 25 players. As Champions, Larsen and Richko will return next year to defend their coveted titles.
Both Sessions and Hall finished as the Runners-up. Finishing in 3rd Place in the Men’s Division was Gary Neal of Spartanburg, S.C. In 4th Place was Rusty Jackson III of Allensville, Ky. Tying for 5th Place in the Men’s Division is Brian Belobradic of Whitby, Ontario, Canada and Eddie Little of Salisbury, N.C. Defending champion Michell Monk of Palm Bay, Fla. rounded out the top finishers in the Women’s Division with a 3rd Place finish.
The U.S. Amateur Championship is a double elimination tournament that offers the nation’s top amateur players the opportunity to showcase their skills through a combination of 8-Ball and 9-Ball matches, in the only APA event that does not use The Equalizer® handicap system.
The APA, based in Lake Saint Louis, Mo., sanctions the world’s largest amateur pool league, known as the APA Pool League throughout the United States, and as the Canadian Pool League in Canada. More than 260,000 members compete in weekly 8-Ball and 9Ball league play. The APA is generally recognized as the Governing Body of Amateur Pool, having established the official rules, championships, formats and handicap systems for the sport of amateur billiards.
The APA produces three major tournaments each year—the APA National Team Championships, the APA National Singles Championships and the U.S. Amateur Championship—that, together, pay out nearly $1.5 Million in cash and prizes annually!
The APA and its championships are sponsored by Cuetec Cues, Aramith Billiard Balls, Valley Teflon Ultra Cloth by Championship, and Valley Tables.
US Amateur Billiards Champions Crowned