Archive Page

Hollingsworth, Martinez and Meyman win their divisions at JIC Season 2, Stop #1

Courtney Hairfield, Kennedy Meyman and Noelle Tate

Vonderau and Mast capture 13 & Under titles

“Last year was practice,” said Ra Hanna of On The Wire Creative Media and tour director of the Junior International Championships, sponsored by Viking Cues, which began its second season last weekend (Jan. 14-16). In a snowstorm.

“Practice is over now.”

The weather had an impact that forced Hanna to cut it short. His concern for the safety of his junior competitors, as well as the family members who’d helped get them to Roanoke, VA, led to squeezing play in all five of the JIC divisions into two days, instead of three. That same weather led to flight cancellations that pinned Hanna in Roanoke until Wednesday.

“The safety of the players and their families was what was most important,” he said, noting that a cycle of soft snow and freezing temperatures had made the roads “like an ice-skating rink.”

The event, now officially known as the Junior International Championships, sponsored by Viking Cues, drew a total of just over 100 entrants, across its five divisions (with some cross-over between divisions), to Wolf’s Den in Roanoke, VA. Hanna had expected more and was convinced that in the absence of the weather, there would have been more.

Niko Konkel, Lazaro Martinez and Garrett Vaughan

Returning to compete in the JIC’s second season were the winner and runner-up of 2021’s 18 & Under Championship finals, Landon Hollingsworth and Joey Tate, who finished 1st and 2nd in Season 2/Stop #1’s 31-entrant Pro Am Division. They did not fare as well in the 18 & Under division, finishing 4th (Hollingsworth) and in the tie for 17th place (Tate).  The 18 & Under Boys division was won by Lazaro Martinez, who went undefeated, downing Niko Konkel, who’d lost to him in the hot seat match and returned from a victory over Garrett Vaughan in the semifinals, to be defeated a second time.

In the absence of 2021’s 18 and Under Girls’ Champion, Tatum Cutting (who has turned 19), the young woman she shut out in the championship finals of that division in October, Kennedy Meyman, got ‘right back on the horse,’ so to speak. Meyman lost her opening match in the 11-entrant, 2022 division opener, but rallied to win six in a row and then, down Courtney Hairfield in the finals.

The 13 & Under divisions, which drew 17 boys and 9 girls, saw the emergence of a new(er) rivalry and the renewal of an old one. Eddie Vondereau and Grayson Vaughan battled twice for the boys’ title; hot seat and finals. Vonderau downed Vaughan both times to claim that title.

Grayson Vaughan, Eddie Vonderau and D’Angelo Spain

And in the 13 & Under Girls’ division, it was storied JIC rivals, Sofia Mast and Skylar Hess, who, like Vonderau and Vaughan, battled twice for the event’s division title. After each was awarded a bye in the opening round of play, they met in what was the first match for both of them. They came within a game of double hill, but it was Hess who edged out in front to send Mast to the loss side 7-5. Mast breezed through her first three rounds on the loss side by an aggregate score of 21-4. In the quarterfinals that followed, Noelle Tate (sister to Joey) put up a fight that earned her more racks against Mast than her first three loss-side opponents, combined. Mast advanced 7-5 to the semifinals, where she defeated Savannah Easton, appearing in her first JIC event, 7-4.

“That was one of the surprises of the event,” said Hannah. “(Easton) beat out some of the top girls in that division (Franki Spain, Raygen Wilson & Skylynn Elliott) to finish third in her first event.”

So, once again, it was Mast and Hess squaring off against each other; a matchup that occurred in the quarterfinals of the 18 & Under Girls Championship last October. Mast dominated the extended race-to-9, winning it 9-2 to claim her first, and likely, not her last 2022 JIC title. 

If it ain’t broke . . .

There are differences in this second JIC season, but they’re about some minor additions and an expectation level being fostered by Hanna and the crew of folks who helped him last year and continue to do so this year. Kory and Trena Wolford, owners of Wolf’s Den, are among them.

Skylar Hess, Sofia Mast and Savannah Easton

Viking Cues has joined as a sponsor, and as such, will contribute to prizes, a scholarship to be awarded to the player who receives the tour’s Brendan Crockett Sportsmanship Award, aspects of the tour’s day-to-day operations, and when appropriate, unspecified equipment. Hanna noted that Dynaspheres “stepped up,” as did Mike Littman with Littman Lights. The tour is working with DigitalPool this year, which will feature what Hanna described as a “custom environment” with the expected brackets, updated division rankings, player profiles and live scoring.

“The players themselves are going to be doing the live scoring from their smart phones,” said Hanna. “They’ll be uploading scores to that site in real time.”

“We’re looking at a shot clock on the big tables,” he added of one other embellishment they’ll be considering bringing, literally, to the tables. “Modeling the atmosphere to that of the professionals, so that (the players) won’t be ‘deer in the headlights’ out in the world.”

“We’re also going to be sponsoring some of the players going into Pro events throughout the year,” he added. “It’ll be up to the player to decide which Pro event they might want to attend, whether it be Turning Stone, or the Super Billiards Expo. (The tour) will be off in April and we’re going to send a nice little contingent. With four of the divisions, a representative from each division would be nice.”

The plan is to provide the junior players with more than just an opportunity to compete throughout the year, but to provide them, as well, with the tools necessary to compete against increasingly difficult competition in what could well be difficult venues.

“I don’t want them complacent,” said Hanna. “I want them to know that there’s always going to be someone coming for you and that things aren’t always going to be perfect; not the balls, not the tables, not the general environment.”

“I want to go to war with this group,” he added. “The make-up of this group is the right combo to succeed; we’ve got everything – gunslingers, mercenaries, the quiet types. We’re going to make some noise this year.” 

The Junior International Championships, sponsored by Viking Cues, will hold the second stop of its second season on the weekend of Feb. 11-13. It will be hosted by Diamond Billiards in Cape Coral, FL.

