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Gomez, Gabriel, Saez, Martinez and Casper/Larson Take Space City Open

Roberto Gomez

Last week, players made their way to the $8,000 added Space City Open X. Held at Big Tyme Billiards in Spring, TX – a suburb of Houston – owners Billy Sharp, Jim Henry, Mark Avery and Matthew McFarren and their staff laid out the red carpet for both players and fans.

The tournament kicked off on Thursday night with the $1,000 added 9 Ball Banks event. This single elimination race to four event saw a full field of 32 players post their $100 entry fees. After the players auction, meeting & draw, the action began.

After being scarce on the tournament trail since the birth of his daughter two years ago, Robb Saez made up for lost time as he rocketed through the bracket taking down Alan Poisel 4-1, JC Torres 4-0, Mark Nanashee 4-2 and Ernesto Bayaua 4-0. In the bottom portion of the chart, Alex Calderon squeaked by Jeff Sullivan 4-3 and then dusted off Leon Contreras 4-1 and Raed Shabib 4-0 before running into Roberto Gomez. The match was a good one but Alex prevailed 4-2. 

That win put Calderon into the finals against the red hot Saez. Alex went down 4-1 – guess baby needed a new pair of shoes! Congratulations, Robb! Good job, Alex!

Starting on Friday night was the main event – the $3,500 added Open 9 Ball. Drawing a full field of 128 players, this double elimination event had a $75 entry fee and was played on seven foot tables. Races were to 9/7 with winner breaks.

Bogies was getting their money’s worth with their house pro and defending champ, Roberto Gomez, as he marched through the field. He was never seriously threatened as he defeated Timothy Lapointe 4-0, Richard Hughes 9-4, John Weeks 9-2, Javier Alienes 9-4, Ernesto Bayaua 9-1 and Blaine Barcus 9-3 to arrive at the hot seat match.

Another man slicing through the field was Oklahoma’s John Gabriel. He started with wins over Pedro Oviolo 9-2 and Calvin Chappell 9-3 before a tough one with young gun Lazaro Martinez. John barely survived that one 9-8 and then coasted past Cesar Arechiga 9-0. Next were Joey Torres and Ryan Robinson – they went down 9-6 and 9-3 and John also arrived at the hot seat match.

The hot seat match was all Roberto as he spanked John 9-3 and locked up his seat in the finals. John headed west to play Bayaua who had eliminated Saez 7-4. Robb finished in fourth place. Then, it was John who beat Ernesto by the same score – 7-4. He finished in third place.

Knowing he had to defeat Roberto twice to take the title, John put up a tough fight but when it was all over, Gomez had gotten his revenge for John knocking him out of the one pocket event and defended his title! He won the match 9-6. Congratulations, Roberto! Good event, John!

Lazaro Martinez III

Sunday was the start for both the $500 added Ladies 9 Ball and the $500 added Junior 9 Ball events. The players auction, meeting and draw for the juniors was first followed by the same for the ladies.

Twenty three boys and girls paid a $35 entry fee to play in the double elimination event played on the seven foot Diamonds. They raced to 7/5 with winner breaks.

Former BEF Junior National champ and defending champion Lazaro Martinez defeated Carlos Jinez 7-5, Mary Grigsby 7-1, Vania Davila 7-0 and Kailye Stevens 7-2 to arrive at the hot seat match.

Kyle Yi was the victor over Oscar Ruiz 7-2, Hunter Jackson 7-0, Tyler Miller 7-0 and Larissa Almendarez 7-5 to claim the other seat in the hot seat match.

Kyle then defeated Lazaro 7-3 to go on to the finals. Lazaro headed to the one loss side to face Carlos Jinez who had beaten Kailye Stevens 5-3. Kailye finished in fourth place. 

Looking to get back into the finals, Lazaro made short work of Carlos 5-1 leaving him in third place.

Needing to defeat Kyle twice to both defend and claim the title, Lazaro won the first set 7-4. The final set was a battle but it was Lazaro that took the title 5-3. Congratulations, Lazaro! Good event, Kyle!

Thirty two ladies filled the field posting their $45 entry fees. They also raced to 7/5 with winner breaks on the seven footers.

April Larson made her trek to the hot seat by defeating Vivian Christopher and Bridget Parker by the same score – 7-1. She then beat Crystal Cisneros 7-4, the always tough Ming Ng 7-3 and awaited her opponent in the hot seat match.

Making her way through the bottom of the bracket was Ricki Casper. She defeated Michelle Abernathy 7-1 and Robyn Petrosino 7-3 before going to the wire with Michelle Yim 7-6 and then winning over Tam Trinh 7-5. 

Ricki Casper

The hot seat match began and both players fought hard but in the end, Ricki had edged out April 7-6! April headed west.

Waiting for her was Ming. She had just beaten Robyn – she finished in fourth place. The match began to see who’d be in the final match. April came out on top 5-3 leaving Ming in third place.

Due to the late hour, the ladies decided to split the honors. Congratulations to both players!

The $1,000 added One Pocket event also started on Friday night. Having a full field of 32 who paid $100 to enter, the format was again single elimination with races to four. Following the players auction, meeting & draw, the matches began.

Still on fire from his runner-up finish in the banks event, Alex Calderon tore through the top half of the bracket skunking both Sonny Bosshamer and Raed Shabib but had rougher matches against Ernesto Bayaua and Marvin Diaz. He won both matches 4-2 and landed in the finals.

Quietly making his way through the bottom portion of the bracket was Oklahoma’s John Gabriel. He won his first match over Joey Barnes 4-2 and continued with wins over Ryan Baselman and Ryan Robinson – both 4-1. Down went Superman as John defeated Roberto Gomez 4-2 to get to the finals.

The final match started late and went long into the early morning hours and at the end, it was John taking top honors 4-2. Great tournament, John! Good showing, Alex! 

John Gabriel

Congratulations to this year’s champions and to Roberto Gomez for taking down the $1,500 All Around Bonus!

