34th BCAPL National 8-Ball Championships
While the temperature was unseasonably cool in Las Vegas during the 34th BCAPL National 8-Ball Championships, the pool playing was hot. Held May 14-22 at the Riviera Hotel & Casino, approximately 7000 amateur and professional players traveled from across the world to battle for their chunk of the $750,000 prize fund and be crowned the best in their respective divisions.
Prior to the BCAPL 8-Ball event starting on the 14th, the 9-Ball Challenge took place May 12-13. The 9-ball event, limited to 256 players, is open to all BCAPL and Player Members from Open to Grand Master level. Chris Melling took home the early event honors. Melling then beat “The Dakota Kid” Shane Van Boening in the Men’s Grand Master division of the BCAPL 8-Ball National Championship making history by winning both the Men’s Grand Master Singles and the 9-Ball Challenge.
The BCAPL National 8-Ball Championships started with the Scotch Doubles events. The Open Scotch Doubles had 341 entries. Kim Sanders and Brian Sanders, of the A.P.P.L.E – Austin Pool Player’s League, remained undefeated taking home first place. In the Master Scotch Doubles, which had 82 entries, the French Canadian duo of Veronique Menard and Francis Crevier had to grind their way to victory. Starting off on the one loss side of the final Master Scotch Doubles board, Menard and Crevier won 8 matches to make it to the finals and then double dipped the dynamo team of Glenn Atwell and Linda Carter from Washington State to take first place.
Saturday, May 15th the crowd swelled as thousands of individuals mentally prepared for the singles events. There were 11 separate singles divisions: Men’s Super Senior, Men’s Senior, Men’s Open, Men’s Master, Men’s Grand Master, Men’s Player Member, Women’s Open, Women’s Senior, Women’s Master, Women’s Grand Master and Women’s Player Member.
In the Men’s Super Senior division, Bob Oliver (MacDaddy’s In-House League, Little Rock, AR) breezed through the winner’s side to take first place. Writer Tom McGonagle (Silver Cue 8-Ball League, Dorchester, MA) had several close matches to stay on the winner’s side and take the Men’s Senior division hot seat. McGonagle almost lost his momentum as Shane Harvey (Action Billiard League, Lubbock, TX) took the first set of the finals 5-1. In set two, McGonagle regrouped beating Harvey out 5-4 narrowly winning first place.
The Men’s Open Singles is a test of endurance, skill with a sprinkle of luck tossed in for flavor. With 1291 contestants and 32 preliminary double elimination boards it takes a large dose of all three elements to win this division. The winner was Nuno Santos (Federacao Portuguesa de Bilhar, Lisbon, Portugal) who strode through his preliminary bracket only dropping 6 total games. In the finals board he had a tougher road going hill-hill on a majority of his matches towards securing victory.
The BCAPL Men’s Master division was stocked with well known and seasoned players including Ryan Solleveld from Canada, Jim Carmona from Las Vegas, Chip Compton from Oklahoma and Nick Tafoya from New Mexico to name a few, but the finals came down to the 2009 Men’s Open winner Bruno Sousa and his fellow team mate from Portugal Manuel Gamma (both from the Federacao Portuguesa de Bilhar, Lisbon, Portugal). Sousa won the hot seat initially sending Gamma to the one loss side. However it was Gamma’s turn as he double dipped Sousa by a slim margin (7-6, 7-3) to win the division.
The Women’s Open Singles is also a study in how the strong survive. After qualifying through the preliminary bracket stages, the final bracket of the women’s open included several well known regional players such as Amy Chen from Georgia, Stacy Alsup from Las Vegas, Tara Williams (nee’ McCracken) and Melinda Bailey from Texas and four members of the NYC team Kiss of Death; Borana Andoni, Emily Duddy, Olga Gashgova and subsequent division winner Gail Glazebrook (9-ball league at Amsterdam Billiards, NY, NY).
The top two finishers of the Women’s Master divisions are well known players. Ming Ng (NW Houston BCAPL), the 2009 WPBA Regional Tour Champion, faced Gari Jo Bloomberg (Player Member) who comes from a well known pool family in South Dakota and the aunt of top U.S. pro Shane Van Boening. Bloomberg cruised into the hot seat without facing even one hill-hill match. In the finals, she would retain that momentum as she defeated Ng 7-3.
If it could be said that if a player nearly dominated a division that player was Debbie Snook (Triple “P” Handicapped League, Pueblo, CO) in the Women’s Senior Singles. Although she lost in her third round to Lucille Donahue (4-2), that was her only sign of weakness as she plowed through the one loss side playing 9 matches and losing only 10 games total before meeting Kim Anderson (Player Member) in the finals. Snook took both sets (4-1) to secure the division top spot.
