Welcome to the final installment of my experience playing in the 2014 World Tournament of 14.1.
As I walked down Steinway Street at 10:00am, I chatted with my best friend Tommy Gallagher who had come to cheer me on. He was doing his best to keep me motivated on my task at hand. Winning my final match! After a quick breakfast it was time to start warming up. As I made my way to the tournament floor I was greeted by new friends Tony & Gail Robles, Max Eberle, Jayson Shaw & Jennifer Baretta, all whom wished me the best in my final match of the round robin. My opponent was a tall, quiet man named Tom Geich. Tom is not only a competent player, but he also a major benefactor to the event. The match began a little slow. Both of us testing the other with defense and strategic moves. I was determined however and extremely focused on my task. As the score beads tallied up on both sides I felt myself getting more and more relaxed. Then hit happened, I fell into what most sports writers refer to as “the zone”. I don’t remember much of what happened next until I realized I was about to sink the final ball. I drew a deep breath and drove the shot home. I was victorious! I had achieved my goal I set the night before. Tom was complete gentleman and true ambassador to the sport. I knew going into the match that even if I won I would not have the record to advance out of the round robin format, but I still had my heart set on winning. Relief washed over me as I was greeted with smiles and slaps on the back from all my new friends and from my best friend who had come all this way to be in my corner.
I went back to my room to get some rest, that night was the Straight Pool Hall of Fame dinner, and it was surely going to be loads of fun.
When Tommy and I returned to the pool room it had been transformed into a luxurious banquet hall. We found our seats with Tom Karabatsos and his friend Kevin. Seated at the tables next to us were Mika Immonen, Thorsten Hollman, Earl Strickland & John Schmidt just to name a few. All the super stars of straight pool had come out to honor two of the all-time greats of the game. Jim “King James” Rempe & Frank “Sailor” Stellman. The evening was opened with a short speech from Dragon Promotions’ Charlie Williams, followed by an amazing seven course meal, open bar and plenty of wine. After dinner we were all regaled with tales of yesteryear from Tom Karabatsos and Earl Strickland. We were then treated to an amazing video montage by NYC Grind detailing the careers of the two inductees. The drinks were flowing and the stories were exciting, the room was filled with laughter and memories. The energy in the room was electric and no one wanted it to end.
As we walked back to the room that night we had a sense of satisfaction and belonging. We had made so many new friends, and experienced so much and it was all thanks to the great game we love, 14.1
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