PoolActionTV.com would again like to thank owners Billy Sharp, Jim Henry, Mark Avery and Matthew McFarren and their staff as well the event sponsors. They are Outsville, Diamond Billiard Products, Brutal Game Gear, Poison by Predator, Jerry Olivier Custom Cues, Simonis, Aramith, Predator, Immediate Smiles Dentures & Dentistry of Spring, TX, Alamo Billiards of Houston, TX, and Fort Worth Billliards Superstore of Fort Worth, TX.

We’d also like to thank Tournament Director Teresa Garland and her assistant, Jason Hill, for juggling all the various events.

In addition, thanks to Larry Schwartz and Ray Hansen for their excellent commentary.

PoolActionTV.com would also like to thank our fans and sponsors. Our sponsors include JB Cases, Hanshew Jump Cues, Diamond Billiard Products, Durbin Custom Cues, Savage Billiard Apparel, Immediate Smiles Dentures & Dentistry of Spring, TX, Action Palace of Dayton, OH and Fort Worth Billiards Superstore of Fort Worth, TX. 

Our next event is the 35th Annual Music City Open Nine Ball Championships at JOB Billiard Club in Madison, TN – a suburb of Nashville. Dates are January 11th-15th – hope to see you there!

And, here’s wishing everyone happy holidays and a healthy and prosperous new year!

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Kraber wins two-match battle against the Grinder to win OTB Ladies Tour finale

April Larson, Kim Sanders, Jennifer Kraber and Rhio Anne Flores

There’s a lot of it going around these days. A younger generation of pool players going head to head against an older generation of players who were around before they were born. In Puerto Rico recently, the phenomenon featured WPBA top pro Kelly Fisher doing battle against 12-year-old Savannah Easton and in the early going, the 12-year-old was ahead 3-2, albeit not for long. That sort, though not precisely that sort of generational ‘combat’ was on display this past weekend at the On the Ball Ladies Tour in the finale of the tour’s season. Veteran Texas competitor, Jennifer Kraber, whose recorded-to-us career got its start when she finished 17th on the Hunter Tour back in 2000, and former five-time BEF Junior National Champion (2012-2016) and current WPBA competitor April Larson (aka The Grinder) squared off twice in the hot seat and finals of the $3,000-added ($2,000, On the Ball Co., $1,000, Skinny Bob’s) season finale, that drew 28 entrants to Skinny Bob’s in Round Rock, TX. 

Kraber went undefeated at the event to claim the title, while Larson ended the tour’s season as its tour champion, beating out Ming Ng by a mere five points. In all, the tour handed out over $1,000 in awards and giveaways over the weekend. Its Most Improved Player award went to Chris Fields, who was also credited with the Most Break & Runs award. Natalie Mans was acknowledged as the tour’s top competitor at making the Most 9’s on the Snap, while Natalie Rocha received the tour’s Best Sportmanship award.

Kraber’s path to the winners’ circle in the tour’s season finale went through Rhio Anne (“Annie”) Flores, Kim Pierce and Gail Roles to arrive at a winners’ side semifinal matchup against Kim Sanders. The Grinder, in the meantime, got by Erica Hanlon, Molly McWhorter and Zoe Lozano to reach her winners’ side semifinal opponent, Michelle Cortez.

Kraber downed Sander 7-3, as Larson was dispatching Cortez to the loss side 7-2. The two generations battled to double hill in the hot seat match before Kraber won it and sat in the seat, awaiting Larson’s return. 

On the loss side, Sanders picked up Ming Ng, who’d lost her third winners’ side match to Cortez, double hill and then defeated tour director Teresa Garland 7-5, and Chris Fields, double hill to face Sanders. Cortez, in the meantime, drew “Annie” Flores, who’d followed her opening round loss to Kraber with four loss-side wins, giving up only three total racks to Brenda Viola (1), Brittany Kromer (1), Carmel Luttrell (1) and Nicole McDaniel (0). 

Flores made it five in a row, eliminating Cortez 7-4. Sanders and Ng locked up in a double hill fight that eventually put Sanders into the quarterfinals against Flores.

Another double hill battle ensued, this one eventually sent Sanders to the semifinals against Larson. Larson got a second shot at Kraber, waiting for her in the hot seat with a 7-4 win over Sanders in those semifinals.

The finals came within a game of double hill. Kraber, though, edged out in front near the end and won it 7-5, claiming the OTB Tour’s season finale title.

Tour director Teresa Garland thanked the ownership and staff at Skinny Bob’s for their hospitality, as well as title sponsor On the Ball Co., and Backwards Billiards for the free live streaming on YouTube. The On the Ball Ladies Tour for 2023 will be coming soon and available on the tour’s page here at AZBilliards.

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The Grinder (aka April Larson) wins third On the Ball Ladies Tour stop in Houston, TX

Robyn Petrosino, April Larson, Michelle Cortez and Michelle Yim

Combined with her second straight and third overall win on the 2022 On The Ball (OTB) Ladies Tour in Texas this past weekend (Sat., Oct. 15), April Larson has won six of the 10 events in which she has cashed this year. She had previously won in May (Stop #3) and in September (Stop #5), adding to wins at the Scotty Townsend Memorial and the Midwest Open, both in March. Her victory over Melissa Helland in a 9-Ball Challenge Match in April rounds out the six event victories for her, while her two 2nd and 3rd place finishes completes the list of 10 in which she’s cashed.

The Grinder made it to the hot seat undefeated, downing Robyn Petrosino in the winners’ side final. She lost the first set of a true double elimination final to Michelle Cortez, who’d won five on the loss side to challenge her, and then, in a double hill fight, won the second set to claim the title. The event drew a short field of 12 entrants to R House Bar & Grill in Houston, TX.

Larson made it to the hot seat with an aggregate score of 28-7 (80%). Three of the seven game losses came as a result of her opening match versus veteran Ming Ng. Larson advanced from that match to down Christy Grigsby (1) and draw Terry Petrosino in one of the winners’ side semifinals. Robyn Petrosino, in the meantime, got by Michelle Yim 7-4 and tour director Teresa Garland 7-5 to arrive at her winners’ side semifinal against Chris Fields.

Larson defeated Terry Petrosino 7-1 as Robyn Petrosino sent Chris Fields to the loss side 7-4. Larson claimed the hot seat 7-2 over Robyn and waited for Cortez to complete her loss-side run.

