Saturday, November 28, 2009

Crash and Burn, Err, Torn

Something ever happen to you that makes you wonder if your pool days are over? Frightening, isn't it?

On Thanksgiving Day, my Mom's lovely dog Izzy desperately needed a bath. I graciously took Izzy into the shower so I could use the hand-held shower-head. After soaking her and getting some shampoo on her back, she slipped away from me, knocked open the shower door, and off she went... !

She raced through the house.... wet, soapy, happy and free while I scrambled out of the bathroom to try and get her back in. I chased her through the kitchen but of course she runs a lot faster than I. I asked Mom to hold fort in front of the living room so she could catch this wet thing of a dog while I tried to run through the kitchen one more time to try and get her to run into Mom's grasp on the other side. As I flew around the corner, the now slippery floor under my feet caused me to fall. I slipped super fast, crashed into the cabinets, fell to the ground, all the while my left arm caught me from hitting my head on the other side of the kitchen wall. I sat there in disbelief, realizing my left arm was in a very bad position and I was still on the floor, not able to immediately get up.

My Mom yells, "I have her!" I yell back, "I fell!"

I sit there a minute, still leaning on my arm, my legs underneath me, and then I finally try and climb up. I try and get up very, very slowly and my arm hurts like hell, but I had a wet dog to still shampoo and my now-filthy mouth full of cuss words dragged the wet dog back to the shower. I could tell my arm was really hurt but I think I was in shock still.

I would realize later I'm kinda like a cat! I land on my feet just like a cat would! My arms and hands protect me really well from falling or hitting my head. It obviously could have been so much worse.

I mentioned to my Mom all the rest of the day, "I really hurt my arm," and she would wince in agreement that I probably did.

We made Thanksgiving dinner and ate all the wonderful foods and then it was nap time. While waking up from my nap, I realized my arm hurt even worse than I originally thought. I then went downstairs to clean up the kitchen more thoroughly and again told Mom, "my arm really does hurt." I would try to pretend to shoot pool, but I could not even lift my back arm up (my left arm) because it hurt to even simulate holding a cue.

I went to bed a couple of hours later, and could never really fall asleep - laying on my sides hurt my arm and on my tummy was a no-go. Just lifting it was brutally painful. So when I tried to move to my side in the night, I would have to lift my arm to adjust my position and it would hurt like hell.

The next day I went to work and my arm still hurt. My boss suggests it probably isn't permanent but it may take a while to heal - maybe even physical therpay of some sort. I plan on calling a doctor Monday when they open up after the holiday.

I sat at my desk at work on Friday and every once in a while I get up to go do something down the hall and I realized as I tried to stand up from my chair, that my hips hurt. I realize I can't walk straight and I'm walking with a limp. And my arm still hurts.

I am falling apart!

I dunno... but my body is beat up. No practicing for me this weekend; no pool; no pool tourney on Sunday, either.

I took some Tylenol PM Friday night and slept better and now today, Saturday, my arm feels better and my hips feel better. I can simulate holding a fake cue, and although my arm still hurts a little, it's definitately better. I prolly either strained a tendon or muscle, hopefully not tore either one.

The scary part of this story is I bet a lot of people go through things like this every once in a while in their life. And it is scary. I haven't hurt my arm so bad where I thought my pool career was over, but it really affects your demeanor - I am worried.

I think I will be okay, espeically since I do feel better today, but my arm still hurts and I am concerned.

Friday, November 27, 2009

What's Your Poison?

I used to drink diet coke or diet pepsi during my tournaments just because I like the taste and don't really care for water (go ahead and laugh, I don't mind). But a few years ago, a friend told me their coach told them caffeine can affect your play, so he suggested to her to not drink a lot of caffeinated drinks during a tournament. So, I switched to only drinking water during my matches at tournaments. I cannot drink alcohol and play well, so that was never an option and I don't like coffee. I have found I actually cannot play in a tournament without water now. It's kinda freaky!

So I was curious, what is your poison? What do you normally drink during your tournaments?

