Monday, August 31, 2009

drum roll please!

And the winner is.....


My first win in a semi-large, local, singles event!!! Ha - the sound of me winning first place, still makes me giggle. But before we get to that......

It's been a random week of pool. League session got done a little over 2 weeks ago and it was nice at first to have a break. No commitment - play at our own free will. No pressure - just good old ball bangin' and practice. But by the beginning of last week, I knew we were all bored. Almost all of us who play together, though we're friends even outside of league, we're at the bar playing. Every night. League is starting again this week and I'm actually a little excited to get back to it. I'm also going to be doubling up - two different leagues. On the same night. Crazy. I know. I am happy on the league I play on for this particular night. A friend of ours got screwed over and left high and he asked me if I'd play with them. Different league, one I've played before and it would mean I'd get the chance to qualify for larger national events. I told him, my skill level was moving up some so I didn't think I'd quite be the "lower level" player he needed and I wouldn't be able to make it to all nights seeing as I'm committed to keeping my spot on my other team. He was completely fine with all of it. Decisions - decisions.

I said yes. What the hell....what do I have to lose?

Speaking of large National events.....APA has come and gone yet again! Another year of team events, chaotic masses of people, and some organized sense of an unorganized mini tournament room and people watching GALORE!!!! Lots of galore! If you have never been to APA Nationals - IN AUGUST (the April one really doesn't compare), please be ready to see some of the most unimaginable people in your life. It really might be worth the cost of travel just to trip out on people!

Due to something called work and a "real" job (whatever) I wasn't able to play in many mini's this year. I haven't played APA in a session or so, but I knew I was still eligible to play. We had friends in the team events, both 8 and 9 ball and lots of friends playing minis. (One of the great things about living in Sin City, is that it is a pool mecca and we get all sorts of great events here). I took a half day on Thursday and Friday last week to just hang out down there. Thursday was partly because a friend of mine and I wanted to buy into a Ladies only, Scotch Doubles event on Friday. And we did. I wondered around aimlessly for a bit, watching some friends play. Mini's are always full if you don't get there in time to sign up so I took my chance in a hope for someone selling their spot. I got lucky.

9-ball and most all my opponents had to spot me some balls. (hey, I'm still learning).

I lost :( All mini's are single elimination. So no matter how well you might be, two, a few mistakes can cost you the match before you blink your eyes! Oh well - only 358 days until APA is back!

My friend and I also were out in our Ladies event. We actually got our money back so I guess 5th outta 32 teams isn't so bad, especially for our first time ever playing together, but we really thought we could take that one! Hmph!


Aaaaahhh! There is something about playing pool on Sundays that makes me happy. I'm not sure if its the relaxing feeling I get on Sundays no matter what I'm doing, the slight hangover from playing in our weekly little bar tournament every Saturday night, the smell of the 6 cups of coffee I'll enjoy until noon, or the thought of brunch - filled with tons of yummy good food, bloody marys and champagne.

Well on this particular Sunday, the bf and I had an end of session league party to attend to. You claim your trophies and monies (should you have placed) and then there's an all day tournament to play in. Quick tournament, 8 ball race to 2 - double elimination. (3 if you're a rockstar and tap out on the handicap list). A not bad entry fee of $10 which includes your green fees and $100 added to each bracket. They divide the brackets up by handicaps and the bf is skilled higher than I so I know we won't meet up. I'm oN a miSsioN.....

match 1

I'm called to play - one of my friends. I mean everyone in the pool world (especially league) is friends. SHE PLAYS ON MY TEAM. TWO of my teams!!!!!

Well that got things off to not so great start. We've had to play each other before and I guess that's what happens when you're the same skill level. We just hate it. Of course I want this win - but I really would love to see her advance as well.

I won 2-0.

match 2

I'm surprised to see my opponent at the table. She's a good shot, but I had just watched her previous match and the guy she'd played should have beat her hands down! WOW - she's on today apparently.

She breaks, nothing falls. I make a couple good shots but am having a hard time controlling the cue ball. I miss an easy cut to get on the eight and she finishes up. 0-1

She breaks the next rack and had nicely left all solids in position. I'm gonna have to play some good safes. I run a few and then get locked. I go for the safe and it rolls out too far. UGH! During my time at the table she's talking to a friend how she's happy she' up one. She lost her previous match with only a few balls to spare. hhhhhmmmmm...................WHAT?!?!!? She's looking at the lay of the table, getting ready to shoot and I say

I'm sorry - did you say you lost that last match?

Yes. I'm in the loser's bracket already.

Then I believe we shouldn't be playing.....I won my first match.

She stares blankly at me with piercing eyes.

Would you mind if I ran up to the desk and check the bracket with the tournament director?

Go ahead.

