Monday, October 23, 2006

Hott Tour event in Killeen, Texas Oct 2006

I was so excited about this event! I didn't know how I would do because I hadn't practice in a couple of weeks and had been out of town for two weekends in a row before this weekend, and those travels were more than 5 hours away.

But, I decided to go because I could drive to the event in the morning and save a hotel's room expense for Friday night. I also wanted to compete! I have been playing well, and wanting to compete, so I wanted to take advantage of the opportunity to play in a women's event close to home.

I left the house around 7am on Saturday morning and about 2 hours later, I arrived at the pool room. It was a long drive because I wanted to be there on time so I was a little nervous/anxious during the drive. Another reason it was a long drive was because I was tired. I have been reading in the forums on tips of what to do when you get tired during tournaments. I hadn't known what to do DURING matches, so I read the thread intently and there were some good advice. I went to bed early Friday night, but woke up around 1030pm and couldn't go back to sleep for a couple of hours. I was so pissed! But, I figured I would still be okay... even though the drive was tough because I was tired (and because I’m not a morning person).

The pool room was great - almost 20 nine-foot tables and a GREAT location! There were 14 women for the event and when I hit some balls before the tournament, I could tell I wasn't playing good. ugh!

I played my friend Heather Lloyd my first match and she won 9-4 I think. I just wasn't playing good and didn't know why, but could tell my 'good playing' wasn't with me. I then had a couple of hours to kill and went to KMART across the street and ate some nachos and looked for some clothes (found a great UT collared shirt for my husband!). While I walked around, I called a few friends, including Shayla who couldn’t make it – I updated her on Heather, Michelle, Jennifer and myself. I was hoping she'd change her mind and show up Saturday morning, but she didn't surprise me. :( I also called my friend Sherry and she kind of put me in my place with my thoughts and it really helped me out because she got me ready mentally for my matches. We have always talked about pool - including the mental side of pool, but we never talked about it right before a match, more so after tournaments or after practice sessions. She listened to my comments about my pool game and kind of picked apart my words and it really helped me see things well. Her advice for me to stop thinking about or saying, ‘I’m not playing well,’ to instead recall and remember how I CAN play well helped. She also reminded me to play my best every shot. Although that exact phrase is on my 'pool list' I carry in my poolcase, I don’t think about it when I walk up to the table.

I defeated Diana Cardona 9-3 and got my stroke back, just as Sherry and I had discussed. Then I played Kim Pierce next. I prevailed then also and won 9-4 I think. I was worried about playing her, because she has been improving, but she missed some balls and I was playing good. One of the things I read about being tired is to eat fruit because the natural sugars help you wake up. I noticed I was getting tired and losing focus toward the end of my match with Kim and I pulled out the blueberry fruit bar my husband gave me for my trip. I immediately felt better and washed it down with some cool water (not a caffeine drink) and decided to finish the bar because I knew I had another match coming up. It really helped! Although it wasn't fruit per se, it was natural and had no trans fat (it was from Whole Foods) and it seemed to wake me up.

Then I had to play my friend Cristina Dela Garza. It was close the first half of the match and I was playing good and staying focused. She got ahead but started to get tired (I think) and I moved ahead of her in the score, but she started to come back and so it made me a little "aware," but I kept my focus. The crowd was for her, but I played one ball at a time and stopped thinking of the future (like having to get a room, or having to drive home). I ended up winning 9-7. That meant I was staying overnight! My friend Heather and I decided to stay together and we found a close hotel at a good price. I like it that she needs 8 hours of sleep a night because I want to sleep, also! She has such a good heart and I enjoy being around her. I picked where we were going to eat (rude of me!) and we had a good time chatting at Texas Roadhouse, where I got roasted chicken and she got ribs!

If we both won in the morning, we would have to play each other and that would have been fabulous, but it didn't happen. :( I played Terry Pertosino on Sunday morning. Her game has come up but I was still playing good, but the first game I missed a 6 ball and then an on-the-rail 9-ball. It was 2-2 and I just wasn't playing good. She was getting out and playing good after a rough start. I was trying to talk to myself, "just play one ball at a time," “don't settle for 5th," “enjoy yourself,” etc. and then something finally kicked in. I just didn't want to lose with not playing well. I wanted to play well so badly and just remembered to play my best each shot and next thing you know after being down 7-2 I am up 8-7! I felt so confident; so wonderful; so happy that I started to play well. Even if I lost, I would be okay because I started to play good in the match. Terry got on the hill with me with a nice 2-9 carom shot. We both didn't have a lot of shots in the final game, but I was still confident and knew when I got to the table I would play well. After a miss by her on the 4 ball, I made the 4 and slid over for the 5, but the 9 was in my way and I got out of line. I played safe because my long rail shots weren't going in during practice and I didn't want to sell out. It was a good safe. I get her behind the 6 ball and she could barely see the 5 ball. She took forever, and decided to go for the 5 and she made it! It was beautiful! Then she had another tough cut, this time on the 6 ball with a bridge. She made it beautifully as well and got good on the 8 ball, then perfect on the 9 ball to win 9-8. A deserved win! Terry then defeated Heather next 9-8, also.

