Immonen Bests World Billiard Champion Varner
U.S. Open 9-Ball Championships / Chesapeake, VA
In the headlining match for the 9 p.m. rounds at the 33rd Annual U.S. Open 9-Ball Championships, Mika “Iceman” Immonen met former world U.S. Open champ Nick Varner on the Accu-Stats table. Though Immonen seemed tentative during his warm-up routine, he quickly took a 4-0 lead. Looking smooth and fearless, Immonen went up 8-1, but Varner countered to take the next two racks. A 5-9 combo put Immonen one rack closer to the finish line, and then he came up empty on his next break, giving Varner another rack. A missed 4 ball by the Finn handed Varner one more game, but Immonen got ball in hand in the final rack after a safety on the 1 and ran out for the 11-6 win.
Shane Van Boening is still working on defending his U.S. Open title. In his match against Charlie Williams, he held an early lead and never relinquished it, going up 6-3. In the tenth rack, Van Boening played a vicious safety to further extend his lead to 7-3. Each player exchanged the next few racks, with Van Boening remaining in the lead in order to reach the hill 10-6. Though Williams had a chance in the final game, he couldn’t get out, and Van Boening won 11-6.
Johnny “The Scorpion” Archer matched up with Tony Robles as well in the winners’ bracket, with Archer taking an early 7-3 lead. Robles won the next two out of three racks and then some fancy shooting put him at 8-6 Archer. A missed safety on the 1 ball by Archer gave Robles ball in hand and the next game, and then a golden break allowed Robles to knot the score at 8. Archer won the safety battle in the next rack and then broke and ran to reach the hill; the final game was a lengthy one, but he ran out win 11-8.
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Brandon Shuff dominated his match against Tom D’Alfonso, though both players exhibited a strong break. D’Alfonso had several misses on relatively easy outs, which put Shuff in the lead 10-4. Shuff came up empty on his next break, and D’Alfonso cleared to make a last-ditch effort to catch Shuff, but missed an early ball in the final rack, leaving Shuff with an easy out 11-5.
A lengthy match ensued between reigning 9-ball champion Daryl Peach and Steve Moore in the 9 o’clock rounds. The first rack lasted 30 minutes, with Peach finally ending the safety battle. The match stayed close at the beginning, with Peach maintaining a slight lead throughout until it reached 5-4 in his favor. At that point, Moore missed simply position for the 9 ball and scratched, which seemed to jar him, for Peach won the next five racks in a row to reach the hill. Peach missed a jump shot on the 1 ball in the next rack, and Moore capitalized to take the next two games. Moore came up dry on his following break and left an easy out for Peach to win the match 11-7.
Niels Feijen suffered an upset in the 11 p.m. elimination rounds, being ousted by Floridian Justin Hall. The match went back and forth the entire way, seesawing to 9-all. At that point Feijen missed a key 7 ball, handing Hall a simple out to reach the hill. Once there, however, Hall scratched on the 1 in an attempt to play safe. The 1 hung in the corner but was blocked by the 2. After several exchanges, Feijen came through with a tough run-out to make it hill-hill. He broke dry on his final break, and Hall, with the help of a tremendous jump shot on the 1, ran out for the 11-10 win.
Rodolfo “Boy Samson” Luat held an early lead in his match against Dan Louie, but it was worn down with some handy safety play to knot the score at 9-9. Luat reached the hill first, but Louie played a sweet safe on the 2 ball and Luat sold out, so that brought the score to double-hill. Louie broke and hangs the 9 in the corner pocket. He was straight in on the 1 and ran out to the 4-9 combo for the win.
Donnie Mills of Clearwater, FL, and Eric Moore, Virginia State 9-Ball champion, traded racks in their match until the score reached 7-all. Moore broke dry on the next rack, and Mills cleared that table and then, with the help of a sweet cut break, ran out the last three to win 11-7.
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