Taylor Reynolds competed in the Billiard Education Foundation’s Junior National Championship three times before this summer. Each time was she came home with the same hardware.

“I’ve been runner-up, runner-up, runner-up,” Reynolds, 14, of Winslow, said. “All my trophies are runner-up.”

Not anymore. Now, Reynolds has a brand-new first place trophy to display next to all those second places.
Reynolds recently returned home from DeKalb, Illinois, where she earned her first national title, winning the 14-under girls division.

“This is my first year to take the title. It’s such a great feeling,” Reynolds said. “I was a little nervous at first, but after the first match you kind of get into a groove. Once I got into it the next day, I played really good throughout the tournament.”

Now, Reynolds gets to represent the United States at the World Junior Championships in Poland in late August. Her parents, Steve and Terry Reynolds, are now hustling to get Taylor a passport.
“I told her, ‘If I’ve got to pull out my teeth, you’re going,’ ” Steve Reynolds said.

Reynolds’s nemesis, Brianna Miller, moved up to another age bracket this year, opening the door for Reynolds to jump out of her perpetual runner-up status.

“This was really my big year to do my best and try and win it,” Reynolds said.

Reynolds beat April Larson in the finals of the 9-ball tournament. Although Reynolds beat Larson 7-3 earlier in the tournament, she fell behind early in the race to nine finals.

“Halfway through the match I started to get my confidence back and I started to play better,” Reynolds said.

Added her mother, Tammy: “I was nervous. I thought she might lose the match. I knew how much it meant to her.”

Fans could watch the matches from an enclosed room above the tables. When Reynolds saw her mother and friends up there during her first match, she decided she’d rather have them on the floor, table-side.

“Something about them sitting up there, watching down on me, was kind of weird. So the next day I had them all sit (near the table). It made me feel better knowing they were all right there supporting me and watching me,” Reynolds said.

On the winning shot, Reynolds had to hit the 9-ball the length of the table. Her nerves crept back, she said, and Reynolds had to calm herself down.

“Just make the ball. This is the last ball. If you make it, you can leave. You can forget about the games you just lost. You can shake her hand, leave, and it will be yours,” she said.

A key for Reynolds to keep her cool is to not pay too much attention to how her opponent is doing.
“You’ve got to just try and relax. It’s really difficult. Sometimes they’ll play music. I’ll be just listening to the music, and you’ll be like ‘She’s not taking it seriously. She’s not focusing.’ But that’s how it calms me down,” Reynolds said.

To prep for the world championships, Reynolds will just play.

“I’m just going to play as much as I can, get as much new information as I can,” Reynolds said. “There’s a lot of things that will help.  I only have a month.”

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242
[email protected]

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