Frances Arechiga found herself grief-stricken and lacking confidence when she went to the 2018 BCA Pool League World Championships in Las Vegas. She expects a much different experience when she returns to the competition this weekend.

“I had just lost my dad a few days before us coming to Las Vegas last year,” Arechiga said. “We lost him on July 12, and … I wasn’t myself. I don’t like to use excuses, but I am hoping for a better outcome this year.”

The 38-year-old Arechiga is still learning the game she started playing in 2013 as a member of the American Poolplayers Association. She switched over to the BCA Pool League in 2018.

“The APA league is one where they don’t call pocket, and it is more for beginners,” Arechiga said. “But it is still a challenging league.”

A housewife with two boys, Arechiga will start play Saturday in the Women’s Silver Division of 8-ball singles. She also will be an alternate on the 9-ball Platinum Division team along with her husband, Cesar Arechiga, and other Southern Brazoria County players.

“To see the progression of her now from where she was when she started is just great,” Cesar Arechiga said. “She listens, but not just to me, she’s also listened to others that have tried to give her insight on the game. She’s got better shots and has made better decisions because of her attentiveness to the game.”

Frances Arechiga has a 346 score under FargoRate, a global handicapping program — top pros carry between a 700 and 800 rating, according to the service. The scores are used to put players of equal skill level, and the mid-300s rating is just fine with Arechiga.

“I want to be recognized as someone that they think is really not that good,” she said. “I know that I will be in a better place this time around, plus I will be playing for my father, Fernando Aguilar.”

Arechiga takes a cautious approach to each game, then pounces once her opponent makes a mistake.

“My game is different and even my husband is impressed because I play a safety game,” she said. “If I know that I can’t run the table or run the rack, then my safety will be to hook my opponent. In other words, I will try to block my opponent from having a shot.”

As a bronze player last year, Frances won at least two matches. One of those was a come-from-behind victory after losing the first three games.

“I learned a lot by just watching my husband and kind of figured out some things that way,” she said. “I also listened to him when he started teaching me. If I had a question I would ask him if he was available, and if he wasn’t, I’d ask some friends. Overall, I think I’ve done pretty good considering that my practice time is limited. Really the only time that I do get some practice is when I play tournaments.”

That lack of practice time doesn’t always hurt, she said.

“I actually do well when I just go out and play, but I will run into those players where I just take the wrong shot or something happens and that will cost me,” Arechiga said.

There is a possibility she could still be playing into the final day of the eight-ball tournament next Tuesday. But a lot of things will have to go her way in order for that to happen.

“I would say that she does have some natural talent for this game,” Cesar Arichega said. “Even though it’s been hard for her to find time for practice … it has been amazing how much she’s progressed from those early days to now.”

Joel Luna is sports editor for The Facts. Contact him at 979-237-0160.

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