Saturday, March 17, 2007

2007 BCA Texas State Tournament

51 women total entered the BCA Texas State Tournament in Corpus Christi during Spring Break. I was the favorite going in (I found out from a couple of people before and after, lol), but I put more pressure on myself: I knew I could possibly when this tournament, wanted to have two BCA State Champs in the house (Tony won it in 2002), plus, I prepared for this tournament more than most... practiced 8 ball, went to an 8ball weekly tourney, played extra league nights and read the entire Play Your Best 8 Ball book by Phil Capelle. I definitely know 8-ball a lot better! I had read certain parts of that book and the entire 8ball section of Play Your Best Pool, but Play Your Best 8 Ball is truly worthwhile to improve your 8ball understanding.

Tracie Voelkering rode down with me for the almost 6 hour ride and we stopped at the Golden Phoenix for some Chinese food in San Antonio (my favorite Chinese buffet). The drive went smooth and actually quite fast.

The tables weren't set up to practice when we got there in the afternoon of the mostly sunny Wednesday, so I took my ipod and camera to the water. I am trying to get calm and content for the tournament. Nature helps me do this. :) Here are two photos I took:

Hotel where I stayed at is on the left, hotel that held tournament is on the right (both are the Omni).

Here's a whole row of different type of birds!

The night before the tournament someone calls me to try and have his friend take my bye. I was torn (I'm a nice person) but it wasn't my fault her captain didn't send in her entry fee, so I finally said no after some hemhawing. It was a interesting start to the event.

So, I get a bye my first match and have to play Lisa Dawson first, around 1pm. She's always been a nice person to me and I knew going into the match she was a talker and she was, but i didn't let it get to me. I was up 4-2 and let up a little and it got tied hill-hill (4-4). I had been nervous the whole match - first match of a this big tournament, I guess was the reason. I missed a shot in my run in the hill-hill game and she got to the table and started to run out but failed to pocket the second ball before the 8ball. It looked like she was already mentally shooting the next ball and forgot to focus on this one. My only option was a long rail bank on my troublesome stripe and I nailed it and the next three balls for the out. Whew. What a win! Lisa said under her breathe after the bank, "that was the game winning shot."

My next match was against a really nice woman named Pauline Plata. She had already won two matches, so I needed to bare down. I was up 3-2 and was shooting well at first but made some mistakes in the middle of the set before finally winning 5-3. Luckily, she made more mistakes than I did.

I then played another nice girl, Jacque Smith from Amarillo. She is due in May and so her and her unborn child were trying to beat me! She played really, really good. At 2-2, she was running out and I thought to myself, "it's okay if I don't win, at least I'm playing good," and she misses. I couldn't believe it! I then get out that game and two more to win 5-3. The other game she won I failed to hit a rail after a soft safe and she got out, otherwise, I played pretty darn sporty.

This meant I was in until Friday - final 8 on the winner's side. I played at noon the next day and so I had time to go to dinner with Beth Shriver and Tracie Voelkering at Water Street Grill and had some fried shrimp. Also, Tracie bought me a virgin Strawberry Daiquiri - I would drink those when I hung out with her at the Aladdin in Vegas. :) It was a pleasant surprise when she offered to buy me a drink. :)

I played Sheryle Johnson the next day at noon (she was also from Amarillo) and I knew she played well because she had beaten Tracie the night before. I got up early that morning (to go pee-pee) and noticed the sun was about to rise and I ran downstairs with my camera and ipod and watched the sun rise while I took photos of it and some birds and some boats, all the while listening to some great music. I was extremely calm and content, just what I needed for the tournament.

The sunrise.

It's difficult to see, but there are even pelicans around this ship!

See many MORE photos here from each day I vegged at the water front.

I hit a few racks while listening to my ipod about 30 minutes before I played my noon match. This sums up the match with Sheryle: I played lights out. She missed an 8ball the first rack and I finished off my balls (after getting to the table twice). Then I ran several racks, played excellent safeties, and just played damn good. I didn't let up at all and really bared down and kept saying to myself how many games I needed to win. It felt great! I won 5-0.

Then had to wait several hours to play for the hot seat (my first time to do that). I waited out the time in this really nice bar-type area that more-so looked like a sunroom and just vegged and listened to my music. Tracie sat with me and we talked. She witnessed me go through all the emotions - nervousness, excitement, confident, worried, calm, happy, etc. I just wanted to play well, in the end I would like the win, but I really just wanted to play well and not fall on my face. I was reading over my notes and trying to remain calm but while sitting there with the sun on my face, the great ipod music in my ears, I was still nervous about the possibility of this title.

