The Asian invasion is here in full force on the 2007 WPBA Classic Tour. Wins by Korean star and two time world champion Ga-young Kim, and now China's Xiao-ting Pan in the first two events, have set the tone for a vastly different tour and a new look for televised matches this year.
The Blue Chip Hotel and Casino located in Michigan City, Indiana was again the host for the Great Lakes Classic which featured 64 of the world s best female 9-Ball players from the US, Canada, England, Scotland, Ireland, Sweden, Austria, Taiwan, Korea, and China.
Play began on Thursday and resulted in few upsets, with thirteen of the top sixteen seeds advancing in round one and two. The day was not without surprises, however. Round two sent #2 seed Karen Corr to the one loss side at the hands of Hsin Huang. Gerda Hofstatter, the #7 seed, lost to unseeded Liz Ford, and #15 seed Jennifer Barretta lost to #18 Tracie Hines.
As the event continued on to the final sixteen and the switch to a single elimination format, the seeds began to take control. The final eight matches provided a great show for the crowds with #1 Allison Fisher matched against #8 Xiao-ting Pan, #5Vivian Villarreal against #3 Kelly Fisher, #16 Sarah Ellerby against #6 Ga-young Kim, and #13 Helena Thornfeldt against #11 Kim White.
When all was completed on Saturday evening, Pan had defeated A. Fisher 9-4, K. Fisher defeated Villarreal 9-1, Kim defeated Ellerby 9-5, and Thornfeldt defeated White 9-4.
The Sunday schedule would pit Pan vs. K. Fisher, and Kim vs. Thornfeldt. All four were playing great and the ease of their quarterfinal match wins made predicting the winner difficult. In fact, however, only the match between Kim and Thornfeldt was close, with Thornfeldt winning 7-5. In both matches featuring Ms. Pan, she took commanding leads of 5-0 vs. Fisher and 6-0 vs. Thornfeldt and held on to post 7-3 and 7-2 wins and claim her first Classic Tour title.
The 2007 tour now moves on the Viejas Casino, in Alpine California April 18-22, where Kelly Fisher has recorded two consecutive wins. So far this season, all of the six televised matches have featured either Ga-young Kim or Xiao-ting Pan or both. Will this so called "Asian Invasion" continue through out the year? Only time will tell. Don't miss the WPBA Classic Tour 2007.
Picture by Alex Broadway/SWpix.com