Wednesday, January 23, 2008

First Event of 2008

Well, crash and burn would describe my first tournament of 2008. :)

I arrived the night before to San Angelo, Texas for the Fast Eddie's event. My hotel room was not pleasant and I even asked (and received) my money back the next morning. I ate at IHOP for breakfast and had a terrible time with several versions of the pancakes and probably frustrated my waitress (I like my pancakes warm - how else does the butter melt, right?). Although these two sentences make it sound like I'm a diva - LOL - I swear I'm not! It was the first time I ever complained about a room (there was hair in the bed and the bathroom!), but I admit not the first time I asked for my pancakes hotter. :)

I then walked in to the brand new pool room and was very happy to see everyone and said all my hello's and hi's. Practiced a few games and then grabbed my camera to take photos of the guys who remained in the event as of Sunday morning.

Only eleven ladies ventured to the Sunday-only women's event (most likely because San Angelo is not close to most large cities in Texas).

My Stats:

5-7, Kim M.
2-5, Alicia T.

I didn't play bad my first match, but my opponent (a new girl) played very well. She got out the first game after I missed the 5 ball. She made an invisible statement - "You don't know me, but I can play." I was impressed with her run and knew my hands would be full. I ran out nicely after a well-placed safe on the next game. I then ran out even better the next game from the 3-ball and was up 2-1. I then was then down 3-2. Tied it back 3-3. Down 4-3. Tied it 4-4. Down 5-4. Tied it 5-5. After a few mistakes on my part and few rolls for her, I lost 5-7. She played good. I was happy to see a player taking advantage of mistakes and getting out!

After another bye, I had the privilege of playing next a league mate of mine.. but I was struggling. I tied it 2-2, but that was the last game I could muster. I missed (albeit a tough and tricky) combo with the 7 ball and the 9 ball in the sixth game (the combo was unfortunately my only option, because the 9 was in front of the pocket, but it wasn't an easy combo). That miss led her to win another game and led me to wrongly feel like I needed to 'catch up' instead of simply enjoying the 'process of playing pool.' Reflecting back - I hadn't played competitively in several weeks and that combined with my lack of "my conditioning practice" may have led to my demise. Plus, I wasn't really stroking the ball well (I would realize during my practice session the next night).

I hadn't really been out that early in a women's tournament in a couple of years, but this only pushed me more to get to the pool room the next night to jump on the table and work on my conditioning. I struggled for the first hour. I wasn't practicing well at all! Then I decided to REALLY focus on my shot routine and finally figured out what was going on. I wasn't pausing and then looking at the cueball last consistently, deliberately. Yes, I have been playing pool for MANY years, but I still struggle with the repetitiveness of my preshot routine. That's why I love practicing by myself - to help condition my body/memory-muscle to stay down, follow through, look at the cueball last, etc.

Until next time.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Pool Goal for 2008

I love goals. I started to enjoy them even more after reading Dare to Win many years ago (by Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen).

The key with goals is to make them realistic. I remember one year I had a goal to get Most Improved Player on a tour in the 90s. Boy, I learned my lesson! I had no control over that - someone else decided that "title" (and no, I did not win it, even though I came close). My current, longstanding goal is to win a tournament in my 30s... I'm running out of time! hehe. My other longstanding goal is to learn something from each tournament.

Goals are important because they give you that something extra to strive for, to look forward to, to plan for, etc.

Another key for goals is to ensure you are specific about how to reach your goals. I don't always do this well, but as an example, if someone says, "my goal is to lose weight," the person will be more successful if they list specifically how to achieve that goal.

My overarching pool goal for 2008: To Play in More Tournaments.

  • -I have marked down on my 2008 calendar (yes, through December!) which tournaments I would like to go to and where they are located.
  • -I will plan ahead to save extra money to attend the tournaments.
  • -Ensure I have enough vacation time to go to them.
  • -Look for hotel deals early and often.
  • -Ensure my car is running well.
  • -Take advantage of "Chicks Play for Free on Mondays" at Rusty's Billiards. :)
  • -Walk the stairs at work to increase stamina (I work on the tenth floor!).
  • -Stretch more either with Pilate's or Yoga throughout the week to increase flexibility during matches and to increase mental "attitude."
  • -Do push ups during the week to provide myself a more effective break.
  • -Guess I should practice more (LOL!).

Well, if after each tournament I reflect on my pool life journey, this blog could have many entries for 2008!

Until Next Time.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Fast Eddies Finale December 2007

Fast Eddies Finale was held in San Antonio in December...

