Van Buren Becomes Oldest Touring Professional in WPBA

Ellen Van Buren played her first professional event in 1976, finishing third in the World Open. On April 22, 2006, 30 years later, Van Buren achieved the goal she has been working towards since 2003, becoming a touring professional in the Women’s Professional Billiard Association, and making history on the way, as the oldest female ever to earn this sought-after distinction.

While Van Buren had her first taste of victory at the ripe old age of 17, she gave up professional pool to follow a more conventional path. “I really just thought the girls must not have played very good. I didn’t know. So I quit, I did school, I did career, and then I retired when I was 43. I had started playing pool again a couple years before that, so I actually came back to the game when I was 41. Two years later, I decided to try and make it here on the WPBA,” she said.

For the past three years, Van Buren has been playing regional tours to gain qualifiers for WPBA events, and trying to make a name for herself as “The Florida Flash.” While gaining the touring pro status was her main focus, she says the most important thing to her is to have a good time. “Out there, there’s no pressure on me. I’m not paying my house bill, I’m not paying my car note, I’m realizing a childhood dream. So how could I not be happy? Win or lose.”

Check out Van Buren’s “player diary” at www.wpba.com.

The Heat Is On In San Diego

Ready, set, rack! WPBA President Kim White of Texas and Val Finnie of Scotland rack in the first round.

Ready, set, rack! WPBA President Kim White of Texas and Val Finnie of Scotland rack in the first round.

It’s day two of the San Diego Classic, the third stop of the WPBA’s 2006 season, and the winner’s side is fraught with contenders for the coveted $13,000 paycheck.

Defending champion Kelly Fisher won her first match over California’s Darlene Stinson, 9-1, and looks well poised to make her way to the finals. Local favorite Tina Pawlowski suffered her first loss at the hand’s of Virginia’s Sueyen Rhee, but will return today to compete against Wisconsin’s Jeri Engh.

First round upsets included #51-ranked Lisa D’Atri over Colorado’s #24-ranked Laura Smith; #42-ranked semi-pro Leslie Anne Rogers of Texas over #26-ranked pro Melissa Little; newcomer Julia Gabriel over #31-ranked Stacy Hurst of Southern California; and the Florida Flash, #43-ranked Ellen Van Buren over #19-ranked Romana Dokovic.

Big matches in the winner’s bracket will take place tonight, including Jeanette Lee vs. Kelly Fisher and Kim Shaw vs. Dawn Hopkins, who dismissed both Tiffany Nelson, 9-5, and Kim White, 9-7, in preliminary rounds.

Stay tuned for more coverage here at HeadString, or follow updated tournament brackets and highlights at www.wpba.com.