PoolRoom

Corr Pulls Ahead of the Pack

Karen Corr is on a roll. Last month at the Florida Classic, she knocked off Allison Fisher in the final, and this month, at the Midwest Classic, she defeated the other Fisher, Kelly, in a final that tested the bladder control of many an audience member. With three titles so far in the 2006 season, Corr has left both Fishers, who have a title apiece, in the dust for the Player of the Year race.

Nine of the tour’s top players competed in the International Pool Tour’s North American Open just days before the Midwest Classic commenced at the Par-a-dice Hotel and Casino in Peoria, Ill. Sarah Ellerby went the farthest in the 8-ball event, and had to fly overnight from Vegas to make it in time for her first match in the Midwest.

While an exhausted Ellerby was knocked out early, the rest of the IPT members didn’t seem affected by the transition from 8-ball to 9-ball. After three rounds, eight players remained undefeated: Corr, Monica Webb, Kim White, Kelly Fisher, Allison Fisher, Jeanette Lee, Xiao-Ting Pan, and Belinda Calhoun.

The remaining players battled it out in the one-loss side to reach the top 16. The bottom eight were Sarah Rousey, Val Finnie, Julie Kelly, Ga-Young Kim, Ewa Laurance, Megan Minerich, Gerda Hofstatter and Pam Treadway.

In the single-elimination matches to determine the semifinalists, Allison Fisher was knocked out by Chinese up-and-comer Xiao-Ting Pan. She, along with Webb, Corr, and Kelly Fisher advanced.

Both semifinal matches were decided by crucial plays at 4-4. Kelly Fisher outplayed Pan in the semifinal, 7-4, after the tiny 24-year-old fouled on a jump shot. Fisher said that revenge was sweet, as Pan had knocked her out in San Diego. Corr also won 7-4, pulling ahead against Webb after an untimely scratch.

In the final between Fisher and Corr, the game of 9-ball had never so resembled ping-pong. The former snooker players battled back and forth, going 2-2, 3-3, 4-4, and 5-5 after Corr jarred an easy 9 ball. With a race-to-2 determing a difference in payouts of $5,000, Corr ran out to reach the hill. Fisher broke in the case game, and executed a safety. Corr mulled over the shot, and ended up scratching. Fisher sank the 2 and played safe on the 3, which Corr pocketed with a surprising two-rail bank shot, which proved to be the winning shot. She ran out the rest of the rack for the $13,000, and her third title of the season.

Check out www.wpba.com for the full bracket and photo highlights.

IPT Round Three: The Plot Thickens as the Field Thins

Round three starts today in the International Pool Tour’s North American Open and already 17,066 games have been played. Fatigue certainly played a role yesterday with 120 players facing a $5,000 difference in payout as they were whittled down to 60 in 12 straight hours of 8-ball action. The 60 remaining contenders who advanced to round three have been placed into 12 groups of five players each. Three players from each group will advance to the next round. The 24 who are eliminated will receive a lovely parting gift of $10,000.

Here’s a breakdown of yesterday’s highlights:

Mike Sigel was eliminated with a 2-3 record after losses to Marlon Manalo, Marko Lohtander and Quinten Hann. “The Mouth” settled for 61st and a $5,000 consolation prize.

The female players are near extinction, survived only by Sarah Ellerby who edged out Corey Harper by less than one percentage point in win average to advance to round three. Both Loree Jon Jones and Allison Fisher went winless in round two, and Gerda Hofstatter was eliminated with only one win.

Only eight players went undefeated throughout yesterday’s round, including three Americans: David Matlock, Nick Varner, and Charlie Williams. Also unscathed: Australian Quinten Hann, Filipino Santos Sambajon, Mexican Rafael Martinez, Mika Immonen of Finland, and Ivica Putnik of Croatia.

The Filipino contingent is now down three men, with Warren Kiamco and Gandy Valle eliminated after round two, and Jose Parica eliminated after round one. Still, 10 of the original 13 remain and most dominated their groups. Francisco Bustamante fell to Efren Reyes, but has the highest winning percentage of the entire field at 73.68 percent. (Johnny Archer is second with 70 percent.)

Snooker superstar Ronnie O’Sullivan held on by the skin of his teeth, with only two wins, but advanced on the merit of his winning percentage. On the other hand, Takeshi Okumura missed out on advancing by 0.03 percent to Larry Nevel.