I was able to practice the Friday evening before (where the tournament was being held) for a few hours on the 9 foot table. Played alone at first and then my friend Eric from Odessa showed up. Some of the guys were getting ready to play in the ring game, but Eric let me continue playing on the 9 foot with him. I realized I wasn't focusing and REALLY wasn't staying down. So, I wanted to practice some more conditioning on Saturday, if I could get back to the pool room.

I was able to go back after I ran some errands for my Mom but played with my friend Ray from Waco and wasn't able to get some good alone-time conditioning in. We finally played a race to five so we would focus more and down 4-2, I won 5-4 in this mini ten-ball match!
I showed up to practice early on Sunday and I just didn't feel right. I wasn't making many shots, etc. I told myself I just needed to warm up (even though I don't normally do that) and felt a little better as the players' meeting started. Only 15 ladies came. FIFTEEN. WOW!

Luckily for me, I got the bye! So, I sat with my ipod, streaming cool music through my ears, as I watched Gordy play SO well and SO smart against Manual; watched Jason Pearce lose a tough match against Ismael; and watched Eric destroy a guy named Mickey. It was fantabulous to watch these great players. They really took their time to not rush shots OR decisions. I totally absorbed the strong mental feeling I witnessed and went to my first match against Kawania Watson.

Oh, I was nervous! I hadn't felt nervousness in a couple of tournaments. hmm... no numbness (that's not good). She is a tough competitor. I put on my ipod and I didn't have it turned up at all. She missed the five ball in the first rack, and I ran out - saw the pattern perfectly and stayed down. Then she missed the five ball again and I picked up the rest of the balls, again seeing the layout well (just as the guys were doing who I watched earlier). I walked briskly, happily, and confidently to break, thinking to myself how proud Gordy would be of me. I noticed a guy I didn't know watching our match and I glanced over at him, wondering if he saw the spring in my step. I then broke and made the nine ball on the break. Wow! Up 3-0. I then messed up on a safety on the seven ball and she got out. Then I missed in the middle of the rack and she got out. Knowing the other player always makes a surge, I didn't let it bother me. I got on 4 first, but then she got on 3 games. After another mistake on my part, she tied it 4-4. I walk up to break, and my step is no longer springing (again, wondering if that guy noticed that as well). I am a little deflated, realizing I'm not playing as well as in the beginning and a little frustrated with my mistakes at the table, but still trying to not think about the mistakes so much that it affects my current state of mind. We go back and forth in the next game and after she fouled on the seven ball, I get out and get over the side hump and onto game five. She wins the next game after a nice run and it's tied 5-5. She makes another mistake and I get out to get on the hill first. Whew. But, I knew she could get on the hill and even win, so I accepted that and simply played my game. After going back forth again in this game on the seven ball, I had a tough shot on the 8 ball and tried to stay down, not sure if I did, but got shape on the nine ball, but hit the 8 too hard and missed it. She then made the 8 ball but scratched. Wow. I won 7-5.

I then had to play ever formidable Heather Lloyd next. We knew we were both struggling today (we had talked during the player's meeting how we didn't feel like we were playing well). I wanted to play her, because the last two tournaments where I was playing well, I didn't get to play her. But, I didn't play well this time. I knew who would win would be guaranteed 3rd and into the money and playing for the hotseat, just like I had felt at the FE in Houston a month before. I was able to pull that win... but not this time. Heather wins the first game and then she scratches on the 5 and I get out. Then she gets out again nicely twice (after a few mistakes by both of us) and she's up 2-1. Then I make the nine on the break. Tied 2-2. She wins again after my mistakes and I can't seem to get out. I truly doubt I was staying down, wasn't thinking about much and trying to breath because I was nervous and embarrassed about the way I was playing. I noticed a friend of mine watching (Paul) who I have always had a problem watching me; I tried not to look up or look around, but happened to see him anyway. She is up 3-2 and then scratches on the 9 ball and the score is 3-3. She wins another game and I win won, too. WOW! I won a game. hehe. After she gets on 5 to my 4, I break and again make the nine on the break. She states to me, "this makes it tough" or something like that. She bares down and wins the next two games by playing well and I am completely deflated. As she is running out the last game, I take off my ipod, realizing I don't even want it on. The music wasn't loud enough to hear, it wasn't making me happy, and I actually, believe it or not, wanted to hear clearer, feel clearer, the process of playing pool, even though I played terrible. What was going on with me? Why wasn't I staying down and why wasn't I focusing and why wasn't I playing well?

