Craig duo playing in Las Vegas billiards tourney

Craig resident Sherry Welch began playing billiards about seven years ago.

Around the same time, she started playing with and against another Craig resident, Manny Madrid.

During the 2010-11 Yampa Valley American Poolplayers Association’s winter session, Welch and Madrid teamed up for scotch doubles, which entails each player alternating shots instead of turns.

The partnership paid off.

Welch and Madrid won the championship tournament in May to earn the right to play in the 2011 APA 8-ball Doubles Championships in Las Vegas.

The tournament began Thursday and continues through Saturday.

“It is exciting to just be able to go to Las Vegas,” Welch said Tuesday. “Manny and I have shot together for a long time, and I think we have a really good chance of doing well at the tournament.”

While normal doubles play requires two good players, scotch doubles requires two good players who also know how their partners like to shoot, Welch said.

“Besides getting a ball in, you also have to set your partner up for their shot,” she said. “You have to know your partner as well as Manny and I know each other.

“Like, I know he is good at bank shots, so if I have to leave him with that, I am OK with that.”

Madrid said he enjoys playing with Welch, who he described as a “great partner.”

Madrid, who has been playing pool for almost 20 years, played in Las Vegas for the first time in May as part of the five-person Craig Billiards Congress of America championship team.

While the competition level was tough then, Madrid said he expects even tougher opponents this time.

“Each team in May had a really, really good guy,” he said. “In doubles, I think we are going to see even better players than before because doubles teams are usually stacked with the best two players from each area.

“Sherry and I are good players, but a lot of players come from bigger cities who have more players to choose from. If they came to Craig, they would be the top notch players.”

This will be Welch’s third trip to play in Vegas, as she was part of five-person APA and BCA 8-ball teams in the past, but never a doubles team.

Besides playing against the best players, Welch said everyone would be playing their best game.

“The competition level in Las Vegas is extreme,” she said. “We will meet a lot of people there from all skill levels, but everyone is going to be at the top of their game come tournament time.

“It is nerve racking and exciting all at the same time.”

However, Welch said playing scotch doubles takes some pressure off.

“When you are playing scotch doubles, you don’t have the pressure of having to run the table on your turn alone,” she said. “In regular doubles, sometimes you have to win the game in your turn as to not give the other team a chance to do the same to you. Having a partner switching every shot instead of every turn takes away some of the nerves.”

Madrid said he isn’t so much worried about winning the whole tournament, but rather achieving some personal goals.

“Last time I went to Vegas, my goal was to win one match,” he said. “Now, I would like to be able to win three matches. We will do all we can do and we can always hope to accomplish more.”

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