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  • Writer's pictureCue Sports Nova Scotia

Ritcey Looks To Advance Up WPBA Ranks at the Ashton Twins Classic in Calgary

As the calendar begins anew for 2020, Janet Ritcey, one of Nova Scotia’s most acclaimed cueists, will be travelling to Alberta to continue her quest to move up the ranks of the Women’s Professional Billiard Association tour. Ritcey will be competing in the Ashton Twins Classic at the Grey Eagle Resort & Casino in Calgary from Jan 2-5. This is the third annual Ashton Twins Classic Women’s 9-Ball event, but for the first time, the event is a WPBA sanctioned event, drawing many of the tour’s world class women.

The Ashton Twins, Joanne and Beverly, two accomplished and decorated Canadian women’s players, have staged this ladies only event for the past two years in their hometown, drawing some of largest fields of women in Canada, and the largest prize funds for women too. With WPBA sanctioning for this third installment, and partnering with Grey Eagle Casino, the professional women’s event will be the cornerstone of 4 days of pool that will include amateur events for both men and women in 8-Ball and 9-Ball being held simultaneously to the Ashton Twins Classic.

WPBA events are invite only events. WPBA keeps a rolling point standing comprised of the last 6 events, with the oldest event results dropping from the standing calculation each time a new event is held. The top 64 women from the point standings receive invites to each upcoming event. If invites are declined, then the next woman on the point standings is given the option to play, until the field for the event is full. If there is need to go outside the list to fill the field, the WPBA will seek out accomplished women’s players that are not already affiliated with the tour.

Ritcey was first invited to compete in the WPBA Blue-Emu Southern Open in Bristol, Tennessee in May of 2019, which was the second of four events on the 2019 WPBA schedule. Ritcey skipped the next event in Fairfield, Iowa in August, 2019, but opted in for the last event of 2019, the Aramith/Dr Pool Classic in Wausau, Wisconsin in November.

The majority of WPBA events are set up as two stage events. Players in the event are seeded by their current WPBA point standing. The top 16 seeds are normally given a bye into the second round of Stage 2. The next 16 seeds are randomly drawn into the first round of Stage 2, awaiting the players moving on from the first stage. Stage 1 is for the lower seeded players in each event, who duke it out to advance to Stage 2. The further a player advances in each stage, the more points are earned towards WPBA standings for invites and seeding for future events.

Unfortunately, Ritcey was not successful in advancing past Stage 1 in either of her first two WPBA events, but the overall experience was invaluable. In Tennessee, her path to advance to Stage 2 had to go through former full-time pro Kyoko Sone of Japan. In Wisconsin, Ritcey again had a formidable obstacle to overcome in another seasoned professional, Tamara Peeters-Rademakers from Netherlands. Seeing first hand how these athletes perform, and just being immersed among all the best women’s players from across the world, was eye-opening and rejuvenating for Ritcey, who is eager to have her best performance yet at the only WPBA event being held in Canada.

Ritcey currently sits tied at 90th position in the WPBA point standings. The Ashton Twins Classic should provide an excellent opportunity to gain points to climb up several spots, with an aim at eventually getting inside the top 64 to guarantee herself invites to the remainder of the 2020 WPBA events. The field will be slightly smaller in Calgary, and therefore the two stage format will be abandoned in favor of a straight one stage double knockout event. The field will have 6 of the top 8 ranked WPBA women, including Hall of Famer Allison Fisher of England, Line Kjorsvik of Norway, Wei Tzu Chien of Taipei, Americans Jennifer Baretta and Monica Webb, and Canada’s top female player, Brittany Bryant, who is currently ranked #2 on the WPBA. In addition to Ritcey and Bryant, Canada will be well represented by several Canadian women, including some elite national talent such as Veronique Menard, Cathy Metzinger, Denise Belanger, and the Ashton twins themselves, to name a few.

2019, and into 2020, is not Ritcey’s first attempt at trying to crack the WPBA full-time line-up. Under the previous format in place for WPBA, there were several WPBA Regional Tours established all over North America. The top players from each of the regional tours would be brought together each season to compete in the WPBA Amateur Nationals. The top finishers at the Amateur Nationals then earned one of the 64 tour cards for the next WPBA season. In 2009, while living in Toronto, Ritcey played on the Canadian Women’s Pro Tour (regional) and earned entry to the WPBA Amateur Nationals that year in Bellevue, Washington. Ritcey is also no stranger to National success at the amateur level, having won the ACS Open Women’s National 8-Ball Championship in Las Vegas in 2006, and winning the CCS Advanced Women’s National 8-Ball Championship in Niagara Falls, ON in 2017.

Ritcey didn’t walk away totally empty handed from her first two WPBA events either. In the two stage format, all players not advancing to Stage 2 get to compete in a Second Chance event for a $2000 prize fund. She cashed both times, placing runner-up in Bristol, and tied for 5th in Wausau. Ritcey also got to renew some past pool friendships from her days in Toronto, and established new bonds with other WPBA members. In addition, being a member of the WPBA tour has offered her a behind-the-curtains view, and a voice, to the decision making and business side of the WPBA, which she has found very interesting. All and all, the ride so far has been an amazing experience that Ritcey hopes to elevate in 2020.

You can follow Janet and other WPBA competitor’s at the Ashton Twins Classic starting January 2 at the WPBA website, on the WPBA Facebook page, or follow the tournament brackets on Compusport. Janet has been especially thankful for the support she has received from Brian White and Maritime Billiards in helping her prepare for WPBA events.

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