The stars came out to play on the weekend of July 11-12, as High Pockets in Memphis, TN played host to the $4,500-added Memphis Open, featuring a $4,000-added Pro 10-Ball event with races to 15 (11 on the loss side) and a $500-added Pro-Am 9-Ball tournament (races to 7 on both sides). Ray Hansen, with guest commentary from many of the Open-Pro players, was on site, throughout the weekend, streaming the event on PoolActionTV.
Both winners went undefeated through their fields. Justin Bergman spoiled a six-match, loss-side bid by Shane McMinn in the Pro 10-Ball event that drew 16 entrants, including last year’s winner, Jason Klatt, as well as McMinn, Johnny Archer, Dennis Hatch, Larry Nevel and Skyler Woodward (among others). Like Bergman, Kenny Loftis survived a loss-side bid (by Scott Rabon; seven on the loss side) to go undefeated in the Pro-Am 9-Ball tournament that drew 64 entrants.
Bergman’s undefeated run was almost sidetracked by Johnny Archer in one of the winners’ side semifinals. Archer battled to double hill before giving way to Bergman. John Morra, in the meantime, sent Larry Nevel to the loss side 15-7. Bergman claimed the hot seat 15-11 over Morra and waited for Shane McMinn to finish his loss-side run.
On the loss side, McMinn, who’d been defeated earlier by Skyler Woodward, had eliminated Drake Neipotter 11-4, and last year’s winner, Klatt, 11-7, to draw Archer. Nevel faced Dennis Hatch, who’d defeated Danny Olson 11-4 and Jeremy Jones 11-7 (Jones had previously eliminated Woodward 11-8). McMinn handed Archer his second straight, double hill loss, while Nevel advanced to the quarterfinals 11-6 over Hatch.
McMinn then won two straight 11-7 matches; over Nevel in the quarterfinals, and Morra in the semifinals, setting up what proved to be an epic race to 15 against Bergman that went to 28 games. The larger, more deliberate McMinn took an early, slim lead, 4-2, before the rail-thin, highly-energized Bergman settled in to win four in a row. The two battled back and forth with Bergman never extending that two-game lead, though not for lack of trying. They were tied at 13-13, when Bergman won two straight to claim the event title.
In the Amateur 9-Ball tourney, Loftis and Nick Evans advanced to the hot seat match; Loftis, having sent Mark Cavalier to the loss side 7-4, while Evans sent Greg Mitchell over 7-5. Loftis moved into the hot seat with a 7-4 win over Evans, and waited for the return of Scott Rabon.
Rabon had been sent to the loss side by Greg Mitchell, and was Mitchell’s first loss-side opponent. Rabon, with two loss-side wins to his credit, had eliminated Brian Woodward 7-4 and Kevin Hutson 7-3 to reach Mitchell. Cavalier picked up Dale Neipotter, who’d defeated Paul Dodge, double hill, and Johnny Box 7-4. By identical 7-5 scores, Cavalier and Rabon defeated Neipotter and Mitchell and turned to face each other in the quarterfinals.
Rabon downed Cavalier 7-4 and earned his shot at Loftis in the hot seat with a 7-5 win over Evans in the semifinals. Loftis ended Rabon’s seven-match, loss-side winning streak with a 7-5 victory in the finals.
Article by Skip Maloney – AZBilliards
Photos by Josh Gilmore