Wednesday, July 6, 2011

My AZ One Pocket State Championship Experience

Well its been 2 weeks since that great tournament went off at Kolby's but figured while I am on vacation right now I would take the time to do a little write up on it. It was a good run and a good deal of fun too.

I went out the night before the tournament with my girlfriend and a buddy of mine named Mike. We went out and had drinks and a good time on Mill Ave. in Tempe. It was a blast of a night and we were about to leave when we were walking down the street just laughing and hooting/hollering a bit when all of a sudden I am attacked!, yes I said attacked. The guy pushes and swings at me and I am kind of in awe because this is totally out of of left field.

I am with my girl and a buddy of mine who is not a fighter but I myself boxed for a couple years when I was younger but as you get older you move on to different things along with a bad car accident that really cooled my jets around 10 years back. I just felt I had to protect myself and my girl and friend so I fought back, the guys girlfriend or some girl tries to stop this lunatic and she ends up getting hit by him so all hell breaks loose.

The guy gets jumped by numerous other drunks who are not liking this women beater and his antics but then the cops arrive just in time and spray some pepper to disperse the crowd which they do except for me. The horse, yes I said a horse with a policeman on it falls slipping on the pepper spray that has drenched the sidewalk. I am stunned as the horse came out of nowhere and is like 2 feet from me and scrambling to get up but the lunatic is on his feet and I am unsure why but I go at the guy.

Here I am having a great night until this guy comes along, he hits a girl after coming after me and causes all this trouble along with the horse falling and I just had enough so I proceed to give him some combinations and down he falls out cold. How stupid can I be though to do this in front of the police, I should have just let them handle it. I get a good dose of pepper spray and a few hits with a baton as a toll for my poor judgement and my girl and friend lead me away.

I must have taken a half dozen showers and rubbed my face like a moron so the pepper spray got deep into my skins and over 2 weeks later I still have some chemical burns on my face. Well now lets get to the good stuff, the one pocket tournament.

It was 32 players who showed up at Kolbys for the One Pocket State Championships and this is the place to prove yourself, to step up and play the best guys in the state and some of the best in the world with Scott Frost and Jose Parica also playing in it. My goal is to beat one good player in the tournament, that is always my goal in open play where your playing even with top guys.

My first match is against AZ State Champion One Pocket player Mike Pankoff who I believe won it the year before. I am thinking I am toast especially after he is up 2-0 in a race to 3 but I have a good break and keep control winning my first game. Great for me as I wont be getting a donut to eat, I then grind hard for moving and moving trying to frustrate Mike, not leaving too much. I win another game and its hill-hill and I am breaking so I have a real chance now and the room is watching.

Me and Mike really have a great game with Mike needing 1 ball and myself needing 2 and he leaves me as diagrammed below. I shoot the striped ball and end up on the 1 ball for a bank, not near perfect but bankable with a touch of inside and a firm hit. I win the game and everyone is clapping and congratulating me on a great shot and match. Mission accomplished and it was great to beat someone like Mike, he is a great guy and shakes my hand saying great match. I really look up to guys like Mike who are gentleman and play so well, I was a huge underdog but got there after digging deep.

My next match was another very tough opponent who plays with Mike quite regularly and I also get to spar with him getting some weight, his name is Bernie Pettipiece who I really respect and enjoy playing against. We have a very good match and I played well winning 3-1, I also finished that match with a very nice two ball out. I am on cloud nine at this point because my great play is not a fluke, I am just digging deep and playing my best and boy is that a great feeling and confidence booster also.

I end up having to face Bobby Emmons as my 3rd opponent, he is a very good young player and has a good deal of confidence, almost comes off as cocky but you need to be positive thinking to win and bring your best game. Bobby chats it up that the window is open to the rail and why not, he is the big favorite as were the other players I had just played before him. I win the first game and am running out in the 2nd game where the old me pops in to say hello and I miss a simple shot which causes me to lose that game and ultimately the match as Bobby comes with the firepower and wins 3-1. I am not out of it yet as its double elimination.

I end up facing Pete Lohtka on the losers side and its the end of the night, a long day of one pocket, me and Pete go the distance in a hill to hill match, I think we were down to the last couple of balls also so it was a true sweaters delight. Pete is a very good player who shows up at the state tournaments but other then that is not around Phoenix too often. I was lucky to beat him, but you need a little luck and not always skill in this game.

So I end up beating 3 very good players who were big favorites over me, in day 2 I have to play Scott Frost and its no fairy tale match, I get beat 3 to donut I do believe. Bobby who beat me goes on to face Jose Parica in the finals of the event and loses but still played very well in that tough tournament. I hope next year to do well and beat some good players, I think this performance has given me some confidence to step it up and with some hard work, table time and drills a ball or 2 improvement before next year should not be out of the question.

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