On the Wire Creative Media launches Junior International Championship Tour

Fracasso-Verner wins Pro Am Division of five-event weekend

Lukas Fracasso Verner, Ra Hanna and Ricky Evans

In an effort to provide junior players with more opportunities to compete beyond those offered by the Billiards Education Foundation with their single national championship every year, On the Wire Creative Media has launched a nation-wide effort to create a Junior International Championship Tour. That effort premiered on the weekend of Jan. 7-9 with five events, held under the auspices of On the Wire Creative Media and hosted by Wolf’s Den in Roanoke, VA.

At this premiere event, with plans in motion to create five more this year, five champions were crowned; one each for Boys and Girls, 18 and under, as well as one each for Boys and Girls, 13 and Under. In addition, a Pro Am event for competitors 20 and under crowned a champion.

Cameron Lawhorne from Lynchburg, VA took the top prize in the Boys, 18 and Under event, which drew the largest number of entrants (39). Lazaro Martinez was runner-up, while Austin Summers finished in third place. Kennedy Meyman (MN) picked up the title in the Girls, 18 and under category (12 entrants), with Bethany Tate from Raleigh, NC as runner-up. Tate was playing above her ‘weight,’ so to speak, as she was eligible and also competed in the Girls, 13 and under event. She was runner-up in that event, as well. Courtney Hairfield (VA) finished third in the Girls, 18 and Under.

Gabriel Martinez from Texas, came out on top among the Boys, 13 and under (9 entrants), with Adrian Prasad (CA) finishing as the runner up. D’Angelo Spain (MD) finished in third place. In the Girls, 13 and under event, which featured a round robin format for its four entrants, Sofia Mast from Land of Lakes, FL was the winner. Sisters Bethany and Noelle Tate finished 2nd and 3rd.

Winners of the events received a variety of prizes. According to Ra Hanna, owner of On the Wire Creative Media, the tour was designed to create something of a middle ground between the single BEF yearly event and a junior player’s ability to compete in cash-prize tournaments in their local area.

“I wanted the junior players to have a platform where they could play, year round,” he said.

Hanna also created what might be thought of as a transitional event, designed to offer players who’ve aged out of the ‘18 and under’ category. That Pro Am event at this inaugural championship drew 33 entrants and was won by Lukas Fracasso-Verner, who had also won the precursor of this event, a junior championship held in conjunction with Accu-Stats International Open in 2019.

Fracasso-Verner faced separate opponents in the hot seat and finals of the Pro Am event. Both of those opponents were former BEF Junior Champions. His hot seat opponent, Nathan Childress, was the BEF Junior Champion in the 14-and-under Boys division, two years in a row (’15 & ’16). Fracasso-Verner’s opponent in the finals, Ricky Evans, was the 14-and-under Boys champion in 2014 and the 18-and-under Boys champion in 2016 (the year after the 18-and-under Boys champion was Chris Robinson, recent member of the USA’s 2020 Mosconi Cup team and the photographer at this junior championship event).

Fracasso-Verner opened his campaign with a 7-3 win over Julio Estevez and followed it with victories over Eddie Vondreau 7-1 and Riley Adkins 7-3, which set him up to face Ricky Evans for the first time, in a winners’ side semifinal. Childress, in the meantime, had defeated Adrian Prasad 7-1, Trenton White 7-5 and Eric Roberts 7-4 to square off against Kodi Allen (BEF Junior Champion, 16-and-under, ‘19) in the other winners’ side semifinal.

By identical 7-5 scores, Fracasso-Verner and Childress sent Evans and Allen, respectively, to the loss side and turned to face each other in the hot seat match. Fracasso-Verner claimed the hot seat over Childress 7-2.

On the loss side, Evans picked up Eric Roberts, who’d been defeated in a winners’ side quarterfinal by Childress and then, defeated Brent Worth 7-5 and Joey Tate (brother to the Tate sisters and BEF Junior Champion, 14-and-under, ’17 & 18) 7-1. Allen drew Trenton White, who’d also been defeated by Childress, and was working on a five-match, loss-side winning streak that had most recently eliminated Riley Adkins, double hill and Austin Summers (BEF Junior Champion, 18-and-under, 2017) 7-2.

Evans advanced to the quarterfinals 7-5 over Roberts and was joined by White, who’d defeated Allen 7-3. Evans ended Allen’s loss-side winning streak with a 7-2 victory in those quarterfinals.

Evans and Childress battled to double hill in the semifinals, but it was Evans dropping the final ball and advancing to his second shot against Fracasso-Verner. Fracasso-Verner made short work of the final race to 9, allowing Evans only two racks before claiming the inaugural event of the International Junior Championship Tour.

According to Hanna, there are five other events scheduled on this junior tour, pending confirmation of a variety of sites. He is hoping to elevate the juniors’ game and set it on a path toward the future.

“The future of US junior pool shone brightly on this past weekend at the Wolf’s Den in Roanoke, VA,” he wrote in a press release about the results this past Sunday. “I dare you to find a more committed group of young men and women who are dedicated to this beautiful game of ours.”

Hanna thanked title sponsor Littman Lights, Tournament Director and Wolf’s Den owner, Kory Wolford (as well as his staff) and official tour photographer, Chris Robinson.

Top Three Finishers:

18 and under Boys
Cameron Lawhorne
Lazaro Martinez
Austin Summers

18 and under Girls
Kennedy Meyman
Bethany Tate
Courtney Hairfield

13 and under Boys
Gabriel Martinez
Adrian Prasad
D’Angelo Spain

13 and under Girls
Sofia Mast
Bethany Tate
Noelle Tate

Pro Am
Lukas Fracasso Verner
Ricky Evans
Nathan Childress