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Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball Tour launches series of seasonal Open events

Lisa Cossette

Martin and Cossette take Open and Ladies events at inaugural Winter Classic

In the future, there’ll be a Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall Classic on the Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball Tour. They are a component of a larger plan that tour director Herman Parker is initiating to feature more Open (non-handicapped) events on the tour schedule. In the inaugural Winter Classic, held this past weekend (Feb. 5-6), Justin Martin and Lisa Cossette went undefeated through the Open and Ladies fields to claim the two titles. 

“I want to attract the culture of people who want to play in Open events, rather than handicapped events,” he said, following the completion of the Winter Classic. “I’m planning on 10-12 this year and my goal, down the road is to have it be 50-50; that’d be ideal.”

“I don’t know if it’ll get there,” he added, “but this year, I want to do, on average, about one (Open event) a month.”

The inaugural Winter Classic, featuring its Open tournament and a Ladies event, which, according to Parker, is a side of the tour that he is trying to grow. Three women who competed in the Ladies tournament, also competed in the Open event. The $1,500-added events ($1,000 in the Open and $500 in the Ladies) drew 52 and 18 entrants, respectively, to Break Time Billiards and Sports Bar in Winston-Salem, NC. The 18 women were the largest number of female entrants to ever compete in an Open event on the tour. One of them, 11-year-old Noelle Tate, who finished 4th, became the youngest competitor of either gender to cash in a Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball event in the nine years of its existence.

So, we’ll start there and focus on the 11-year-old for a moment. Noelle Tate is just one member of a family of competitors who are making a name for themselves at the pool tables. Noelle is a younger sister to Bethany and Joey Tate. They were all competitors during last year’s nation-wide series of events, known as the Junior International Championships (JIC), which began its second season just last month. JIC founder, tour director and something of a ‘parental unit’ at JIC events, Ra Hanna, had announced, prior to the start of the JIC’s second season, that part of the second-year plan was to move the junior competitors into the arena of regional tours and Open events. Noelle Tate and (in the Open event) Landon Hollingsworth are manifestations of that plan. Tate came into the event and lost her second-round match to Marianne Merrill. She went on to win four on the loss side, including a 5-2 win over the woman who was favored to win the tournament, Christy Norris. She was eliminated in the quarterfinals by Katie Bischoff 5-3.

The eventual winner, Lisa Cossette, advanced through the field to a winners’ side semifinal against Norris, as Shannon Johnson and Amanda Mann squared off in the other one. Cossette and Johnson, following victories over Norris (double hill) and Mann (7-4), advanced to the hot seat match, at which Cossette prevailed 7-3.

Norris moved to the loss side and ran into Tate, who’d recently eliminated Casey Cork, double hill and Beth Allen 5-2. Mann picked up Katie Bischoff, who’d downed Marianne Merrill and Allie Tilley, both 5-2, to reach her. Tate defeated Norris 5-2 and was joined in the quarterfinals by Bischoff, who’d shut Mann out.

Bischoff eliminated Tate in that quarterfinal (5-3), but not soon enough to keep the 11-year-old out of the money in what was the first money round. Bischoff moved on to defeat Johnson in the semifinals 5-3. An appropriate double hill fight ensued in the single-match finals with Cossette claiming the title over Bischoff 7-6.

Justin Martin

Martin and Ussery battle twice to claim first Winter Classic title

Nine times out of 10, the winner and runner-up of an event, if they’ve competed against each other twice, have done so in the hot seat match and finals. Not so, this time around. Justin Martin and BJ Ussery, both heavily favored as potential winners of the event, met first in the third round. Martin sent Ussery to the loss side 7-1, where he began a seven-match, loss-side winning streak that would offer him a second shot against Martin in the finals.

Martin advanced to a winners’ side semifinal against Graham Swinson, as Corey Sykes and Jeff Abernathy squared off in the other one. Martin shut out Swinson and was joined in the hot seat match by Sykes, who’d sent Abernathy west 7-1. Martin claimed the hot seat in a double hill fight over Sykes.

