9th Annual Western BCA 9-Ball Championships

October 25-29, 2006

A Touch of Class

A really big 9-ball tournament plus sunny days, mild breezes, the surf rolling onto the shore and waves breaking on the rocks, a blue sky, salt in the air, and seagulls hovering overhead. Sound like a dream vacation or a picture hanging on your living room wall? It was the location of Western BCA Pool Players Association's Ninth Annual Regional 9-Ball Tournament, held at Chinook Winds Casino Resort in Lincoln City, Oregon, Oct. 25-29.

The tournament hosted 600 players, with more than 1,000 entries in nine events and almost $52,000 in total prize money. Added money included $5,000 from Chinook Winds, $1,000 from BCA Pool League and more than $13,800 from Western BCA - a total of $19,845 added.

The tournament led off with mixed scotch doubles on Wednesday morning. The Masters event was a nail biter with two teams from Northwest Players League battling it off in the finals. Grand Master Glenn Atwell and Andrea Saenz-Maes prevailed over Liz Cole and Darrel Schulden, an Open-A player. In the Open event, two teams from Seattle's Sno-King BCA Pool League battled it off. Crystal Opoka and Sean Lewis took home the bacon, defeating Ernie Omori and Vickie Knutson. Opoka, only 21 years of age and originally from Portland, showed a lot of promise, a force to reckon with in years to come.

The singles events got underway Thursday morning. Men's Master Todd Speakman of Northwest Players League, Vancouver, was a man on a mission climbing to the top to become champion. He went through a tough field beating some great players handily. Todd Marsh of Sno-King put up a fight as a classy competitor. In a classic battle, women's Master Carissa Biggs, also of the Northwest Players League, won over defending champion, Kris Robbins of Emerald Valley BCA League.

New at this tournament was the splitting of the men's Open singles event into A and B divisions, which helped create a more balanced competition. Many pre-tournament favorites dropped like flies early, making room for some new winners to rise to the top. Cedric Sloan, Northwest Players League, Beaverton, took the Open-A division. He played steadily and did not let anyone down who predicted his eventual win. He played from the loser's side and beat a worthy opponent, Mike Stephens from Seattle. New player Micah O'Malley from Sno-King won the Men's Open-B undefeated. Northwest Players League's Wendy Sedlacek whipped through a hard-hitting field and won the women's Open division, beating Sno-King's Julie Valdez.

The team events began Saturday morning with a packed house. Cathy Duenas, of the Billiard and Barstools' Babes team from Northwest Players League, Oregon City, played like a demon to help her teammates Carissa Biggs and Ann Brandt triumph over Sno-King's The Other Team (Margie Avlon, Sherrie Griffin and Angela Jensen). (Later, Avlon won a flaming one-of-a-kind cue holder made and donated by Rick Plummer and Bob Palmer, one of the many items raffled off at the tournament.) The men's team event was very competitive. Many favorites were missing in action in the top 16. Lights Out (Todd Speakman, Steve Meyers and Herb Johnson) from Northwest Players League, Vancouver, ran out of fairy dust as Classic Billiards (Glenn Atwell, John Lewis, Don Iverson and Scott "The Shot" Simpson) from Cascade Pool League, Portland, put out the lights on the Vancouver team.

The popular ring game was just that. Once again, the excitement of the 10-ball ring game was a real crowd pleaser. The $100-entry, winner-take-all format had twelve players: Chad Bisconner, Matt Bryan, Liz Cole, Ken Dodd, Todd Gooch, Jeff Jerome, Ernie Omori, Shad Pantle, Pat Schumacher, Mike Stevens, Don Wirtaman and Bob Zack. Cole played strong and led for several rounds. After about three hours two combatants remained, Zack and Bryan, who put on a show playing eleven more games, fighting back and forth until midnight when Bryan had $1,120, Zack had $80 and the other 10 players were penniless. They called it a night when Bryan gave Zack $200 "to just go away." A ring game depends on the rolls and the ability to take advantage of opportunities when given them. That is what makes the ring game so exciting and fun to watch.

Mini-tournaments, almost 40 in all, ran Wednesday through Friday nights with the formats ranging from Open-B singles to Master mixed scotch doubles. The format for the second-chance tournaments was single-elimination, $20 per stick (or $60 per team), race to 5 for Open singles, race to 6 for Masters singles, race to 11 for teams. The Open singles second-chance tournament started 10:30 a.m. Friday. Western BCA added $400 to the pot, giving $350 to the winner, Bill Ermatinger, and paying the remaining top 48 places, which included one woman, Vanessa Schwab. The Masters singles second-chance tournament had eight players with $100 added, giving the winner, Robert Neimeyer, $200. The second-chance team event, won by The Killer Bs, began 10 a.m. Sunday with 12 entries, which included two women teams and $210 added. The teams graciously agreed to give the women teams a three-game spot.

A tournament of this scope would not be possible were it not for the vision and dedication of Western BCAs officers and board of directors, led by President Bill Henderson. The vice president and tournament director, Sam Rabito, coordinated the event, and he, along with the numerous and invaluable volunteers and businesses, is responsible for its success. Gary Benson, High Country Promotions, provided 64 Valley tables and kept things running smoothly. After a serious bottleneck in the brackets, his expertise got a difficult situation back on track. The new floor layout, which relieved much of the previous layout's congestion, was the buzz of the tournament. Tom Moss of Emerald Valley BCA League put the careful measurements into play. On the Wire produced the tournament's program, under the direction of volunteer Vanessa Schwab, who also developed the annual event design for the shirts, added many new items to the fund-raising booth, created the web site, and prepared the event materials like the entry form and score sheets. Joyce Gumm, secretary/treasurer, zipped out the payout checks with efficiency so that members could collect their hard-earned winnings with a minimal amount of waiting time. Kudos is due to Andrew Monstis and Rabito for coordinating the door prizes, of which Chinook Winds donated $500 to purchased giveaway items from the tournament’s vendors. Cindy Rosenthal, Stacy Sherman and Monstis (to name a few) did a marathon of work at the podium. Western BCA thanks the many who volunteered countless hours to ensure that the tournament would be a success.

Vendors included On the Wire, Billiards911.com (formerly Beads and Billiards), Palace Billiards and Dave Lauer Cue Repair.

A huge thanks to goes to BCA Pool League for their support. It is the finest pool organization in the country, putting forth what the players want to see, an improved pool environment available to all regardless of age, gender or skill level.

As the tournament ended, players and spectators made many positive comments. "I have attended many of Western BCAs regional tournaments and this is the best 9-ball ever held", said Samantha Simatos of Spokane's Inland BCA, echoing these sentiments of others.

Henderson remarked, "I have been to all the Western BCA regional tournaments and this one stands out for several reasons. The quality of pool has risen dramatically over the years and this tournament was a showcase for some of the best pool I have ever seen at the tournaments. The referees were a seasoned crew and the best we have ever had. Probably the biggest change was the layout of the tables and everyone seemed to be happy with the change. By putting the brackets in the hallway, a lot of the congestion was eliminated and it made it so much easier to get around the room. Although I am not a great fan of a dress code, I have to admit that it did make the room look a lot classier. I hope we can always have tournaments where the class, style and skill of the players are the talk of the tournament. And let's not forget the weather, except for one rainy morning the days at the beach were sunny, warm and wonderful. Congratulations to the winners and to the non-winners like me. Just keep practicing because our day will come. I would like to thank everyone that came and played or watched and I hope we can make the next Western BCA regional tournament even more memorable.."

The 12th annual regional 8-ball tournament is scheduled for March 6-ll, 2007.