Thursday, November 27, 2008

I Was Awarded

As a Board Member of the OB Cues Ladies 9-Ball Tour, I knew ahead of time who the board decided would win the Most Improved Player Award. We look at all the stats of the candidates - those who have rose in the rankings from previous years, number of events attended, and high finishes. Turns out this year we looked at three players, and I was one of them. It's very weird to look at your own stats for a potential award, and I fully admit I was very uncomfortable. However, looking at the figures, it turns out I would get the MIP Award over the other two candidates, but of course I couldn't tell anyone... so I kept the big news quiet.

I picked up the plaque of the MIP and Tour Champion on the way to the final stop of 2008 of the OB Cues Ladies 9-Ball Tour, as fellow board member and I, Julie Stephenson, headed to Legend's Billiards in League City, Texas.

Monica Anderson, the other Board Member, and I had already discussed that I would run the Player's Meeting but when it came time to award MIP and the Delta-13 Rack that was engraved "Tour's Most Loyalist Member," that she would give out the awards.

Tracie Voelkering was surprised to win the Loyalist Award (our first time to give it out) and the Tour Champion award wasn't decided until Sunday afternoon when Lisa Marr earned enough points to claim the title.

When it came time to give out the Most Improved Player Award, I thought Monica would just say, "she moved from 9th last year to 5th this year," but she said more, and it moved me to tears. She said that although I had won this already back in 1998, the competition nowadays was tougher, but more importantly, I moved up in the rankings and improved all the while enduring a tough year. I teared up, she teared up, and I accepted the award with downright shock with her words - I didn't expect all that at all!

Monica would remind me later I also moved up in the rankings all the while also being a busy Board Member.

I knew I had been doing well - a 4th place finish and two 5th place finishes this year, but when Monica mentioned I was not only improving "in general," but amidst a rough year, it made the award that much more meaningful to me.

I weird as it sounds, I didn't realize that.

As the one who endured the year, I don't realize sometimes I lost my Dad, got divorced and moved my Mom up here so we could live together because she is disabled. I use my passion (pool) as my outlet - still practice once a week, still work on pool websites, still help run the OB Cues Ladies Tour, still provide media coverage and photos at a few other events, etc.

On Sunday, fellow player, Jillian Martinez, stopped me and congratulated me. That meant so much to me b/c only moving up from 9th to 5th place doesn't seem that much, but she said it was obvious I should have won the Most Improved Player award. Her words meant the world to me.

Thanks to Monica for the moving speech and to my Mom who supports me practicing every week. Below is me with my new, proud, MIP plaque!

It's very weird to win this award in 1998 and now again in 2008. Some players on the tour don't realize I used to be able to play some! When they started on the tour, I wasn't playing well so the have no idea I played "okay" in the late 90s and early 2000's. LOL! I stopped regularly practicing around 2001/2002 and it really showed in my finishes.

In Aug 2006, I decided to start diligently practicing again once a week, but had too take some weeks off in 2007 due to my Mom almost passing away and then my Dad passing away. In 2008, I would do my weekly routine of 1-3 hours of me-only practicing whenever I could and I guess it paid off!

My friend at the pool room, Steve Game, was SO happy for me when I told him I won MIP. He expressed to me that indeed I had improved - he had really noticed my improvements on the table but didn't want to tell me before the final event because he didn't want me to play too loose. He says he will keep helping me, too. :)

I want to keep up the practice and maybe even practice additionally - I did add a Saturday session if I was not out of town and I want to keep that up.

I am very happy and honored to win Most Improved Player. My game has so much more matured than when I won it back in 1998. I have so much more knowledge in the fundamentals, it's amazing I even won that award back then, LOL.

Trigger Talk with Shayla Neris

I've always wanted to do interviews, and I'm finally starting!

I am proud of my first interviewee, my dear friend, Shayla Neris, from Austin, Texas, who just won the 2008 Houston Open the weekend of November 8th at Legend's Billiards in League City, Texas.

Shayla has been playing pool for 15 years, almost as long as I have known her, and is also a budding photographer. I caught up with her after her first-ever tournament win to ask her questions for a new section of my blog, dedicated to interviews, called "Trigger Talk":

How does it feel to win the Houston Open?

It feels pretty good, actually. I still can't believe it because there was so much talent at that tournament. I played some tough players and had three hill-hill matches. A couple of my opponents had some unfortunate rolls, and I felt bad about that, but I just reminded myself that I still had to work to be on the hill to take advantage of that.

Shayla in Austin 2007 where she placed 3rd at the Hunter event.

Did you think about what was on the line during the finals?