Video Reflection - Nov 2009

As I mentioned in my previous post, one of my matches was streamed "live over the internet" (can't you just imagine an announcer saying that so emphatically? LOL) during the OB Cues Ladies Tour Season Finale. I played against Lisa Henderson-Major and here is the recorded video of our match:

During the match, I kept my cool. I didn't get upset or worry when I was down. I kept it together mentally. I do recall getting frustrated with how well she was getting out (lol). I never gave up at any point but reviewing the recoding, it's obvious some failed safes by me and some balls I hit too hard cost me the match. More importantly, though, Lisa outplayed me. I felt I didn't have many chances and even told her on Sunday she only missed one ball, but after reviewing the match, it seems I did not recall the match so correctly after all, lol. I had a chance in every game; but she got out when it counted.

I did notice, however, that I stayed down well!! Woo-hoo! I tend to assume sometimes that's why I may not be making balls or acing my safes, but watching the recording it's obvious I was staying down well.

Although the score was lopsided - 1-7, I still felt like I played okay - I don't think I played all that badly. hehe. I admit I didn't have many opportunities late in each game. And when I was at the table, it looks like I didn't take my time. I now feel that I rushed my decisions and also shot too fast. Hmm...

Mentally, I felt fine going into the match. I knew I wanted to win badly, and maybe I was trying to hard, but a few failed safes really cost me. I never worried about being on the stream (I'm an old hat now, lol) and I never gave up (which I am thankful for).

Oh, and here I am commentating on a match on Sunday. I love commentating and interacting with the audience. Thanks to Shayla for setting this all up for the Tour and for Ray akaBigTruck for giving me the opportunity this past year to commentate on his stream.

and here is me and Ash commentating:

Bah Hum Bug

I went to the last stop of the OB Cues Ladies Tour wanting to end the season out well. I decided to do what I did for the BCAPL State 9 Ball tourney (where I was successful), which was to focus completely on staying down.

I am not sure what happened. Okay, I do - I didn't succeed.

I didn't get a bye, then defeated my good friend Shayla Neris 7-5 in a really bad match. Then I played MIP Lisa Henderson-Major on the stream table. As the previous year's MIP, it was battle of the MIPs! lol. MIP - Most Improved Player

During the match, I didn't get upset, but I did get frustrated with how well she was getting out (lol). I never gave up at any point but Lisa outplayed me. Here is the recorded match.

Me, focused.

I then played Kyu Yi next. I was surprised I was able to win as many games as I did but in the end, I missed some key shots toward the end of the match that cost me that match. I had my chances, but didn't capitalize. :(

I think I placed 33rd, here are the brackets. I didn't get in the money and placed the worst in a long time on this tour.

Tournament Description: Upset (more to come)

Thursday, November 19, 2009

October OB Ladies Tour at Rusty's

This was the second time Rusty's Billiards hosted the OB Cues Ladies Tour just this year! This is the stop that is closest to my home (10-15 minutes away) so I always look forward to this event. :)

What was different about this event was for me was: Timing. I was in Maryland for work the entire week before and flew in late Friday night. Then on Monday morning, I was to fly back out again for work and be gone for ten days. So, it was a little stressful for me knowing I wouldn't really be home for three weeks.

I played my dear friend Debbie Watson first after a bye. We have a closeness because her Mom had emphysema, which is what my Mom has. Her and her husband have always genuinely asked how Mom and I are doing and it means a lot. Debbie's game has improved but I was able to win 7-3.

I then played Tina Lehrmann next. Her game has also improved and we kept it close until the end and I won 7-5.

I then had to play my good friend Cristina Dela Garza. The winner of this match would be on the winner's on Sunday. It was getting late and a lot of people were watching our match but her and I always play pool, not worry about friendship (which can easily come into play playing girl friends). We both played as good as we could, but we each knew we could play better. I missed a crucial 7ball and then another 7ball but I tried to not focus on those misses and instead figure out why so I could get back to playing. Eventually it went 6-6 in a race to 7. I missed shape on the 3 and accidentally hit the 4 which led to a tough shot to get shape on the 6. Sure enough, I missed the 6 ball. She had to jack up to make the 6ball (they were close together) and that led to misshape on the 7 ball. She hit the 7 well but it did not go in. I had to back cut the 7ball and admittedly, I made my decision WAY to fast and got down on the ball too quickly, but I still made it and also made the could-have-been-better-shape on the 9ball.

