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Ussery comes from the loss side to take VA State 10-Ball Championships

Manny Chau and BJ Ussery

Junior competitor Precilia Kinsley takes Ladies title

There were times, as the 2022 VA State 10-Ball Championships, held under the auspices of the Action Pool Tour, were playing out, that one might have thought they’d taken a wrong turn somewhere and ended up at an event on the Junior International Championships (JIC). In both the concurrently-run Open and Ladies tournament, held this past weekend (April 9-10), there was strong representation from the up-and-coming crowd of junior competitors.

Precilia Kinsley (15) won the Ladies event and though the Open event was won by BJ Ussery, Jr., it was a different kind of junior (Nathan Childress) who sent him to the loss side. Three of the five matches he played after that to get to the finals put him up against Childress a second time and two other prominent male juniors on the JIC roster, Joey Tate and Landon Hollingsworth. All four and Brent Worth, another player on the JIC, competed in the Open event. Kinsley went two-and-out, while Worth went three-and-out in that division. The event drew 46 Open competitors and 20 Ladies to Diamond Billiards in Midlothian, VA.

Ussery’s path to the Open finals was rolling along smoothly through his first three matches, in which he’d given up only one rack, against Luther Pickeral (0), Shane Buchanan (1) and Larry Kressel (0). Then, he ran into Childress, who defeated him 8-5. Childress advanced to a winners’ side semifinal against Manny Chau. Hollingsworth became the second junior competitor in the winners’ side semifinals, having, on his way, given up only three racks, once, and two racks twice before facing Danny Mastermaker, who’d given up that many racks in his previous winners’ side quarterfinal win over Mac Harrell.

Mastermaker advanced to the hot seat match, sending Hollingsworth to the loss side 8-6. Chau joined him after downing Childress 8-4. Chau claimed the hot seat 8-1 over Mastermaker and waited on what he, with good reason, might have assumed was one of the three junior competitors still at work on the loss side.

On that loss side of the bracket, Childress drew Scott Roberts, who’d lost his opening match to Larry Kressel and was working on a seven-match, loss-side winning streak that was about to come to an end. He’d recently survived two straight double-hill matches against Mac Harrell and Chris Bruner. Hollingsworth drew Ussery, who was working on his own loss-side streak and had recently defeated Reggie Jackson 7-1 and JIC competitor Joey Tate 7-3.

Ussery defeated Hollingsworth 7-3 and advanced to his quarterfinal rematch against Childress, who joined him after putting a stop to Roberts’ loss-side streak 7-1. A little older by a matter of hours and presumably a little wiser, Ussery, Jr. stepped to the proverbial ‘plate’ and battled Childress to a deciding 13th game, his only double hill match of the tournament, before eliminating him.

Ussery then defeated Mastermaker 7-3 in the semifinals and claimed the VA State 10-Ball Championship title with a 9-6 victory Chau in the finals.

Precilia Kinsley and Liz Taylor

Six from JIC (30% of the field) compete, Kinsley comes from the loss side to take the title

Like Ussery, Precilia Kinsley had to come from the loss side to win the Ladies division of the VA State 10-Ball Championships. The winners’ side semifinals in the Ladies tournament featured two juniors against each other in one and two veterans in the other.

Kinsley was one of the juniors. She’d gotten by Cheryl Pritchard and Buffy Jolie to face fellow junior competitor, Bethany Tate in their winners’ side semifinal. Liz Taylor, who, at the same venue, won last October’s VA State Ladies 9-Ball Championship, ran a sort of JIC young ladies’ gauntlet. Four of her five total opponents in the event were JIC competitors. She opened with a victory over Courtney Hairfield (who’d finished 5th/6th in the last JIC 18U Girls division event, two weeks ago) and Hayleigh Marion (double hill) before stepping into her winners’ side semifinal against someone much closer to her in age, Lisa Cossette.

Tate downed Kinsley 6-4, as Taylor was working on a 6-2 win over Cossette. Taylor claimed the hot seat 6-2 over Tate and waited on the return of her last junior competitor.

On the loss side, that competitor, Kinsley, drew fellow JIC competitor Hayleigh Marion, who’d recently eliminated Britt Faries 5-2 and yet another JIC competitor, Savanna Wolford, double hill. Cossette picked up Buffy Jolie, who’d survived a double hill fight versus Courtney Hairfield and defeated Bethany Sykes 5-2 to reach her.

Cossette downed Jolie 5-3 and in the quarterfinals, faced Kinsley, who’d survived a double hill match against Marion. Kinsley defeated Cossette 5-3 and in their semifinal rematch, eliminated Tate 5-3, as well. Kinsley and Taylor came within a game of double hill, but in the end, the youngster edged out in front of the woman who owns a number of VA State titles. Kinsley downed Taylor 7-5 to claim her first. 

A five-entrant Second Chance tournament was won by Chris Bruner, who took home $80 for the effort. Brian Sewell ($20) was runner-up

Tour directors Kris Wylie and Tiger Baker thanked the ownership and staff at Diamond Billiards, as well as sponsors George Hammerbacher and Haselman & Hunt, D.D.S., P.C. Family Dentistry (Haselman & Hunt.com). As the Action Pool Tour works on adding two more events to their 2022 calendar, the next scheduled event, to be held on the weekend of November 19-20, will bring the tour back to Diamond Billiards for the VA State 8-Ball Championships. 

