Off and Running (Out)
by Mike Panozzo May 15, 2002, 4:01 PM EST
Amateur champ Heuwagen opened with two surprising wins.
While defending champions Cory Deuel and Jeanette Lee are perfect through the first three days of the 2002 Billiard Congress of America Open 9-Ball Championships in Las Vegas, several notable challengers are either facing elimination or have already packed their bags for home.
With established and rising stars from around the globe freckling the 64-player fields in both the men's and women's division, competition has been stiff right from the opening round. The first major upset in the event came in the men's division, where 2001 BCA National 8-Ball Champion Lee Heuwagen, of Lake Forest, Minn., shocked No. 6 seed Earl Strickland, 11-10. Heuwagen, whose Master's Division title in last year's BCA Nationals earned him a spot in the 2002 BCA Open, led throughout the match. Despite botching one match-clinching 9 ball at 10-9, Heuwagen steeled his nerves when the case 9 was at stake. Equally as surprising, Heuwagen went on to win his second-round match against David Matlock, while Strickland dropped his next match to Jim Rempe, 11-10, earning himself an early exit from the $120,000 tournament.
Canadian hot-shot Alex Pagulayan was also ousted from the event after only two matches, while fourth-seeded Johnny Archer and fifth-seeded Efren Reyes are already playing out of the loser's bracket.
Deuel and Lee, however, have stayed the course. Top-seeded Deuel has opened with wins over Bruce Wilkinson (11-7), Danny Medina (11-8) and Danny Harriman (11-4). Lee, seeded third in the women's division, has cruised past Candi Rego (9-5), Kathy McDonald (9-1) and Tiffany Nelson (9-4). Top-seeded Karen Corr is also perfect through three rounds, as are Allison Fisher, Loree Jon Jones and Taiwan's Shin-Mei Liu. Fisher survived a 9-8 scare from Japan's Akimi Kajitani. On the men's side, Germany's Ralf Souquet, Finland's Mika Immonen and Filipino Francisco Bustamante headline the unbeaten.
The BCA Open 9-Ball Championships at the Riviera Hotel & Casino run through Saturday, May 18. BilliardsDigest.com will continue to provide round-by-round coverage throughout the event. The ESPN-taped semi-final matches take place Friday night, with the championship match in each division being contested Saturday afternoon.