I play Julia Rapp next. The last time we played, she missed 5 nine balls. She ran out the first game and made the nine ball. Whew! I didn't want it to be like last time - it was tough to watch, even being the opponent. I win the next game on one of her mistakes. Then she scratches and I get out nicely. I can feel my confidence going up and I FEEL better. She makes another mistake and I get out again. I am really feeling good and playing well (I am back!) and win the next two games to seal the win 5-1. I then play Helen next.

I miss late in the rack; she gets out. I win the next game, but that would be the only game I could muster from my body. I miss late in the rack the next four games, even after some safeties, good shots, etc. I just can't get out. She capitalizes well and wins the match. I am frustrated, deflated, confused, heartbroken... my only solace is I placed 4th and got in the money. $75 richer, but not emotionally richer.

Not a weekend tournament for many weeks.... I hope I practice, still, though, but I am exhausted and not motivated right now. I did play in a new league a few days later, VNEA, and ran out the first rack and won three others and almost one the fifth. I felt good, actually.

Oh, give me the strength to want to go practice.

Until next time.

Championship Stop

Championship Hunter Classics Women's Tour Stop in League City, Texas, Dec....

So, how do you think the expectations are when you place 2nd in the previous weekend? I know from seeing this happen to so many other players and from many comments of others, that to do well after a great finish is very difficult. So, I didn't have any expectations, but knew I would love to last until Sunday. I wanted to focus on staying down - boy that felt good the previous weekend! I didn't get to practice because I was with my Mom, but I was thinking about pool and how it "felt" so good to stay down. But, I had been in bed for most of the week... sleeping all day long and all night. I am not sure what I have, but my throat has been sore for four weeks now.

Julie and I eat at Waffle House in the morning - gosh I love that place! Monica asks me to run the player's meeting and it goes long, but we have so much to talk about and announce! But, the big surprise was the presents the board members received from the ladies. The star trophy was BEAUTIFUL and AMAZING! It took all I could not to cry!!

Helen, Lucille, Julie, Monica and Melinda

I play in the first round after a bye, playing Mindy Williams. As I start to play her, I realize she's actually playing well and getting out... but so am I, hehe. She wins the first game. I win the next. She wins the next, then I win. Tied 2-2. I'm consciously aware it's neck and neck and think to myself the lessons she took long ago she obviously still knows. She gets on 3, and then in my next run, I mess up and she capitalizes. Oops - no longer neck and neck. I'm down 4-2. I mess up again and she gets out - we played with the seven ball and she finally gets out. She's up 5-2. I don't get out again and she gets out and she's up 6-2. Any time a hint of pressure came into my body and mind, I just tried to focus on staying down and remaining calm. I was acutely aware she was the one who was under pressure - remembering when I was ahead against Helen 6-3 and she started coming back, that I was the one nervous. (seems backward, doesn't it?) As I was down, I thought to myself, "well, it's tough to do well in consecutive tournaments... so, it's okay." I knew I could still win and never gave up, though. But my thoughts remained calm. Heck I came back the previous weekend down 2-6... who knows? So, Mindy scratches on the 9. 3-6. The next game, she misses the 9. 4-6. The next three games she can't get out in the middle of the rack and I am starting to not miss many balls and next thing you know, I actually win 7-6! Oh my goodness!

I then play Tracie Voelkering next. I didn't think about her as an opponent or nervous, or anything. I just... played pool. I was near the tournament table and had to walk away a couple of times (don't remember now why), but would come back to the table and run out. Before I really knew what happened, I won 7-4. I was playing well - was probably in the zone because I don't remember much of the match. Or was it because I was sick?

I play Courtney Peters next. Harvey comes in from being with his wife Sharon all week in the heart hospital... we are suppose to go to the dog races that night. I felt so bad (still sick), exhausted... I didn't really want to go to the races. But, I knew if I didn't go over to Harvey and find out if he still wanted to go to the races, it would be on my mind... it would be on my mind as WORRY, and I didn't want that to distract me in my game. So, I hugged him and said hello and yes, he still wanted to go. I accepted it and told myself now I don't have to think about it. After refelction, I'm glad I thought of doing that!

