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Immonen, Parica Elected to BCA Hall of Fame

Mika-Immonen-thbOne year after missing induction into the Billiard Congress of America Hall of Fame by two votes in a special run-off against Jeanette Lee, Finland’s Mika Immonen overwhelmed the 2014 field to earn his spot in the sport’s hallowed hall, according to the United States Billiard Media Association (USBMA). Two-time world champion Immonen, 41, will be joined by 65-year-old Jose Parica, the leader of the “Philippines Invasion,” who was added to the ballot under recommendation from the Veterans Committee.

Born in London, raised in Helsinki, Immonen was Europe’s No. 1-ranked played at age 20. But his career really took off after he moved to New York City in 2000. He won the WPA World Pool Championship in 2001, back-to-back U.S. Open 9-Ball Championships titles (2008, 2009) and the World 10-Ball Championship (2009). During the 2000s, Immonen won 10 U.S. pro titles, and numerous international events.

Parica was the first top player from the Philippines to come to the U.S., when he entered the World Straight Pool Championship in 1978, six years before the arrival of Efren Reyes. He won his first U.S. pro title in 1986 (the Clyde Childress Open). After several years away from the game, Parica returned to win two Camel Pro Billiard Series titles in 1997, and was the tour’s top points-earner and Player of the Year.

Immonen and Parica will be formally inducted into the BCA Hall of Fame on Friday, Oct. 17, at the Chesapeake Convention Center in Chesapeake, Va.

“It’s an amazing feeling,” said Immonen, upon hearing the news. “You never really believe it until it’s real. Last year was interesting, obviously. But I’m a little beside myself right now. I’ve got goose bumps.”

Fisher ‘Great’ Following Heart Surgery

“Everything went really well,” said a fatigued but upbeat Kelly Fisher, from her hospital bed in the Intensive Care Unit at Golden Jubilee National Hospital near Glasgow, in the United Kingdom. “The doctors were over the moon. They said it couldn’t have gone better.”

Fisher, ranked second in the world by the World Pool-Billiard Association and the sixth-ranked player on the Women’s Professional Billiards Association tour, underwent surgery on July 22 to repair an atrial septal defect, also known as a “hole in the heart.” While a congenital defect, the 35-year-old Fisher had not experienced any severe problems until recently.

“I’d been bothered with a palpitation for many years,” Fisher said a week prior to the surgery, “but was told in 2009 that it was just a heart murmur, and that I had nothing to worry about.”

Fisher said she noticed that the palpitations were becoming more frequent in the past year, so she scheduled a doctor’s appointment in early March, following the Amway Cup in Taiwan (where Fisher finished second to Yu-Chieh Chou). Following tests at her local hospital in Dumfries, Scotland, Fisher was referred to Golden Jubilee in Dunbartonshire. An MRI and further tests discovered the congenital defect, which showed damage to a valve and a dilation of the right side of her heart.

“I was very lucky that it was found now,” Fisher said, “before it caused any permanent damage to my heart.”

A full recovery is expected to take three months, but Fisher said she hopes to shave a few weeks of the recovery time to participate in the Women’s World 9-Ball Championship in Guilin, China in mid-October.

“The doctors and staff were fantastic in my preparation for the operation,” said Fisher, who was expected to be out of ICU less than 48 hours after surgery. “I was off the ventilator very quickly. With plenty of rest and physio, recovery should be good. My goal is to be fit and ready for the 9-ball world championships.”

SEALs Of Approval For Team USA

In his new book, “Play Great Pool,” Team USA captain Mark Wilson recounts a special guided tour he took of the U.S. Navy SEAL facility near San Diego in 2009. He refers to the trip as one of the most inspiring, motivational and uplifting experiences of his life. In late May, Wilson hoped to get a similar response from his Team USA squad. Seven of the eight Mosconi Cup hopefuls were scheduled to visit with the Navy SEALs, May 22-25, as part of a combined training and charity mission in preparation for Mosconi Cup XXI in Blackpool, England, Dec. 1-4. (Shane Van Boening had a scheduling conflict with the San Diego dates.)

According to Wilson, in addition to a tour and lecture at the Navy SEAL facility, the San Diego camp will include a visit to a Veterans Administration hospital, a full clinic, a charity event and challenge matches. “This is all about motivation, discipline, core values and professionalism,” said Wilson. “If this visit doesn’t get the players dialed in and pumped up, nothing will.”

Wilson has expressed interest in getting the team together for several “boot camps” before selecting the final five players who will compete in Blackpool. He added that he would be compiling physical evaluations on each player — statistics on break speeds, cue ball control, spot shot accuracy and more (“like the NFL Combine,” he said) — and plans to post the results on a Team USA fan page.

To listen to Team USA promotional spot, click on the link.
http://billiardsdigest.com/audio/Mosconi-PEP.mp3

Wilson Names Team USA Hopefuls

Mosconi_CupAs was his original intent, Mosconi Cup Team USA Captain Mark Wilson worked quickly to select the players who will compete for the final five roster spots for the 2014 event in December in Blackpool, England. Wilson announced the selection of eight players who will train and compete together through the summer, before the captain whittles the list down to the five players who will wear the red, white and blue in Blackpool.

