The second stop of the OB Cues Ladies Tour was held in early March at Casper's Billiards, a week after I came back from Reno. Tina Pawloski flew in from San Diego and spent the weekend with me to attend the tournament with me - it was cool a friend flew in from so far away to compete on our Tour!
Tina and I practiced Thursday night, which I never, ever do- I don't like to over think about my play right before a tournament. Tina told me that night, "you are playing as good as any of the girls I play. You have a very good game." I would ask her Monday about the additional comment she made about my confidence - and she shared with me her opinion: "You do play well, so it must be something mental keeping you back from winning a tournament." I appreciated her candor and thoughts.
We drove down to Casper's Friday night with Tara Williams. Casper's is located south of Houston so it's roughly a 5 hour drive. I enjoy riding with Tara - she drives fast and the car rides are fun with her. :)
Casper's is well known because they were featured in Billiards Digest as one of the top ten pool rooms in the country! It is not only a cool pool room (it has an upstairs and downstairs) it also was built to withstand hurricane force winds and was used as a shelter for the local community during last season's hurricane. It sits literally less than half a mile from the Gulf of Mexico - pretty cool to be able to view such a large body of water from a pool room!
I made sure to get a good breakfast and got plenty of sleep for the first day of the tourney. I honestly wasn't sure how I would play, though. After not giving full effort in Reno, would I play okay? Do okay? I wasn't sure.
I played my first round against a player who hasn't been playing much lately and I won 7-3 I think. Let me back up a second - the upstairs of Casper's is smoking, downstairs is nonsmoking. My first match was upstairs, right next to the bar - where everyone was smoking! :( We are a non smoking tour, so it really defeated the purpose (imo) to have a table so close to the "smoking section." I was pretty upset about it, but was able to overcome that and win my match. I played "okay."
My next match proved how well I was playing! Casper's has 14 9-foot tables (Gold Crowns), and I feel most comfy on 9foot tables because that is what I practice on. In the first rack, I ran out from the 1 ball, but my opponent came back and ran out from the 3 ball in the next rack. After playing SO well the first game, I started to feel a little too confident, but her return fire kept me on my toes and for that I am grateful! Don't want to start relaxing until the match is over!
I continued to play well though. I was making GREAT shots, moving the cueball around that 9foot table like I owned it - it was an awesome feeling. She kept up a fight though and played well against me but I finally won 7-4 I think. I figured out what I was doing in this match - I was taking my time and staying down. That was my goal this weekend - to take my time while down on the shot, like I watched over and over again in Reno by certain players. Taking my time allowed me to really see the object ball and shot in front of me - it felt great! I think I was in the zone for several matches!
I then played my good friend Jennifer Kraber next. I felt good going into the match but a few critical mistakes caused me to lose the match. But, I give her credit because she played beautifully. I noticed she has a different presence at the table this year - hard to describe but she looks like she is there to win. Not that she didn't look that way before, but for some reason, her attitude and presence is focused with extreme determination. No emotions at the table - just hard play. She would go on to place 2nd! Her highest finish yet!
I won another match against the lovely Tracie who's game has really improved and it was tough for me to get by.
I then had to play Orietta Strickland. Tough player to play and to win against. She started off to a 2-0 lead and I tie it 2-2 due to her mistakes. I was making mistakes, but she made more. The more she made as the match went on, the "taller" I became. I was swimming in confidence. I felt good, played well, and took advantage of her (surprisingly) mistakes. I honestly thought she would easily outplay me because of her experience, but I ended up winning the match and that meant I would be in the tourney til Sunday! :) Looking over the stream recorded match (only the first four games were recorded) I see that I didn't take my time like I had earlier in the day, though... hmm...
Sunday morning was the same routine - got sleep and ate a small breakfast to start the day off well. My first match was against a good player who is tough to play. She plays good safes and plays well, and we go back and forth with wins against each other. She said to me before we started: "you usually beat me on this tour in the first match on Sunday." I think to myself, "hmm.... you beat me at each Texas Open events we played in and every Fast Eddie's Tour (except the one I won in December) and I don't remember playing you on Sunday on the OB Cues Ladies Tour."
