Junior Billiards

Banking on Winning Pool Titles

When 14-year-old Kayla Roloson walks into a pool hall she doesn’t get a lot of notice, but it doesn’t take long for the roughly five-foot-tall girl to turn heads when she takes out her cue and starts to use it. “If I ever go into pool halls where people don’t know me, I’m nothing special. Just a little girl walking by,” Roloson said. “But, when they see me play, I love that feeling.”
She breaks the balls with strength and banks shots off walls with precision and ease. One place she’s not fooling anybody though is her home hall at Hustlers Billiards, where she’s been working on her craft for the last few years practicing with the London chapter of the Valley National 8-Ball Association (VNEA) — the largest pool league in Canada.
Posted on the wall to the left of the Dearness Drive pool hall entrance is a large sign reading, “Kayla Roloson 2011 VNEA International Jr. Champion.” The sign recognizes Roloson’s achievements at an under-13 championship in Minnesota in June — just one of her top honours. Last April, Roloson won a national 9-ball under-18 championship in Toronto that qualified her to go to the world stage in Poland. Out of 20 of the international players competing at the world championship, she was only one of two girls under the age of 18.
“Everyone in Poland was amazing. Watching them in practice, no one ever missed a shot,” Roloson said. “I kind of felt out of place at first, but then I started playing and won a match.” It was her only win in the tournament, but was good enough to give her a ninth place finish. An impressive accomplishment for her first appearance in a tournament stacked with heavy talent, but a result not good enough for Roloson. The passion to play pool and pursuit to get better is something she strived for since she first picked up a cue as a nine year old. The young girl would go around the corner after her piano lesson to watch her dad play at a hall, asking questions and picking up tips on the game.

Kayla Roloson works on her game at Hustlers Billiards, located in London, Ontario. The 14-year-old has competed on the world stage at the under-18 level.

“She’s never put a cue out of her hand since,” Roloson’s father, Ron, said, adding his daughter could barely see over the table in her early stages of the game. Nowadays, Roloson practices at least two hours a day, whether it’s at a pool hall or at home. Some family members would prefer her to work on her game away from home, though. “She sometimes gives me a couple tips, but for the most part not really because she likes beating me,” said Roloson’s 13-year-old sister, Jaime. Roloson has one thing on her mind and she’ll take the practice wherever she can get it, admitting she once worked on her game for 12 hours straight.
“I want to be the best.”
Article courtesy of Jonathon Brodie/London Community News

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