Here is the lovely Cristina:

I waited around in the late evening to watch Ashley and Cristina make it until Sunday with their wins. I also saw my good friends Christy and Monica place 9th (yay!).

Amanda, Me and Ashley with Chris in the background!

Amanda, Me and Ashley - Take Four! LOL

Sunday came and I had to play the beautiful and talented Ms Lampert - me dear, dear friend (you know, my camera hog buddy, lmao! [see above and all my other posts, lol]). I won the first game and was feeling great but let some things bother me and I was not able to capitalize. Toward the end of the match, I decided to have fun and was able to not get upset like I easily could have. I think I lost 4-7?

I then had to play Orietta Strickland. I was in this exact same spot with her back in January - same table, same day, same place, unfortunately, same outcome. :(

She was making uncharacteristic mistakes on the 8 ball VERY often. So often, it became down right ghostly! The first game she got bad shape on the 8 and had to play safe but I got out. then the next game or game after, she missed the 8. I found myself up 3-1 and then she rolled out and I ran out! Then she scratched and I ran out! I felt very well about my play but knew not to think ahead and never did. She missed another shot and I got out and got on the hill. I think at this point it was 6-3 or something. She missed the 8 AGAIN after bad shape and I had an 8-9 carom and I shot it WAY too fast - i.e., I made my decision fast and got down on the shot fast. I knew if I missed, the 8 would be at the other end of the table and left tough, but after my stupid miss on the carom, she made it 8ball quite nicely. Then she got out to make it 6-4. Then she missed a 7ball and I again got down on the shot too fast, but I knew I had to thin it to get shape on the 8ball. I thinned it, but not enough and even though the shot on the 8 was tough, I beared down on it... but missed. :( She got out. I overheard the commentators of the stream say I needed to thin it, but that it was I tried to do on the 7ball. Next game I was staring at a tough 8 ball that she had missed in the side and I studied it for a long time, debating on whether to play safe, cut it or bank it. I decided to back bank it in the side but I miscued! Ugh! She got out. Another game she missed the 8 ball and it was perfect for me to bank but I didn't know or didn't remember that that was the dead rail and the 8 barely moved when I hit it, and she won that one also. I lost 6-7 and was extremely upset. More upset than I have been in a long time - actually, more upset the last time we played in Jan. I was sick. SICK SICK SICK.

I actually bitched and moaned from being embarrassed and upset about my loss - I whined; I admit it. My emotions completely took over and I whined. I will write another article about that sometime.

I wasn't happy I bitched and whined and had to eventually accept the fact that I am human and needed to accept I bitched out loud - I normally don't do that and was quite embarrassed at my lack of control to keep quiet, but I was pretty hot.

You can view my match at this link: . Shayla recorded some of the matches from the tourney and she also streamed all weekend. It was awesome!

So, I placed 5th and should have been excited but I was sick right after the loss. People told me "congrat's", "great finish", "you played well," etc., but I didn't see that right away. :(

Sean Black, me and the comical Eric Aicinena, LMAO!

Me and Ash trying to make funny faces, hehe.

I watched some of rest of the matches of the tournament and even commentated some and eventually calmed down. I then decided to check out where I stood in the rankings - I knew I needed to place well to move back into the top ten on this tour but didn't but pressure on me to do well (like I did in Waco). I figured out the math... and..... I was back in the top ten baby! I was SO happy! The sickness then led to happiness as I found out this new realization! I interrupted Monica to express my happiness and she hugged me with all her might knowing it meant a lot to me.

Many people think it's because I want to go to the Regional Tour Championship, but that is not the reason. The reason is because I have been in the top ten of this tour for 7 out of the last 8 years. I also earned Most Improved Player last year and felt dropping out of the top ten wouldn't really be par for the course of an MIP, right? Right.

Obviously I have one more stop left this year and I could feasibly move down right below the top ten. But I am still happy at this juncture that after missing one stop and having one previous bad finish this year, that I am back in the top ten! :)

One-Word-Tourney-Description: Delighted.

Me, posing for the great photographer, Shayla.

This is the boyfriend of one of my friends, and his shirt made us all laugh! So of course I had to take a pic!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Streaming Extremes

I was at the BCAPL Texas 9-Ball State tourney at the beginning of November, playing on the great diamond bar box tables put up by Bad Boy Billiards Productions.

