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Worth wins eight on the loss-side, double dips McClinton on Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball Tour

Brent Worth

In what will be his last year as a junior competitor, Brent Worth, already 18, is making as much of that final year as he can. He’s competed in six of the seven 18U Boys (best finish, 5th) and ProAm (best finish, 4th) divisions of the Junior International Championships thus far, finished 5th in the Dynaspheres Cup Junior 9-Ball Open in March and just this past weekend, Saturday, Sept. 10, won eight on the loss side and double-dipped hot seat occupant, Stevie McClinton, to win his first regional tour event on the Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball Tour. The $500-added event drew 44 entrants to The Clubhouse in Lynchburg, VA. 

Worth moved to the loss side in the second round of play, losing 5-3 to Greg Vaughan, whose son, Grayson, competed as well and did better than his father did. In the meantime, McClinton and DJ Brads advanced to their respective winners’ side semifinals; McClinton versus Scott Roberts and Brads against Cameron Lawhorne.

McClinton downed Roberts 7-6 (Roberts racing to 8) and was joined in the hot seat match by Brads, who sent Lawhorne to the loss side 6-3. McClinton claimed the hot seat over Brads 7-2.

On the loss side, playing in the first money round of the tournament, it was Lawhorne who picked up Worth, five matches into his loss-side winning streak, having recently eliminated Thomas Sansone 6-1 and Robert Cuneo, double hill. Roberts drew Collin Hall, who’d recently defeated Jimmy Bird, double hill and Grayson Vaughan by shutout.

Worth, picking up some speed at this point, gave up only a single rack to Lawhorne and advanced to the quarterfinals against Roberts, who eliminated Hall 8-4. Worth and Roberts battled to double hill before Worth advanced to the semifinals against Brads.

By this time, it was fairly clear to tour representatives and spectators alike that Worth could arguably have been rated as a ‘7’ instead of the ‘6’ at which he played the entire tournament. According to tour director Herman Parker, Worth will play as a ‘7’ the next time he competes on the tour.

In a straight-up race to 6 in the semifinals, Worth defeated Brads 6-3, advancing to a double-elimination final in which he’d be awarded a single “bead on the wire” in both races to 7 (if needed) against McClinton. Worth didn’t ‘need the bead’ in either set.

He won the opening set 6-3 and came back to do one better (6-2) in the second set, claiming his first event title in his first appearance on the tour.

Tour director Herman Parker thanked the ownership and staff at the Clubhouse for their hospitality, along with title sponsor Viking Cues, Breaktime Billiards (Winston-Salem, NC), BarPoolTables.net, Dirty South Grind Apparel Co., Realty One Group Results, Diamond Brat, AZBilliards.com, Ridge Back Rails, and Federal Savings Bank Mortgage Division. The next stop on the Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball Tour, scheduled for this coming weekend, Sept. 17-18, will be a $250-added event, hosted by West End Billiards in Gastonia, NC.

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Kent and Lawhorne split top prizes on Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball Tour

Earl Kent

The first time Earl Kent recorded a payout finish on the Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball Tour, nine days before Christmas in 2019, he and BJ Ussery negotiated a split of the event’s top two prizes. As occupant of the hot seat at the time, Ussery claimed the event title. This past weekend, May 14, at the same location, The Clubhouse in Lynchburg, VA, Kent, once again, split the top two prizes with his potential opponent in the finals. This time, however, Kent was in the hot seat and became the official winner, chalking up only his second recorded cash payout and his first tour win, albeit with the missed-final asterisk. The $500-added event drew 43 entrants to The Clubhouse.

He and Cameron Lawhorne worked their way through the field to arrive at Kent’s winners’ side semifinal against Chris Woodrum and Lawhorne’s against Brian Glisson. Kent got into the hot seat match 5-3 over Woodrum, as Lawhorne prevailed in a double hill match against Glisson (8-4; Glisson racing to 5). Battling for the hot seat became the defining match of the event with the two of them battling to a 12th deciding game and Kent finally winning it.

