Bulletin September 2006
Volume 74 | Issue 5
September 2006

Vardaman, Callado victorious in ACUI 9-Ball Championship

The best collegiate players in the United States gathered in Tucson, Ariz., with matches beginning on Friday night and ending late Sunday afternoon. This program succeeded the junior divisions of the BCA-ACUI Junior & Collegiate National 9-Ball Championships. The junior tournaments ran from July 5–8, and featured almost 100 of the nation’s best 19 and under sharks in four divisions (by age and gender). This is the second consecutive year that ACUI has partnered with BCA to present a joint program. ACUI has held a national collegiate billiards playoff nearly every year since the 1930s, while the BCA juniors program has existed for nearly two decades.

Lars Vardaman of Southern Illinois University–Edwardsville took home the ACUI men’s title for a third year in a row. Only one player in ACUI history has ever achieved this feat: Leroy Kinman of Eastern Kentucky State University (1949–51). Vardaman charged virtually uncontested through the winners’ side of the chart, logging victories over JP Engstrom of Boise State University (9-1), Tien Pham of the University of Washington (9-6), James Winter of UCLA (9-2), Ryan Balks of Michigan State University (9-3), and Andrew McKinn of California State University–Los Angeles (9-6).

Philosophy doctoral student James Winter, in his fourth consecutive top-four appearance in the ACUI championships, was Vardaman’s final contender. Winter, in his fifth and final year of ACUI eligibility, was aching for a title, having finished in second place in 2003 and 2005 and in third place in 2004. Winter first faced Vardaman in Round 3, losing 9-2. Winter then dispatched five players on the one-loss side before facing Vardaman again for a rematch in the finals. But the alternating-break format prevented either player from gaining momentum. Failure to pocket a ball on his break, combined with a few bad rolls (including one ball that was pocketed but jumped back onto the table) kept Winter in his chair. Vardaman capitalized on these opportunities, running out at nearly every opportunity and exercising thoughtful safety play. He was unstoppable, allowing Winter only three games in a race to nine.

In the women’s division, familiar names rose to the top as well, with twin sisters Eleanor and Emilyn Callado of San Francisco State University facing each other in the finals. For Eleanor, it was a relatively easy road to the finals; her nearest contender en route to the hot seat match won only two games in a race to seven. She defeated local favorite, Nicole Hayashi of Tucson’s Pima Community College, in the winners’ side finals (7-5). Emilyn, on the other hand, was stunned by the University of Florida’s Amy Chen in her first match of the tournament (4-7), but fought her way through seven matches from the one-loss side. She tallied wins over Valerie Garcia of Texas A&M University (7-6), Lai Li of the University of Maryland (7-6), Kristin Lupo of the University of Illinois (7-5), Marcia Keat of the University of Michigan (7-2), Amy Whitehead of Idaho State University (7-6), and her SFSU teammate Lynda Hinds (7-4). Her final and most convincing win was against Nicole Hayashi in the semi-finals, a blowout of 7-0. Despite Emilyn’s newfound zone, a two-set finals match for the twins was not meant to be, as Eleanor, the elder Callado—born two minutes earlier—dashed her younger sister’s hopes of a championship with a decisive 7-2 victory.

This was the third ACUI championship title for Eleanor; she won at East Carolina University in 2003 and the University of Michigan in 2005. In 2004, she placed second behind Maria Juana of the University of Wisconsin.

Vardaman and Eleanor Callado are both BCA Junior Tournament alumni. Vardaman was the Boys 14 & Under Artistic Pool Champion in 1999 and the 18 & Under Artistic Pool Runner-Up in 2003. Eleanor was the Girls 18 & Under 9-Ball Champion in 2002 and 2003.

ACUI also recognizes its students for good sportsmanship and their breaking ability. Winners of the Men’s and Women’s Sportsmanship trophies (voted by their peers) were: Joe Kuligowksi, Pennsylvania State University; and Laura Van Grinsven, University of Wyoming. Winners of the Best Break trophies (determined by break contest) were Aaron Reesman, University of Wisconsin–Whitewater, and Milica Kozomara, Northern Illinois University.

The site for the 2007 ACUI 9-ball Championship is not yet finalized. If you would like more information about how to compete in or host this event, contact Betsy Sundholm at sundholm@umich.edu or visit the Recreation page of the ACUI Web site, www.acui.org.