Veterans Allen Hopkins, Kim Davenport, Keith McCready are all heading home. George San Souci and Tony Chohan went winless in round two. Other notables who are heading home with $5,000 consolation prizes: Danny Basavich, Jeremy Jones, George Breedlove and Oliver Ortmann.

Round three is upon us, and each player will play five matches among formidable fields. Here’s a quick analysis:

Ellerby will have to face two top Americans: Gabe Owen and Charlie Williams and two Filipinos: Marlon Manolo and Ronato Alcano. Good luck!

Earl Strickland is alive and well in the tournament, but grouped with Raj Hundal and Efren Reyes, the recently inducted Hall-of-Famer will have to fight hard to see another day.

German Thorsten Hohmann is by far the biggest name in his group, but will face Mick Hill, a promising British 8-baller.

Check out this group: Break-and-run Bustamante, Undefeated Ozzy Quinten Hann, 8-Ball Boy Wonder Karl Boyes, Prince of Pool Cory Deuel, and Bad Boy O’Sullivan. Yikes!

Mika Immonen and John Schmidt will face off in their group — undoubtedly there will be some good-looking pool played there.

IPT Open Continues: Filipinos Dominate; Fisher’s Perfect While Most Women Falter

The IPT’s North American 8-Ball Open is shaping up to be the Philippines 8-Ball Smackdown.

The Filipino contingent flew their flag high and often on Monday — the second day of the history-making, $2 million event — as six Pinoy shooters scored perfect 4-0 records in round-robin play: Efren Reyes, Alex Pagulayan, Francisco Bustamante, Marlon Manalo, Dennis Orcollo and Ronato Alcano.

Joining the ranks of the undefeated was Brit snooker and 9-ball superstar Allison Fisher, who steamed through a fairly soft bracket to qualify for the next round of play. However, she was one of only two women of the 15 female tour members to score a winning record, and one of only four to advance. The U.K.’s Sarah Ellerby had the other winning record, 3-1.

Top female pros making early exits Monday included Ireland’s Karen Corr, who went 1-3 in a particularly tough draw; the U.K.’s Kelly Fisher, 1-3; Helena Thornfeldt of Sweden, 0-4; and American Monica Webb, 0-4.

Play on Monday centered on the second set of 100 competitors in the 200-player field, divied up into 20 groups of five. The top three in each group advanced to today’s round, featuring the remaining 120 players, parsed into 20 groups of six.

The 80 eliminated players from the first round will settle for $2,000 each. The winner of the event will pocket a record $350,000.

Here’s a brief wrap-up of Monday’s highlights:

• One of the biggest surprises of the Open so far is the number of players who qualified for the event — those not among the 150 regular IPT tour members — who are posting undefeated records. These surprise contenders from Monday’s play include Dutchman Rico Diks; England’s Karl Boyes; and Anthony Ginn of Australia.

• Keith Bennett, a 27-year-old house pro at Breaktime Billiards in Wilmington, N.C., who made it into the Open as alternate after Hall-of-Famer Jim Rempe bowed out, posted a 4-0 record in the first-round on Monday.

• The four women to advance to Tuesday’s matches in the round-of-120 were Allison Fisher, 4-0; the U.K.’s Sarah Ellerby, 3-1; Hall-of-Famer Loree Jon Jones (U.S.), 2-2; and Austria’s Gerda Hofstatter, who managed to limp into the next round with a 1-3 record when her games-won percentage topped two other players in her group with the same record (Ed Kelly and Jim Weast, both of the U.S.; Hofstatter’s games-won percentage was in fact just 1 percent higher than Weast’s).

• Beyond the Filipinos, who were expected to do well, several favorites sent messages to the field that they were not to be underestimated. Also posting 4-0 records were well-regarded Americans Johnny Archer and Shannon Daulton, and Germany’s Oliver Ortmann.

Corr Defends Title in Florida

Karen Corr was beaming upon winning her second consecutive Cuetec Cues Florida Classic, the fourth stop on the 2006 Women’s Professional Billiards Classic Tour held at the Hard Rock Casino in Hollywood, Fla. She defeated Allison Fisher in the final by a score of 7-4.

Corr came through the bracket unscathed, with wins over Liz Ford, 9-3, Dawn Hopkins, 9-2, Tracie Hines, 9-5, and Sarah Ellerby, 9-2, to land in the top 16. At that point, the format switched to single elimination and the players drew an opponent at random. Corr was matched with Gerda Hoftstatter, who she beat 9-4, to land in the semifinal against Jeanette Lee, while Fisher faced Monica Webb after a solid win over Tiffany Nelson, 9-4.