On the loss side, as matches dwindled down to the first money round (5th/6th), there was a junior competitor in the mix. Her name as Precilia Kinsley and is likely recognizable to anyone who’s been following the exploits of the Junior International Championships, now in their second season of events. After four events on the 2022 JIC so far, Kinsley is ranked 6th among 19 junior ladies in the 18 & Under division and finished 3rd at the JIC’s last stop in Phoenix, AZ a week ago. Like other junior competitors in the JIC, Kinsley has been encouraged to extend her ‘reach’ into regional tour events and according to Q City 9-Ball tour director, Herman Parker, she’s proved to be a formidable opponent.

“It was the first time she played with us,” said Parker, “and she won her first two matches; against another junior competitor and then, one of our regulars, Reid Vance, in a double hill match.”

She was sent to the loss side by the eventual winner, Earl Kent and eliminated by another Q City 9-Ball veteran, Scott Roberts, who ended up finishing third. Roberts advanced to down James Marvin, double hill, and Collin Hall 8-4 to draw Woodrum coming over from his winners’ side semifinal match. Glisson, arriving from the other winners’ side semifinal, picked up Thomas Sansone, who’d eliminated Clubhouse owner, Chris England 6-1 and Robert Cuneo 6-4.

In the first money round, Sansone and Roberts handed Glisson and Woodrum their second straight loss; Sansone advancing to the quarterfinals, double hill, as Roberts was busy eliminating Woodrum 8-2 to join him. Roberts and Sansone then battled to double hill in those quarterfinals, before Roberts advanced for a shot at Lawhorne in the semifinals.

In what would prove to be the event’s final match, Lawhorne defeated Roberts 8-6. The deal to split the top two prizes was made, with Kent taking the official event title, his first. 

Tour director Herman Parker thanked Chris England and his Clubhouse staff for their hospitality along with title sponsor Viking Cues, BarPoolTables.net, Dirty South Grind Apparel Co., Realty One Group Results, Diamond Brat, AZBilliards.com, Ridge Back Rails, and Federal Savings Bank Mortgage Division. The next stop on the Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball Tour, scheduled for this weekend, May 21-22, will be hosted Still Cluckin’ in Providence, NC. 

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Billy Fowler is the first West Virginia State 9-Ball Champion

Herman Parker and Billy Fowler

Billy Fowler’s been collecting and recording payouts in his profile here at AZBilliards for 18 years now, since he won his first (recorded) major tour victory in Chicago on the Viking Cue Tour back in 2004. This past weekend (March 19-20), he recorded his eighth victory on the Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball Tour in the past six years; one each in ’16, 17’ and ’18, along with two each in 2019 and 2020 (his best recorded earnings year). He also became West Virginia State’s first 9-Ball champion, coming from the loss side to down Josh Heeter in the finals of the $1,000-added WV State 9-Ball Championships, which drew 68 entrants to Sonny’s Billiards in Princeton, WV.

The Open (non-handicapped) event featured races to 7 on both sides of the bracket, with a single race to 9 in the finals. Tour director Herman Parker was pleased with this first WV State Championship, as were, he noted, many of the 68 who competed.

“It was a great event for everybody,” he said.

Fowler and Josh Heeter, looking for his first tour win in about a year, battled twice to claim the title. They met first in a winners’ side semifinal, as Cameron Lawhorne and Mike Clevinger battled in the other one.

Lawhorne downed Clevinger 7-5 and was joined in the hot seat match by Heeter, who’d sent Fowler off on a three-match, loss-side trip 7-3. Heeter grabbed the hot seat with a 7-2 win over Lawhorne.

The event drew the last 12 competitors back to Sonny’s on Sunday. Fowler began his loss-side work against Cory Morphew, who, earlier, had defeated Scott Roberts, double hill, and Trent Talbert 7-4. Clevinger drew Shannon Fitch, who’d defeated junior competitor Cole Lewis 7-4 and Craig Brown, the last West Virginian standing, 7-5.