Following her 7-1, opening-round loss to Natalie Mans, Cortez advanced on the loss side through Garland 7-3 and Ming Ng 7-1 to draw Terry Petrosino. Fields picked up Michelle Yim, who’d survived a double hill match versus Natalie Mans and then downed Vania Davila 7-3 to reach her.

Cortez defeated Terry Petrosino 7-2, as Yim stayed busy and eventually won a double hill fight against Fields. Cortez won the quarterfinals that followed 7-5 over Yim and completed her loss-side trip 7-3 over Robyn Petrosino in the semifinals.

In winning the opening set of the true double elimination final, Cortez chalked up as many racks as all of Larson’s previous opponents combined. The 7-4 Cortez win forced a second set that went double hill before Larson prevailed to claim the event title.

Tour representatives thanked the ownership and staff at R House Bar & Grill for their hospitality, as well as title sponsor On the Ball Co. for their continuing support of the tour. They also gave a “shout out” to Lonnie Best and Lisa Bailey with Backward Billiards “for jumping on board to do the live streaming.”

The On the Ball Ladies Tour’s season finale, scheduled for the weekend of November 19-20, will be a $3,000-added event, hosted by Skinny Bob’s Billiards in Round Rock, TX. The tour will crown its 2022 Champion at the event. 

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The Grinder ‘shows up’ to go undefeated on OTB Ladies Tour

Ming Ng and April Larson

Though it’s been said in a lot of different ways, it was Woody Allen who said it the simplest way – 90% of life is just showing up. It’s a statement that resonates in the pool world, where cumulative earnings in a given year can often be a matter of how many times you competed, rather than how many event victories you’ve chalked up. Case in point: The Grinder (aka April Larson), whose best earnings year, to date, was 2018, a year in which she cashed (as far as we know) in six events and didn’t win any of them.

Now, in 2022, Larson has cashed (again, as far as we know) in nine events and won four of them, bringing her, as of this past weekend, within about 30% of her 2018 totals. She chalked up her latest on Saturday, Sept. 24, going undefeated on the On the Ball (OTB) Ladies Tour in Texas. The $2,000-added event drew 23 entrants Big Tyme Billiards in Spring, TX. 

Larson and her eventual opponent in the hot seat and finals, veteran Ming Ng, recorded exactly the same aggregate score, defeating their opponents by exactly the same individual scores (though not in the same order) to face each other in the hot seat. Larson gave up a single rack to Darcy Durham, none at all to Natalie Mans, two to Terry Petrosino and in a winners’ side semifinal, three to Carmel Luttrell for an aggregate score of 28-6 (82%). Ng’s 28-6 (82%) path went through Cheyenne Valdez (2), Eva Grigsby (1), Michelle Abernathy (0) and in the other winners’ side semifinal, Angie Payne (3). Surprising no one, The Grinder and The Empress locked up in a double hill battle for the hot seat. The Grinder prevailed, claiming the hot seat and waiting in it for Ng’s return.

Both of the opponents Luttrell and Payne faced when they arrived on the loss-side of the bracket had lost their opening match and were working on a five-match winning streak that would come to an end for one of them in the quarterfinals. Luttrell picked up Larissa Almandariz, who’d recently eliminated Michelle Abernathy and tour TD Teresa Garland, both 7-3. Payne drew Chris Fields, who’d benefited from a forfeit by Terry Petrosino and survived a double hill battle versus Natalie Rocha to reach her. 

Almandariz defeated Luttrell 7-4, while Fields was busy eliminating Payne 7-5. Fields ended Almandariz’ loss-side streak 7-4 in the quarterfinals that followed. Fields’ streak came to an end when she was defeated by Ng in the semifinals 7-1. 

Expectations of a second double hill battle between Larson and Ng, battling for the title, had to have been high. Didn’t happen, though. The Grinder got out in front early and went on to a 7-2 win in the finals to claim her second 2022 OTB title, and her fourth event victory on the year.

Tour representatives thanked the ownership and staff at Big Tyme Billiards for their hospitality, as well as title sponsor On the Ball Company and Accu-rack. The next stop on the OTB Ladies Tour, scheduled for the weekend of Oct. 15-16, will be a $2,000-added event hosted by R House Bar & Grill in Houston, TX.

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Amit Sent to Losers Side of Predator World Women’s 10-Ball Championship

Chia Hua Chen

Predator Canada Open champion Amber Chen remained undefeated in the Predator World Women’s 10-Ball Championship to move to the winners’ qualification round, but the current champion Rubilen Amit was sent to the losers’ side in a 7-5 defeat to Ina Kaplan.

Jasmin Ouschan scored her second consecutive 7-2 win as she defeated Szu Ting Kuo, while Kelly Fisher, Chieh-Yu Chou and Eylul Kibaroglu were among those who remained on the winners’ side heading into Thursday’s qualification round.

Allison Fisher was pushed all the way to hill-hill by Claudia von Rohr before completing a 7-6 win, but there was no such drama for tournament host Ouschan, who put in an assured performance for her second win.

Kuo won the lag but a dry break brough Ouschan immediately to the table, and she cleared it for an early lead. Kuo was able to respond straight away but Ouschan made it 2-1 with a brilliant jump on the 6, and it was soon 3-1 when Kuo left herself too much to do on the 10 and gifted Ouschan a simple finish.

Fortune wasn’t with Kuo who then scratched on her break and could only sit and watch as Ouschan extended her lead. Kuo was able to pull it back to 5-2, but a hit-and-hope attempt to double bank the four didn’t come off in the next rack, and to make things worse for the player from Chinese Taipei, position was left perfect for Ouschan who made it 6-2.

Kuo followed her next break with a smart jump shot but her subsequent safety knocked in an uncalled 5. Another chance came when Ouschan missed and scratched on the 4, but she failed with a 9-ball jump which became her last action of the match.

“I think my performance was even better than yesterday,” said Ouschan. “Playing against a top Taiwanese player is always tough. Kuo is one of the best ones in the world, so definitely not the easiest second match. But so far I’m happy with my performance; I think the safety game and stuff kicking could be better, but it’s fine.

