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The world's top pros play pool in Fairfield

April Larson of the Women’s Professional Billiard Association competes in a professional-amateur event that kicked off the Sondheim Diamond Invitational.
April Larson of the Women’s Professional Billiard Association competes in a professional-amateur event that kicked off the Sondheim Diamond Invitational.
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FAIRFIELD – For the first time in its history, the Women’s Professional Billiard Association made a tour stop in Iowa last week, and it just so happened to be at the Fairfield Arts & Convention Center.

The event, the WPBA Sondheim Diamond Invitational, lasted from Aug. 8-11 and included 48 of the best female pool players on the planet, including six in the Top 10 rankings. Taking home the grand prize was Kristina Tkach of Moscow, Russia. Runner-up was Wei Tzu-Chien of Taipei, Taiwan. Third was Kelly Fisher of Scotland, and fourth went to Brittany Bryant of Canada.

Several of the ladies played in a professional-amateur event on the first day of the tournament, showing off their skills amongst the finest talent southeast Iowa had to offer, including several Fairfield residents. Daryn Hamilton, a certified pool referee and an accomplished player himself, led the effort to bring the WPBA to Fairfield. He also got a chance to play against the professionals in the pro-am event.

“It was fantastic to play with these women,” he said. “It is possibly a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”

Though Hamilton hopes very much it is something he can experience again soon, maybe next year. He and the arts center’s director Rustin Lippincott have talked about making Fairfield an annual WPBA tour stop.

“The ladies thought Fairfield and the convention center were beautiful,” Hamilton said. “A couple of them told me they thought this is a place where they could live.”

On the first night of the tournament, world renowned comedian Carlos Mencia was performing in the very same building.

“Some of the [WPBA] gals who didn’t play in the pro-am event bought tickets to see him,” Hamilton said. “They couldn’t believe that we would have that kind of entertainment in this town. They thought that was spectacular.”