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Men’s Pro Kim Davenport Suffers Eye Injury

328aAt the end of October, veteran 9-ball star Kim Davenport was competing in the UPA Atlanta Open, fighting for a spot on the U.S. team for the upcoming Mosconi Cup in London. Today, the 47-year-old Modesto, Calif., pro is fighting for his professional pool player life. Davenport, the 1990 Billiards Digest Player of the Year and a many-times pro tour champion, has only limited vision in his right eye, the result of a freak golf accident at a local driving range on Nov. 16. His chances of regaining full vision in the eye are uncertain.

According to Davenport, an avid golfer who sports a 3 handicap, a lawn mower kicked up a golf ball, which ricocheted off a metal post next to Davenport’s practice tee, and struck him directly in the eye.
“It knocked me right to the ground,” said Davenport. “I didn’t know what happened. I couldn’t see a thing, and I was scared to death. An ambulance came and rushed me to the hospital.”

A CT scan eliminated concern over possible bleeding in the brain, but severe bleeding left Davenport completely blind in the eye for more than a week.

“The doctors don’t know what will happen,” said Davenport, who has regained some of the vision in his eye since the accident. “They don’t think I’ll ever get 100 percent of my vision back, and they’ve discussed a cornea transplant. They won’t really know what the options are until January.”

The setback comes during a period in which Davenport had regained a spot in the men’s top 10 rankings. He’s posted four top-10 finishes in 2002, including the Sands Regency title in June.

“I’ve been playing well,” Davenport said. “But if I never get to play pool again, I’ve had 17 great years. It’s just a bad roll. A nice sunny day that went dark.”

Karen Corr: Back on Top?

Karen Corr is fighting back.

Karen Corr is fighting back.

Women’s Professional Billiards Association points-leader Karen Corr may be getting back into the swing of things. Corr defeated her perennial nemesis Allison Fisher, 7-5, in the finals of the WPBA Women’s National 9-Ball Championship, held Dec. 5-8 in Miami, Fla.

Corr had been steadily losing her grip on 2001’s can’t-lose status, letting Fisher take three of the WPBA’s professional events in 2002. It was starting to look like Fisher had completely regained her former dominance. Before the Nationals win, Corr hadn’t posted a victory since the BCA Open in May, and in that event, she triumphed over Vivian Villarreal, not Fisher, in the final.

Corr took home $11,000 for her win, and she holds onto her 155-point lead, which she will bring with her into next season. Fisher’s second place earned her $8,000; Monica Webb to third for $6,000 and Hall-of-Famer Loree Jon Jones took 4th place and $4,800.

Allison Takes All

323aAllison Fisher continued her dominant play of late by defeating Karen Corr in a $25,000 sudden-death playoff in the International Tournament of Champions, held Nov. 6-7 at the Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, Conn.

In the finals, each player took a set in the race-to-five format, leaving a single game to determine the champion. Fisher won the lag, made the 1 ball on the break and proceeded to run the table. The champion pocketed $25,000 in the winner-take-all competition.

In the semifinals of the four-player tournament, Corr defeated Helena Thornfeldt, 5-1 and 5-2, while Fisher bested Jeanette Lee, 5-4 and 5-4.

Mosconi Cup Gets First-Ever U.S. Airtime

Expect to see Johnny on your television at the end of December.

Expect to see Johnny on your television at the end of December.

The Mosconi Cup will be broadcast for the first time in the United States this year courtesy of ESPN2. Coverage, which will feature tournament highlights, will run from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. EST on Sunday, Dec. 29, 2002. The Mosconi Cup takes place Dec. 19-22 in London.

Matchroom Sport Chair Barry Hearn said, “This is great news for American pool fans who will at last get the opportunity to sample the unique atmosphere of the sport’s greatest event.” Hearn voiced the hope that the event would draw large numbers of non-pool-playing viewers.

Hearn also discussed the possibility of moving the Mosconi Cup to the United States in the future. “Hopefully this will be the start of a beautiful relationship that will see the Mosconi Cup taking place in the United States and being broadcast live from coast-to-coast.”

Corr Falls to Fisher at Fall Classic

320aContinuing a streak that’s starting to look like a comeback, Allison Fisher defeated longtime rival Karen Corr, 7-1, in the finals of the Women’s Professional Billiards Association’s Fall Classic, Oct. 2-6 at Amsterdam Billiards in New York, N.Y.

Fisher’s first game of the tournament brought an unexpected scare, when Canada’s Anita Kuczma took it to the hill before Fisher pulled off the 9-8 win. Fisher went on to win decisive victories over Julie Kelly, 9-1, Vivian Villareal, 9-2, and Monica Webb, 9-4, before another surprise trip to the hill, this time against Belinda Campos, put Fisher on the losers’ side. Fisher got her wind back, defeating Helena Thornfeldt, 7-4, Campos, 7-2, and finally Corr.

With this win, Fisher continues to creep up on Corr in the point rankings. This event earned Fisher 75 points, bringing her to 1615, while Corr holds steady at the top of the chart with 1770 points.