I think that's what separated this tournament from others - it was a title tournament. Not just a possible tournament win, but a TITLE win - if you win something like this, it's with you forever. Like Tony, he will always be known as the 2002 BCA Texas State Champion.

I went to hit balls 30 minutes before my hotseat match with Kim Pierce and I was hitting the balls really well! We started our match and Monica, Susan and Linda show up right when we began so that was really special to me - they just drove in from Dallas (Monica is staying with me and I have the another room for the other two girls) and we are all teammates for this weekend. Kim was being kind of loud after each game she won for the whole tournament (she had been high-fiving her friends after each GAME [not match]), but during our match she was not doing that, even though ironically I was prepared for it - like Cristina says, it's good to know your opponent. Kim broke the first game but didn't make anything and I ran out! OMG! I was confident and playing well. The next game I had a tough out and so did she. After one of her misses, my tough out proved too much and I missed a long rail cut shot and she got out. Same thing happened in the next game and she was up 2-1. I was all of a sudden not thinking, and she was gaining confidence. She seemed nervous the first time she got to shoot (in the second game when I came up dry on the break), but my misses allowed her confidence back in the game. I ran out a nice run in the next game but missed an 8 ball and she got out and was up 3-1. I was unsure of the 8ball and should have got back up and should have realized I was thinking too much while down on the shot, but I shot it anyway and missed. I didn't realize until the next morning that's why I missed that shot (and more to come). The next game I played a good safe and had a 4 ball out with ball in hand. As I'm shooting a 5 ball up the table, I am telling myself, "maybe this isn't the shot - maybe this should be the key ball." I shoot it anyway and I fall short and out of line for my next shot. Instead of playing safe (not a good option was available, but I honestly didn't look long) I went for the shot and missed and she got out. Now she's up 4-1. She actually ran out the next game very beautifully, even making an almost impossible shot on the 6 ball for the win and that sealed her win with a score 5 to her, me only 1. I was just sick. My confidence that was there the first three games went away. I realized also the next morning I wasn't in my "3 more games" mode or wanting to win. Again, like in my Amateur Nationals key match, I was trying to "stay alive" instead of playing pool or wanting to win. My whole head was foggy and I wasn't thinking clear.... especially not like I had been earlier that day when I won 5-0 just four hours earlier. I never thought to myself that I was playing for the hot seat or how big the match was or anything like that. I also wasn't nervous (trust me, I know what that feels like). I just wasn't thinking clear starting with the 4th game. Afterwards, my stomach was in knots because I was so embarrassed with how I played. Maybe that was on my mind? I don't remember thinking anything about that in the match, though (afterwards, very much so). I was just ... foggy. It's so hard to describe. But, I wasn't thinking about the "process of playing pool" that helped me place 5th in Florida. I have thought about it over and over trying to figure out how to even describe what happened.

I then only had a couple of hours to play in the semi final match. We set up the room situation for my teammates and then I did my same routine: Hit balls about 30 minutes before my match while listening to my ipod and really tried to get in-tune with the tournament environment, like what worked for me at the RTC in Jan in FL. I was confident, comfortable, happy, enjoyed the environment, felt the love around the room, etc.

But, the same thing happened in the semi finals against Ricki Casper. However, this time, I had vocal supporters (that was really cool, too!). But...I was again foggy in my head and not thinking clear at all. I looked like an amateur, one that didn't deserve to be playing in the semi finals. Ugh! I tried to walk back to my chair positive after each "amazingly un-Melinda-like miss or shape" and honestly didn't let it get to me... I just tried to remain in the game, but I wasn't trying to win again - I was trying to stay alive, the same as the previous match...not thinking right. I was playing smart 8ball, but my errors were because I hit the cueball wrong - it seemed like my arm wasn't attached to my body... it wasn't listening to my head and had a mind of its own. I would hit balls too hard or too soft. It was just weird. So, after losing 5-1 again, I placed 3rd and received a little plaque and $320. Got my picture taken, too. :) Kim went on to win the second set of the double elimination set against Ricki Casper.

Several people said I should have beat Ricki, others said, "heard you had Ricki." Nice comments to someone who already knew that. LOL. I walked around all night with my cute plaque and told everyone, "look - I placed 3rd. Third sucks." Now, however, I am very proud. I still had to beat players to get where I did. Yea, I didn't play my best in the end and it was a huge missed opportunity in my life, but I hope to learn from my fogginess for the future.

Here's my plaque!

I went into this tournament knowing the conditions may not be right. I didn't let that affect me. I was proud of myself for knowing ahead of time that things may not go as planned but not to let it affect my game (no lights over the tables, times not on matches early on, matches not starting on time, etc.) so that is a good thing that I didn't let distract me from playing pool. I have learned you shouldn't waste energy on conditions you can't change.

