Masako Katsura was a champion of crokinole at age 14, and during her illustrious playing career, she became the first woman to make more than 100 perfect break shots. Let’s chat about what first made Katsura want to develop her billiards-playing talent!
Crokinole is a dexterity board game similar to carrom and marbles, and it was while playing this game, Katsura first developed an interest in billiards. She began practicing diligently; by age 14, she had become “The First Lady Of Billiards”.
During her illustrious playing career, Katsura made more than 100 perfect break shots – a world record for female players. She also became the first woman to win the World All-Around Billiards Championship, which she did in both 1954 and 1955.
Birth and Childhood
Masako Katsura was born in Osaka, Japan, on September 26, 1931. Her nickname was “Katsy” She was the third child and only daughter of Shigeru and Kiyoko Katsura. Her father was a well-known businessman, and her mother was a homemaker. Masako attended an all-girls school in Osaka and graduated high school in 1949.
Masako was an avid reader in her youth and enjoyed playing sports such as tennis, golf, and skiing. She also developed a love for billiards at an early age. When she was 18 years old, she entered her first professional billiards tournament – the All-Japan Championship – and finished in second place. She would go on to win that tournament four times throughout her career.
Masako met her future husband, Eiichi Ota, at a dinner party in 1950. He was a doctor who had just returned to Japan after studying abroad in the United States. They were married one year later and had two children: a son named Hiroshi (born 1952) and a daughter named Nobuko (born 1954).
Although Masako was an accomplished athlete and champion billiards player, she did not pursue a career in sports. After marrying Eiichi Ota, she became a homemaker and devoted herself to raising her children. She remained an active member of the Women’s Billiards Association and gave occasional lectures on the game of pool. She also wrote several books on the subject, including How to Play Billiards (1975), Winning Women’s Billiards (1975), Best of Masako Katsura’s Pool Tips (1976), All About Billiards (1984), The New Science of Winning at Pool (1985), and Mother Takes Up a Cue: The Masako Katsura Story (1999).
In 1968, Masako was invited to participate in the first Women’s World Championships of Nine-Ball, held in Jacksonville, Florida. She defeated American player Joy Blumberg in the final match to become the event’s first champion. She successfully defended her title at the 1970 Championships in Tokyo, defeating compatriot Sadako Sugiyama in the final.
Masako Katsura Professional Career
Before finding success as a professional billiards player, Masako Katsura was an accomplished singer and actress. She began her career in entertainment in her native Japan, where she enjoyed moderate success. However, it was only when she moved to the United States in the early 1970s that she found true stardom.
Katsura became a household name in America thanks to her appearances on popular TV shows like The Tonight Show and The Merv Griffin Show. She also made headlines for her unique style of dress, which often featured short skirts and low-cut tops. This combination of undeniable talent helped make Katsura one of the most popular entertainers of her time.
While she is best known for her work in front of the camera, Katsura also had a successful career as a professional billiards player. She was ranked among the top players in the world and even won several championships. In retirement, she the first lady of billiards remains an ambassador for the sport, using her platform to promote billiards to a new generation of fans.
Masako Katsura Personal Life
Masako Katsura was born in Tokyo, Japan, on October 21, 1955. She started playing pool at eight and developed into a top player. In 1975, she became the first female player to win the All-Japan Billiards Championship.
Katsura has been married twice. Her first husband was fellow pool player Eiichi Tajima, whom she divorced in 1992. She married her second husband, Nobuyuki Sugimoto, in 2004. The couple has two sons together.
In her spare time, Katsura enjoys playing golf and tennis. She is also an accomplished pianist and has released several classical music albums.
Awards and Accomplishments.
In 1975, Masako Katsura became the first female player to win the All-Japan Billiards Championship. She has gone on to win the title a total of 11 times.
Katsura has represented Japan at five World Games, winning gold medals in 1981 and 1985. She also won gold at the 1982 Asian Games and silver at the 1986 Asian Games.
Reasons Why She’s Important to the Sport
Billiards is a sport that has been around for centuries, and it has always been a male-dominated sport. Yet, a few women have made their mark in the sport, and Masako Katsura is one of them.
Katsura was born in Osaka, Japan, in 1965. She began playing billiards at 14 and rose to prominence in the Japanese pool scene. In 1985, she became the first woman to win the All-Japan Pool Championship. She would win that title four more times over the next decade.
In 1995, Katsura moved to the United States to compete on the pro tour. She established herself as one of the top female players in the world. In 2001, she became the first woman to reach the U.S. Open 9-Ball Championship semifinals.
Katsura has continued to be a force on the pro tour over the past 15 years. In 2014, she won her first major tournament since 2001, when she took down Karen Corr in the finals of The Battle 4 Atlantis event.
So why is Katsura so crucial to the sport? There are a few reasons:
1) She is one of the most successful female players in history. Her accomplishments speak for themselves.
2) She has helped pave the way for other female players. When Katsura first arrived, only a few female players competed at the highest levels. She has inspired other women to pursue their dreams of playing professional pool.
3) She is a true ambassador for the sport. Katsura is always willing to meet with fans and sign autographs. She also gives pool lessons to beginners.
4) She is still competing at a high level. Even at the age of 49, Katsura is still one of the best players in the world. She continues to compete against the sport’s top players and always gives them a run for their money.