29th Annual BEF Junior Nationals Rolls Ahead in Las Vegas

The most respected, skilled and academically brilliant minded junior cueists from across the United States were just in Vegas competing in an action packed week of billiards. A few miles south of the Vegas strip the Billiard Education Foundation (BEF) had presented and concluded the 29th Annual Junior National 9-Ball Championships. This challenging co-event was held Wednesday-
 
Saturday August 2nd- 5th, 2017, having returned to the family friendly South Point Hotel, Casino & Spa in Las Vegas, Nevada. Showcased at one end of the Billiard Congress of America (BCA) Billiard & Home Leisure Expo was the BEF junior national’s arena. The competition area boasted 20 professional 9-foot Diamond tables. This junior event is the only opportunity for U.S. billiard student-athletes to qualify to compete at the World Pool-Billiard Association (WPA) World Junior 9-Ball Championships being held this year Oct 31st – Nov. 5th, 2017 in Moscow, Russia.
 
On Tuesday, the registration process was in full motion with the noise and bustle of last minute preparations for the tournament and expo grand openings. There, the junior players received BEF sponsor gifts and a 2017 tournament memorabilia shirt. The junior events kicked off that evening with the highly anticipated and popular annual Adult-Youth Scotch Doubles tournament, which gave parents and juniors the chance to showcase their skills for a doubles fun-filled night and prizes. Even the pros were actively seeking to be recruited to fill in and play. BEF Tournament director Earl Munson remarked, “Big grins everywhere. The pros were playing like kids and the kids were playing like pros!” BCA Hall of Famers and multi world champions Nick Varner & Loree Jon Hasson along with Mosconi Team USA and doubles silver medalist in World Cup of Pool, Skyler Woodward & Shane Van Boening joined with the junior players. Former 2002 junior national champion Beau Runningen was eagerly paired and proved he still had game, and fellow 2017 Team USA member Manny Perez matched up as well. Parent’s skill levels ranged in doubles competition from yikes (Where is the instructor quick?), to wow (Did you see that parent play?!). Eventually the fun night ended with all the pros/junior teams converging to the semi-finals. 1st Place was Skyler Woodward & Trenton White, 2nd Place Nick Varner & Justin Toye, 3rd Place Loree Jon Hasson & Xavier Hultze, 4th Place Beau Runningen & Spencer Ladin.
 
Wednesday, the players meeting and group photo opened the 3 pm start of the first five rounds of the 2017 BEF Junior National 9-Ball tournament. This year’s tournament format incorporated the WPA World Junior style of preliminary double elimination brackets qualifying to a seeded single elimination finals bracket. The format also allows for the larger fields sizes, table and time constraints. This year’s field represented: 167 players, ranging from 7 to 18 years of age, from over 30 qualifying events, more than 25 states and including the U.S. Virgin Islands. There were four participating divisions included 18 & Under Boys (18UB), 18 & Under Girls (18UG), 14 & Under Boys (14UB) and 14 & Under Girls (14UG). The divisions played in 64, 64, 32 and 32 double elimination brackets respectively. The top 25% of players from each division then moved to single elimination brackets with the winners seeded and the one-loss players listed by a blind draw. Without a doubt match play all week was exciting and intense as all players vied to make it to their respective finals single-elimination brackets.
 
On Friday night before the finals, the packed banquet night was held. The banquet comfortably seated all juniors, family members, pros, sponsors, and BEF staff and volunteers to enjoy a great meal, laughs, heartfelt speeches, recognitions, remembrance, awards and honors.
 
Each year players are nominated by their peers at the junior nationals to recognize sportsmanship on and off the table. This special award is in remembrance and recognition of one of BEF’s alumni’s, Brendan Crockett, who was more than just a talented young player taken early from life. Brendan grew from an eager teen-ager to an intelligent, charming gentleman with true character and humility. His humor, willingness to work hard and ability to lead have been an important part of our programs. The 2017 Brendan Crockett Character Award Recipients were: Eric Roberts from Crossville, Tennessee and Eliana Rodriguez from Brooklyn, New York.
 
The Special Guest Speaker at the banquet this year was “The Colonel”, Nick Varner. He humorously recounted his junior moments in the game and he jokingly had some great advice to share. “If you bet twice as much, you will learn twice as fast.” Varner has long been an enthusiastic supporter of the juniors and also stated, “This event is amazing and a great showcase of our (nations) top junior players”.
 
Newly inducted 2017 BCA Hall of Famer Tom “Dr. Cue” Rossman also made his 24th appearance at the junior nationals. Dr. Cue, presented the 2017 Artistic Pool awards to this year’s champions, Timmy Bly (Bettendorf, IA), Michelle Jiang (Harvard, MA), Joey Tate Raleigh, NC) and Lana Keith (Dyersburg, TN).
 
The banquet night again amassed much of the junior field with the coveted title of “Academic All American” (AAA) when awards were presented. Of the entire 167 player field, an incredible 45% of this year’s participants (75 players!) earned school GPA’s of 3.5 and 31.6% of the AAA field earned 4.0 GPA’s, to receive recognition! The sport of billiards is definitely attracting, developing, and maintaining academic excellence! The banquet concluded with words of optimism and change from longtime BEF Trustee Tom Riccobene, “Each of us can take home what we have learned here this week and share with the people we love and meet. You’re all champions and we are honored to learn from you”, Riccobene said.
 
The finals play for all divisions was held on Saturday Aug. 5th. In an effort to stay more aligned with the WPA World event, the BEF awarded Gold, Silver and Bronze medals to the top four finishers of each division.
 
All medalists in the 18UB & 18UG divisions along with the gold and silver medalists from the 14UG & 14UB divisions have been nominated for the 2017 WPA World Junior 9-Ball Championships October 31st to November 5th in Moscow, Russia.
 
This junior national was a year of competitive upsets. A trio of past back-to-back champions made up of Nathan Childress (14UB from North Chesterfield, VA), April “The Grinder” Larson (18UG from Bloomington, MN), and Ashley Fullerton (14UG from Lake Park, MN) all sought to become three-peat champions but fell short and all new gold medalists emerged.
 
