I decided over a month ago to head to Jamaica Joe's in Oklahoma City to play in a ladies tournament December 19th. I rode with two friends of mine (my friend and her husband) as we hit the road early Saturday morning to make it in time to sign up and then be a part of the calcutta.
One of the top three pick of the litters is a player I don't know, but Amanda Lampert (a good player in her own right who went for pick of the litter), told me she plays well and that's why they wanted to buy her. I had never heard of her.
My friend's husband bought me for $70 in the calcutta. Not sure why he did that, but it kinda put some pressure on me, lol. I never buy half myself, so he was in for all his own money. Normally who buys me doesn't affect me at all. But, it also actually gave me more to play for. Instead of just "having fun," I really wanted to do well for him.
I have to say I didn't like the way the tourney was run - $55 entry and we had to pay quarters still, and the players were moaning we wanted the calcutta to be paid down more than 4 spots, but we just weren't listened to. But, to play on beautiful equipment with a great staff was for sure a treat! 39 ladies and at least $1,000 added because we had more than 32 ladies. But if they would have paid out 9-12 in the tourney and 5/6 in the calcutta, that would have made it not so very top heavy (IMO).
So, I get called to my first match and low and behold I have to play the girl I mentioned above - the one I don't know but everyone says she plays well. I have no idea if she knows me or not.
She wins the first game, I COME WITH IT tho and win the next game. She wins the next, and I again return and come with it to win the next game. Now she knows I can play. I haven't faltered and she has seen me run out a rack twice now. We trade games again and it's 3-3, and I can feel SO much pressure, still. Before we even flipped the coin, a player walks by and says "wow, you two drew each other?" And I'm sitting here like, THANKS. lol. I honestly have never seen her or know how she plays but people are making it pretty obvious she plays well. Then again - they do indicate WE drew each other, not that I drew her. So, basically, it was going to be a good match.
I wanted to do well for my friend's husband who bought me, but it was a weird feeling to be playing this player that everyone thinks plays well.
I get ahead 4-3 and then she ties it again. Then I get ahead 5-4. At this point, a friend of hers, but a good player that I know, sits right next to her. I at first think, "hey wait a minute...you shouldn't get a corner man."
There is a LOT to this moment in the match. At this point, she is missing more and feeling the pressure as she realizes she is playing a good player. I realize that I am in control of the match and feel real good and am PLAYING good too. Can't begin to describe how awesome it feels to get out well and play great safes in a tough match.
As this friend sat right next to my opponent, A LOT is going through my mind already. It's already very tough to play in an environment where it seems everyone is watching this "famous" local girl playing me and wanting her to win (because she's expected to), and they have no idea who I am. I'm just trying to play my little heart out and not be too aware of all things around me so that I can just focus on playing good pool.
Her friend asks me, "Hey Melinda, is it okay if I sit here." It was my shot, and as I'm walking to the table I turn to her and say, "no, it's cool."
I have to play safe and then sit back down and tell her I thought it was really nice of her to ask me that. And she said, "well, I am sitting close to you and just wanted to be sure."
I felt pretty cool about it until when I got back to the table, I could hear them talking! THAT I did not like. You see, this goes WAY back to about 20 years ago when I'm in match and a friend walks up to my opponent to talk to her. She eventually tells her friend to leave and my opponent begins to share with me how unfair that was. That during tense situations, if a friend comes up to talk to us, it actually calms us down. We feel "safe" and "loved" and we get to either vent about the match or we get to just feel comfortable; or maybe use the talk with a friend to get over any embarrassment feelings. Well, I knew RIGHT AWAY that them talking was NOT good for me; it would be good for my opponent.
I'm used to not having players be able to talk to anyone during a match. And this proved it. It was distracting because I could hear them talking while I was at the table, and I could also hear her giving her a little pep talk. Although not intentionally, it is something we would just normally simply do with friends, so I don't consider it coaching, but I didn't think it was "fair."
And so, as I look back, if I would have said, "please don't talk," then THAT would have been on my mind. You see, we don't need any confrontation during a match. I don't want to feel bad (or look like a bitch) because I asked her to move or not talk, because then that "negative emotion" takes away from my match. BUT, them talking was giving me a negative emotion as well. It was distracting. It wasn't really "right." It wasn't really fair. And yes, it was bothering me.
I was running out the next game, again I'm up 5-4, and I get bad on the 8 ball but it's still make-able. But, I shoot the 8ball too fast b/c I wasn't sure before I got down on the shot and I missed. She easily makes the 8 and 9 balls. Score 5-5. That was A HUGE game. Instead of me being up 6-4, it was now 5-5.
I then leave myself a really tough shot on the 8 ball the next game but thought I could still make it, and I missed. I heard her friend say, "there you go." She wins that game and is up 6-4.
One of my friends asks me in front of my opponent if I am the player up 6-4 and I reply, "I should be, but I've missed the last two 8-balls" - which is now showing my frustrations, which I hate showing any emotion during a match because you don't want to give your opponent an edge letting them see you sweat. She wins the next game due to errors on both our parts (but mine was the final error) and she makes the four balls left and beats me 5-7.
To say I was deflated is an understatement. I am seasoned (enough?) to know to not let things bother me, but I haven't been playing enough still in my lifetime to /really/ ignore things. SUPER proud how well I handled myself to even get to five games against this good player! I really did come with it in the beginning and overcame a lot of pressure to play well, just got distracted in the end (dammit).
Off to the one-loss side I go, but it's a race to little ole' five! Ugher. I play super sporty (imo) on the one loss side as well and win about 5-6 matches before finally losing steam and placed 9th. Yep, one of the money!
I am still very happy (even elated) that I played well most of the tourney! And I had a great learning experience. I try to learn from every tourney, every match.