This past weekend was... interesting. I'll talk about my awesome team / event in a separate blog entry soon, but before I do, I would like to share the pressures of being a good player.
I think it would have been nice to read things like this when I was improving. I hope this helps some people some day.
As I wrote about before, I was the only female Advanced/Master player in the ladies 8ball event at the ACS Texas State tourney. I had to add 2 extra games to everyone's race to 4. The week before the event began, the races in the one-loss side were reduced by one. The brackets overflowed with entrants and the divisions had to be expanded! So, in order to accommodate all the extra players, and to be able to finish the singles in one day, this was a very smart move.
However, I had major inner turmoil because I would have to give up two games and my opponents only raced to THREE on the one loss side. In pool, that's about a coin toss!
I decided ahead of time how I would state my case and as soon as I got to the E Center in Harker Heights, TX, the morning of the singles event, I approached one of the TDs and asked him if they could consider an alternative for me since I a race to 3 already brutal enough. I asked to put themselves in my shoes, and also stated it was great they have so many players and made accommodations for them, but a race to 3 isn't really fair if I have to add 2 games. He said he would talk to the other Board Members, he didn't feel comfy making the decision on his own.
During my first match, he pulled me aside and said the board decided all the masters (me, and 5 or so of the guys) would simply use the same race as the winner's side, for the one-loss side. He said my suggestion of me only adding one game on the one loss side wasn't really proper, because everyone knew from the advertisements that the Masters were to add 2 games. I was perfectly fine with the decision - it was a great compromise imo. And I was much appreciated they considered any alternative.
I had no idea my little plea would affect the Men Masters as well. But that was a smart move by the board.
In my first match, I was almost consumed that I had to go to 6 and my opponent to 4. It was A LOT of pressure! I felt like a lot of eyes were on me, too. And, that wasn't just my imagination - I literally saw many watching my match.
I won the first game with a rack and run. While my philosophy is not to think of the scores, it was ALL I thought about! I made one little mistake (even tho I had just ran out and was playing well), and she won the 2nd game. She now only had 3 more games to win and I still had five! In bar table 8ball, that is pretty huge.
I won the next game, and the next. My opponent, who plays very well, seemed nervous. At one point it crossed my mind maybe she felt pressure because I was close to winning and yet also had to give up two games? I won 6-2 and felt pretty cool about myself. The pressure was definitely lifted a little bit. I felt so relieved. And, realized that it was do-able! I felt vindicated, for some silly reason.
BTW, my opponent would win many many matches on the one-loss side and place 4th! She plays that good and recovered from the loss well.
As I walked to the chart, I heard someone say, "There goes the master player."
I didn't realize I would be talked about, lol. Trust me when I say the pressure was all on me! (b/c of the weight)
The other Advanced/Master ACS Player decided not to play. She thought two games was too much. My thought process was much more positive: ACS allows us to play in their State tourney which is SUPER cool. And of course as defending champion, I wanted to play anyway. :)
With the first win under my belt, I thought maybe I could place well in the tourney after all. The catch was - to try and not make any mistakes. If I let my opponent at the table, they could win a game here and there and make the extra two games I need to win feel even more difficult to attain. I was playing well, tho.
I felt like an Advanced/Master player. That might sound weird, but not every day I feel like a good player. Only lately (last year) have I felt like a good, formidable player.
In my next match, I was up 3-0 but then got too comfortable. I gave away two games. Then I won one good one. But the pressure was definitely on and I was no longer playing loose, instead I was too tight and missing. I broke dry 4-3 me, and she ran out! I was very happy for her, as her game has improved. But, I was disappointed that I lost focus and didn't play my best toward the end.
There went my high; there went my opportunity to remain on the winner's side.
I then went to the bathroom and while I was washing my hands, two ladies walk in and say "yea, there is one master player. Oh, there she is," pointing at me. "Don't worry," I quip, "I'm on the one-loss side already." Still trying to get over my loss.
As I walk out, I'm still confused people are talking about "The Master Player."
I then play my next match on the one-loss side and my opponent doesn't know the race is 4 to 6, not just a race to 3. I get to 3 games, and she has 1. I win the next game and she tells me, "didn't you already win with three games?"
I shyly say, as the words seem weird coming from my mouth, "I'm a master player and I go to 6, you go to 4 when you play me."
