Sometimes, even the tiniest crack in what
looks like an impregnable concrete wall can lead to
the destruction of the entire wall. Think of a crack
in a dam, that spreads with the pressure of a wall of
water behind it, finally bringing the whole dam down.
On the weekend of November 20-21, a week before its
Tour Championships, the Predator Pro Am Tour held its
final tour stop, which set a tour precedent by becoming
the first event in the tour’s history at which
all three events (main, Second and Third Chance) were
won by a woman.
A tiny crack in the seemingly impregnable wall of separation
between men and women pool players? Or just an isolated
event on a random regional tour stop that no one will
remember in a week? We shall see.
Although 2017 has been Rhio Anne (Annie) Flores’
best recorded earnings year, to date, her undefeated
run at the $1,000-added main event of the Predator Pro
Am Tour stop this past weekend, which drew 73 entrants
to Steinway Billiards in Astoria (Queens), NY, was her
first tour victory of the year and her first on any
tour/event in over three years. She was runner-up at
a Tri-State event in May, placed third (with Vivian
Villareal) at the 2017 Super Billiards Expo Women’s
Championship in March, and has placed among the top
10 in all but one of the events in which she’s
competed and cashed this year (she was 17th at the 7th
Annual Ginky Memorial).
To go along with Flores’ victory, Debra Pritchett
chalked up a win in the 16-entrant Second Chance event,
defeating Justin Muller 11-4 in the finals. In the Third
Chance event, which drew 12 entrants, Suzzie Wong downed
Max Watanabe, double hill, in the finals to complete
the unprecedented trio of women winners at a single
stop on the Predator Pro Am Tour.
Flores faced separate opponents in the hot seat match
and finals of the main event. She downed Gary O’Callaghan,
double hill, to get into the hot seat match against
Jose Kuilan, who’d defeated Junior Singh 7-1.
Flores claimed the hot seat 8-6 over Kuilan and waited
on what turned out to be the return of Singh.
On the loss side, Singh picked up Matthias Gutzmann,
who’d defeated Keith Jawahir 7-5 and Bianca Martinez
6-3 to reach him. Martinez had lost in the opening round
of play and won eight on the loss side, before Gutzmann
ended her run. O’Callaghan drew Jimmy Acosta,
who’d eliminated Elvis Rodriguez 7-5 and Raphael
Singh and O’Callaghan advanced to face each other
in the quarterfinals; Singh 7-5 over Gutzmann and O’Callaghan
8-2 over Acosta. Singh and O’Callaghan fought
to a deciding 17th game in the quarterfinal, and it
was O’Callaghan who took aim at the last 9-ball.
He missed the shot, and Singh advanced to the semifinals,
where he defeated Kuilan 7-5.
As he’d done in the quarterfinals against O’Callaghan,
Singh battled Flores in the finals to double hill. Flores,
though, took the final game and claimed the event title.
Tour director Tony Robles thanked the ownership and
staff at Steinway Billiards, as well as sponsors Predator
Cues, Ozone Billiards, PlayNAPL.com, The DeVito Team,
PoolontheNet.com, Capelle Billiards Press, AZBilliards,
Billiards Digest and Pool & Billiard Magazine. The
final event of the 2017 Predator Pro Am Tour season
will be the annual Tour Championships, open to anyone
who’s competed in at least five events throughout
the season, with entry discounts available for competitors
with larger numbers of appearances on the tour. The
estimated $10,000-added event, scheduled for December
2-3, will be hosted by Raxx Billiards in West Hempstead,
NY, and will also feature two $250-added Second Chance
events for the upper and lower brackets.
The event will also name tour Player of the Year in
nine separate divisions, including Female Player of
the Year, who is likely to be Annie Flores, whose victory
this past weekend moved her ahead of Amy Yu. The Tour
Championships will be streamed live with commentary
by Upstate AL throughout the weekend.
Story by Skip Maloney AZBilliards