“l LOVE WINNING. I LOVE THE FEELING”
AS SHE GETS SET TO DEFEND HER CHINA OPEN TITLE THIS WEEK IN SHANGHAI, Kelly Fisher REFLECTS ON AN AMAZING 2012, AND WHAT SHE EXPECTS TO ACHIEVE IN 2013
By Ted Lerner
WPA Press Officer
(Shanghai)–When Great Britain’s Kelly Fisher won the 2012 China Open 9-ball in Shanghai last September, she knew straight away that she now sat on the mountain top of women’s professional pool.
The realization, however, didn’t stem from just this one impressive victory through a stacked field of the world’s best women players. A few weeks earlier she had won the Women’s World 9-ball Championship in the north eastern Chinese city of Shenyang with a marvellous all-around performance. Prior to that, in August, 2011 Fisher nabbed the Women’s World 10-ball Championship in Manila. After years of toil, with boat loads of failure and near misses in far away lands, Fisher had not only broken through to the winners circle, but was now dominating women’s professional pool.
“This is my peak in pool,” an elated Fisher said right after her 9-2 drubbing of China’s Zhou Doudou in the final of the 2012 China Open. “I played for 8 years in the States and I was always asking myself, ‘Was it going to happen? Could I win the big international events?’ I knew I could do it. But actually doing it is another thing”
Fisher’s two victories in China, which led her to be named WPA 2012 Player of the Year, were extra special for the 34 year old because of how brutally difficult it can be for foreigners to win in the world’s most populous nation. Foreigners here have to contend with jet lag, unfamiliar cultural conditions such as the language and food. In addition the women’s game is massively popular in China, with its players like the legend Pan Xiaoting, 2010 World 9-ball champion Fu Xiaofang, and 2009 World 9-ball Champion Lui Sasha enjoying celebrity status wherever they go. Tournaments are aired on national television and Chinese fans are heavily partisan towards one of their own. The pressure can be daunting.
Fisher, though, looked at the obstacles as nothing more than challenges to overcome. She returned again and again to China over the last few years, tasted plenty of defeat, spent lots of her own money, time and effort all with the conviction that, with enough hard work, success would eventually come.
“For a long time I seemed to struggle playing in Asia,” Fisher said recently. “But maybe due to the amount of events there now I have become accustomed to it and I seem to have managed to bring my ‘A’ game here. In China the events are always first class and very well organized. The players are always treated really well. The live TV coverage along with the fans is like nowhere else in the world.
“Also, there are a number of tough opponents in China. We have so many great players now and the standard is so high. Which is great for the game. But I try not to think too much of my opponent and focus more on my game.”
Fisher has clearly kept that focus through the down months that are standard for professional pool at the end and beginning of the calendar year. This past March Fisher let it be known to the rest of women’s pool that she plans on continuing her walk on the high wire of success in 2013. She won the prestigious Amway Cup in Taiwan with a come from behind 11-8 win in the final over Austria’s Jasmin Ouschan . Fisher cruised through the field untouched winning an amazing 28 of 35 total games.
“I was so surprised and thrilled to have won the Amway. It was the big event that I hadn’t won and I really wanted to get that title under my belt.”
Fisher’s “surprise” at winning stemmed from some recent personal obstacles that she has had to overcome. Her partner, Val Finnie, was denied a US green card. After living in North Carolina in the USA for 9 years, the pair packed up and moved to Finnie’s hometown of Dumfries, Scotland.
“It was a big move,” Fisher said. “Scotland is cold. After living in North Carolina for so many years, it’s not easy to get used to. I have got my own table all set up for practice, which wasn’t that easy. I’ve also been practicing with some of the British male players like Chris Melling and Michael Valentine.”
Then in January, Fisher’s father passed away. Fisher had been close with her dad, always sharing her victories and defeats with him over Skype no matter where in the world she was playing. In Taiwan, Fisher said she knew her dad was watching over her, and she used it to her advantage.
“I went into the event with very little expectations of doing so, due to my father’s passing and moving and no table to practice. So it really meant a great deal to me to win. It’s one of my favorite events and I felt my dad with me all the way.”
Fisher realizes that with so much recent success, all eyes will be on her this week in Shanghai to hold on to her China Open title and world number 1 ranking, and continue her amazing streak. She knows better than anyone, however, just how fleeting success can be in the professional game. As usual with the affable Brit, she knows the key to success is to keep things in perspective.
“Obviously I am thrilled with the year I had in 2012. I always believed I could do it but it was still amazing to actually pull it off. I played solid throughout the year and really dug in deep. Things went my way and I managed to take advantage of that.
“I love winning. I love the feeling. I really want to try and keep that going for as long as I can. My ambition now is to try and retain some of my titles and keep that number 1 spot. I do realize that this is a high ambition with the standard of play but it sure would be nice.
“I would love nothing more than to retain my (China Open) title and I know it’s possible and I’m capable to do so. However, I’m just going to go into the event hoping to play well and take it one match at a time and try my best. I don’t want to put any pressure on myself, so I can only give my all and see what happens.”
*The 2013 China Open will be held in Shanghai, China from May 12-19 and is sanctioned by the World Pool & Billiard Association(WPA). 64 men and 48 women will compete in separate 9-ball events. The China Open is a WPA ranking event. The main event will begin on May 16 and run through May 19.
The WPA will be providing full coverage of the 2013 China Open via its website at www.wpapool.com, and through Facebook at www.facebook.com/WpaChinaOpen. The WPA will be providing live scoring of all matches, daily articles and analysis from WPA Press Officer Ted Lerner, and photographs. Fans can also follow the event through Twitter; @poolwpa.
The 2013 China Open will be streamed online through several Chinese websites. The WPA will be providing the links through our Facebook page as we receive them.