Thursday, December 6, 2012

Third Place!

Last weekend I played in the OB Cues Ladies Tour in Dallas, TX.  I planned to play in it all along, and then the week before I got sick with a really bad cold.  So sick in fact, it kept me from work for two days; for a stupid cold!

I had hoped I felt good enough to play in the tourney by Saturday morning, and luckily I did.  It was still lingering, but not like earlier in the week.

On Friday I had a great day - a better day than normal because my b/f did a very nice thing for me. So, I was in a great frame of mind for the tourney.

He ended up sick Friday night and didn't feel well enough to go with me by Saturday morning, so I ventured at 9am for the one hour drive from Fort Worth to north Dallas (Richardson) for the last stop of the OB Cues Ladies Tour 2012 season. 

I was disappointed there were only 28 ladies who showed up to play, but I also wondered:   how I would do?

Friday, I had decided on my goals for the tourney:  (1) take my time on my strokes and (2) focus on three-ball shape. 

I then wondered - Was I REALLY ready?  When did I play pool last?

I couldn't really think of a real recent time, but the previous weekend I HAD watched a lot of great pool at the Omega Billiards Tour stop

So, while I hadn't had much practice time, I felt like I would do okay; well "hoped" I would, lol.

I felt no nervousness or pressure.  I was just "there" which is the BEST for me - no expectations, no worries, just "numb" as I call it.

During my first match, I noticed I was on the first table; the first match called.  I wondered, "who I would play next??

Would it be one of the players on table 2?  Or would I play someone who got a bye?

As I look around the room (yes, I know, I should not be thinking ahead while in the middle of a match), I noticed Tara, Amanda, and Orietta all playing.  The other tough player was NOT playing, though - Kim Pierce, the current first place holder in the rankings.  I thought to myself, "damn, I wonder if I have to play her next?  Oh well, will deal with that when/if the time comes."

BTW - do NOT do this - do NOT think about potential future matches.  We should focus on the match we are currently in!

I win my first match 7-3 and sure enough, when I report my score I see I play Kim next.

I played Kim and had a few things going for me.  I had heard she had a coach and when someone gets a new coach, their game changes a little.  And normally, it goes down before it goes up.  I noticed Kim played a tad more timid than usual.  And she wasn't as aggressive.  To make matters worse, I was playing quite well.

I got up 1-0 when I ran out prolly the best out in a YEAR, but I scratched on the 8ball, following it down for the 9.  Then she won the next game b/c I hooked myself.  I found myself down 2-4 and tried so hard not to think of the two games I gave up b/c of my mistakes.  It's very frustrating to know in your heart you are playing well, but the score doesn't reflect it because of a few mistakes.

I told myself. "you are still playing well, just take your time, look at where you want to be for three-ball shape." 

She missed a 2 ball, I got out.  A 3 ball, I got out.  A 1 ball, I got out.  I started to make a lot less mistakes and really played fantastic (I thought).  I ended up winning 7-4!! 

I was SO ecstatic because she normally beats me, AND I played GREAT!  I felt bad for her b/c I knew she was going for Tour Champion, but I also knew she could come through the one-loss side.

I then had to play my dear friend Julie.  I played real good again at first and was up 2-1.  But I made a crucial mistake on the 8ball - I was too worried about shape and didn't focus on making the 8ball in the side.  I missed it, and she got out. 

That miss stayed "with me" for many games and it was very difficult to get that monkey off my back.  I found myself down 5-2.

5-2!

I kept telling myself "5 more games," to keep myself mentally in the match, but she was playing well while I struggled.  She then missed a few shots or safes and I was able to capitalize.  I was on the comeback and actually got to the hill first, 6-5!

She missed a tough 8 ball and I could see the writing on the wall.  I was struggling mentally with a person in the crowd who never gives me positive feedback.  He just shakes his head when I miss.  So, I had this little demon to deal with while trying to compete.

And sure enough, I over hit the 8ball and was left with a tough cut on the 9ball that I proceeded to miss.  Julie played safe and I missed my return safe and she made a great shot to make us play for it all, hill-hill.