Souquet Wins U.S. Open

Ralf, triumphant.

Ralf, triumphant.

In a mad dash to hold off pesky challenger Alex Pagualyan and complete the final match before Pay-Per-View satellite feeds went “to black,” Germany’s Ralf Souquet scored a heart-pounding 13-11 win in the final of the 27th U.S. Open 9-Ball Championship in Chesapeake, Va., Sunday night.

Souquet’s triumph over the Canadian contender was completed just three minutes before the plug was to be pulled on pool’s first pay-per-view effort, and brought the normally emotionless German to his knees in exultation.

In winning his first U.S. Open title, Souquet earned $30,000 from the $150,000 prize fund. Pagualyan, the 24-year-old Canadian-by-way-of-the-Philippines, played 11 consecutive matches in the loser’s bracket of the 215-player field, and earned $15,000 for his efforts. Five-time U.S. Open champion (and reigning WPA World 9-Ball Champion) Earl Strickland finished third ($10,000), followed by Hawaiian Rodney Morris ($7,000).

Souquet Wins in Nashville

316aRalf Souquet dominated Johnny Archer in the finals to win the IBC U.S. Championship, his second straight IBC event title. Souquet took the title from Archer in straight sets, 6-1, 6-1, at J. O. B. Billiards in Nashville, Tenn. Following about a week of on-site qualifiers, the event ran Sept. 13-15.

Souquet also racked up wins over Travis Stamper, 6-2, 6-3; local player Bobby Pickle, 6-4, 6-1; Japan’s Tetsu Haraquchi, 6-3,6-2; Jimmy Reid, 6-0, 6-1; and Canada’s Edwin Montal, 7-6, 6-1; before going on to crush Archer in the finals.

If $80,000 in prize money weren’t enough of an incentive, the event offered a unique chance for glory: The winner is to be immortalized in a wood carving commissioned by room owner Jim Blaylock.

Always a Bridesmaid, Finally a Bride

Thornfeldt finally overcame them all. (Photo: Carla Bonner)

Thornfeldt finally overcame them all. (Photo: Carla Bonner)

Helena Thornfeldt has won her first Women’s Professional Billiards Association title since the Seattle Classic in 1996. Thornfeldt, who has steadily held the fourth or fifth place in the WPBA rankings, went undefeated at the U.S. Open, held Sept. 4-8 at the Sandia Casino in Albuquerque, N.M. Her trip to the top included wins over Belinda Campos, 9-6, and Julie Kelly, 9-7, as well as wins over No. 1 Karen Corr, 9-7, and No. 2 Allison Fisher, 9-6.

Thornfeldt’s win was worth $11,000. Runner-up Fisher took home $8,000, and third-place Corr settled for $6,000. The WPBA’s next stop is the Cuetec Cues Fall Classic, Oct. 2-6, at Amsterdam Billiard Club East in New York City.

Bustamante Wins Las Vegas Invitational

Bustamante zeroed in on the title in Vegas.

Bustamante zeroed in on the title in Vegas.

“He just plays great against me. It makes me a little sick sometimes,” said Ralf Souquet after the finals of the Gabriels Las Vegas Invitational, August 23 at the Riviera Hotel and Casino. By Souquet’s reckoning, it was the 26th or 27th time Francisco Bustamante had defeated him in a finals match. Bustamante was characteristically humble about the win. “The only reason I beat him is in the beginning he never made a ball [on the break].”

Bustamante won $7,000 for first place, Souquet took $3,800 home. While some of the top names (such as Johnny Archer and Earl Strickland) were absent from the 37-man, one woman field, a full complement of Filipino players and such heavy hitters as Rodney Morris, Cory Deuel, Kim Davenport and the tournament promoter himself, Allen Hopkins provided entertaining action for the hard-core pool fans and handfuls of American Poolplayers Association members who were there for their national team championships running concurrently next door.

Reyes Declared Champion of Champions

Reyes holds the winning check.

Reyes holds the winning check.

Efren Reyes triumphed at the 2002 International Challenge of Champions, held Aug. 14-15 at the Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, Conn. Reyes defeated Finland’s Mika Immonen in a sudden-death winner-takes-all tiebreaker to be crowned this year’s “champion of champions.”

Eight “international champions” took part in the made-for-TV event: Netherlands National Champion Neils Feijen; 2001 IBC tour winner Reyes, Taiwan’s Hsiao-Lang Fang, Great Britain’s Steve Knight, Australia’s Johl Younger, American Cory Deuel, Japan’s Satoshi Kawabata, and Immonen.

Reyes first defeated Feijen in the single-elimination race-to-7 first round, 7-5; he then defeated Fang two sets in a row in the semi final, 5-2 and 5-3. Reyes lost his first set to Immonen in the final, 5-3, and won the next, 5-4, to force the single-game tiebreaker which he clinched to win the $50,000 purse. The crowd gave Reyes’ win a standing ovation.

The two semifinals and the Championship match were taped by ESPN for broadcast beginning August 25th. Check BD’s online schedule and your local listings for exact times.