Fowler downed Morphew 7-4, as Fitch was busy eliminating Clevinger 7-3. Fowler had to battle for his advancement over the next two steps. He survived two straight double hill matches; versus Fitch in the quarterfinals and Lawhorne in the semifinals to earn his second shot against Heeter.

In the extended, single race to 9, Fowler edged out in front and kept widening a lead. He kept at it until the end, completing his championship run 9-5 over Heeter and taking the title home.

Tour director Herman Parker thanked the ownership and staff at Sonny’s Billiards for their hospitality, as well as title sponsor Viking Cues, BarPoolTables.net, Break Time Billiards of Winston-Salem, NC, Dirty South Grind Apparel Co., Realty One Group Results, Diamond Brat, AZBilliards.com, Ridge Back Rails, and Federal Savings Bank Mortgage Division. The next stop on the Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball Tour, scheduled for this weekend (March 26-27), will be hosted by Hummy’s Bar (formerly, Jack’s All-American) in Newport, TN.

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Ailstock wins first Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball Tour stop in five years

Jonathan Ailstock

Jonathan Ailstock’s recorded cash earnings on the Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball Tour (19 events) date back to a third-place finish in 2015 and have been updated to include his most recent of four wins on the tour, the last of which (prior to this past weekend; March 12-13) occurred in June, 2017. He and Cameron Lawhorne battled twice at this most recent event, which drew 33 entrants to Still Cluckin’ Billiards in Providence, NC. 

Ailstock and Lawhorne met up for the first time in the hot seat match. Ailstock had advanced to face Scott Roberts in one of the winners’ side semifinals as Lawhorne and Orlando Marcus squared off in the other one. Lawhorne/Marcus went double hill (8-5, with Marcus racing to 6) before Lawhorne advanced to face Ailstock, who’d sent Roberts west 7-3. 

The first of their two matches went double hill. With Lawhorne racing to 8, Ailstock snared the hot seat 7-7, sending Lawhorne off to the semifinals.

On the loss side, Roberts moved over to pick up Jesse Cortner, who’d defeated Tyson Pey 5-2 and the previous stop’s winner, DJ Brads 5-4. Brads, coming off that earlier win, had his handicap raised to ‘6,’ instead of the ‘5’ it was during the last event. Last week, 5-4 would have meant ‘double hill,’ but ire ad tempus (time marches on). Marcus drew Justin Knuckles, who,  with his opponent Collin Hall, racing to 7, had eliminated him 6-5. Hall was runner-up in Ailstock’s last tour win in 2017. Knuckles went on to defeat Dakota Ash 6-3 for his meetup with Marcus.

Roberts made short work of Cortner 8-1, and advanced to the quarterfinals. In a straight-up race to 6, Knuckles survived a double hill fight against Marcus to join him.

With Roberts racing to 8, Knuckles advanced to the semifinal 6-6, only to be eliminated by Lawhorne 8-2. In their second matchup, Ailstock prevailed 7-5 to claim the event title.

Tour director Herman Parker thanked the ownership and staff at Still Cluckin’ for their hospitality, as well as title sponsor Viking Cues, BarPoolTables.net, Break Time Billiards of Winston-Salem, NC, Dirty South Grind Apparel Co., Realty One Group Results, Diamond Brat, AZBilliards.com, Ridge Back Rails, and Federal Savings Bank Mortgage Division. The next stop on the Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball Tour, the West Virginia State 9-Ball Championships, a $1,000-added Open (no handicap) event, scheduled for this weekend (March 19-20), will be hosted by Sonny’s Billiards in Princeton, WV.

