Every player would agree that pool needs all the help it can get.
From manufacturers to retailers, from leagues to professional players—everyone talks, few take action. I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Emily Duddy, WPBA’s 2010 Rookie of the Year and an enthusiastic ambassador for our sport. She frequents tournaments and events as much as she’s on social media promoting and supporting her sponsors. Keep your eye out for more to come from Emily Duddy!”
Q: Where are you from?
A: I was born in Burbank, California. I lived in different SoCal cities until I was about eight years old. Then my dad settled in La Crescenta, where I went to high school at Crescenta Valley HS and my mom lived in Pasadena. Then I went back and forth between the two homes.
Q: Aside from your professional career in pool, do you have another occupation?
A: Yes. I am a catering/events manager for a large catering company named Restaurant Associates in NYC. I help manage parties for guests of 50 up to 2,000 at cultural centers & corporations all over the Tri-State area. The job is perfect for pool because I have a flexible schedule, I can work as much or as little as I want and I can travel when I need to for competition.
Q: How did you get into that?
A: My parents wore many hats growing up, but they both primarily worked in the food and events industry. My mom was a server in high end restaurants and my dad managed an event space in Hollywood. I really grew up in the service industry and it comes natural to me.
When I moved to NYC in June of 2007 to pursue pool I began working in restaurants; however, it was difficult to play tournaments on the weekends. So I started looking for a job with more flexibility and less weekend work, I discovered catering was the answer. I started as an RA at the end of the 2007 and was promoted to manager at the end of 2010.
Q: How much time do you spend there vs practicing, competing, and promoting pool?
My time committed to each varies, but I am constantly doing both.
During the catering busy seasons in the spring and fall, I usually work with RA full-time to overtime and I still practice one to two days a week as captain and play on a BCA team at Amsterdam Billiards. I work with my coach, Mike Napolitano, or play local events on the weekends.
During the slower seasons I practice a lot more on top of league, my coach and tournaments. Then whenever possible I maintain all of personal marketing including my website, online store and all social media. This takes a lot of time and energy also, which I do my best considering my schedule.
My largest priority with my schedule is any major competitions which include WPBA events, international invitationals, and other large co-ed tournaments. I am able to adjust my work schedule around these dates and take extra time off prior to prepare.
A: Are you single, in a relationship or married? Do you have any children?
I am in a serious relationship with a wonderful man named Brian Marshall. We have been together two and a half years. We live together and we are parents to a beautiful dog named Guinness and a fish named Henry. Brian is also a very solid and avid pool player. He has a passion for pool cues and I would consider him an expert. Also luckily for me he does excellent cue repair work and has a lathe at our house! I have yet to be married and I don’t have any kids, but we will see what the future holds.
Q: What are some of your hobbies outside of pool?
Fitness and nutrition are two of my biggest hobbies outside of pool. I worked for the company “Curves for Women” for five years as a trainer and nutritional coach. I love yoga and kick boxing. My biggest motivation is teaching and inspiring others to be more healthy.
Self-improvement and mental balance are also passions of mine. Currently I am a student at the DeRose Method Tribeca where I study SwaStya—a combination of breathing, mediation and physical techniques. The method gives me extra energy to tackle my full schedule, while also improving my state of mind in competition.
Probably my favorite hobby is traveling! Travel was another factor in my choice to pursue pool. Aside from seeing most of the US, I spent a month traveling alone in Spain, France and Italy when I was 27. I have been to Asia four times for world championships, and I spent a week in Mexico. Every time I travel I learn more about myself and the world and I become stronger. I really love meeting new people, seeing new places, trying new food and playing pool on new tables!
In my free time between work, pool and travel, I enjoy spending time laughing with my boyfriend, friends and family, decorating, writing, watching well-made intelligent movies, playing black jack or Texas Holdem, drinking a good glass of wine, scotch or a dirty martini, dressing up for a night of dinner and dancing, and living in the now.
My favorite TV shows are The Walking Dead, Six Feet Under, Trueblood, Masters of Sex, Years of Living Dangerously and Orange is the New Black.
Q: Tell me about the history of your pool-playing career. At what age were you introduced to the sport?
A: I started learning how to play pool when I was eight years old, but started competiting regularly when I was 18.
Q: Who introduced it to you?
A: My father, Terry Duddy, was the one who started teaching me. He has worked at the Hollywood American Legion Post 43 for 30 years and they have a beautiful Brunswick 9 foot table. I grew up on this table and as I got older I began playing the veterans who were members of Post 43. They also taught me a lot.
Q: Does he still have an influence in your game now?
A: Whenever I go back to Cali to visit my friends and family, a highlight of my trip is going to Hollywood Post 43 to play pool with my dad and the vets. Although I usually win now, they are all so proud of how good I have become and what I have achieved. Besides, they never let me win when I was a kid, why should I let them win now!
Q: We all had that moment or something that made us “catch the pool bug,” what was yours?
A: Well even though I played a lot of pool growing up, when I was young it was just a hobby that I enjoyed along with a lot of other activities that I juggled. Throughout my childhood I competed in softball, basketball, gymnastics, bowling and track. Then for most of high school I was an honor student & focused on getting into a good college.
The itch to play more pool got stronger when I was a senior in High School & I would go to the pool hall & beat up on my boyfriend & his friends. Then as a freshman at University of CA Santa Cruz I found 5 pool tables on different parts of campus & got hooked on playing any chance I got.