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Li goes undefeated, downing Sykes twice to win JPNEWT season finale

Bethany Sykes & Lai Li

The finalists in the season finale of the J. Pechauer Northeast Women’s Tour were both in the midst of their best earnings year to date and were looking for their first win on the tour. Though Bethany Sykes was the State of Virginia’s 8-Ball Champion almost exactly a year ago, had chalked up a win on the gender-mixed Action Pool Tour in January and a month later, had won the Division II Championship on the (presently) all-female North American Pool Tour in February, she had yet to win an event on the JPNEWT. Lai Li, her opponent in both the hot seat match and finals, was looking for her first regional tour win ever and found it, as she went undefeated to win the tour’s season finale on the weekend of Nov. 16-17. The $500-added (by Coins of the Realm) event (Stop #8) drew 22 players to Triple Nines in Elkridge, MD.

The victory elevated Lai Li one spot on the Tour Standings list to #2. Tour director Linda Shea, who, for obvious reasons, has competed in all eight of the tour’s stops, finished 3rd in the season finale to retain her spot at the top of the tour standings. Caroline Pao, who won the three stops in which she competed and finished 3rd in the tour standings, did not compete in the season finale.

Following victories over Ceci Strain 7-1, Teri Thomas 7-3 and Melissa Jenkins 7-4, Lai Li advanced to a winners’ side semifinal against Anita Sowers. Sykes’ trip to the hot seat match was almost derailed at the outset. After being awarded an opening round bye, Sykes drew Eugenia Gyftopoulos, who battled her to double hill before finally giving way for Sykes to advance. Sykes went on to down Kelly Wyatt 7-5 and advance to her winners’ side semifinal match against Judie Wilson.

By identical 7-5 scores, Li and Sykes defeated Sowers and Wilson and advanced to the hot seat match. Li took the first of their two matches 7-5 and waited on her return.

On the loss side, Sowers picked up tour director Linda Shea, who’d been sent to the loss side by Judie Wilson in a winners’ side quarterfinal and had then defeated Serafina Concannon 7-5 and Sharon O’Hanlon 7-3. Wilson drew a rematch against Kia Sidbury, whom she’d defeated in an early round and was in the midst of a six-match, loss-side winning streak that had most recently included victories over Carol V. Clark 7-3 and a double hill win over Melissa Jenkins.

Shea defeated Sowers 7-3 and in the quarterfinals, faced Sidbury, who’d had a successful rematch against Wilson 7-4. Shea then ended Sidbury’s loss-side streak 7-5 in those quarterfinals.

Sykes, though, ended Shea’s four-match, loss-side trip with a 7-3 victory in the semifinals. Li, apparently unaffected by the wait, defeated Sykes in their second match, the finals, 7-3.

Tour director Shea thanked the ownership and staff at Triple Nines for their hospitality as well as title sponsor J. Pechauer Custom Cues, Coins of the Realm, Mezz USA, Baltimore City Cues, and for the live stream, Britanya E Rapp with angle aim Art. The tour will be back at Triple Nines in Elkridge, MD for their 2020 season opener on the weekend of March 7-8, 2020.

Bruner still on top of Action Pool Tour standings, claims VA State 8-Ball Championships

(l to r): Chris Bruner & RJ Carmona

Liz Taylor goes undefeated through Ladies field
 
Chris Bruner came into the October 12-13 VA State 8-Ball Championships as the Action Pool Tour’s top player. He went undefeated through a field of 37 at Q Master Billiards in Virginia Beach, VA to claim the event title and maintain his position as #1 on the tour’s player standings list. Eight of the players on the tour’s Top Ten list competed in this year’s event, but so did, among others, Shaun Wilkie (#14) and last year’s runner-up, Mike Davis (#30). Defending champion, Warren Kiamco, did not compete this year. Bruner sent #2, Steve Fleming, to the loss side, and faced #3, RJ Carmona, twice to claim the title.
 
The Ladies event drew a short field of 13 and was won by Liz Taylor, who, along with Jacki Duggan, who finished in 4th place, are the only women among the tour’s Top 20 in player standings. Like Bruner, Taylor went undefeated through the field and had to face the same opponent (Cheryl Pritchard) in both the hot seat and finals.
 
Bruner’s seven-match march to the finish line went through Jose Vega-Hernandez, Travis Southard, Jamie Bess and Fleming to arrive at a winners’ side semifinal match against Eric Moore, who would normally be among the tour’s top players, but was making here only his second appearance on the 2019 tour. Bruner arrived at the winners’ side semifinal, having given up only five total racks (two to Southard and three to Fleming).
 
Carmona got by Kenny Miller (#11), Jason Trigo (#17) and survived a double hill bout versus JT Ringgold (#21) to arrive at his winners’ side semifinal match against Reymart Lim (#5). Three of the four competitors in the winners’ side semifinals had won previous stops on the 2019 tour; Bruner and Lim with two each and Carmona with one.
 
Moore chalked up more racks against Bruner than all of his previous opponents combined. They fought to double hill before Bruner prevailed and advanced to the hot seat match. He was joined by Carmona, who’d sent Lim west 7-3. In their first of two, Bruner claimed the hot seat 7-4 over Carmona.
 
