OFF AND RUNNING
BY TED LERNER IN SHENYANG, CHINA
PHOTOS BY ALISON CHANG
With one of the toughest fields in recent memory on hand, the 2011 Women’s World 9-Ball Championship kicked off today at the Liaoning Hunnan Sports Training Base in sunny Shenyang, China.
64 of the best women professional pool players from 25 countries have come to this northeastern city of 7 million people to vie for the most prestigious prize in the women’s game. The players have been divided into eight groups of eight players each. Each group plays a double elimination format, race to 7, alternate break. Four players from each group, two on the winners side and two on the losers side, advance to the round of 32. From there on the tournament will be a single elimination race to 9.
As usual in the group stages of big world championships, the early sessions on day one saw plenty of predictable outcomes and also lots of drama and surprising results. Defending champion and world number Fu Xiaofang of China started things off at 10am with an easy 7 – 1 win over Singapore’s Hoe Shu Wah on the TV table. The 23 year old Fu has been playing marvelous 9-ball pool in the last year and is clearly a strong favorite to repeat as champion. At the same time Korea’s talented Yu Ram Cha, WPA ranked number 9, also cruised to an easy 7-1 win over Caroline Roos of Sweden.
Just when things were going as planned, though, some of the biggest names in women’s pool found themselves on the ropes and in danger of an early exit from the tournament. World number 5 Kelly Fisher of Great Britain held a 5-2 lead over China’s Zheng Xiaochun, only to see the diminutive Chinese player storm back for a 7-5 victory. Fisher missed two 9-balls while up 5-3, and tied at 5-5 and then sat and watched as Zheng broke and ran the last rack for the victory.
Fisher, who had beaten Zheng in their only two previous meetings, realized afterwards that she let the match slip away.
“I got a little unlucky on a couple of shots,” Fisher said. “But I made some errors too and that’s what it came down to. She’s a tough player. She can break and run anytime.” Zheng moves to the winner’s side and will play tomorrow while Fisher now has to come back for the evening session to try and stave off elimination.
A similar fate befell Fisher’s compatriot and good friend, Hall of Famer Allison Fisher, who last year finished runner up in this event. The four time world champion, who’s currently ranked number 6 in the world rankings, had what was the toughest match of the early going when she drew Taiwanese legend Shin Mei Lui in her first match. Between them Lui and Fisher have won the World 9-ball championship six times. They have also gone head to head more than a dozen times over the years.
As expected, this matchup of pool greats didn’t disappoint. Lui went up 6-4 when Fisher came back to tie and leave a one rack decider. Lui didn’t sink a ball on the break but Fisher over hit a safety try that brought Liu back to the table. With nerves clearly jangling Liu flubbed position but got lucky on her next shot when she fluked in the six ball. The 42 year old Taiwanese then potted a brilliant seven and cleared to take the match.
“I felt too much pressure out there,” Liu said afterwards. Fisher faulted herself for playing too defensive throughout.
“I tried to play smart,” said Fisher, who now faces elimination in the evening session on day 1. “That’s usually a strength of mine. But I was over hitting every safety shot. This was a very bad draw for both Liu and myself. There’s a lot easier matches I could’ve ended up with but that’s the way it goes.”
In other matches over the first three sessions on day one, Korean superstar and WPA number three Ga Young Kim, world number four Jasmin Ouschan of Austria, and world number 8 Chou Che Yu of Chinese Taipei all advanced on the winner’s side of their groups.
Day one continues in Shenyang with three more sessions in the afternoon and evening. All 64 four players will see action on day one with losers having to come back in the evening to stave off elimination. Prior to the final session, there will be an opening ceremony held inside the arena.
The total prize fund for the 2011 Women’s World 9-Ball Championship is $150,000 with $30,000 going to the winner on Sunday.
The WPA will be providing full coverage of all the action at the 2011 Women’s World 9-ball Championship. Fans around the world can follow matches as they happen via our live scoring platform. The live scoring button can be seen on the front page of the WPA’s website, www.wpa-pool.com . There you can also see the brackets icon which will give you updated standings from each group and the knockout stage.
In addition, the WPA will be providing insights and analysis with articles posted several times daily on the WPA home page. Fans can also follow the action via the WPA Twitter page, providing fans with instant updates, insights and scores as they happen. The WPA’s Twitter user name is @poolwpa. You can go directly to our Twitter page at, http://twitter.com/poolwpa.
The World Pool Association(WPA) is the world governing body of pool. The 2011 Women’s World 9-ball Championship is being sponsored by Chevrolet Automakers. Star is the official pool table, while Andy is the official table cloth. The event is sanctioned by the WPA and the Chinese Billiard and Snooker Association, (CBSA).
10 am Session
RESULTS FROM THE FIRST THREE OF SIX SESSIONS ON DAY 1.
Fu Xiao Fang (CHN) 7 – 1 Hoe Shu Wah(SIN)
Monica Webb (USA) 7 – 6 Wei Tzu Chen (TPE)
Line Kjorsvik (NOR) 7 – 6 Mirjana Grujicic (VEN)
Gao Meng(CHN) 7 – 4 Akimi Kajatani (JPN)
Cha Yu Ram (KOR) 7 – 1 Caroline Roos (SWE)
Miyuki Fuke (JPN) 7 – 2 Laetitia Dos Stantos (FRA)
Chou Chieh Yu (TPE) 7 – 5 Su Qin (CHN)
Tan Ho Yun (TPE) 7 – 6 Li Ja(CHN)
12 Noon Session
Zheng Xiaochun (CHN) 7 – 5 Fisher, Kelly(GBR)
Brittany Bryant (CAN) 7 –2 Charlene Chai Huey( )
Chichiro Kawahara (JPN) 7 – 2 (Neena Praveen (IND)
Wu Jing (CHN ) 7 – 4 Tsai Pei Chen ( TPE )
Yu Han 7 (CHN) 7 – 2 Naomi Williams (CAN)
Wu Zhiting(TPE) 7 – 4 Ye Sisi (CHN)
Chan Dang (CHN) 7 – 2 Chen Xue(CHN )
Jasmin Ouschan (AUS) 7 – 4 Kamila Khodjaeva (BEL)
Ga Young Kim (KOR) 7 – 3 Lai Hui Shan (TPE)
Lyndall Hulley (AUS) 7 – 6 Viktoria Nagorna (UKR)
Ren Qiuyue (CHN) 7 – 6 Zhu Tingting (CHN)
Zhou, Doudou (CHN) 7 – 3 Kynthia Orfanidis (NED)
Lin Yuan Chun (TPE) 7 – 2 Mayte Ropero (ESP)
Bi Zhu-Qing (CHN) 7 – 4 Park Eun Ji (KOR)
Liu Shin Mei (TPE) 7 – 6 Allison Fisher(GBR)
Han Fang (CHN) 7 – 6 Tamara Rademakers (NED)