On the loss side, Swinson drew Ussery, three matches into his loss-side streak, which had recently eliminated Thomas Sansone 7-5 and Josh Padron 7-1. Abernathy picked up junior competitor Landon Hollingsworth, who’d defeated Niko Konkel and Barry Mashburn, both 7-1. Mashburn had been afforded the opportunity to face Hollingsworth when, in the previous round, Christy Norris, one of the three women who competed in the Open event, along with Allie Tilley and Beth Allen, forfeited her match to Mashburn.

Ussery downed Swinson 7-2 and was joined in the quarterfinals by Abernathy, who’d defeated Hollingsworth 7-3. Ussery then eliminated Abernathy 7-2 and in the semifinals, Sykes in a double hill match. Martin defeated Ussery a second time in the finals, this time 7-2 to claim the inaugural Winter Classic.

Tour director Herman Parker thanked the ownership and staff at Break Time Billiards, as well as title sponsor Viking Cues, BarPoolTables.net, Dirty South Grind Apparel Co., Realty One Group Results, Diamond Brat, AZBilliards.com, and Federal Savings Bank Mortgage Division. The next stop on the Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball Tour, scheduled for this weekend (Feb. 12-13) will be hosted by Gate City Billiards Club in Greensboro, NC.

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Holmes/Lee return from hot seat loss to win Scotch Doubles on Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball Tour

Jason Holmes and Sean Lee

They’re crowd pleasers, participating and watching crowds. No denying that, even though as scintillating top-notch pool action, they generally leave much to be desired. They tend, too, to bring people to the tables – husbands and wives, boyfriends and girlfriends, fathers and sons – who might not otherwise participate in the general atmosphere of a regional pool tour stop, featuring an area’s best players. It has a way of ‘seeding the field,’ so to speak. Engaging newcomers to the intrinsic enjoyment of sports competition in the hopes that it might lead to individual participation. Maybe not, but Herman Parker, tour director of the Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball Tour, “gets requests for them all the time,” so he schedules Scotch Doubles tournaments, most recently this past weekend (Jan. 15-16), when the tour held a $200-added event that drew 19 teams to Corner Pocket in Fayetteville, NC.

The team of Jason Holmes and Sean Lee prevailed, although their road to the finals and event victory took a side trip to the semifinals, when the team of Josh Shultz and Tanya Willaford downed them in the hot seat match. 

Holmes/Lee earned their place in that hot seat match with a 5-3 victory over Mike Soyka and Jason Williams in one of the winners’ side semifinals. Shultz/Willaford got there by sending Chad Weachter and Michael Shan to the loss side 5-2 in the other one. Shultz/Willaford punched Holmes/Lee’s ticket to the semifinals with a double hill victory in that hot seat match.

On the loss side, the Weachter/Shan team picked up the husband/wife team of Chris and Jacqui Rhoades, who’d recently eliminated Tyrone Davis and someone known only as “Lorenzo” in a double hill fight and then, defeated Chris Petoletti and Jason Rogers 5-4 (Petoletti/Rogers racing to 7). Soyka/Williams drew Justin Knuckles and Allie Tilley, who’d defeated Robert McDaniels and Kevin Williams, double hill, and Larry Moore and Lewis Croom 5-1.

The Rhoades family engaged their opponents in another double hill fight, but this time, their opponents – Weachter and Shan – won and advanced to the quarterfinals. Knuckles/Tilley joined them after handing Soyka/Williams their second straight loss, 5-1.

Knuckles and Tilley were able to advance one more step, downing Weachter/Shan 5-3 in those quarterfinals, but team Holmes/Lee had their sights set on a rematch and stopped Knuckles/Tilley 5-3 in the semifinals.

In what was reportedly their first outing as a team, Holmes and Lee moved on to the task of downing the hot seat occupants, Shultz and Willaford, twice. The opening set went double hill before Holmes/Lee finished it to even up the losses of the last two teams standing. Holmes/Lee won the second set 5-3 to claim the event title.

TD Herman Parker thanked the ownership and staff at Corner Pocket for their hospitality, as well as title sponsor Viking Cues, BarPoolTables.net, Dirty South Grind Apparel Co., Realty One Group Results, Diamond Brat, AZBilliards.com, and Federal Savings Bank Mortgage Division. The next stop on the Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball Tour will be a one-day affair, scheduled for this weekend (Jan. 22). The $500-added event will be hosted by Overtime Billiards in Columbia, SC.