Tracie Voelkering rode down with me for the almost 6 hour ride and we stopped at the Golden Phoenix for some Chinese food in San Antonio (my favorite Chinese buffet). The drive went smooth and actually quite fast.
The tables weren't set up to practice when we got there in the afternoon of the mostly sunny Wednesday, so I took my ipod and camera to the water. I am trying to get calm and content for the tournament. Nature helps me do this. :) Here are two photos I took:
Hotel where I stayed at is on the left, hotel that held tournament is on the right (both are the Omni).
The night before the tournament someone calls me to try and have his friend take my bye. I was torn (I'm a nice person) but it wasn't my fault her captain didn't send in her entry fee, so I finally said no after some hemhawing. It was a interesting start to the event.
So, I get a bye my first match and have to play Lisa Dawson first, around 1pm. She's always been a nice person to me and I knew going into the match she was a talker and she was, but i didn't let it get to me. I was up 4-2 and let up a little and it got tied hill-hill (4-4). I had been nervous the whole match - first match of a this big tournament, I guess was the reason. I missed a shot in my run in the hill-hill game and she got to the table and started to run out but failed to pocket the second ball before the 8ball. It looked like she was already mentally shooting the next ball and forgot to focus on this one. My only option was a long rail bank on my troublesome stripe and I nailed it and the next three balls for the out. Whew. What a win! Lisa said under her breathe after the bank, "that was the game winning shot."
My next match was against a really nice woman named Pauline Plata. She had already won two matches, so I needed to bare down. I was up 3-2 and was shooting well at first but made some mistakes in the middle of the set before finally winning 5-3. Luckily, she made more mistakes than I did.
I then played another nice girl, Jacque Smith from Amarillo. She is due in May and so her and her unborn child were trying to beat me! She played really, really good. At 2-2, she was running out and I thought to myself, "it's okay if I don't win, at least I'm playing good," and she misses. I couldn't believe it! I then get out that game and two more to win 5-3. The other game she won I failed to hit a rail after a soft safe and she got out, otherwise, I played pretty darn sporty.
This meant I was in until Friday - final 8 on the winner's side. I played at noon the next day and so I had time to go to dinner with Beth Shriver and Tracie Voelkering at Water Street Grill and had some fried shrimp. Also, Tracie bought me a virgin Strawberry Daiquiri - I would drink those when I hung out with her at the Aladdin in Vegas. :) It was a pleasant surprise when she offered to buy me a drink. :)
I played Sheryle Johnson the next day at noon (she was also from Amarillo) and I knew she played well because she had beaten Tracie the night before. I got up early that morning (to go pee-pee) and noticed the sun was about to rise and I ran downstairs with my camera and ipod and watched the sun rise while I took photos of it and some birds and some boats, all the while listening to some great music. I was extremely calm and content, just what I needed for the tournament.
See many MORE photos here from each day I vegged at the water front.
I hit a few racks while listening to my ipod about 30 minutes before I played my noon match. This sums up the match with Sheryle: I played lights out. She missed an 8ball the first rack and I finished off my balls (after getting to the table twice). Then I ran several racks, played excellent safeties, and just played damn good. I didn't let up at all and really bared down and kept saying to myself how many games I needed to win. It felt great! I won 5-0.
Then had to wait several hours to play for the hot seat (my first time to do that). I waited out the time in this really nice bar-type area that more-so looked like a sunroom and just vegged and listened to my music. Tracie sat with me and we talked. She witnessed me go through all the emotions - nervousness, excitement, confident, worried, calm, happy, etc. I just wanted to play well, in the end I would like the win, but I really just wanted to play well and not fall on my face. I was reading over my notes and trying to remain calm but while sitting there with the sun on my face, the great ipod music in my ears, I was still nervous about the possibility of this title.
I think that's what separated this tournament from others - it was a title tournament. Not just a possible tournament win, but a TITLE win - if you win something like this, it's with you forever. Like Tony, he will always be known as the 2002 BCA Texas State Champion.
