|Winner Chris Wood|
By: Erik Hjorleifson
This past weekend Strokers billiards in London played host to the 6th annual Leave it to Weaver Teen Challenge Pool Tournament. For the fourth consecutive year the field sold out at 128 players (prepaid spots with a waiting list), making it the largest field for any tournament in Ontario. The success of this event is truly a team effort between tournament promoter Anita Chan, owner of Strokers billiards Ronda Drew-Clement and the Weaver family who also generously added $1000 (extra $500 this year) to the prize fund. Special thanks also goes out to Stu MacTaggart, Taylor Chan and Dolores Weaver for their countless hours of help. For anyone that has not attended the tournament it is always a first class affair with so many added touches like a homemade buffet provided by the Weaver family, friends of Jamie or volunteers. Free door prize drawings that include donated gifts and gifts bought by the Weaver family. Fifty-Fifty draws and extra draw tickets in support of Teen Challenge a charity organization that provides support for teens at risk with addictions are ongoing throughout the weekend. At the end of the weekend nobody leaves empty handed and that is something that can rarely be said at your everyday tournament.
Every year a ceremonial toast is performed in honor of Jamie who was an avid billiard enthusiast and a great friend to many in the London pool community and around Ontario. It is always a great celebration of remembrance that gives everyone involved a chance to remember someone that meant so much to many and brightened so many lives.
As in past years the tournament was a three day event and after the opening ceremonies got underway Jeff Dick took on the daunting task of running through the 128 player Calcutta. Big names in the field this year included myself, Chris Wood, Andy Aupin and Adam Monture along with hometown favourites David Parker, Tyler Nearing and Jesse Piercey. Two of Jamies friends Greg Gauthier (Jamie's best fiend) and Adam Cudmore also made the trip all the way from the maritimes. A bidding war ensued for the pick of the field and finally a record breaking buy of $1300 received the honour. From there many more blinds were sold and after all players were auctioned off a record breaking total of $11270 was up for grabs.
The first round of 9 ball play began on Friday night on sixteen Dufferin tables with low handicaps of 4 and a high of 13, it was a double knockout bracket and winner breaks. With the huge field of players play continued non stop all the way past midnight on Saturday and tournament director Heath Manning and Ronda Drew-Clement did a great job of filing the players through efficiently.
Match highlights from Friday and Saturday included
Dj McGinley over Jesse Piercey
Chris Wood over Jason Williams
Erik Hjorleifson over Tyler Nearing and Adam Monture
Andy Aupin over Mike Fisher
Twelve players returned on Sunday including myself vs Chris Wood in one winners side semi final and Paul Duell against Steve B from Windsor on the other half of the bracket. The match between me and Chris turned out to be very hotly contested going right down to the hill game where a long safety battle ensued with Chris finally getting the best of it. Paul Duell also advanced to face Chris in the winners side final. As the B side narrowed down Tyler Nearing continued a great run after losing second round defeating Stu Mactaggart, myself and Adam Monture in succession. Monture had a strong fouth place finish defeating Andy Aupin along the way. Chris Wood continued his fine play in the winners side final defeating Duell to take the hotseat. Duell showed some great heart coming off a loss finally ending a ten match winning streak by Tyler Nearing who finished in an impressive third place.
The final would be a true double elimination format with Duell needing to win 9 games to Chris' 11. After Chris took a seven a 7-2 lead in the first set Paul dug deep and made a great comeback setting up a final set for all the marbles. Unfazed by his first set loss Chris came out strong in the second set and didn't let up finishing off the deal with a convincing 11-1 win. Chris is a legend on the Ontario, North American and international scene who is strong at all games and has a huge wealth of experience. Despite taking some time off in recent years he showed that he still has what it takes and I can assure you that a win in this field is no easy task especially playing at one of the highest handicaps, huge congratulations goes out to Chris and welcome back to the winners circle.
This is such a great tournament and the attention to detail and effort put forth by Anita and her team is always evident and results in a great time had by all.
In closing tournament promoter Anita Chan added:
My envision is to celebrate Jamie’s life, help save a life and or to encourage people to get help and to have an awesome tournament.
Everyone pitches in to make this tourney a success. Everyone commits to something whether it is their entry, a donation of a prize/cash or to help make food etc..
Each year, more and more volunteer to do something! It really shows the “power of positive” and team work. Thank you just isn’t enough! See you all next year! I know Jamie is up there smiling ear to ear!
1st Chris Wood $1125 $3620
2nd Paul Duell $725 $2500
3rd Tyler Nearing $500 $1500
4th Adam Monture $400 $850
5th Erik Hjorleifson $300 $500
7th Andy Aupin $200 $300
Top 24 paid