From the Publisher
By Mike Panozzo
Mike became editor of Billiards Digest in 1980 and liked it so much that he bought the company. He has served on the Billiard Congress of America board of directors and as president of the Billiard & Bowling Institute of America.
January: Good Things Come ...
AMID THE doom and gloom that has permeated the nation's economy in general, and the billiard industry in particular, isn't it nice to find a feel-good story?
I mean, really, who would not have gotten goose bumps and a lump in their throat when Monica Webb dropped the case 9 on Kelly Fisher to win the Women's Professional Billiard Association Tour Championship at the Seminole Hard Rock Casino in Hollywood, Fla., in December?
In the event that you've been watching only Classic Tour title matches in the past six years, you probably don't even know who Webb is.
Truth is, the 31-year-old Georgia native, now living just outside Atlanta, has been the most consistent American-born player on the women's tour for the past six years. She joined the tour a decade ago, and since 2002 she's has never been ranked outside the WPBA's top 10, and she's been anchored in the top six for the past four years.
Just one problem.
Prior to the Tour Championship, Webb had never actually reached a championship match on the Classic Tour. She's the owner of more fifths than Jack Daniels. She's also finished third an astonishing 10 times in the past six years, including stretches in 2005 and '06 during which she placed third in four consecutive tournaments and three consecutive tournaments, respectively.
Saying Webb was the best lady player never to win a WPBA tournament was like saying well, it was like saying something pretty obvious!
But in Hollywood, Webb, coming off a third-place finish (go figure!) in the previous event, beat Vivian Villarreal in the semifinals to earn a spot in the championship match. That alone should have been reason to rejoice.
And as a proper exclamation point on her first WPBA title, Webb had to overcome the tour's No. 1 player, Kelly Fisher, in order to hoist that trophy.
She did so, 7-4, and tears of joy flowed through the casino ballroom.
Congratulations to Monica Webb. She's a likeable player who never made excuses and rarely ducked the topic of her futility.
Well, good things come to those who wait, and now that the weight of unfulfilled promise has been lifted, who knows. Maybe Webb will go on one of those hot streaks that many athletes enjoy once they've tasted victory.
Heck, she's unbeaten in championship matches!
And while we're on the subject of good things coming to those who wait, it seems entirely probable that voting for the Billiard Congress of America Hall of Fame will take a year off, the victim of the industry's economic woes.
As previously reported, the BCA board of directors voted to suspend funding for the annual Hall of Fame banquet due to dramatic budget crunching. The BCA has offered token assistance to the United States Billiard Media Association (which oversees the voting for the Hall of Fame) should the USBMA come up with a viable solution for staging a banquet in 2009, but that seems highly unlikely. The truth is, if the BCA can't come up with the $30,000-$40,000 required to stage the event, it's doubtful any other body in the industry could muster that kind of fundraising.
Of course, the real losers in the Hall's "dark year" are the players who have waited their entire careers for a chance at Hall immortality. And in a particularly cruel twist, the 2009 ballot would have welcomed the newly eligible Johnny Archer and Allison Fisher (along with Ralf Souquet), both of whom turned 40 prior to Jan. 1, 2009 (one of the requirement for eligibility). It's hard to imagine that Fisher and Archer wouldn't be first-ballot shoo-ins.
Instead, the unanimous Players of the Decade for the '90s will likely be forced to wait until 2010 and hopefully no longer.