2020 STOP #1
Triple Nines Bar & Billiards
- 31 player field -
1st $800 Shanna Lewis
2nd $450 Lai Li
3rd $330 Nicole Nester
4th $150 Teri Thomas
5th $100 Sharon O'Hanlon
$100 Kia Sidbury
7th $ 70 Linda Shea
$ 70 Eugenia Gyftopoulos
9th $ 50 Christina Madrigale
$ 50 Colleen Shoop
$ 50 Elaine Wilson
Top 4 l-r: Shanna Lewis, Nicole Nester, Pete Boyer (owner, Coins of the Realm), Teri Thomas, Lai Li
Shanna Lewis gets by Lai Li twice, double hill, to win JPNEWT season opener
Skip Maloney, AZBilliards
March 10, 2020
Pool tournaments will often play host to competitors who, for one reason or another, have been away from the game for a while. Depending upon the skill level they’d attained before they stopped competing, how long they’ve been away and the overall competitive level of the field they enter upon their return, the result could go either way. The competitor could go ‘two and out,’ if they’re seriously out of practice and stroke, or they could make it seem as though pool’s like riding a bicycle, where one can more or less pick up where they left off.
Shanna Lewis, whose last reported cash payout in a pool tournament was at a Q Master Billiards Mid-Atlantic Women’s 9-Ball Open in 2015 (9th place), returned to the tables this past weekend (March 7-8) to compete in the season opener of the J. Pechauer Northeast Women’s Tour. Lewis chose the ‘like riding a bicycle’ option and went undefeated through the field of 31, downing last year’s runner-up in the Tour Championship standings, Lai Li, twice. The $500-added (by Coins of the Realm), NAPT Div. II Semi-Pro event drew 31 entrants to Triple Nines in Elkridge, MD.
Her own assessment of her TAFT (time away from table) was more in the vicinity of 10 years. It was an absence prompted by a decision to focus on the business career side of her life. She’s back, now, still working on the business side of her career, but with some flexibility to spend more TAT (time at table). While acknowledging that she’s returned with her skills more or less intact, she noted that it wasn’t as easy as it looked from the nature of the undefeated run, and her two victories over Lai Li, might indicate.
“Yeah, there were times during the tournament when I was thinking, ‘Yeah, this is great,” she said, “but there were other times when I felt like I couldn’t put a ball in the hole that was a straight shot.”
That said, Lewis was back on the bicycle right from the start, winning 14 of her first 17 games. She gave up only one rack to Judie Wilson and then two to Melissa Mason before running into Elaine Wilson, who, in essence, by chalking up five racks against her, applied some brakes to Lewis’ bicycle. It dropped Lewis’ game-winning percentage by 10 points in a single match. Lewis won, though, and advanced to face Teri Thomas in a winners’ side semifinal.
Lai Li, in the meantime, had opened with a 7-1 victory over Charlynn Dzambo, defeated Kelly Wyatt 7-4 and downed the tour’s 2020 champion, Linda Shea, 7-4 in a winners’ side quarterfinal. The draw wasn’t getting any easier as Li advanced to face Kia Sidbury in the other winners’ side semifinal.
Lewis got into the hot seat match with another 7-1 victory, over Thomas, and faced Li, who’d sent Sidbury to the loss side 7-4. In their first of two, they battled to double hill before Lewis prevailed to sit in her first hot (bicycle) seat in a while.
On the loss side, Nicole Nester and Sharon O’Hanlon were working on modest three-match, loss-side winning streaks that had begun when they’d lost their winners’ side quarterfinal match to Teri Thomas and Kia Sidbury respectively.
Nester and O’Hanlon both won two loss-side double hill battles.
Nester versus Colleen Shoop and Eugenia Gyftopoulos; O’Hanlon, over two ‘powerhouse’ opponents - Nicole King and Tour Director, Linda Shea. They did not, however, draw rematches because Nester drew Sidbury and O’Hanlon drew Thomas.
Nester advanced to the quarterfinals 7-4 over Sidbury, as Thomas eliminated O’Hanlon 7-3. Nester then downed Thomas 7-3 in those quarterfinals, before herself being eliminated in a double hill fight versus Li in the semifinals.
A second, slightly longer double hill fight, Li’s third straight, ensued in the finals. Lewis won it 9-8 to claim the title to JPNEWT’s 2020 season opener.
