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Chris CJ Cannon

May 11, 2011 by Scott Rodriguez

CJ's been on a recent tear, winning and being in the finals of events in a handful of tournaments lately. Maybe he used to slip under the radar, but not anymore...he won't be a player to sleep on any longer. He was nice enough to sit down and answer some questions.

Thanks for taking some time out to talk with CO Foos....first off, we always have to ask this did you get into this game?
Dean Jones. When we were in high school. He dragged me and and couple of us buddies to the Lamplighter in Littleton. We had a pretty fun time getting crushed by Tim Walters. The next day when I told my mom where I had gone, she informed me I wasn't allowed to go there, that sinched it. We went there everyday for the next two years.

You've been playing a long time - why the fresh interest in touring out of state to play?
When I moved to Austin, I started playing tournaments regularly again, for the first time in a long time. So I went to Texas State with the other Austin players. Played good enough to think maybe I could play with these tour players. Then when I moved back to Denver, Dean talked me into going to Kentucky. It was a blast. Now I am hooked.

Despite playing this game for years, you have only just recently started dominating your rank, and even above your rank at Expert - why the sudden burst in skills?
Good question. If you find out let me know. Seriously though, the experience I got from touring and Colorado State, and confidence. Once I decided to trust that my stuff was good enough I was able to excecute, especially at critical times.

There's no way you're going to be an AM for very long, will you still tour as an expert, or were you only in it for the easy money?
Easy money, I wouldn't say that. It's tough on the road. There are some pretty wicked players everywhere and they all have to come up through the amatuer ranks. But, I'll for sure keep touring. It is fun to play people you have never seen before and who haven't seen your game either. It's priceless.

You were down in Texas for a bit, right? Where is the competition tougher - Colorado or Texas?
Next question. lol. Ok. In my opinion, Colorado for sure.

In Expert Singles, you had to face Mark Brubaker for King Seat - what was that like? Do you feel more at ease because it's someone you know, or does that create more pressure?
First of all, playing Mark is just plain fun. He keeps you on your toes at all times. I really do thing that playing him for king seat was an advantage. I really wasn't as nervous as I normally would have been in a winners bracket match. I am not sure why, but Mark brings out the best in me. I guess it's because I know if I get caught up trying to beat him at his game, it would be a quick defeat. So, I have to remain focused on how I play my game.

Although you got dipped in Expert Singles at the US Open (by Mickey Munger, an ex pro who won Master Singles recently), did you feel like taking 2nd in that event was a better accomplishment then winning AM Singles?
You know what, I really did. The caliber of players I played in expert was way higher.

How did the Expert Singles final go? Did you scout him when he beat Brubaker in the Loser's Bracket? Looking back, do you think you could have made adjustments to beat Mickey, or was he just the better player? It looked like that final was played Monday morning, did that effect your game?
My game plan going into that match with Mickey wasn't very good, as it turns out. And the twelve hours between my king seat match and finals match was hard to overcome. I just wasn't as sharp as I was in all my other expert singles matches. And to be honest, I not sure I would have beat him even if I was as sharp. He's a really good player.

When you say your game plan for Mickey could have been so? What was your game plan, and what do you think it should have been?
I noticed Mickey go lane after lane after lane in the match against Mark. And Mickey has a wicked hack series also, so I thought I would take both those things away. It worked great the first game, but to Mickey's credit, he adjusted. I didn't. Plus I got stubborn on the three row and kept trying to get him off the straight instead of just pounding longs. Worse thing was I couldn't square off my splits, so they kept spraying into his guys.

You're one of the few CO players who shoot a pull - how do go through an entire tour weekend doing so? Do you limit yourself to certain events to save your arm? Or do you just go balls to the wall like a beast and not care?
I take alot of Advil. That has been the bain of my existance the whole time I have been touring. I still haven't totally figured it out. I don't play a bunch of pick-up games at the tournaments, and when I do, I don't use my pull unless I am playing to warm-up. I try to limit the events I play in. My arm is still sore on sunday, just have to find a way to fight through it.

Do you work on your pull endurance for those long weekends at all?
Not really.

