Weeklong WPBA Billiards Charity Event

By Chris Jenkins

HOLLYWOOD — June 28–July 2 offered a five day opportunity to enjoy the best of the Women’s Professional Billiards Association (WPBA). The Seminole Tribe of Florida, Seminole Sports Management (SSM) and the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino presented three first-rate events: the Second Annual Celebrity Pro-Am Tournament and silent auction and the Third Annual Cuetec Cues Florida Classic Tournament.

Ten teams of four were in the Pro-Am which included the best from the WPBA, local media, sports celebrities, and tribal officials who made their push for number one and bragging rights. Among the sports celebrities in attendance were former Dallas Cowboy Michael Irvin and Miami Dolphin Daunte Culpepper.

Culpepper, who plays for fun, was happy to have the legend Allison Fisher on his team.

“I felt really good playing with her, she’s a pro, she’s one of the greatest of all-time,” Culpepper said. “I’m a big fan of her and of billiards in general, men and women, but I definitely watch Ms. Fisher and the Black Widow [Jeanette Lee] on TV and they’re both excellent players. Although his team did not come out victorious in the tournament his strategy throughout was simple, “just try to hit them straight.”

Big Cypress Board Representative Paul Bowers was part of the winning team for the Pro-Am which included Johnny Archer and Ga-Young Kim. He pointed out that there was no particular game plan for himself, or the team.

“It just felt good to be shooting.” Bowers said.

A major attention and emphasis was also placed on the silent auction, benefiting a worthwhile cause. The WPBA’s, Vivian “Texas Tornado” Villarreal was the center-piece for Vivian’s Kidz, a nonprofit charity which helps missing and exploited children in South Florida and nationwide.

The charity has become near and dear to Villarreal who has faced her own trials and struggles. She was recently reunited with step-daughter Nathalie Garcia after an eight year absence.

“By some miracle, God has brought her back into my life,” she said. “I am very, very blessed.”

The auction offered a large selection of professional sports memorabilia to the highest bidders. Some of the rare, highly sought after items included an autographed Miami Heat basketball from the new 2006 National Basketball Association world champions, an autographed jersey and football from National Football League hall of famer Dan Marino and an autographed National Basketball Association plaque from 2006 finals MVP, Dywane Wade.

The action continued the remainder of the week as 64 of the nation’s best in the WPBA came together for the Cuetec 9-ball tournament. Featured names included 2005 defending champion Karen Corr, the world’s number one ranked player Allison Fisher, the “Black Widow” Jeanette Lee, and hall of famer Ewa Laurance, among many others.

SSM’s Villarreal made a strong push into the round of 16, but a rare match-up between the number one and two players respectively, squared off for the championship. “The Duchess of Doom” Allison Fisher faced the “Irish Invader” Karen Corr. In a battle to seven wins, Corr went on to win 7-4 and defend her title.

Next on the WPBA schedule is the Midwest Classic, held in East Peoria, Ill., July 26–30.