Tour director Linda Shea thanked the ownership and staff at Triple Nines, as well as title sponsor J. Pechauer Custom Cues, Coins of the Realm, The Turtle Rack (www.mezzusa.com), Baltimore City Cues, and the live stream, sponsored by Britanya E. Rapp, billiards artist (angle aim Art). The next stop on the JPNEWT, scheduled for the weekend of April 4-5, will be hosted by Markley Billiards in Norristown, PA.
2020 STOP #2 : CANCELLED
2020 STOP #3 : CANCELLED
2020 STOP #4 : CANCELLED
2020 STOP #5
1st $750 Linda Shea
2nd $450 Kia Sidbury
3rd $250 Melissa Jenkins
Champion: Linda Shea
Shea Wins First JPNEWT Stop Since Early March
Skip Maloney, AZBilliards
July 28, 2020
The J. Pechauer Northeast Women’s Tour started up again this past weekend (Saturday, July 25). Adhering to protocols established by the venue, players wore masks and were advised of the need to maintain recommended social distancing. It was the first event for the tour since March 7 and with $500-added to the purse by Coins of the Realm, drew a small field of only nine players to Champion Billiards Sports Bar in Frederick, MD. Tour director Linda Shea went undefeated through four opponents to win what will go into the tour books as Stop #5, although it was only the second event of the year.
Shea faced Kia Burwell (formerly Kia Sidbury) twice in this event. First, in a winners’ side semifinal and later, in the finals. Shea took the first of those two 7-5, as Melissa Jenkinsdefeated Eugenia Gyftopoulos 7-5 in the other winners’ side semifinal. Shea claimed the hot seat 7-5 over Jenkins and waited on Burwell’s return.
On the loss side, Burwell picked up Nicole King, who’d been defeated by Gyftopoulos in an opening winners’ side round and then, eliminated Melissa Mason to face Burwell. Gyftopoulos drew Kelly Wyatt, who’d been sent over by Shea in their opening round and then, on the loss side, had downed Patti Jakusz.
Gyftopoulos advanced to the quarterfinals with a 7-3 win over Wyatt. Burwell joined her after eliminating King, double hill. Burwell chalked up a second straight double hill win in those quarterfinals versus Gyftopoulos and then, got herself a second shot at Shea with a 7-3 win over Jenkins in the semifinals.
There were, including the finals, nine matches played on the winners’ side of the bracket. Five of those matches resulted in 7-5 scores, including the final. Shea claimed the event title and rocketed up to the #1 position on her tour’s rankings. She was previously in the #7 spot, tied with Gyftopoulos after the first (and only) event. Burwell moved from her first week position (#5) into the #2 spot. Gyftopoulos moved up to #3, just ahead of Lai Li.
Shea thanked the ownership and staff at Champion Billiards for their hospitality, especially under such trying conditions. It was not the sort of field the tour likes to see in terms of numbers, but as one tour member, Judie Wilson, put it, “It’s a start, coming back.” Shea also thanked title sponsor J. Pechauer Cues, Coins of the Realm, angle aim Art (Britanya E Rapp) and The Turtle Rack. The next stop on the JPNEWT (#6), scheduled for August 15-16, will be hosted by Triple Nines in Elkridge, MD.
2020 STOP #6
Triple Nines Bar & Billiards
1st $750 Kathy Friend
2nd $450 Linda Shea
3rd $300 Lai Li
4th $150 Nicole King
5th $100 Char Dzambo
5th $100 Melissa Jenkins
l-r: Nicole King, Lai Li, Kathy Friend, Linda Shea
Friend Comes Back from Semifinals to Down Shea and Win Stop #6 on JPNEWT
Skip Maloney, AZBilliards
August 16, 2020
This does take a little getting used to. The J. Pechauer Northeast Women’s Tour leapfrogged over three of its scheduled 2020 stops and returned to action on the weekend of July 25-26. Rather than re-number the tour stops throughout the rest of the season, they opted to keep the original numbers. Thus, the actual third stop on the 2020 tour, held this past weekend (August 15-16), is still considered for documentation intents and purposes as Stop #6.
Though Tour Director Linda Haywood Shea would make it to the hot seat in her quest for a second straight event title since the tour returned to action, Kathy Friend, making her first appearance on the 2020 tour, thwarted that effort in the finals, downing Shea to claim her first 2020 title. Participation doubled for this event over the numbers realized in the tour’s first stop back last month (9). The $500-added (by Coins of the Realm) event, hosted by Triple Nines in Elkridge, MD, drew 19 entrants.
