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Defending Champs Overthrown at BCA Junior Nationals

113aAt the Billiard Congress of America Junior Nationals, in DeKalb, Ill., Aug. 8-10, the 18-and-under-open quarterfinal saw the surprise upset of the tournament: Three-time defending champion Shane McMinn, now 18, lost to 15-year-old Joey Gray. Gray was runner-up in the 14-and-under division at the past two Junior Nationals, and has now graduated to the older division. Gray, a dapper Paul Newman look-alike, met his match in the finals against lanky 18-year-old Beau Runningen (pictured here). Runningen reached the finals undefeated, and lost his only game to Gray in the first set, 11-10. Runningen then took hold of a slim lead in the tiebreaker game, slowly increasing his advantage until he could take the case game with a well-planned 2-9 combo to win, 11-7.

In the girls’ 18-and-under division, Eleanor Callado, in her first time at the Junior Nationals, defeated defending champion Michelle Rakin in the finals, 9-8. Rakin is a friend of Callado’s, and the person who had urged her to come to the event in the first place. “I’ve told her about it for three years,” said Rakin. The Rakin family — all of whom play pool — brought Callado with them to the tournament, and there seem to be no hard feelings. Both girls are already focused on their next piece of action: college. Rakin is going to the University of San Francisco, as a premed, with plans to be a doctor. Her education will be financed in part by the scholarship money she’s won at past Junior Nationals. Callado is going to San Francisco State University to be an advertising/marketing major.

In the 14-and-under-open division, Justin Hall beat Mike Banks, Jr. in a forced tiebreaker. Banks beat Hall decisively in the first set, 9-3, but lost steam in the second, allowing Hall to win, 9-6. Hall started playing pool with his dad at 8; Banks has been playing in his father’s poolroom since he was 4. Both boys have considered being professional pool players, though Hall also has anesthesiologist on his list of potential careers.

Behrman, Daughters Charged

US Open founder and promoter Barry Behrman along with two daughters and others were charged following a raid on Behrman’s 6,100 sq. ft. home in Chesapeake, Va., Dec. 2. The Virginian-Pilot is reporting that Behrman has been indicted on four felony charges including three counts of illegal gambling and possession of cocaine; as well as 10 misdemeanors.

Becky Gettings, director of public affairs for the Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control confirmed that Behrman will face felony charges as a result of the four-month investigation.

Police and ABC agents raided Behrman’s home in an exclusive subdivision where 60 people were cited. Allegations included illegal gambling, illegal purchase and sales of alcohol, and possession of marijuana and cocaine, according to officer Cheryl Sitler of the Chesapeake Police.

Behrman Nabbed In Raid

behrmanTroubles continue for U.S Open promoter Barry Behrman following the mid-tournament prize-fund reduction at the 2001 U.S. Open in September and slow payment of prize monies from the Masters tournament.

Behrman was one of 60 people cited in a raid on a home in Chesapeake, Va., Sunday by police and Virginia Alcohol Beverage Control agents following a four-month investigation.

The Virginian-Pilot reported that the allegations stemming from the raid include illegal gambling, selling alcohol illegally, purchasing alcohol illegally, possession of marijuana, and possession of cocaine.

Becky Gettings, director of public affairs for the ABC confirmed that Behrman was among those cited and that “the charges are numerous and include some felony charges relating to the gambling and the amount of money invloved.”

Behrman was not detained and will face a grand jury on the charges, Gettings said. Behrman could not be reached for comment.

BCA Bylaw Changes Passed

Proposed changes to the Billiards Congress of America’s bylaws were passed at the trade association’s annual general membership meeting July 24 in New Orleans at the BCA Trade Expo. The bylaw changes will add four “elite players” to the BCA’s board of directors, including one who will sit on the executive committee. These changes bring the BCA into compliance with the U.S. Olympic Committee’s organizational requirements to be recognized as a National Governing Body.

Because of the extensive bureaucracy involved, the USOC’s April board meeting is the earliest that action would be taken by the Olympic organization. The BCA plans to hold player-representative elections at the BCA’s 8-ball tournaments in Las Vegas this coming May.

Strickland Wins World Championship

The Pearl has shone through. The legendary Earl Strickland won his third World Championship in a final against Francisco Bustamante, Sunday, July 21, at the 2002 Hasseroder World Pool Championship in Cardiff, Wales. Strickland last won the World Championship in 1991. “I didn’t think I’d have many more shots at this,” said Strickland, “so it means a great deal to me.”

The final wasn’t the break-fest that everyone had expected, but Strickland’s come-from-behind, 17-15 win over Bustamante will be remembered as one of the epic heavyweight battles in 9-ball. When the last ball dropped, following the nerve-wracking, seesaw set, Strickland leapt onto the table in triumph. “It’s a complete honor to win this title,” he later declared. For in-depth live coverage, click on the World Championship link above.

