Over the weekend I competed in the third and final installment of a US Amateur Warm Up League. The league was organized by our APA league operator, Doug Coleman, with the objective of preparing us for the upcoming 2011 US Amateur tournament. Doug organized the league to have play dates one weekend a month over a three month period. The league was organized in a round robin format so that theoretically each participant had the opportunity to play every other participant. The individual matches were structured just like the US Amateur tournament, with players competing in a race to 7 format of up to 5 games of 8 ball and 8 games of 9 ball. The league drew a total of 22 participants, men and women, which I thought was pretty good. For the competition, each player was awarded one point for every game won, with points tallied up over all three play dates to determine an overall winner.
Going into the final play date, I was in third place. We were scheduled to play 3 matches this Saturday, and the overall point leader was 6 points ahead of me. It would take a miracle for me to catch him. In my first match I didn’t play very well, kept losing control of whitey, and quickly got behind 1-5. Not looking good! Then I caught a gear, fought back to hill-hill, but lost the case game to finish my first match 6-7. Although I didn’t win, at least I got six points for my effort. The point leader was playing at the table next to me, and he was getting thrashed! He ended up losing 1-7 to earn only 1 point! A MIRACLE! Now I was only one point out of first place!
Here was my chance to steal the title. In my second match I was facing a guy who in my opinion is one of the strongest players in the league. The point leader was playing another very strong player on the table next to me. This would be interesting! I came out swinging, my opponent got a couple bad rolls, I locked up the table a few times, and then started running out. When the smoke cleared I had won my match 7-0, earning myself 7 points…the best I could possibly do! Once again, the point leader (by only one measly point!) was playing on the table next to me. He initially got behind in his match and I thought I might be able to take the point lead, but he dug deep, roared back, and ended up winning his match to also earn 7 points for his round two effort. CRAP! I was still behind the point leader by 1 lousy point!
In the third round, I found out I was playing yet another strong player…a guy whom I’ve never beaten. Isn’t it funny how there are some people you just can’t seem to beat? I’ve bar-b-qued other players who have beaten this guy, but for some reason, he just has my number…I can’t do anything with him. CRAP! The point leader’s match was not going to be nearly as difficult. I tilted my head back to look at the ceiling; my hands clasped together angelically. I needed yet another miracle.
In the third round, the point leader had some troubles with his opponent, but ended up winning his match 7-3 to earn 7 points and lock up first place. Me? Oh, I got my rear end handed to me on a silver platter! Lost 1-7. Painful. Very painful. For my effort I was awarded 1 tiny lousy stinking point. The only good news? That one point allowed me to hold on to second place…barely. Well, in retrospect, even if I had won my last match and earned 7 points, the overall result would still have been the same…2nd place.
So, why did I title this blog post “Second Fiddle….Again?” You see, last fall when I competed in the preliminary round of the actual 2010 US Amateur Tournament, I ended up winning the tournament hot seat with almost no problem at all, then choked in the title match to finish in 2nd place. Now in the US Amateur Warm Up tournament, I once again had a good shot at winning, but ended up in 2nd place. Hmmm…I’m starting to see a pattern here.