The four semifinalists have been determined at the WPBA U.S. Open 9-Ball at the River Spirit Casino in Tulsa, and fans were treated to a stellar battle between two of the biggest names in billiards.
Fisher proves fantastic
In Quarterfinal No. 1, defending champion Allison Fisher defeated Helena Thornfeldt 7-1. Thornfeldt found herself in a 3-0 hole early as Fisher dominated play with consistent shots and safe play. In rack two, Fisher opened with a dry break, but Thornfeldt failed to sink the 9-Ball. She then continued by running the table on Rack 3. Thornfeldt was able to capture the fourth rack thanks to a table-length bank shot on the 9-Ball after a safe play by Fisher. In Game 5, Thornfeldt fouled after the break when her clothing touched a ball. The two women traded a couple misses before Fisher was able to pocket the remaining four balls and take a commanding 4-1 lead.
Fisher continued her brilliant play in the tournament by winning rack six and then ran the table on the seventh and eighth racks to win the match. Her play was smooth and controlled throughout and looks on form to make a run at back-to-back titles.
“I got off to a nice start and tried to relax,” she said after the match. “I was really pleased. It was solid. I feel like I controlled the match. I played some great safeties, some great technical shots. It was good all around for me.”
Webb rolls up impressive victory
In Quarterfinal No. 2, Monica Webb was impressive in a 7-3 victory over Brittany Bryant. Webb took an early 2-1 lead and then ran the table after Bryant’s break was dry on rack four. Bryant would battle back in the next rack bringing it her to within one rack of tying it at 3-2. Webb would then take advantage of some Bryant errors including a scratch on the break on rack six, and would sink the final four balls for the win. She then took the next rack as well. In rack eight, Bryant barely missed a combination shot on the 9-Ball, but left it just in front of the pocket. Webb would later bank it in herself for an early win and a 5-3 lead.
Throughout the match, Webb played safe well and took advantage of mistakes. She finished off her opponent on the last two racks to advance. Despite some stellar play, Webb said she felt a bit rusty going into the match.
“I went from being nervous to calm, nervous to calm,” Webb said. “I just felt rusty for some reason. I didn’t feel quite on. I think Brittany was a little nervous and that was fortunate for me and I came out the winner. I was trying to take her out of her game and give myself easier shots because I didn’t feel great. I just kept fighting, keeping myself in the match, hoping that was enough, and it was.”
Webb will take on Fisher in the semifinals on Sunday afternoon.
Black Window stings
Quarterfinal No. 3 proved to be the best of the day, with “The Black Widow” Jeanette Lee taking on top-notch Line Kjorsvik. The seesaw battle would go to the final game in a thrilling conclusion that will make for great television on ESPN. In Game 1, Kjorsvik’s break was dry and Lee missed a tough shot on the 1-Ball. Kjorsvik’s shot on the 1 was good, but then missed a bank shot on the 2. With the 9-Ball just in front of a corner pocket, Lee’s combination 2-Ball to 9-Ball ended the game. Kjorsvik would have her chance in Game 2 when Lee scratched after sinking three balls. The resulting ball in hand allowed Lee to sink a 5 to 9-Ball combination for the win and the score was tied 1-1.
In the third game, Kjorsvik would have a clean run, clearing the table and taking a one-game lead. She continued to roll in the fourth game highlighted by a jump shot of the 2 to the 4 in the corner. She ran out the remaining balls and took the lead 3-1. Kjorsvik would break and then played safe. Lee later couldn’t sink the 2, and Kjorsvik made a 2 to 8 combo to the side pocket. When she couldn’t pocket the 2, Lee found her opening and finished off the rack in a flourish, pumping her arms afterward and yelling “Yeah,” to the crowd. She ran the sixth rack including a bank of the 2 into the corner and tying the score 3-3. Both women battled back and forth in the seventh and eighth racks with tough shots and great safe plays. Kjorsvik would win the seventh and Lee the eighth. With the score tied 4-4, Lee seemed to take control of the ninth game, but after pocketing the 7-Ball in the corner the cue went to the opposite-end pocket for a scratch. Kjorsvik ran out the last two balls for the win and then controlled the 10th rack for a win and 6-4 lead.
A dry break on the 11th rack left Lee a much-needed opening and she took advantage by sinking 1 through 9 after Kjorsvik gave her a crucial ball in hand. The fired-up Black Window then cleared the 12th rack, with the talented Swede only able to sit and watch.
After shaking hands before the critical 13th rack, Lee broke and pocketed three balls before being forced to play safe on the 5 leaving the cue ball stuck right next to the 8. Kjorsvik then made an amazing three-bank shot to strike the 5, but left things open for Lee. She would then pocket 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9 to seal the win and complete the comeback. It was a superb match-up that brought the fans in attendance to their feet.
“I’m really excited to be playing again and winning again,” she said after the match to fans in attendance.
Gerda gets it done
After such an impressive match, the night’s final quarterfinal may have seemed like an afterthought, but proved to be quite the battle as well. Gerda Hofstetter, playing five months pregnant, took on up and coming Mary Rakin, who was making her ESPN billiards debut. Rakin started off on a roll, taking the first two games. Hofstetter battled back and won the next two. In rack five, Hofstetter continued to dominate the table taking a 3-2 win. After leaving an opening, Rakin rallied in the sixth rack making it 3-3.
In the fourth, she continued her smooth play, depositing ball after ball with a break and run-out and a lead of 4-3. Hofstetter took advantage of a miscue in the eighth rack and tied it 4-4. Hofstetter took the ninth rack and looked to have command of the tenth before a costly scratch left the final two balls for Rakin to take a one-game lead. Hofstetter battled back to take the next two and a 6-5 lead, and then finished off the match with a combination shot on the 9-Ball for the victory.
Hofstetter will face Lee on Sunday in the semifinals. All in all, it was a great day of action for billiards fans.
Sean Chaffin is a freelance writer based in Rockwall, Texas. His new book is Raising the Stakes: True Tales of Gambling, Wagering and Poker Faces, available at www.RaisingtheStakesbook.com, Amazon.com, and BarnesandNoble.com.