It was an extraordinarily competitive weekend for the JPNEWT ladies. They played a total of 36 matches; 19 on the winners’ side (including the final) and 17 on the losers’ side. Of those 36, 15 of them were either double hill or 7-5 contests. Five of the eight matches played in the second round on the winners’ side went double hill or 7-5. The hot seat match and semifinal went double hill, as well.
Shea’s path to the hot seat went through Eugenia Gyftopoulos and Kia Burwell, both 7-5, to arrive at a winners’ side semifinal against Char Dzambo. Kathy Friend opened her campaign up with a double hill win over Kelly Daniel and then sent Nicole King to the loss side 7-5 to arrive at her winners’ side semifinal match against Melissa Jenkins.
Shea got into the hot seat match on the heels of a shutout over Dzambo. Friend joined her after sending Jenkins west 7-3. Shea claimed the hot seat, double hill, and waited on Friend’s return.
On the loss side, Dzambo picked up Nicole King, who, after being defeated by Friend on the winners’ side, had eliminated April Hatcher 7-4 and Sharon O’Hanlon 7-2. Jenkins drew Lai Li, who’d won a double hill match versus Sharon O’Hanlon on the winners’ side and then lost one to Dzambo, before showing up on the loss side to down Lynn Richard 7-3 and then, survive a third double hill fight against Kia Burwell.
Li downed Jenkins 7-3, as King was eliminating Dzambo 7-4. Li took the subsequent quarterfinal match 7-3 over King, but in her fourth double hill fight, Li was defeated by the apparently determined Kathy Friend in the semifinals.
Friend passed on closing out the JPNEWT’s 6th stop with a double hill final. In the single race to 9, she defeated Shea 9-5 to claim the event title and rocket her way to third on the tour’s standings, behind Shea and Burwell and tied with Shanna Lewis, who won the season opener back in March.
Shea thanked the ownership and staff at Triple Nines, as well as title sponsor J. Pechauer Custom Cues, Coins of the Realm, angle aim Art (Britanya E. Rapp) and Turtle Rack. The next stop on the JPNEWT, scheduled for Sept. 19-20, will be hosted by First Break Bar & Grill in Sterling, VA.
2020 STOP #7
First Break Sports Bar
1st $500 Linda Shea
2nd $300 Kathy Friend
3rd $200 April Hatcher
4th $150 June Prescop
5th $100 Carol V. Clark
5th $100 Melissa Jenkins
l-r: Kathy Friend, April Hatcher, Carol V. Clark, Linda Shea, Melissa Jenkins, Melissa Mason, Kassandra Bein, June Prescop
Shea Goes Undefeated to Win Second Round of Battle Against Friend
Skip Maloney, AZBilliards
September 21, 2020
When the J. Pechauer Northeast Women’s Tour got back underway in August, Linda Shea advanced all the way to the hot seat, only to have Kathy Friend, whom she’d sent to the semifinals, come back and defeat her in the final match. This past weekend (Sept. 19-20), the final matchup was the same although Friend’s path to it was significantly different. So was the outcome. Friend won five on the loss side to face Shea in their second final match in a row, but Shea hung on to complete an undefeated run and win her second stop on the shortened 2020 tour. The event drew 20 entrants to First Break Sports Bar in Sterling, VA.
Following an opening round bye, Shea sent Christie Hurdel 7-5 and Melissa Jenkins 7-4 to the loss side to draw Carol V. Clark in one of the winners’ side semifinals. April Hatcher, in the meantime, had defeated Rumi Brown 7-4 and then gave up only three total racks in 17 games against Ceci Strain (1) and Teri Thomas (2) to face June Prescop in the other winners’ side semifinal. Prescop was responsible for sending Friend to the loss side 7-5 in a winners’ side quarterfinal.
Shea downed Clark 7-5 and in the hot seat match, faced Hatcher, who’d sent Prescop to the loss side 7-4. Shea prevailed to claim the hot seat 7-3 over Hatcher.
On the loss side, Friend opened her trip back to the finals with a 7-3 win over Lai Li and a 7-2 victory over Melissa Mason to draw Clark. Prescop picked up Melissa Jenkins, who, following her defeat at the hands of Shea, had eliminated Ceci Strain 7-5 and Kassandra Bein 7-3.