In the match against Lee, Corr pulled ahead 6-2, but Lee’s focus would not falter. She came back, 6-5, at which point Corr showed concern, but swiped back control for the 7-5 win.

In the other semifinal match, Webb was visibly frustrated by some bad rolls and soon fell behind in the match. She would have to settle for tied-for-third place, as Fisher won it, 7-3, to stage the ever-familiar face-off of the No. 1 and No. 2-ranked WPBA players.

As always, it was an intense match and both players often found themselves playing safe, but Corr came out on top, 7-4.

IPT Holds Press Conference in London Relating to International Television Deals

International Pool Tour founder Kevin Trudeau, along with IPT Executive Director Jon Denny and IPT Tour Director Deno Andrews, is expected to make several major announcements about the global television deals that have been signed by the tour, including unprecedented live coverage of all 2006 events.

The event, held today at the Hard Rock Café in central London, is being called the biggest press conference in the history of pool, with dozens of representatives of major U.K. and European newspapers, magazines and television networks expected to attend.

Top IPT European players are scheduled to attend the media event, including Ronnie O’Sullivan and Raj Hundal of the U.K., Neils Feijin and Nick Van Den Berg of the Netherlands, France’s Vincent Facquet and Gerda Hofstatter, originally from Austria.

Stay tuned to Headstring News for any breaking news items that result from the press conference.

Ouschan Upsets Fisher; Souquet Gives Archer Second Second-place Finish

Jasmin Ouschan, who has become known as the “Ice Princess” for her arctic facial expression during competition, couldn’t help but crack the no-nonsense mask, revealing a stunning smile after ousting the undefeated defending champion Allison Fisher, 7-5, in the 2006 Enjoypool.com 9-ball Championship final, held May 20 at the Riviera Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Nev.

Ouschan joined German Ralf Souquet in the winner’s circle after Souquet gave Johnny Archer his second second-place finish at the event, 7-5, after a 7-0 whitewashing by Thorsten Hohmann last year. Both victors worked hard for the $20,000 payout, battling back from the one-loss side, where they had to overcome some stringent competition.

Just 20 years old, Ouschan is an Austrian native who came onto the U.S. women’s pool scene four years ago. Ouschan made waves early on in the tournament, knocking two-time World Champion Ga-Young Kim to the losers’ side in the first round. She had a mettle-testing road to the finals after Melissa Herndon knocked her down to the one-loss side in the third round. She beat the likes of Dawn Hopkins, 9-8, Karen Corr, 9-7, Kelly Fisher, 9-3, Pam Treadway, 9-3, fellow Austrian Gerda Hofstatter, 9-3, and Shin-Mei Lui, 9-2, to meet Helena Thornfeldt in the semifinal, who she defeated, 7-6.

In the final Ouschan faced the favorite Allison Fisher, who remained unscathed through the winners’ side. Fisher was flawless early in the match, jumping out to a 3-0 lead. Ouschan then came back and won 3 games of her own to tie the match at 3-3. The match was tied again at 4-4, but Ouschan won two in a row to get to the hill at 6-4. From there, they split racks on their breaks and Ouschan won, 7-5.

After making it to the fifth round by beating the revered Efren Reyes, 11-8, Souquet was knocked to the one-loss side by Archer, 11-8, where he had to face Reyes again. He came out on top once again to redeem himself against Archer in the final, 7-5.

Both Archer and Fisher took home $10,000 for their efforts.

Hofstatter Graduates With Honors

Gerda Hofstatter, ninth-ranked player in the Women’s Professional Billiard Association and member of the International Pool Tour, graduated from the prestigious New York University on May 11.

Hoftstatter, who is originally from Austria, studied business, specifically leadership and management. She graduated with honors and now holds a bachelor’s of science degree.

WPBA San Diego Classic Underway

First-round matches are underway today, April 20, at the 2006 WPBA San Diego Classic, at Viejas Casino in Alpine, Calif.

Kelly Fisher won her first U.S. title at this tournament last year, when she defeated Gerda Hofstatter in the final match. Both players have returned this year and, providing they both win their first three respective matches, are destined to meet again in the fourth round, scheduled for 9:30 p.m. Saturday, April 22.

Stay tuned to HeadString News for highlights, or watch for ongoing results at www.wpba.com.

