The trophy for the WPA World 10-Ball Women’s Championship has been brought back to its rightful home, the Philippines which is considered the hub of billiards in the world.
Chezka Centeno, a fearless woman from Zamboanga City, bravely pursued her dream and successfully signed, sealed, and delivered it.
Or world champion Chezka Centeno.
Ms. Centeno’s incredible story continued as she defeated numerous legendary players, and she topped it off with a dominant 9-5 victory over three-time world 9-ball champion Yu Han from China on a memorable Sunday evening in Klagenfurt, Austria. This victory earned her the title of the world’s new 10-ball champion.
The athlete, who has won multiple gold medals at the Southeast Asian Games, showed incredible energy as she defeated Ms. Yu. She took a strong lead of 4-1 and maintained it throughout the match, impressing with her amazing shots. Her flawless performance earned her a prize of $50,000 (P2.8 million), the largest in the history of women’s pool.
After successfully sinking the last ball, Ms. Centeno let out a joyful scream, shook hands with Ms. Yu, bowed to a cheering group of spectators, including Filipino flag-waving fans, and eventually cried tears of happiness when the reality of her victory set in.
After some time, Rubilen Amit, who has won the world 10-ball championship twice, including the first ever in 2009, presented Ms. Centeno with the Philippine flag. She wrapped it around her trembling body as she cried once more, overwhelmed with emotion.
She expressed her emotions of both joy and sorrow while being interviewed by the game announcer alongside a tearful Ms. Amit, saying that becoming world champion had always been her dream.
The news on Sunday (Oct. 22) was met with excitement by 113.9 million Filipinos who were eager for sports glory.
Ms. Centeno ended the competition with a Cinderella-like victory, defeating world pool legends Allison Fisher of England twice – first in the elimination round and then in the semifinals. She also beat last year’s winner Chou Chieh-Yu of Chinese Taipei in the quarterfinals and Ms. Yu.
She triumphed over Ms. Yu, seeking revenge for Ms. Amit’s defeat in the quarterfinals, which dashed her hopes of winning her first championship since her victory ten years ago.
Ms. Centeno ensured that it ended up in her hands and returned to her home country, which has already produced a lineup of successful players such as Efren “Bata” Reyes and Francisco “Django” Bustamante.
Nineteen years ago, she began her journey in dimly lit pool halls in her hometown of Zamboanga City. In order to take her shots, she had to stand on top of beer cases.
“I began this journey at the age of five with a dream, and today (Sunday), I am living that dream,” she wrote on her Facebook page. “It is a surreal moment that brings back memories of the countless hours of dedication, tears, and setbacks.”
She expressed her gratitude to God, family, friends, and supporters, saying that they are all deserving of it.
I agree. – Joey Villar