FAIRFIELD —This is just for fun. A nice, laid back, friendly game of 8-ball. But Taylor Reynolds gets the look. She can’t help it. Her eyes narrow, her brow furrows and, with every shot, the 15-year old Winslow High School sophomore looks like she’s concentrating on the most important thing in the world.
“She looks like a cat going for the kill,” Lenny Barker, Reynolds’ basketball coach, says.
Still, Barker stepped to the table to take on Reynolds, and despite threatening her with less playing time, he lost.
On Saturday afternoon, Reynolds was at the Fairfield Community Center, taking on all comers. Beat Reynolds, and win a free round of pool at T.J.’s Classic Billiards, the Waterville pool hall owned by her father, Steve Reynolds. Between 4 and 5 o’clock, Taylor made sure dad wasn’t giving away the store.
In July, Reynolds went to Milwaukee, where she was runner-up at the Junior National Championships in the 15-18 year old division. In 2011, Reynolds was the national champ in the under 15 division, but this year she ran into Briana Miller, who had never lost a match in national championship tournament play.
Until this year. Trailing 6-2 to Miller, Reynolds won the next five games, winning the match 7-6. Miller won the rematch in the finals, 9-7.
Last August, Reynolds represented the United States at the World Junior Championships in Poland. She lost both her matches, but knew she played well.
“I wasn’t surprised because I practiced a lot,” Reynolds says. “If you practice your best, you’ll play your best.”
That confidence is on full display as she takes on Ray Scott. As Reynolds plays Scott, she gives him pointers.
“Try to leave (the cue ball) where I’ll have a bad shot,” she says. “Think about defense as well as offense.”
Reynolds lines up a long shot, one that requires her to send the cue ball almost the entire length of the table.
“This isn’t an easy shot,” she says, right before blasting the cue ball perfectly. Her shot drops in the corner pocket.
“But you made it,” Scott says.
“Yep,” Reynolds replies.
Reynolds is playing with a new cue, a gift from a sponsor right before the Junior Nationals. Don’t use it in the tournament, they told her. Use one you’re more comfortable with. Reynolds used the new cue, and won her first three matches, 7-0.
“It’s natural. It’s my cue. I can feel it,” she says.
Reynolds and her father are reminded of the time she played in a pro tournament at T.J’s. She beat a guy named Boston Dave. She was 9.
“He drives to Maine, pays 100 bucks to be in a pro tournament, and loses to a little girl,” Steve Reynolds says. “Everyone in the place was on her side.”
Other opponents come and go, and Reynolds dispatches them all. Scott hangs around. He wants to improve, and Reynolds is happy to offer pointers with each game.
“I’m going to make the 10, then the 13 so I’m set up for the 8,” Reynolds says, and she shoots. “Or, I’m going to miss it because I’m talking. Sometimes your plans don’t work.”
Reynolds is already looking forward to next year’s Junior Nationals, and she’s starting to consider college options. If the little plans don’t work from time to time, that’s OK. The big ones are on track.
 

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