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U.S. Open Organizers Forge Ahead
Aug 29, 2003, 6:13 PM

REGARDLESS OF how Circuit Court Judge Bruce H. Kushner rules in promoter Barry Behrman's probation violation hearing on Sept. 8, the 28th U.S. Open 9-Ball Championship will get underway as scheduled on Sept. 15. And Behrman's longtime tournament staff is expecting another huge field, playing in front of another jam-packed crowd at the Chesapeake Convention Center in Chesapeake, Va.
"We're operating with the same staff that ran last year's event," said Chris Adams, league director at Behrman's Q-Master Billiards poolroom and point man for the 2004 event. "Barry is putting up the $52,000 in added money, and we're collecting entry fees. Right now, registration is right on par with last year, and we anticipate having as many players [215] as we had in 2002."
While the size of the field may be close to its 2002 level, the quality of the field figures to be as strong as 2002 ... if not stronger. With the United States Professional Poolplayers Association (UPA) granting waivers to its players, and the 2002 event having been void of last-minute payout surprises, a number of top pros have indicated that they would, indeed, play in the 2003 Open.
"I'm planning on playing," said top-ranked Johnny Archer. "The UPA has said it's okay to play, and it is the Open."
Also scheduled to play is defending champion Ralf Souquet of Germany.
It is possible, however, that the U.S. Open may miss out on some top foreign players, as the World Pool-Billiard Association has informed its member federations that the event is not WPA-sanctioned.
Meanwhile, the 57-year-old Behrman sits in a Chesapeake correctional facility awaiting his fate. Jailed after a second probation violation, Behrman could be released after his Sept. 8 court date, or he could spend as much as six years behind bars. Behrman was convicted in 2002 of a pair of felonies stemming from illegal gambling parties at his Chesapeake home.
Until Sept. 8, Adams said he and his tournament crew will continue preparing for the 28th annual edition of America's biggest pro tournament.
"All the contractors and vendors have been contacted," said Adams. "The bleachers, big screen TVs, microphones, etc., have all been ordered. We're right on schedule."