Washington Evening Journal
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Fairfield to host women’s professional billiard tournament this week
FAIRFIELD — The best female billiard players in the world will spend four days in Fairfield as part of a Women’s Professional Billiard Association tournament at the Fairfield Arts & Convention Center.
The Fairfield Women’s Invitational runs from Thursday, March 16 through Sunday, March 19, and will feature 48 players coming from as far away as Taiwan, and as nearby as down the street. The tournament will feature Fairfield’s own Tarah Connor, who will be playing in her first WPBA event.
This will be the third time that the FACC has hosted a WPBA event, with the first event occurring in 2019 and the second in 2021. Fairfield resident Daryn Hamilton has been critical in bringing these tournaments to Fairfield, and now Hamilton serves as the Vice President of the WPBA. He said he’s excited to have so many of the top performers in women’s pool show off their skills in Fairfield.
Not only do local residents have the chance to watch these women compete, they can test their skills against the best players through the pro-am event on Thursday night. Hamilton said that 36 people will compete with the WPBA players from 7:30-9:30 p.m., and he still has a few slots left to fill. Three amateurs will compete on a team with one professional.
Competing in the pro-am event costs $65, which will go toward the Fairfield Kiwanis Club. Last time, the Kiwanis Club raised $2,000 from the pro-am event, and Hamilton said he hopes they will raise the same for this tournament.
Those who are interested in participating in the pro-am event can call Hamilton at 641-919-1861, or just show up at 7 p.m. Thursday at the arts center.
For those who just want to watch, the matches at the arts center will go from noon to 4 p.m. Thursday, then from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday. On Sunday, action begins at 10 a.m., with the final round starting at 4 p.m.
Hamilton said this year’s tournament is loaded with talent. Among the competitors is the 2021 tournament winner Kelly Fisher from England. It will also include another great Fisher from England, Allison Fisher, nicknamed the “Duchess of Doom.”
Hamilton said Allison Fisher is widely regarded as the best WPBA player of all time, having won 11 world championships in her career, which began in 1995.
“Allison has never been to this tournament before, and she promised me in 2021 when she had to back out of that tournament, that she would come to the next one I had,” Hamilton said.
The runner-up in Fairfield’s 2019 tournament, Wei Tzu-Chien, will make a return trip to southeast Iowa. Hamilton said Wei is from Taiwan, and was unable to compete in the 2021 tournament because of her country’s COVID travel restrictions.
The 2019 champion is coming back, too, and that is Kristina Tkach, who was runner-up in 2021. She is a native of Moscow, Russia.
“Kristina is playing her best pool right now,” Hamilton said.
Hamilton said that, since he is sponsoring the event, he was allowed to invite up to five players to compete. One of those he chose to invite was Fairfield’s Tarah Connor. She attended Maharishi School and later the University of Iowa. She is the daughter of David Sands, and is married to Judd Connor. She works as a gemologist.
“Tarah is a fierce competitor, and this event could open a lot of doors for her,” Hamilton said. “It will be nice to have some hometown flavor in this tournament.”
A few other notable billiard players to watch for this week are a young prodigy and a reality TV star. The prodigy is 13-year-old Savannah Easton, who is ranked No. 16 in the world. The reality TV star is Emily Duddy, who has appeared on shows such as “The Hustlers” about pool players in New York City, and “A Woman in a Man’s World,” where women go “undercover” as a man, competing against other men to see if they are more accepting of their male competitors.
In addition to having the youngest player on the WPBA tour in Easton, Fairfield will also host the oldest player, Jeri Engh.
“She was an excellent player in the 1960s and 1970s,” Hamilton said. “Jeri is probably 60 years older than Savannah, so we’ve got a nice wide spectrum.”
Call Andy Hallman at 641-575-0135 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org