Here in Chengdu, there are tons of cafes and beautiful little boutique stores. The food is good and the people here are very nice. I find they take a lot of pride in putting on a great Billiards event for the fans and for the players.
The Chinese players are young and full of passion for the game. The best player is Siming. She’s nice but very strong and confident at the table. Her knowledge is good and she has great composure at the table.
I didn’t play well at this event. It’s definitely disappointing, especially having traveled so far from the USA. I also feel pressure because I am known here for my great play. I know they expect to see my game and I wanted to show it.
Never the less, the competition is fantastic with the Chinese but also with some other international players like Allison Fisher, Kelly Fisher and Jasmine Ouschan. It’s really pleasant because we get along really well and have a common respect for each other.
We are treated like stars and feel welcome by everyone. There is plenty of press for this event as well. I’ve done numerous interviews throughout.
The prize money doubles what we have in the States. I wish we had that much support in the US.
China is a huge country and billiards is still very young as a sport. Many girls give up school to just focus on pool. Some are taken out of school and home schooled from 7 or 8 years old. I find that to be a pity. It’s not good enough to be good at one thing for a successful and happy future. Even if you become great at pool, or anything for that matter, you need to know how to capitalize on that skill to make a business of it. As well as the experience of just being comfortable dealing with other people which you first learn in school. Rare is the case where being good is all you need. Only in the top mainstream sports can make you enough to sustain a real income. After your competitive career is over, what can you do? An education will help you manage your money and other business opportunities, help develop you as person in so many ways.
For pool players, like many small sports, you need to have sponsors, you need to be marketable, or learn other skills, like teaching, putting on trick shot shows, giving good interviews, etc. College doesn’t guarantee success, it only opens more doors. You still need to do the work.
The bottom line is, you have to continue to develop yourself as a person, striving to find your true self. Just playing pool isn’t enough.
I think China is well on its way to being the strongest country for pool but I hope they also put the effort behind developing the players beyond their game. Look long term at their role as ambassadors of the sport and viable careers beyond the competitive arena.
Can’t wait to get back to my home sweet home.