- Associated Press - Saturday, November 26, 2016

FREDERICKSBURG, Va. (AP) - Few of the women shooting pool Nov. 20 at The Green Room, a billiards hall and bar in a barely-marked building off Lafayette Boulevard, call the Fredericksburg area home.

But the “hole in the wall,” as they affectionately called it, is a second home for the “Northern Girls” ladies’ league of the American Poolplayers Association, which brought world pool champion Karen Corr in for a mini-clinic recently.

“Everyone can win. Everyone is beatable,” said Corr, a Northern Ireland native who moved to the United States after her fourth world snooker title in 1997.

Everyone might be beatable, but there have been many days Corr wasn’t. She has won dozens of international, national and regional titles since switching to 9-ball, according to the Women’s Professional Billiard Association website.

Though the sport isn’t as widely watched as it was a decade ago, when tournaments were routinely shown on ESPN, she still plays the circuit. This fall, she became the first woman to win a stop on the relatively new Action Pool Tour.

Corr recently moved from Alexandria to northeast of Philadelphia, but her former student Donna Rouche, a Springfield resident who plays with the Fredericksburg league, has been trying for months to get the pool pro to visit The Green Room just outside the city limits in Spotsylvania County. Last weekend, she finally had some time.

Members said it was a thrill to play Corr, even as they joked they should have just left their pool cues in their bags.

“I’m just watching and learning,” King George County resident Angie Vera said after two games against Corr, who offered her opponents tips as they tried to take advantage of the luck of the table.

An opponent can “play defense” by trying to foil their opponent’s next move if they can’t make a good shot themselves, or take advantage of a chance spin of the ball. But playing pool is like playing chess, with an element of chance thrown in, Corr and other players said.

“When you’re on the table, it’s just you and the ball,” said Vera, who described herself as very competitive. “Half the time you play the table, not the other player.”

The teams of the ladies’ league have been playing for only about two years- four sessions, in the pool world_but they’ve had a strong start. One of the Fredericksburg-based teams took 17th place out of 256 in Las Vegas this summer, according to Michelle Hudson of Ladysmith, an organizer of the league.

“We’re hoping to expand,” Hudson said. Due to the rules and structure of the APA, if more women join the group, which plays tournaments twice a month on Sundays_when the Green Room opens just for them_more of their teams will have a shot at going to Vegas.

The winnings from qualification for the Vegas tournament, generated in part from league dues of $25 per year, generally pay for the trip to Nevada, she said. The cost to play is $10 per tournament, with the pool hall opening at noon every other Sunday for free practice before the tournaments begin at 1 p.m.

Though it won’t help their numbers for a while, some players are starting early. Lara Young brought her 5-month-old daughter, Ella, Sunday to meet Corr.

“We tell her this is who we want her to play,” Young said. “We want her to play like Karen.”

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Information from: The Free Lance-Star, https://www.fredericksburg.com/

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