Larson drew a bye sliding her to the winner side where she then matched up and defeated Katelin Ballou and then Abigail Reese to move her to the 18UG finals 8 bracket. In the semifinals match April was determined to move on but rival Michelle Jiang from Harvard, MA ended her bid to claim her 3rd straight 18UG’s title earning Larson a bronze medal instead for her effort. Gracie Davis from Decatur, IL with her great play also joined Larson for the bronze. Jiang battled it out in the 18UG finals match against Alex Booth from Mount Ayr, IA with Jiang excitedly getting her first 18UG gold medal win with Booth taking the very respectable silver. Jiang has been playing very strong the last few months with her now qualifying for her 4th Junior Worlds. Jiang will head to Moscow, Russia with her fellow Team USA members on Oct 31st, 2017.
 
In the 14UG division it was also a battle to maintain the championship reign, as the 2016 14UG Champion Fullerton from Lake Park, MN tried but failed to make the 14UG’s final bracket losing her first match to Tatum Cutting from Diamond, OH and her second to Vivian Liu from Harvard, MA. Liu and Cutting would eventually become opponents in the bronze medal round where Liu moved on leaving Cutting with the bronze. Gracie Davis from Decatur, IL matched up with Savanna Wolford from Troutville, VA in the other half of the semis with Davis also getting the bronze and earning Wolford a match up with Liu in the finals. The 14UG finals match played at 11am on Saturday spotlighted the two young quiet and upcoming players in Liu and Wolford. Both played well with Liu edging out the win with her first gold medal and Wolford proudly taking home the silver.
 
The title of 18UB champion was newly earned this year by Austin Summers from Metropolis, IL. Summers started out strong winning his first two matches only to come up short against Graham Swinson to earn a spot on the final 16 bracket winner seeded position. Needing only a single match win on the one loss side gave Summer’s his spot on the Final 16 single elimination 18UB bracket. Taking down Lukas Fracasso-Verner in a rescheduled reprieve match due to a disqualification sent Summer’s to play Ricky Evans in the semifinals. Evans from St. Peters, MO was last year’s 18UB champion but Evans struggled to keep Summer’s from finally advancing to gold earning Evans the bronze medal this year. Summers traded wins with Kaiden Hunkins from Waukesha, WI until the match was over with Austin Summers winning gold and Hunkins taking the silver medal for being runner-up in this year’s 18UB division. Thomas Haas from Lancaster, PA also took the bronze medal losing in the semifinals to Hunkins.
 
As always the 14UB’s is a very competitive division with high levels of play even for that age. As in the 18UG and 14UG, defending national champion Nathan Childress from North Chesterfield, VA was chasing his third consecutive championship. But Childress ran into a wall this year from a veteran BEF tournament player from Crossville, TN named Eric Roberts. Roberts knocked the defending champion, in a resounding statement of 6-0, to the one loss side where they would again meet up on the blind draw of the 14UB finals bracket. Again Roberts took Childress out this time for good with another convincing 6-2 win. Roberts would go on to win again in the quarterfinals against Jayden Liu from Harvard, MA only to eventually lose to Joey Tate from Lake Villa, IL in the semifinals earning Roberts his first medal ever with the Bronze. The very skilled Gabriel Martinez from New Braunfels, TX also earned a bronze medal after Joshua Shultz from Stedman, NC defeated him. Shultz earned a finals match with Joey Tate. Tate with 2X Junior Worlds experience under his belt was at an advantage in the high- pressure match for the gold with Shultz. After the last 9-ball was pocketed for the match wins the entire five-players strong Tate family, applauded with joy as their brother was crowned the BEF 2017 14UB Gold Medal Champion and Shultz as runner-up Silver Medalist.
 
The future is very bright for our BEF junior program members as there are now more than ever before, so many high level competitive opportunities at the local, state, national, and international level.
 
Gold Medals:
 
18UB Austin Summers, (Metropolis, IL)
 
18UG Michelle Jiang, (Harvard, MA)
 
14UB Joey Tate, (Lake Villa, IL)
 
14UG Vivian Liu, (Harvard, MA)
 
Silver Medals:
 
18UB Kaiden Hunkins, (Waukesha, WI)
 
18UG Alex Booth, (Mount Ayr, IA)
 
14UB Joshua Shultz, (Stedman, NC)
 
14UG Savanna Wolford, (Troutville, VA)
 
Bronze Medals:
 
18UB Thomas Haas, (Lancaster, PA) and Ricky Evans, (St Peters, MO)
 
18UG Hailey Fullerton, (Lake Park, MN) and April Larson, (Bloomington, MN)
 
14UB Eric Roberts, (Crossville, TN) and Gabriel Martinez, (New Braunfels, TX)
 
14UG Tatum Cutting, (Diamond, OH) and Gracie Davis, (Decatur, IL)
 
The Billiard Education Foundation proudly recognizes the industry leaders who helped make this year’s event possible.
 
Event Sponsors: Billiard Congress of America. Diamond Billiard Products, TLP Billiards, Simonis, Aramith, Ultimate Team Gear, Jacoby Cues, On the Wire Creative Media, Pechaur Cue, ACS, Champion, Valley, Dynamo, Connelly, FCI Billiards, McDermott, Predator, OB Cues, DigiCue, Presidential Billiards, West State Billiards, OGB Millwork, Professional Billiards Instructor Association, Master Chalk, Tiger, Presidential Billiards Pool & Billiard Magazine, Professor Q Ball, Billiards Digest, AzBilliards.com, Dr. Cue, Billiard University, Dave Alciatore, Bob Jewett, Brett Lewis, Jay Helfert, Jeremiah Gage and Tom Riccobene.
 