There were many great streams going on that same weekend but I was at a tournament myself so I couldn't watch. So I thought!! Lucky for us, Royce Bunnell of OB Cues had his laptop. Luckier even more for us, the place had free wi-fi. :)

So, in between matches, a group of us would crowd around to watch live streaming from some of the other events across the country. We had TWO streams being shown at the same time and we watched the BigTruck Show from Caspers in Southeast Texas and also the TAR Match from Florida between Donnie Mills and Shane Van Boeing.

It was so exciting to watch two tournaments live at the SAME time, FROM a tournament! Ahhhh... it was pure billiards bliss. :)

Here is a photo of the Royce's screen, showing the two streams. You can see the Diamond tables in the background, behind the laptop, lol.

And here is Tommy and I, as we were watching the two streams. You can see we are sharing ear buds, too, lol, so we could listen. The stage for the tournament directors is to the left behind us:

Monday, November 16, 2009

Monday Night Distractions

So, I finally meet up with Doug who is my last straight pool match person of the season. We only have one week left and so we planned Monday night since the pool room isn't as crowded.

So we thought.

We get on the only open table (out of 8) and it's next to the poker room.

Description: Poker Room at Volcanoes - an open area with chairs and tables next to the pool tables.

Doug and I set up our pool cases and place our waters on the high table in between us and the rising poker stars, and we also put our score sheet on this table. We start off just fine until a lady slips by us and sits next to us at the same table. What irks me is: she is smoking. It really, really bothers me when someone is that close to me smoking, with no regard for anyone else around them.

I hear her order a diet coke and I plead to Doug b/c of her smoking I would like to move. We see a table on the other side and we both move all our $hit to the other table, which happens to be next to a big pole and near a video game. Oh, did I mention no light? Yea, no light. Smart move, Melinda!

The lights are bright where the poker players are, but this little table we moved to did not have light. The table is in such an awkward place, that we can't HEAR each other nor SEE each other because of the pole and the video games. It made for a very interesting way to try and keep tabs of our score.

The lady who was smoking was very pregnant and in all my wisdom of that moment, I decided to post on my facebook page from my cell phone that a pregnant lady who ordered a caffeinated drink was bothering me during my straight pool match with her smoking.

Well, hindsight is 20-20. This was on a Monday night so let me quarterback - do not post on FB during a match! My phone rings every time someone posts a reply. Well, my phone is going off like crazy! Doug is pointing to my phone every time it goes off to let me know it's doing "something." It was on silent but it still lights up when I get a message! Poor Doug - I don't know how he handled it. When I told him I posted about the smoker he added, "who's pregnant." I said, "Well, I added that part to my post" and then he smiled, as if he understood why I was getting so many responses. By the time I got home, there were like 40-ish responses of peeps going back and forth about it. lol.

Back to pool: Doug and I were so cramped, when we said "safe," we didn't hear each other. It started to become quite comical which I appreciated that we could laugh about it. Until.... the players around us had no regard for our match. Then I started to get upset. I don't normally let things like that get to me, but it wasn't just a simple distraction, they were rude. :(

I would stand there, wanting to shoot, looking up at the sky with this, "you've got to be f'in kidding me" look. Then I would finally get to shoot, but more often than not, I would be the "gentleman" and moved out of their way, but not them. It was disheartening, really, that people can be so into themselves and not give a crap or be aware of their surroundings.

One guy across from us would step out of my way and I thanked him over and over. When he left 2 hours later I almost ran up to him - "Stay - you are the only considerate person in here! Please stay!!"

Eventually, the pregnant, caffeine-drinking smoker left with her to-go food about 45 minutes after our first move, so Doug and I moved all our $hit back over to the lighted area. We could now actually hear the shots we called out to each other, we could breathe, we could sit comfortably, we could see, etc. I told him we were NOT allowed to let anyone slip thru to sit next to us from now on that night! He laughed in agreement.