I was bitter the morning after, embarrassed and upset, but as the morning went on, I realized it just wasn't my time to win, for whatever reason - even if the reason was because I didn't play well. Sometimes people win because of other's mistakes and in this case, I was that help. I have had my share of good rolls and bad play against me... I just wish I would have played better, like I had that same morning.

The team event the next two days were a lot of fun! I enjoyed this team more than most I have been on. No drama, just playing pool and enjoying to be able to play. We only won one match, but we won 10-1. Ouch! :) We had a good team, but a few bad rolls (including me not winning enough games) stopped our run. I still so enjoyed the team and also getting to know my teammates more. Spetty, Linda and Monica are such great ladies!

I knew I was ready to play and I am happy about my knowledge of the game of 8ball. I have more to learn (I learned some during our team event, too) so that is awesome. In Vegas, in May at the BCA Nationals, I need to have a goal. Maybe it will be to try and get into the money, have fun, and focus on my shot routine. I also want to play in mini tournaments... maybe just scotch doubles so I can have help. LOL!

I went through a lot of emotions while driving home alone. I tried not to think of the missed shots during my hotseat and semi final matches - when in the end each those matches should have been at LEAST 3-3. Doesn't mean I would have won, but still. This was a huge missed opportunity. Will I have one in the future? Many say yes, but it's not a guarantee.

I stopped by my parents house on the way home and my Dad was proud of me for 3rd place. My Mom was not feeling well - she had the flu or something, we weren't sure.

I realized on the drive home that this isn't the end of the world. It would have been nice, and thinking that I could be the BCA Texas State Champion is pretty heart wrenching, but truly, 3rd place isn't bad and it isn't the end of the world, just a huge missed opportunity.

I want to figure out the fogginess. I jokingly thought, "Maybe I need a flowchart. When I am foggy, do this. When I'm nervous, do this. When I'm ahead, do this." LOL. Maybe it isn't really a bad idea! I just need to recognize when I'm going through that and then work on changing it. That's the key - recognition. During those matches, I didn't know what I was going through.

After some thought/discussion after the event, I think I figured out what I was doing: I was down on the shots thinking too much. I hardly ever do that, so what I describe as "fogginess" is really new to me because I don't normally think while down on the shot. Maybe I did that during most of the tournament but more opportunities didn't arise the final two matches so it wasn't as noticeable throughout the entire event? I don't know. I have been concentrating so much on my shot routine, this is all coming as a surprise. But, I am hoping this realization will help for the future (if that is what happened). If I start thinking while stroking (like, "don't hit it too hard or you will be on the rail" or "don't hit it to soft or you wont get shape"), I need to recognize it and get back up and decide what I am going to do and then get back down. Again, it was like my arm wasn't connected to my body or thoughts and that I was thinking too much while down on the shot. I know that sounds the opposite of "fogginess" though, LOL! I just don't know if I did this in the past... maybe the fast cloth on the small table made this show up more? I am just not sure, even as I write this. Nevertheless, I just need to get back up if I am talking to myself while down on a shot. Sounds so easy. LOL. :) I also need to bare down and remember the process of playing pool. Get in the mode I was in when I won 5-0... "X more games left, don't let up, stick it to 'em, etc."

Truly, simply, I was embarrassed.

Consistency is a true gem... anyone know where I can find that rare stone?

Until Next time....

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

CRP - before

I don't feel good about this tournament. Instead of being calm and comfortable, I am not.

I feel pressure. Why? I have been reading and practicing. I am physically ready... but I don't feel good going into this tournament, mentally, for some reason.

I hope by the time I get there, I will feel comfortable. Calm. Collected. Ready to completely focus on my pre-shot routine. Focus on the process of pool... ONLY.

I have to admit, it would be cool tobe a BCA State Champ, but I need to get calm or else I wont even come close. I want to win, but I need to get that out of my head and instead play one ball at a time. Why this tournament am I thinking like this? I don't know why...

We'll see what happens. Wish me luck... wish me to focus on my pre-shot routine and to enjoy playing pool.

