Childress, Tate continue JIC battle for top spots in Pro Am and 18 & Under Boys divisions

Ivo Linkin, Nathan Childress and Ra Hanna

Linkin downs Childress twice to win Pro Am event on tour’s 5th stop in Texas

Whatever else the Junior International Championships (JIC) have done for the future of junior competition in pool going forward (and it appears as though it could be significant), they have managed to elevate and draw attention to the level of excitement possible when you organize a tour that qualifies the best a tour has to offer in a tour finale event. The competition among the individual players is evident to all, player and fans alike. As of this past weekend, June 25-27, the JIC, held under the auspices of On the Wire Creative Media, has held five events, with three to go, not including the JIC finale, scheduled to coincide in time and space with Pat Fleming’s International Open in Norfolk, VA in October. 

This report will cover two of the five events, the Open Pro and the 18 & Under Boys Division of the JIC. The 18 & Under Girls Division and both of the 13 & Under Divisions are covered in a separate report, available elsewhere in our News pages.

Five different junior players have won the JIC’s Pro Am multi-gender, age-open event, beginning with Lukas Fracasso-Verner in January, who was followed by Gabriel Martinez (March), Joey Tate (April), Nathan Childress (May) and just this past weekend, in the event that drew 27 entrants to Stixx & Stones in Lewisville, TX, Ivo Linkin. The overall leader in the Pro Am event rankings at this point is Tate, who, in addition to his win in April, was second in March and third this past weekend. Childress is right behind him, with his win and a second and third place finish, as well. He is slightly behind Tate because in the two events in which he and Tate did not finish among the top three, he didn’t do quite as well as Tate; 13th and 4th, as opposed to Tate’s 7th and 4th. Trenton White is currently third in the rankings, with a runner-up finish in the fourth event, while Landon Hollingsworth is fourth. Ivo Linkin, who’s currently in fifth place, started slow in this event, finishing in the tie for 17th three times before finishing fifth in the fourth event and going undefeated to chalk up the win in this most recent one, while downing 2nd-place-in-rankings Childress twice.

Victories over Nathan Nunes, Riley Adkins and Cameron Cummings put Linkin in a winners’ side semifinal match against Spencer Ladin. Childress, in the meantime, had sent Zaiden Leary and, significantly, Joey Tate to the loss side to arrive at a winners’ side semifinal against 13-year-old Gabriel Martinez. Linkin leapfrogged into the hot seat match when Ladin forfeited. Childress joined him after chalking up a double hill win over Martinez. Linkin claimed the hot seat 7-3.

On the loss side, Ladin, returning to the competition, drew Joey Tate, who, following his defeat at the hands of Childress in a winners’ side quarterfinal, defeated Riley Adkins 7-1 and April Larson 7-4. Martinez drew Landon Hollingsworth, who’d been defeated by Spencer Ladin in a winners’ side quarterfinal and to reach Gabriel Martinez, had defeated Gabriel’s brother, 14-year-old Lazaro Martinez, double hill and Zaiden Leary 7-5.

Gabriel Martinez downed Hollingsworth 7-3 and in the quarterfinals, faced Tate, who’d survived a double hill fight versus Ladin. Tate then eliminated Gabriel Martinez 7-4 in those quarterfinals, only to have his brief, loss-side run stopped by his Pro Am arch-rival, Nathan Childress 7-5 in the semifinals. Childress and Linkin locked up in a double hill, single race-to-9 final match, won eventually by Linkin 9-8.

Nathan Childress

In the 18 & Under Boys competition, with many of the same players (more of them; 32, in all), Childress faced Tate twice and though he lost the first match, relinquishing the hot seat to Tate, he returned from the semifinals to win the race-to-9 final match.

Childress’ path to the winners’ circle went through Dylan Waugh, Treyshawn Bia and Trenton White, to arrive at a winners’ side semifinal versus Lazaro Martinez. Tate got by Riley Adkins, Cash Lance and Kodi Allen to arrive at his winners’ side semifinal versus Lazaro’s brother, Gabriel. 

Tate downed Gabriel Martinez 7-2, as Childress was busy sending his brother, Lazaro, to the loss side 7-4. As befitting the rivalry that’s ongoing with these two, Tate and Childress battled to double hill for possession of the hot seat. Tate claimed it.

On the loss side, the Martinez brothers were poised for a matchup in the quarterfinals. Gabriel (13) drew the Pro Am winner, Ivo Linkin, who’d been shut out by Trenton White in the opening round of this event and went on a five-match, loss-side winning streak that had eliminated Landon Hollingsworth in a double hill match, Dylan Waugh by shutout, Ben Kleinfelter 7-3 and in a sweet revenge match, survived a double hill battle on a rematch versus Trenton White. Brother Lazaro (14) picked up Riley Adkins, who’d lost his opening match to Joey Tate and mounted a five-match winning streak, as well. He got by Zaiden Leary, Hunter Leinen, Carlos Jinez, Brent Worth and Kodi Allen to meet up with Lazaro Martinez.

Lazaro downed Adkins 7-5, as Gabriel was busy eliminating Linkin 7-1. The younger brother, Gabriel won the siblings matchup 7-4, only to have his loss-side streak terminated by Childress 7-4 in the semifinals. Childress ‘cashed’ his revenge check in the finals, downing Tate 9-7 to claim the 18 & under Boys title at this event.

On the Wire Creative Media’s Ra Hanna awarded Precilia Kinsley the event’s regular Sportperson Award, while Joey Tate picked up the Jeanette Lee Comeback Award. He also thanked Anju and John Bergman and their Stixx & Stones staff for their hospitality, as well as his assistants, Chris Reinhold (handling photography), the Wolfords (Kory and Treena, for their help), Chris Wilson (owner of The League Room in Parkersburg, WV), Mike Littman of Littman Lights and Hanna’s streaming crew. Hanna once again gave a shout out to all of the families of the junior players, whose camaraderie has made these events “truly, one big traveling family.” 

The next stop on the JIC series of events, scheduled for July 16-18, will be hosted by The League Room in Parkersburg, WV.