“I’m going to analyze it and try it better tomorrow. Now it’s time for the team, so I am happy so far and taking all that energy now with me to the team match.

“I got given flowers from a spectator here and she came up to me and said, thank you for giving me so many magic moments. I thought that was such a sweet feedback. And, you know, that gives me energy and motivation. That is so sweet that, with what I do, I can actually touch people and reach out to people.”

While Ouschan was winning on one feature table, April Larson and Chia Hua ‘Amber’ Chen were in action on the other. A luggage delay meant Larson was borrowing cues from Tyler Styer but it didn’t seem to effect her as she put in an impressive display for USA in the Teams Championship on Tuesday evening.

Chen is fresh from winning the Predator Canada Open, the first time she had travelled internationally since the pandemic, and she again showed her quality and class, pulling clear of Larson from 2-2 to eventually win 7-3.

Rubilen Amit won the last staged World 10-Ball Championship – in the Philippines in 2013 – but will now have to qualify for the last 16 from the losers’ side after a 7-5 defeat to Kaplan of Germany.

Play continues from 9am on Thursday with three more rounds including winners’ qualification.

The draw and brackets for the Predator World Women’s 10-Ball Championship can be seen here: https://probilliardseries.com/event/1677/. Play continues at 9am on Wednesday.

The draw and brackets for the Predator World Teams Championship is at https://probilliardseries.com/event/1678/. Play continues 4pm on Wednesday.

The event is broadcasting two tables with full live coverage and commentary every day. One will be available on the World Billiard TV YouTube Channel and another will be at watchbilliard.tv. All tables can be viewed live at Kozoom.com.

Follow @probilliardseries on Facebook, @probilliardseries on Instagram or @PBilliardSeries on Twitter to follow the next events.

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Winning Start For Ouschan In Predator Women’s World 10-Ball Championship

Jasmin Ouschan

Jasmin Ouschan, organizing two WPA World Championship events in her hometown, reverted to her familiar playing role and won through the first round of the Predator World Women’s 10-Ball Championship with a confident 7-2 win over Kristina Grim at Sportpark Klagenfurt on Tuesday.

Three-time Pro Billiard Series champion Kelly Fisher was a 7-1 winner against Seo Seoa, while the current Women’s 10-Ball Championship – who won her title when the event was last staged in 2013 – also got off to a winning start, registering a 7-0 victory against Yi Yun Su.

Ouschan has been heavily involved in the organization of these events but more recently has switched her focus to preparations for competing, and she had plenty of support as she got her tournament underway against Grim.

Ouschan took the first rack after Grim gave herself a tough cut on the 10, which she hit too thin. The match was levelled when a dry break and subsequent foul from Ouschan allowed Grim back in with ball in hand. The Slovakian, who has previously represented Germany, couldn’t capitalize on her own break, however, and hit a tough 9 too full and Ouschan’s lead was restored at 2-1. The following two racks also went against the breaker, but Ouschan made it 4-2 from her own break.

That lead was extended further after Grim left an opening from a 1-ball safety. Ouschan completed another run out on her own break to reach the hill 6-2 up, and her progression to the next round was confirmed the next rack when the hometown hero cleared after Grim missed a long 1 under shot-clock pressure.

“The first match is always a big question mark, how it will feel,” said Ouschan. “But it went well and I’m totally happy with the set up in general, the whole team did great and of course I am proud to have such an event in my hometown.”

The World Women’s 10-Ball Championship was last held in 2013, when the Philipinnes’ Rubilen Amit won the title for a second time, beating Kelly Fisher in the final to add to her 2009 success. Amit has had a long time to wait to defend her title but made a perfect start with a 7-0 win over Yi Yun Su of Chinese Taipei.

Elsewhere, three-time Pro Billiard Series champion Kelly Fisher eased into the winners’ side of the brackets with a 7-1 win over Korea’s Seo Seoa, and there was a win for Austria’s 17-year-old rising star Lena Primus, who defeated Laura Saarinen 7-6.

Before the start of the World Teams Championship, players and officials paid tribute to Molrudee Kasemchaiyanan, who sadly died on Tuesday. Kasemchaiyanan fell ill after representing New Zealand at The World Games in July and was remembered by her billiard family with a minute of silence in Klagenfurt. Kelly Fisher paid tribute, saying: “She was a sweetheart who did a lot for the billiard world and was very passionate about the game, and was part of our billiard family. She is going to be missed very much.”

Matches in the World Teams Championship are a best of five sets and teams are made up one two male and one female player. The first set is between the two female players, before teams nominate a player for mens singles. All four players must have played by the third set, which is mixed doubles. Players can then nominate a singles player of their choice for the fourth set, and if scores are tied at 2-2 then all team members participate in a best-of-four shootout.

With Austria ‘A’ among eight teams seeded through the first round, it was left to the B team to fly the flag on the feature table. However, they were up against a USA team in no mood to be gracious to their hosts. April Larson set the tone for a defiant victory, defeated Lina Primus 4-0.

The momentum was carried into the second set by Tyler Styer, who defeated Daniel Guttenberger 4-1. Guttenberger’s rack was the only one won by Austria, however, as Joey Tate teamed up with Larson to send Austria B to the losers’ side of the brackets, winning the set 4-0 against Primus and Max Lechner. That sets up a mouth-watering clash between Great Britain (Jayson Shaw, Darren Appleton and Kelly Fisher) and USA tomorrow evening.

Japan (Yuki Hiraguchi, Masato Yoshioka & Tatsu Kuribayashi) won a thrilling encounter against Serbia (Bojana Sarac, Aleksa Pecelj & Andreja Klasovic). Japan took the first two sets by close scorelines of 4-3 for Hiraguchi over Sarac and 4-2 for Yoshioka over Pecelj. Serbia fought back strongly as Sarac and Klasovic won from hill-hill in mixed doubles against Hiraguchi and Kuribayashi but Yoshioka took his team into the next round with an emphatic 4-0 win against Pecelj.

Canada won the first shootout of the event to advance at the expense of Costa Rica, and a short while later Switzerland also advanced by shootout, sending Finland to the losers’ side.

