Fourth seed in the “Elite Singles” event, Joey Cochran (2399) was the least likely out of the top 4 seeds to take home the championship title. However, keeping a cool head and staying aggressive on the third ball attack gave him the opportunities he needed to make two major upsets to win the championship title and the $2,000 in prize money.
In the semi-final best of seven match against top seed Mark Hazinski (2530), Joey took a commanding 2-0 lead in games before Mark tied up the match 2-2. At this point, Joey realized it was time to change his strategy, and started playing more into Mark’s body while continuing to stay aggressive on his third ball attack. This strategy paid off when Joey won the fifth game and led 10-7 in the 6th with 3 match points. Never and easy appointment, Mark quickly tied up the game 10-10, and Joey, having lost to Mark after leading in the past, was now in a tough position. A combination of mental strength and determination gave Joey an edge, and he pulled out the game 13-11, and the match 4-2. This is the first time Joey has beaten Mark in a major tournament, and it is sure to be a match to remember.
In the finals, Joey faced his coach and mentor Danny Seemiller (2448) who had also caused an upset by winning his semi-final match against Samson Dubina (2490). In the finals, Joey had to take a different strategy by adding spin and additional consistency to his shots to force errors from Danny. Although there were exceptional points and tight games, Joey pulled out the win 4-0 to become the first ever St. Louis Open “Elite Singles” Champion.
This win has boosted Joey’s confidence, and will propel him to continue training hard to make the US National Men’s Team in the coming years. Joey plans to spend his prize money on travel to additional tournaments and paying off his student loans.