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Ga-Young Kim Wins WPBA Season Opener
Feb 26, 2007, 10:19 AM

Sporting a newly chopped set of bangs, the cute-as-can-be Korean, Ga Young Kim, started off the Women's Professional Billiard Association's 2007 season with a bang as well, beating newcomer Xiaoting Pan in a hill-hill nailbiter.

The two pint-sized Asians represented the new guard of the WPBA, as heavy-hitter and defending champion Karen Corr was eliminated in the quarterfinal by Vivian Villarreal, and 2006 Player of the Year Allison Fisher fell hard, 7-2, to eventual winner Kim in the semifinal.

Kim ended the season in 2006 with a botched 8 ball that cost her the title in the WPBA Nationals final against Fisher, held Nov. 8-12 in Lincoln City, Ore. Clearly, Kim sought redemption at the Carolina Classic, held Feb. 21-25 at the Gateway Convention Center in Rocky Mount, N.C., and succeeded in the first stop of the 2007 season.

Kim posted a perfect record, stomping over Susan Wilbur, 9-3, Dawn Hopkins, 9-5, and Sarah Ellerby, 9-6, to advance to the top 16.

Alongside Kim on the winner's side were Allison Fisher, Gerda Hofstatter, Monica Webb, Tiffany Nelson, Xiaoting Pan, Jeanette Lee and Karen Corr.

Eight players reached the top 16 from the one-loss side, including Eva Laurance, Val Finnie, Kim White, Kelly Fisher, Tracie Hines, Kim Shaw, Morgan Steinman and Villarreal.

Per the WPBA format, once the top 16 players are determined, the top eight are thrown in a hat, and the bottom eight draw their next opponent, in what carries on as a single-elimination tournament.

Hines drew Kim, and Kim made quick work of her, 9-1, then went on to oust Webb, 9-7. Pan won a neck-and-neck hill-hill battle against Kelly Fisher, 9-8, and then pummeled Nelson, 9-4. Villarreal showed her veteran stripes, beating Lee, 9-4, and then upsetting Corr, 9-7, to set up the Villarreal vs. Pan semifinal.

Allison Fisher was breezing through the competition as well, handing Shaw a 9-2 defeat, and ousting Hofstatter, 9-5 to set up the Fisher vs. Kim semifinal.

The familiar match-up had an unlikely outcome: Kim clobbered Fisher, 7-2, redeeming herself from her former flub. Meanwhile, Pan posted another win over Villiarreal, 7-3, after having sent her to the one-loss side earlier in the tournament.

The final was a battle of the young guns, and the more seasoned of the two, Kim, came through at hill-hill for the win. She took home $13,500 for her efforts, while Pan pocketed $8,300.

Visit www.wpba.com for tournament brackets and pictures of the event.