Funny you should ask that. The Houston Open always gets a huge turn-out for the men's and the women's event. Because of all the people, its always jam packed around the tournament table. So, after I won my first couple of matches, all I could do was go up and report my win and score to the tournament director. I could never get close enough to see who I was playing next or what the payouts were. So, when I realized I was playing for the hot-seat, I decided I would just keep that going and not look to see what were the payouts. So, during the finals, I actually did wonder to myself how much 1st and 2nd place were because I was getting really tired. The other thing I was thinking about was how late it would be when I got home. I thought about that more and more with every game my opponent won in that final match. I really didn't want it to go two sets mostly because it would put me home that much later. I guess I was just so tired that I didn't even give much thought to the fact that I was actually playing in the finals of a big tournament! Thank goodness, too, because I'm sure I would have managed to psych myself out at that point.

You didn't sleep at all that night? Why?

I woke up about 9am on Sunday and made it to the pool hall at 11am. Play didn't start until about 1pm and I wasn't done until right around 3am! I had to work Monday morning, so we made the 3 hour and 15 minute drive in a little over 2 and a half hours! Since my husband, Corey, was up all day too, there was no way I could sleep in the car on the way home knowing he was just as tired as I was. So, I stayed awake while he drove. I got home with enough time to hop in the shower, and be at work by 7am. I think it was all the excitement that was keeping me awake. I was pretty delirious at work because my officemate kept commenting on all the goofy things I was saying. I don't really like to talk about pool much at work, but I had to tell my coworkers I won the tournament and hadn't slept so they'd know why I was acting weird. I also told my manager. They were all genuinely happy for me and my manager was nice enough to let me go home at 1pm. I stopped to get something to eat on the way home and took a nap. I had been up for almost 30 hours! I hadn't done that in almost 10 years! And, if anyone really knows me, knows that my normal bedtime is 9pm.

Where are you going to place your trophy?

Well, I didn't get a trophy, but if I had, it would go in my office next to my other BCA trophies.

Has it sunk in yet that you won?

Its just now sinking in almost 2 weeks later. I'm still getting congratulations from my friends. An announcement was made at G-Cue Billiards on our league night since both winners of the Houston Open play in the same league. That truly was awesome. All of my friends have been great. I think my friends have way more confidence in my game than I do. Its like they all knew I was capable of winning, except for me.

Who did you tell first (that wasn't at the tournament)?

Well, since Corey and my good friend, Heather Lloyd were actually there to witness the win, two of the three people I would call already knew. My other good friend, Melinda (hey! thats you!), would have been the other person I wanted to tell right away, but since it was 3am, I waited anxiously until the next morning. I called my mom that afternoon, and she was happy for me, but she just doesn't quite get it, I don't think. She always asks how many people were in the tournament, and this time she asked me if Heather wasn't there. Once she knew Heather played in the tournament, too, she understood the importance of the win. If only she knew of all the other tough players that were also in the tournament. She cracks me up!

How did you prepare for the tournament?
I haven't prepared for a tournament in way over a year. I lost interest in playing pool back in mid-2007. I had just gotten engaged and was starting to plan a wedding and my other hobbies were really taking up a lot of my time. The only time I was playing pool was at the OB Tour stops. I would just go from tournament to tournament, and sometimes I'd actually have to remind myself not to forget my cue. But the Wednesday before the Houston Open, I received my brand new OB-2 shaft. Friday night we arrived at the Houston Open and I played the most pool at one time than I had the whole year before for about 3 hours or so. It was the first time playing with the OB-2 shaft and I was in love. Its like I couldn't miss a ball. So those 3 hours was really the only preparation I had done. Oh, and Sunday morning I played a few games on the Megatouch with James Davis, Sr. We both felt like we were half asleep, so we decided the Megatouch would be a good way to wake up our brains. Turns out James Davis, Sr. ended up winning the men's side of the tournament, too. :)

Do you have any pool goals you'd like to share?
I didn't have any goals this year since I really wasn't in the mood to play pool. I haven't really set any goals for next year, yet, but I would like to play more pool. I'm thinking about giving my home table a tune-up so to speak, so maybe I'll get back in to taking my game a little more seriously.

I heard you almost didn't play in the tournament? Can you tell us about that?

I had been fighting off a sinus infection the week before and was on anti-biotics and taking 4 other medications at the same time. I also had a terrible cough and Saturday night I wasn't feeling too hot, so I went to bed early. I got up Sunday morning and still felt crappy and couldn't decide if I wanted to play or not. We had to go back to the pool hall because Corey was still in the main event. It wasn't until I walked in the door that I decided to play. The deciding factor was the entry fee. It was $25, which was much lower than I expected it to be, so I figured for $25, I could forfeit without feeling guilty if I started to feel worse throughout the tournament. Well, after the player auction, the possibility of forfeiting went out the window since someone bought me for $70. The highest I've ever gone for, I think. I couldn't possibly forfeit when someone else's money was at stake. So, I just played one match at a time.

