LAS VEGAS — Lansing’s very own Shelby Dowell and David Miller got the chance of a lifetime to play against some of the top amateur pool players in the country at the 2016 APA Poolplayer Championships in Las Vegas, April 26 through May 1.
Dowell and Miller competed in 9-ball Doubles and finished 33rd out of 256 teams that entered.
The story of how the two got to Las Vegas began with league play in Independence, Virginia and then a qualifying tournament in Johnson City, Tennessee.
“I’ve been playing for about four years. We go over to Independence and play on teams in a 9-ball tournament each week,” said Dowell.
Being a member of the American Poolplayers Association (APA) gives people a chance to compete in leagues and tournaments just like the one that Dowell and Miller entered in Johnson City.
“It was a last-minute thing. We took off on Sunday morning, drove over and entered the tournament and just happened to come in first place,” said Dowell.
For the first time in their lives, Dowell and Miller got on an airplane and headed west.
Once they got to Vegas, Dowell and Miller were busy playing pool and enjoying the competition.
“There were players from all around the United States, Japan and Canada,” Miller said.
The tournament had a winner’s bracket and a loser’s bracket and was a double-elimination format. Unfortunately for the Ashe County couple, they lost their first match, but battled back to get back into the winner’s bracket before suffering their second loss.
“Once it got started, it was wide open. I’ve never seen so many pool players in my life,” said Miller.
According to Dowell there were 320 pool tables in the building with eight ball, nine ball, singles and doubles going on all at once.
Dowell opened Shelby’s Billiards and Games Club in Lansing, but with a tough economy and rising rent prices, she had to close down at the end of 2015. The hope is that she will be able to reopen a similar establishment somewhere in the county that will offer APA league play and also be a place for people to have fun and enjoy the game.
“We play with people from all different skill levels. It’s fun to play, we just love the game,” said Dowell. “The league operator keeps asking me if we’ve found a spot because he wants it back over here, it did so well.”
Players that were familiar with playing in APA league play in Lansing now have to go to Independence or Mountain City to play.
But in the end, it’s all about the fun of the sport and seeing people enjoy playing pool and meeting people.
“The joy of watching people laugh and smile has always been in my head, it was like a dream come true, but then it all came crashing down,” said Dowell. “I tell myself that this spot wasn’t meant to be but that we will find another one.”
The couple will continue looking around for a place in the county to reopen the game room and bring some fun pool play for all ages and experience levels back to the county.
Nathan Ham can be reached at 336-489-3062 or followed on Twitter @NathanHam87