Friend and Prescop advanced to their quarterfinal rematch. Friend defeated Clark 7-5 and Prescop just did survive a double hill fight against Jenkins. Friend prevailed 7-3 in the rematch and then went on to down Hatcher 7-5 in the semifinals.
As might have been expected, Shea and Friend locked up in a tight battle that went double hill. Shea dropped the final 9-ball to claim her second 2020 event title on the tour. The win also solidified Shea’s hold on the #1 spot in the tour standings. With Kia Burwell finishing in the tie for 13th, Friend’s second-place finish allowed her to move into the #2 spot. Burwell slipped a single place, down to #3, while Lai Li, who finished in the tie for 9th place, moved down a spot to #4.
Shea thanked the ownership and staff at First Break Sports Bar, as well as title sponsor J. Pechauer Custom Cues, angle aim Art (Britanya E. Rapp) and Turtle Rack. The next stop on the JPNEWT, scheduled for Oct. 10-11, will be hosted by Eagle Billiards in Dickson City, PA.
2020 STOP #8
Dickson City PA
- 29 player field -
1st $650 Caroline Pao
2nd $450 Kia Burwell
3rd $300 Linda Shea
4th $200 Kassandra Bein
5th $150 Ada Lio
5th $150 Shanna Lewis
7th $100 Chari Slater
7th $100 Suzzie Wong
9th $ 50 Char Dzambo
9th $ 50 Christie Hurdel
9th $ 50 Karen Carter
9th $ 50 Nicole Nester
l-r: Linda 'Hurricane' Shea, Eagles owner Chris Wilson, Ada 'the Iron Maiden' Lio, Suzzie Wong, Caroline 'KaPow' Pao, Shanna 'Skittles' Lewis, Kia 'Primetime' Burwell, Chari Slater, Kassandra Bein
PAO GOES UNDEFEATED TO WIN HER 4TH JPNEWT STOP IN AS MANY TRIES
Skip Maloney, AZBilliards
October 12, 2020
A few days shy of a year ago (Oct. 14, 2019), Caroline Pao and Linda Shea battled it out for an event title at Stop #7 of the 2019 J. Pechauer Northeast Women’s Tour, hosted by Eagle Billiards in Dickson City, PA. They were also competing for the top spot in the tour rankings at the time. It was a shorter field that day, and they met first, in a winners’ side semifinal, and then later in the finals. Pao won both matches to claim the event title, her third of the season, but it wasn’t enough to move her into the tour’s top spot over Shea, who’d competed in all seven of the tour’s stops to that point.
This year (Oct. 10-11), things were a little different for the two frequent competitors on Shea’s tour. Though it was, this time, Stop #8 on the (2020) tour at the same location, and Shea was once again at the top of the tour rankings, there’d been a lot of proverbial water under the bridge of pool since that earlier matchup. It was Pao’s first cash payout since she’d finished 9th at the WPBA’s Ashton Twins Classic in January. Shea, on the other hand, was looking for her third win on this year’s interrupted tour, which had been forced to cancel stops #2 through #4. Shea won the first stop back (#5), was runner-up to Kathy Friend in #6 and then beat Friend in the finals of #7.
Enter Caroline Pao with her first appearance on the tour since that win a year ago and Kia Burwell, who, like Shea, had competed in all four of the tour’s 2020 stops and arrived in Dickson City as the tour’s #3 competitor behind Shea and Friend.
It was Burwell who met up with Shea, twice, and eventually eliminated her in the event semifinals. She met Pao, twice, as well, but was defeated both times, as Pao went undefeated to pick up her fourth JPNEWT win in four tries. The event drew 29 entrants to Eagle Billiards.
Pao showed little sign of any prolonged absence from the tables and marched to a winners’ side semifinal against Ada Lio, having given up only three racks in 24 games; none to Carol V. Clark, one to April Hatcher and two to Chari Slater. Burwell, in the meantime, got by Linda Cheung, survived a double hill battle versus Shanna Lewis and defeated Karen Carter 7-2 to arrive at her winners’ side semifinal against Shea.
Shea and Burwell got into something of a predictable double hill match at which Burwell prevailed to earn her spot in the hot seat match. Pao sent Lio to the loss side 7-1, giving her a winners’ side aggregate score, going into the hot seat match, of 32-4. Though Burwell put up a better fight than any of Pao’s previous opponents, Pao took the hot seat 7-3 and waited on Burwell’s return.