I tried not to kick myself in the a$$ for the 8ball shot.  I had it in the bag and messed it up, but I needed to focus on the last game.  I put no pressure on myself:  I figured if I won, cool, if not, it wouldn't be the end of the world and I learned some things.

We went back and forth with safes and shots and eventually she safed me well on the 5ball.  I had to kick at it with English, and I hit it (whew) but hit it so square, it went in one of the corner pockets!  I raised my hand for the apology wave, and then saw I had 4 balls left to win the game, to win the match.  I took my time and made the last 4 balls for the win!  I couldn't believe it! 

I went to the tourney table, and saw it:  I was in til Sunday - ON THE WINNERS SIDE!

Gosh, not sure the last time that has happened, lol.


On the hour long drive home, it of course dawns on me that if I win my match in the morning, I will be playing in the hotseat - for the first time ever on this tour.  The last two times I was in the same position the past 2 years, I completely psyched myself out.  Because wanted it so badly, I put all this invisible pressure on myself and completely dogged it the next morning. 

This night however, I felt no pressure.  I was very "numb" as I call it - I was not thinking of the future or expectations. 

Unfortunately, I didn't get a good nights sleep.  I tossed and turned and woke up all night long because things kept waking me up.  I didn't let it get to me, I just accepted the fact I didn't get a good nights sleep.  I didn't want it to be an excuse.  Further, I have recently fought through fatigue and played well.  Sure, I play BETTER with sleep, but I had no control over the lack of sleep anymore so why let it upset me?

I listened to music on the hour drive as my b/f drove me this bright Sunday morning. 

I played my first match promptly at 10:30am and was up 2-0 because Jennifer, a good friend of mine and a fierce competitor that I learn a lot from, made some mistakes.  Then she scratched on the break.  I saw a 1-9 combo, and the 4/5 were tied up.  But, I felt SUPER bad I was going to go for it.  I could tell Jennifer was agitated because of the way she missed shots at the table, and if I had to guess, she was probably distracted about my b/f sitting so close to our match.

I didn't give the shot 100% because I felt bad about to be up 3-0.  I KNOW that sounds stupid.  But I did feel bad.  I knew she wasn't playing up to par because she was distracted/upset, and I felt like I was partially responsible.  I missed the shot.  She gets out (of course) and eventually wins a few more games.  I'm down 4-2 and pretty dang ticked at myself for not being cut throat.  For not giving that combo 100%!  For not having the killer instinct.

Ironically, Jennifer is someone I interviewed before to find out about her competitiveness.  Here I was not even following her own advice!!  Competition comes first. 

I was mad at myself.

If I think my b/f sitting close to us is bothering her, then it bothers me.  I find that very ironic.  It happened once before and so this time I tried so hard not to let it bother me, but it did anyway.  I should have just asked him to move one table back.  In any other tourney, my b/f can sit where ever he wants.  On this tour, he was probably considered in the "playing area" even though he wasn't sitting at my table.  He wasn't doing anything wrong, and neither was I.  But, his closeness was distracting her; I could tell.  But if he was bothering her, maybe she should ask him to move?  Or had a TD do it?  I know, though, it's difficult to speak up during a match so I completely understand.  Next time I will try to do the proper thing so it doesn't affect us BOTH.

Then our match became weird - each of us barely inched wins because of stupid mistakes, but somehow we each get to 5.  I am upset how badly I'm playing and I express my frustration out loud when I would miss a tough 9 or a 6ball I would have made yesterday.  I was SO frustrated.

At 5-5, we each had a shot at a 9 ball carom but missed.  She then calls a foul on herself and I felt SUPER bad, as I was about to get ball in hand with the 9ball sitting in front one of the pockets.  I told her I felt bad and her response was so pretty awesome, "well, I shouldn't have missed the carom anyway."

Which is a great way to look at things.

