WPBA Announces Changes for 2011
The WPBA Board of Directors notified its player membership today that WPBA field size will be reduced from 64 to 48 players for all 2011events. WPBA Vice President Tamre Rogers commented: “WPBA fields were, in fact, expanded by the Board in 2002 from 48 to 64. The Board felt compelled to return to the prior format because, in these tough economic times, prize fund growth has not kept pace with the growth in the expenses that the players incur in attending a Classic Tour event. As a result, on a per event basis, earnings prospects have dimmed for the players. The change is, therefore, first and foremost, intended to provide relief for core players of the WPBA and to ensure that the tour remains an attractive choice for the future stars of women’s professional pool.”
Along with field size reduction, the Board announced reintroduction of two Regional Tour programs. First, each Regional Tour points race winner will earn an exemption for the subsequent WPBA professional season. This policy is effective immediately, meaning that the point race winners in 2010 Regional Tour play will be granted exemption into all 2011 WPBA events, and this policy will remain in effect in the future. This replaces the exemptions awarded through the Regional Tour Championship. Second, the Regional Tours will, once again, be permitted to hold specific event qualifiers. For WPBA events in 2011, Regional Tours will be permitted to hold qualifiers in which the winner gets a guaranteed spot into a pre-specified WPBA event.
Tamre Rogers further commented that “it is not without some remorse that the Board opted to pursue these changes. The Board is keenly aware that some players acted in reliance on previous indications from the Board. Tough times, however, call for decisive action, and the Board felt strongly that the changes could not wait.”
After release of the letter to the membership today, feedback was solicited. Allison Fisher commented “The return to a forty eight player field is, in my view, overdue. I am also very pleased to learn of the return to double elimination in WPBA tournaments. The redraw of the final sixteen was not fair to players undefeated to that point.” Jasmin Ouschan noted “Returning to a smaller field in WPBA events will be fair to the top pros and will keep the playing level high! It should be an accomplishment to get a spot for a professional tour event on the WPBA.” Kelly Fisher offered “I admire the Board for having the courage to pursue these very necessary changes.” Karen Corr said “This sounds like a good plan that will strengthen the WPBA organization.” Northwest Women’s Pool Association member Julie Valdez observed “As a ten year veteran of the Regional Tour system, I am very pleased to see that players will, once again, be able to qualify for WPBA events without having to incur the expense of attending a Regional Tour Championship. Reversion to the old qualifying system gives me more enthusiasm for continued participation.” As noted, it is recognized that not every member will find favor with the decisions, but the Board is delighted to learn that some prominent members of our organization support these changes.
The WPBA Board looks forward to working with its membership to implement these changes, and, more importantly, to make 2011 as good a year as it can be for the WPBA organization.