I know Courtney has been working on her game and the last few times we have played, I have still won. Her safeties were better this time, as they should be - that part of her game she was working on and I knew eventually her safeties would be getting better. I don't remember the first part of the match, was I down or ahead or was it close the whole time? I just don't remember. I remember I played okay and one time I scratched on a fabulous cut shot on the 7. Ouch! But it was such a nice cut - very long, tough shot. I never would have thought I would have scratched. At this point I am aware of Harvey saying my name and rooting for me on the sidelines. As for the score, I do remember when it was 5-5, though! I was running out and had to come across the table on the 7 ball with reverse english - luckily, I am very good at these shots, but I hit it too hard and it didn't act like it should and I scratched. This gave her ball in hand with two balls left and for her to get on the hill first. Yikes! I didn't get nervous or worried, and I got out the next game. I was aware in this match that this winner would last on the winner's side until Sunday. I would love for that to be me, but if I was on the one-loss side and guaranteed 9th, that'd be okay, too. When it was hill-hill, I missed the two ball - maybe from a safety from her or a lucky roll that hooked me. I watched her run out, never really thinking I'd lose. I wonder if it was my sore throat that made me so numb. LOL. She eventually missed the 7 ball. I was able to make it nicely and get good shape, and nail the 8 ball and 9 ball for the win! Wow! I was guaranteed 5th on the winner's side on Sunday!

I broke the sad news to Harvey I just shouldn't go out to eat, especially when I found out some other friends would be going with him. I knew he needed some time away from the hospital and glad he was still going to do that. I got Taco Bell and a diet sprite and happily went to the room early, ate in bed, and fell asleep at a decent hour. Ah, the little things in life.

The next morning, I know I get to sleep in (I don't have to be there until 11am!) so I go to Waffle House again and sit next to a real nice lady.

As I start to play Leslie Anne Rogers... WOW. I am so exhausted and tired. I also couldn't believe how full I felt. I don't think I ever felt that full playing pool before. It was such a weird feeling; one I did not like at all. But, besides being full, I just had no energy. I think I was sicker than I realized. I lost 7-2, but she played much better than I did. I could have made it closer, but I was too tired. Not an excuse - it's the reason why I didn't play my best. No energy and too full.

I then play Terry Petrosino next. I tell Amanda Lampert before I play how sick I feel and she says to fake it and pretend I'm not sick. What? Hmm.... I have acted confident, acted not upset, acted happy, but never tried to act non-sick. As we started the match, I know how well she plays. I know how bad I feel. I think more about what Amanda said, but Terry wins the first two games playing great! She then hits the 9 ball too hard and it jumps back out of the pocket and I make it and get on the board. I hear some snaps behind me. I realize it's mt friends Amanda and Jennifer. Terry is running out well again but she leaves herself tough on the 9 ball. I don't think anything of it really - she nails so many 9 balls so well, I figured she'd just make it. She missed it. Wow. I made it and now it's tied 2-2. At this point, I do pretend I'm not sick. I start playing very well, very confident, staying down, seeing the patterns very easily for some reason. I am aware of the snaps, feeling a little bad that I didn't hear any for Terry. I found out later Amanda said they were snapping for her too, they just weren't as loud. But, I didn't feel pressure to play well with so many people watching, I just played. Playing P O O L felt great and I guess again I was in the zone. I can say I wasn't thinking too much... was actually concentrating on the game at hand - staying the in present, not thinking of stupid shit for once. LOL. Again - was it because I wasn't feeling well? Or was it because I was taming that wandering thinking beast I dreaded when it showed it's ugly head?

I won 7-4, I think. Wow! I didn't go out in two after being on the winner's side on Sunday! I had only done that one other time in a Hunter event, and that was years ago. I would eventually get 4th place - second time on the Hunter Tour.

I played Lisa Marr next and although I was playing well (I thought), she just out played me and played really good! But, I was still happy with my 4th place and playing well and not falling on my face was an added bonus. hehe

Until next time.

I Was THIS Close

Not many people know this, but a goal of mine is to win a tournament in my 30s. This past weekend, I was THIS close to reaching that goal.

I played in the Fast Eddie's tournament in Houston Nov 12. The day before, I helped Paul and Lewis run the men's brackets. That was actually a lot of fun. I met some new people and watched a lot of good pool and was 'in my element'. Also, an awesome side benefit was I was able to watch so many of the guys stay down on their shots - something I was consciously working on the previous Wed during my practice session.

I have started to read Pleasures of Small Motions and even though I'm only on page 25, so far it suggests to be very conscious of your body during practice. I did that the previous Wed during my practice session, while I focused on following through (which in turns causes one to stay down). Before I played Sunday, I told Marc Garza that morning, "My goal this tournament is to stay down like Marc Garza." He laughed and I told him I jumped up on my shots. He asked me what I was looking at. "Umm... I don't know. I know ingolf I look at the ball and so I don't stay down." He then told me that he stays focused on the spot on the object ball, even after the object ball is made. He said,"you have already imagined where you want the cueball to go, so you don't need to look at the cuball. You already know where the object ball is going, you don't need to watch the object ball go in." And he added that Jeremy told him when they were on the road the most important thing about long draw shots is to stay down. Marc said when he has a tough, long draw shot, he's telling himself to stay down.