Although the players around us were still in our way, at least we were sitting in a better spot. In the end, after THREE hours, we were done. I won 100-89 and he said he had a fun night and so did I, even with the distractions. Even tho the other players were rude, it was still nice that Doug and I were able to laugh and joke at accepting our surroundings and making the most of what we could.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Refocus Early

This is the first of a series of posts written in coordination with other pool bloggers. The first post relates to "strategy." To see others, go to

Strategy (from Wikipedia) refers to “one of the options a player can choose…” and then “what action will happen in regard to that option.”

While strategy can be what you do with the balls ON the table, or what you can do away from the table that might produce an outcome by your opponent, I’d like to talk about what you can do away from the table to get a reaction for yourself. The key to overcoming a deficit is to reflect as early on as possible during a match what is going on so you can work on solutions right away to start to play better pool in the match at hand. This obviously can also help if you are ahead in a match and find yourself not finishing it off.

If you are thinking about that shot you just missed, how bad you are losing, who is watching, what the score “should” be, etc., then you aren’t focusing on the match. The HUGE key (strategy) is to figure out as early as you can in the match why you are not focusing on pool so you can start to play better.

How many times have you lost a match and then afterwards said to yourself or to a friend: “Oh! I just realized I wasn’t staying down.” “I missed too many balls.” “My mind was thinking too much about how embarrassed I would feel if I lost.” “I wasn’t into the game because I was thinking about who my next opponent would be.” “I wasn’t playing my best.” Etc.

These are all very good reasons that you lost, BUT – to think about it AFTER a match is too LATE! All of these reasons/excuses can be turned around into a positive DURING the match. Then, you can start focusing on playing your best. Don’t wait to reflect AFTER the match or when your opponent is on the hill. Do it SOON.

Train yourself to recognize EARLY why you might be missing or playing bad. What negative thoughts are going through your mind? Or are your fundamentals off? Once you figure it out, you can then start immediately to work on positive thoughts or adjusting your fundamentals.

Turn the switch.
If you are missing balls, ask yourself why. Is it because your mechanics are off? Or are you not comfortable? Remind yourself, “stay down, follow through, smooth stroke.”

If you find yourself thinking “the score should be 5-2, not 2-5,” then tell yourself, “focus on the present; focus on the balls in front of me. I can no longer change that I missed that 9ball, but I can focus on playing my best from here on out.”

You give yourself the best chance of a comeback or finishing off the match by recognizing early during the match to reverse negative thoughts or focus back on your fundamentals.

Good Luck!

Check out PoolSynergy - more articles about Strategy from billiard bloggers!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Earbuds Are Broken

So, I went to practice on Wednesday night. Got there about 615pm, noticed how quiet it was, hardly anyone in there, no smokers around me, etc. I put the earbuds of my ipod in my ears and off I went, practicing ten-ball on the 9 foot tables to some great hip hop music!

A few people started to wander in an hour later and the friends who I knew would walk by and I would graciously stop, take one of the earbuds out to say hello, maybe even give a hug, and then get right back to my practice. Then about 730pm, the dreaded drunk walks in. The place is getting fuller and fuller of the young peeps drinking around the pool table, thinking they can play; the regulars that hang out near the bar area; the video game masters of the evening; the two teams playing in their league that night; and the guys who showed up for the 8ball bar table tourney.

But the drunk guy distracts me. He walks straight over to the tall, round table near the 9foot I am playing on, can barely keep his head up and eyes open, as he sits there, smoking his cigarette and stares at me playing by myself.

I ignore him, as others still walk up to say hi every now and then. A friend brought in his dinner and was watching me play across the other table, but he knows when I practice to just say our hellos and let me go back to conditioning my fundamentals.

The drunk... well, he knows no better.

After 30 minutes of watching me, he finally stumbles up to me as I take out a few balls in the pockets nearest him and place them on the felt.

I take out my earbud, as he is obviously standing right next to me trying to say something, but I can't hear him.


"Do you work at..." (some place that starts with an L)

"No I don't."

"Oh..." he mumbles.

I put my earbud back in and take a few more balls out and he walks back up to me.

I have to take my ear bud back out, "What?"

"Do you know Sally?"


I look at him and put my earbud back in and go about my business. He stammers back to his chair.

I shoot a few shots and of course he comes back.

"What?" I say (again!) as I take my earbud out, clearly agitated by now. Everytime he walks up to me, he is saying something, but I can't hear him and I *thought* it was obvious I was busy anyway.