Hmm�maybe you ought to think about doing that? :-P
You have a pretty consistent deadbar stroke - is that something you worked hard on, or is that just your natural stroke? How handy is it�knowing you can beat a reverse defense at any time?
I got graced with that one. When I first stated shotting a pull shot, that ball sprayed all over the place. Then one day, I met Greg Allen at a pinky's tournament. He told me to open up my stance to give my arm more room to complete the stroke. Once I did that, I was able to square it off no problem.

You keep a pretty level head in matches - do you get mad or let slop get to you ever?
A little bit, but not too much. The way I see it, if you don't want slop to go in, the block it. That actually happened to me in an expert match at the US Open. I got slopped out the second game, after winning the first. Then, in the third game, again three quick slops, and a deficit of three to one, I called timeout, and told myself, "If this guy is going to beat me, he's going to have to hit some good shots." I buckled down and came back to win five three.

For some reason I always thought of you as a forward, but you're winning more in singles than doubles - do you consider yourself a better singles player now?
I always felt more comfortable playing singles. You have noone to blame but yourself, but you also get all the credit when you win.

How come you aren't winning doubles (Time to throw your partners under the bus!...Yay for foos drama!)?
I think I play tighter when playing doubles. Seriously, you really think I am gonna throw Dean under the bus. I can't tell you how many matches he has bailed me out of. Just ask Randy.

Some people are already crying about you needing to be bumped to Expert - what are your thoughts on still playing AM events while you can? (This is where you tell all those weakos to suck it)
I'll play whatever level they say I can. Especially if it's amatuer, lol.

What's been a couple of the funniest moments on tour for you?
At Nationals, when City face planted on that table. I'll remember that one for a while. Or when I took a digger at Colorado State. Still have the scabs from that one.

Haha�how about some more details for those of us that weren't there?
City was just sitting there one second and the next he was face first on the table. You probably had to be there to appreciate it. As for my spill, I stumbled a little and almost caught myself, only to stumble again and again. Finally I decided to bite the bullet and go down on my own terms. I went down, twisted around and jumped right back up. Glad it didn't get caught on tape.

Out of all your matches this past year, what's been your most memorable and why?
The amatuer singles finals against Josh. That was the first time I sat in the winners in the finals. I knew that it was going to be the best chance, to this point, to get a title. He didn't make it easy for me either. It was tough. I was so nervous, I could barely hand him the ball, my hand was shaking so bad.

Which has been the one that still leaves a bad taste in your mouth?
The loss in rookie finals to Mike Billarakis at Kentucky State last year. I had a great chance to double dip him. I had it on my three second game of the second set tied at four, only to second guess my first instinct. I lifted the man up to do my fake staight and instead of coming down on it to do the staight, I called timeout while he bailed out of the way of the would be game winner. Then I tried it again, after the timeout, and he was all over it. He got the ball, scored, and then crushed me five to nothing in the third.

Lately, you've gone from dominating Beginners, to Amatuers, and now you're placing high in Expert - where do you see your foos game in another year or two?
I have a ton of work to do, if I plan on moving up and dominating at the next level. But I believe that if I put in the time, I keep getting better. And the sky's the limit, right. lol.

Let's cut the crap - do you think you're better than all of us experts, or was that just a fluke run!? :-P Haha�Seriously though, has your confidence changed after that Expert Singles event?
Certainly wasn't to high after getting double dipped, lol. How could it not be. Look at the players I played. My Dad used to tell me, "luck is the combination of timing and preparation." So, instead of calling it a fluke run, I would say, "just good timing."

What are the weakest parts of your game that you think you still need to improve on?
My five bar defense can be suspect at times. Occasionally, my goalie defense gets exposed. My five can be predictable sometimes. My pull shot runs hot and cold. I tend to make dumb decisions at the worst times. My whole game needs some work, but not as much as you donks. lol. just kidding.

If you could tell all the other rookies out there dreaming about their own Cinderella story, what would it be?
Your Cinderella story wont come true if you give up on it. Never quit. Ever.

Thanks for taking the time to answer this CJ! Congrats on all your success!
You're welcome and thanks.