The crash of the balls reverberates throughout the pool hall as Mary Rakin breaks the rack for a game of 9-ball.
It’s a Saturday afternoon at Family Billiards on Geary Boulevard in The City. The two-time world junior champion is practicing with a teammate for their Tuesday night leagues. The 4-foot-10 “Bone Breakin’ Rakin” blends the explosive power of her 22 mph break with a soft touch and finesse as she runs the table.
The Daly City resident was dominant in the recently completed five-stop West Coast Women’s Tour. After taking a third in the first event, Rakin racked up three consecutive victories before taking a second in the final stop. The 21-year-old San Francisco State University junior earned several hundred dollars as the overall point winner, but more significant was who she unseated as the champion.
Michelle Rakin, Mary’s oldest sister, had won the Tour six consecutive years and is nothing but gracious as she relinquishes the title.
“I don’t mind it,” Michelle said. “We all have the same last name, so we’re keeping the family proud.”
When Redante Rakin’s wife died, he was faced with sole responsibility of raising three daughters and twin sons between the ages of 5 and 10. Playing pool provided an outlet to cope with the grief, and his kids wanted in.
“My dad would always drop us off at my aunt’s house,” Mary said. “I being the youngest girl would always cry, so he would bring us to where he was going, which was usually the pool hall.”
A pool table became a fixture in the Rakins’ Daly City home when Mary was 10 years old, and the start of serious training ensued. Mary and her sister, Regina, washed a lot of dishes in those days, as the family tournaments to decide who had dish duty were mostly won by Michelle.
“We played every day for seven years,” Michelle said. “Every day after school, all five of us would go on the table.”
Mary adds a little smile and a slight shudderas her sister’s comment is a reminder of the mandatory training drills.
The rigid training regimen paid off for Mary Rakin with trips to Sydney, Australia, where she won back-to-back world championship trophies in 2006 and 2007. It’s been her father, a retired longshoreman, who has never left her corner.
“My dad taught me all you think about when you’re playing is myself and the table, not your opponent; play the ghost,” she said.
The only higher priority that Redante Rakin has for his kids above pool is education.
Michelle is a USF graduate with plans to earn a Master’s in public health from UCSF. Mary is a criminal justice major at S.F. State with law school in her future.
Both women prefer to study amid the sounds of pool halls rather than the silence of libraries.
The Rakin file
Who: Mary Rakin, 9-ball billiards champion
What: 2006-07 World Juniors and 2009 West Coast Women’s Tour champion
West Coast Women’s Tour: Five-stop event from July-November
Join the tour: www.onthebreaknews.com/tours.htm
Check out her game: Billiard Congress of America (BCA), Tuesday night leagues at Family Billiards, 2807 Geary Blvd.,