Joey Tate goes undefeated to win July 4th weekend stop on the Carolina Pool Tour

Joey Tate

North Carolina’s Joey Tate is right on the verge of making his age an irrelevant fact. He turned 17 less than a month ago (June 28) and he’s in the midst of recording his best earnings year since he started showing up on AZBilliards’ database in 2017 at the age of 12. It could well be that his competitors over these past five years are growing tired of hearing that he’s a junior competitor, especially after he’s defeated one of them in a major event. This past July 4th weekend, he joined 32 other entrants at a $1,000-added stop on the Carolina Pool Tour (in collaboration with the Players Madness Tour) at Breaktime Billiards in Winston-Salem, NC and went undefeated to the finish line, defeating perennial North Carolina State Champion Mike Davis, Jr. in the finals.

As the Billiards Education Foundation’s 2022 Junior National Champion in the 18 & Under Boys Division, which is only the most recent of his accomplishments since he was a 7th grader, Tate brings to his forays into the ‘real world’ of regional tour competition, a sense of confidence, tempered by an awareness about the dangers of overconfidence.

“When you win,” he said after this past weekend’s victory, “you can get caught up in it, to the point of arrogance; not like in how you behave, but an arrogance in your own mind.”

“You still have to stay humble and hungry,” he added. 

He pointed to separate influences on him, which keep him in that ‘humble and hungry’ mode; his Christian faith, which grants him the opportunity to be, among other things, thankful for the victories, as well as his own experiences at the table and his observations of the top professionals.

“Through experience,” he said, “you can catch the thoughts that trigger arrogance and block them out. And watching pro players when they’re playing their best; you can see how focused they are and how clean their shots are.

“So,” he added, “it’s really about a combination of those things.”

Tate had his ‘hungry and humble’ hands full from the outset. He opened his six-match march to the win against Michael Yingling, who promptly battled him to double hill. Tate survived, advancing through another junior competitor, Cole Lewis 7-3, then, Adam Pendley 7-4 and in a winners’ side semifinal, in a second double hill fight, he defeated Josh Heeter. Tate advanced to the hot seat match. 

Tate’s eventual hot seat opponent, Cory Morphew, on the other hand, shut out three of the four opponents he faced to get to that match; Reene Driskill in their opening-round match, BJ Ussery in the third round and Chuck Ritchie in the winners’ side semifinal. The only opponent he didn’t shut out was Mike Davis, Jr., who chalked up five against him in their second-round match (33 entrants in the bracket made the opening round of the event a single match). Davis and Morphew would meet again in the semifinals, which, as it turned out, did not go well for Morphew. Neither did the hot seat match, won by Tate 7-4.

On the loss side, Heeter picked up Ussery, who’d followed his loss to Morphew with victories over Bruce Campbell 7-4 and Kelly Farrar 7-2. Ritchie drew Davis, who followed his loss to Morphew with a seven-match, loss-side run to the finals, that had recently eliminated Adam Pendley and Clint Clark, both 7-4.

Davis downed Ritchie 7-3 and in the quarterfinals, faced Ussery, who’d eliminated Heeter, also  7-3. Davis gave up only a single rack to Ussery in those quarterfinals and stepped into his rematch against Morphew in the semifinals. 

Davis downed Morphew 7-3 for a shot at Tate in the hot seat. Tate claimed the event title of Stop #8 on the Carolina Pool Tour with a 7-2 win over Davis.

Co-tour directors Nickolus Rogers and Xzavia Boykin of the Players Madness Tour thanked the ownership and staff at Breaktime Billiards and all of the players who attended the July 4th weekend event.

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