Who Shot ‘Ya?


Part of being a professional player is maintaining professionalism when the chips are down. Not displaying anger at the table, being gracious when losing, and interacting pleasantly with fans after a tough loss are a few of the things that I feel I have mastered over the years. In short, part of my responsibility in being a pro player is acting like one, but now that I’m competing with the men more, I’m finding that sometimes I need to haul out my inner thug.

Now don’t get me wrong…I’m an absolute lady as long as my opponent is respectful, but when that line is crossed my short tempered Italian roots start to show, and I can’t be held responsible for the foul mouthed insults that roll off my razor sharp tongue.

This past weekend I played in a men’s open/pro event, and ended up with a second place finish. All in all my opponents were respectful and some were even complimentary, and although I appreciate their professionalism, those aren’t the ones I want to talk about. I really want to talk about my first opponent. A pool cue toting gorilla with a spray tan and “blue” eyes, who, appropriately enough, works for the department of sanitation, and could easily be cast in a new reality show called The Real Garbage Men of the Jersey Shore. To protect his identity I will call him Stanky Fernandez.

Stanky and I have some history that he may or may not remember, and for many years I looked right through him like the greasy, fingerprinted plexiglass in the Chinese takeout. That incident occurred back when they still had a womens pro event in Las Vegas. I was out in the arena playing my heart out, and after coming back from a big deficit, I found myself shooting a tough backwards cut on the 7 to close the match. I’m locked on the shot when a loud voice echoes across the arena “There’s no way she’s making this shot!”. I get up, and look into the stands. Stanky. Now keep in mind, before this point I had never spoken a word to him. We were just fellow New Yorkers who occasionally ended up in the same pool room. I felt fury rise up inside me as those sitting to his right and left admonished him for his loud outburst. I refocused. Now that the whole arena knew what he thought, I was determined to prove him wrong. I cut the ball in, ran out and won the set, but from that moment on, Stanky ceased to exist in the world of Jenn Barretta.

It would have been nice to keep it that way, but once I started competing in open events, our paths were destined to cross, and I would not only be forced to interact with him, but to (shudder) make physical contact. Stanky and I played each other in the last open event, when he found himself on the sitting end of the handshake. He promptly ran crying to anyone who would listen that he lost because he’s a rhythm player and I play so slow that he falls into my rhythm and blah, blah, wahhh! Whatever. In my estimation, he lost because his cueball is whack, and despite his big gorilla break, the balls don’t always land right outside the holes, but who am I to judge?

Fast forward to last Sunday. I walked into the venue and began to warm up. One table over I noticed that Stanky had arrived, and was also warming up. I watched the draw and saw that I got a first round bye, but noticed that Stanky had to play a good local player, and if he won, we would be squaring off again. I watched some of their match, and when his opponent was up 7-3 in a race to 8, Stanky attempted a thin cut safe, but missed the whole ball. His opponent, who is a portrait of good sportsmanship, asked, “ball in hand?”, Stanky, not surprisingly, replied, “I hit it.” As his antics are intended to do, his opponent promptly fell to pieces and lost 8-7. Believe it or not, I was happy with Stanky’s victory because, even though I would be forced to (shudder) touch him, I felt Stanky was a much better draw for me, and would have gotten his garbage collecting ass handed to him in the first round, if he didn’t cheat.

So here comes the rematch. We flip the coin, and I win the toss. Thankfully, it’s rack your own, which I’m sure the tournament director put in place just for him. I rack the balls, break and push out. Stanky looks at it for 5 minutes, making a big show of chalking his cue and taking extra sips of water before he gives it back. I play safe. Stanky looks at it for another 7 minutes. Ok, I get it. But what he doesn’t get, is that I play on the women’s tour. We’re on the shot clock in almost every match. I am 100% comfortable with it. In fact, I hope we get the shot clock because I doubt he’ll feel the same way. Stanky may run the balls quickly, but he’s going to need some serious time to make his sparse brain cells smoke when I put him in uncomfortable positions.

The match continues at a snails pace, when I break, make two balls and hang the ten in the corner. The cueball lands a foot away from the ten, and the one is in front of that. I look into the gorilla’s beady, blue contact clad eyes, point to the ten ball, and say “I’m going to call the ten”. I draw the cueball off the one, and pocket the ten. I go to rack the balls when he gets out of his chair. “You didn’t call that.” . (SNAP!) I can feel the breach in my temporal lobe, which normally curbs my animalistic impulses. “Don’t start with me, Stanky! Sit down and shut the fuck up, because I’m going to rack right now,” I yell, “this is the only way you could beat me. You have to cheat!”. (oh, god, did i really just say that?) He proceeds to call me a fucking bitch (Why yes, I am, thank you), and runs crying to the tournament director, who, being used to his nonsense, basically told him to go away. I rack the balls, and continue playing.

At 4-3 me, Stanky runs to the tournament director again, and asks for a shot clock. Is he really that terrified of losing to me? The tournament director was watching his earlier antics and, once again, Stanky was forced to do the walk of shame back to his chair. The score was soon 7-5. Now that his final bid for nonsense was rejected, he decided to play some pool. He used his big gorilla break, and broke and ran 2 racks. Good for him. You can win, but you’re going to have to play, son. He breaks the final rack, gets a shot at the one but, as what usually happen with people that have a weak cue ball, he gets in trouble on the 3, makes it, and sends his rock right at the hole. I get ball in hand and shoot a 4-10 combo for the win.