The draw and brackets for the Predator World Women’s 10-Ball Championship can be seen here: https://probilliardseries.com/event/1677/. Play continues at 9am on Wednesday.

The draw and brackets for the Predator World Teams Championship is at https://probilliardseries.com/event/1678/. Play continues 4pm on Wednesday.

The event is broadcasting two tables with full live coverage and commentary every day. One will be available on the World Billiard TV YouTube Channel and another will be at watchbilliard.tv. All tables can be viewed live at Kozoom.com.

Follow @probilliardseries on Facebook, @probilliardseries on Instagram or @PBilliardSeries on Twitter to follow the next events.

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Gomez, Gorst, Tkach & Oi In The Texas Open Winner’s Circle

Roberto Gomez and Alex Calderon

Players from all over the planet hightailed it to Skinny Bob’s in Round Rock, TX for the 49th Annual Texas Open – all trying to get a piece of this $40,000 added event!

Owners Kim and Tracy Sanders and their local sponsors welcomed all the players and fans to one of the most beautiful rooms in the country. Sponsors included GAF, ABC Supply Co. Inc., Hanshew Custom Cues, Sanders Roofing & Exteriors, LLC, Aramith and Mints Amusements. 

The event featured four divisions – one pocket, scotch doubles, open nine ball and ladies nine ball as well as three minis – a banks ring game, a nine ball mini and a ladies ring game! Nonstop pool action!

The event began with the $2,000 added Scotch Doubles Championship. The team of Fedor Gorst and Kristina Tkach took top honors, Alex Pagulayan and April Larson took second place, Chris Reinhold and Emily Sumrall took third and Blaine Barcus and Sakura Muramatsu took fourth. Congratulations to all!

Waiting in the wings and featuring a stellar field of 26 players, the $13,000 added One Pocket division began on Monday evening. It had a $1,000 entry with races to 5/4 with alternate breaks – double elimination. 

Following a rousing player’s auction and the draw, play began.

Hot off his victory of Chip Compton earlier this month in the One Pocket Challenge, Fedor Gorst defeated veteran Scott Kitto and the always tough John Morra battled One Pocket Hall of Famer Jeremy Jones. Both matches had a 5-3 score.

Two-time Derby City One Pocket champ, Billy Thorpe, won his match over former Senior One Pocket champ James Davis Sr. 5-2 as did the current Iron City One Pocket Champ Josh Roberts over Filipino star Roland Garcia by the same score.

In a rerun of last month’s Big Dog one pocket final match, Sky Woodward got his revenge over Tony Chohan and the 2022 Scotty Townsend Memorial One Pocket champ Alex Pagulayan beat Evan Lunda – the victor in July’s One Pocket Champions Challenge with Josh Roberts. Morra also took down One Pocket Hall of Famer Scott Frost. The score in these matches was 5-2.

Scotch Doubles Champions Kristina Tkach and Fedor Gorst

Second round action also saw Alex Calderon and Tommy Tokoph duking it out. It went down to the wire but Alex edged out the win 5-4.

After drawing a first round bye, Roberto Gomez battled Josh Roberts and took the win 5-3 as did Billy Thorpe over young gun Lazaro Martinez III by the same score.

Third round pitted Woodward against Pagulayan. Sky took the win as did Calderon over Morra and Gomez over Thorpe. All scores 5-4!

After winning his first match, Gorst was quietly making his way through the field with victories over Jacob Pennison 5-1 and Nicholas De Leon 5-2. In dead punch, he smoked Woodward 5-2 and moved into the hot seat match. At the bottom of the bracket, Gomez made quick work of Calderon to lock up the other berth – also 5-2.

The hot seat match began and was close until Gomez pulled away to send Gorst west with a 5-3 score. 

Meanwhile, after having lost his first match, Garcia clawed and fought his way through the one loss side with wins over Pennison, Robert Frost, Morra, Chohan and Woodward until finally succumbing to Calderon 4-2. Roland finished in fourth place.

Cooling his heels and looking to get back into the finals against Gomez, Gorst had to get past Calderon. It wasn’t in the cards as Fedor was eliminated 4-2.

It was an all Houston final as Calderon took on Gomez for the title. Since it was true double elimination, Alex would have to defeat Roberto twice to take it down. Gomez wasn’t having any of that – he took the match 5-3! Congratulations, Roberto! Good tournament, Alex!

Naoyuki Oi and Skyler Woodward

The $500 added Nine Ball Mini took place after the one pocket finals. When the smoke cleared it was Japan’s Naoyuki Oi over Sky Woodward. Great shooting, guys!!!

PoolActionTV.com would again like to thank Kim and Tracy Sanders and their staff for taking great care of all the players and fans. 

Thanks to Tournament Director Jason Hill for doing a great job!

We’d also like to thank Scott Rabon, Jeremy Jones, Robert Frost and Alex Pagulayan for their topnotch commentary.

And, we’d also like to thank our fans and sponsors. They include JB Cases, Hanshew Jump Cues, EnviroAssessments, Lomax Custom Cues, Aramith, Simonis, Diveney Cues, Diamond Billiard Products, Durbin Custom Cues, the Action Palace of Dayton, OH and the Fort Worth Billiards Superstore of Fort Worth, TX. 

Stay tuned for the rest of the results of the Texas Open – the $20,000 added Nine Ball Open, the $3,500 added Ladies Nine Ball, the $500 added Banks Ring Game and the $500 added Ladies Ring Game! 

And if you haven’t already, get your pass at PoolActionTV.com and come sweat it with us!!!

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Gorst, McMinn and Tokoph finish 1, 2, 3 at 9-Ball/10-Ball events of Junior Norris Memorial

Chris McMinn, Sherrie Glenn, Fedor Gorst and Tommy Tokoph

It doesn’t happen often. When a given event offers multiple opportunities to compete, there is often a fatigue factor which plays into the possibility that any one, two or three competitors playing in more than one of the events will succeed multiple times. They might finish respectably in two events, winning one and placing among the top five or so in another. But three competitors, finishing first, second and third in two events on the same long weekend? We searched for instances where it had happened before, but couldn’t find one, which is not an indication that it never happened, merely an indicator that it’s a rarity.