On the loss side, Lim picked up Scott Haas, who’d been defeated by Eric Moore 7-5 in a winners’ side quarterfinal match and gone on to defeat Shaun Wilkie 6-4 and Steve Fleming 6-2. Moore drew Ringgold, who, following his double hill loss to Bruner in a winners’ side quarterfinal, had defeated Tony Montalvo 6-2 and Kenny Miller 6-1.
 
Ringgold downed Moore 6-3 and in the quarterfinals, faced Lim, who’d defeated Haas 6-2. Lim took the quarterfinal match 6-3 over Ringgold.
 
In the semifinals that followed, Carmona gave up only a single rack to Lim and earned himself a second shot against Bruner. In their second meeting, the Bruner and Carmona battled to double hill before Bruner prevailed to deny Carmona his second 2019 tour victory and chalk up his own third win.
 
Taylor downs Pritchard twice to capture Ladies 8-Ball Title
 
Last year’s Ladies’ winner – Bethany Sykes – was ‘in the house’ for this event, though she was sent to the loss side 6-4 in the second round by the eventual winner, Liz Taylor. Sykes then won four on the loss side, before falling to the event’s runner-up, Cheryl Pritchard, in the semifinals.
 
It took Liz Taylor five matches to claim the title. She got by Maria Beckner 6-1 before sending the event’s defending champion, Bethany Sykes to the loss side 6-4. This set Taylor up in a winners’ side semifinal versus Kim Whitman. Awarded a preliminary round bye, Pritchard defeated Kelly Cox 6-3 to arrive at a winners’ side semifinal match against Lisa Uilani Vita.
 
Taylor and Whitman fought to double hill before Taylor prevailed 6-5 and sent Whitman west. Pritchard gave up only a single rack to Vita and joined Taylor in what would be their first of two, battling for the hot seat. Taylor took that first of two 6-3 and waited in the hot seat for Pritchard’s return.
 
On the loss side, Whitman drew Jacki Duggan, who’d lost an earlier battle to Vita and on the loss side, had eliminated Soo Emmett 5-1 and Maria Beckner 5-3. Vita picked up Sykes, who, following her defeat at the hands of Taylor, had defeated Kelly Wyatt 5-3 and Kim McKenna 5-1.
 
Duggan and Sykes advanced to the quarterfinals with 5-3 victories over Whitman and Vita. Sykes followed that with another 5-3 victory, over Duggan, in the quarterfinals.
 
Pritchard ended Sykes’ bid for a second year in the 8-Ball Championship finals with a 5-2 win in the semifinals. Taylor then ended Pritchard’s bid for the event title by shutting her out in the finals.
 
A Second Chance tournament drew 12 entrants and saw Steve Fleming come from the loss side to down hot seat occupant Justin Clark 6-1 in the finals. James Blackburn finished third, with Jimmy Bird in fourth place.
 
Tour directors Kim Wylie and Tiger Baker thanked the ownership and staff at Q Master Billiards, as well as sponsors as well as sponsors Predator Cues, Viking Cues, Simonis Cloth, Aramith Balls, Brown’s Mechanical LLC, Kamui, Diamond Billiard Products, Ozone Billiards, CSI, Grant Wylie Photography and George Hammerbacher, Advanced Pool Instructor. The next stop on the Action Pool Tour, scheduled for the weekend of November 16-17, will be hosted by Diamond Billiards in Midlothian, VA.

Pao goes undefeated to take JPNEWT stop #6 in Sterling, VA

(l to r): Caroline Pao, Bethany Sykes & Ada Lio

Caroline Pao has appeared on the J. Pechauer Northeast Women’s Tour only twice in 2019 and she’s won both events. On the weekend of July 27-28, following a defeat at the hands of tour director, Linda Shea, Pao won seven matches on the loss side to earn a rematch and defeat Shea in the finals of Stop #4. On the weekend of September 14-15, she opted for an undefeated route to the winners’ circle, downing separate opponents in the hot seat (Ada Lio) and finals (Bethany Sykes). The $500-added (from Coins of the Realm) event drew 26 entrants to First Break Sports Bar in Sterling, VA.
 
Luck of the draw kept Pao from having to face Shea early in this event. Instead, she opened with a 7-1 victory over Noel Rima and followed it with a 7-4 win over Melissa Mason. Shea, in the meantime, had defeated Jenn Sylvester 7-1, but was subsequently defeated 7-5 by Kia Sidbury, who advanced to meet Pao.
 
Pao sent Sidbury to the loss side 7-3 and drew Bethany Sykes in one of the winners’ side semifinals. Ada Lio, in the meantime, who’d survived an opening round, double hill matchup versus Melissa Jenkins, went on to defeat Melissa Perez 7-1 and Suzzie Wong 7-4 to draw Serafina Concannon in the other winners’ side semifinal.
 
Pao and Lio met in the hot seat match, once Pao had defeated Sykes in their first of two meetings 7-2 and Lio had dispatched Concannon 7-4. Pao claimed the hot seat 7-1 over Lio and waited on the return of Sykes.
 
Concannon arrived on the loss side and drew Sidbury, who, following her defeat at the hands of Pao had defeated Lai Li 7-2 and eliminated Anita Sowers, double hill. Sykes picked up Kelly Wyatt, who’d lost to Concannon in a winners’ side quarterfinal and then defeated Judie Wilson 7-4 and spoiled whatever hopes Linda Shea had of meeting up with Pao by eliminating her double hill.
 