The BEF gives special thanks to all the individuals who gave countless hours throughout the year to help make this event possible: Samm Diep-Vidal, Tom Riccobene (BEF Treasurer), Jeremiah Gage (BEF Secretary), Shari Stauch (BEF President), Tammy Jo Leonard (BEF Assistant National Director), Earl Munson (BEF Tournament Director) received the 2017 BCA Presidents Award, Rick Doner (BEF Head Referee), Justin Ballou (Assistant Head Referee), Ed Smith (Referee), Ed Stephens (Referee), Angela Williams (Referee), Dennis & Doris Stotler (Referees), Jim Ladin (Volunteer/Donor), Corey and Trena Wolford, Stephanie Shaw (Volunteer), Steve Strange(volunteer), congratulations to the new 2017 BCA Hall-of-Famer “Dr. Cue” Tom Rossman (Junior Artistic Pool Championship Director), Nick Varner (Pro Guest Speaker), Ra Hanna & Beau Runningen for providing live streaming/scoring/brackets through On The Wire Creative Media and pro commentary by Loree Jon Hasson and Max Eberle, Brian Glasgow and his professional team, all the staff at South Point and a huge thanks to BCA’s Rob Johnson, Chance Pack, and Shane Tyree for all their help and support, and to all the parents and juniors who are so dedicated to the sport we give a hearty thank you and we will see you next year in New Orleans.

Beau Runningen Wins First Annual Brendan Crockett Memorial

Beau Runningen (in Brendan Crockett’s favorite jacket) and Vilmos Foldes

Beau Runningen recovered from a second round loss, and went on to win the 1st Annual Brendan Crockett Memorial 10-Ball Tournament held at On Cue Billiards in La Mesa, California on June 10th – 11th. 

 
Runningen’s weekend started off on the right foot with a 7-2 win over Reid Fleming, but was quickly derailed in his second match when he lost a 7-5 decision to Ramil Gallego. After that loss, Runningen went on an impressive seven match winning streak that included notable wins over Fach Garcia, Oscar Dominguez, Dave Hemmah, Ernesto Dominguez, Rodney Morris and Tyler Styer
 
Runningen rode that winning streak into the finals, where he faced previously unbeaten Vilmos Foldes. Vilmos’ run through the winner’s side includes wins over Michael Robinson, Melissa Herndon, Rey Lorenzo, Dave Hemmah, Rodney Morris and Tyler Styer. The final match started off close with the player tied at 1-1, but an uncharacteristic miss on the 10-ball in rack three seemed to start Foldes’ game unravelling. Runningen controlled the match from that point and easily defeated Foldes 11-4 for first place. 
 
While the tournament drew a field of 87 players, those players and the fans weren’t just there for the thrill of competition. They were all gathered to remember the short life of Brendan Crockett, who passed away almost a year ago with his brother Jefferson, in a car accident. 
 
Brendan was a regular competitor on the West Coast and the idea to hold a memorial tournament came together by Melissa Herndon and Desiree Dominguez pretty quickly. Herndon commented on the emotional weekend, “It was incredibly moving to see so many players show up to celebrate Brendan and play in the inaugural memorial tourney.  I heard a bunch of new stories about him, and it really felt like the weekend was about him and not just another tournament.  Brendan loved competition, and 10-ball was his favorite.  His friends, the sponsors, On Cue Billiards, and the players all came together to make this event into an event that Brendan would've loved…and we look forward to making the 2nd Annual Brendan Crockett Memorial 10-Ball Open an even bigger, badder tournament that draws more top name players! “
 
To help raise money at the event, Brendan’s father Bill raffled off a Bill Stroud Joss West cue from his personal collection. Bill Crockett is a cue collector and plans on raffling off a cue at this event each year. The tournament raised nearly $1500 for the Brendan Crockett Scholarship Fund. More information on this fund can be found online at Brendancrockett.org

Oscar Dominguez Wins Mezz West State Tour: Season 3: Stop #1

Oscar Dominguez

The Mezz West State Tour is back after a successful end to season 2 with some improvements for season 3. Traditionally, MWST were $2000 added, however, with the addition of several sponsors, we were able to push that added money to a standard of $2500 each event, with 18 events scheduled.
 
The first stop proved to be a successful one with 106 players from all over the west coast assembling at one of America's finest pool rooms, Hard Times Billiards. Room owners Mike and Karen Markulis are some of the biggest supporters of tournaments for decades and their love for their players continues. The MWST is proud to have three events this season at Hard Times and all the players have rave reviews on playing on their pristine equipment.
 
Leading the top half of the field was Stockton, CA young gun, Francis Ritarita. Francis, rated a 7 on our tour, has improved dramatically as his play is steadily becoming more consistent. With wins over Aaron Thompson, Bobby Yamasaki, Brendan Crockett, Cole Gibbons, Rudy Estoque, and Tommy "Too Good" Soria; Francis was able to play for the hot seat with solid play for two consecutive days.
 
The bottom half of the bracket was littered with professional players by the luck of the draw. Heavy hitters such as Mika Immonen, Rodney Morris, Ruben Bautista, Sal Butera, Amar Kang, and Oscar Dominguez all were placed in neighboring positions. However, it was Hungarian sharpshooter and former Junior World Champion, Vilmos Foldes who swam through a river of sharks. His victories included wins over Amar Kang, Jason Freeman, Jaynard Orque, Rodney Morris, Oscar Dominguez, and Jason Williams to set up the hot seat match between Francis Ritarita and himself. However, it was the seasoned pro who put a temporary halt to Ritarita's Cinderalla run to the finals with a dominating 9-4 scoreline.
 
While Vilmos Foldes dispatched top players to the B side of the chart, it set up marquee matches on who would face the Hungarian for the finals. World Champion Mika Immonen succumbed to San Francisco native, Rylan Hartnett who played excellent to defeat the Finnish champ to a 9-12 finish. The current points leader to the Mosconi Cup points race, Rodney Morris had a massive run through the one loss side with wins over Brendan Crockett, Ernesto Dominguez, Skip Nikakis, and Jason Williams. It wasnt until he faced Oscar Dominguez who himself had recorded several consecutive wins where Dominguez put a halt to the Rocket's quest for first prize. It was Dominguez who then faced Francis Ritarita in the finals of the one loss side and Francis led 8-6 in a race to 9. However, with some gritty safety shots and play, Oscar took the match to end Francis' vision of being the first 7 to win a MWST stop.
 