- Interview conducted November 18, 2008 -

Congratulations, Shayla!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Mid Nov Update

I took a few weeks off from playing pool - I had won that tournament in Temple, Texas (I'm still excited and shocked!) and went out of town for work for a week and then just relaxed and ate good food (LOL) for the next two weeks. I did go to league once or twice I think, but didn't hit balls once/per/week for 1-3 hours like I normally do for my routine practice sessions. I did get a lot done around the house, on websites, and ran a lot of errands, but otherwise I just relaxed and took a nice chill break. Not like me, but I didn't have a tournament for 5 weeks after my last tournament, so I guess I slacked off! But, I finally got my butt out of the house and practiced 10-ball for 3 hours on Veterans Day (a day off of work for me). I practiced okay (surprisingly) but I also gambled at one pocket (yay!) for about 2 hours before I had to run to league that evening.

I had talked to a really good, local, road player about helping me with one-pocket. We discussed the best way for him to teach me was for me to play someone but he coaches me. So a friend of mine, Terry, let him coach me this night while we played for $.50 a game. We adjusted down from the normal weight of 13-5 b/c I was getting coached, but I proceeded to lose the first two games so we stopped 12-6 and went back to 13-5. I won some games and we adjusted again back to 12-6. I had to leave when I was up two games but thoroughly enjoyed myself! My OPC (one-pocket coach) said I did good and Terry was so gracious to let us do that. It truly is a great way to learn one pocket, I agree! I then practiced the next Saturday by myself, working on my pre-shot routine for about two hours playing 10ball and then I played some more one pocket, this time against a guy named Joe who was waiting for his normal Saturday one pocket game (a good friend of mine named Steve). Steve came in during the first game and then I was able to ask him questions about what I should shoot and how (and why). Joe and I played three games 10-6 and I won two out of three games, with the help of Steve. Steve knows a lot about the game and I was honored he helped me! Steve said I played well and tight and I wish I had my OPC's phone number so I could call him and tell him. I am so excited. :)

So, two practice sessions under my belt before I play this weekend, but I am out of town for work again and wont be able to practice this week but I brought a few pool videos to watch at night - one is my FAVORITE!! Buddy Hall and Grady Matthews self-commentating a great Reno Open match.

I don't know how I will do this weekend... still ranked 6th on the tour and would love to end the year ranked 6th but we will see what happens if I keep that rank. The two players below me play well and could pass me up if they place well (and if I don't), in this event.

Until the Next Time.....

League is Surprising Me

I guess I better bite my tongue - I have enjoyed league this season! I really like my B league - guess because I have more of a chance to possibly do well in the rankings - LOL! There are still some A's and many tough B+ players, but it's still been a lot of fun. I have been carpooling with a few team mates and that has been a lot of fun as well. I have made a little goal to try to get in the top ten in this league - it's gonna be tough to do, but it is a "do-able" goal!

The last time we played, we played the number one team and we lost by one game, but most of the guys on the other team were not rude and even complimentary if we would win a game against their teammates -they were genuinely happy if we made a good run. It was a nice change!

On the A/Master league I am on, I enjoy carpooling with fellow board member Julie (of the OB Cues Ladies Tour) and also enjoy meeting up with friends in this league too, but the competition is very tough so I watch and learn a lot, LOL! I need to step up my game in this league and play really, really smart. These are the type of players you can't leave any shot because they can get out with nice break outs, excellent shot making, and tough runs.

I have a little competition thing going on with two teammates on the B team and we try to out do each other to see who gets the higher score that night. I'm also now competing with a friend of mine from Austin but he doesn't know it. ;) But, we share our stats and now I am trying to out-score him.

I need a little goal for the A/Master league but I am not sure what it would be right now. hmm...

Either way, I am enjoying league this season!!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Break Contest Videos

As I wrote in August, there is a HUGE Break Contest going on at Rusty's Billiards in Fort Worth, Texas that is $500 a ball! To read all the rules, go to the link above and check out the specs.

So, I start to show up on Tuesday nights to check it out and to try and be cool and video tape the break contest with my camera phone to capture the action (or mis-action) for my blog (this one you are reading, silly!). I caught three no-wins, my camera ran out of juice another no-win night, and I missed several other no wins. Then one guy got drawn one week and won $1,000 or so and then got drawn again the VERY next Tuesday and won I think $1,000 again! I missed the video opportunity! :(

So, I show up the second Tuesday in October (finally) just in time for the break contest after stupid league and caught a run of the entire rack and saw someone win $4,000! Ahhh... worth the wait!

My first youtube experience and sound doesn't get converted from my camera phone, so I overwrote the screeching noise with funky music available from youtube and so no "cheers" or "ooooh's" can be heard, which really makes the video! Dag nab it!

Anyhow, here are the videos:

First video (below) - scratch on the break by TJ:

Second video (below) - Corey doesn't make a ball on the break:

Third video (below) - scratch on the break by Jose:

Fourth video (below) - TJ makes a ball on the break and runs out!