I hit a few balls, miss everyone of them, but notice I am watching the cueball. Interesting!

I play a new girl my first match. I made some mistakes, but she made more and I won 7-4 or 7-5. I told Marc it was working, but it would really be tested next when I had to play the always tough Jennifer Kraber. We both got our ipods out and we were jammin while playing. I felt like I was playing pretty good and after a nice come back from her, I still managed to win 7-5. Then I played Rebecca Goodnight (whose game has improved) and I had one break and run and won 7-5.

I then played Kim Pierce next. We were moved to the center tables - and some Kim fans were sitting near me. I shouldn't have sat so close to the crowd, but there wasn't another seat near the table. I was missing a lot of shots and she is very good at capitalizing. I was not getting frustrated, but I was more aware of what was going on around me than thinking about the ball in front of me when I was shooting. I was down 5-2 then 6-3 and knew I still wanted to win this match badly so I could be playing for the hotseat. I don't know what happened, but I started to focus. I stayed down; I followed through; I didn't make mistakes late in the rack. I came back and won 7-6! OMG. I was ecstatic! I ran to Lewis and gave him a big hug - I was so happy.

I then played Helen Hayes for the hotseat. I was playing SO good the first four games and was up 3-1. Rebecca Redumis was sitting near me and she had a calming effect on me... I told her not to leave. She sat there and watched us play and I would make comments to her - basically talking out loud what was in my head. Examples: "don't think ahead. Stay down. Remain in the present." She would smile at me and nod her head. At 3-1 I was thinking too much how great I was playing (a VERY bad thing to do). She came back and tied it at 3-3 and I could feel the momentum switch and my confidence not be as high. I got it back though and won a few more games and after some fouls by her, I capitalized and won 7-4. OMG - I won the hotseat match! My first time in a women's tournament! I was so pumped up.

I texted a few friends who I knew were awake at that hour and told them. Oh, did I jinx myself?

Helen ended up defeating Belinda Lee and the rematch was on. They moved us the front table and I faltered the first set and lost 7-3. I knew I had another set to go and so I wasn't in the "must win" mind frame - next time I will not want it to go two sets, instead of thinking... I have a set left. Basically, I played like a girl. I wasn't stroking the ball, I wasn't staying down, I wasn't following through, I wasn't playing confident, etc.

Rebecca was so cute, when Helen would miss she'd say, "come on Melinda" under her breath. My friends Ernesto and Mike were watching and that was cool. I had such support - even Paul and Lewis were pulling for me (of course, I didn't know this at the time.. I wasn't too aware of my surroundings - I tried not to look around a lot this tournament).

The second set was different. I played a little better in the beginning but still made mistakes. Helen was playing well and when I was down 5-3, something clicked inside me and I caught a gear. I even broke and ran a tough rack and was all of a sudden up 6-5! As I broke at 6-5, I was getting emotional. Thinking I would dedicate it to me parents, I would reach my goal, I would cry if I won. It was all very surreal. But, she got out beautifully on a VERY tough rack to tie it 6-6. Here we go.

She breaks and I make the 1 and 2 but miss a tough 3 (later heard I should have made the 3 in the other pocket). She makes the 3 and that hits the 9 and it rolls in front of the 4 ball. She studies it for a while and cuts the 9 in. I was SO disappointed when the 9ball really fell into that pocket. I wanted another chance at the table.

I won $220 for second and was given $40 jelly by my calcutta buyer.

I felt good about the whole day, wished I would have played better that first set, but glad I didn't fall on my face the second set. I like staying down and following through. LOL! I sure do need to work on it some more.

I am glad I focused on pool at this tournament. I had some distractions, but put them out of my head... didn't think about missed shots... when I thought too far in the future I tried to stop it... I tried to be strong and remain in the present.

I have a tournament this weekend, back to Houston for the end of season tournament for the Hunter Classics Tour. It will be a busy weekend but I hope to have fun. No expectations... but my goal will be to stay down.

Pool is a Journey

Living life is a journey; playing pool is a journey. Playing pool has made me a more confident, positive woman; you need to be positive and confident to play sports, and pool has helped me to be that person. You also need to be open to learning. Learning is so key; I love learning! It helps me live life's journey to the fullest.

This blog will be about my journey with pool... my passion.