By: Don ďCheeseĒ Akerlow
WPBA Nationals
November 9-13, 2005
Lincoln City, Oregon

500-600 fans in the stands, dignitaries of the pool world seated around the Brunswick Table provided by Apollo Pools of Portland, were treated to a fantastic array of shots, jumps, misses and emotions. The number two ranked Karen Corr was put out early Sunday by Ga Young Kim. Then on to the TV matches where Ms Kim had to face the number one ranked Allison Fisher. She plowed her way through with finesse, charm and her obvious skill of the game, not to mention a smile that would charm her harshest critics. Ga Young dominated the match and gave Allison few chances to mount an attack. A scratch on the 8-ball by Allison was all Ga Young needed to end the match.

Vivian undefeated all week, coupled with her charm and volatile personality and emotions was ready to duel it out at the beach. Fans were entertained by Steve Tipton and his sometimes humorous banter and always entertaining style. Steve is professional as he endures the arduous task of being the referee. Not always an easy job with two beautiful women filled with the hope of winning the WPBA National title, not to mention the $16,000 first place prize. I was privileged and would like to thank the WPBA, Peg Ledman and Jay White for a press pass so I could sit there and play shutter bug.

Now it was time for the big show that everybody had come to see, had waited for, anticipated. The introductions were made and the two ladies lagged for the break. The first break would go to Vivian. With games going back and forth, it was tied at 3-3. Vivian was celebrating after each win in her flamboyant way. With some good safety plays, good kicks and with just some plain good shooting Ga Young took a 5-3 lead. From almost the first game when Vivian was stalking the table, I heard a bird whistling. At first you would think it was birds flying around inside or coming from the audience but it was Vivian! I can only guess, it was her way of coping with the pressure or putting herself in the moment. Whatever it was, she tied it up 5-5. Now it was a race to 2. Ga Young took the lead 6-5 and again the ever-whistling Ms Villarreal tied it 6-6, hill-hill, one game for all the marbles, which happens to be worth $16,000 and the title. This is where winning the lag comes in, she would break on the hill. Viv breaks, makes a ball, misses a ball the length of the table, Ga Young runs out, wins the title. The two ladies embrace. Vivian is visibly upset and disappointed. She rushes off center court and into a room to compose herself. Very emotional Ga Young was quick to follow. It wasnít known to me at the time why Vivian was so emotional about losing until she spoke to the crowd when she came back. Both ladies returned for the presentation, Vivian first for runner-up was given a ceremonial blanket by the Siletz Tribe and a beautiful crystal sculpture. We then learned why Vivian wanted to win so badly and why she was so emotional. She hadnít won a tournament since 1998 when she lost her daughter and wanted to win the tournament for her and would have danced on the table in her memory. I donít think there was a dry eye in the place. Vivian showed courage, vulnerability and love that you donít always see. My heart went out to her.

It was then time for the presentation of the winnerís crystal and ceremonial blanket to Ms Ga Young Kim, this yearís National Champion.

The Break would like to thank the staff at Chinook Winds Resort Casino and all the volunteers, along with the staff of the WPBA for their help and courtesy. The good news is that the WPBA will return next year to Chinook Winds in Lincoln City, Oregon for the 2006 Cuetec Cue National Championship. It will be held November 8-12, 2006.

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