At the 8th Annual Junior Norris Memorial, held this past weekend (Aug. 10-14), offering $10k worth of total added-money that attracted (with some crossover) 233 entrants to Sikes Center Mall in Wichita Falls, TX, Fedor Gorst, Shane McMinn and Tommy Tokoph finished 1st, 2nd and 3rd in both the $5k-added, 82-entrant 9-Ball Open and the $2k-added, 44 entrant 10-Ball Open.

Those events were just two of the seven events that comprised the long-weekend memorial celebrating the “Texas Legend,” James “Junior” Norris, a Wichita Falls hometown hero, WWII veteran, generally acknowledged in his day as one of the top 9-ball players in the US and inductee into the Texas Billiards Hall of Fame in 1995 at the age of 70. Norris passed away in March of 2016 at the age of 91, having attended the first two of the Memorial events named in his honor. The event has expanded over the years to embrace multiple game disciplines and launch each year with a VIP Dinner at its start and a Birthday BBQ celebration (this past weekend honoring what would have been Norris’ 97th birthday). The memorial, which was originally just a family barbecue event which occurred around the time of two birthdays, Junior’s in June and his mother, Sadie’s on the Fourth of July, turned into a barbecue and pool tournament in 2014.

In addition to the two events won by Gorst, the 8th Annual Junior Norris Memorial Shootout featured a $1,000-added, 57 entrant, 575-and-under 8-Ball tournament, a $2k-added Women’s 9-Ball tournament and three junior events, for 14-18 Girls and Boys and a 13U event, to which $500 was added for all three.

Though the 9-Ball event’s defending champion, Edgie Geronimo did not compete, last year’s runner-up Justin Espinosa did. So did the event’s 2018 champion, Robb Saez. Fedor Gorst finished 4th in last year’s 9-ball event and 3rd in 10-ball. This year, he went undefeated in both. Among the opponents in his seven-match march to the 9-ball victory were Espinosa, whom he defeated in the third round 9-2, Greg Sandifer 9-4 in a winners’ side semifinal and finally, Tokoph in the hot seat and McMinn in the finals, both 9-2. Tokoph had sent McMinn to the loss side in the other winners’ side semifinal, double hill. On the loss side, McMinn downed Espinosa 9-6, Sandifer 9-7 in the quarterfinals and Tokoph 9-5 in the semifinals.

In the 10-Ball event, Gorst met McMinn twice, hot seat and finals. Gorst never gave up more than two racks to any of his six opponents in seven matches. McMinn got off to a good start in this one, benefiting from an opening round forfeit and a first-match shutout. He gave up three to Tyrel Blowers before running into a double hill battle versus Chris Reinhold. McMinn prevailed, and defeated Dalton Waters 7-1 for his first shot against Gorst in the hot seat match. Tokoph, in the meantime, had lost early and battled through six matches on the loss side, including victories over Reinhold 7-4, a double hill win over Greg Hogue and a 7-2 win over Vitaliy Patsura in the quarterfinals. A predictable double hill fight over who would face Gorst in the finals developed in the semifinals, with McMinn prevailing for his second shot at it. Gorst downed him a second time to claim the 10-ball title.

Cortez goes undefeated to win Ladies Open, Jinez from loss side, wins 8-ball & 14-18 Boys

In the absence of both defending champion Kristina Tkach and last year’s runner-up April Larson, Michelle Cortez stepped up and went undefeated through the field of 32 to claim the $2k-added Women’s 9-Ball. Cortez’ path to the winner’s circle went through five opponents in six matches; Renita Pierre, Christina Abel, Melissa Smith and in a double hill, winners’ side semifinal, Ricki Casper. Her eventual hot seat and finals opponent, Chris Fields got by Yvann Scott, Tisha Leslie (double hill) and in a second straight double hill match, the event’s 2019 champion, Tara Williams. She then downed Toby Stogner 7-2 to face Cortez for the first time.

Cortez claimed the hot seat over Fields 7-2. Williams, in the meantime, was working on a four-match, loss-side winning streak that had recently eliminated Christy Grigsby by shutout and double hill, Ricki Casper. Williams, two steps away from the final, got by the first obstacle, Stogner okay, 7-3 in the quarterfinals, but she and Fields battled to double hill in the semifinals before Fields punched her ticket to the finals rematch against Cortez. 

Fields came within a game of making it double hill, but Cortez edged out in front to claim the 2022 Women’s Open title.

Carlos Jinez came from the loss side, winning three, to claim the 575-and-under (Fargo rate) 8-ball event. He’d lost his winners’ side semifinal to Glenn Miller, who advanced to meet Jacob Pena in the hot seat match. Pena and Miller battled to double hill before Pena prevailed to claim the hot seat.

On the loss side, Jinez defeated Nicholas Garrett 3-1, while Terry Moser was busy eliminating the Women’s Open winner, Michelle Cortez by the same score. Jinez and Moser fought back and forth to double hill in the quarterfinals before Jinez closed it out. Jinez then defeated Miller 3-1 in the semifinals.

Jinez made something of a statement in the first set of the double elimination final, defeating Pena by shutting him out. In the shortened race-to-three second set, they battled to double hill before Jinez finished it to claim the 8-ball title.

In the junior events, the 13-and-under division proved to be the largest, with 9 entrants. The hot seat and finals featured a pair of literal and figurative ‘aces.’ Ace Acevedo claimed the hot seat 7-5 over Ace Smith and once Smith had downed Leigha Noble 5-2 in the semifinals, Acevedo downed him a second time 9-3.

Eight-ball winner Carlos Jinez had to come from the loss side to win the five-entrant 14-18 boys title, as well. Tyrel Blowers claimed the hot seat over him 7-4, but after defeating Dalton Waters 5-2 in the semifinals, Jinez returned to defeat him in the finals 9-6 to claim his second title of the weekend; his first, actually, the 8-ball title was won later that night (Sunday). 

