Jones wins crown, ends 13-month title drought

January 23, 1995|By Jamison Hensley | Jamison Hensley,Contributing Writer

After hitting the nine ball into the far right pocket, Loree Jon Jones let out a big sigh and dropped face first onto the table.

Thirteen months of frustration were over.

The usually unemotional Jones had finished off an 11-10 win over No. 2 Vivian Villarreal in the championship of the $50,000 third annual Baltimore Billiards Classic at Eastpoint Mall yesterday for her first title in more than a year.

Jones, the third seed in the nine-ball event, won $5,700. The Baltimore Billiards Classic is the annual kickoff for the Women's Professional Billiard Association Tour, which has 12 stops.

"Nineteen ninety-five, here I come," said Jones, 29, of Hillsborough, N.J., who will take three months of maternity leave after the tour's third stop. "I needed this win more than anyone here because I need to keep my points total high before I leave. This win means more to me than anyone will ever know."

It has been a grueling stretch for Jones, a four-time Player of the Year winner. During the 1994 season, Jones placed second four times, including in last year's Baltimore Classic.

"It was truly frustrating," said Jones, who won her first World Championship at age 15 to become the youngest world champion. "I always had the reputation of winning more than losing. Now, it seemed I was coming in second more than winning."

Jones had to win three straight in the losers' bracket to advance to the final, while Villarreal was undefeated in four matches.

Jones broke open the final early by winning three straight games to go ahead 5-2. Then Villarreal made her run. She set down 24 straight to win the next three games and tie the match at 5. Jones then had two balls bounce out of the pocket over the next two games, and Villarreal took a 7-5 lead.

Villarreal never relinquished the lead, but the match featured four more ties. After pocketing seven straight, Villarreal went ahead 10-9 and closed within one game of the championship.

But Villarreal missed pocketing the five ball, surrendering control to Jones, who knocked down the last five balls to tie the match at 10.

"If I would have made the five ball, it would have been over," said Villarreal, of San Antonio, who won five tournaments last year. "But I didn't, and she took advantage."

Jones won the break and set down all nine balls to win the final, which lasted one hour, 50 minutes.

"I've finished second a lot of times when the ball didn't roll for me," Jones said. "This time it did. I never thought when she missed that I had it won. I just didn't want to lose the break and give her a chance to win.

"When I was down, I never had it in my mind that I was going to lose so I wasn't thinking I was going to win while I was ahead. I saw too many people lose that way this weekend."

Jeanette Lee, the 1994 Player of the Year and defending Baltimore Classic champion, was upset in the first round by Linda McWhirt. In the losers' bracket, Lee made it into the semifinals before losing to Ewa Mataya.

Villarreal one $3,040 for second place, and Robin Bell of Garden Grove, Calif., took home almost $2,000 for third.

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