I went to hit balls 30 minutes before my hotseat match with Kim Pierce and I was hitting the balls really well! We started our match and Monica, Susan and Linda show up right when we began so that was really special to me - they just drove in from Dallas (Monica is staying with me and I have the another room for the other two girls) and we are all teammates for this weekend. Kim was being kind of loud after each game she won for the whole tournament (she had been high-fiving her friends after each GAME [not match]), but during our match she was not doing that, even though ironically I was prepared for it - like Cristina says, it's good to know your opponent. Kim broke the first game but didn't make anything and I ran out! OMG! I was confident and playing well. The next game I had a tough out and so did she. After one of her misses, my tough out proved too much and I missed a long rail cut shot and she got out. Same thing happened in the next game and she was up 2-1. I was all of a sudden not thinking, and she was gaining confidence. She seemed nervous the first time she got to shoot (in the second game when I came up dry on the break), but my misses allowed her confidence back in the game. I ran out a nice run in the next game but missed an 8 ball and she got out and was up 3-1. I was unsure of the 8ball and should have got back up and should have realized I was thinking too much while down on the shot, but I shot it anyway and missed. I didn't realize until the next morning that's why I missed that shot (and more to come). The next game I played a good safe and had a 4 ball out with ball in hand. As I'm shooting a 5 ball up the table, I am telling myself, "maybe this isn't the shot - maybe this should be the key ball." I shoot it anyway and I fall short and out of line for my next shot. Instead of playing safe (not a good option was available, but I honestly didn't look long) I went for the shot and missed and she got out. Now she's up 4-1. She actually ran out the next game very beautifully, even making an almost impossible shot on the 6 ball for the win and that sealed her win with a score 5 to her, me only 1. I was just sick. My confidence that was there the first three games went away. I realized also the next morning I wasn't in my "3 more games" mode or wanting to win. Again, like in my Amateur Nationals key match, I was trying to "stay alive" instead of playing pool or wanting to win. My whole head was foggy and I wasn't thinking clear.... especially not like I had been earlier that day when I won 5-0 just four hours earlier. I never thought to myself that I was playing for the hot seat or how big the match was or anything like that. I also wasn't nervous (trust me, I know what that feels like). I just wasn't thinking clear starting with the 4th game. Afterwards, my stomach was in knots because I was so embarrassed with how I played. Maybe that was on my mind? I don't remember thinking anything about that in the match, though (afterwards, very much so). I was just ... foggy. It's so hard to describe. But, I wasn't thinking about the "process of playing pool" that helped me place 5th in Florida. I have thought about it over and over trying to figure out how to even describe what happened.
I then only had a couple of hours to play in the semi final match. We set up the room situation for my teammates and then I did my same routine: Hit balls about 30 minutes before my match while listening to my ipod and really tried to get in-tune with the tournament environment, like what worked for me at the RTC in Jan in FL. I was confident, comfortable, happy, enjoyed the environment, felt the love around the room, etc.
But, the same thing happened in the semi finals against Ricki Casper. However, this time, I had vocal supporters (that was really cool, too!). But...I was again foggy in my head and not thinking clear at all. I looked like an amateur, one that didn't deserve to be playing in the semi finals. Ugh! I tried to walk back to my chair positive after each "amazingly un-Melinda-like miss or shape" and honestly didn't let it get to me... I just tried to remain in the game, but I wasn't trying to win again - I was trying to stay alive, the same as the previous match...not thinking right. I was playing smart 8ball, but my errors were because I hit the cueball wrong - it seemed like my arm wasn't attached to my body... it wasn't listening to my head and had a mind of its own. I would hit balls too hard or too soft. It was just weird. So, after losing 5-1 again, I placed 3rd and received a little plaque and $320. Got my picture taken, too. :) Kim went on to win the second set of the double elimination set against Ricki Casper.