On the loss side, Shea picked up Shanna Lewis, who was working on a four-match, loss-side winning streak that had recently sent Christie Hurdel (7-2) and Chari Slater (double hill) home. Lio drew Kassandra Bein, who was also working on a four-match, loss-side winning streak that had sent Karen Carter (7-3) and Suzzie Wong (7-4) to the proverbial showers.
Shea advanced to the quarterfinals 7-2 over Lewis and was joined by Bein, who’d extended her loss-side winning streak by ending Lio’s 7-2. Shea then put a stop to Bein’s winning streak 7-3 in those quarterfinals. Burwell, in turn, put a stop to Shea’s modest two-match, loss-side winning streak with a 7-3 win in the semifinals.
Pao showed no sign that waiting for the finals had affected her play. In fact, she gave up one less rack in the finals against Burwell than she had in their earlier hot seat match. Pao completed her undefeated run with the 7-2 win and in her first appearance on the 2020 tour, moved among the top 10 competitors on the tour. Burwell, in the absence of the tour’s #2-ranked player (Kathy Friend), moved into second place behind Shea.
Pao, who noted after the event, that she doesn’t play in as many tournaments as she used to, as a result of work commitments, did enjoy being back. “It was actually fun competing again,” she said, “especially since I don’t get to compete as much.”
“Kia (Burwell) has been working on her game,” she added. “She’s always been a tough competitor, but is much tougher now. I really enjoy sparring with her.”
Though she and Shea did not meet in a match this time out, Pao remembers their past quite well. She’s aware, as well, that her own inability to compete as often has a way of keeping her out of contention for any of the top spots on the tour.
“Linda is a great player,” she said, “and I enjoy competing with her because she is such a strong competitor. I’d never be able to catch up to her in (tour) points since I would not be able to attend all of the events.”
“I only got lucky to be ranked as high (last year) because I was able to play in three events,” she said, “and was fortunate enough to win the three events I played in.” She added her first in 2020 to make it four events.
Tour director Linda Shea thanked the ownership and staff at Eagle Billiards, as well as title sponsor J. Pechauer Custom Cues, Coins of the Realm, angle aim Art (Britanya E. Rapp) and the Turtle Rack. The next stop on the JPNEWT, scheduled for Nov. 7-8, will be hosted by Triple Nines in Elkridge, MD.
2020 STOP #9
Triple Nines Bar & Billiards
- 25 player field -
1st $900 Caroline Pao
2nd $400 Ashley Burrows
3rd $300 Kia Burwell
4th $140 Kathy Friend
5th $100 Lai Li
5th $100 Linda Shea
7th $ 70 Noel Rima
7th $ 70 Sharita Green
9th $ 50 April Hatcher
9th $ 50 Chari Slater
9th $ 50 Judie Wilson
9th $ 50 Melissa Jenkins
l-r: Caroline Pao, Ashley Burrows
l-r: Noel Rima, Linda Shea, April Hatcher, Ashley Burrows, Caroline Pao, Kia Burwell, Lai Li, Kathy Friend, Sharita Green
Pao Goes Undefeated, Downing Burrows Twice to Win Second Straight JPNEWT Stop
Skip Maloney, AZBilliards
November 10, 2020
It’s rare that a pool player sneaks by the usual pattern of first appearing in a number of events, then cashing in one or two, then finishing among an event’s top five and after years (sometimes, many), chalks up an event victory on a tour somewhere. Caroline Pao’s second straight victory on the J. Pechauer Northeast Women’s Tour this past weekend (Nov. 7-8) was not a surprise from the WPBA-ranked player (#12). To a certain extent, though, her competitor in the hot seat and finals of the event was a bit of a surprise. Ashley Burrows, who turned Pro in 2018, and is currently ranked as #30 with the WPBA, has four recorded cash finishes in the AZBilliards’ database. All but one of those was recorded last year; two 17thplace finishes in WPBA events (the Masters in February/March of 2019 and the Aramith/Dr. Pool Classic, almost exactly a year ago; Nov. 21-24) and until this past weekend, only one recorded victory, a shared one on the Tri-State Tour in June of 2019.
In her first JPNEWT appearance, Burrows got by the tour’s #12, #11, #3 and #4 players to arrive at the hot seat battle versus Pao. They played the last two matches of the $1,200-added event that drew 25 entrants to Triple Nines in Elkridge, MD. Triple Nines added $500 of that money, while Coins of the Realm contributed $700, $200 of which was added in memory of a recently-deceased area player, Danny Green. Pao went undefeated through the field to claim the event title.
