Fisher earns back-to-back WPBA U.S. Open 9-Ball titles
Tournament highlighted by close matches
By SEAN CHAFFIN
Two pool-playing titanms squared off in battle to take home the WPBA U.S. Open 9-Ball Championship. And after a weekend of top-notch pool, Allison Fisher defeated Gerda Hofstatter to take the title for the second year in a row and her sixth U.S. Open title overall
In the first rack, Hofstatter took advantage of a Fisher miss on the 1. She ran out to take the 1-0 lead. After trading safety shots early, Hofstatter just missed pocketing a jump shot on the 3. Fisher ran out the remaining balls to tie the score 1-1. Fisher had a dry break in the third, but Hofstatter couldn’t sink the 8-Ball. Fisher finished off the 8 and 9 for the 2-1 lead.
After another dry break in rack four, Hoffstatter was called for a foul after it appeared she hit another ball before pocketing the 2. She protested and the tape was reviewed. After a five-minute pause, the shot was ruled legal, and she proceeded to run the table and tie the match at 2-2.
In rack five, the two women traded safe shots on the 5 before Fisher took command and closed it out with a 5 to 9 combo shot. After a miss on the 1-Ball by Fisher, Hofstatter ran out in rack six for a 3-3 tie. Fisher then began to roll, and in rack seven she ran out after Hofstatter couldn’t sink the 1. She then broke and ran out in the eighth rack. When Hofstatter had no shot on the 2-Ball, Fisher easily finished off the ninth rack.
Fisher had yet another dry break in the 10th rack. But Hofstatter was left with poor options on the 2, and Fisher took advantage by pocketing balls 2-9 and earning the victory. She was presented with the Tiffany-designed trophy. It was another dominating performance by Fisher who proved a force again in this tournament.
“I was getting emotional before that last rack,” she said after the victory. “I loved it last year and it was a great atmosphere this year. I’m so grateful to be standing here. It’s been a wonderful journey for me. I played really well.”
Semifinal No. 1
In the first semifinal, Fisher and Monica Webb went to the wire with Fisher victorious after winning the last five racks to earn a hard-fought victory.
Things began well for Webb who calmly won the first rack. Fisher bounced back from an early scratch in the second rack and then fluidly ran the table and tie the score. And when Webb missed the 3-Ball in the third rack, Fisher proceed to run out again and take a 2-1 lead in the match. Webb used a brilliant jump shot in the fourth rack, vaulting the cue ball over the 5 and pocketing the 1 into the corner. A few minutes later, she sent the 3 into the 7 for a combination that sent both into the corner pocket. Her efforts tied the match at 2-2.
Webb would then go on a three-match run, and it looked like she might have the upper hand in this one. When Fisher missed a bank shot in the fifth rack, Webb ran out balls 4-9, and then ran out in rack six. In the seventh rack, Webb had to overcome a dry break. Fisher was forced to push out Webb made a brilliant three-rail bank shot to pocket the 1-Ball. She then made a jump to contact the 2. Fisher then pocketed the 2, 3, and 4, but left open the 5 in front of the corner. Webb, who had played through the loser’s bracket to get to the semifinals, deposited the remaining balls to take a commanding 5-2 lead.
In rack eight, Fisher found an opportunity when Webb missed a shot on the 5 to the corner. She would pocket the five and the remaining balls and close the lead. After trading safety shots in rack nine, Webb looked to have things back in control including a nice shot walking the 2 down the rail in the corner. After pocketing the 8, however, she left a precarious shot on the 9 and attempted a bank, which came up short. Fisher shot home the 9 to bring the score to 5-4. Fisher then broke and later scratched on the 1-Ball. Webb later had a tough shot on the 2 and was forced to bank and make contact. Fisher then sank the 2, ran the table, and tied the score at 5-5. In the 11th rack, Fisher continued to roll and ran out, which included banking the 1 the length of the table to the opposite side corner pocket.
Now with a 6-5 lead, Fisher pushed out after the break and Webb wasn’t able to cut the 1 into the corner. It was all the chance Fisher would need and she pocketed what was left on the table and take the come from behind victory. Fisher advanced to the finals with some stellar play against an opponent who also played well and made some spectacular players herself. The win capped a dominating week of play for Fisher, who was looking for back-to-back U.S. Open championships.
Semifinal No. 2
In the second match-up of the day, Gerda Hofstatter rolled out to a big lead and was able to stave off a comeback by Jeanette “The Black Widow” Lee. The match-up featured some brilliant shots by both women. In the first game, Hofstatterbroke and then missed the one in the side. Lee managed an amazing two-rail shot banking the cue into the 1-Ball and into the side pocket. A miss on the 2 only left Hofstatter to play safe. Lee managed to hit the 2, but left things open and Hofstatter ran the table for the 1-0 lead. She followed that up with a break and run for a 2-0 lead. Lee missed the 3-Ball in the third rack and the ensuing ball in hand allowed Hofstatter to run it out. In the fourth rack, another ball in hand opportunity allowed Hofstatter to run out the 7, 8, and 9 for the win and 4-0 lead.
In the fifth rack, Hofstatter’s safe play on the 5 led to another ball in hand – and another win. The lead then stood at 5-0 and Hofstatter was leaving little in the way of quality shots for her opponent. The sixth rack would prove the same. Left with another horrible shot and the cue ball pinned near the corner, Lee was forced to stack two bridges to get an angle on the cue and make a two-rail carom to contact the 1-Ball. The shot brought the crowd to its feet. The results would be the same, however, with Hofstatter running the remaining ball for the win and 6-0 lead.
As play continued in the seventh rack, Lee took advantage of a miss on the 4 and then ran out the table. She followed that up with a break and run including an impressive 6 to 8 combination shot. The score stood 6-2, and she rallied again after a Hofstatter miss on the 5 and took that rack as well. Lee rolled through the 10th rack also, with an impressive shot on the cue ball between two other balls, sending it off the rail striking the 2 and pocketing it into the opposite corner pocket. A combination shot later on the 5 to the 8 to the 9 ended the game and made the score 6-4.
The comeback would come up short, however. In the 11th rack, after trading safety shots, Lee missed on the 6 in the side and left an opening for Hofstatter to finish off the table, which she did. The win advanced her to the finals.
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.