Several people said I should have beat Ricki, others said, "heard you had Ricki." Nice comments to someone who already knew that. LOL. I walked around all night with my cute plaque and told everyone, "look - I placed 3rd. Third sucks." Now, however, I am very proud. I still had to beat players to get where I did. Yea, I didn't play my best in the end and it was a huge missed opportunity in my life, but I hope to learn from my fogginess for the future.
I went into this tournament knowing the conditions may not be right. I didn't let that affect me. I was proud of myself for knowing ahead of time that things may not go as planned but not to let it affect my game (no lights over the tables, times not on matches early on, matches not starting on time, etc.) so that is a good thing that I didn't let distract me from playing pool. I have learned you shouldn't waste energy on conditions you can't change.
I was bitter the morning after, embarrassed and upset, but as the morning went on, I realized it just wasn't my time to win, for whatever reason - even if the reason was because I didn't play well. Sometimes people win because of other's mistakes and in this case, I was that help. I have had my share of good rolls and bad play against me... I just wish I would have played better, like I had that same morning.
The team event the next two days were a lot of fun! I enjoyed this team more than most I have been on. No drama, just playing pool and enjoying to be able to play. We only won one match, but we won 10-1. Ouch! :) We had a good team, but a few bad rolls (including me not winning enough games) stopped our run. I still so enjoyed the team and also getting to know my teammates more. Spetty, Linda and Monica are such great ladies!
I knew I was ready to play and I am happy about my knowledge of the game of 8ball. I have more to learn (I learned some during our team event, too) so that is awesome. In Vegas, in May at the BCA Nationals, I need to have a goal. Maybe it will be to try and get into the money, have fun, and focus on my shot routine. I also want to play in mini tournaments... maybe just scotch doubles so I can have help. LOL!
I went through a lot of emotions while driving home alone. I tried not to think of the missed shots during my hotseat and semi final matches - when in the end each those matches should have been at LEAST 3-3. Doesn't mean I would have won, but still. This was a huge missed opportunity. Will I have one in the future? Many say yes, but it's not a guarantee.
I stopped by my parents house on the way home and my Dad was proud of me for 3rd place. My Mom was not feeling well - she had the flu or something, we weren't sure.
I realized on the drive home that this isn't the end of the world. It would have been nice, and thinking that I could be the BCA Texas State Champion is pretty heart wrenching, but truly, 3rd place isn't bad and it isn't the end of the world, just a huge missed opportunity.
I want to figure out the fogginess. I jokingly thought, "Maybe I need a flowchart. When I am foggy, do this. When I'm nervous, do this. When I'm ahead, do this." LOL. Maybe it isn't really a bad idea! I just need to recognize when I'm going through that and then work on changing it. That's the key - recognition. During those matches, I didn't know what I was going through.
After some thought/discussion after the event, I think I figured out what I was doing: I was down on the shots thinking too much. I hardly ever do that, so what I describe as "fogginess" is really new to me because I don't normally think while down on the shot. Maybe I did that during most of the tournament but more opportunities didn't arise the final two matches so it wasn't as noticeable throughout the entire event? I don't know. I have been concentrating so much on my shot routine, this is all coming as a surprise. But, I am hoping this realization will help for the future (if that is what happened). If I start thinking while stroking (like, "don't hit it too hard or you will be on the rail" or "don't hit it to soft or you wont get shape"), I need to recognize it and get back up and decide what I am going to do and then get back down. Again, it was like my arm wasn't connected to my body or thoughts and that I was thinking too much while down on the shot. I know that sounds the opposite of "fogginess" though, LOL! I just don't know if I did this in the past... maybe the fast cloth on the small table made this show up more? I am just not sure, even as I write this. Nevertheless, I just need to get back up if I am talking to myself while down on a shot. Sounds so easy. LOL. :) I also need to bare down and remember the process of playing pool. Get in the mode I was in when I won 5-0... "X more games left, don't let up, stick it to 'em, etc."
Truly, simply, I was embarrassed.
Consistency is a true gem... anyone know where I can find that rare stone?
Until Next time....