Mary and Eva Grigsby

The Grigsby sisters, 17-year-old twins from Temple, TX, Eva (left-handed shooter) and Mary (right-handed) battled it out in the finals of the four-entrant, 14-18 Girls event. Eva won her first round 7-4 over Peyton Thompson, while Mary lost to Raynie Schroeder 7-3. Eva claimed the hot seat 7-5 over Schroeder. On the loss side, Mary won a double hill fight against Thompson and then, in the semifinals, defeated Schroeder 5-3. The event finished late and in lieu of a double elimination final, the twin sisters played a single match to 7, won by Mary. 

The annual event featured a customary Sportsmanship Award. This year’s prize went to the 9-Ball and 10-Ball event’s third-place finisher, Tommy Tokoph.  

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Frost, Baraks & Tkach Take Big Tyme Classic

Kristina Tkach, April Larson, Sofia Mast and Ming Ng

The Ninth Annual $14,000 added Big Tyme Classic was held over the last few days in Spring, TX – a suburb of Houston. Players and fans were treated to topnotch one pocket in addition to the open nine ball and ladies nine ball events.

Hosted by owners Billy Sharp, Mark Avery and Jim Henry, the local sponsors were Star City Amusements and Jim Stinson of AM, Inc.

The festivities kicked off on Thursday with the One Pocket Championship. Thirty players put up a $250 entry fee to play in this double elimination event. The format was races to 4/3 with the finals to be one extended race to five.

After the players auction, a players meeting was held, the brackets were posted and the matches started. 

With only two byes, the field had some of the best one pocket players anywhere. Newly crowned US Open One Pocket champ Tony Chohan was joined by last year’s runner-up Josh Roberts in addition to Fedor Gorst, Chip Compton and Warren Kiamco. Local champs Alex Calderon, Charlie Bryant, Tommy Tokoph and Ernesto Bayaua were there as well as other notables including Robert Frost and James Baraks.

First round saw two of the heavyweights score knockouts! Robert Frost was defeated by Chip Compton while Alex Calderon fell victim to Fedor Gorst.

Tony Chohan and Josh Roberts met in the second round – Josh prevailed. Compton advanced after a battle with Charlie Bryant as did Gorst over Tommy Tokoph.

Compton then mowed down both Ernesto Bayaua and Roberts while Gorst continued his winning ways over Warren Kiamco and Ray Lopez.

Finally meeting in the hot seat match, Fedor locked up his seat in the finals and sent Chip west to await an opponent.

After losing their first round matches, Calderon and Frost were dismantling their opponents left and right! Alex defeated Bernard Walker, Kenny Price, Charlie Bryant, James Baraks, Warren Kiamco and Josh Roberts until he met up with Frost. In the lower portion of the chart, Robert defeated Darryl Amos, John Infante, Tommy Tokoph, Jake Weaver, Raed Shabib and Ray Lopez.

Locked in battle, Alex and Robert both fought hard but it was Frost who took it down leaving Calderon in fourth place. 

In dead punch and playing great, Robert’s next victim was Chip Compton. Chip finished with a third place finish.

As previously mentioned, the finals were one extended race to five. Robert won the first game and the second game went down to the case ball. Robert won that one and then the third game. Then the unexpected happened! Since both Fedor and Robert were still in the Nine Ball, they had to halt the finals and go play their matches! 

After several hours, play resumed and Fedor finally won a game – score 3-1. Gorst’s hopes to tighten up the match faded as Frost took the fifth game to make it 4-1. Not rolling over yet, Gorst clawed his way back to take the next two games! Score now 4-3! And then, 4-4! WOW! One game for it all!

Robert moved out to a 5-1 lead in the case game. Soon, the balls were all moved up table. Fedor banked a shot and left it deep in his hole. Robert gave him the ball making it 5-2. Two shots later, he made one for himself and then banked in another. Frost was on the hill – 7-2! With no reasonable safety options, Fedor was forced to bank towards his hole and left Robert a semi-tough shot at his pocket. Swish! Nothing but net! Robert Frost takes down his first major one pocket title leaving Fedor Gorst with a well-deserved runner-up finish!!! 

What a match!!! After losing his first match, Robert won nine in a row to win the tournament! Congratulations, Robert!

The Open Nine Ball had started on Friday night with 136 players paying an $80 entry fee. Using a Magic Rack with the nine racked on the spot, players broke from the box. Played on seven foot Diamonds, the format was double elimination, races to 10/8, alternate breaks, three foul rule in effect – the nine didn’t count in the bottom two pockets. 

In addition to the previously mentioned players, this event had some of the best rotation players around including Andy Jethwa, Victor Rojas, Justin Espinosa, Sergio Rivas, John Hennessee & Kristina Tkach. 

In the top portion of the bracket, Justin Espinosa and Alex Calderon met in the third round with Alex sending Justin packing. Tony Chohan and Andy Jethwa collided in the fourth round – Andy was defeated and headed west. Warren Kiamco tore through his first four opponents until Calderon cut him off at the pass. 

At the bottom of the bracket, Tommy Tokoph and Robert Frost defeated their first three opponents. They met in the fourth round with Frost notching the win. James Baraks and Kristina Tkach also won their first three matches – James put an end to Kristina’s march and sent her to the one loss side. Baraks and Frost duked it out in the next round – James prevailed. Meanwhile, Sergio Rivas and Charlie Bryant won their first four matches. Charlie beat Sergio when they also met in the fifth round.

Now down to four on the winners side, Calderon defeated Kiamco and Baraks took care of Bryant. Playing for the hot seat, James defeated Calderon and locked up his seat in the finals. Alex headed west to await an opponent.

Over on the one loss side, Rivas knocked Bryant out of the tournament leaving Charlie in fourth place. Next up for Sergio was the always tough Alex Calderon. Alex proved to be too tough for Sergio this time – Alex moved on to the finals leaving Sergio in third place.

Due to the very late hour, James & Alex decided to split with James claiming the title. Congratulations to both!

Last, but not least, was the Ladies Nine Ball Championship. This double elimination event had 44 ladies posting a $55 entry fee. Also played on seven foot Diamonds and using the Magic Rack, the format was alternate break with races to seven on both sides.

Well known names like Kristina Tkach, April Larson, Ming Ng and Veronica Perez as well as young gun Sofia Mast joined the fray.

