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08-01-2007, 09:40 PM
2007 Virginia State 9 Ball Championships presented by 5 Hour Energy Drink – Report
By Brian Keller

Rarely do 4 year old tournaments have much tradition but the Virginia State 9 Ball Championships presented by 5 Hour Energy Drink already has more than its share. From the hand made trophies of local walnut off the family property of Tournament Director Joshua Dickerson to the list of prior champions that include legend Keith McCready, traditions abound. This year’s event included an electronic bracket and a TV table projected on a nearby big screen. The final was recorded for posting on the internet.

The event was held July 28th and 29th at The Playing Field in Richmond, Virginia. This year’s tilt began with 64 players from across the state, all fighting for the chance to get a paid spot in this year’s US Open 9 Ball Championships. Last year’s champion Chris Loar and runner up Eric Moore were prepared to defend their spots against a field that included regulars from the Planet Pool 9 Ball tour, Larry Kressel, Brandon Shuff, Chris Bruner, Cary Dunn, Alan Duty and Joe Russo.

No major upsets occurred and that left the winner’s side semi-finals pitting Shuff against Moore and Loar against Kressel. The one loss side quarterfinals had Dunn versus Alan Duty and John Newton against John Dagenhardt. Shuff made short work of Moore with a 9-4 win while Kressel worked his way to the hot seat match with a 9-5 win over Loar. While Duty took down Dunn 9-6, Newton got past Dagenhardt 9-5. Newton then beat Loar 9-6 in the first one loss semi-finals while Moore took down Duty 9-5.

The hot seat match between Kressel and Shuff was a seesaw affair. Kressel drew first blood and Shuff tied it up. He then hung hooked himself behind the 4 ball and scratched trying to kick out and Kressel cleared to go back on top. They traded safeties in the 4th rack until Kressel was able to run out and go up 3-1. After playing a nasty safe that Shuff couldn’t get out of, he rattled the 8 ball and Shuff cleared to get to 3-2. Shuff broke dry but left no shot for Kressel who missed the one trying for a thin cut and Shuff ran out to tie it up 3-3. Shuff broke and ran to the 7 before playing a tight safe behind the 9. Kressel kicked one rail and got a lucky kiss causing the 8 to find the corner pocket and he ran out to go up 4-3. A tied up 8 and 9 made for a difficult rack until Shuff rattled a long shot on the 8 and Kressel got out to go up 5-3. Shuff got an early 9 off the 2 ball to get to 5-4. He broke and ran the next rack including a very difficult half jump on the 2 ball to get to 5 all. 6-5 Shuff when he broke and ran. After breaking and looking at a wide open table he got a bad roll off the 2 and scratched leaving Kressel the clean up to get to 6 all. He broke and ran the next two racks to get to the hill. He was running out the case rack when he got too close to the 8 and had to play a safety leaving Shuff with only a tight jump or kick. Jacking way up, he jumped over the 9 and banked the 8 two rails and a perfect leave on the 9 to get to 8-7. He broke and made two balls but missed a tough shot on the 2 and Kressel ran out for the hot seat.

Meanwhile, Moore and Newton battled to get to the final of the one loss bracket. Moore jumped out to a 2-0 lead but Newton fought back to get to 3-2. He broke dry and Moore ran down to the seven before playing safe where Newton was able to hit it but left him the easy out. The next rack, Moore got out of line on the 7 and scratched leaving Newton the easy out to get to 4-3. A safe by Newton in the 8th rack led to an easy 1-9 combo for a quick score and a 4-4 tie. Newtown got to 5-5 and broke dry. Moore took advantage of Newton’s miscues in the next two racks to get to 7-5. He broke and ran the next rack to get to the hill then broke and ran out to win the match.

In the semifinal match between Moore and Shuff, a smooth run out got Shuff a 1-0 lead. After breaking dry, Moore took over to run out and tie the match at 1. He broke and scratched and Shuff ran out for 2-1. Shuff broke and pushed, Moore played safe and missed, Shuff missed a combo on the 6 and Moore ran out for 2-2. He broke and had a tough shot, missed and Shuff ran and missed the 5. Moore ran out for 3-2. He broke dry leaving a long, tough shot that Shuff missed and Moore ran out for 4-2. He broke and the players traded misses on the 2 before Moore ran out to 5-2. He broke and the players traded misses until Shuff ran out to 5-3 and that seemed to start the onslaught as Shuff caught another gear. The players traded misses until Shuff ran out to 5-4. Shuff then broke and ran to tie it. A safety battle ensued until Shuff ran out from the 4 for 6-5. Another safety battle this one won by Moore who ran out for 6-6. Moore scored an early 9 off the 4 ball for 7-6. Shuff then ran out after Moore hooked himself on the 6 to 7-7. Shuff breaks and ran to 8-7 then broke and played safe. Moore kicked out and hit the one but left a run out for Shuff who ran the rack to make the final table.

The final was a rematch of the hot seat match and will soon be available on You Tube. The first rack was a long chess match as the players, both appearing nervous and tentative, had trouble getting started. Kressel finally got the first game and broke the second. Another back and forth battle took place with Shuff breaking through for a win. In the third rack, Kressel took over the table with a long shot on the 8 which he quickly snapped in on a table length bank with perfect shape on the 9. This lead to a huge break that sank 4 balls and a very precise break and run for 3-1 followed by a 7-9 combo for 4-1. A safety battle in the 6th rack caused Shuff to kick 4 rails and while he made a good hit on the 4 ball, he also scratched and Kressel ran out for a 5-1 lead.

Shuff did not get to be one of the top players in the mid-Atlantic area by laying down. He converted a table length jump shot on the 8 ball to win the next rack and that started a 4 game run that tied the score at 5 racks each in the one race to 11 final.

Shuff broke dry in the 11th rack and Kressel ran out for the lead. He also took the 12th rack when Shuff missed an easy shot on the 6 ball to fall behind 7-5. When Kressel scratched on the ensuing break, Shuff ran out to get to 7-6 and then took over the next rack when Kressel missed on the 7 ball to re-tie the score at 7.

From there it was nearly all Kressel after Shuff broke dry. Kressel fired in the 4 ball on a cross side bank and ran out, then got an early 1-9 in the next rack to get to 9-7. Shuff would not give up and managed a 7-9 combo in the next rack after Kressel broke dry again to get to 9-8 but his next break came up dry and Kressel ran out to get to the hill. From there, he broke cleanly and ran the last rack out for the win.

Shuff, as gracious in defeat as he is in victory, was quick to point out that Kressel had outplayed him and deserved to win. He also noted that he’d finished 4th, 3rd and now 2nd in the last 3 State Championships and was looking forward to returning to continue the streak. With his strong game, that is assured.

Kressel was thrilled to have gone through the field undefeated and in a field as deep as this tournament has, he has a right to be proud of the accomplishment. With his first big regional event victory, he is poised to take the next step and represent Virginia at the US Open Championships in October.

Tournament Director Dickerson complimented both players during the trophy presentations, citing there strong play, good sportsmanship and heart as credits to the game and the state’s depth of talent. “These players will now be a part of the tradition that is this tournament!”

Final Standings- 2007 Virginia State 9 Ball Championships presented by 5 Hour Energy

1st Place: Larry Kressel
2nd Place: Brandon Shuff
3rd Place: Eric Moore
4th Place: John Newton
5th Place: Alan Duty
6th Place: Chris Loar
7th Place: Cary Dunn
8th Place: John Dagenhardt
9th – 12th Place: Joe Russo, Bob Tubbs, Curtis Coleman and Larry Averman


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