Rivas first played pool in the basement of his West Allis home when he
was 10 years old. Four years later he has some lofty goals when it
comes to shooting stick. "I want to be untouchable by
anybody," he says.
by the West Allis Hale freshman sounds at the very least overly
optimistic, but the kid has the game to back it up. He won the junior
national championship in July in Las Vegas where he beat out 50
top-ranked juniors from around the country. Sergio hopes to compete in
the world junior championships in December to represent the United
States in the event in Johannesburg, South Africa; he is looking for
sponsors to cover the considerable travel expenses.
His father, Joe,
a master pool player, taught Sergio the ways of the table. The younger
Rivas began turning heads on the national level in the summer of 2011
when he finished third out of nearly 1,000 players, many of whom were
highly ranked adults in the amateur open division of the prestigious
Allen Hopkins tournament near Philadelphia. Two years later in the pro
competition at that same event, Sergio had Dennis Hatch, the
third-ranked player in America, on the ropes before Hatch rallied to
win the match. "Iíve got my hands full with this kid,"
Hatch told spectators.
One of those
watching that match was the legendary Efren Reyes from the Philippines
who was transfixed by the teenager no one had heard of. "I hope
he keeps playing," Reyes says. "Heíd be the Michael Jordan
of the Philippines in our sport."
were four-deep around the table," Joe Rivas said of his sonís
battle with Hatch.
What sets Sergio
apart is his extraordinary focus and maturity for someone his age. He
watches hours of video of the top players until he can master their
techniques. "I can watch something and be able to do it," he
three to four hours every day and travels with his father to the top
tournaments in the Midwest. "I put him against good
players," Rivas says. "That toughens him up. You always
gotta be good."
brother, Jose, who was a top-ranked competitor, also mentored Sergio.
"My dad and Jose both taught me, but my style is more like my
brotherís," Sergio says. "He could be one of the top guys
now but he decided to get married and raise a family."
plays like a true pool prodigy, he never acts like one. "I donít
ever try to make it like that," he says. "Thereís always
gets a big head," his dad says. "And he does well in school.
The focus and discipline from the game help him in the classroom. And
thereís a lot of geometry in pool. Itís all about angles."
to rack íem up with quiet confidence. His goals are to win the top
pro events, the U.S. Open 9-Ball Championship and the World Nine-ball
Championship. "When Iím on my game, I should never make a
mistake," he says.