Pool kings: Havasu’s Hot Shots continue their winning ways thanks to leadership by Tyler Fleishman, headed to U.S. Open
Tyler Fleishman won 49 games of 9-ball in the Phoenix qualifier pool tournament to earn a coveted spot in the U.S. Open Tournament in Las Vegas on April 21-26. He’s the first pool player from Lake Havasu City to qualify for the U.S. Open.
“The outstanding thing about this tournament was my mentality,” he said. “I hadn’t practiced, so I was under no pressure. I was cool and able to have fun.”
The second match was a turning point. Tyler was behind 7-4 and usually when he gets behind, he gets mad at himself. Not this time—he kept his composure and came back to win the match 9-8.
Gordon Kooistra, who also played in the tournament, said it was a pleasure to watch his buddy play. “In his final match, he turned to me and said he hoped the guy would scratch on the break and give him a 1-9 combo.”
That’s exactly what happened. Tyler pocketed the 9 on a 1-9 combo shot to win the game, the match and the tournament.
The U.S. Open is the largest and most prestigious pool tournament in the United States. Tyler will be shooting against 255 of the world’s best pool players as he competes for a share of the $300,000 prize money. He’ll try to take down top pros like Shane Van Boening, “the South Dakota Kid,” and Earl “the Pearl” Strickland.
“I’ve been playing pool for 20 years,” he said. “And I never thought I’d be playing in the U.S. Open.”
Tyler was born and raised in Lake Havasu City and is a 2001 graduate of Lake Havasu High School. In his early teens, he was a bowler. “I went to a bowling alley, and there was this pool table, and I was naturally good at it. I played pool every day from age 16 to19. It was like a drug.”
The 34-year old father of three has won the American Cue Sports Arizona Singles 8-Ball Championship twice, and the Billiard Congress of America’s Southwest Singles 8-Ball Championship. In 2015, he placed in the top 12 of the BCA National Singles 8-Ball Tournament in the Platinum Division.
Whatever happens, he won’t be quitting his day job as a sales professional at The Boat Brokers & RV where he describes his job as being “the conduit to fun in Lake Havasu City.”
According to his boss, The Boat Brokers Owner Dean Messmer, if better is possible, good is not good enough. “That’s Tyler’s philosophy,” he said. “And he’s a nice young man.”
Tyler Fleishman is among the many local pool sharks who are making names for themselves in the tournaments throughout the southwest. The teams sent from the city to Phoenix and Las Vegas continue to put Havasu on the map.
Last weekend at the ACS Arizona 8-Ball Tournament, the men’s team. “Bad Attitude,” composed of John Homerding, Eric Ontiveros, Ryan Schroeder, Brady Juve, Anthony Perretta and Craig Goodman took second place.
“All Racks, No Sacks,” Havasu’s women’s team—Dayna Street, Lynda Nellis-Niichel, Melissa Dearen and Leah Juve—finished fourth.
In the singles competition, Ryan Schroeder won second place in the men’s division, and Lynda Nellis-Niichel came in second among the women.
Eric Ontiveros and Lynda Nellis-Niichel took fourth place in the Jack and Jill Scotch Doubles Championship.
Leah Juve played on the women’s team. “It was a very exciting time for me being at my first tournament. I love being part of the Havasu pool playing community. There are so many supportive people. It’s awesome to see how well they stack up to the best in the state.”
According to Leah, there was an artificial palm tree at the tournament. It had fake coconuts on it, and one dropped off. The guys used it as their lucky charm for all their matches. In their team picture, they are holding their beloved coconut. They even brought the coconut home to Havasu. They plan on taking it to their next tournament.
“There’s always fun times at pool tournaments,” she said. “You Gotta have fun.”