KRIMPEN AAN DEN IJSSEL - The billiard cue is ready for another ladies Dutch championship, but there was no time for training. Gerrie Geelen (59) from Holland has to go back and forth between two sports. She herself has been among the best ladies billiards players in the Netherlands for over 20 years, while in recent years her daughter Justine grew to a big talent and prize winner in figure skating. 17-year-old Justine was already Dutch champion and competes in major international competitions.
So Gerrie Geelen, as a mother, has little time to practice for the Dutch championships three cushion to be played at De Eekhoorn in Oosterhout this weekend. ''My daughter trains three, sometimes five times a week, so I have to drive up and down with her to the national training centre in Moerkapelle.'' For mother Gerrie, sport is somewhat less important now. Yet Gerrie Geelen, always in the shadow of Therese Klompenhouwer, the world number one, is still one of the household names in women's billiards. ’’It happens sometimes that I finish well at such a Dutch championship, but threatening Therese, as in the past, is impossible. She is too good for us, from 2004, when the first ladies NK was held, Therese has been champion every year.''
Gerrie Geelen started her career in billiards early on. ’’My parents had a café with a billiard table in Krimpen aan den IJssel. I was playing there when I was 15. There was someone in the café who was interested in me. He wanted to give me lessons. That turned out to be Ad Koorevaar. After that, I started playing more seriously.''
Women's billiards was still in its infancy back then. Indeed, a ladies' national championship was not played. That lasted until 2004. Gerrie Geelen did compete in a World Masters in Heemstede in 1999, where Orie Hida became champion and Gerrie finished second.
At the first Dutch championship in 2004, Geelen finished second behind Klompenhouwer, but at the first World Championship in Valencia, where Therese was eliminated in the quarter-finals, Gerrie Geelen made it to the final, which she lost to Orie Hida 3-2. And at the European Championships in Manisa, Turkey, one year later, she finished second behind Therese Klompenhouwer and ahead of Gülsen Degener.
These were the years when players turned up who are still playing today: not only Therese, also Nishimoto, Michalkova, Degener and Le Bruyn. And even current European chairwoman Diane Wild was one of the World participants there. ’’At some point, we had been given A-status by the federation and the IOC: Therese, Karina Jetten and me. Then we got a kind of salary. Unfortunately, that fell away after 2012 because billiards was not admitted to the Olympics.''
Gerrie Geelen still has the passion, the ambition has diminished a bit. ’’I actually started my career in free game. In that I was taught by Tonny Schrauwen, who took a lot of Dutch players to the top. The three cushion came later. I got a few nice podium finishes out of it, but there was always Therese to finish even higher and get a lot of championships.''
For Gerrie Geelen, competing is more important than winning now. ''In my good days, I can still win quite well against strong players. It's just too inconsistent because I don't train anymore. Why do I still participate? I can't miss the atmosphere and I like playing billiards. I even like winning, so I don't let myself be beaten that easily. Like now: I live towards the Dutch championships, because often they are very nice tournaments.''
The Dutch women's three-cushion championship is played this weekend on Saturday 27 and Sunday 28 January at De Eekhoorn in Oosterhout. Therese Klompenhouwer will be hunting for her 17th consecutive title.
The total prize amount is 3,000 euro, the winner gets 1,000 euro, the number two 500 euro, the numbers three 250 euro. The number one earns a starting ticket for this year's World Cup in Veghel.
The group formats:
Therese Klompenhouwer, Blaricum
Monique van Exter, Lelystad
Joke Breur, Terneuzen
Pauline Beersma-Gerritsen, Almelo
Karina Jetten, Vise (B)
Daisy Werdekker, Tilburg
Jetty Beersma, Almelo
Sabine Bakker, Grootebroek
Monique Wilkowski, Sint Michielsgestel
Gerrie Geelen, Krimpen aan de IJssel
Sylvia Eckel, Hansweert
Gerrie Wierstra Van Middendorp, Voorthuizen
Mirjam Pruim-Emmens, Almelo
Joke Martijn, Leiden
Petra Lips-Versluis, De Kwakel
Ineke Kooistra, Amsterdam.