Billiards Sports Networks launches Dynaspheres Cup Series with Junior Championships

Nathan Childress, Jackson Hurst, Cameron Lawhorne, Kodi Allen, Joey Tate, Landon Hollingsworth

Raleigh NC’s Joey Tate and Shenandoah, VA’s Garret Vaughan win their divisions

There have always been junior players, far more of them than the numbers that have actually graduated to professional levels of competition. In an off-the-top-of-one’s-head category of examples, Johnny Archer was a junior player once. So was Shannon Daulton and a lot of other now well-known professionals like Billy Thorpe and Chris Robinson, to name just a couple. Events capable of accommodating the development of junior players have, however, lagged behind the increasing 21st century numbers of interested juniors.

Until recently, the only widely-known avenue for junior competition was the Billiard Education Foundation’s annual Junior National Championships, preceded by a number of nationwide qualifying events. Last month, January 7-9, On the Wire Creative Media launched a Junior International Tour, with five junior events held at Wolf’s Den in Roanoke, VA (see related article in our News Archive, dated January 13), with eight other events planned through October. On the weekend of February 20-21, the Maryland-based Billiard Sports Network (BSN) joined the list of organizations looking to promote further junior competition for the increasingly growing number of junior players interested in competing. Their efforts were initiated with the first of two planned junior events for this year, nestled in the midst of a broader “collection of tournaments,” all under the ‘umbrella’ title of the Dynaspheres Cups.

Originally engaged in streaming live pool events, BSN and its founders, Jake Lawson and Josh Setterfield, had always projected that they would eventually start and run their own events. The pandemic brought those ideas to the forefront.

“We were going to start a collection of tournaments throughout the year,” said Lawson, “and we started reaching out to folks with whom we had relationships in the industry.”

This led BSN to Dynaspheres Balls, a subsidiary of Championship Fabric, LLC. Lawson also owns BreakOut Apparel (formerly LightsOut Apparel) and had a distribution deal with Dynaspheres Balls.

“When we decided to do this collection of tournaments,” said Lawson, “Dynaspheres came back and said they were interested in getting involved.”

Though the events were originally going to utilize the name, BSN Cups, the nature and commitment to the deal arranged with Dynaspheres Balls led Lawson and Setterfield to give them title sponsorship.

“It was the right thing to do,” said Lawson, adding that the decision to open their “collection” with a junior event was part of the ongoing response to the need for more of them. “There are just not enough junior events out there.”

This first Dynaspheres Cup Juniors 9-Ball Championship, this past weekend, crowned two champions; Raleigh, NC’s Joey Tate (15-18) and Shenandoah, VA’s Garrett Vaughan (14 and under). It was, in fact, a bit of a family affair for both of the winners. Tate’s younger sisters, Bethany and Noelle competed in the 14-and-under event, while Garrett’s brother, Grayson, competed with him in the 14-and-under event, as well. They met in the quarterfinals. The 15-18 year-old, $500-added event drew 27 entrants, while the 14-and-under $500-added tournament drew 22 to Brews and Cues on the Boulevard in Glen Burnie, MD.

Joey Tate and runner-up in the 15-to-18 year-old event, Landon Hollingsworth came to the event with a degree of Amateur tour experience, particularly with the Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball Tour on which they both play regularly. Tate has been playing on that tour since 2017, has cashed in eight appearances and won three times. Hollingsworth has cashed in 18 appearances on the tour since 2018 and like Tate, has won three times. All of Hollingsworth’s victories came last year. Tate chalked up his first 2021 victory at this Juniors event, coming from a one-match trip to the loss side to claim the title, when he downed Hollingsworth in the finals.

Tate followed an opening round bye with victories over Jeffrie Martinez and Brent Worth to arrive at a winners’ side semifinal match against Cameron Lawhorne, another Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball alumnus (14 cash payouts on the tour since 2017, with two wins). Hollingsworth got by Jacob Kohl, Joshua Joseph and Kodi Allen to arrive at his winners’ side semifinal matchup versus Nathan Childress, who started appearing on cash payout lists just last year and chalked up six cash prizes, including two wins; one, at On the Hill Productions’ 9-Ball Fall Shootout and the other, with Shane Wolford in a Scotch Doubles event.

Tate downed Lawhorne 7-4 and was joined in the hot seat match by Hollingsworth, who’d sent Childress to the loss side 7-5. As might have been expected, Hollingsworth and Tate locked up in a double hill fight for the hot seat. Hollingsworth claimed it and waited in it for Tate’s return.

