The Outlaws had plans for after the regional team 8-Ball tournament.
Having already lost a match, and coming up against a team that had beaten them before, the local pool team did not expect to make it through the American Pool Association Road to Vegas Regional Tournament at Pin Twist in Seguin.
But their plans would have to wait.
“We lost on Saturday, so we were on the loser’s side of the bracket,” said Tony Cervantes, one of the players on the team. “We came back Sunday thinking we were going to have time to go to the flea market, because we were going to be eliminated.
“Lo and behold, we were left standing in first place and won the trip to Vegas.”
It’s been a long road for team captain Ricardo Cervantes and his brother, Tony, who have been playing in APA league matches for a number of years, in an effort to get to the 8-Ball World Championship in Vegas.
“We’ve been playing on and off for eight years, so it feels great,” Ricardo said.
“I joined this league to make it to Vegas,” Tony said. “It took me eight years, but we finally got there.”
Skyler Riddle has been playing with the team for about two years, and feels the team deserved to go.
“What other team to make it besides us,” he said.
The Outlaws beat 32 teams in the qualifier, teams from Luling, San Marcos, New Braunfels and elsewhere, finishing the tournament with just one loss.
Tony would be considered the “A” player in the group, and with everything on the line in the team’s next to last match, his final match at the regional tournament went down to the wire.
“I got lucky and won the first game when he scratched,” Tony said. “It was an even back and forth match, but I came out on top.”
Tony won the race to five match, 5-4, getting the team to the finals.
“If we lose that game, we were out,” he said. “We thought we were probably going to lose to them, because we knew that they were really good players.”
The team won its final match 3-0 to win the trip to Vegas.
Five players of different skill levels play in the five matches, with individuals rated on their skill levels by the APA.
Players are rated anywhere from a “7” to a “1” on their skill level for 8-Ball — the five players the team chooses to compete cannot exceed 23 ratings points.
Riddle just returned from Las Vegas, where he made it in singles in 9-Ball.
“They coached me in the singles in May to get to Vegas and they took the trip with me,” Riddle said. “We were joking around that we were going back there in three months, but we were just talking.
“We all got a taste of what is what like, so hopefully we won’t feel any pressure when we get there.”
Ricardo and a cousin on the team, Milbert Belmarez, qualified in the 8-Ball doubles competition earlier this year.
“We have a little bit of experience up there,” Ricardo said. “We have a good range of players. Tony is rated a 7 and that’s the highest you can get in 8-Ball.”
Yari Cervantes, Tony’s wife, is one of the newer members of the team and is the lowest rated player on the team.
“She’s a much needed ‘2’” Ricardo said. “Without her we would go over our point limit and have to forfeit our games.”
Other players on the seven-person team are Daniel Bowles and Leo Arias, giving the team two more players to choose from in each match.
Yari started playing at the request of her teammates.
“My brother-in-law made me join,” Yari said. “I’m really excited to go because I think it’s going to be a lot of fun.”
Her brother-in-law and cousin are her primary coaches on the team.
“There’s not a day that goes by that they aren’t telling me I better be practicing,” Yari said.
She’s not getting help from her husband however.
“He won’t coach me, he doesn’t have patience with me,” Yari said. “It’s always my brother-in-law or my other cousin.”
The tournament in Vegas will have more than 700 teams from all over the country vying for a $25,000 (per player) first prize.
“Do you know what I could do with $25,000?” Tony asked.
Riddle is optimistic of the team’s chances.
“We made it this far,” he said. “We didn’t come this far to just come this far — I say we leave with at least some prize money.”
They can cash in by finishing 257th or higher, with payouts starting at $350 per player. The payouts increase at 129th or higher with those in the top nine guaranteed $3,500 and more, all the way to the $25,000 first prize.
“We’re not focusing on those (payouts),” Riddle said. “We’re coming back with the top money.”
Tony agreed with Riddle that first place is the goal.
“We’re taking it all,” he said. “We’re bringing all that money back to Seguin.”
Kevin Duke is the sports editor of the Seguin Gazette. You can e-mail him at email@example.com .