I got $190 for 5th/6th.

I LOVED the races to 9 and always love 9-foot tables. I felt good - again I played good, but the mental toughness Sherry gave me also helped. The mental part is so important! I was very happy I went to the tournament. Sherry said her words to me will help her as well. I hope to talk to her at her next tournament like she did with me.

I practiced twice since that tournament and played good; I feel good and can't wait for my next event this weekend at Bogies Billiards in Houston, Texas. It’s one of the ones I run and it should be a wonderful event for the ladies.

I saw The Prestige this weekend and it was depressing with all the obsessiveness, but a good movie.

I also got my eyes tested for possible Lasik surgey and I am in the 'grey' area. I went to a second doctor and they both agree I need to be out of my contacts for 14 days to get a more thorough test to see if I'm a candidate or not. I don't know if I want to even try, now. Ugh. I haven't decided.


Tuesday, October 3, 2006

I played pool - Amateur Nationals

Well, I can safely say I finally played pool! I have had a heck of a time with my consistency for the last several years, and now that I have started practicing more regularly, thinking more about pool, and being happy with my new sport, golf, I think my pool game is finally coming back. And what a great feeling it is!

I used to play real good - was even a threat and competitive to other players - but I stopped reading about the mental side of pool and more importantly, I stopped practicing. Therefore, competing was rough and I wasn't playing pool anymore anyway. I was going through the motions of attending tournaments, but I hadn't shown up in a long time. I was ranked 5th in Texas for several years, but have dropped way down the last 3 years. It's funny because the new people on the tours don't know I used to play well. Some people do, but those people didn't notice I wasn't playing well or finishing well anymore. So, only myself and few close friends know just how much this time in my life means to me.

I went to the Amateur Nationals in Tulsa, OK this past weekend. I knew it would be a good test of focusing on my preshot routine instead of worrying about who is watching and who I'm playing (advice from my friend Phil Capelle as I said before). I played Bonnie Plowman first on the front table, and I learned SO much in my match. I was playing really, really good and up 5-2. Then 6-4. Granted, I should have won 7-3, but because I lost, I learned so much more (just like Tracie Hines' husband told me years ago - the real winner is the loser). I had several chances to win, but started to think too much. I was thinking about which shot was best and why (to others), not just going with my instinct... what I knew I should do to win. I found myself trying to stay alive, instead of trying to win (I figured that out on the Monday after when I was describing my weekend to my friend Dianna during lunch). Which caused me to stop thinking during my match. It was kind of surreal, really. Bonnie went on to place 2nd in the tournament. She's a friend of mine - very funny and a joy to be around.

Here's me at the tournament! My fellow photographer (and friend) Roberta Case took this photo of me.

I have thought about the match a lot, and even though I lost, I learned a lot and it will make me better next time. I played so good. I called my husband and told him, "Guess what? I finally played pool!" He was so happy for me, also. I had been playing mental games instead of playing pool. I still need to focus on my preshot routine more - I need more conditioning, but it really did help.

I then played Lindsey Lewis next - almost 5 hours later - and I played even better than the first match. I won 7-1 and didn't make many mistakes. I called my husband again, "Guess what? I played pool!" He was so happy to hear I won my match and reminded me what a milestone it was since I won my first match in the Amateur Nationals with that win, and I had played 2 other times in this event. It may sound cruel, but I finally wasn't nervous.

Then I played Susan Wilbur and I wasn't the same. Tired, not playing as well, aware of my surroundings, getting out of line toward the end of the rack, missing two 9-balls with a bridge, etc. I was running out the first rack and felt good. I could tell she was tired, but when I got out of line on the 8-ball in the first game, she won that rack, made the 9 on the break next, and cheesed the 9 the next game. Down 0-3. I ended up losing 0-7...not even winning one game, but I still felt good overall about the tournament.

I used to play good, like I said, so this shouldn't be new to me, but playing good again isn't like trying to ride a bike again. It's all very interesting. I am playing the best pool of my life, even though I have more things to work on, but I feel so pumped about my game. I can't wait to practice again! I can't wait to compete again!

'Til next time.