Not surprisingly, Wilson tabbed America’s No. 1, Shane Van Boening, and immediately announced that he will expect the taciturn star to provide leadership to the 2014 squad. “Shane sets a great example,” Wilson said in a press release. “And I expect to rely on him for leadership this year.”

Wilson also named seven-time Mosconi Cup veteran Corey Deuel, who many thought should have been on the team in 2013, to the squad. John Schmidt, Oscar Dominguez and Brandon Shuff, each of whom has participated in one Mosconi Cup, were named to the team was well. Leaning on America’s youth, Wilson rounded out his selection with Southern Classic One-Pocket champion Justin Bergman, Derby City titlist Justin Hall and Connecticut’s Jeremy Sossei.

“I’m really excited by this team,” Wilson said. “Every player seems so genuinely appreciative and excited. They’re all willing to do whatever it takes to develop a strong team and a strong sense of unity.”

More interesting than who Wilson selected, of course, was the list of players who weren’t invited to “camp.” The most notable omission was Johnny Archer, whose string of 17 consecutive Mosconi Cup appearances will come to an end. Fourteen-time Cup participant Earl Strickland and nine-time team member Rodney Morris were also left off the roster. In fact, Van Boening will be the only holdover from the 2013 squad that lost 21-1 to Team Europe in Las Vegas.

“I didn’t interview those players,” Wilson admitted. “And I explained to Johnny that I thought it best to go in a completely different direction this year. A lot of it is about attitude. Last year I felt there was no sense of urgency. There seemed to be a sense that it was a yearend bonus, and if the team won, great.”

Another player conspicuous by his absence is Mike Dechaine, one of the most consistent American players over the past three years.

“I spoke to Mike,” said Wilson. “In the end I felt that his reputation among the players wasn’t a good fit at this stage for a team event like the Mosconi Cup.”

Wilson added that his plan is to get the players together several times over the summer and fall for practice and team bonding. Wilson said he planned to make the final cut to five players after the U.S. Open, and that Team USA would meet and practice together for a week at Lindenwood University near St. Louis before departing for London. The dates of the 2014 Mosconi Cup are Dec. 1-4.

BD’s George Fels Dead At 75

George Fels

George Fels

George Fels, whose book, “Mastering Pool,” and monthly “Tips & Shafts” column in Billiards Digest taught and entertained pool lovers from more than 30 years, died Dec. 31 in Chicago after suffering a heart attack. Fels was 75.

According to Fels’ son, Adam, George collapsed at home Dec, 27. He was rushed to Swedish Covenant Hospital in Chicago, but never regained consciousness. Per his wishes, George was removed from life support after neurologists confirmed extensive brain damage from the heart attack. He died late in evening in New Years Eve.

Born and raised in Chicago, Fels love of pool began early in life. An award-winning creative writer for some of the city’s biggest advertising agencies, Fels slipped away many afternoons to shoot pool at downtown Chicago’s famed Bensingers, about which he wrote on numerous occasions.

After publishing the book, “Mastering Pool,” in the late ’70s, Fels began contributing monthly columns to Billiards Digest in 1981. Over the next 33 years, Fels penned nearly 300 columns for the magazine. His columns were entertaining recollections of the game and its characters. His style was crisp, precise and hilariously descriptive. As billiard historian Mike Shamos of the Billiard Archive noted, “George said more in one page than most writers could in an entire book.”

Mr. Fels is survived by sons Adam and Sam.

BCA Hall of Fame Banquet Ticket Deadline

Chicago — The ticket deadline for the 2013 Billiard Congress of America Hall of Fame Banquet, which will honor women’s champion Jeanette Lee and Matchroom Sport president Barry Hearn, is rapidly approaching! The United States Billiard Media Association, which produces the annual banquet with the BCA, announced that the deadline to purchase tickets is Tuesday, Nov. 26. Tickets WILL NOT be sold at the door.

This year’s Hall of Fame Banquet, staged during the 2013 Mosconi Cup, will be held at the Mirage Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Monday, Dec. 2 at 6:30. Action on the first day of the Mosconi Cup will be completed by 4:00 pm, ensuring that all the players from Team USA and Team Europe will be in attendance as Hearn, creator of the wildly popular USA v Europe team 9-ball tournament, is inducted into pool’s most exclusive club.

The evening will begin with the Bass Pro Shops Cocktail Reception at 6:30 pm. Bass Pro Shops is a major sponsor of Ms. Lee.

Tickets for the 2013 BCA Hall of Fame Banquet are $95 per person, and can be purchased at www.USBMA.com, or by calling 312-341-1110 ext 229.

The 2013 Hall of Fame Banquet is sponsored by: Bass Pro Shops; American Poolplayers Association; Aramith, Billiard Congress of America, Championship, CueSports International; Diamond Billiard Products; Imperial Int’l; PartyPoker.com; Predator Products; Simonis; Tour Edition Cloth; and Tweeten Fibre.

IN ORDER TO SUCCEED, YOUR DESIRE FOR SUCCESS SHOULD BE GREATER THAN YOUR FEAR OF FAILURE.

Bill Cosby

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Morning of the World

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For the colorful.

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