Friday, October 30, 2009

2009 U.S. Open: Mills vs Immonen

Here's footage of Mika Immonen's final shots against Donny Mills in the loser's bracket finale at the 2009 U.S. Open. Mills surprised the field by making it through the prestigious nine-ball tournament almost undefeated. He finished third after taking both second-place finisher Ralf Souquet and first-place finisher Immonen to the hill. Mills and Shane Van Boening will be featured in an upcoming match presented by The Action Report.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Mika Immonen warms up before the U.S. Open finals

Mika Immonen warms up during the final day of the 2009 U.S. Open. He would end up beating American Donnie Mills, Filipino Lee Van Corteza and German Ralf Souquet during his final march to victory.

Nick Varner congratulates Mika Immonen during U.S. Open

Nick Varner, the last man before Mika Immonen to win the U.S. Open Nine-Ball tournament in two consecutive years, congratulates Mika for repeating the stunning accomplishment shortly after the Finnish player beat German Ralf Souquet in the finals on Oct. 24. Hall of Famer Varner won the U.S. Open in 1989 and 1990. Until Immonen's victory this month, Varner had been the only man in history to have won in Virginia during two consecutive years. Immonen said he hoped to one day join Varner in the Hall of Fame.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Video: 1-9 carom wins U.S. Open

Here's video of Mika Immonen's final 9-ball shot in the 2009 U.S. Open. It was a tricky carom, and it was unclear at first whether the Finnish player would take it. My wife took this video from the stands. You can see Immonen fall to the ground after he pockets the ball. Then it looks like there's an earthquake, there's so much camera shaking. That's because folks started standing up and streaming down to the arena to congratulate Immonen, which jostled the camera. Immonen agonized through most of the final match. Ralf Souquet, true to form, belied very little emotion at all -- although his disappointment was palpable afterward.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Archer & Fisher feted during Hall of Fame banquet at 2009 U.S. Open

In other U.S. Open news: Johnny Archer and Allison Fisher were inducted into the Billiards Congress Hall of Fame during a banquet on Thursday. It was a truly charming affair, with both Archer and Fisher tearing up as they accepted their awards. Archer's friend and business partner Kim Davenport gave the introductory speech for Archer. (The two are co-owners of a pool hall in Georgia.) Ironically, it would also be Davenport who would eliminate Archer during the U.S. Open on Friday. That loser-side battle went hill-hill, with Davenport coming from behind. He beat Archer after pocketing the nine ball on the break in the 21st game. That's a picture on top of this post of Archer at the Hall of Fame banquet with his parents.

Another guest at the event, sitting right next to Allison Fisher at the grown-up table, was none other than Jean Balukas, the one woman who some say would rival Fisher as the best ever. They shared a toast before the ceremony and signed plenty of autographs afterward.

Mika Immonen: 2009 U.S. Open Champion

Wait. Did I say that Mika Immonen was a long shot to win the U.S. Open? Well, I was wrong. He dropped a game in just the second round, and then proceeded on a terrifying march through the loser's side. He played 12 to 14 hours, at least, on Friday but remained undefeated all the way. On Saturday, the last day of the tournament, Mika finished off Lee Van Corteza from the Philippines, Donnie Mills from the U.S. (it went hill-hill) and then polished off Ralf Souquet of Germany. Mika is only the second man in U.S. Open history to win the prestigious tournament twice in a row. Nick Varner was the first, and he was feted at this year's U.S. Open for having accomplished the feat 20 years ago.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

U.S. Open 9 Ball and the Hall of Fame Banquet

I'm heading out to the U.S. Open this week, both for the nation's most prestigious nine-ball event but also for Johnny Archer's and Allison Fisher's Hall of Fame induction banquet. Seats are still available for the Oct. 22 ceremony and dinner, and I encourage anyone who's going to Virginia for the tournament to join us in this fete for these two great players. Tickets are $60 each, or $500 per table. All proceeds go to the cost of hosting the banquet, which is being sponsored jointly by U.S. Open promoter and founder Barry Behrman and the United States Billiards Media Association. Because the BCA is providing more limited support this year, it's up to us to honor our greats. Fisher and Archer have devoted their lives to the sport. This is our opportunity to show our appreciation.

And now, with that PSA aside, here's a bit of U.S. Open news. I see from AZ Billiards that Mika Immonen was bounced to the one-loss side in his second round match against veteran road player Chris Bartram. Immonen won the event last year, but with a loss so early he must now be considered a long shot to repeat in 2009.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

USA shut out from Galveston Pro Events

What has happened to the once mighty Americans? At the Galveston World Classic U.S. players were shut out on their home turf in every major professional event. Much has been written about the pool powerhouse that is the Philllipines. But U.S. players also faced overwheliming competition from Korea, Finland, England, Norway and even ... Belgium.

Here's the rundown of the final winners (and payouts) in the Galveston pro events:

Open 8-Ball

1st Ronnie Alcano $15,500 (Phillipines)
2nd Johnny Archer $8,000 (USA)
3rd Robert Gomez $4,500 (Phillipines)

Open 10-Ball

1st Mika Immonen $25,000 (Finland)
2nd Warren Kiamco $12,000 (Phillipines)
3rd Mike Dechaine $6,500 (USA)

One Pocket

1st Efren Reyes $15,000 (Phillipines)
2nd Shannon Daulton $7,500 (USA)
3rd Cliff Joyner $4,000 (USA)

Women's 9-Ball

1st Yu Ram Cha $6,000 (Korea)
2nd Allison Fisher $3,000 (England)
3rd Line Kjorsvik $1,500 (Norway)

Americans placed as high as second in eight-ball (Johnny Archer) and one-pocket (Shannon Daulton). In the 10-ball division, American Mike Dechaine placed third. The Americans were shut out altogether from the top three spots in the women's professional 9-ball event, with Korean Yu Ram Cha taking first.

Even in the wheelchair event, the winner was Kurt Deklerck, hailing from Belgium. Top ranked American Shane Van Boening (pictured above, signing an autograph outside the tournament hall) was shut out from the top spots in each of the major divisions. Veteran Nick Varner, also of the USA, placed fourth in eight-ball.