Pool Documentary Now Airing

107aThe Physics of Billiards, the documentary featuring Billiards Digest columnist Mike Shamos and WPBA star Jeanette Lee, will be on the air starting this week. The show, produced for National Geographic TV (www.ngs.org), will air on the following dates on the National Geographic channel at 9 pm EST: Tuesday July 16, Wednesday July 17, and Sunday July 21. The previously announced August 9th air date has been changed. Please note that the National Geographic TV episode listing is entitled “Ancient Poison, Modern Cure,” which is the cover story. The Physics of Billiards segment is in the second half of the show.

BCn to Dish out PPV U.S. Open

103aThe Pay Per View format is getting ready for something new: pool. Dish Network will broadcast the 27th annual U.S. Open 9-Ball Championship live from Chesapeake, Va. on September 29. The broadcast will get an extra boost from the satellite TV provider with 30-second commercials and promotions in the program guide and on the website. Rob Sykora of Billiard Club Network spearheaded the deal with Dish Network and procured the broadcast rights for the U.S. Open from event promoter Barry Behrman.

“I’m very happy for pool,” said Behrman. “I’m also happy for the U.S. Open. I think it deserves to be a Pay Per View event.”

Dish Network subscribers can watch the U.S Open for $9.95; the cost to carry the event at a commercial outlet will be $99.95.

World Championships on the Horizon, International Qualifiers Wrap Up

102aWith the World Championships less than a month away, the groups for round-robin competition are already set. The last wildcard has been handed out, and the last international qualifier has declared its winner. The only new names that will be added to fill out the 128-player field will be the 11 winners of the qualifiers that are to be held in Bristol, England, July 6- July 11, in the week before the main event.

The final wildcard went to crowd favorite Tony Robles, who teaches and plays in the New York City area. Robles takes the spot vacated by snooker star Jimmy White, who turned down his invitation. Robles is the benefactor of a fundraiser held in New York City recently with the goal of sending him to the qualifiers in Bristol. He shares a round-robin group with Cory Deuel; the last time Robles and Deuel met, in the semifinal of the Billiard Congress of America 9-Ball Open in May, Robles triumphed, going on the take second place. Robles will be representing Puerto Rico.

That last international qualifier was the Junior Qualifying Event, held at Riley’s Pool Club in Northampton, England, June 29, and its winner is David Lopez. Lopez, a 16-year-old apprentice bricklayer from Seville, Spain, is the third Spaniard to make it into this year’s World Championships. Nicknamed “Pumita,” (Little Puma) he defeated a field that included pre-tournament favorite Kevin Hew, a Londoner who is ranked 13th on the UK men’s pro 9-ball tour. He sealed his spot at Cardiff by beating young British pro player Russell March, 7-4, in the qualifier’s final. His round-robin group includes Taiwan’s intimidating Fong Pang Chao.

Matchroom sport, the organizers of this event, have set up a website devoted to the championships, providing information on the round-robin groupings and more: http://worldpoolchampionship.com

Bustamante Takes IBC Munich Open

101aFrancisco Bustamante won the IBC Munich Open, beating German Thorsten Hohmann on his home turf; 6-4; 7-5. In third place was Bruno Muratore of Italy, and in fourth, Oliver Ortmann of Germany. The competition, held May 30-June 1, was a race-to-six, best-of-three format, where competitors had to win by two racks. Bustamente’s win was worth $6,000.

Hohmann may not have nabbed the title, but his second-place finish was enough to earn him the top spot in the IBC point rankings; it was also worth $3,600 in prize money.

With qualifiers held from Virginia Beach to Moscow, the field of 64 included players from 17 countries, including many of the top European players and strong contingents from Asia and North America. The IBC’s next event is the Holland Open, to be held July 25-27.

Corr, Williams win BCA Open 9-Ball in Vegas

100aThe 2002 Billiard Congress of America Open 9-Ball Championships offered a touch of the expected, and a touch of the unexpected. Few were surprised to see top-ranked Karen Corr walk off with the women’s division title, which she secured with a 7-4 win over sixth-ranked Vivian Villarreal in the final. The men’s division, however, was a different story.

While top-ranked Cory Deuel did manage to advance to the semifinal, the title match featured first-time finalists (and best friends) Charlie Williams and Tony Robles. The 26-year-old Williams claimed his first major title in a 7-4 win over Robles, the likeable 36-year-old New Yorker. Both champions earned $15,000 from the $120,000 total prize fund. Villarreal and Robles each picked up $7,500 as runners-up. The semifinal and final matches in both divisions were taped for airing on ESPN in July. Click on
the “BCA Open 9-Ball” link above for complete coverage.