Ga-young Kim has begun the WPBA season with a win, breaking the hold on this title by #1 Allison Fisher and #2 Karen Corr. By claiming the North Carolina Classic in a final vs. Xiaoting Pan, notice has been given that the "Asian Invasion" of the Classic tour is here in full force.
The third event held in Rocky Mount was again one that rewarded the fans with four days of great play and a super exciting final won by Ms. Kim, 7 games to 6. This great play and significant participation from many Rocky Mount, NC businesses and business leaders and a large contingent of volunteers added to the overall success of this event. Congratulations Rocky Mount for the super efforts.
At midday Saturday the event had been reduced from the original 64 players to 16 and the new single elimination format provided outstanding matches, which would result in a final four for Sunday's televised matches. In the round of 16, Allison Fisher defeated Kim Shaw, 9-2. Gerda Hofstatter defeated Ewa Laurance, 9-3. Ga-young Kim defeated Tracie Hines 9-1. Monica Webb defeated Kim White, 9-5. Tiffany Nelson defeated Morgan Steinman, 9-3. Xiaoting Pan defeated Kelly Fisher 9-8. Vivian Villarreal defeated Jeanette Lee, 9-4, and Karen Corr defeated Val Finnie, 9-0. Special congratulations to Morgan Steinman, the only remaining unseeded player, who posted her first top 16 finish.
The quarterfinals were more of the same great drama. Fisher defeated Hofstatter 9-5, Kim defeated Webb in a thriller 9-7, Pan defeated Nelson 9-4 and Villarreal defeated Corr in a second 9-7 shootout. The semi-finals would pit Fisher vs. Kim and Pan vs. Villarreal.
As each of the Sunday matches began, it was obvious that the veterans, Fisher and Villarreal were in trouble. Kim and Pan both ran out to 6-1 leads and posted wins at 7-2 and 7-3 respectively. A first all Asian final in Classic tour history was about to occur. The final proved to be as exciting as the crowd expected. Tied at 1-1. 2-2, 3-3, 4-4, the tension was rising. Finally Ms. Pan broke through and took a lead 6-4. When Kim fouled on the break, it appeared that Pan would claim her first U.S. title. That was not to be, Kim won game 11. When Pan fouled on her break in game 12, Kim tied the score at six and the final game was a classic. There was no clear run out opportunity and safety play dominated. Finally, Kim was faced with a snooker on the four ball, she responded by kicking it in and running out for the match, with the crowd roaring its approval.
We would like to take this opportunity to give a big thank you to our returning sponsors Brunswick Billiards (Table Sponsor), American Poolplayers Association (Presenting Sponsor), Simonis (Cloth Sponsor), Cuetec (Provider of Raffle Cues), and Ozone Billiards (Closed Caption Sponsor). We also welcome new sponsors, Aramith (Belgium Billliards Balls) and Mueller Recreational Products (Rack Sponsor) to the WPBA family.
Again, congratulations to the entire group in Rocky Mount for a tremendous effort and a very success tournament. PrimeQuest Association (PQA) was instrumental in bringing this tournament to Rocky Mount. All involved hope that the WPBA Classic Tour has found a home in Rocky Mount, NC. To all our friends; THANKS FROM ALL THE PLAYERS AND STAFF.
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Photo: Rémy Gros