I walk hesitantly over to Stanky and debate whether I should shake his hand. He extends his first and I let my fingertips barely graze his as the gallery awkwardly snickers. I’m glad I got the W, but, just to make sure I didn’t get anything else, I ran for the hand sanitizer. The rest of my story can be read on NYCgrind.

Thug life, forever.

ps…while the above incidents are accurate and true, they are to be considered for entertainment purposes only, are not meant to be a character assassination, and do not reflect any ill will toward my opponent. Yeah, right.

pps…I’m not proud of my behavior but…oh, that’s such a lie. Never mind.

14 thoughts on “Who Shot ‘Ya?

  1. You’re purely a first class act Jennifer!!! He got EXACTLY what he deserved! A little “karma” for his lying, cheating ways is just the medicine he needed although people like him would never perceive it that way. They’re too arrogant and they live in “their own biased, little world” which is where they should stay and out of the rest of the world! LOL!!!!! Job well done!!!

  2. Argh. As a woman player in a small town in missouri, where there are plenty of good players, just none who are women, I want to believe that something like this has nothing to do with gender. But unfortunately more often than not, it does. These dudes don’t want ladies invading “their” sport. Well, tough shit. I keep sanitizer in my cue case, too.

  3. Congatulations on your performance Jennifer, wish i could have been there to witness this debacle, Skanky TRUELY has no pool edicate, never did and never will, been playing him for over 20 years and never a gentleman on or off the table. These people get what they deserve, and he GOT JUST THAT! I contribute most of my pool playing skills playing with Ginky, Tony, and Skanky for the last 20 years, Ginky and Tony were always my inspiration playing pool, the only good thing i can attribute to Skanky is that he worked all his life, but thats it, He will NEVER change and thats that. Keep up the good work, and mental focus and determination will do the rest!Good luck and see ya down Amsterdam!!

  4. You not only got game, you got words: “I looked right through him like the greasy, fingerprinted plexiglass in the Chinese takeout” πŸ˜‰

  5. I found this through a link on OMGWTF’s page and I’m glad I did. It was definitely worth the read. I love the stories of the bs some people will try to pull in leagues and tournaments.

    I met you and Jeanette Lee at the filming for the 9 Ball movie at First Break in Sterling, VA. I’ve noticed that you are not just a true professional on the table, but someone whose doing the right things to promote professional pool. We need more like you to push this sport more towards the mainstream, and the resulting increases in prize funds would sure be nice.

  6. Nice of you to share this with us Jenn. I enjoyed reading it. Some folks are truly just assholes. Ignore them as much as possible, but sometimes it gets to be too much and you have to just say something. Anyway you are an incredible pool player!

  7. I can’t help it. I’m a guy. I saw a TAR video with an ad for Shane Van Boening’s instructional series, with you in it, and the guy in me said “Wow, she’s hot! Who is she?” Yeah, I googled some pics, and then found your blog. Seriously, kudos to you for being the woman you are! I hope you find the inner strength and peace of mind to prevail in every match you have, no matter which Stanky-type you are playing!

    Its quite unfortunate that pool is a game of gentlemen (and women) and sharks, because it would be SOOO much more pleasant without the sharks! Yeah, to be a good pool player you have to have a steady and concentrated mind, so of course there will be people out there who will try to agitate your concentration. But doing that is sooo unsportsmanlike… I just have to hope those sharks out there have sleepless nights, tossing and turning, knowing what they do is rude and despicable. But I know they don’t lose sleep over it. In fact they probably sleep better because they do it.

    I could never intentionally shark someone. I mean I pride myself on my manners at a pool table. No matter if I’m at a bar or a pool hall, I give my opponent all the space they would want, and minimize any distractions I might create. I want to see their best… I want to know I can beat their best. Sure, if someone is jumpy and likes to play at a fast tempo, I’ll slow it down so I’m not forced to play at their tempo. But that’s not sharking in my book. That’s simply playing the game at the speed you are best suited to. Up in the NW (I won’t say exactly where), there’s a guy we call Crazy Bob… great pool shooter, but I’m 99% sure he’s schizophrenic. He talks to himself out loud all the time, and louder when he feels the pressure of a game… like when you’re about to beat him. I never know if he does it intentionally, or if its totally out of his control, but by most definitions it would be considered to be sharking someone. Because of it he’s been banned from many local tournaments. And don’t get me wrong, most of the time he doesn’t need to do it… the guy shoots like a robot, with minimal time preparing his shots, making 98% of them and getting shape 97% of the time. Its rather impressive. But that’s why those last few shots to beat him are so crucial, because you know if you miss, the game is pretty much over. But yet I love to play him… it makes my skin tougher, it gets me used to “sharking” (whether he does it intentionally or not), and he’s really hard to beat. I have to bring my A game every game, both mentally and physically.

    Anyway, you are an awesome writer, an awesome pool shooter, and an awesome woman! Keep up the good work, keep blogging for us fans, and maybe if I’m lucky someday I’ll be blessed with the challenge of playing against you on a pool table! πŸ™‚

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