After defeating the always tough Ming Ng in the first round, Sofia Mast won five matches in a row to meet Russian star Kristina Tkach for the hot seat match. Kristina won the match sending junior champ to the one loss side to await an opponent.

After losing her first match, Ming fought her way through until she met April Larson. April had also lost her second match to Sofia. Both players played hard for another shot at her and when the dust had settled, it was April who won the match. Ming finished in fourth place.

Looking to make it into the finals, it was another hard fought match. Sofia survived the match leaving April in third place.

Kristina had smoked Sofia in the hot seat match 7-0. Sofia remarked on her Facebook page after the finals that her only goal when she made it back to the finals was to at least win one game. She won four! What a great attitude!

And, congratulations to Kristina for claiming the title! Great tournament, Sofia!

Once again, PoolActionTV.com would like to thank the owners of Big Tyme and their staff for taking such good care of all the players and fans. We’d like to thank Tournament Director Teresa Garland for doing an exemplary job running three events at the same time!

We’d also like to thank Larry Schwartz, John Henderson, Mary Kenniston and Ray Hansen for their topnotch commentary. 

In addition, we’d like to thank our fans and sponsors for their support! Our sponsors include JB Cases, Hanshew Jump Cues, Lomax Custom Cues, StraightPoolEye, Durbin Custom Cues, Aramith, Diamond Billiard Products, Fort Worth Billiards Superstore of Fort Worth, TX and the Action Palace of Dayton, OH.  

Our next stop is the Seventh Annual Buffalo’s Pro Classic in Jefferson, LA (New Orleans). Featuring $1,000 added One Ball One Pocket, $5,000 added Open Nine Ball and the main event – the $20,000 Pro One Pocket! Dates are May 25th-29th! Hope to see you there!

Once again, PoolActionTV.com would like to thank the owners of Big Tyme and their staff for taking such good care of all the players and fans. We’d like to thank Tournament Director Teresa Garland for doing an exemplary job running three events at the same time!

We’d also like to thank Larry Schwartz, John Henderson, Mary Kenniston and Ray Hansen for their topnotch commentary. 

In addition, we’d like to thank our fans and sponsors for their support! Our sponsors include JB Cases, Hanshew Jump Cues, Lomax Custom Cues, StraightPoolEye, Durbin Custom Cues, Aramith, Diamond Billiard Products, Fort Worth Billiards Superstore of Fort Worth, TX and the Action Palace of Dayton, OH.  

Our next stop is the Seventh Annual Buffalo’s Pro Classic in Jefferson, LA (New Orleans). Featuring $1,000 added One Ball One Pocket, $5,000 added Open Nine Ball and the main event – the $20,000 Pro One Pocket! Dates are May 25th-29th! Hope to see you there!

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The Grinder goes undefeated to take Stop #3 of On The Ball Ladies Tour in Texas

April Larson

April Larson, aka The Grinder, has come a long way from winning her first pro event, back in August of 2016. She’d represented the USA that year in the Atlantic Cup Challenge, a Mosconi Cup-type event for junior competitors, and won her fifth BEF Junior Nationals title earlier that summer. The victory on the North American Pool Tour’s Summer 10-Ball Classic rendered her literally speechless, when she was handed the winning check. She’d actually been fascinated by the trophy and when she’d collected that, had completely forgotten about the money that went along with it, presented to her sometime later by NAPT’s Adrianne Beach.

Now, she’s the house pro at Stixx and Stones Billiards in Lewisville, TX and is in the midst of trying to duplicate her best earnings year (2018) since that first win, six years ago. She’s just a little more than half-way to her 2018 earnings at the table, having won three events so far this year, and it’s only May. In February, she was runner-up to Mary Rakin in the 7th Annual Texas Open’s Ladies 10-Ball event, before winning both the Ladies Division of the Scotty Townsend Memorial and the 2022 Midwest Ladies Open in March. In April, she chalked up a 9-ball challenge victory over Melissa Helland.

This past weekend (May 14-15), Larson signed on to the On the Ball Ladies Tour for its third stop of the year and went undefeated through a field of 29 entrants to claim the title. The $2,000-added event was hosted by Skinny Bob’s in Round Rock, TX.

Larson’s trip to the winners’ circle was almost derailed, or to be more accurate, sidetracked early. She defeated Edwidge Cavanna 7-2 in the opening round before having to battle through two straight double hill matches, against Nicole McDaniel and Michelle Yim, which set her up for a winners’ side semifinal against Kim Sanders. Chris Fields, in the meantime, who’d face Larson twice before all was said and done, opened with a 7-2 win, as well, against Ruth Paine and advanced to down Ximena Duarte 7-4 and Ming Ng, double hill, to arrive at her winners’ side semifinal against Jennifer Kraber.

Larson, apparently having had quite enough of double hill matches for the day, shut Sanders out and advanced to the hot seat match. She was joined by Fields, who sent Kraber to the loss side 7-2. Larson gave up only a single rack to Fields and claimed the hot seat.

On the loss side, Kraber picked up Jenna Bishoff, who’d lost her opening round match to McDaniel and went on a five-match, loss-side winning streak that had recently eliminated Mille Almarez 7-5 and Michelle Yim 7-3. Sanders drew a rematch against Cristina Schneider, whom she’d sent to the loss side in the second round and was in the midst of a four-match, loss-side run that included most recent wins over Ming Ng 7-3 and Angie Payne 7-2.

Bishoff and Schneider had their loss-side winning streaks ended by Kraber and Sanders, in completely different ways. In advancing to the quarterfinals, Sanders gave up only a single rack to Schneider. Bishoff fought Kraber to a 13th deciding game before Kraber prevailed to join Sanders in those quarterfinals.

Sanders then defeated Kraber 7-4, only to be downed by Fields in the semifinals 7-2. Though Fields would do considerably better against Larson in the finals than she had in the hot seat match, Larson edged out in front near the end of the final match, claiming the event title 7-5.

As may be noted in the accompanying photo, Larson remembered her check this time.

The next stop (#4) on the On the Ball Ladies Tour is scheduled for the weekend of July 24-25 and will be hosted by Betsy’s Billiards in Austin, TX. 

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