She immediately udders, "I'm playing a master player! My stats are 35% in my league!" I'm not even sure why she shared that or why that matters, lol. But, she didn't play as well anymore once I told her that, and I won pretty solidly 6-1.
In my next match, the same thing happens again. I win the 4th game and it's 3-1 me. My opponent tries to shake my hand, and again I'm uncomfortable with the words I have to say, "But we aren't done yet. I'm a master player and I go to 6, you go to 4."
"What? I'm playing a master player??" she exclaims. A mutual friend states, "I told you earlier in the day she was the master player."
A few games later, she shares she can no longer play well now that she knows she's playing a master player. I didn't understand. I mean, I DO, but I don't. If they played the same way as in the beginning, the score would have been much closer, and maybe even beat me. I won 6-2.
I then played a player who has beat me in the past in another big tourney about 6 years ago, that I will never forget. She is truly a force to be reckoned with, and I KNEW she would be a very tough opponent. I have respect for her game, but I also knew this could be the match that got me.
Sure enough, she beat me. She played fantastic. I missed two critical shots, but overall I played satisfactory, imo. Maybe not my best, but good. She would have beat me if we had to race the same, I'm sure of it. She plays really smart and has good fundamentals.
She also knew the correct race - 4 and 6. At 3-2 her, she went to the bathroom (I had gone right before the previous game) and she comes back and tells me something that I will never forget. She complimented me. Not on my pool game, but about me.... me, personally.
She told me that she looked forward to playing me, and had hoped we would run into each other. She said that of all the really great players in our area, I'm the nice one; the nicest one, in fact. I looked at her stunned. I had a really bad day on Thursday and what I heard from her was the exact opposite of what happened. I stood there in awe and only said thank you, as I tried to focus on the match when instead, I was trying not to cry.
After she won the final game, I pulled her aside and thanked her from the bottom of my heart. I explained to her I left work sobbing just the day before and so her words meant more to me than I could ever explain. She reiterated her compliment, "It's true, Melinda. You ARE the nicest good player in the area. I enjoy playing you and know it's going to be a fun, tough, drama-free match."
I soaked up her compliment, as the last entire year has really proven to test my own confidence in myself. Her comment couldn't have come at a better time for me in my life.
I then got myself a drink as I walked over to check out the brackets. 17th place. That's it. :( Wow. I really only faltered one match, otherwise I was playing great 8ball and really enjoyed how well I was playing. But, 17th place sucked. :(
I found it cool that some of the girls thought the 2 extra games was too much. If I was in their shoes, I think it would be tough for me NOT say, "Glad she has to go to 2 extra games, " lol. I remember when I disliked playing master players, ha ha.
Even one of my friends posted this on FB, "I just want to say, I am proud of you for still coming, under the circumstances. I think " the rules" are B.S. but good luck :)"
As I sipped my drink and watched my b/f play his singles match, a woman was pacing behind me, talking on the phone. "Yea, she won again. AND, she just beat the Master player! There was only one master, and she beat her." I turned around and declared, "I'm right here!" as I raised both my arms into the air announcing my presence.
She apologized right after the phone call. I told her it didn't bother me at all, I just thought it was funny I was literally right next to her when she was talking about me. lol.
It was very surreal all weekend. I felt like a respected player. One that really does play well. It was a great feeling; I admit. I don't always feel that way, so it was a wonderful, unexpected feeling.
To be THE master player was a lot pressure, tho. To have to give up two games was rough. I felt SO much pressure. It truly was very difficult. But, I enjoyed the experience IMMENSELY!
I held my own against the ones I normally would defeat in an even race. The ones who would be tough to play, they were still tough to play.
I'm just glad I GOT to play. Like I mentioned before. The ACS combines the advanced and master players into one group for the women. We get to play in the ACS Texas State tourney. BCAPL separates the Advanced and Master players and they do not allow Master women to play in the women's singles event of the BCAPL Texas State tourney. So, I feel pretty privileged! Dare I say that 2 games is a good spot for the Master players? Well, it is. It's tough! However, I consider myself more of an Advanced player than a Master player, tho.
Bottom line is the ACS Texas board put on a fabulous, well-run event! They were accommodating, supportive, helpful, and ran a tight ship. I was very impressed!! Thank you ACS Texas State!