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Tournament Coverage

Robles, Corr Earn BCA Final
by Mike Panozzo May 18, 2002, 2:26 AM EST

First-time TV finalist Robles was in focus against Deuel Friday in Las Vegas.

Tony Robles never lost faith. Not after watching leads of 4-0 and 6-2 evaporate in his Billiard Congress of America Open 9-Ball Championship semifinal match against top-ranked Cory Deuel Friday night at the Riviera Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas. Not after an improbable scratch just four balls
from final victory in the race-to-seven match. Not even with Deuel leaning over a short shot on the 9 ball that would knot the score and give Deuel the break in the case game.

"I had faith all the way through," said the congenial 36-year-old New Yorker, making his first appearance on television during the ESPN-taped match. "I looked upwards, and accepted that what happens, happens." Almost miraculously, what happened was the usually razor-sharp Deuel fired the 9 right into the tip of the corner pocket, where it rattled back and forth and out onto the table. Incredulously, Deuel stared at the empty pocket, and with his cue swept the cue ball at the 9, forfeiting the game and handing the match to the shocked Robles.

"I couldn't believe it," said Robles. "I was determined to win the match, but I didn't think it would be that way."

"When I got down on the 9," said Deuel, "I thought I was hitting it a little thick, so I tried to adjust my aim without getting back up. I just got down bad."

The miss cost Deuel a chance to defend the BCA title he won last May, and thwarted a comeback made all the more improbable by the alternating-break format employed for the tournament. "I don't like alternating break," said Deuel. "I like to know that even if I'm behind 6-0, I have a chance to run out and win. With alternating break, when you're down 6-2 you figure you have no chance no matter how well your playing unless the other guy messes up."

At the start, however, it was Deuel who gave away opportunities to hold his own serve, scratching on the break in the opening rack, and missing a long bank on the 1 ball in the third game. Quickly, Robles was ahead 4-0. Robles missed the 9 that would have given him a 5-0 lead, and slowly Deuel climbed back into the match. Trailing 6-5, Deuel left just enough room for Robles to slide the 2 into the top corner pocket. Spinning the cue ball to work it back down table for the 3, Robles watched in agony as the cue ball followed an
almost impossible angle into the side pocket. But what seemed certain defeat turned to victory when Deuel botched the 9.

The win earns Robles a title-match seat alongside his road roommate and close friend Charlie Williams. "I've known Charlie since he was 14," said Robles. "And he's like my little brother now. We're real tight, and even after tomorrow's match, we'll congratulate the other and move on." With that, Robles and Williams left the arena Friday night with a few friends for a midnight showing of the new Star Wars film.

In Friday night's women's semifinal, top-seeded Karen Corr took ran a perfect

final rack to edge out Allison Fisher, 7-6. Despite a subpar showing, Fisher managed to scratch back from a 6-4 deficit to force a deciding game. But the alternating break format gave Corr the case game honors, and Fisher never approached the table in the final rack.

"I didn't deserve to win," said Fisher. "I was tentative and indecisive. I missed several shots. I felt like I didn't really show up tonight."

"I made a few mistakes as well," said Corr, who will meet Vivian Villarreal Saturday for the BCA championship, worth $15,000 to the winner. "The whole match was a battle. The alternating break forces you to really concentrate on holding your own break."

The match seesawed throughout, with the score tied at 1-1, 2-2 and 3-3. Corr took leads of 5-3 and 6-4 before Fisher mounted her final comeback.

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