Junior competitor Zayas goes undefeated on Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball Tour

Hunter Zayas

A day later, he was still shaking his head.

Herman Parker and the Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball Tour paid a visit to West End Billiards in Gastonia, NC this past weekend (February 6-7). In spite of it being Super Bowl weekend for a population trying to avoid contracting a virus that’s turned into a global pandemic, the $250-added event drew 78 entrants. And Herman was shaking his head, because . . .

“The week before, we didn’t even know where we were going to be,” he said. “West End Billiards gave us an opportunity.”

“Oh, and by the way,” he added. “A 14-year-old won the whole thing.”

And the 14-year-old (Hunter Zayas) was not alone. He battled against another Junior player, Cole Lewis, in a winners’ side semifinal (Lewis finished third the week before), while a third junior player, Landon Hollingsworth, was fighting to get into the money, as the 78-player field whittled down to eight.

In his first year of recorded cash winnings in our database, Hunter Zayas cashed in seven Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball Tour events, which included his first recorded tour victory anywhere, at the tour’s annual Turkey Bowl, last November. A month later, he was runner-up to BJ Ussery at a new venue for the tour, Overtime Bar & Grill in Columbia, SC.  

Hunter Zayas went undefeated to claim the event title. He gave up a total of 8 racks in four of the seven matches he played, but his opponents chalked up 14 in the other three, including four in his opening match, six in a double hill, winners’ side quarterfinal and four in what proved to be the last match of the event, the semifinals. Zayas and Clint Clark opted out of a final match and split the top two prizes. It should be noted that while Zayas now has two tour victories on his resume, both of them came as the result of being the undefeated occupant of the hot seat at the conclusion of the semifinals and opting out of a final match against the winner of those semifinals (Billy Fowler at the Turkey Bowl and Clark at this most recent event). There are unconfirmed reports that Zayas is so good, that players coming out of the semifinals don’t want to take him on.  

They’d met first in the hot seat match. Clark had started his winners’ side semifinal contest against Josh Heeter with a single bead on the wire, in a race to 9 and sent Heeter to the loss side 8-4. Zayas joined him after sending his fellow-junior player, Cole Lewis over 6-2. Zayas started the hot seat match with two on the wire in a race to 8 and sent packing for the semifinals 6-4.

On the loss side, Lewis and Heeter ran straight into their second straight loss. Jason Gardner had eliminated Jonjon Newman double hill (5-5) and Ricky Bingham 5-3 to meet and then defeat Lewis, double hill (5-5 again). Heeter drew Justin Duncan, who’d defeated Joey Fox, double hill, and knocked out the third prominent junior player, Landon Hollingsworth 6-4. Duncan, with three beads on the wire, to start, in a race to 9, defeated Heeter 6-5 to join Gardner in the quarterfinals. 

Gardner chalked up his second straight double hill win, defeating Duncan in the quarterfinals. Clint Clark ended Gardner’s loss-side run 8-1 in the semifinals. At that point, Clark and Zayas agreed to a split of the top two cash prizes. As the undefeated occupant of the hot seat, Zayas laid claim to the official event title.

Tour director Herman Parker thanked the ownership and staff at West End Billiards, as well as title sponsor Viking Cues, BarPoolTables.net, AZBilliards, Federal Savings Bank Mortgage Division and Dirty South Grind Apparel Co. The next stop on the Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball Tour, scheduled for this weekend, Feb. 13-14, will be hosted by Borderline Billiards in Bristol, TN.