Oh well, off we went. :) We were both playing well at the beginning but just as the previous days match on this exact table, I started to really play confidently, stay down well, take my time while down on the shot and moved the cueball around the table beautifully. I think I put pressure on her (I guess) because she missed a few shots and I won the match. It felt so good to be in the zone again and play so well. I was now about to play for 7th/8th place!
For the next match we were put on the stream table, Courtney Peters and I, and I had no issues in my mind at all when we started. I paid for some cool tunes on the jukebox and then we started. In the first game, we each missed the 9ball three times and I finally made it, lol. Then I go up 2-0 with a 3-ball out with ball-in-hand. She ties it up by playing well, and then playing a good safe. Score, 2-2. At this point in the match, the stream shows that I am staying down fairly well. I don't know how - I know this is the point I start to get nervous for some reason and miss a thin cut on the 9ball she missed to go up 3-2 instead it's 2-3 her.
I had to use a bridge on the next game but got hooked, so instead of laying the bridge down, I dropped it under the table and it made a loud noise - I then became embarrassed I showed that "upset" emotion. The embarrassment got worse and worse for me the next couple of games, as I got more out of line and missed more shots. I worked on deep breathing, positive thoughts, tried to gather strength from that guy, everything... to try and get over the wobbly feeling in my arms. But it just didn't work.
Looking at the stream to write this entry, I do notice I am staying down well - even at this point in the match. That gives me a huge sense of relief! Wow - I didn't realize I was doing that while nervous. Yay!
After another missed cut on a 9ball she missed - I definitely did not stay down that time, that's when I took a break and did jumping jacks (seriously) in the bathroom to wake my mind up and get some blood flowing. Another trick of the trade I learned many years back.
I can't explain why I got nervous or what happened. I don't know what triggered it, but looking back, it's obvious had a lot of opportunities at this point to be ahead 4-2 instead of down 2-4. I came back from the break ready to play but a miss on the 1ball by me led to her running out! Ugh, lol. Score now 5-2 her.
My music then comes on and I get out super nice on a really tough rack! I was staying down again and feeling good. Whew! The song really pepped me up and even the commentator said I was dancing a little; I was! :)
Courtney then gets out really well to get on the hill after a missed safe on the 1ball by me. She's making it tough for a come back!! Good for her! :) I think she is going to run out in the next game for the win, but misses the 3ball. I over hit the 5ball tho and the cueball lands on top of the 6ball! I can't believe it. :( I try to play safe, but the speed got me and Courtney ran out for the win. Courtney really played well and I was happy to see her overcome some 9ball misses and win this match.
For the last couple of months I have thought about this match. As you may recall, I wrote in a recent entry about my first OB Cues Ladies Tourney: "This match would prove to be a recurring nightmare for me for the next few months." Then I had that other bad match at the State tourney. I felt the match with Courtney was the same as the other ones - I faltered to a T. Instead, as I re-live the match via ustream, I see that even though I got nervous, I didn't let it overcome the entire match, I even got over it and started to play better, and I stayed down throughout most of the match (even with nerves). But a few position errors and Courtney's better play won her the match - but I didn't give it to her like I thought I did through my nerves and embarrassment. I am pleasantly surprised!
I apologize to anyone who might be reading this because I wrote a novel about this one match, but it has been a tough match for me to swallow. I am glad I took the plunge to review the video because it opened my eyes that it really wasn't as bad as I thought. Yes, I felt all those nerves and wobbly arms, and "felt" paralyzed, but guess what - it really only lasted a few games in that match. I did overcome it. Yay!
I place 7th in the tourney and felt pretty good about my finish. This tourney showed me how well I really can play if I take my time while down on my shots. It was a much-needed experience for me.
Tourney Description: Elated!