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Paulette DeMaio is about to make her third trek to Las Vegas to play in the American Poolplayers Association Ladies 8-Ball Championship. (Photo courtesy of Paulette DeMaio )
Paulette DeMaio and her team, Sneak Attack, will be competing at the American Poolplayers Association Ladies 8-Ball Championship in Las Vegas next month. Pictured are the members of Sneak Attack: Betsy Fisher, Joanne Corbett, Paulette, Lissie Baguio, and Patricia Maisano. (Photo courtesy of Paulette DeMaio )
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For the third straight year, North Haven resident Paulette DeMaio is on her way to Las Vegas to compete at the American Poolplayers Association (APA) Ladies 8-Ball Championship, which is taking place from Thursday, Aug. 9 through Sunday, Aug. 12. While this year will mark Paulette’s third appearance in the championship, it’s the first time that she will be going with her current team, Sneak Attack.
“It’s funny because, our team, we were the last to sign up in our division, because all the people on our team weren’t sure if we’d play together. We named our team Sneak Attack, because we hoped we’d surprise everybody and do good,” says Paulette. “I don’t think any of us thought we would do this good, but we’re getting the trip to Vegas.”
The APA Ladies 8-Ball Championship features teams of five competing against each other. Along with Paulette, the Sneak Attack team consists of Betsy Fisher, Joanne Corbett, Lissie Baguio, and Patricia Maisano. Paulette knows that the competition in Vegas is going to be fierce, but she’s also going there to have a good time and spend a lot of time playing the sport she loves.
“There are 256 teams and it’s $10,000 for first place. It’s crazy,” Paulette says. “For me, most of the accomplishment is just getting there. It’s basically thousands of pool players in one big convention center, so we like to call it pool player’s heaven. You can play 24 hours a day.”
Sneak Attack plays out of Town Billiards in Hamden, although Paulette is known to play at pool halls all over the state. Aside from Town Billiards, she’s also a fixture at Cue and Brew in Branford, as well as Yale Billiards in Wallingford. Paulette has great relationships with many regulars at each facility.
“I’m friendly with the owners of all of those places. They’re all very friendly,” she says. “Yale Billiards to me is like a family, because we do more than just play pool together. Cue and Brew has great food and a good atmosphere, and Town Billiards has a friendly atmosphere and a lot of tables.”
Paulette is still relatively new to the world of competitive pool. Paulette only started playing the sport a little more than three years ago, when she began taking lessons from Billiards Congress of America Hall of Famer Bobby Hilton at Yale Billiards. Hilton praises Paulette for striving to become a solid player, along with how she passes on her knowledge to her colleagues.
“The biggest thing was her desire to want to learn and get better. She always watched when other people played and always asked questions,” says Hilton, who was a USA Pool League national champion in 2014. “She wanted to compete with people that were better than her and, those that weren’t as good as her, she wanted to teach them what she’s learned. She’s just one of the nicest people I know.”
It’s a dream for Paulette to be going to Las Vegas to play in the APA Ladies 8-Ball Championship for the third year in a row. In fact, some of the people Paulette play with joke with her about paying her to join their teams, since they’ve been playing pool for 15-plus years and have yet to qualify. Paulette is brimming with excitement as she gets ready for the trip.
“Pool definitely taught me a lot about being competitive, but also that you can’t take yourself too seriously because, at the end of the day, it’s just pool. Our team definitely tries to remind each other of that,” Paulette says. “We win as a team and we lose as a team. As far as we get is as far as we get and, if we lose, we’ll enjoy Vegas.”
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