I would say the moment I got officially “bit” was my first 9-ball tournament during my Freshman year in college at Campbell Billiards. I had never played 9 ball before & I won $ for placing 4th. I haven’t stopped competing since, I also went on to work & eventually manage Campbell Billiards until I moved to NYC.
Q: What or who continues to motivate you in the sport?
The most important person who influences my motivation is my coach Mike Napolitano or Mikey Naps to his friends. We have working been together for about a year and a half at Elite Billiards in Edison, NJ on the weekends. He has fine-tuned my fundamentals, helped me create and reenforce a pre-shot routine, strengthened my pattern play, taught me how to train certain strokes and he increased my cue-ball control drastically.
His teaching is unique, fun and effective. His past students include a multiple women’s world champion and a Junior National Champion who he trained from scratch. Through his teaching I have been able to see improvement so quickly, that it keeps me motivated to work even harder. I highly recommend lessons with him if you are committed to taking your game to the next level. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’re interested in being connected to him.
Striving for excellence in a complicated activity that can never be mastered is motivating, since I can always learn more I can always get better. In my life the more difficult the challenge the more inspired I am.
The emotion I feel when I’m shooting is like a drug. When I’m in dead stroke and perfect rhythm, I feel completely in the moment. All my worries or stress form the rest of my life fades away. The most consecutive 9 ball racks I’ve run during competition is five and it’s the best high I’ve ever felt.
I also stay motivated to work hard to show others how well a female can play—to show how confident, powerful and dominating a woman can be on a pool table and thus other walks of life. The game is still male dominated because of social factors and by playing pool at a high level I believe I help change the social scales.
My friends, family and especially my fans keep me motivated to play pool. They really support me, root me on and help me believe in myself. They also remind me how hard I’ve worked, how far I’ve come, & how much better I can be.
Q: What do you consider to be your professional strengths and weakness?
A: My professional strengthens are:
my emotional control in competition, my confidence at the table, my wide range of strokes, my rhythm when I’m playing well & my ability to focus under pressure. I have developed these through non-stop competition for the last 13 years, from amateur level to the World Championship.
My weaknesses are:
a tendency to make more offensive choices when I feel out of stroke or off, overfilling my schedule which can make me tired or stressed during competition, being a perfectionist which gives me frustration when I make mistakes, occasionally being a lush at the wrong time, & wanting to show others how well I can play too much that it distracts me full execution.
Q: What is your greatest professional accomplishment?
A: My greatest pool accomplish was receiving “Rookie of the Year” in 2010 on the WPBA. I moved myself to NYC specifically to play on the WPBA Regional Tour the JPNEWT. At the time the tour had many of top female pros playing & I believed if I qualified through the toughest tour in the country it would help me succeed once I turned Pro. This award showed me that my insight was correct & all my hard work had payed off.
Q: What are some of your pet peeves when playing against other players both amateur and professional? (i.e. leaving chalk upside down on the table, talc marks on the table, etc.)
A: Some of my pet peeves while playing pool are:
My opponent losing emotional control & physically displaying anger or frustration. Loose racks. My opponent being on their phone. Disrespect in any way. Slow play. My opponent trying to talk to me during our match. Spectators trying to talk to me during my match. The current and future state of the sport:
Q: Are you happy with the current state of the sport? What improvements can be made to enhance and grow it? Why do you think the sport is not as popular? What’s keeping it alive?
A: No I’m not happy with the current state of our sport. I feel that there are too many improvements that can be made to list them in this interview; however, I feel like the most important thing that is needed is a change of mind set. I believe pool players, sponsors, & organizers need to be more open minded, pro-active & eager for change. I think we all need to pool together to support new ideas & tours. I think we need to think outside the box & take risks with the formats & organization of our events.
I believe the sport is not more popular because it is being run by pool players for pool players. We need to look at things from a fresh perspective, we need to consider how non-pool players would be drawn to the game. We also should try to introduce more young people & women to the game.
The game is kept alive by all the players & fans that love it, but in order for it to succeed we must push the boundaries & shake things up! Career:
Q: Who are your sponsors?
A: Gary Borge Dental, Qpod, Amsterdam Billiard Club, Black Heart Tips, & Steve Klapp Custom Cues.
Q: Where do you play/practice out of? Any particular pool room(s)?
A: Amsterdam Billiard Club (NYC) is my home room & sponsor. But I also play & practice a lot out of Elite Billiards (Edison, NJ), then occasionally at Clifton Billiards (Clifton, NJ), Castle Billiards (Rutherford, NJ) and Steinway Billiards (Astoria, Queens)
Q: I follow and see your posts on Facebook often. From I see,you’re doing a great job branding yourself as a young, sexy and growing professional player. What are your personal goals such as tournaments, contributions to the industry, etc?
A: Well first of all thank you for following me! My personal goals & my moto when it comes to promoting myself are as follows: to keep it simple, be myself, have fun, play as much pool as possible, & inspire people to follow their dreams!
Q: Where do you see yourself in the next two, five and 10 years?
A: I try not to look that far ahead & to take each day as it comes, but I would say still in the future I still see myself enjoying life & having a blast!
Photos: Eli Ceballos/Rick Shellhouse Editor: Dana Gornall