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Kelly Fisher – A New Standard In Women's Professional Pool ~ By Patrick Sampey

Monday, July 25th, 2022 (11:32am) – Good morning, fellow Billiards Aficionados! Patrick Sampey here, writing for SPM (Sneaky Pete Mafia) magazine. What a treat we have for you today, or tonight, wherever you are in the world. We at SPM have had the pleasure to be able to interview none other than world #1 ranked Kelly Fisher.

Some quick facts and stats on Fisher before we begin: Fisher was born on August 25th, 1978, in South Elmsall, England, is 43 years young, began playing snooker at age 12, is a five-time world snooker champion (1998, 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003), came to the USA to pursue a career in professional pool in 2003, has accumulated 5 back-to-back major tournament wins in 2022 alone, and just recently won the Gold medal for women's 9-ball in the World Games on July 16th, Saturday night; the World Games is an offshoot of the Olympic games, held every 4 years, featuring games not included in the Olympics, pool being one of their events.

Fisher's 5 major women's world pool events were the 2022 WPBA Ashton Twins Classic, the Predator Germany Women's Open, the 2022 Women's NineBall Pro Players Championship, the WPBA Predator Event, and the WPBA Northern Lights Classic. She won those events in succession this year, which is an incredible run.

Kelly Fisher currently stands atop women's professional pool worldwide, and at 43, highlights the fact that age is just a number. Pool can be played at the highest level well beyond other sports that require excellent athletic training, like basketball or football. However, we still have Tom Brady, slightly over 40 and still doing it, arguably the world's greatest quarterback to ever live. It is debatable. But suffice it to say, Fisher has strived for excellence her entire career in billiards, both in snooker and now in pool, and has shown to be a rare breed indeed, having mastered snooker, Kung Fu, and pool.

How does her mastery of martial art such as Kung Fu come into play with her snooker and pool games and her success in each? Glad you asked. Fisher concludes that it was her success in Kung Fu, precisely the mental toughness it gave her, that gives her such a strong mental edge against her opponents now; Fisher, having received a black belt by the time she was 15 years old, but due to injuries to her right arm, and the fact that she chose to pursue snooker full time at about the age of 15; once she had achieved her black belt ranking, she made the hard decision at that time to pursue snooker professionally. And Fisher told me in our interview that she had about 50 snooker titles over her snooker career.

Fisher told us at SPM, “I think that I've been fortunate with my dad being a professional boxer and wrestler. He taught me very well when I was young that you win your fights in the gym, making me practice very hard. I also did martial arts and Kung Fu and went all the way to black belt. I think that helped me mentally and disciplined me throughout the years for different aspects of the game, and then my coach Lionel Payne was right there at the beginning with my dad. Lionel Payne is still my coach today and my mentor. I just spoke to Lionel in preparation for this, right so you know, I think I've been very fortunate to have great parents, a great coach, and even now, great family and partner around me to really have their support, but as far as mental preparation I think a lot of that comes with experience and there's no magic trick.”

Fisher seeks excellence in all she does: excellence in martial arts, excellence in snooker, excellence in pool. And she has achieved excellence and beyond, but she's not nearly done yet, and continues to push, every single tournament, match, rack, ball potted. She keeps grinding, logging many hours on the table green.

Kelly Fisher is humble, thankful, very approachable, and easy to talk to. She thanks all her sponsors and appears to know how to promote herself and pocket billiards, leading the way not just on the table but off as well. She is an asset to the game and a sensation to witness play. She maintains the highest caliber pool play worldwide, showing players an exemplary role model for younger female players to look up to and emulate. She doesn't brag or boast about how great she is, just lets her game do the talking.

Fisher concludes from her dorm at the World Games in Birmingham, Alabama, "So, not taking anything away from anybody, but we have other players missing as well (Asian players). But, I'll take it. I'm playing well. I don't care who I play, to be honest. If I play well, they've got to play well to beat me, and that's the way I look at it. If I don't play well, then I don't deserve to win. So it's just a matter of keeping my game to the best I can keep it, and if anybody plays better than me, I'll shake their hand, and fair play...all I can do is play my best, and pray and hope to keep a high standard, and hopefully keep winning. That's the goal." – Fisher.

Fisher appears to be very humble, considering her world #1 ranking, but she also has a lot of positive things to say about her peers in pool. Though she had won 5 major titles in a row this year, including taking the Gold medal for women's 9-ball at the World Games a little over a week ago, she talks highly of all the women's professional female players.