Sidbury downed Concannon 7-3 and in the quarterfinals, faced Sykes who’d come out on the winning side of a double hill battle against Wyatt. Sykes and Sidbury locked up in a double hill fight in those quarterfinals, as well, with Sykes prevailing again.
 
Sykes then ended Lio’s weekend 7-2 in the semifinals and turned to face Pao in the finals. Sykes was looking for her third major event victory in 2019, having won a Ladies Division stop on the Action Pool Tour in January and the NAPT Div. II Championship in February. She’d also tied for 5th place with Kia Sidbury at a JPNEWT stop (#3) in May, making 2019 her best recorded earnings year, to date. Pao, as noted, was making only her second appearance on the 2019 JPNEWT Tour, although she’d cashed in three WPBA events earlier in the year, making 2019 her best earnings year since 2008.
 
The final match was a repeat of their winners’ side semifinal match. Pao won it 7-2 to claim the event title.
 
Tour director Linda Shea thanked the ownership and staff at First Break Sports Bar, as well as title sponsor J. Pechauer Custom Cues, Coins of the Realm, Turtle Rack (www.mezzusa.com), Baltimore City Cues, Billy Bay Bunn Cue Repair and the live stream, sponsored by Britanya E. Rapp of angle aim art. The next stop on the JPNEWT, scheduled for the weekend of October 12-13, will be hosted by Eagle Billiards in Dickson City, PA.

Bruner comes from the loss side (again) to win second straight Action Pool Tour event

Chris Bruner

Last month (June 15-16), Chris Bruner won seven on the loss side of the Action Pool Tour’s Brown’s Mechanical 9-Ball Open (Stop #6 on the tour) to chalk up his first 2019 win. In so doing, he climbed two rungs on the tour’s ranking ladder (from 5th to 3rd). At the Action Pool Tour’s Bar Box 10-Ball Open (Stop #7), which drew 32 entrants to Peninsula Billiards in Newport News, VA this past weekend (July 13-14), Bruner won his second straight APT event, coming back from a defeat in the hot seat to claim the event title in a final match against JT Ringgold. This time, and once again, in the absence of some of the tour’s top-ranked competitors at this event (Steve Fleming, RJ Carmona and Reymart Lim, among others), Bruner took three steps up the ranking ladder to become the APT’s top-ranked competitor.
 
Bruner came into this most recent event, having already surpassed his reported 2018 earnings at the tables. When it was over, and he’d claimed the event title, he’d turned 2019 into his best earnings year, to date. Just a little over halfway through the year, he’d surpassed his best earnings year, to date (2014) by a couple of hundred dollars. Though Ringgold has already earned over twice what Bruner has earned in 2018/2019 (so far), he is a little behind schedule in his quest to match his best earnings year to date, which was 2018. At this time last year, Ringgold had earned about 39% of the total he’d earn by the end of the year. With his 2018 earnings as a hypothetical target, he’s at 32% now, and having now appeared in three of the APT’s 2019 events, he’s moved himself up in the tour’s rankings from #17 to approximately 7th or 8th, depending on how the math played out for some of the players above him who competed in this event. He and Bruner have each chalked up a victory in 2019; this most recent victory for Bruner and a stop on the Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball Tour for Ringgold. The APT’s Bar Box 10-Ball Open drew 32 entrants to Peninsula Billiards in Newport News, VA.
 
Bruner’s path to the hot seat match went through Bethany Sykes 8-2, Bill Duggan in a double hill match and a shutout over Thomas Spivey to arrive at a winners’ side semifinal against Dave Hunt. Ringgold got by Donnie Huet 8-4, Johnny Syphanthavong 8-2, and Nilbert Lim 8-6 to pick up Mike Davis in his winners’ side semifinal. Bruner and Ringgold got into the hot seat match by chalking up identical 8-6 scores over Hunt and Davis. Somewhat predictably, the battle for the hot seat was decided by a single, 15th game in the match. Ringgold won that deciding game and waited in the hot seat for Bruner to come back from the semifinals.
 
Mike Davis showed up on the loss side and faced Christopher Wilburn, who’d lost an opening round, double hill match to Dave Hunt and set out on a five-match winning streak that almost, but not quite, earned him a rematch against Hunt. He’d most recently defeated Thomas Spivey and Scott Roberts, both 7-3, to draw Davis. Hunt, in the meantime, picked up Bill Duggan, who’d gone on from his early-round loss to Bruner, to win four on the loss side, including a 7-4 win over Coen Bell and a 7-3 victory over Nilbert Lim.
 
Hunt got by Duggan 7-2, while Davis and Wilburn locked up in a double hill fight that eventually sent Davis to the quarterfinals with Hunt. Davis took command of those quarterfinals quickly, downing Hunt 7-1 for a shot against Bruner in the semifinals.
 
It would prove to be Bruner’s second straight double hill match. The first had sent him to the semifinals. The second was the semifinals and the double hill win over Davis sent him on to a rematch against Ringgold in the hot seat. Bruner completed his second straight win on the APT with a 10-8 victory in the finals.
 
A Second Chance event drew eight entrants. Johnny Syphanthavong and Josh Harget battled twice in the hot seat and finals to win the top $115 first-place prize. Syphanthavong won them both, 6-2, 6-3.
 