The single race finals to 11 between Vilmos Foldes and Oscar Dominguez was an epic battle to say the least These two players fought tooth and nail for every inning and after a quick 6-3 lead by Foldes, a slight hiccup gave all the opportunity Dominguez needed to come storming back. After the dust settled, it was Dominguez who emerged victorious with an 11-8 scoreline and earned himself the first win of season 3 on the Mezz West State Tour.
 
The staff at MWST would like to thank the Markulis Family and the staff at Hard Times Billiards in Sacramento for all their hard work and continued support. In addition, none of this would be possible without our loyal sponsors which include: Mezz Cues (Mezzcue.com), West State Billiards Supply (WestStateBilliards.com), Aramith Billiard Balls (Saluc.com), Andy Billiard Cloth (AndyClothUSA.com), Turtle Rack (MezzWestStateTour.com), ZAN Tips (ZAN-Tip.com), Tony Rodriguez of RE/MAX Gold Coast Real Estate, Kurzweil's Country Meats (KurzweilCountryMeats.com), James Hanshew Custom Cues (HanshewCustomCues.com), Cue Sports International (playcsipool.com), Fast and Loose Designs (FastnLooseDesigns.com), Contact Point Media, and On The Wire Creative Media (OTWPromotions.com)

Oscar Dominguez wins 20th Annual Jay Swanson “Swanee” Memorial

Oscar Dominguez

Oscar Dominguez came back from a hot seat loss to meet and defeat Rodney Morris in the finals of the 20th Annual Jay Swanson (Swanee) Memorial Tournament, held on the weekend of February 20-21. The event's $10,000 prize package drew a full field of 128 entrants to On Cue Billiards in La Mesa, CA.
 
The tournament came within a match or two of featuring a finals contest between Oscar and his father, Ernesto, who faced separate opponents in the winners' side semifinals. Oscar met up with Amar Kang, as his Dad faced Morris. Oscar defeated Kang 8-5, as Ernesto was sent to the loss side by Morris 8-4. Morris took the hot seat 8-5 and waited on the younger Dominguez' return.
 
On the loss side, Ernesto ran into Johnny Kang, who'd defeated Jonny Martinez 7-5 and Santos Sambajon, Jr. 7-3 to reach him. Amar Kang picked up last year's runner-up Hungarian Vilmos Foldes, who'd eliminated Max Eberle 7-4 and Brendan Crockett 7-2.
 
Ernesto locked up in a double hill battle that he won versus Johnny Kang, while Amar Kang fell to Foldes 7-2. Ernesto then downed Foldes in the quarterfinals 7-5, setting up a father-son semifinal, which, by family tradition, they chose not to play; Ernesto allowing Oscar to face Morris in the finals.
 
"When we first started playing together," Oscar explained, "we were both so bad that it was funny, so we decided that we wouldn't play against each other, and it stuck.
 
"It's usually me who advances," he added, "because my father always wants me to get more experience."
 
It paid off handsomely, although there's no way to determine whether it would have paid off just as handsomely if Ernesto had faced Morris. As it turned out, Oscar got his second shot at Morris and delivered, 11-9, to claim the 20th Annual Jay Swanson Memorial title.

WPA World Junior Championships Underway

April Larson Starts off Strong

December 9, 2013 (Englewood, CO):  The 22nd Annual WPA World Junior & Wheelchair 9-Ball Championships kicked off December 8th at the Gold Reef City Theme Park Hotel in Johannesburg, South Africa with the traditional opening ceremony. 46 of the top junior players from across the world (31 boys and 15 girls), representing 22 countries from 6 continents are in top form, each gunning for the prestigious world title.


Of the 7 U.S. and 3 Canadian players representing the North American team this year, 13-year-old April Larson of Bloomington, Minnesota led the pack with a 6-5 victory against reigning girls world champion, Kamila Khodajeva of Begium. Canada’s Kayla Roloson and David Moyer also earned first-round victories. Tyler Styer escaped a first found hill-hill match while 17-year-old Nick Evans had a convincing 8-3 win against a local South African player.


In an unfortunate first round draw between Americans, 14-year-old Sergio Rivas of Wisconsin matched up against BEF veteran, 18-year-old Brendan Crockett. Rivas got the best of that match but Crockett plans to return strong. This will be the final opportunity for both Crockett and Styer to be eligible to compete in the World Junior Championships.


To view the complete player profiles for the U.S. players, visit billiardeducation.org. Online brackets and live streaming for this event can be found at cuesportfever.com.


The Billiard Education Foundation (BEF) was formed in 1993 as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit charity committed to promoting a lifelong love of pool and building the next generation of players through youth programs and academic scholarships. The BEF also produces the annual Junior National 9-Ball Championships and qualifies young players each year for the WPA World Junior Championships.

U.S. Juniors Prepare for WPA World Championships

November 12, 2013 (Englewood, CO):  Through the recent BEF Junior National 9-Ball Championships, the Billiard Education Foundation (BEF) has qualified seven junior billiard athletes to represent North America as part of Team USA at the upcoming WPA (World Pool-Billiard Association) World Junior 9-Ball Championships. This year’s prestigious event will be held at the Gold Reef City Theme Park Hotel in Johannesburg, South Africa December 8-12, 2014.

Through the support of the Billiard Congress of America, the BEF has coordinating international travel and participation for this world tournament for over two decades. The following players will proudly represent our country this year:

Tyler Styer
, age 18 (Big Bend, WI)

Brendan Crockett
, age 18 (Bell Canyon, CA)

Nick Evans, age 17 (St. Peters, MI)

Taylor Reynolds
, age 16 (Winslow, Maine)

Sergio Rivas
, age 14 (Milwaukee, WI)

Joey Bourgeois, Jr., age 14 (Bayown, TX)

April Larson
, age 13 (Bloomington, MN)

Team coach, accompanying this year’s student-athletes is longtime BEF supporter and PBIA certified instructor, Earl Munson (B.E.T.T.E.R. Play Billiards, http://www.betterplaybilliards.org/). For nearly a decade, Munson has been actively involved in youth billiards as the official tournament director for the BEF Junior Nationals. He started and organizes successful high school billiard programs in the Dallas area.

