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Kelly Fisher Climbs on Top after Wild U.S. Open Filled with Upsets
Aug 3, 2008, 8:31 PM

Fisher held steady in her 7-1 victory over upstart Ranola.
Women’s tour veteran Kelly Fisher seized the WPBA’s U.S. Open title on Sunday evening in an event that otherwise was filled with amazing upsets and generally failed to stick to the usual Classic Tour script.

Fisher won in a 7-1 final against upstart Iris Ranola of the Philippines, a qualifier playing in just her second WPBA event and who defeated two of the Classic Tour’s top four players to reach the final. She kicked off the tournament with a first-round upset of No. 1-ranked Allison Fisher, who then lost her next match and would eventually fall to No. 6 in the rankings.

The U.S. Open title is Kelly Fisher’s fourth on the Classic Tour, and the win secured her the No. 1 spot in the rankings. Ranola never could get a foothold in the final against quick-paced and eagle-eyed Fisher, and one could assume that the significance of making the finals as a qualifier had finally sunk in for the 31-year-old import. With Fisher leading 6-1, Ranola missed a 7 ball to hand the rack and the match to her opponent.

The result was one of the few predictable outcomes from the U.S. Open 9-Ball Championship, taking place Thursday through Sunday at the Riverwind Casino in Norman, Okla.

Most of the tumult centered around Ranola and fellow newbie Yu Ram Cha of Korea, who also defeated two of the tour’s top four players. Both Ranola and Cha were tied at the No. 37 spot in the rankings prior to the event.

Ranola became a sudden celebrity for her instant-classic first-round matchup against Allison Fisher on Thursday, in which she defeated the legendary “Duchess of Doom” in a 9-8 thriller. Fisher was eliminated in the next round by Sarah Rousey, 9-8, for an exceedingly rare two-and-out performance.

Ranola went on to very impressive showings against Aileen Dimmick, 9-2; Helena Thornfeldt, 9-2; No. 2-ranked Ga Young Kim, 9-8; and No. 8-ranked Sarah Ellerby, 7-2, in the quarterfinals.

Yu Ram Cha, who finished in ninth place at June’s Great Lakes Classic in her first appearance on tour, lost her third-round match at the U.S. Open to Ellerby, 9-8, but recovered with a 9-7 victory over Gerda Hofstatter on Friday to earn a berth in the top 16. From there, she easily handled China’s gifted Xioating Pan, 9-4, and knocked off veteran Karen Corr, 7-5, to reach the semis. Both Corr and Pan were tied with Kim for the No. 2 spot in the rankings.

Ranola and 21-year-old Cha faced off in the first semifinal Sunday. Evenly matched, the players ran the score to hill-hill at 6-6. With the break in the case game, Ranola sank four balls and cleared the table to secure a spot in the final.

In the other semifinal, Kelly Fisher matched up with a resurgent Jeanette Lee, who had already secured her best tour finish in two years. Lee tied the match at 5-5 with a gutsy runout, but missed the 3 in the following rack when she tried to force position on the 4. Fisher took the hill first, 6-5, and then won a safety battle on the 1 ball in the next rack to polish off the match, 7-5.

After the dust cleared from the final, there was a new pecking order at the top of the rankings. Kelly Fisher took sole possession of the No. 1 spot, followed by Karen Corr at No. 2. Ga Young Kim and Xiaoting Pan shared the No. 3 spot, and Sarah Ellerby moved up to No. 5. After going two-and-out, Allison Fisher dropped to No. 6.