Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Ultimate Trick Shot Tour Championship Draw - Las Vegas, NV

I just got the draws for the Ultimate Trick Shot Tour Championships to be held Aug 24-27 at the Riviera in Las Vegas, NV. I'm grouped with Andy Segal (again), Bruce Barthelette, Tom Rossman, Paul Danno, Dainius Stipinas, and Gordon Hedges. The other group is Nick Nikolaidis, Jamey Gray, Dave Nangle, Joe Bonge, Stefan Mendrick and Jason Lynch. My schedule's a bit tough as I only have one match on Tue, two on Wed, and then three on Thu, the final two with only a one match rest in between.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Ultimate Trick Shot Tour Stop #4: Willow Billiards, Hoboken, NJ Recap

Back on July 10, I competed in the Ultimate Trick Shot Tour Stop #4 at Willow Billiards in Hoboken, NJ. It's a nice little pool room with 11 9-ft Gold Crowns, mostly with Simonis, and a couple other tables out front. The tournament itself had a healthy 13 player turn out. We split up in to 3 groups and were guaranteed four matches each. I ended up playing Paul Danno, Dainius Stipinas, Jamey Gray, and Steve Markle.

Paul is a cagey veteran whose results don't justify his skills and our matches are always tight. This one was no different. I had a 4-2 lead heading in to the last three shots, but he persevered and pushed me to the limit. His final pick was a center spot, two diamond draw shot, which made me nervous as soon as he picked it. He made it on his third attempt to bring the score to 4-4. On my turn, I took a few warm up strokes, closed my eyes, and was as surprised as anyone as the cue ball drew back straight to the corner pocket and letting me escape with a victory.

My match against Dainius was only slightly more comfortable. The creativity in some of his shots was bewildering and I only made one of his challenges. Luckily, I made four of mine and rode those to a 5-3 win with one shot remaining.

I figured my match against reigning world champion Jamey Gray was going to be tough. Surprisingly, he only made one of his challenges and looked out of sorts as I thrashed him 6-1 with four shots left. I'm sure he'll use that motivation the next time I have to face him though.

My final match was against an impressive Steve Markle, fresh off a tie with Andy Segal. I didn't quite carry the momentum over from my previous match and had to gut it out at the end for a 5-3 victory on the final shot. Perhaps I got a bit fortunate as Steve missed a couple shots I'm sure he'd usually make 90% of the time.

That preliminary round left me undefeated and atop of my group, getting a quarterfinal matchup against Gil Olsen. He was hosting me for the weekend and we had driven down together, so it was a friendly affair. He shot well making five of his six challenges and I showed my lack of practice with the APTSA book shots. We were tied going in to the final shot, which was my choice, and I picked a double one-handed jump shot (jumping two balls with two cues in one hand simultaneously). I squeezed that one in and his unfamiliarity with even how to hold the cues was evident as I took a 7-6 victory.

That set up a semifinal showdown with Andy Segal, the reigning ESPN Trick Shot Magic champion. The first shot he pulled out against me was an extension of the double one-handed jump, except using both left and right hands and executing it twice with each hand. That was too much for me. He ended up making 5 of his 6 challenges while I made 3 of 5, neither of us making the other persons shots. There was no 3rd place match, so I shared the position with Bruce Barthelette.

All in all I thought it was a pretty good showing from me. I've never placed higher than 3rd though, so I'm still looking to crack the ceiling. Perhaps my downfall was choosing shots against Andy that I hadn't even attempted earlier in the tournament. I caved in to the pressure of picking shots I didn't think my opponent could make rather than just making my own. The next tournament will be the season ending Ultimate Trick Shot Tour Championships in Las Vegas in a few weeks!