Close Friends and Countrymen Collide

Eight unbeaten remain in each 9-ball Championship events

By Paul Berg, Inside POOL Magazine Staff
It’s getting crowded on the one-loss side of both professional brackets at the 9-ball Championships. With some strong victories, eight men and women remain unbeaten in each invited 64-player field, and for the ladies, close friendships will have to be set aside for the fourth round of undefeated action tomorrow.
Helena Thornfeldt and Monica Webb are not only two of the most feared players on the WPBA tour, they are practice partners and close friends where they reside in Atlanta. They will face off tomorrow evening, Thornfeldt on the strength of a 9-6 win over the sensational Ga Young Kim. Kim was nearly beaten last night, as Sarah Rousey had her chance to win their hill-hill contest. The Swedish “Sledgehammer” led the match wire to wire, and Kim was thwarted in her comeback efforts, first by a slow-rolled 8ball in the side that softly rattled and hung impossibly with a chance to tie the match at 6-all, and then by a tough call from tournament director Steve Tipton. Down 7-6, Kim was again shooting the 8ball, which was tied-up with the 9ball, and Tipton called the pocketed shot a foul, to the disbelief of Kim and many spectators. Thornfeldt didn’t hesitate to capitalize and close the door.
Webb had much less tension in her match, a 9-1 sprint past Amanda Lampert. In their half of the draw, Alison Fisher and Gerda Hofstatter are the other remaining pair, both coming off of impressive victories. “The Duchess of Doom” bested Melissa Herndon 9-3, while her friend “The G-Force” upended Jeannette Lee 9-5. The other match-ups for the fourth round are scintillating, as Xiaoting Pan will play Jasmine Ouschan, while Karen Corr tangles with Miyuki Sakai.
In the fourth round of the men’s event, all eyes will be on Francisco Bustamante facing countryman Dennis Orcollo. Bustamante was able to hold off Santos Sambajon Jr. 11-9, keyed by a streak of four winning racks to grab a 9-7 lead. Orcollo survived Niels Feijen by sheer will, as “The Terminator” made the most of his every break with relentless run-out play. In the end, Orcollo won a lengthy defensive struggle for the 1ball in the case game, Feijen scratching and sealing his fate 11-10.
Mika Immonen is one player entering the fourth round with a head of steam, having blown past Earl Strickland 11-4. He’ll face Jose Parica, who kept up his flawless track record against Fabio Petroni. Barely. In an 11-10 defeat, Petroni came as close as he could come to his first win over the legendary “Amang,” faltering on a 2ball safety and leaving Parica just enough room to pocket it rail-first and clear for the escape. For Parica, hill-hill is becoming a norm, having toppled Corey Deuel in that fashion last night.
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Mike Davis and Ronnie Wiseman also have some double-hill thriller experience in their immediate rear view, Davis edging Raj Hundal and Wiseman slipping by Thomas Engert. Those narrow third round victories should make for some steely nerves when the young gun tries the vet tomorrow night. Next to them on the chart are Shane Van Boening, an 11-9 winner over 17 year-old phenom John Morra, and Satoshi Kawabata, who turned a large early lead and his powerful break into an 11-8 win against cagey Warren Kiamco.
If the names of the sixteen unbeaten players aren’t enough to prove that the 9-ball Championship is the same major event in our sport its antecedent the BCA Open was, nearly everyone else at the top of the game can be found on the one-loss side. Stay tuned to for continued coverage from the swirling pool paradise occupying the Riviera in Las Vegas, as they duke it out in the desert through Saturday.