For more information on the BEF Junior Nationals or hosting qualifiers or a State Championship, visit the BEF website at billiardeducation.org.

The Billiard Education Foundation is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that produces the annual Junior National Championships, provides scholarships for young players, sends junior players to the World Junior Championships and promotes Pool in School programs to encourage lifelong participants.
 

 

2013 Junior National Champions Crowned: Hampton, Miller, Rivas, and Larson

August 8, 2013 (Englewood, CO): The Billiard Education Foundation (BEF) concluded its 25th Annual Junior National 9-Ball Championships July 25-28, 2013. 131 billiard student-athletes represented 29 states at the Convention Center of the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada for this special anniversary event. After the four day junior billiard extravaganza, four champions were crowned from each division and awarded trophies, gift bags full of sponsored prizes, custom engraved Delta-13 Select racks, academic scholarships, and entry into the 2013 WPA World Junior 9-Ball Championships.
 
18 & Under Boys Division
 
Of the 38 player field, taking top honors in the 18 & Under Boys Division is the reigning 2012 – 14 & Under Boys champion, Zachary Hampton. In his first year competing in the 18 & under division, Hampton lost his second match to last year’s top finisher, Chad Behnke, returning later to eliminate Behnke, along with two other familiar 18-year-olds, Brendan Crockett and Tyler Styer.
 
18 & Under Girls Division
 
In the 18 & Under Girls Division, 17-year-old Briana Miller set BEF history by going undefeated to claim her seventh consecutive win as Junior National Champion of her division. Since she was 11 years old, Miller has been dominating the girls divisions, medaled at the World event, and has won more in academic scholarships than any other participant, totaling over $6,000. Taylor Reynolds put up a strong fight in the finals but would have to wait until next year to claim the thrown. Newcomer Sierra Reams impressed the stands, proving she can have both academic and billiard accomplishments.
 
14 & Under Boys Division
 
This year’s 14 & Under Boys Division saw the largest field of 51 players qualifying from all over the country. 14-year-old Sergio Rivas went undefeated to claim the title proving he’s ready to play against the 18-year-olds next year. Rivas took third last year and defeated Texas State Junior Champion, Joey Bourgeois, in the finals with a convincing score of 9-2. Michael Evans and Nathan Diederich also had impressive finishes.
 
14 & Under Girls Division
 
The first round of the 14 & Under Girls Division saw a rematch from last year’s finals match. Karsyn Terry delivered reigning champion April Larson her first loss but the 4.0 student did not give up. Larson, known to her hometown as “The Shark”, fought her way back, overcoming two hill-hill matches to defend her title and represent her country again at the upcoming Junior World Championships. Larson defeated Terry and Emily Herpel, before facing Alex Booth in the finals; giving up only two games over the three matches.
 
Online brackets were provided courtesy of Bad Boys Billiard Productions and available at CTSOnDemand.com. HD quality streaming of the finals matches was made possible courtesy of TheActionReport.com.
 
Staff
 
Great appreciation go to the event staff and volunteers who have made this a first class event for years, and many more to come: tournament director Earl Munson for his 8th year of support, tournament assistants & mini-tournament coordinators Mel & Tammy Jo Leonard, National Head Referee Rick Doner for his 10th year of support.
 
HUGE THANKS goes to those who also volunteered their time to support the event and our fundraising efforts: Kathy Coffee, Marc & Kimberly Griffiths, Travis & Tarasa Escoubas, Taren Stewart, Josh Bustos, Cody Escoubas, Katie Bustos-Barnhill, Winfield Hong, John Leyman, Bill Stock, Buddy Eick, Dave Merrill, Darryl Farley, David High, Mike Johnson, Gibbi Tkatch, Dwayne Payne, James Hester, Janet Okamoto, Phil Eickhorn, Doug Garn. Scott Manuel, Larry Noel, and Judie Peters.
 
Special Thanks also go to the amazing staff at Ric & Bonnie Jones, Rich Parkeson and all of the staff at Bad Boys Billiard Productions, TheActionReport.com crew (Justin Collett, Andy Chen, and Tim Wampler), Ken Shuman, David & Linda Vandenberghe, Mark & Sunny Griffin, Mark Estes, Aric Pfeifer, the CSI staff, and Steve Schoenfelder of Pechauer Sales & Repair. We cannot thank you enough for all your support and many of your generous donations.
 
We’d also like to thank our guest speakers Jennifer Barretta and “The Dragon” Tim Chin for their inspirational presentations during the annual event banquet which hosted over 300 attendees (including players, family members, sponsors and supporters). Both players also participated in the popular annual adult-youth scotch doubles tournament. Barretta relentlessly helped to raise funds throughout the week through her movie sales, challenge matches, and exhibitions.
 
Sponsors
 
Please be sure to support all our amazing sponsors/underwriters and product donors who helped make the event possible: Str8-Shots.com (this year’s Academic All-American Award sponsor, as well as generous supporter), Simonis, Aramith, Dr. Dave Alciatore, Tom & Janie Riccobene, Pechauer Custom Cues, CueSports International, Sterling Gaming, Delta-13, PoolDawg.com, Walgreens, The Drill Instructor, Tiger Products, Kamui, Texas Bumps, Red Robin, and RT9 Designs.
 
The following businesses also contributed to our fundraising efforts: McDermott Cues, Play the Game Clothing, PoolAHolic, OB Cues, Focused Apparel, Blackburn Cue Repair, Meuller, Las Vegas Photo & Video, Predator Cues, Omega Billiards, Universal Cues, Bodie Mechanics, PoolandBilliardUSA.com, Castillo Leather Goods, and Frank’s Center.
 
Thanks also to the Mark Wilson, Lauren Nystrom, and the Lindenwood University staff who were present, actively recruiting budding young student-athletes for a chance to further their education while pursuing their billiard dreams. As always, we recognize our loyal media sponsors: AzBilliards.com, Billiards Digest, InsidePool, Pool&Billiard, Cue Times Billiard News, and On The Break News.
 