On the loss side, Lawhorne picked up Kodi Allen, who, after being defeated by Hollingsworth on the winners’ side, defeated Jeffrie Martinez 7-2 and Hunter Frazier 7-4. Childress drew Jackson Hurst, who’d shut out Richard Burch and defeated Brent Worth to reach him.

Childress got by Hurst 7-3. Lawhorne joined him in the quarterfinals, after defeating Allen 7-2. In another predictable event, Lawhorne and Childress battled to double hill, before Lawhorne prevailed for a second shot against Tate. That, too, turned into a double hill contest that eventually sent Tate back over to challenge Hollingsworth in the hot seat.

It’s likely that a third straight double hill match was expected from the second Tate/Hollingsworth meeting, but it didn’t happen. Tate completed the Dynaspheres Cup’s first Junior 9-Ball Championship and his first victory run of 2021 with a 7-4 win in the finals.

Adrian Prasad, Payne McBride, Garrett Vaughn , D’Angelo “Jawz” Spain, Grayson Vaughn, Niko Konkel

Vaughan comes from the loss side to win 14-and-under division

The brothers Vaughan almost met in the hot seat match of the 14-and-under tournament.

As the elder brother, Garrett (14), got his bye and then worked his way through the field, shutting out Dylan Moore and defeating Niko Konkel 7-1 to arrive at a winners’ side semifinal match against D’Angelo “Jawz” Spain, younger brother Grayson (11) was doing his part by (without a bye) defeating Hayleigh Marion 7-1, shutting out Carley Tomaszewski and sending Adrian Prasad west 7-5, to arrive at his winners’ side semifinal match against Payne McBride.

There they sat, one match away from drawing each other in the hot seat match of a tournament. Garrett and “Jawz” fought to double hill before “Jawz” prevailed. McBride downed Grayson 7-3, and the brothers had to settle for the possibility of meeting in the event quarterfinals. McBride, in the meantime, defeated Spain 7-3 to claim the hot seat.

On the loss side, Garrett drew Adrian Prasad, who’d defeated Skylar Hess 7-2 and Hayleigh Marion 7-5 to reach him. Brother Grayson picked up Niko Konkel, who’d defeated Joey Tate’s younger sister, Noelle 7-1 and Jayce Little 7-3.

The stars aligned properly, although Grayson had his work cut out for him with a double hill battle against Konkel. He won it, eventually, and was joined in the quarterfinals by his brother, who’d come a game short of double hill in defeating Prasad 7-5. And the brothers locked up in a double hill fight that had to be of immense importance to both of them on a lot of different levels. Big brother Garrett won it, though, and advanced to face D’Angelo Spain in the semifinals.

With Grayson no doubt rooting for him all the way, Garrett shut Spain out and then, with Grayson rooting him on to defeat the player who’d sent him to the loss side, Garrett downed McBride 7-2 to claim the 14-and-under championship title.

Jake Lawson and Josh Setterfield thanked the ownership and staff at Brews & Cues for their hospitality, as well as title sponsor Dynaspheres, Lucid Ballsports (Predator Arena Light), Gina Cunningham (Keller Williams Integrity), East Coast Prime Meats, Center Pocket, Courtyard by Marriott Bowie, Maryland, Luke Thompson Photography, MB Cues/Mike Burton, Integrity Cues, Break Out Billiards Apparel, AZBilliards, Premier Billiards and They also thanked Tour Director Steve Fleming, and their staff of Tracy Gebhard, Kim Huff and Robbie Hess.

The next tournament in The Dynaspheres Cup series, scheduled for May 1-2, will be the $5,000-added Open/Pro Dynaspheres Cup 10-Ball Championships, to which Shane Van Boening, James Aranas, Fedor Gorst, Kristina Tkach, Brandon Shuff and Shaun Wilkie, among others, have reportedly already signed up. The Dynaspheres Cup 8-Ball Championship is scheduled for June 5-6. The Dynaspheres Cup Double 8-Ball Championship is scheduled for July 31-August 1 and the second Junior Championship is set for September 25-26. The series finale, scheduled for November 6-7, will be The Dynaspheres Cup 9-Ball Championships. All events will be hosted by Center Pocket in Bowie, MD.

According to Lawson, plans are in motion to expand this first season’s four Open/Pro and two Junior events. BSN has a two-year-contract with Dynaspheres and is looking at planning for 12 events in 2022.