Sure enough - they had mixed up winner/loser from my first match and I'm playing the wrong person. My opponent eventually comes up and agrees to replay the match with the correct person. She made the comment that she was ahead a game, and I truly felt bad knowing that she was on a mission to win that next game, so I guess I lucked out.

match 2 - again.

My new opponent had also won - against the wrong person - so he was a bit irritated to replay the correct match, but agreed. I play him in league and know he's a decent shot. He's also tall as hell so leaving him a long shot reach safe, doesn't really count cause he can reach! (I wish I was a lil bit talla, I wish I was a balla)

The first game is ugly. I make one on the break but then get hooked. I kicked and missed. He is running out, but I stay focused and see he's going to hook himself. He ends up scratching and I run out. YAY me! 1-0

Next rack We both play well and run down to our last few balls. He misses a straight shot and I have two balls left and the eight. I slowly find the pattern I like, get on the eight and miss! WTF?!?! Its a slight cut into the top corner. Yes - I'm shooting from the bottom rail, but this is makeable. I choked. Because I missed it left him a bit long and he misses to. Again - I have a slight cut on the eight to the other top corner, but the cue ball is closer. I fricken choke AGAIN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

He ends up running out and we're both on the hill. (Geeze, these little races to 2 are killin' me)! 1-1

With all the focus I have (because now, I'm hungry) , I stay in this game. This last game draws some spectators. Some of whom want to chat. I'M PLAYING A MATCH HERE.....CAN'T YOU SEE?!?! If I haven't mentioned this before or even if I have - let me explain: When I'm playing a match, I'd really rather not speak. TO ANYONE! Please, just let me be. I can see when I miss and do not want you to tell me what I did wrong. I know when I make a good shot or get good position, I do not want you to re-confirm that. If you'd like to speak to me, please wait until I'm done playing and please let it be about what's for lunch or if I'd like a not bring up my game. THANK YOU!

I win. 2-1

match 3

As I'm walking to my table for my match I over hear my opponent tell her friends that she hasn't lost a match all day. Hhhmmm. She is one of the better players at my level, but I know I can take her. Let's see if I can stop that winning streak. ;)

Holy safety games!!! I have never played as many safes as I did in this match. Screw the first two games. They were okay. We're tied 1-1

I break, nothing. She starts to run out. She misses a bank shot and now has two balls left. I begin to run as well. I miss a long shot and the ball slides close to the eight. As much as I hated that miss, it probably saved my game. She can make the other two, but cannot get position on that eight anymore. So she takes the first ball and but calls defensive down. So look at the lay of the table. Safe. She has to kick or jump. She opts to jump. She touches it but misses. I know that I can make at least one of my balls but there is no good position for anything else, or to break apart my ball and the eight for me to keep running. And I'm NOT breaking that eight out for her. Safe. She's irritated, but jumps again. Misses entirely. I have ball in hand, but again cannot get good shape. Safe.

This chess match goes on for about 8 innings. I know she's pissed, but I don't care. I will not give into my impatience nor my usual "make every ball" attitude. In the midst of all this the eight has moved to a corner pocket. It's pretty much hanging on for dear life. She touches her ball, misses the shot and I'm left with a long shot on the only ball I can really see. Safe. This safe leaves the cue ball on the rail near the side pocket with one of my balls between her and the eight. I was really trying to leave the cue tied up with mine, not so great safe. Damn. She'll jump and win. She only has to touch that eight and it's falling. She goes for a kick!!!

WHAT?!?! No way....after all that jumping you're going to kick a ball in when there's not angle to come off a rail?!?!?!?! You only have to touch that eight. It's falling no matter how you hit it. My safe left you a touch shot. Nope - she kicked. And that cue ball fell right in after that eight! :)


So 3 1/2 matches later, I'm in the hot seat and proud of how I played today. My last opponent....another friend. She played a little off her game, but it ended up a decent match. I pulled a run out on the last game to win! The pool gods have definitely let some light shine on me today.

Gaining this win has boosted my confidence some. I realize now, that I CAN do this. I CAN win. No help, all on own! And it's a great feeling. ;)

Oh and on a side note - as I was caught up in my own world of bf ended up winning his bracket too. We we're both overly stoked, celebrated at our home bar and thought to ourselves "what a great day"!!!

Monday, August 24, 2009

back to reality....

A week away can do wonders for your soul.....

It's been a week since I've returned from my 5 day mini vaca. With pool a close second...there is nothing nicer than quality time with family, good friends, and good food. My family lives nowhere near me, so with reason to party - we made the most of 5 days and rocked it. I got to my brothers one day earlier, so for a little sibling catch up time - we hit the bars and completely lost our minds. (It's funny when you can look at your little brother, have a drink with him, and actually have adult conversations - well until you've had that last shot...or the next one)! On my mission to stay away from pool while on vaca, I was there all of 1 1/2hours and pick up a cue. UGH. Yes - I'm addicted! We were at a place with nice 9 foot tables. I haven't played one on in a long time so I knew I would be a bit off (not to mention I was already 2 beers and 2 patron shots deep). Surprisingly I didn't do so bad. Was it because I was enjoying myself and surroundings? Not taking the game so seriously for the first time in awhile? It felt good to run a good rack - 9 foot style!

