Two-time World Ten Ball champion Rubilen Amit clawed her way back from 5-0 down to pull off a masterful 7-6 victory over Chia Hua Chen of Chinese Taipei on opening day of the Women’s World 9-Ball Championship Friday morning (Thursday night) at the Harrah’s Resort in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
Amit was able to complete the run, but not after nearly missing the final ball – No. 9.
Regarded as the best woman player the Philippines had ever produced, Amit was dragged into a hill-hill encounter by her crack opponent, a former Japan Open champion.
The match went down to the final ball as Amit took advantage of her rival’s dry break in the 13th rack.
Amit was able to wrap up the victory, taking an aim at the final ball at the corner pocket, but missed the shot. Fortunately for the Pinay player, the No.9 ball went to the corner pocket to complete the win.
An apologetic Amit went to her rival to shake her hand even as the six-time Southeast Asian Games gold medalist was able to take this lucky win and move into the winner’s bracket of this prestigious tournament offering a prize fund of $148,000 with the winner taking home $30,000 and the distinction of becoming the first world women’s champion of 2023.
Earlier, Amit’s compatriot and heir apparent, Chezka Centeno pulled off a 7-4 victory over Dawn Hopkins of the United States, to stay in the winner’s circle.
Centeno had to stay in the winner’s circle, but not after surviving her first test against Margaret Fefilova of Belarus in the opening match that also went in a hill-hill encounter, 7-6.
But against the American Hopkins, Centeno was in control and able to keep her spot in the winner’s bracket.
Centeno is looking for her first world title and add it to her latest crown jewel she won late last year, the Medalla Light Puerto Rico Women’s Open championship.
Amit went off to a slow start.
She trailed, 5-0, was on the brink of being relegated to the loser’s bracket, but found the resolve to come back in the winner’s break format.
Amit was the first to go to the hill after prevailing in the battle of safety exchanges, but missed the No.3 ball off a tough banked shot at the side pocket.
Chen, known in the world pool circuit as “Amber”, took advantage and was able to send the game into a hill-hill match.
The Taiwanese had a chance to wrap it up with a good break, but failed to pocket any of the nine balls, leaving the door open for Amit, who calmly sank the first eight balls, had to hold her breath after missing the No.9 at the corner, then heaved a sigh of relief as it rolled in to the side pocket.