Any young players interested in participating in next year’s BEF Junior National 9-Ball Championship or State Championships should visit the BEF website at BilliardEducation.org or call the office at (303) 926-1039.
 
Two more boys will be joining the top finishers at the upcoming junior world event. To be announced at a later date.

 

Junior Players Sponsored by CSI at 25th Annual Junior National 9-Ball Championships

Rallying behind the future of pool, CueSports International (CSI) is proud to announce the sponsorship of 24 junior players to the 25th Annual Junior National 9-Ball Championships being held July 25-28 at the Convention Center of the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino, Las Vegas. 
 
The CSI sponsored players are:
Jonathan Alistock
Kyra Avalos
Mark Avalos
Blake Baker
Sheldon Barber
Shawn Begay
Chad Behnke
Cheyanne Cevallos
Tory Conley
Brendan Crockett
Madison Dunn
James (Nick) Evans
Mikey Evans
Zachary Hampton
Elizabeth Herpel
Kaiden Hunkins
Clayton Lofgren
Lauren Michaud
Jake Miosi
Manny Perez
Isabelle Plumb
Julianna Poutry
Sierra Reams
Tyer Styler
 
This is the fourth consecutive year CSI has participated in the event as a sponsor and the largest roster of sponsored players to date. 
 
The Junior National 9-Ball Championships is comprised of four divisions: Boys 14 and Under, Girls 14 and Under, Boys 19 and Under, and Girls 19 and Under, the winners of which are selected to represent the United States in the WPA Junior World 9-Ball Championships. 
 
 
The Billiard Education Foundation (BEF) is the long standing producer of the junior national event. Traditionally, the Junior National 9-Ball Championships has been hosted at college campuses across the United States, however due to the event’s increasing growth a change of venue was needed. 
 
CSI recently moved their Las Vegas based events: the BCAPL & USAPL National Championships, the US Open 10-Ball Championship, the US Open One Pocket Championship and the US Open 8-Ball Championship to the 163,000 square foot Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino Convention Center, which presented an opportunity for the BEF to expand.  Samm Diep-Vidal, the BEF Executive Director, stated on the BEF website (www.billiardeducation.org), 
 
“Over the past few years, as Junior Nationals has grown, it had become increasingly difficult to find a venue (college campus or pool room) that fit the criteria to host an event of this size, with enough tables, seating, and was affordable to travel to and stay. Thanks to the support from CSI and the Rio, this year’s event will offer world class equipment, a chance to play alongside the pros, pool clinics all week with the pros, live streaming in HD, live scoring, online brackets, and ultimately more fundraising opportunities for the BEF. Opportunities that the BEF otherwise would not have been able to fund alone.”
 
The Billiard Education Foundation (BEF) was formed in 1993 as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit charity committed to promoting a lifelong love of pool and building the next generation of players through youth programs and academic scholarships. For more information about the Junior National 9-Ball Championships and other BEF programs visit www.billiardeducation.org.
 

2012 BEF Junior National Champions Crowned

The Billiard Education Foundation (BEF) crowned four winners in the 24th Annual BEF Junior National 9-Ball Championships. Nearly 130 junior pocket billiard players from 28 states gathered in Milwaukee, Wisconsin at Romine’s High Pockets on July 11th -15th. Players took aim to win a title, scholarships, prizes and an entry into the World Pool-Billiard Association (WPA) World Junior 9-Ball Championships. In the 18-and-under boys’ division, Landon Shuffett of Greensburg, KY prevailed, while Briana Miller of Allentown, PA, defended her title in the 18-and-under girls’ division. In the 14-and-under boys’ division, newcomer Zachary Hampton of Rocky Mount, VA was victorious and April Larson of Bloomington, MN captured her first title in the 14-and-under girls’ division. 

The top finishers in the 18-and-under boys’ division were native to junior billiard competition. Landon Shuffett, winner of four (4) consecutive Junior National titles from 2007 – 2010, proved that he didn’t forget how to win after taking a year off from competition in 2011. Shuffett steadily proceeded through the winner’s bracket with wins over Kevin Sun 9-5, Ryan Ponton 9-1, Zachary Leonard 9-2, and William Chappell 9-1 before losing to Brendan Crockett 5-9. Crockett, runner-up in the 2011 Junior Nationals and 2009 champion of the 14-and-under boys’ division, effortlessly cruised through the winner’s bracket without a loss. Crockett defeated Tyler Howell 9-0, Daniel McComas 9-3, Joey Torres 9-5, Tyler Styer 9-5 and Landon Shuffett 9-5 to claim the seat as the only undefeated contestant in the 43 player division. On the one-loss side, Chad Behnke diligently proceeded to win an impressive 8 matches after losing his first match to Brady Behrman 6-9. Behnke shot his way through Austen Warner 9-2, JC Torres 9-7, Logan Zuponcic 9-0, Jonathan Ailstock 9-5, Zachary Leonard 9-2, Kevin Sun 9-8 and Tyler Styer 9-4 before a rematch with Brady Behrman, winning 9-3. With only one more match to win for a chance to rumble with the undefeated Crockett, Behnke fell short by only 3 games, losing to Shuffett 6-9 in the semi-finals. Shuffett gladly embraced a rematch with Crockett and an opportunity for another title. In the race to 11 finals, an unforeseen scratch by Crockett when the score was 7-4 caused a shift in the ebb and flow of the match. Shuffett seized the opportunity to tighten the gap and then followed with a break-and-run, narrowing the score 6-7. The alternate break format allowed Crockett to get back to the table. He gracefully took charge, pocketing eight balls, but scratched while getting position for the 9-ball. Staying focused and determined to win, both players edged their way to a 10-10 match, each needing only one more game to win the championship. Shuffett won the final game and his fifth title as Junior National Champion.

