(*<~ 32 players, including two that came all the way from Japan,
spent three days at Planet 9-Ball in beautiful sunny Tampa, Florida
competing in the 2002 U.S. Open 9-Ball Wheelchair Tournament.
The matches were hotly contested and many went hill-hill. The finals
came down to straight shooter Charlie Hans and host room owner Kenny
"The Rolling Shark" Miller. Charlie was recently seen on ESPN's U.S. vs.
Europe partners 9-ball tournament.
The finals were a single race to nine and both players were determined
to win. Kenny and Charlie matched each other shot for shot and game for
game. Neither player led by more than one game as the scores continued
to tie each other all the way to hill-hill. It was now a race to one for
ALL the marbles. The calcutta for first was nearly double the tournament
cash prize. This was the largest calcutta in NWPA history.
It looked as if Charlie Hans had the final game in hand, but he turned
the table over to Ken Miller. The hometown fans were clearly pulling for
Ken and a hush fell over the entire room as Ken began to run the table
out. As he floated the cueball to the other end of the table for
position on the eight and nine, the pool Gods decided to make it even
MORE exciting by letting the cueball drift past the eight on the newly
installed Simonis and end up closer to the rail than Kenny preferred. A
loud groan came from the locals and Kenny pondered his options. Bank it
cross side ? Play safe ? Backcut it into the closest end pocket ?
I've seen this same look on house Pro Buddy Hall's face many times as he
silently stares at the object ball while mentally flipping through a
forty year Rolodex of shots.
Finally, Kenny had it figured. With a look of determination he lined
up the backcut shot and pulled the trigger......
It 'nearly' went in and as if that weren't bad enough, the cueball
banked into the opposite end corner pocket. Charlie now had ball in hand
on the eight and quickly fired the eight and then the nine into the hole
for the WIN. He received a raucous well deserved round of applause from
the entire room. They both had played great for the entire tournament
and noone wanted to see either of them lose.
This was my third consecutive year as the TD for this tournament and I
can't wait for next year. My thanks to all the participants and
congratulations to Charlie Hans as this year's winner.
~>*(((>< Big fish eat Little fish ><)))*<~