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PQQLK9
02-14-2005, 07:17 AM
Everyone pleased with WPBA tourney

By Jeff Gluck, Rocky Mount Telegram

Monday, February 14, 2005

ESPN commentator Mitch Laurence told the sold-out crowd at Nash Community College to show a little enthusiasm when the cameras started rolling Sunday.

So when the audience unleashed a deafening roar of enthusiasm, the slightly-balding Laurence was thrilled.

"If I had hairs on my head, they would have stood up just now," he told the crowd after one particularly loud cheer.

The electric atmosphere during the final day of the Carolina Women's Billiard Classic was pleasing to everyone involved, including veteran players who have seen plenty of crowds during their career.

"When you're playing in front of an audience like that, it makes you really want to win," Carolina WBC winner Allison Fisher said. "I think this has been the best crowd yet."

Players and tournament officials alike were effusive in their praise for the Rocky Mount crowd. Tournament director Steve Tifton told the fans that their enthusiasm warranted another stop in Nash County.

"I would expect if you're attempting to earn the right to have this (tournament) on a regular basis, you've gone a long way toward that," he said.

Despite the occasional cell phone ring or dropped soda bottle during the matches, Rocky Mount fans showed a good degree of appreciation for the sport.

"You're very knowledgeable and you have a lot of respect for the players," Fisher told the crowd after her win.

The positive reviews for Rocky Mount's debut extended beyond the spectators. Those involved with the tour were happy with the hospitality for the whole week.

"Everybody we see all during the year can take a lesson from Rocky Mount, North Carolina," Laurence said.

Added Tifton, "The hospitality here is way beyond even normal Southern hospitality."

Local connection

Former Falls Road Baptist School athlete Michael Hedgepeth was always committed to soccer, basketball and baseball when he was a student.

But every day after practice, Hedgepeth would faithfully head over to Sharks-N-Shooters to practice pool.

Now a freshman at N.C. State, Hedgepeth returned to Nash County this week to help out with the Carolina WBC. Through a connection with tournament organizer Tony Davis, Hedgepeth had a prime seat as an usher for all the big matches.

"It's really wild," he said. "It's been very enjoyable. They just have a great set-up here."

Hedgepeth still plays pool at N.C. State, and picked up some additional tips over the weekend when he played a doubles match with several professionals at Sharks-N-Shooters on Saturday night.

Almost 100 grand

Rocky Mount resident Mike Bullard nearly won $100,000 Sunday from a contest during the final round.

Bullard won the chance to pick a WPBA player to break a rack of balls. If the nine ball went in, Bullard would get the money.

Bullard chose the most powerful breaker on the tour Tiffany Nelson who barely missed sinking what would have been a life-changing shot for Bullard.

The nine ball bounced off the outside of a side pocket roughly one inch away from $100,000.

ESPN air dates

Tifton said it's unclear when the tournament will be televised on ESPN and ESPN2. His best guess, he told the crowd, would be sometime after the NCAA Final Four.

Jeff Gluck can be reached at 407-9951 or jgluck@coxnews.com

pooltchr
02-14-2005, 07:48 AM
Sounds like things went very well. I had some doubts about filling the stands in Rocky Mount, but apperantly, the promoters did a good job of getting the word out.
Steve