The showdown in the 18-and-under girls’ division featured Briana Miller and Taylor Reynolds. Advancing to the 15-18 year old bracket this year, 15 year old Reynolds was determined to prove that age is not a factor in winning. Reynolds steam-rolled her first 3 opponents, Tessa Brown 7-0, Carly Fristoe 7-0 and Cristina Watson 7-0, before being slowed down by Briana Miller. Miller needed only one game to take charge of the winner’s bracket, but the trailing Reynolds confidently won the next 5 games to win the match 7-6 and took reign of the winner’s bracket. Miller made her way by defeating Sarah Bridgman 7-0, Ashley Fisher 7-2 and Juli Poutry 7-2, before losing to Taylor Reynolds 6-7. Miller collected her composure and ambushed her next opponent Ashley Fisher 7-1 and earned an opportunity to defend her title. Miller tamed the fierce Reynolds in the finals, winning the match 9-7 and claiming her sixth title as Junior National Champion in the girls’ division.

In the 14-and-under boys’ division, Zachary Hampton, first time attendee at Junior Nationals, received an initiation by losing his first match to hometown favorite Sergio Rivas 6-7. Hampton’s light-hearted demeanor and determination carried him through the one-loss bracket defeating Joshua Goodknight 7-0, Michael Darling 7-0, Mahkeal Parris 7-6, Cody Carter 7-2, Seth Chilcutt 7-0, Ricky Evans 7-3, Mason Koch 7-5 and Shawn Begay 7-3, before a rematch in the semi-finals with Sergio Rivas. Rivas made his way through the winner’s bracket defeating Brandon Descamps 7-0, Zachary Hampton 7-6, Shane Wolford 7-5, Kaiden Hunkins 7-0 and Shawn Begay 7-1, before being defeated by Manny Perez 5-7. Perez advanced through the winner’s bracket with victories over Peter Steele 7-5, Ricky Evans 7-3, Mikey Evans 7-1, Mason Koch 7-2 and Sergio Rivas 7-5 to guarantee himself a seat into the finals. In the semi-finals, Rivas and Hampton eagerly battled for a chance to play in the finals. This time, Hampton prevailed 7-5. Hampton’s momentum continued in the finals as he persevered in the 54 player field, ousting Perez 9-6 and winning the championship title in the 14-and-under boys’ division. 

In the 14-and-under girls’ division, it was former runner-up April Larson who gleamed as she breezed through the winner’s bracket defeating Morgan Chesla 7-2, Tori Kover 7-1, Katelin Ballou 7-1, Isabelle Plumb 7-2 and Kyra Avalos 7-4 to secure her seat in the finals. Avalos trekked through the event with wins over Jessica Pitsinger 7-0, Katilyn Hall 7-0, Alex Booth 7-4, and Karsyn Terry 7-4 before losing to April Larson 4-7. In the semi-final match, Terry dashed to the finals with a 7-1 win over Avalos. The confident and poised Larson kept Terry at bay, winning the match 9-2 and earning her first Junior National title. 

The champions of the four divisions received trophies, prizes and scholarship funds. Each champion, as well as the second and third place finishers in the 18-and-under boys’ division earned an opportunity to represent the United States in the 2012 World Pool-Billiard Association (WPA) World Junior 9-Ball Championships. Prizes were also given to all top eight finishers in each division.

During the BEF annual banquet, 300 attending players, family members and fans were honored and thrilled to have Allison “Duchess of Doom” Fisher share words of inspiration and enjoyed an evening of instruction and challenge matches. Fisher is currently ranked #1 on the Women’s Professional Billiard Association (WPBA) tour, fifteen (15) times World Champion and recipient of over 75 major titles. Other special guests in attendance throughout the week were BCA Master Instructor, Jerry Briesath, who worked tirelessly with juniors who were interested in perfecting their game and Mark Wilson, professional player, instructor and Lindenwood University Billiard Coach.  

Much appreciation goes out to all who diligently worked to help produce a first class event, including: tournament director Earl Munson for keeping the event running smoothly and for his volunteer work throughout the year; Rick Doner, National Head Referee; Justin Ballou, national referee; Jamie Strait, national referee; Tammy Leonard, tournament director assistant; Mel Leonard, mini-tournament coordinator and assistant; Terry Romine, Nikki Romine and all their staff; Roy Pastor, BEF Board of Director; Laura Smith, BEF Executive Director; and volunteers: Susanne Brandom, Brinda Avalos, Trena Wolford, Meghan Howell, Wayne Kelly, Mark Brendemihl and Randy Fisher.

A special “thank you” to all of the event sponsors who made the 2012 Junior National 9-Ball Championships possible: Simonis Cloth, Billiard Congress of America (BCA), Romine’s High Pockets and the BEF. Also, much gratitude goes to Viking Cue, sponsor of the Academic All-American awards. A hearty “thank you” goes out to all the product donors who contributed to the junior prizes. A list of donors can be viewed on the BEF website at www.BilliardEducation.org.

2012 BEF Junior National 9-Ball Championship results:

18 & Under Boys’ Division
1st Landon Shuffett of Greensburg, KY
2nd Brendan Crockett of Bell Canyon, CA
3rd Chad Behnke of Farley, IA
4th Brady Behrman of Albers, IL

18 & Under Girls’ Division
1st Briana Miller of Allentown, PA
2nd Taylor Reynolds of Winslow, ME
3rd Ashley Fisher of Ocala, FL
4th Carly Fristoe of Bend, OR

14 & Under Boys’ Division
1st Zachary Hampton of Rocky Mount, VA
2nd Manny Perez of Kansas City, KS
3rd Sergio Rivas of Milwaukee, WI
4th Shawn Begay of Gallup, NM

14 & Under Girls’ Division
1st April Larson of Bloomington, MN
2nd Karsyn Terry of Chicago, IL
3rd Kyra Avalos of Anthem, AZ
4th Keila Perez of Waltham, MA
About Billiard Education Foundation
The Billiard Education Foundation (BEF) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that is committed to promoting education and encourages the development of life skills through youth billiard programs. The BEF funds academic scholarships, produces the Junior National 9-Ball Championships, supports billiard athletes to attend the WPA World Junior 9-Ball Championships and promotes “Pool In School” programs. For more information, please visit www.BilliardEducation.org or contact info@BilliardEducation.org