Wichita pool Hall of Fame welcomes first female hotshot

By Joe Stumpe | November 29, 2023

Julie Mason-Comitini

Julie Mason-Comitini was working the day shift at Merle’s Place in the 1980s when she started picking up a pool cue to pass the time.

“I would just shoot pool by myself,” she remembers. “One of the guys said, ‘Hey, you play pretty good. Why don’t you play on our pool team?’”

Mason-Comitini didn’t just help the team at Merle’s. She went on to win numerous individual and team championships, eventually turning pro and traveling the country full time to play.

Last month, she became the sixth player and first woman inducted into the Wichita Pool Players Hall of Fame.

“I am both honored and deeply humbled to be recognized by the Wichita Pool Players Hall of Fame as the first of what I’m sure will be many women chosen,” she said. “This honor in my home town will always be one of the most important events of my life.”

Active in sports growing up, Mason-Comitini said she picked up pool naturally but also learned much by watching other players at past and present local billiards haunts such as Rumors, Shooters, Club Billiards and the Steven family game rooms.

“I was always around great players,” she said. “Wichita was great about that. Most of the time, I had a job in a pool room. That helped as well.”

She won her first state tournament in Minnesota in 1989, going on to win others in Kansas, Missouri, Texas and New Mexico. She captured a half dozen national titles, including what she said was her biggest, the 1994 McDermott 9-ball championship in Las Vegas. She was named the national 9-ball tour points champion three straight years, reaching a world No. 24 ranking by the World Professional Billiards Association in 1999. 

The next year, she joined the WPBA tour full time, living out of hotel rooms and traveling constantly. “If you wanted to be competitive, you had to be out there competing on different equipment all the time, so you could be sharp and acclimate fast,” she said. “You just had to be able to change and adapt really quickly.”

She said she made “pretty good money” but quit the tour when she couldn’t find a sponsor. She went to school to study gemology. Today, she and husband own a jewelry store in Keller, Texas, where her husband is a watchmaker and she does appraisals and custom designs.

The Wichita Pool Players Hall of Fame, founded in 2015, is housed at Club Billiards, 925 W. Douglas, the city’s oldest pool room. 

While Mason-Comitini misses playing the game, she wasn’t sure she’d be picking up a cue again when she returned to Wichita for her induction into the Hall of Fame.

“It’s really difficult because once you’ve done something for a living, and you’ve done it an elite level, it’s not fun to go miss balls you’re not supposed to miss.”