The story of how Fisher won the Gold, with tenacious grit and a solid mental game, built upon a black belt Kung Fu status from her youth – that's an incredible account in and of itself:

Fisher's opponent, Chieh-Yu Chou, came out of the gate strong in the 9-ball finals of the World Games, leading early on 3-0, then 4-1, against Fisher, but Fisher's game was lights out, outplaying Chou in both the defensive game and in the break and run out gambit as well. At 4-1 down, Fisher came back 2-4, 3-4, 4-4, then after a testy safety battle, won 5-4, 6-4, 7-4 – putting a "6 pack" on her Asian opponent, with Fisher ultimately winning 9-5, and taking the Gold.

During the interview, Fisher points out that many Asian players haven't been included in many of the professional women's events this year due to traveling constraints amidst the global pandemic. "We've got a lot of Asian players missing," Fisher explains of her recent tournament wins, which isn't to take anything away from her recent victories but to show that she accounts for all the variables in the game.

We discussed many aspects of pool in our interview and how COVID-19 affected things. Still, Fisher said that through Modern technology, players were able to match up with one another remotely from their homes or poolrooms and match up head-to-head, playing the 9-ball "ghost," with whomever gets the best score against the ghost wins. Playing the ghost in 9-ball is an individual practice game, where after the break, the player gets "ball in hand." The "ghost" wins the game if you don't run out the table. Combination shots on the 9 don't usually count; I don't believe. Playing the ghost has different rules, depending. So, the virtual tournaments, matchups, and events helped keep the game alive at a very dark time in human history.

At one point in the interview, Fisher points out that Margaret Fefilova Styer, and Kristina Tkach of Russia, couldn't make a few events due to the crisis in Ukraine.

"Every tournament I play in, I try my best, and I'm there to win it," Kelly said to us at SPM. That's the mentality of the best of the best and a testimony to what it takes to have a winning mindset and winning record against the world's best female players.

Fisher said it was a "dream come true" when she won the Gold medal in Birmingham Saturday the 16th of July; however, at the same time, she has worked hard her entire billiards life to achieve it. I count myself lucky to have caught her just before her historic gold medal win at the World Games, 2022. That win puts an exclamation point on all her success in cue sports and stands as a testament to the caliber of game she brings to every single tournament she enters.

Neight Mindham of Cue It Up Podcast asked, "Can anyone beat Kelly Fisher?" And in light of all her recent success, Fisher has become an absolute juggernaut in the sport of pocket billiards. Fisher isn't unstoppable, however, and just lost last night to Jasmin Ouschuan, taking a rare second place prize in a toughly contested match, being tied much of the match until it was 8-8 then losing in the finals 10-8. But Jasmine played top-level professional pool, and that's what it takes to beat a champion of Fisher's pedigree.

To highlight how Fisher shows support for her coach and sponsors, and peers in pocket billiards, here's a quote from a recent Facebook post after her win in Bremen, Germany this year:

"Hard to express how happy I am to have won the Predator Pro Billiard Series German Women’s Open 🏆🥰

The shoot-out & sudden death made it truly the most intense & thrilling Final that I’ve ever played in. Eylül Kibaroğlu is strong 💪🏻 and she pushed me all the way to a high-level 9-8 shootout win!! Congrats to her on a great finish and it could have easily been her lifting that trophy instead of me. She showed shear grit!

Thanks to my coach Lionel Payne who’s had the job of keeping my cueing straight for the shootouts! 😂😘

Probably gave him, Val & the rest of my family & friends a heart attack watching 🙈

I’d just like to say a huge shoutout to Predator Cues for coming up with this format… although I know it can be tough on the players, this has to generate the most excitement, drama & nail-biting stuff that we’ve ever had in the game! I feel we have the chance to take pool to the next level by getting more viewers and possible larger outside industry sponsors… I feel pool has a wonderful future ahead of us. Now I just wish I was 10 years younger or could hit the pause button on my age 😂 😂

Thank you to everyone’s hard work making it a great event with perfect conditions, TV set up with free live stream on all tables. Top prize money that hopefully can only grow with the support of the players.

Couldn’t do it without my sponsors 🙏🏻🥰 :

Predator Cues

N' The Zone

Shenzhen Xingjue Billiards Co., Ltd

ALFA coin" – Kelly Fisher.

The above quote from Kelly Fisher's Facebook page says it all, and she also told us that her coach, Lionel Payne, discovered her 31 years ago, and took her under his wing. Hence, Fisher acknowledges his influence and how much his instruction has helped develop and shape her game through the years. It always helps to have a mentor like that I would imagine, and he has helped create the world's #1 player.

Thanks to Fisher for allowing us at SPM to have an interview with her. Tallahassee Squirrel is out for now. Check us out at SPM for continuing coverage of all things pool related. Until next time: keep on hitting them balls.


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