All in the family
Mother and daughter playing in WPBA U.S. Open
WPBA president qualifies as play kicks off today
By SEAN CHAFFIN
The WPBA U.S. 9Ball Open rolls into Tulsa this weekend with double-elimination play beginning today at the River Spirit Casino Events Center.
This year, WPBA officials partnered with Magoo’s Billiard Club in Tulsa for a last-chance qualifier tournament. Four players qualified to compete in the 64-player field against some of the biggest names in pool including event winner and Tulsa local Michelle McDermott. Fifteen-year-old Kayla Batson and Carrie Williams, both of Tulsa, also qualified. WPBA President Tamre Rogers, of Seattle, finished second and earned a spot in the U.S. Open field.
Rogers says the last chance qualifier was something new to allow more local women to compete. This is the first of its kind for the WPBA, and turnout may have been small but she is pleased to add some local talent to the field.
“We didn’t have a high expectation for this first one, but expect more next year,” she said. “It’s great for local players.”
As for her own qualification into the event: “It’s not a normal thing. I just happened to jump into the qualifier and finished second.”
The qualifier also produced an interesting twist. Batson’s mother and Magoos manager Kathy McMinn finished fifth in the field. McMinn did not qualify, but last year’s U.S. Open runner-up and Taiwan native Ga Young Kim notified officials she wouldn’t be able to travel due to medical reasons. Kim was recently in a car accident and while making a full recovery, was advised by doctors not to travel. That left an opening for McMinn, but would need to pay an entry fee since she did not officially qualify. Her billiards family at Magoos quickly stepped in.
“Within twenty minutes all the customers had raised enough money to buy me in,” she says. “It was really cool.”
The event will be the first WPBA event for both women, who have become the first mother-daughter combination to play in a WPBA tournament. She says her daughter is extremely talented and will soon surpass her mother on the felt. Batson has already chalked up a couple championships: a 2011 Oklahoma Women’s BCA Novice title; and a 2012 Scotch Doubles title.
Unfortunately, McMinn was eliminated today and Batson was eliminated Thursday night. Both were thrilled with the experience, however.
It was awesome,” said McMinn. “This is the biggest tournament I’ve ever been in. It was a good learning experience.”
An earlier Magoos qualifier only for Oklahoma residents was won by Britney Colbert and McMinn says adding the last chance qualifiers has made a big difference – with five local women now playing as opposed to six last year.
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.