Friday, March 9, 2007

A Weekly 8Ball Tournament

went to an 8ball tournament last night. my first time going to it. so, i was a little nervous, not knowing anyone and being in a pool room i hadn't been to before. i totally looked out of place. i did know one guy, but he doesn't know my name and i don't like him too much anyway.

it was best 2 out of 3 on the winner's side and one race on the loser's side. 9foot tables, too. $5 entry. 15 people entered.

i won the first match 2-1... luckily the guy couldn't play or he would have beat me. he was fun, though, and kept making me laugh so that was cool. it helped me relax in a place i normally wouldn't have relaxed so soon in. i surprised myself i was smiling; it was kind of surprising to me. anyhow, i had chances in my next match, but dogged it and the guy (mike) beat me 0-2. i played bad. i need to really bare down for the matches when i play in corpus next week at the bca state championship (that's why i went to this weekly 8ball tourney, to get some "live" practice in).

then it was race to 1 on the losers side. yikes! i played some guy first who looked like he could play and he was running out on me but had one tough ball in his run that he proceeded to miss. so, i came to the table and started to run out well until i couldn't t decide which ball would be my key ball (the ball before the 8ball). i think i made the wrong choice, because i ended up not getting good shape on the key ball after all and had to set up a bank on the 8, but luckily i was confident when i stroked it and made it in the side.

i then had to play a guy that couldn't play very well and so i knew i would be okay when i couldn't run out. after his miss, i did run out. i then played the guy i knew, but didn't like. he plays real hard against everyone, so i was a little 'worried' knowing i had to play him. but, he tried to run out and had one ball left that he didn't get on and he missed it. i got ball in hand and called "safety", instead of trying the difficult run (tips from Play Your Best 8Ball!) and hooked him. he kicked and hit his ball, but his solid was still in my way again, so i called "safety" again and made a ball but hooked him. he kicked at it and hit it, but he scratched. so, his ball is now not in my way anymore. i shoot the first shot and he leans forward, "was that a safety?" (trying to be funny), i smiled and said, "not this time." i was running out well and although i almost scratched, i nailed a controlled shot and the stripe nicely went into the side pocket to set up perfect for the key ball and i won. my patience won and i was happy; he wasn't.

i then had to play the guy who was running the tournament. he says, "the loser of this match gets $10." not listening, i think i have to win to make $10. lol. anyhow, as we are playing, the guy who is sitting to play in 3rd place has to leave, so he gets his $$. now i and the guy i am playing... we now each know we will automatically be playing for 1st/2nd whoever wins our race to 1 because we were playing for fourth place. i miss a cut shot while i'm trying to run out and he then misses his 7 ball, which then ties up a solid and the 8ball. i see i have a run, but will have to bank the 8ball and i go for the run. i make all the balls and down to the 8 bank, but i don't feel comfortable and i miss it. it almost even goes in the other pocket, but stops before falling. this makes him have to get on the other side of some balls because the 8 is blocking his pocket now. he is a straight shooter and i see the end of the road coming until he misses a shot and scratches! wow. so, he gives me the 8ball sitting in the pocket. so, the guy who i play for 1st/2nd (mike again) asks if i want to split the pot. he says if he wins, he can't play next week. i said, "then you'll let me win and i should play you." lol. it would be 70/40 but he offered 60/50. i wanted to play to get practice in for corpus, but i also knew beating him TWO races of best 2 out of 3 would be tough, plus i could make $10 extra and also get home earlier. :) so, i took the offer and now he can play next week, but i cannot (which works out perfect b/c i will be in corpus). they offered me to come back and i said i would to get ready for vegas.

playing 8ball on 9-foot tables was interesting, that's for sure, and the cloth was real fast. but, i enjoyed the emotions of the night and it will be good for my big 8ball tournament coming up.

i paid $5 and won $45. the house matches the pot - 15 players, $150 total. :) i was home by 11pm. i got lucky, but i feel pretty good for some of my smart moves, but still need to bare down.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Lake Jackson 2007

Well, I didn't know how I would do this tournament in Lake Jackson for the Ladies Tour. I didn't practice from Jan 29 - Feb 18 due to a two week class for work (loved it! it was management/supervision, but really about leadership and supervision). Then the week I came home, I worked on getting a new car! I just love it. Seems too expensive for me, but I sure do enjoy driving it. I've always wanted a Nissan and an SUV and got both this time. A Nissan Murano:

But, I did have a long practice session on Feb 19th. Federal Holiday, so I was able to take full advantage of Mondays Chicks Play Free at Rusty's Billiards. :) My friend Tara met me up there and after a couple of hours of hitting balls for myself, we sparred from 1 to 6pm. We played sets and she beat me 3 out of 4 sets (or something like that), but she was playing good and I was just doing okay. Someone got into my head and that affected me for a while - but glad it happened - good practice for tournaments.

This tournament I wanted to focus on my pre shot routine again - that seems to be really helping me of late, but I noticed I didn't do that too much this time. I did have 4 break and runs, though!