However, I did indeed make the 3-9 (albeit it wasn't very easy and I should NOT have gone for it then) and found myself on the hill first.  She took a break (btw, I need to do that more often: take breaks).

The next game she scratches and I eventually have to play safe on a tough 4 ball after I made the first three balls.  However, I leave her almost straight in.  I'm embarrassed and disappointed I left such an easy shot for her, so I say out loud, "That was suppose to be a safe..."

She then makes the 4, but scratches getting shape on the 6ball.  I couldn't believe it.  In my mind I think, "maybe it was a good safe?"

Later on I would realize I shouldn't have said ANYTHING out loud.  And I felt badly about it, because she asked me a few years ago to not talk during our matches.  I felt like I distracted her (again!).  :(

I ran out the rest of the rack - ran it well under the pressure of knowing I'm about to be in the hotseat for the first time.  OMG!  I was in the hotseat for the first time on the OB Cues Ladies Tour!!

I then had a little wait and even though I wasn't aware of it at the time, I was mentally tapped.  As I reflect back, as I waited, I became exhausted mentally for some reason.

I played Tara in the hotseat and she plays SO beautifully!  I really love to watch her play; she plays like a guy.  She broke and ran one rack and only missed 2 shots the first 4 games.  However, I did NOT make two tough shots and so she went ahead 0-4.  I tried so hard not to let it get to me.

She scratched on the break when she was up 0-5 and I ran out a tough little out.  Go Me!  I got some snaps from the crowd and even SHE told me nice out (she doesn't normally talk to me).

I was so relieved it be on the score board, lol.

I loosened up a little bit and won another game.  I was only down 5-2 when I noticed the momentum changed.  She started to miss a little bit more and I was at the table more but I have to tell you, I got deflated.  I scratched TWO times when I swear I didn't think it was even possible.  I gave her two opportunities to run out when *I* should have been the one to run out and make the score closer.

Don't get me wrong, she deserved the win wholeheartedly b/c she played better than I, but the two misses and those two scratched were tough on the heart.

However, that was NOTHING compared to my next match....

I had to play Jennifer again next, and I know I use the word deflated to describe my emotions a lot, but whatever word means EXTRA deflated, that's how I felt after this match with her.

I scratch with ball in hand in the first game and she has a 9ball combo.  The second game I scratch off a carom, and she gets out.  She kept getting out and I felt like everything was going against me.  I then ran out BEAUTIFULLY but got bad on the 9 ball and missed it.  I felt so deflated, it was difficult to not either cry or throw my cue, lol.  And I only got ONE game against her.  I tried SO hard to smile, enjoy playing the game, FIGHT, but I felt like it was a lost cause, because my efforts were giving me NO wins.  I don't know how she got out so many times, and I even left her some tough outs, but she got out well to win the match 1-7.

I felt good she was going to the finals as she has more experience than I on this tour in that spot, but I will be there someday soon on this tour, too.  Baby steps!

After the match, a couple of people told me she got all the rolls.  I didn't really understand that; still don't.  I just think she played well, and fluky things happened when I was at the table.

After the match, everyone was so happy for me placing 3rd.  I was too upset about the last two matches to even be happy.  But as I reflect back, honestly, it was because I played so well on Saturday that got me in a good position for Sunday.  I am very happy for how I played on Saturday! 

I never got nervous or felt pressure in any of the matches I played all weekend and it felt great to be in that state of mind.  I wish I could bottle that up with me!

Eeeek, I placed 3rd on the OB Cues Ladies Tour!  I think it's my highest finish yet!  I might have placed 3rd back in 1996 by accident, but this feels like this first time to get this high, lol!

Baby steps....  :)

1 comment:

Faroe said...

Your win is still a considerable accomplishment. Contratulations. I'm always amazed at how well you can remember so many moves during so many games. Which brings up the issue: Competitive players like you play so many games and matches during a tournament. Is it any wonder that there is a natural ebb and flow of emotions and energy? I don't see how you and the others do it. It surely is the "other" side of the game that we casual players never see. It makes your win all that more impressive. Push on!!!