The BCAPL Men and Women’s Grand Master divisions are an opportunity for top professional players to challenge themselves in bar table 8-Ball. Amateur players also get to study up close the stroke and game of some of their favorite pros. The Men’s Grand Master division had 46 players from 4 continents and several national and international champions. It was a lesser known pro from the U.K, Melling, who hoisted his cue in victory. The Women’s Grand Master division featured 22 women including several world and U.S. champions. The finals featured two well known pros, “The Texas Tornado” Vivian Villarreal and currently 4th ranked world champion Kelly Fisher. Villarreal would prevail this day taking home the $2,600 for first.
Both the Men’s and Women’s Player Member divisions gave the opportunity for those who are not able to participate in a sanctioned BCAPL league the chance to play in the BCAPL nationals. The Men’s Player Member had 123 entries with two South Dakota men, Justin Brandt and Dan Olson crossing cues. It was 17 year old Olson who took the match. Stacy Lantz from Florida took the 1st place prize in the Women’s Player Member group.Tuesday, May 18 was a day where the singles start to wind down and everyone preps for the team event. This particular day was also popular for those with a free day to stop by the U.S. Open 10-Ball Championship, also produced by CueSports International, to watch the world class action in the Royale Ballroom Pro Arena. Tuesday evening the BCAPL and the Billiard Education Foundation hosted Challenge the Stars. This is an annual event where the amateur players can challenge their favorite pros as a fundraiser for the BEF.
The team competition got underway Wednesday, May 19 with 6 divisions: Mixed Open, Mixed Trophy, Women’s Open, Women’s Trophy, Mixed Master, and Women’s Master. The mixed teams can have up to 10 people on their team roster and play 5 players per match. This year women’s teams only fielded 4 players per match and could have up to 8 players on each team roster.
The Mixed Open Team division had 16 preliminary brackets, 674 teams and was a double elimination race to 13 with $11,000 going to the first place team. Minneapolis, MN team “Who Needs a Billiard Coach,” headed by billiard photographer and coach Mike Fieldhammer took the top honors. The Mixed Trophy Team division had 74 entrants. The “The Italian Job” coming from the hot seat took on the “Rack Pack.” In a true double, the Rack Pack decisively took set one (13-6). It was a nail biter in set two as the two teams went hill-hill, the pack pulled it out winning set two (13-12).
The two final teams in the Mixed Master Team division had divergent experiences on the board. Good Eggz went down in the first match against former division winners Hustlin’ making them have to navigate the one loss said the remainder of the event. In the hot seat was Portugal Master’s who contained Manuel Gamma who finished 1st in the Men’s Master Singles. It was a good week for team Portugal as their momentum never wavered beating Good Eggz 13-8. Late Saturday afternoon after the Mixed Master Finals was completed the entire Portuguese team hoisted glasses of Champagne in the event main lobby singing the Portuguese national anthem.
This year there were 20 more Women’s Open Teams than in 2009. The Dallas, Texas ladies “We’ve Got the Runs” went undefeated and beat Wisconsin team “Jackson Cue – Mickey’s.” The Women’s Trophy Team division had 8 teams in a double elimination race to 8. “Pocket Aces” from San Francisco, CA took the honors by dominating the bracket and beating “Full House” from Edgemere, MD 8-2. The Tulsa, OK women’s powerhouse team, “Magoo’s Masters” took out the Chicago team “Tick Tick Boom” to be the division top women.
2010 again showed why the BCAPL National 8-Ball Championships have been called “The Best Tournament in the World.” In addition to BCAPL nationals being the best U.S. based national championship event, CSI continues to demonstrate each year its commitment to expand the sport and the experience of the players. This year they launched new texting and email notification and live scoring features to their CueSports Tournament System (CTS), the online bracket and real time tracking system. Players are now able to receive text or email notification of when and where their matches were to be played thus allowing them more freedom to enjoy their time in Las Vegas and the Riviera Hotel & Casino.
The 34th BCAPL National 8-Ball Championships were sponsored by OB Cues, the Official Cue of this year’s event, Diamond Billiard Products, Simonis, Delta-13, Billiards Digest, TAR and BreakRAK.
CueSports International is dedicated to creating more choices for all players. CSI is the parent company of the BCA Pool League, the National Championship Series (NCS), and the USA Pool League. CSI also produces independent events such as the U.S. Bar Table Championships, the Jay Swanson Memorial and the U.S. Open 10-Ball Championship. Visit www.playcsipool.com, www.playbca.com and www.playusapool.com for more information about CSI and its divisions.