THE QUEEN IS BACK
BY TED LERNER
(Shenyang, China)–Riding an unstoppable wave that she helped create, Chinese superstar Pan Xiaoting moved into the quarterfinals of the 2011 Women’s World 9-ball Championship today, after holding off a furious fight back from world number 3 Ga Young Kim and winning a thriller, 9-8.
The gritty win by the 29 year old Pan, known throughout China as the “Queen of 9-ball,” moves the Chinese superstar into a marquee nationally televised matchup later on Saturday against defending champion Fu Xiaofang in the first race to 9, alternate break quarter final at the Liaoning Hunnan Sports Training Arena in the northeastern city of Shenyang.
Pan’s last rack heroics capped an incredible surge for the home side on Saturday during the round of 16, as the tournament has become nearly an all-China affair with seven out of the eight spots in the quarterfinals of this year’s championship now belonging to players from China. The other place was grabbed by Taiwan’s Lin Yuan Chun.
That China has literally taken over the women’s game is not in doubt. As to who is responsible for this awesome success there is also no doubt. Pan’s win at the 2007 World 9-ball championship in Taiwan was the first ever by a player from China. She then set off for the US where she carved out a successful niche for herself. At the same time, Pan’s looks, fashion sense and pleasant demeanor fit perfectly with the tastes of the Chinese public. She is a huge star in every sense of the word here, always followed by throngs of fans and media wanting a photo or autograph.
But while Pan is one of China’s most popular sporting personalities, the massive wave of talent in the likes of Liu Shahsha, Fu Xiaofang, Siming Chen and others has led to whispers that she has lost a step in the last few years. After beating Kim today, Pan said she has indeed heard the gossip and said it has motivated her to step up her game in the last year.
“In recent years I only played in other countries,” Pan said as a throng of media besieged her. “But now there are many new billiard players coming up. Their skills have improved rapidly. This has motivated me to practice more and this is what I’m doing now because I want to show that I’m still capable of being on top of the game.”
None of Pan’s fellow players are going to lie down for the superstar, however, and this was evident in the seven other matches played this morning in Shenyang. Pan’s quarterfinals opponent Fu looked as solid as ever as she mowed down fellow Chinese Ren Qiuye, 9-4. 2009 world 9-ball champion Liu steamrolled 16 year old Gao Meng, 9-1, a day after Gao had given the boot to Korean’s Yu Ram Cha. And 17 year old sensation Siming Chen outlasted Taiwan’s talented Chou Chei Yu, 9-6.
The two non-Asian players remaining in the final 16 will long be ruing what might have been. The USA’s Monica Webb trailed 5-2 to China’s Han Yu then fought back to finally jump ahead at 7-6. Webb had a clear path to the hill with just two balls left on the table but lost position on the 8. The resulting kick out left the table open and Han cleared to leave a one rack decider. In the final rack Webb fouled on the 1 ball which allowed Han to clear the rack and grab the win.
Canada’s Brittany Bryant also saw a sure win slip through her grasp against China’s Zhou Doudou. Up 8-6 Bryant had the match in hand only to commit several basic errors that allowed Zhou back in the contest. Bryant ended losing the match, 9-8.
The only player not from China to make it into the quarterfinals, Taiwan’s Lin Yuan Chun, looked very tough in her round of 16 match, as she blanked China’s Wu Jing, 9-0. Lin now faces the daunting prospect of being the only player to have a chance to stop the China freight train in this year’s world championship. Lin faces China Bi Zhu Qing, who took down Japan’s Chichiro Kawahara, 9-6.
The four quarterfinal matchups will all be played on the TV table on Saturday beginning at 2pm local time(GMT +8).
2PM: Fu XiaoFang(CHN) vs. Pan Xiaoting(CHN)
4PM: Lin Yuan Chun(TPE) vs. Bi Zhu Qing(CHN)
6PM: Liu Sha Sha(CHN) vs. Han Yu(CHN)
8PM: Zhou Doudou(CHN) vs. Chen Siming(CHN)
The semi-finals and finals will take place Sunday the Liaoning Hunnan Sports Training 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.
For updated brackets please CLICK HERE
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).
Results from the Round of 16
Pan Xiaoting(CHN) 9 – 8 Ga Young Kim(KOR)
Han Yu(CHN) 9 – 8 Monica Webb(USA)
Lin Yuan Chun(TPE) 9 – 0 Wu Jing(CHN)
Zhou Doudou(CHN) 9 – Brittany Bryant(CAN)
Liu Sha Sha(CHN) 9 – 4Gao Meng(CHN)
Fu Xiaofang(CHN) 9 – 2 Ren Qiuye(CHN)
Chen Siming(CHN) 9 – 6 Chou Chei Yu(TPE)
Bi Zhu Qing(CHN) 9 – 6 Chuchiro Kawahara(JPN)