Fisher Wins 46th WPBA title

Allison Fisher, “The Duchess of Doom,” fended off some hungry foes and battled some personal demons, but managed to pull off her 46th Women’s Professional Billiard Association tournament win at the Great Lakes Classic stop of the WPBA’s 2006 season, March 8-12 in Michigan City, Ind.

Fisher suffered defeat in her very first match of the tournament, by Chinese up-and-comer Xiaoting Pan. Pan, age 24, speaks little English, but surely knows how to use the technique of the same name. With a fluid stroke and precise ball placement, she defeated her childhood idol, 9-7.

“She didn’t think that she could beat Allison Fisher so early, she didn’t expect it at all. It was a boost of confidence,” Pan communicated through her interpreter.

Fisher dropped down to the losers’ bracket where she had a near-fatal match against Wendy Jans. A 22-year-old Belgian that plays far beyond her years, Jans’ solid play found her leading Fisher, 7-5. Jans’ felt the pressure in the final games, however, dogging a 9-ball, followed by a scratch on a crucial play. Fisher closed out the match, 9-7.

“I just couldn’t finish it today. I had my chances, so actually I should’ve won, but I didn’t,” Jans said .

That win put Fisher in the final eight of the distinguished one-loss side, among Ewa Laurance, Vivian Villareal, Monica Webb, Jeanette Lee, Laura Smith, Kim White, and Alice Rim. Following a new format for 2006, the final eight submitted to a blind draw of the winners’ bracket players for single-elimination games. The winners’ side represented a melting pot of players including Pan, Karen Corr, Gerda Hofstatter, Ga Young Kim, Kelly Fisher, Helena Thornfeldt, Jennifer Barretta and Belinda Calhoun.

White, of Houston, has been struggling to recapture her top 16 ranking after an injury in 2004. The confidence boost of being recently elected WPBA president for 2006-07 was apparent in her play as she defeated veteran Calhoun, 9-5, and then squashed the steady advance of Alice Rim, 9-1, to land her in the semifinal, her first televised match and best finish to date.

Villareal was uncharacteristically quiet, but her play was unpenetrable as she whipped Kelly Fisher, 9-3, to meet Korean Ga Young Kim in the semifinal. Kim, who had just defeated Webb, fell victim to the “Texas Tornado,” 9-6.

Pan put away Smith, 9-4, but despite her earlier brilliance, could not make a run against Lee, who eliminated her, 9-2.

Meanwhile, Fisher drew the formidable Corr, who was coming off a big win at the first WPBA tour stop two weeks prior. The format dictated that one of the top two players would not make it to the semifinal. That unfortunate player was Corr, whose defensive play couldn’t slow down Fisher. Her sniper-like jump shot at hill-hill might have been the tournament-winning shot.

The semifinal matched Lee vs. Villareal, Fisher vs. White. Villareal’s patient defensive play against Lee eventually afforded her a win in the lengthy battle. White came out strong against Fisher, 2-0, but made a few untimely errors that allowed Fisher to heat up an run away with the 7-4 win.

In the final, Fisher looked fatigued against Villareal and made several uncharacteristic errors, but the former snooker player’s safety play took the wind out of the “Texas Tornado.” “I might as well just play with my jump cue,” said Villareal of her frequent escape attempts.

Fisher made it to the hill, 6-1, and despite Villareal’s best efforts, coming back 6-4, “The Duchess” eventually administered her doom, sinking the final 9 ball.

The semifinals and final game of the Great Lakes Classic will be aired on ESPN in April. Check back with HeadString News for specific air dates and times.

White Upsets Corr in WPBA Nationals Round Three

In round three on the winners’ side of the Women’s Professional Billards Tour’s Cuetec Cues National 9-Ball Championship, newly elected WPBA President Kim White, ranked No. 41, upset No. 2 Karen Corr, 9-6.

The year-end event, being held at the Chinook Winds Casino in Lincoln City, Ore., Nov. 9-13, is down to eight women on the no-loss side going into round four Saturday morning. Sixteen players remain in the one-loss bracket.

At 11am today, the one-loss survivors will duke it out. Melissa Little plays Julie Kelly, Tracie Hine faces Jennifer Barretta, Jennifer Chen faces Megan Minerich and Sarah Rousey plays Karen Corr, among other matches. At 2:30 this afternoon, the winners’ brack will be reduced to four players. Those matchups are Allison Fisher against Tiffany Nelson, Kelly Fisher against Monica Webb, Ga Young Kim against Gerda Hofstatter and Vivian Villarreal against the rampaging White.