"Have you played in the Texas Open?"


"Oh. Okay. "

He stands there a few seconds, not talking, then adds, "My name is Buddy."

He shows his hand, I shake it and reply,

"Hi, I'm Melinda."

"Oh, okay."

I try to put my earbud back in and he interrupts my action,

"Do you know Little David?"


"Oh, do you know...." (he couldn't remember the other name he was trying to think of)

I just looked at him. Waiting with anticipation (yea, right) and finally gave up on his lack of remembering and put my earbud back in and shot a few more balls.

He walks back up. He is trying to again talk to me when I can't hear him; I take my earbud out again, "what?"

"Do you know the big guy from Austin?"

"I dunno."

I put my earbud back in much quicker this time and try my darnedest to focus back on pool, wondering when he might walk back up and interrupt me.

I need to get rid of these earbuds, they obviously don't work.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

My New Shaft

As I mentioned in another post, I tried out a friend's OB-2 for a few games one evening and really liked it. I had tried the OB-1 shaft about 3 years ago or so and even though I used it for about 6months, I stopped using it. I thought I used too much English to appreciate the shafts' low deflection and since I was self taught, I knew it would take a long time to un-do that, lol, so I stopped using it. Well, the OB shafts in my opinion have improved for some reason, I can't explain why, but I have heard a few people who used one before and stopped, are now using a new OB that they recently tried again. I am now one of those people. :)

Of course, it could be I like the OB-2 better.

I thought the OB-2 would be too skinny for me, but I actually love it even more so than the OB-1 size.

The OB shafts are low deflection shafts. Here are the specs of the OB-2:
  • 11.75mm tip diameter
  • 1/2" Laminated Maple Ferrule
  • Combination pro/conical taper
  • Everest Tip by Tiger Products
  • Available to fit all the popular joint sizes and styles
The first time I used my new OB-2, I shot with it in a straight pool match (that I won). I then hit balls with it for an hour the next day during my practice session. I then used it during my last two tournaments where I placed 5th, and 2nd (and 1st in a team event). While I know my skills got me the wins, I love the OB-2 shaft!

I read on a thread on AZB where people asked why they like low deflection shafts and why not. While there are many more reasons why people like them, it is true it gives you confidence because you are less likely to miss certain shots that seems to always have deflection (that has plagued my game on long shots or extreme-English shots) and you can also draw further. But it's more than that - it allows you to move the cueball more precisely.

For some reason, my reasoning for not using the OB-1 before is not still viable - I use the same English and am very satisfied with the OB-2 shaft. The cut shots I had trouble with before with the OB-1 I no longer have trouble making. Of course, my game has also improved as I am more comfortable with my game, but now I am also more comfortable with the SHAFT, which obviously is an important part of our game, right?

The OB-2 feels "right" through my bridge hand, almost like an extension from my arm/hand rather than a shaft I shoot with. It's very difficult to explain. But, I love it!

Monday, November 2, 2009

What High Run?

I called my new teammate, Ash, the next day after my new high run and we were about to talk about team things when she excitingly interrupted me and asked,

"guess what?! guess what?!"

She is in the straight pool league I am in, but in the division that races to 150. I applaud her for wanting to play in the top division. I want to try and ace my race-to-100 division before going to "that" division, lol. So, we have different styles but we both LOVE straight pool and know it will help our over-all pool games. We are also both in-love with the lovely game of straight pool. :)

I replied, very interested and intrigued,


She answered, "I beat my high run last night!"

I added, "OMG, so did I!."

We were both giddy! She continued:

"I was practicing with Scotty (her b/f) and if this guy wouldn't have walked up to me during a shot, it might have even been higher."

She proudly continued, "I ran 42!"

I sat there with a deflated feeling and a little funny and the sense of embarrassment snuck up on me as she naturally asked in return,

"what was your new high run?"

"19," I said sheepishly, LOL!

She was still very happy for me. :)

She stated with this high run she felt like she belongs in her division now and it has given her more confidence in general. I was very excited for her (and myself, lol) for our new high runs. :)

Luckily in straight pool, new high runs are appreciated no matter what they are and no matter who gets them. :) Congrat's to both of us!

