Past Champs Flourish at U.S. Open
U.S. Open 9-Ball Championships / Chesapeake, VA
In the third round of the winners’ bracket at the U.S. Open 9-Ball Championships, played Wednesday evening at the Chesapeake Conference Center, past champions of the event seemed to have the advantage. Of the 32 players in the first wave of the evening round, 6 were former winners, and all 6 won their match.
Johnny “The Scorpion” Archer, whose amazing comeback against Dennis Orcollo is touted as the best match of the event as yet, whizzed through his match with Cleiton Rocha in record time, besting his opponent 11-2. Archer, the 1999 champ, will move on to meet Stevie Moore, who bested Jeff Crawford 11-4, in the next round.
Winner in 1996, “Rocket” Rodney Morris finished his match quickly, besting Michael Fuller 11-3. Defending champion Mika Immonen also was one of the first to finish, sending Max Eberle to the one-loss side 11-5. 2002 victor, Germany’s Ralf Souquet won his match swiftly as well when he delivered Brandon Shuff to the west side by a decisive 11-2 score.
Gabe Owen, 2004 champion, had a close match with Brian Parks that seesawed to 8-all before Owen kicked it up a notch and surged ahead to win 11-8.
Hall of Fame member Nick Varner, who won this event in 1989 and 1990 (the only other player to have won back-to-back U.S. Open titles besides Immonen), had a difficult fight in his match with Ernesto Dominguez. In another seesaw battle, Varner finally reached the hill first, and though Dominguez joined him there soon, it was ultimately Varner who moved on undefeated.
In the second wave of winners’ side matches, two of the three past champions won their matches. Corey Deuel, champ in 2001, came back from a two-rack deficit throughout most of his match against Joshua Burbel to triumph 10-8. Mike “The Mouth” Sigel, winner in 1976, 1980, and 1983, was up against Ivaylo Petrov for their entire match and won easily 11-5.
But probably the most closely watched match in the second wave was the one between young gun Jesse Engel and Earl Strickland. From an early lead, Strickland fell behind to Engel and trailed throughout the match. Once Engel reached a 9-6 lead, Strickland made his move, winning the next four racks to reach the hill. Engel joined him there and then won the match 11-10, disappointing pool fans everywhere, for had Strickland won, he would have played Sigel in the next round.
The Filipino players had a rough time of it in the winners’ bracket Wednesday. Efren Reyes and Francisco Bustamante advanced over Tomoo Takano 11-2 and Oscar Dominguez 11-6, respectively. But their fellow countrymen went west. Jose Parica was defeated by Daryl Peach 11-6, Warren Kiamco lost to Chris Orme 11-7, Lee Van Corteza was bested by Thorsten Hohmann 11-7 in a magnificent come-from-behind victory, Manny Chau won his double-hill match with Ramil Gallego, and Darren Appleton defeated Ronnie Alcano 11-7.
View U.S. Open 9-Ball Championships 256-player tournament brackets (updated continuously)
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