Pao was awarded an opening round bye, after which she shut out Lynn Richard (#18 in tour rankings) and sent Melissa Jenkins (#5) to the loss side 7-1 to draw tour director Linda Shea (#1) in a winners’ side semifinal. Burrows, in the meantime, shut out Melissa Mason (#12), survived a double hill battle versus Carol V. Clark (#11) and sent Kathy Friend (#3) to the loss side 7-5, to draw Lai Li (#3) in the other winners’ side semifinal.
Pao moved into the hot seat match with a 7-3 win over Shea, as Burrows got by Li 7-4 to join her. Pao gave up only a single rack in the hot seat match to be a single step away from winning her second straight stop on the tour.
On the loss side, Shea picked up Kathy Friend, who, after her defeat at the hands of Burrows, had survived a double hill battle against April Hatcher and eliminated Sharita Green 7-5. Li drew Kia Burwell, who was runner-up to Pao in her last JPNEWT win last month. Burwell had been sent to the loss side by Friend in the second round and was working on a six-match, loss-side winning streak that would
end in the semifinals against Burrows. She’d most recently eliminated Melissa Jenkins 7-2 and Noel Rima 7-4.
Friend chalked up a 7-3 win versus Shea, who hadn’t finished that far back (5th/6th) since the JPNEWT season opened in March, when she finished in the tie for 7th. Burwell and Li locked up in a somewhat predictable double hill fight that eventually advanced Burwell to join Friend in the quarterfinals.
In what would prove to be her final victory, Burwell defeated Friend in the quarterfinal match that came within a game of double hill (7-5). Burrows ended Burwell’s loss-side winning streak at six with a 7-4 win in the semifinals.
In the finals that followed, Burrows was looking to reach 7 racks first, in which case the race would extend to 9. If Pao reached 7 first, it would be over. Though they were far from pretty or straight-forward runs, Pao opened the extended-race-to-9 finals with four straight racks. She almost made it five, but her shot at the 9-ball in that rack rattled in a corner pocket and Burrows got on the board at 4-1.
Pao rattled the 8-ball in the same corner pocket that she’d attempted with the 9-ball in the previous rack and Burrows finished the rack to double her production from the hot seat match and cut Pao’s lead in half. Then, it was Burrows’ turn. She rattled a ball in a corner pocket in rack #7 that allowed Pao to finish the rack and make it 5-2.
Pao chalked up the eighth rack to reach the hill. Burrows won what proved to be her last rack to make it 6-3 and after dropping two balls on the final rack, Pao used a subsequent, fortuitous cue-ball bounce off the tip of a side pocket, to close it all out 7-3.
Adjustments to the tour rankings after this event resulted in a single adjustment to the top five players. Pao’s second straight win in only her second appearance on the 2020 tour, allowed her to move in between Lai Li in 4th place and Melissa Jenkins in 5th place. Shea retained her spot at the top of the rankings, ahead of Kia Burwell, Kathy Friend and Lai Li,
Tour director Linda Shea thanked the ownership and staff at Triple Nines for their hospitality, as well as title sponsor J. Pechauer Custom Cues, Coins of the Realm, angle aim Art (Britanya Rapp) and Turtle Rack. The next stop on the JPNEWT, scheduled for the weekend of November 21-22, will be hosted by Cue Sports Bar & Grill in Front Royal, VA.
2020 STOP #10
On Cue Sports Bar & Grill
Front Royal VA
- 18 player field -
1st $500 Liz Taylor
2nd $360 Kia Burwell
3rd $240 Linda Shea
4th $150 Lai Li
5th $100 Christie Hurdel
5th $100 Shanna Lewis
7th $ 55 Misti Zamora
7th $ 55 Shelah Joner
l-r: Liz Taylor, Kia Burwell
l-r: Liz Taylor, Linda Shea, Shelah Joner, Lai Li, Kia Burwall, Christie Hurdel, Shanna Lewis, (Misti Zamora, not pictured)
Fresh from VA State Championship, Taylor Goes Undefeated in JPNEWT Season Finale'
Skip Maloney, AZBilliards
November 24, 2020
The last two times that Liz Taylor played on the J. Pechauer Northeast Women’s Tour, finishing as winner, and later 9th, in the spring of 2010, Barack Obama was President of the United States. Now, 10 years later, as the world waits to see who will be the 46th President, Liz Taylor made a somewhat triumphant return and went undefeated on the tour’s 2020 season finale. The victory came a week after she had successfully defended her title in the 2020 VA State 8-Ball Championships. The JPNEWT tour’s season finale drew 18 entrants to On Cue Sports Bar & Grill in Front Royal, VA.
