WPBA Tour Championships / Hollywood, FL
by Anne Craig – WPBA
The tension was high at the beginning of the one-loss side of the WPBA Championships, as the full 64-player field met at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, FL. There was a lot at stake for many of these players on the one-loss side, several of whom are “on the bubble” on the 2009 WPBA Rankings. Only the top 48 ranked players after this event will earn their exemption for 2010.
The first web match of the day featured four-time collegiate champion Eleanor Callado shooting against Canada’s Cathy Metzinger. Callado played strong and won convincingly 9-3. Next up was crowd favorite Sarah Rousey versus veteran player Liz Taylor, who had a fantastic fifth-place finish at the WPBA Colorado Classic in September. Rousey had lost her first-round match to veteran Vicki Paski hill-hill and could not shake the tenacious Taylor off track. Taylor took advantage of the opportunities she received and defeated Rousey hill-hill.
The WPBA’s Most Improved Player 2009, Denise Belanger, played a tough match against Borderline Billiards co-owner Janet Atwell but in the end, she defeated Atwell 9-7. Meanwhile, Ga Young Kim played against Anna Kostanian in the second round one-loss side. Kim had lost to Kyoko Sone on Thursday but wasn’t about to make an early exit, besting Kostanian 9-4. Back at the web table, Barretta matched up against the 2008 APA U.S. Amateur National Champion Amy Chen and defeated her 9-5.
The 8:00 p.m. winners’ bracket third round saw Karen Corr run her way to the final 16, defeating Liz Ford 9-3, while Kelly Fisher and Jeanette Lee played an exciting match. Fisher was focused though and defeated Lee 9-6. Meanwhile, Gerda Hofstatter matched up against Tracie Hines and looked to run away with the match, taking a 5-0 lead, but Hines fought back to tie things up at 5-all, and the two proceeded to trade games until Hines closed out the match 9-7. Xiaoting Pan and Monica Webb played the feature web stream match for the round and also fought tooth and nail, trading games all the way to 7-all, but Pan pulled away to win 9-7.
The final round of the day began in earnest with the web stream feature matchup between the hometown favorite Vivian Villarreal versus Kim Shaw, who were vying for a top 16 spot. The other three winners’ bracket matchups were Kyoko Sone against Melissa Herndon; two-time winner this year Jasmin Ouschan played against Holland’s Tamara Rademaker, who had already locked up her exemption for 2010 alongside Angel Paglia, who matched up versus Allison Fisher; and Kyoko Sone, who had defeated Ga Young Kim in her second-round match, continued to impress by knocking Melissa Herndon into the one-loss side and reach the final 16.
On the one-loss side, Laura Smith continued her strong play this season, defeating the 2000 World 9-Ball champion Julie Kelly 9-5. Ewa Laurance couldn’t fend off Line Kjorsvik, who had finished in the top eight at the Pacific Coast Classic. Melissa Morris moved on into the top 24 round after defeating Joanne Ashton in a grinding hill-hill match, while Jennifer Barretta and Holly Sholes battled back and forth. After an hour and fifty minutes, the score was tied up at 7-all. After Barretta scratched on the 4 ball in game 15, Sholes ran out to reach the hill first. That same 4 ball proved to be Barretta’s thorn in the side as she jawed it in game 16, but Sholes returned the favor on the 6 ball, and Barretta ran out to go hill-hill. Sholes earned an open shot in the final game but missed the 6 in the side, leaving Barretta a long shot on the 6, which she pocketed and continued to run out to win the match 9-8 and advance into Saturday’s rounds.
In the winners’ bracket, Ouschan moved on to the final 16 by defeating Radermaker soundly 9-1. Sone also advanced to another final 16 berth by winning 9-3 against veteran Herndon. Paglia was not going to let Fisher roll over her and took the lead 6-5 midway while Villiareal and Shaw were knotted up at 8. Villareal certainly felt pressure to perform since this is her home turf; The Seminole Tribe of Florida and the Hard Rock are her sponsors. She went into the final game with the break advantage. Vivian had no shot on the 1 and was forced to play a safe. The game progressed slowly but Shaw came to the table with an open shot on the 2 and began the task of running out. She was stopped cold as her position play to the 5 came up short forcing her to play safe, leaving Villareal to ponder the dilemma for several minutes as she faced a long, difficult 5-7 combination. She nailed the shot and ran out to advance to the final 16. Paglia and Fisher spent 20 minutes in game 15 going back and forth until Paglie had an open shot, ran out to the 9 but hung the ball in the pocket, allowing Fisher to go up a game 7-6. Fisher never looked back and finished off the match at 9-6 for the last of the final 16 spots.
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