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RailbirdJAM
08-03-2004, 08:30 AM
This past weekend was a thrill. Miyuki Sakai and Hiroshi Takenaka just flew in from Japan, with only a 2-hour stop in Detroit, and landed in Richmond to attend the Planet Pool 9-Ball tournament at The Playing Field in Richmond, Virginia.

Hiroshi played in the Open event, and Miyuki -- pronounced ME-YOU-KEY -- competed with some of the region's best lady players who were gunning for not only a first-place win, but a free paid entry to an upcoming lady's tournament in Canada. Miyuki said she chose Richmond as their first stop in the States because she wanted to try to win that qualifier, and that she did with grace, style, and charm!

Having attended three tournaments at The Playing Field in the last month, it truly feels like walking into the home of an old friend every time we go there. There's a little bit of everything for any pool enthusiast: great food, full bar, 6-by-12 snooker table with REALLY tight pockets, action, and a staff providing quick service with a smile!

When the chart was drawn, I was eager to learn who Keith McCready would play first, and lo and behold, it was the No. 1 player from Japan, Hiroshi. Hiroshi won the lag and broke and ran out 2 racks. Keith responded with a 5-pack and ultimately won the match, sending Hiroshi to the B side of the charts the very first round.

Hiroshi stormed through the losers' bracket and never looked back and found himself facing The Playing Field's own local champion, Larry Kressel, the hometown favorite, to win the tournament. Larry played brilliantly throughout the 2 days and was sitting in the catbird seat in the winners' bracket.

When the finals match began, there wasn't an empty seat in the house. Larry, sitting on the rail for several hours waiting for the losers' bracket to play itself out, may have been a little cold when he faced the Japanese champion, and Hiroshi won the first set pretty easily.

In true double elimination style, Hiroshi had to beat Larry again to win the tournament. He was making 2 and 3 balls on the break, running out, and when in doubt, executed what seemed like perfect safeties. Larry managed to pick up his speed in the second match and kicked his way out of Hiroshi's safeties, and when the score was Larry 6 and Hiroshi 5, the winner was anybody's guess.

Both players gave the crowd an excellent performance, and each time one of them made a great shot, there were greeted by cheers and loud applause. Hiroshi ended up beating Larry twice and won the Open event.

On Sunday, the ladies tourney was going strong, and Miyuki was a tough opponent. She was a pleasure to watch as she maneuvered balls. While she was battling it out, Hiroshi was celebrating his win with his new Virginia friends. A local APA TD and local patrons took him on over to the dart board while Miyuki was competing. Hiroshi doesn't speak the English language as well as Miyuki, but he didn't need her by his side to interpret the genuine heart-felt appreciation expressed by the Virginians. When he made a good shot on the dart board, he and his team mates were jumping up in the air, giving each other the high-five, and he was having a blast with his new friends, laughing all night long!

Look for Hiroshi on an upcoming ESPN special when he competes in the Mohegan Sun's $50,000 Challenge, winner take all! He will also be competing in the UPA-sanctioned Big Apple 9-Ball Challenge in NYC this week, promoted by Alexandra Dyer and Master Billiards.

As luck would have it, the batteries ran out in my camera, but I did manage to get a few pics:

Planet Pool 9-Ball Tournament in Richmond, VA [July 31-August 1, 2004] (http://www.hometown.aol.com/jamalloy/richmond.html)

RailbirdJAM

9 Ball Girl
08-03-2004, 08:39 AM
Great post Jenn! /ccboard/images/graemlins/smile.gif Thanks for giving us the details and sharing the pics! See you tomorrow at Masters!

BooBoo
08-03-2004, 08:41 AM
Nice post and great info, thanks alot. The pics were good too. Looking forward to seeing you two at The Glass City Open, it's not that far away. Keep the reports coming.