After being awarded an opening round bye, Taylor advanced to defeat Tiffany Lear and Lynn Richard, both 7-3, to draw the tour’s second highest ranked player, Kia Burwell in one of the winners’ side semifinals. Playing in the other one was the tour’s #1-ranked player, tour director Linda Shea, who had also been awarded an opening round bye, and then shut out Dawn Takacs and defeated Christie Hurdel 7-2 to draw 4th-ranked Lai Li.
Taylor and Shea advanced to the hot seat match with identical 7-4 wins over Burwell and Li, respectively. In what would prove to be one of the more entertaining matches of the event, Shea and Taylor traded the opening two racks, before Shea began edging out to what appeared to be a commanding 5-1 lead. Taylor, though, won the next rack to make it 5-2, before Shea reached the hill at 6-2. Taylor won the next four, to force a 13th and deciding game.
With three balls left in the deciding rack (6, 8, & 9), Taylor took a long, two-rail kick shot in an attempt to hit the 6-ball and it sent both the 6-ball and the cue ball, down table, where Shea had herself a bit of a connect-the-dots pattern to finish the rack and the match. The 6-ball went down smoothly, Shea had positioned herself well for the 8-ball and it went down, too. The cue ball fell either a little short or a little long, depending on your perspective. Shorter, and Shea would have had a credible shot to put the 9-ball in a corner pocket. Longer, and she could have put it straight into a side pocket. Where it lay, she had an oblique angle shot at putting it in a side pocket, and she came within half a ball of doing just that. But the half that didn’t make it, bounced the 9-ball out into the center of the table, as the cue ball meandered into place for a fairly straight-in shot for Taylor. She made it and claimed the hot seat, as Shea moved to the semifinals.
On the loss side, Burwell began her three-match march back to the finals against Christie Hurdel, who’d followed her defeat at the hands of Shea with victories over
Kelly Costello 7-3 and Shelah Joner 7-4. Li drew Shanna Lewis, who’d lost a winners’ side, double hill battle versus Burwell and then, defeated Sharita Green 7-3 and Misti Zamora 7-2.
Li advanced to the quarterfinals 7-3 over Lewis, as Burwell downed Hurdel 7-5. Burwell then eliminated Li 7-3 in those quarterfinals. In the semifinal battle between the tour’s top two ranked players, #2 (Burwell) downed #1 (Shea) 7-1 for a shot at Taylor waiting in the hot seat.
It was Burwell’s third appearance in a 2020 JPNEWT final and she was still looking for a win. She’d been runner-up to Shea in July and to Caroline Pao in October. The wait, for Taylor, which included the quarterfinal and semifinal matches, did not appear to affect her game at all. She broke out to a 4-0 lead, before Burwell got on the board with a rack; the only one she would record. Taylor came back and won three straight to complete her undefeated run.
Based on their number of appearances and how they finished throughout the year, Shea and Burwell will finish the JPNEWT season, as the top two players on the tour. Lai Li’s 4th place finish edged her ahead of Kathy Friend, into third place. Friend and Caroline Pao round out the tour’s 2020 top five.
Shea thanked the ownership and staff at On Cue Sports Bar & Grill for their hospitality, as well as title sponsor J. Pechauer Custom Cues, angle aim Art (Britanya E Rapp), and Turtle Rack. She also added her gratitude for the ladies on the tour, who consistently lend a hand when needed, like Sharon O’Hanlon and Judie Wilson.
Though like most pool tours, the JPNEWT was affected by the pandemic, it had to cancel three of its events; one each in April, May, and June. At the same time, according to Shea, the tour attracted new players at almost every event that did occur. “I’m feeling grateful,” said Shea, the day after the season finale and three days ahead of Thanksgiving. “It was a good year, a broad circle of family, friends, and members of the pool community are healthy.” Shea said that the 2021 JPNEWT schedule is in the works and that the tour will be improving on location and numbers. “We have a lot of league pool players in the area, who generally play on bar boxes,” she said, “so this coming year, we’ll be at a total of 12 locations and two of them will have bar box tables to bridge to the area’s league players.” “Overall,” she added, also embracing activities beyond her direction of the pool tour, “I don’t think I have a thing to complain about.”