Not many people know this, but a goal of mine is to win a tournament in my 30s. This past weekend, I was THIS close to reaching that goal.
I played in the Fast Eddie's tournament in Houston Nov 12. The day before, I helped Paul and Lewis run the men's brackets. That was actually a lot of fun. I met some new people and watched a lot of good pool and was 'in my element'. Also, an awesome side benefit was I was able to watch so many of the guys stay down on their shots - something I was consciously working on the previous Wed during my practice session.
I have started to read Pleasures of Small Motions and even though I'm only on page 25, so far it suggests to be very conscious of your body during practice. I did that the previous Wed during my practice session, while I focused on following through (which in turns causes one to stay down). Before I played Sunday, I told Marc Garza that morning, "My goal this tournament is to stay down like Marc Garza." He laughed and I told him I jumped up on my shots. He asked me what I was looking at. "Umm... I don't know. I know ingolf I look at the ball and so I don't stay down." He then told me that he stays focused on the spot on the object ball, even after the object ball is made. He said,"you have already imagined where you want the cueball to go, so you don't need to look at the cuball. You already know where the object ball is going, you don't need to watch the object ball go in." And he added that Jeremy told him when they were on the road the most important thing about long draw shots is to stay down. Marc said when he has a tough, long draw shot, he's telling himself to stay down.
I hit a few balls, miss everyone of them, but notice I am watching the cueball. Interesting!
I play a new girl my first match. I made some mistakes, but she made more and I won 7-4 or 7-5. I told Marc it was working, but it would really be tested next when I had to play the always tough Jennifer Kraber. We both got our ipods out and we were jammin while playing. I felt like I was playing pretty good and after a nice come back from her, I still managed to win 7-5. Then I played Rebecca Goodnight (whose game has improved) and I had one break and run and won 7-5.
I then played Kim Pierce next. We were moved to the center tables - and some Kim fans were sitting near me. I shouldn't have sat so close to the crowd, but there wasn't another seat near the table. I was missing a lot of shots and she is very good at capitalizing. I was not getting frustrated, but I was more aware of what was going on around me than thinking about the ball in front of me when I was shooting. I was down 5-2 then 6-3 and knew I still wanted to win this match badly so I could be playing for the hotseat. I don't know what happened, but I started to focus. I stayed down; I followed through; I didn't make mistakes late in the rack. I came back and won 7-6! OMG. I was ecstatic! I ran to Lewis and gave him a big hug - I was so happy.
I then played Helen Hayes for the hotseat. I was playing SO good the first four games and was up 3-1. Rebecca Redumis was sitting near me and she had a calming effect on me... I told her not to leave. She sat there and watched us play and I would make comments to her - basically talking out loud what was in my head. Examples: "don't think ahead. Stay down. Remain in the present." She would smile at me and nod her head. At 3-1 I was thinking too much how great I was playing (a VERY bad thing to do). She came back and tied it at 3-3 and I could feel the momentum switch and my confidence not be as high. I got it back though and won a few more games and after some fouls by her, I capitalized and won 7-4. OMG - I won the hotseat match! My first time in a women's tournament! I was so pumped up.
I texted a few friends who I knew were awake at that hour and told them. Oh, did I jinx myself?
Helen ended up defeating Belinda Lee and the rematch was on. They moved us the front table and I faltered the first set and lost 7-3. I knew I had another set to go and so I wasn't in the "must win" mind frame - next time I will not want it to go two sets, instead of thinking... I have a set left. Basically, I played like a girl. I wasn't stroking the ball, I wasn't staying down, I wasn't following through, I wasn't playing confident, etc.
Rebecca was so cute, when Helen would miss she'd say, "come on Melinda" under her breath. My friends Ernesto and Mike were watching and that was cool. I had such support - even Paul and Lewis were pulling for me (of course, I didn't know this at the time.. I wasn't too aware of my surroundings - I tried not to look around a lot this tournament).
The second set was different. I played a little better in the beginning but still made mistakes. Helen was playing well and when I was down 5-3, something clicked inside me and I caught a gear. I even broke and ran a tough rack and was all of a sudden up 6-5! As I broke at 6-5, I was getting emotional. Thinking I would dedicate it to me parents, I would reach my goal, I would cry if I won. It was all very surreal. But, she got out beautifully on a VERY tough rack to tie it 6-6. Here we go.
She breaks and I make the 1 and 2 but miss a tough 3 (later heard I should have made the 3 in the other pocket). She makes the 3 and that hits the 9 and it rolls in front of the 4 ball. She studies it for a while and cuts the 9 in. I was SO disappointed when the 9ball really fell into that pocket. I wanted another chance at the table.
I won $220 for second and was given $40 jelly by my calcutta buyer.
I felt good about the whole day, wished I would have played better that first set, but glad I didn't fall on my face the second set. I like staying down and following through. LOL! I sure do need to work on it some more.
I am glad I focused on pool at this tournament. I had some distractions, but put them out of my head... didn't think about missed shots... when I thought too far in the future I tried to stop it... I tried to be strong and remain in the present.
I have a tournament this weekend, back to Houston for the end of season tournament for the Hunter Classics Tour. It will be a busy weekend but I hope to have fun. No expectations... but my goal will be to stay down.