Because this is one of the tournaments I run, I wasn't sure how I would do. Last time was a good example of that, but I felt real good going into this tournament. I made it a point to hit some balls in the morning - usually I don't have time, but Julie (other board member and travel partner for this event) and I traded practice times while we signed people up in the morning.

I got a bye and then played Lisa Watson. I was playing well and won 7-3. I broke and ran the the last game of the match (that was pretty cool). I then had to play Helen Hayes. She has been playing well and she just beat Heather Lloyd. I asked Heather how she was playing and she said, "she's playing good. Make your outs and you will be fine." Well, that's exactly what I didn't do! I missed a tough 9 and maybe another one, but didn't get out a few racks. I could tell I really wanted to win, instead of focusing on the game. I lost 7-5.

I then went to the one-loss side and played Terry Petrosino first. She's always a tough competitor but she missed a 9-ball that would have made it 5-3, so that let me back into the game at 4-4 and I won 7-4. She was scratching on almost every game;I did let up a little bit and if she was playing better, I would have lost. I won 7-4.

I then played my dear friend Shayla. She came off a big win the last tournament (and will be playing in her first pro event in two weeks! Congrat's Shayla!), but she had a migraine and I knew she was feeling bad. I think I broke and ran the first or second rack. I knew it when I was doing it, but tried not to think of the scratch off we get for Break and Runs! LOL. I tried to focus on my pre-shot routine in the subsequent games, but I did mess up a few key shots late in the rack more than I wished.

I was feeling good at the beginning of the match and then my friend Monica came up to me and mentioned that my "other cleavage" (as she called it) was showing. I immediately told her it would affect my game because if I think about my clothes, I wont be thinking about pool - I know from experience. So, she felt bad for telling me (I should have just said, "oh, thanks!"), but I did let it bother me because I was embarrassed.  I pulled my under shirt down (the one I deliberately wore for that reason) before every shot. I really was SO dang embarrassed! I tried to not let it bother me, but I really felt bad for my 'crack' showing. Everyone was making fun of me, which is fine because it is funny, but I was really embarrassed [I'm looking for a nickname, but "The Plumber" is not the one I'm going for]. I won 7-4 and Shayla congratulated me and said I didn't make a lot of mistakes, but I didn't feel that way. With this win, though, I lasted until Sunday!

I played Tasha Salandanan first Sunday morning. Although I won 7-1, I have to say, she is playing GOOD! It's the best I've ever seen her play. I was playing good and got some rolls, so the score doesn't reflect it, but she is someone we all need to watch out for. I complimented her after the match and I hope she took it sincerely.

Practicing on Sunday morning

I then had to play my friend Jennifer. She broke and ran the first rack. Scratch card for Jennifer! Then I broke and came up dry on the break and she ran that rack. I told her as I was racking that she was playing good. Then I chatted a little about the music (I wished it was her music playing, not this other guy's music). I shouldn't have been so talkative.  She missed a couple of shots in the next game and I won. When I had a chance to get to the table, I played really good (at least I felt like I did), even though I missed two 9balls. I won 7-6 and felt great about the match. I think I had a break and run in that match, also, but I'm not sure. The last game, at 6-6, I played a safe and scratched! I got back to the table and felt good about my run until I got straight in on the 7-ball. I had to draw back (I guess I could have gone forward and played the 8 in the side as Tara said), but I felt comfortable with my draw on these tables (and have been working on them) and so I bared down and drew it back for good shape on the 8, then the 9! :)

I then had to play my sparring partner Tara. Ugh, what a match! I won the first two games because she messed up. She won the next two games because I messed up. Then we said, "okay, let's play well." I messed up again. Ugh. She went to the bathroom and I think she was up 5-2 and I told myself to focus. I did end up focusing, and ran out from her dry break. The she won a game after kicking at an 8-ball. Then I ran out after her dry break again. On the last game, she kicked in the 3ball (by accident) and rant out for the win 4-7. Gosh, if I was just playing a little bit better... who knows! I should feel good about 5th place out of 42 [check out the brackets]. I am happy overall, I really am, but I just wish a few games I would have played better.

I'm currently getting ready for the BCA State Championships in Corpus Christi. I've been reading about 8ball in Phil Capelle's books and feel REAL good. Tony won it in 2002. I want to win it in 2007. We are going to spar this weekend. I plan to finish Play Your Best 8-ball and then read the 8ball section of Play Your Best Pool (my FAVORITE way to get ready for an 8-ball tournament) before I leave next Wed. :)

Tonight I am going to play in an 8 ball tournament and possibly Monday, too, to get ready. In league on Tuesday I went 3 out of 5. :(

Until Next Time.