Here is me and Ash at a tournament a week after our high runs:

Straight Win

After my tough straight pool loss...

A few weeks later, I play the top player in my division I just assumed he would win so I had no pressure or expectations. I fouled early in the set and he asked how to score it. I thought to myself, "self, if he is the top player, why doesn't he know this? Is he pretending?" Turns out he asked about it a few more times and so I knew he really wasn't sure. He missed more than I expected him to and I found myself on a good run and after a miss, I hear the wonderful words from my opponent, "good run."

I looked down at the score sheet and saw I had just beaten my high run by two! I was so elated! Poor guy, losing to a girl and now she's all giddy about getting her new high run, lol! He was a great sport about it and he was genuinely happy for me. After that, we laughed and joked a lot during the match; it turned out to be a very fun match! You never know how matches will go with people you have never met before, so this one was a nice surprise. He made me laugh a lot and I felt comfortable to be myself and therefore let my personality out more.

Or course, after the new high run I wasn't able to focus too much. I was up by 20 at that point but safes, fouls, and missed shots due to lack of concentration and being happy about my new high run led to many innings with no additions to my score, lol. I finally was able to get back into the game and was ahead by 30 toward the end. It took me a while to make the last few remaining balls due to no shots available but I won 100-76.

Tough Straight Lesson

I had 4 straight pool matches left. I figured I might lose 1, win 3.

On this one night, I thought I was going to win. I went in thinking of my opponents' stats, remembering he hasn't won as many as I, so of course I was a little over confident. Instead, he played jam up! I found myself down in the match, as I sat there and saw him runs balls and play mean safeties. I was down 56 to 28. :(

I bet I looked like a deer in the headlights. I was stunned.

I told myself (finally) to just simply focus when I would get to the table. A few more innings at the table and I found myself on a 10-ball run and then a 13-ball run, then 7 and 5 and caught up to the 30-ball deficit! He had 53 and I had 61. He wasn't happy and I was surprised, lol. Toward the end of our race to 100 however, I am down again 79 to 67 then 85 to 72. I snuck closer being down only 87 to 78 then only 91 to 86. At this point, I find myself at the table. I see that I can run a few balls and I do, but also see I a great opportunity for a break-out shot! My instincts tell me how many balls I need - I need another rack to get to 100 - even tho there are 3 ducks waiting for me. However, I go for the break-out shot and DOG IT!

I gain a HUGE learning experience at the expense of losing. :( Because.... after I sorely missed the break out shot, it donned on me as I climbed slowly, deflated, onto the cold, hard stool that I could have made those ducks and then played safe - then there would not be enough balls on the table for him to make 100 and we would have had to shoot another rack anyway. I was SO embarrassed how bad I missed the break-out but more so disappointed I didn't see this!! Going for the break-out would have been right if wasn't the end of the game. Being aware of their score at the end of the game is crucial. It was a very tough loss for me - I should have won. I even had another chance but it was a tough shot for me and I missed. :(

So, this added another damn loss to my stats that I wasn't expecting. UGH!!!

I lost 100-89. :(

Houston Open 2009

I hadn't been to the famous Houston Open in several years for various reasons - mainly because the women's event is only played on Sunday and the pool room is 5-6 hours from my house so I turn into a big baby about the long drive. I don't mind going to Legend's Billiards in League City for two-day women's tourneys, but the one-day tourneys on a Sunday that are far from my house can be tough for those that have to be at work early Monday. This year I happened to take of on Monday for my Mother's/Daughter weekend that we had to postpone, so I slyly just kept the day off and went down to the Open. :)

I am very glad I went, too. It was a very fun weekend. I started off by driving down with Zaid who needed a road partner on the way down. Ironically, my friend Viet My needed a road partner on the way back so it was perfect.

Me, driving

Zaid, always on the phone

My lap - Mickey D's for lunch! (safety hazard, I know)

Even more perfect was that the hotel was right behind the pool room so I didn't need a car all weekend. Furthermore, several restaurants were within walking distance but that wasn't necessary anyway though as it is secretly known that Legend's Billiards has the BEST pizza's! As a matter of fact, after dropping Zaid off in North Houston, fighting traffic in his car (he would pick it up Saturday) to drive to South Houston, and then checking in to the hotel, my first order of business was to immediately get my arse to the pool room to grab a drink with Shayla and order a pizza! Ahh.... Good times!

