LAKE SAINT LOUIS, MO (November 18, 2013) — In early November, the sport’s most prestigious amateur event returned to the warm coastal waters of the Tampa Bay area. For five straight days, 128 of the nation’s top male players, and 32 top female players, battled it out at Stroker’s in Palm Harbor, Fla., for a place in U.S. Amateur Championship history.
Once again, this year’s tournament included a strong mix of U.S Amateur Championship veterans, including six former champions, as well as a talented pool of newcomers. In all, more than 2,400 players attempted to qualify for the event.
The Women’s Division got the tournament action underway on November 6, and the ladies spent the next 36 hours fighting for the right to be called U.S. Amateur Champion.
The final round, which pitted both former top 3 finishers, opened in the 8-Ball set. Aft got off to a fast start behind an 8-on-the-break and quickly built a 4-0 lead.
Huang seemed unfazed, and almost just as quickly closed the deficit to 4-3 by closing out the final two games of the 8-Ball set and opening the 9-Ball set with a win.
Aft flipped the momentum back in her favor by taking the next two games of 9-Ball. She narrowly missed pocketing the 9-on-the-snap in the next, but Huang stood her ground and pulled back within two, with the match 6-4 in favor of Aft.
The next two games would go Aft’s way.
On-the-hill, and having seemingly everything going her way, Aft worked what looked like the final rack down to a manageable shot on the 8-Ball that would have left her nearly “a gimme” shot on the 9. But Aft left the 8-ball hanging in the corner.
Huang seized the opportunity and ran with it. She made quick work of the 8 and 9-balls, and broke and ran the next rack to put the tally at 8-6 Aft.
But Aft collected herself after the missed opportunity and finally closed things out in the 15th game – final score: 9-6.
With the win, Aft was able to avenge a loss to Huang just two rounds earlier that sent her to the left-side of the bracket. The victory earned her a spot in next year’s U.S. Open. Huang finished as the Runner-up with Stephanie Mitchell of Wesley Chapel, Fla., finishing in 3rd Place.
The Men’s Division began November 8, and the guys spent the next 3 days squaring off to see who would add U.S. Amateur Champion to their resume.
As it turned out, the winner of this year’s event could already boast that title.
Parks also became the first U.S. Amateur Champion to successfully defend his title since Henry Brodt did so in 1999.
After a late-round loss the night before to Chuck Roth of Forest Hill, Md., it looked like Parks’ bid for history would come up short. But he managed to survive a marathon of matches the next day on the one-loss side of the bracket, which included a 7-0 semifinal round rematch victory over Roth to secure his spot in the final against the undefeated newcomer Carter.
The finale opened in the 9-Ball set, with both players showing a few jitters. Carter would take the first game, and after four racks, the match was tied at two games apiece. Things turned Parks way in the 5th rack when Carter failed to pocket a relatively routine shot on the 9-ball in the corner pocket. Parks would capitalize on the mistake by winning the game as well as the next four to build a 7-2 lead.
Carter would mount a small comeback, and at the end of the 9-Ball set he pulled within five games and trailed 9-4.
Things would get interesting as the match shifted to the 8-Ball set, with Carter winning the first two games and closing his deficit to just three. Parks found himself on-the-hill with a clutch win in the 16th game, before the players agreed to a quick break to regroup.
Following the short break, Carter pulled back within three games with a win.
But the seasoned U.S. Amateur Champion would prove too much, and with a win in the 18th game, Parks had further cemented his place in U.S. Amateur Championship history.
He will once again advance to the U.S. Open next year, courtesy of the APA. Roth took home 3rd Place, as well as the distinction of handing the three-time champ his only loss in the event. In 4th Place was Travis Gunn of Waco, Texas. Tying for 5th Place were David Uwate of Miami, Fla., and Johnny Griffin of Apex, N.C.
The 2013 U.S. Amateur Championship was conducted by the APA, and is the only tournament produced by the APA open to both members and non-members. Preliminary qualifying rounds were held throughout the country in mid-September.
As Champions, both Aft and Parks will return next year to defend their coveted titles.
The U.S. Amateur Championship is a double elimination tournament that offers the nation’s top amateur players the opportunity to showcase their skills through a combination of 8-Ball and 9-Ball matches, in the only APA event that does not use The Equalizer® handicap system.
The APA, based in Lake Saint Louis, Mo., sanctions the world’s largest amateur pool league, known as the APA Pool League throughout the United States, and as the Canadian Pool League in Canada. Nearly 270,000 members compete in weekly 8-Ball and 9‑Ball league play. The APA is generally recognized as the Governing Body of Amateur Pool, having established the official rules, championships, formats and handicap systems for the sport of amateur billiards.
The APA produces three major tournaments each year—the APA National Team Championships, the APA National Singles Championships and the U.S. Amateur Championship—that, together, pay out nearly $1.5 Million in cash and prizes annually! In 2010, the APA National Team Championships were recognized by Guinness World Records as the “world’s largest pool tournament.”
The APA and its championships are sponsored by Aramith, Action Cues and Pool Dawg.
For complete coverage of the U.S. Amateur Championship visit www.usamateurchampionship.com.