I got to Surf City Billiards in Santa Cruz early Sunday morning around 10am, ordered a freshly made chocolate chip cookie and a diet coke from Ian in the kitchen, then grabbed a set of balls and started my warmups. With the California Pool Players Tour tournament starting around noon, I had at least a couple hours to wait. When Doug Wu arrived with the cameras and streaming equipment, I spent a good bit of time talking to him and gaining a better understanding of what goes on behind the scenes of an event that is streamed live over the internet. By the way, Doug did a fantastic job commentating the event, and I plan to watch all of the recorded matches on Ustream later today.
I was on the 1 loss side of the bracket, so every match had to count. In my first match, I played John from Sacramento. It was a very tough match, as John and I play at nearly the same level. The lead changed back and forth a couple times, then I got a couple rolls and finally won the match 7-4. My celebration was very short lived as Diego Lona was waiting in the wings for his shot at me. I asked for a scouting report on Diego, and the following advice was given to me, “He’s very strong. He will be running racks. IF he misses, you’d better take advantage and go for it.” How true, how true! Diego won the first two racks, then missed a safety on the 3 ball. I remembered the pre-game advice to play agressively, so I tried to run the remainder of the rack (3 through 9)…SUCCESS! Now the score was Deigo 2, Me 1. I felt a slight glimmer of hope! I thought to myself, “Hey, if I keep my cool, maybe I can hang with this guy!” WRONG! I don’t think he liked the fact that I won that game. Everything after that was a blur. When the smoke cleared, Diego had thoroughly stomped me 1-7. It wasn’t just the score. It was his style of play. His shotmaking was effortless; his cue ball positioning flawless. He moved around the table as if he were preparing for a shot at the World Speed Pool record. BAM! BAM! BAM! The only reason I got to shoot at all was because we were alternating breaks. That was really something to see! At least I had the opportunity to watch him closely to pick up some pointers…hey, that’s how we get better!
I finished the tournament in 7th place and I was estatic with that result. I also bagged $125.00 for the effort. Not great money, but hey, it’s actually not about the money. It’s about being the best you can be, getting beat up, picking yourself up off the ground, and asking for more and more until your game improves. What a great time! Vincent Bramwell and his organization, and the folks at Surf City Billiards put on a great tournament this weekend. Come out to support the new tour. Hope you see all of you next month at Family Billards in San Francisco!