Tour directors Kim Wylie and Tiger Baker thanked the ownership and staff at Peninsula Billiards, as well as sponsors CSI, Viking Cues, Predator Cues, Diamond Billiard Products, Ozone Billiards, Simonis Cloth, Aramith Balls, Kamui, Chix Cabinets, and George Hammerbacher (Advanced Pool Instructor). The next stop on the Action Pool Tour (#8), scheduled for the weekend of August 17-18, will be hosted by Champion Billiards Sports Bar in Frederick, MD.
 

Corr returns to the JPNEWT, goes undefeated to win Stop #3

(l to r): Linda Shea, Karen Corr & Nicole King

In her first appearance on the 2019 J. Pechauer Northeast Women’s Tour on the weekend of May 18-19, Karen Corr went undefeated to claim her first 2019 JPNEWT title. The $500-added (by Coins of the Realm) event drew 23 entrants to First Break Bar & Grill in Sterling, VA.
 
As usual, in a way that makes other competitors think in terms of ‘second place,’ Corr not only went undefeated, but until the final match, didn’t give up more than a single rack in each of the four matches that put her in the hot seat. After being awarded an opening round bye, Corr chalked up 7-1 victories over Jenn Sylvester and Elaine Wilson to draw Bethany Sykes in one of the winners’ side semifinals. Nicole King, in the meantime, had to do some work to get to the same place. King defeated Leslie Furr and Ceci Strain 7-5, and gave up only three racks to Kathleen Lawless, to draw Kia Sidbury in the other winners’ side semifinal.
 
Corr chalked up her third straight 7-1 victory, over Sykes, while King and Sidbury locked up in a double hill fight that eventually sent King to the hot seat match versus Corr. Corr then chalked up her fourth 7-1 victory, over King, to claim the hot seat and await her return from the semifinals.
 
On the loss side, Sidbury picked up Elaine Wilson, who, following her defeat at the hands of Corr in a winners’ side quarterfinal, defeated Sharon O’Hanlon 7-5 and Anita Sowers 7-4. Sykes drew a re-match against tour director Linda Shea, last month’s winner at Markley Billiards in PA, who had been sent to the loss side by Sykes in the 2nd round and was in the midst of a six-match, loss-side winning streak that would take her as far as the semifinals. She had most recently eliminated Kathleen Lawless 7-4 and Lai Li 7-3.
 
Wilson downed Sidbury 7-4 and in the quarterfinals, met Shea, who’d advanced in a successful 7-3 rematch against Sykes. Shea then chalked up what proved to be her final loss-side win with a 7-4 victory over Wilson in those quarterfinals.
 
From the standpoint of what was expected to happen after the semifinals (although no guarantees), it was no surprise that the semifinals became a struggle for (however it turned out) second place. It was thus, a predictable double hill fight that eventually ended Shea’s loss-side winning streak and gave King a second shot at Corr in the hot seat. Although King would chalk up as many racks in the finals as all four of Corr’s previous opponents combined (herself included), to no one’s surprise, Corr won 7-4 to claim the title.
 
Tour director Linda Shea thanked the ownership and staff at First Break Bar & Grill, as well as title sponsor J. Pechauer Custom Cues, event sponsor Coins of the Realm, angle aim Art (Britanya E Rapp), The Turtle Rack Combo (Mezzusa.com), Baltimore City Cues and Billy Ray Bunn Cue Repair. The next stop (#4) on the JPNEWT, scheduled for the weekend of July 27-28, will be hosted by Champion Billiards Sports Bar in Frederick, MD.

Brandon Shuff Seals the Deal at Maryland State 9-Ball Championship

Brandon Shuff, Loye Bolyard, Shaun Wilkie, Jake Lawson, Kenny Ruttman and Rick Scarlato

In yet another action-packed weekend of competitive pool, Brandon Shuff emerged as the winner of the Maryland State 9-Ball Championship. The event, which is owned and managed by On The Hill Productions, was held at the Champion Billiards Sports Bar in Frederick, MD during the weekend of May 4th-5th. This has been a successful year so far for Brandon. He recently finished 4th in the Barry Behrman Memorial in April and the VA State 10-Ball in February. In this tournament, he sailed through the field and dropped only one set to Shaun Wilkie, who came back from the B-side to try and claim the title. Brandon held firm and was able to lift the trophy in victory.
 
The 82-player field was customarily strong, loaded with such powerhouses as Shaun Wilkie, Kevin West, Brett Stottlemyer, Chip Klein, Del Sim, David Hennessy, Kenny Rutman, Matt Krah, Steve Fleming, Thomas Zippler and Scott Haas to name a few. The ladies were represented by local favorites Bethany Sykes, Eugenia Gyftopoulos, Gwen Townsend, Lai Li, Stefanie Manning and newcomer to the tournament scene, Jenny Mohammed.
 
Not to be left out, the young guns also made their presence felt. Tournament-regulars Dylan Spohr and Coen Bell were there to stir the pot, but the young man who stood head and shoulders above the rest was Justin Martin from Wilmington, NC. He had a very strong finish of fourth place and impressed everyone with his display of fundamentals, technique, and poise. Don't be surprised if he snaps off one of these big events very soon! 
 
The recent champion of the MD State 9-Ball Bar Table Championship, Brandon Sluzalis was also there, but his efforts to repeat were cut short first by Kenny Rutman, then by the straight-shooting Bobby Pacheco. He had to settle for 9th. place.
 