Eventually, Yvette, Barbara, Frank, and Grady showed up to join us. Shayla was hitting balls most of the evening but in the middle of some down time, I grabbed her cue and hit some balls. She has an OB Cue with an OB-2 shaft. I immediately fell in love with it and wished I had one to play with that weekend! Many drinks later, watching the one pocket action in the middle room, and after some fun pics, it was time to walk my arse back to the hotel to rest my weary eyes. I ran into many friends who showed up at Legend's Friday night to ensure they signed up for the big tournament and it was fun to just hang out.

Shayla, Me and Yvette

Me and Frank Jr - sometimes the blurry photos are the
funniest! Like this one! LOL

Here is the non blurry version:

On Saturday, the first thing I did when arriving at the pool room was to order another pizza. :) I mostly vegged, watched the men's event, caught up with a lot of friends, and watched gambling into the night. It meant so much that so many people asked how my Mom was doing. I was able to spend quality time with the author Carl Miller, Belinda Lee from Houston, Dennis and Lanney, and Bill Tippit who was a great friend to the late Dan Freeman. I also ran into the ever-friendly Sarah Rousey who actually had her eyes open for this pic!

Sarah Rousey and I

Sunday morning I was super exhausted, but nothing a GREAT pizza from Legend's couldn't help with! Viet and I bought together a few of the lady players in the auction and then they called my non-bye first match. I would play my dear friend, future teammate, and co-commentator, Ash (Ashley). We were on the table that everyone had to walk by but it didn't bother either of us. I was freezing though as it was super cold - I was afraid I was going to turn into a popsicle! - but was able to ask someone to get my sweater so I was able to warm up during the match thankfully. I didn't know how I was staying down (b/c I was so tired) but I was able to for some reason. I am not sure how I won, because she was playing well but I was able to get out a few times and was ahead. While on the hill, I had about three chances to win and didn't close out the match. She said something about that to me but I already knew it - it was pretty obvious I should have won that game, lol. I also knew that wouldn't happen the next game - 'I would persevere,' I told myself. lol. And I did. I think 7-4 or 7-5.

My straight pool coach texted me and reminded me to stay down and so that was a nice surprise to hear some positive thoughts from him - I didn't get the message until after that match so I carried it with me to my next opponent.

I then had to play the ever formidable player Michelle Ram. She made a few mistakes in the beginning and I was able to capitalize while I waw also playing well. I was ahead 5-3 and she took a break. When she came back, the tides turned and I lost focus at the same time. I didn't shoot an 8 hard enough and missed shape on the 9, then missed the 9. She got that game and also started to play better. I didn't make a couple tough 9s she left me and she came back to beat me 7-5. I know that felt good for her and was glad she started to play better.

I then played Kim Pierce next. The one-loss side is a race to 5 so it can be over rather quickly if one isn't paying attention... which I found myself in that exact situation! I was down 3-1 then 4-2 and told myself, "This is the Houston Open, wake up and focus, Melinda." I then beared down and started to stay down better and I won the set 5-4! I was shocked! Then I played Michelle Abernathy who wasn't playing her game well - she said afterwards she is in a rut, which means when she comes out of it, she will be playing even better - can't wait to see. I think I won 5-2.

I then played Terry Petrosino next. It was on the same table as when I had played Kim earlier and ironically, I went through the same non-focus in the beginning of the match and had to bear down from down 4-2 (again) to start to play well. I did start to play better and I tied it up 4-4 and I felt great. I had a chance to safety Terry with ball-in-hand but instead, the tricky shot led to a straight-in shot, not a safety. Opps. Eeek! Can't do that against Terry. She ran out beautifully that rack. She is a great player with excellent fundamentals. She would go on to get 2nd place!

I placed 9th and was very pleasantly surprised to get an envelope with money in it from the awesome tournament director, Mindy! I got $30 and appreciate the Houston Open even more because they pay deep for the women.

Mindy and Ted put on such a great tournament. I hope to return next year. Of course, I will be at Legend's in November for the OB Ladies Tour stop, too. Can't wait to hug Mindy and have pizza's!

Tournament One-word Description: Surprised