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ETBU senior touts area billiard halls

By Joe Holloway
March 16, 2013 at 10 p.m.

East Texas is known for many things.

There are the numerous coniferous

trees that give the region the "piney woods" nickname its so closely associated with. Harrison County is home to Caddo Lake, one of the few natural and most well known lake in the state.

East Texas is also, apparently, a great place to be a pool player.

Billiards that is.

"East Texas is definitely a good place," said East Texas Baptist University senior William Hill.

A native of Tyler, Hill recently won the ACUI (Association of College Unions International) Annual Nine-Ball Tournament at Sam Houston State University in Huntsville for the third time in 4 years.

He said the ACUI mainly governs nine-ball and ping pong tournaments. The national tournament is coming up sometime this summer. No date is set yet, but the organization is holding tournaments all over the country to determine who will get to play there.

By winning at Sam Houston, Hill made the cut.

"Our region does Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas and Mexico," he said. "It's an international deal so I guess I'm No. 1 in Mexico too."

Hill, who was in the Army before attending ETBU, said he's been playing pool for about 23 years.

"My dad just taught me everything growing up," he said. "There was a place with like three tables growing up so that was our way to go do something was just to go play pool."

He may have learned from his dad, but it's his constant participation in tournaments in the region that keeps Hill on top of his game.

"I go to tournaments all around here," he said. "They're usually within 30 minutes to an hour away so they're not too far away.

"I probably go once or twice a week to a tournament."

He said Facebook has made it easier to find out when and where tournaments are going on any night of the week.

"Somebody created an Facebook group called 'East Texas Billiards,'" he said. "A lot of people just go on there and see where the tournaments are and like 20 or more people show up.

"I'll get on there an say 'where's the tournament at tonight' and three or four people will respond and tell me what's going on."

Hill also had some advice for anyone looking to get into the billiards scene.

"The secret is to get there early and practice, get the speed of the balls down," he said. "Just get your stroke, how the balls are rolling. The speed and how the balls are rolling are two different things. The ball can be rolling fast and then hit the side of the table and die. It just depends."

He also said there's an endurance factor involved.

"Some of these tournaments last two days and you just have to be in shape," he said. "When you're bent over that long, your back starts hurting, your neck gets sore. You have to be in shape."

He admitted it's not quite as intense as other sports, but that it's still important to eat and drink a lot of water before hand.

"You get hot. You get tired. It's weird," he said. "You go up and down and you get tired. Pool's not like basketball or football or anything but it is pretty intense. If you're playing for 2 or 3 hours or more at a time, you get tired."

He said getting plenty of rest is important too, especially if, like Hill, you have an 8 a.m. class the next day.

"I'm actually going to a tournament tonight that's about an hour away," he said. "I probably won't get back until 12 or 1 in the morning and I have an 8 o'clock class in the morning.

"But the prize money will make it a little sweeter."



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