Congratulations to all who finished in the top 24 places this weekend. 
This event owes its success to the following sponsors:
McDermott Cues
Billiard Sports Network
Lights Out Billiard Apparel
Phillippi Custom Cues
TAP Pool League – Chesapeake Region
 
Many thanks to the owner Gary Allen & staff at Champion Billiards for hosting another successful event. The high-quality free stream was provided by Jake Lawson and Josh Setterfield of Billiard Sports Network. Tour directors Rick Scarlato Jr. and Loye Bolyard continue to provide great tournaments with the utmost professionalism and quality.

Sanders wins battle of the ‘Kims,’ goes undefeated to claim Jerry Olivier Ladies Tour stop #2

(l to r): Kim Sanders, Kim Pierce, Jennifer Kraber & Alicia Stanley

Fresh from their battles at the NAPT Div. II Championships in Phoenix, AZ last month (Feb. 21-24), Kims Sanders and Pierce signed on to stop #2 of the Jerry Olivier Ladies Tour (JOLT). Pierce was runner-up to Bethany Sykes in the NAPT event and Sanders finished in the tie for 17th. They met twice on the recent JOLT event, and Sanders won both times to claim the title. The $2,000-added event drew 42 entrants to Skinny Bob’s Billiards in Round Rock, TX.
 
They met first in a winners’ side semifinal, while Alicia Stanley and Audrey Araceli squared off in the other one. Sanders sent Pierce to the loss side 7-2 and in the hot seat match, faced Stanley, who’d sent Araceli over 7-1. Sanders claimed the hot seat in a double hill fight and waited on what turned out to be the return of Pierce.
 
On the loss side, Pierce picked up Angie Payne, who’d defeated Nicole McDaniel, double hill, and Michelle Cortez 7-5 to reach her. Araceli drew Jennifer Kraber, who’d eliminated Natalie Mans 7-6 and defeated Belinda Lee 7-2.
 
Pierce and Payne locked up in a double hill fight, eventually won by Pierce. She was joined in the quarterfinals by Kraber, who’d eliminated Araceli 7-3.
 
Pierce took the quarterfinal match 7-2 over Kraber, thereby spoiling a potential re-match nearly nine years in the making. In November 2010, Kraber (who won the inaugural JOLT event last March) and Kim Sanders battled in the finals of a stop on the Lone Star Billiards Tour, which became Sanders’ first and as far as we know, only victory on a regional tour (it should be noted that ‘as far as we know’ is not a definitive statement; our records are of events about which we have received information over the years. There are regrettably gaps in that information, but we do know they met at that event and Sanders did secure that event title).
 
Pierce moved on and secured her own rematch against Sanders with a 7-4 victory over Stanley in the semifinals. It was a true double elimination final, but Sanders kept it simple, winning the first and only set she needed 7-2 to claim what, according to our records, is only her second event title. The victory also qualified Sanders for an upcoming NAPT Div. II event in Sacramento, CA this coming June.
 
The Tour’s directing committee thanked the ownership and staff at Skinny Bob’s for their hospitality, as well as title sponsor Jerry Olivier Custom Cues and MZTam.com. The next stop on the Jerry Olivier Ladies Tour (#3), scheduled for the weekend of April 13-14, will be a $2,000-added event, hosted by Diamonds Sports Bar in Port Arthur, TX. 

Whitman comes back from the semifinals to win JPNEWT season opener

(l to r): Lai Li, Ada Lio, Lisa Cossette, Nicole Christ, Cheryl Sporleder & Kim Whitman

Of the 22 women who competed on the March 2-3 season opener of the J. Pechauer Northeast Women’s Tour, three of them had just returned from Phoenix, Arizona where they, and five others from the tour, had competed in the North American Pool Tour’s 3rd Annual Division II Championships, held from February 21-24. Two of the eight, having advanced out of an initial round robin phase of the event, came home with cash in their pockets. Judie Wilson had been among the eight competitors who finished in the tie for 17th place. The other JPNEWT competitor, Bethany Sykes, won 12 matches and lost two (six each, in the round robin and double elimination phases of the event) to capture her first major tournament win.
 
Unfortunately, or fortunately, dependent on your viewpoint, pool careers tend to follow a twisted path that features a relentless series of hills and valleys. From the hill and confidence glow of her first major tournament win, Sykes hit an immediate valley in the JPNEWT’s season opener, drawing tour director, and Division I NAPT competitor, Linda Shea, in the opening round of play. Sykes moved to the loss side, where after two wins, including a double hill victory over fellow NAPT Div. II competitor Judie Wilson, she was eliminated by JPNEWT veteran, Sharon O’Hanlon.
 
The season opening event of the 2019 JPNEWT season saw Kim Whitman and Lisa Cossette battle twice to claim the title. They battled to double hill in the hot seat match before Cossette won it Whitman came back from the semifinals to down Cossette in the finals and claim the season-opening title. The $500-added event drew its 22 entrants to Triple Nines in Elkridge, MD.
 
Whitman’s path to the winners’ circle went through Linda Tunmatip, Judie Wilson, and Kathleen Lawless before arriving at a winners’ side semifinal matchup against Lai Li. Cossette, in the meantime, got by Melissas Mason and Jenkins, and survived a double hill meetup with Linda Shea, to face Nicole Christ in the other winners’ side semifinal.
 
Whitman and Li locked up in a double hill fight for advancement to the hot seat match, eventually won by Whitman. Cossette downed Christ 7-3 to join her. Whitman, in her second straight double hill match, watched Cossette down the last 9-Ball and claim the hot seat.
 
