Area pool enthusiasts were in for a treat on Friday as professional pool player Allison Fisher put on an exhibition at Holiday Inn of Alpena as part of Alpena's Month of Pool Tournaments. Fisher is currently the top- ranked player in the Women's Professional Billard Association (WPBA) and has won 80 national titles, 50 WPBA titles and 11 world titles along with a gold medal at the 2009 World Games. Before her exhibition, Fisher took a few minutes to talk with The Alpena News about her 2013 schedule, her beginnings in pool and several other topics.
Alpena News: So is this your first time in Alpena?
Fisher: Yes it is. It's very nice. Very snowy, very cold, but nice. I stayed with somebody last night in Mount. Pleasant, which is where we have the women's pro event next week and drove here this morning. It's kind of a drive, but it's nice to see the snow.
News Photo by James Andersen
WPBA player Allison Fisher lines up a practice shot on Friday at Holiday Inn of Alpena. Fisher was in town to put on an exhibiiton as part of Alpena’s Month of Pool Tournaments.
AN: So you've been to Michigan before then?
F: I have. We've played at Soaring Eagle Casino in Mount Pleasant for many many years, so I've been up this area a lot.
AN:What's in store for you this year?
F: We have a WPBA event next week at Soaring Eagle. That's our Masters event next Wednesday through Sunday. The finals are on Sunday and they will be shown on ESPN 3 live, so that's a first for WPBA. In March, I'll go to Taiwan for a major event there. I have a couple of events in China this year, so the calendar isn't necessarily already rolled out for events, they just happen.
AN: How did you first get started playing pool?
F: I started playing cue sports, specifically snooker, when I was seven years old. My Dad was watching it on TV and I just liked the look for it. I got a small table for Christmas and then I played snooker professionally for about 10 years and I won my first world title when I was 17, (I won my) first national title when I was 15. In 1995, I decided to come to America to try and play nine-ball. I joined the WPBA Tour and I won my second event I went in and it's just been making history ever since, it's fantastic.
AN: Is there a difference between playing here and playing in England?
F: Oh yeah, it's a totally different game. Snooker played on a 12-by-6 foot table. Smaller pockets, smaller balls. Every shot that you make you get rewarded in points. Nine-ball can be brutal. You can make 1 through 8 and miss the nine, you lose the game. So it's very different mentally.
AN: So as far as improving your game, was it just a matter of practicing a lot?
F: Definitely. Practicing on the technique, lots of practice, enjoying the game, traveling a lot, playing in lots of tournaments.
AN: Do you feel that the level of competition has gone up since you started?
F: There's no doubt about that. I'm actually pleased I'm No. 1 in the WPBA rankings still. I've been here 17 years and I'm still one of the top players on the tour. As much as everyone else's level (of play) has gone up, mine's gone up a little bit too, so that's been good. However, the overseas contingents, (especially) the Chinese players is really good.
AN: Do you find yourself having to adapt the way you play as the years go on?
F: I think the thing is I'm no spring chicken. When I go to China, I'm playing teenagers. I'm one of the veterans of the game now and there's certain things as you get older you have to accept I think. Your body changes, your eye sight changes, so life gets in the way sometimes. I remember being their age, in the 20s and 30s, you're fearless, you're confident, you haven't really lived life particularly. As get older, your life changes, priorities change, so I've gone through all the transitions I think. It's been good in lots of ways.
AN: Is there one opponent you would pick out as the toughest you've faced?
F: I think Karen Corr is always a tough player because we have such a similar game and she's got a very good technique. There's plenty of great players on our tour. I like playing the fast, exciting players because I can contain it a bit because it's sort of opposite the rhythm (of my style)
AN: Is there anything you have to do before an event to get yourself in the right frame of mind?
F: Not so much really. It's more at the event I'm doing that than before it. I'm a pretty relaxed person away from the table, so I don't want to get myself tense before I even start. It's tense enough when you're out there, building up to that, so I'm very much a live in the present person. I really do that quite well I think.
AN: What would you be doing if you weren't a professional pool player?
F: When I was younger I did love sport and I wanted to be a physical education teacher. Whether I would've ended up there, I don't know, but I think the game has taught me many things. Part of it is communication skills, part of it is I love to teach. So I think I was born for doing that, conveying information. I think with what I've done, I'm not just strictly a pool player, I could transition into other things, which is pretty great. I've managed myself for a number of years, I've taught the game for many , many years. I've commentated on ESPN, so I'm not uncomfortable in any arena.
AN: Talk a little bit about how you've been able to pass on your knowledge to people
F: I've been teaching for about 15 or 16 years, it's nothing new to me. I have an Allison Fisher Academy in Charlotte, North Carolina. I do that when my schedule (permits); about three or four times a year pretty much. An IPhone app (the Get in the Game App) was created and filmed at my house and people are interested in that.
AN: Obviously your resume is impressive, is there one accomplishment that you're particularly proud of?
F: I think the World Games gold medal was a big deal because at the time, I probably struggling a little bit at the time with confidence and whatever and it only comes around every four years, so you're only going to get so many times to compete in it. Winning it was a big deal.
AN: Besides being really good at pool, do you have any other talents?
F: I was really good at sport in general in school; basketball, hockey, netball, so sport I was very good at. I don't so much of it now unfortunately because I picked a different path. I don't know maybe at some point I'll get back into doing some things I used to do. I think this has obviously taken over. Also want to spent (time) with my family. I have a young son at home, so I think family's become very important to me.