With a vow to not play while there.....I did pretty good after that first night. There's a corner bar about 20 yards from my brother's front door (uh - on the corner?!?!) with two bar boxes at .50 cents a piece. Sweet! But I decided against it. Quality time with the family right?!?!

I lasted until my very last night. I actually hadn't thought about playing during the days so much as I did about shots. During quiet moments - I did a good amount of analyzing shots in my head from recent league nights and weekly tournaments. I made mental notes and thought about what I really needed to work on. And then couldn't take it. My last night there, I said goodnight to my family as they headed back out of town and marched down to the bar with my brother and his girl. Couldn't resist and picked up a cue. AAAAHHHHH!!!!! The clouds parted and a light shined down ;)

I played decent. Didn't try to focus too much and just ran a few racks. Played a few games with innocent by-standers, won, and won again. It felt good to play people I didn't know and play well. No one behind me second guessing my shot selections and not asking why I did or didn't do something. Maybe I should play out of town more often.

back to reality....

I had missed my own bar while gone. The tables, the stench, the drunks. There's something about playing in my own environment that is somewhat comforting. Second night back and HAD to hit a few balls. 5 hours, 3 beers, 2 blue chalked hands later - it was good to be on home tables.

Yesterday was a first real practice day again with the bf. I was playing okay. Won some, lost some, but felt like I had really slowed down some. My ball speed and stroke seemed to be working together for the first time in a long time and I liked that. I 'm wondering if my small break from the game brought back a little bit of the focus that I had let slip. Maybe I need to take a little mini break a little more often. I'll see how playing goes the rest of this week and then make that decision.

Does determination, focus, and clarity return when you've freed your mind? We are the only ones who can control our turn our turn our souls.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

are f'n kidding me?

I haven't been blogging as much as I'd like lately. My world seems to have become a cluster f* of a variety of things, none of which allow for good pool time. I've needed a break anyway from pool - so it's probably good. And when I say break...I mean from playing. I've still been around it all the way. League nights, tournaments, practice.......

My bf played in a team national qualifier this past weekend. Interesting. I didn't pick up my cue once to hit a ball. I watched and observed and made a few new assumptions on why a person plays this game. I saw VERY good players in our town miss, scratch, lose. I also saw some beginners do extremely well and make good shot decisions. What I've boiled this all down too (in my mind that analyzes too much) is that your environment has A LOT to do with how well you play. My last post talked about how much is too much to be playing with someone or a team and this weekend confirmed thoughts about that. If you're playing a team event and your team could care less if the team wins or are playing with the wrong group. Especially if you have the heart, believe, and want to play this game getting better each time you shoot, and win. The desire to win is sometimes enough to put your body through the motions to actually win. The negative thoughts about losing are things that should never enter your mind. Unless you don't care of course!

a new mission presents itself

I play on a few nights a week. One of my teams has been together a little over 3 years now. We're not only a team, but friends. Friends that hang out outside of pool. Until last night. We changed leagues at the beginning of this session for a bunch of reasons that I really don't feel like explaining right now. We all were in agreement. A few weeks ago, our captain mentions he's going back to the original league. "oh that's good" , I say...."I've been thinking about it too. There are more options for different national events, I kinda miss being able to qualify for those. But, I would never abandon this team, I might look for some new people to play with."

Last night - we find out that he's abandoning us. And not only is he going back to the other league on the night we play on, but he's asked 3 others from our team to go with him. Now, they all said yes, thinking our whole team was moving back. Uuuhhhhh, NO! He didn't even ask some of us let alone just let us know. Dirty! The rest of us have decided to keep our team on this same night in this same league we're in now and gain a few new friends. I'm happy with that.

I told my bf that I have no problem whatsoever that they all want to go back. My problem is - that as a CAPTAIN of a team, more so a FRIEND, you would think he'd have the balls to just mention it to us. Not go behind our backs and straight leave.......with half the team. This will not end our friendship in any means, but have some f'n respect for your "friends". On a positive note, I'm good. If this is how you really want to be, then take your happy ass and all this sneaky, bullshit, high school school drama with you. I have no room to waste my energy on drama......I have more important things to focus on. Like my pool game ;)

This is our last week of the session (we're in 1st place too mind you) and then we'll be off to begin our new mission with a fresh start!

ME time.....

I'm leaving tonight for a mini vaca. I'm hoping to really get some good time AWAY from pool. I highly doubt that I won't pick up a cue should I happen to stumble into an establishment that has a table and some crappy bar cues....but I am going to try. I need a good refresher and hopefully when I get back I'll be focused again! I REALLY need this! ;)