On the loss side, Christ picked up Ada Lio, one of the participants in the Div. II Championships, who was on a six-match, loss-side winning streak and had most recently defeated Leslie Furr 7-3 and Lawless 7-4 to reach her. Li drew Cheryl Sporleder, who was on her own six-match, loss-side winning streak, had just eliminated Shea and O’Hanlon, both 7-1.
 
Lio and Christ locked up in a double hill fight that eventually sent Lio to the quarterfinals. She was joined by Sporleder, who’d defeated Li 7-4. Sporleder stopped Lio’s loss-side streak 7-4 in those quarterfinals. Whitman then ended Sporleder’s loss-side streak 7-5 in the semifinals.
 
Whitman got her second shot at Cossette in the hot seat, and took advantage. She downed Cossette 9-7 to claim the JPNEWT’s 2019 season opener. As a qualifier for the upcoming Super Billiards Expo, Whitman received a paid entry to the Ladies Pro event.
 
Tour director Linda Shea thanked the ownership and staff at Triple Nines for their hospitality, as well as title sponsor J. Pechauer Custom Cues, Coins of the Realm, Livestream sponsor Britanya E. Rapp (angle aim Art), Turtle Rack and Baltimore City Cues. The next stop on the JPNEWT, scheduled for the weekend of April 27-28, will be hosted by Markley Billiards in Norristown, PA. 

Sykes from the JPNEWT wins first major at NAPT Division II Championships in Phoenix

Bethany Sykes (photo courtesy of NAPT – Playnapt.com)

Prior to her start and victory at the $5,000-added North American Pool Tour’s 3rd Annual Division II Championships, held from February 21-24 at Bullshooters in Phoenix, AZ, Bethany Sykes had only one major victory on her brief, two-year, four-event, cash payout resume; two of those payouts were earned on the J. Pechauer Northeast Womens’ Tour (JPNEWT) and two, including the only victory, came on the Action Pool Tour (APT), where, this past November, she won the Virginia State Ladies 8-Ball Championships. It should be noted that the Ladies’ VA State 8-Ball event featured a field of only five entrants, although as they say, a win is a win is a win. For Sykes, though, the NAPT Div. II Championships were her “first big tournament” and the win was like gravy on a main meal of just being thrilled to be there and the four-day joy of participation.
 
“It was an incredible feeling,” she said of her first impressions, “just to be there with that many women in the room (64 entrants).”
 
“It was an awesome experience,” she went on to say, noting that it was her first time playing in a round robin event, and the first time she’d ever had to deal with a shot clock. “I found that the 30 seconds gave me no time for indecision about what could go wrong. There was no thinking about anything but the shot.”
 
As her resume indicates, she’s only been playing the sport competitively for the past couple of years, although she says she’s been in love with the game since she was about nine years old. She got her first cue when she was 16 and now, at 31, she’s crossed a big threshold and won her first major tournament. Her appearances on the JPNEWT and APT over the last year or two helped her to identify and improve some of the basics to which she had not been exposed previously.
 
“I never knew where to put my feet,” she said of her early attempts to develop a stance. “I got a lesson from Karen Corr about five months ago, and she told me where to put my feet.”
 
With her feet sorted out, Sykes joined 63 other women from seven regional ladies pool tours at these Division II Championships; six from the United States and four women from a ladies tour out of Quebec. The most heavily represented tour among the seven was the Texas-based Jerry Olivier Pool Tour (JO), with 14 entrants, about 22% of the field. The Northwest Women’s Pool Association (NWPA) was next with 12, followed by the ‘hometown’ Arizona Women’s Billiards Tour (AWBT), which had 11. The West Coast Women’s Tour (WCWT) sent 9. The JPNEWT contributed 8 (including Sykes), the North Central Pool Tour (NCPT) checked in with 6, while  four women represented the ‘Circuit de Billard Feminine du Quebec.’
 
They broke up into eight round robin flights of eight players each, beginning on Thursday, February 21. Sykes, in Group Two, representing the JPNEWT, was paired with a primarily West Coast field; Cassie Francois and Elaine Eberly from the NWPA, Ginger Bowen from the WCWT, Jaye Succo and Leandra Gaff from the AWBT, Tam Trinh from the JO and Marilou Therrien from the Canadian league.
 
Sykes opened her campaign at 10:30 a.m. on Thursday morning with a 5-2 win over Francois. In round two, she got by Eberly 4-2 and then, in the final match of the opening day, she survived a double hill fight (4-3) against Trinh, which would prove to be highly significant later. As measured by total games won, she was the ‘flight’ leader at the end of that first day, with 13 games won. Gaff, Trinh and Therrien were second with 12 each.
 
Day two didn’t start out as well. Succo defeated her 5-2. Though Gaff and Therrien had been defeated, as well in the fourth round, Trinh downed Bowen 5-2, putting her out in front (by game points) 17-15.
 
“In that morning match (on the second day),” said Sykes, “(Succo) came out on fire. And from being ahead by one, I was all of a sudden behind by two games.”
 
Sykes survived a double hill (4-3) battle against Therrien in round 5, as Trinh lengthened her game lead by one more, with a 5-2 defeat of Eberly. With the game score between them now at 22-19, in favor of Trinh, they both chalked up 5-2 wins; Sykes over Bowen and Trinh over Succo. The game score between Sykes and Trinh was now at 27-24, with a single match to play.
 
