Sports

No slop allowed here

Ray Mills takes aim on one of the tables at Jo Jo’s Harbor Light Tavern, one of his favorite local spots to sharpen his pool skills. - Kevin Endejan
Ray Mills takes aim on one of the tables at Jo Jo’s Harbor Light Tavern, one of his favorite local spots to sharpen his pool skills.
— image credit: Kevin Endejan

Ray Mills loves the game of pool, but he also likes to keep things traditional. That’s why nine months ago, the Oak Harbor resident decided to establish a league slightly different from others in the area. He founded No-Slop Washington, a division of the nationally affiliated T.A.P. (The Association for Pool) league.

“Nationally, we pride ourselves on being a non-slop league where if you sink a ball accidentally you don’t keep shooting,” Mills said.

Aside from keeping the game pure, the idea of the T.A.P. league is to work with teammates to achieve a win in eight ball, nine ball or Scotch Doubles.

Each participant is ranked from a skill level of two, the lowest, all the way to seven, which is the highest. Teams, which generally consist of five players, are allowed to have a combined skill level no higher than 25 to keep a level playing field.

“Technically, not only are you limiting the overall skill of the team, which encourages lower players to play...it encourages the better players to realize they’re not playing for themselves, but they’re playing for the better of the team,” Mills said.

Players score points in a variety of ways including defensive positioning, balls left on table and completion of a called shot. After matches the scores are sent to Mills and entered into a computerized national ranking system.

If teams are good enough, they can earn the right to play for a T.A.P. titleholder prize of $10,000 every four months, or the annual National Championship for a grand prize of $20,000 on an all-expense paid trip Las Vegas, Nev.

“A player has to decide if they want to go all out and try to beat everybody in the United States or they can realize it’s a game where they spend some time and find five people who are going to try the team work aspect of it,” Mills said. “To me that multiplies the enjoyment five fold.”

Although Mills has been running the No-Slop Washington league since February, he has struggled to find much interest in the area. Numerous trips to local watering holes and the posting of flyers have been to no avail.

“I’ve visited every bar in town even though I’m not much of a bar person,” Mills said.

He has the franchise rights to operate a T.A.P. league in Island and Skagit counties, but has found little interest in both areas thus far.

“For the most part I have to overcome the inertia of the existing local leagues,” Mills said. “Another problem is only people who think they’re good enough join leagues and we’re trying to encourage any level of players to get in the league.”

Although he only paid a franchise fee for Island and Skagit counties, Mills is currently operating No-Slop Washington on the Snohomish and King county line with play soon to start up in Everett.

“As a function of our agreement I’m allowed to work adjoining areas as long as no one else wants them,” he said.

Despite success in other areas, Mills would like to see the league take off on the island.

“It offers people a way to get off the island, even a chance to go to national contests,” he said.

Members pay $20 for a year and teams pay $30 per night for five player line ups. Those interested can visit the T.A.P. web site at www.tapleague.com or call Mills at 679-8225 or NSW 8-Ball.

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