Cool under pressure

Evans' cool demeanor helps fuel success, travels as billiards player.

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Cool under pressure

Ricky Evans travels across the country and around the world to play at billiards competitions.

Ricky Evans travels across the country and around the world to play at billiards competitions.

Ricky Evans travels across the country and around the world to play at billiards competitions.

Ricky Evans travels across the country and around the world to play at billiards competitions.

Robyn Ziegemeier, Staff reporter

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Richard Evans steps into the crowded arena, along with a multitude of other competitors. Even though he has gone to many competitions before, and is confident with his abilities, he still gets nervous during competitions. Despite the nerve wracking pressure, he still puts on a stone face and focuses on winning against his current opponent.

Evans first got into pool at the age of seven. His dad had owned a pool hall and introduced him, along with his two older brothers, to playing pool at a competitive level. While one of his brothers no longer plays competitively, Evans is still going strong and competing in the 18 and under bracket.

Other than his family encouraging to start playing, he is mostly self-taught and relies on a good practice schedule to improve, as well as the occasional tip from more seasoned billiards players.

“I really never had any coaches or any teachers. I’ve [received] a couple [of] here and there tips from people that make comments, but the overall teacher is myself because I just practice,” he said.

As for his practice regimine, he tries to practice at least five times a week for one to two hours. He always aims to practice against someone better than him in order to keep improving.

“Always be playing with somebody who is better than you when you’re practicing one on one. That’s because if you play with somebody who’s worse than you, you’re gonna pick up on their habits.”

Learning how to cope with stress is also an important part of not only practicing, but playing in general. As pool is a one on one game, it can get stressful while you’re playing because you don’t have a team to help you, and keeping a straight face is extremely important to have a shot at winning. Even the smallest smirk or frown can feed competitors’ ability to win.

“You’ve got to make sure that even if things aren’t going right in life, you can cope with it, because it’s a lot of mental [focus and] when you’re out there, you don’t have a team to rely on. So if something is affecting you in your life, it’s going to reflect on your play,” Evans said. “If somebody sees that you’re happy, [if] they’re seeing emotion in general, that’s a bad thing because they can feed on it, whether it be positive or negative.”

When competing, his opposition is extremely fierce, also making sure to keep a stone face. One of his competitors even attempted to cheat against him by using pattern wrapping. Pattern wrapping is a type of foul called when a player manipulates the balls to go into the same pattern when the balls are supposed to be random. After that foul was called, it motivated Evans to play even harder, and it payed off, as he won every game after that point.

As he travels all over the world to compete- six countries to date- it can get very nerve wracking to play, especially in an arena filled with people wanting him to lose. When World Championships are in other countries, especially countries such as Russia and China, it can become especially pressure- inducing.  

“You’re playing in an environment that is over in Russia for World championships and everybody in the room [are] all from opposing countries wanting you to lose,” said Evans. “You’re out on your own, so you’ve got to show them what’s up and play.”

Even with his fierce competitors, he still proudly boasts that he normally places first at Nationals, however, this past year he placed fourth, though he plans to win next year. His best placement at World Championships is fifth place, and he plans on continuing to improve to get higher placements.

His next competitions are the Super Billiards Expo in March and Junior National Championships at Las Vegas in June.