Since the top four in each flight would advance to a 32-player, double elimination bracket, Sykes’ advancement at that point, short of being shut out or winning only a single game in the final match, was pretty much assured. Sykes sealed the deal with a 6-1 victory over Gaff that left her with 30 total wins. When Trinh fell to Francois 5-2 in that final round, she ended up with 29 total wins, allowing Sykes, by a single win (reflected in their earlier match), to enter the double elimination phase as the winner of her individual flight.
 
Heather Cortez, from the AWBT, with 37 total wins in her round robin flight was the top winner in her flight as well as the overall winner of the round robin phase of the event. Other top winners from the individual round robin flights were Michelle Cortez, from the Jerry Olivier Tour, in second place overall with 36 total wins. Susan Williams, with 35, from the AWBT was third. Suzanne Smith, from the NWPA, was fourth with 34, Natalie Chabot (from Canada) and Sykes’ eventual opponent in the hot seat and finals, Kim Pierce from the JO, were tied for fifth with 33 wins each. Yang Liu from the West Coast Women’s Tour was sixth with 31 total wins. Though she’d enter the double elimination phase of the event as the winner of her flight, Sykes was last among the individual flight winners advancing to the final two days of the event. Advancement to the double elimination rounds guaranteed all 32 participants at least of the share of the total $11,400 prize package.
 
“The Round Robin was so scary,” she said. “Every single game mattered. I grew from the experience, though. That Round Robin hardened me.”
 
Seven down, seven to go.
 
Over the next two days, Sykes played seven more matches; four on the winners’ side, one on the loss side, and two in the double elimination final. None were against the opponents she’d faced in her own round robin flight, one was against the overall winner of the round robin phase of the event (Heather Cortez) and three were against Pierce.
 
To get into their first match together, Sykes and Pierce would eventually, in the two winners’ side semifinals, have to get by two AWBT opponents. Sykes opened her winners’ side campaign on Saturday morning, February 23, against Gigi Callejas from the West Coast Women’s Tour, downing her 7-3. She followed that with victories over Jennifer Kraber (JO) 7-3 and then, defeated the overall round robin winner, AWBT’s Heather Cortez 7-4, to arrive at a winners’ side semifinal match against a formidably more experienced opponent, another AWBT entrant, Bernie Store. Pierce, in the meantime, had defeated Nicole Donisi from the NWPA 7-3, both Janna Nelson (7-5) and Khanh Ngo (7-3) from the West Coast Women’s Tour and arrived at her winners’ side semifinal match against yet another AWBT entrant, Susan Williams.
 
Sykes and Pierce got into the hot seat match with identical 7-5 wins over Store and Williams. In their first of three, Pierce claimed the hot seat in a double hill match.
 
“I got on the hill and things just fell apart,” said Sykes of that hot seat match, “and I couldn’t get it back together.”
 
On the loss side, Store picked up Ngo, who, following her defeat at the hands of Pierce, had defeated Stephanie Hefner 7-2, and survived a double hill match against Michelle Cortez. Williams drew Heather Cortez, who, following her defeat at the hands of Sykes, had shut out Kelly Jones and eliminated Tam Trinh 7-5.
 
Heather Cortez and Williams locked up in a double hill fight that eventually advanced Cortez to the quarterfinals. She was joined by Ngo, who’d defeated Store 7-4. Cortez and Ngo had faced each other on the opening day of the round robin matches, with Cortez winning that battle 5-2. This time, in the quarterfinals, it was Ngo who came out on top, winning it 7-5.
 
Sykes, though, having so unexpectedly, but joyfully arrived at this spot in her “first big tournament” was in no mood to let it go. She downed Ngo 7-2 in those semifinals and turned for a second and, necessary in a double elimination format, third shot at Pierce in the hot seat. They locked up in their second straight double hill battle in the opening set, but this time, it was Sykes coming out of it with the win. She completed her 12-2 run with a decisive 7-2 win over Pierce in the second set.
 
“People tell me I have no sense of tension,” said Sykes. “I always feel as though I’m in the right place at the right time. That was what made the whole thing exciting.”
 
“I went out there to get into the top four,” she added. “That was my goal as soon as I read about the tour. This was my first opportunity to get to that level and I spent the week before, imagining what it would be like; thinking of how I’d be telling my Dad about it afterwards.”
 
Exactly one week later, on the first weekend in March, Sykes rejoined her JPNEWT comrades, competing on the tour’s season opener at Triple Nines in Elkridge, MD. In a field of 22, Sykes had the misfortune of running into tour director Linda Shea, who defeated her in the opening round. She’d win two on the loss side before finishing in the tie for 9th place when she was defeated by Sharon O’Hanlon.
 
And so it goes, in the world of the emerging amateur into the world of the best in pool. Up one day, down the next. She remains somewhat in awe of her “first big tournament” win and is looking ahead at better things to come. She expects, looking ahead to competing at the Super Billiards Expo’s Women’s Pro 9-Ball event, her first shot at the Pro level, to continue improving. She is also keenly aware that pool careers, like the tournaments along the way, can be a relentless series of hills and valleys.
 
“My goal,” she said, “is to make the gaps between them smaller and smaller.”
 
“I expect to be playing with the best of them,” she said of her hopes for the next five years. “I have no aspirations of anything in particular, just to be playing at that level.”