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DJ Brads wins 10 in a row, eight on the loss side, to claim Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball title

DJ Brads isn’t the first competitor to bring home his first recorded cash payout with a win on a regional tour event and isn’t likely to be the last. But losing his first match at last weekend’s (Sat., March 5) Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball Tour stop and then wending his way through eight loss-side wins to double dip hot seat occupant, Greg Taylor, certainly caught the attention of those present who watched it happen. To include the attention of tour director, Herman Parker, who’ll likely be adjusting Brads’ handicap rating for future events. The $500-added event drew 24 entrants to the Clubhouse in Lynchburg, VA.

Brads lost that first-round match of his to Justin Knuckles and would successfully win their rematch in the semifinals later. Knuckles advanced through three more opponents to face Scott Largen in one of the winners’ side semifinals. Taylor and Rodney Strickland squared off in the other one.

Knuckles moved on to the hot seat match 6-2 over Largen. Taylor joined him after sending Strickland to the loss side 8-2. In a double hill battle, Taylor claimed the hot seat (8-5), sending Knuckles off to his semifinal rematch.

Three wins into his loss-side streak, Brads downed Wes Campbell 5-1 and shut out Ethan Carson to draw Strickland. Largen picked up Cameron Lawhorne, who’d recently eliminated James Marvin 8-3 and Earl Kent, double hill. Brads moved into the quarterfinals 5-1 over Strickland and was joined by Largen, who’d defeated Lawhorne 6-4.

Brads’ win #7 in those quarterfinals sent Largen home 5-4 (Largen racing to 6). This handed Brads his opportunity for redemption (or revenge, dependent on how you look at it) against Knuckles in the semifinals. He’d given up six and chalked up three racks in their first meeting. This time around, he tallied five racks, gave up only one and moved on for a shot against Taylor in the hot seat.

With Taylor racing to 8, Brads completed his trip to the winners’ circle with a 5-2 victory in the opening set of a true double elimination final and won the second set 5-3 to claim the title.

Tour director Herman Parker thanked the ownership and staff at the Clubhouse, as well as title sponsor Viking Cues, BarPoolTables.net, Break Time Billiards of Winston-Salem, NC, Dirty South Grind Apparel Co., Realty One Group Results, Diamond Brat, AZBilliards.com, Ridge Back Rails, and Federal Savings Bank Mortgage Division. The next stop on the Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball Tour, scheduled for this weekend (March 12-13) will be a $500-added event, hosted by Still Cluckin’ in Providence, NC. 

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Lawhorne wins his first Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball Tour stop in three years

Cameron Lawhorne (Courtesy Chris Reinhold)

Back in 2018, junior competitor Cameron Lawhorne recorded what remains as his best recorded earnings year at the tables. He won two stops on the Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball Tour that year and cashed in eight others. Over the next two years, he was in the money only three times on the tour. This year, while he’s unlikely to match his 2018 earnings, he’s already higher on the AZ Money Leaderboard than he was during that best year. On the tour, he’s been runner-up, third and fourth this year, and though he only competed once in the On the Wire Creative Media’s Junior International Championships, he won that series opener back in January.

This past weekend (Sat., Oct. 9), Lawhorne returned to the tour’s winners circle with a victory that necessitated a second set in a true double elimination final. That second set went to Lawhorne and allowed him to claim title to the event that drew 34 entrants to Borderline Billiards in Bristol, TN.

Lawhorne and eventual runner-up, Gabe Lester advanced through the field to a winners’ side semifinal, although not against each other. Lawhorne faced and defeated Zach Wilson 7-3 to earn his spot in the hot seat match. Lester, though, faced and was defeated by Christopher Wilson (no relation to Zach) 5-1 in the other winners’ side semifinal. Lawhorne gave up only a single rack to Wilson in claiming the hot seat.

Christopher Wilson was one of three room owners who signed on to compete at this event. Janet Atwell, owner of Borderline Billiards, who might normally have competed was unable to do so. In addition to Wilson, who owns The League Room in Parkersburg, WV, the event drew Herschel Rife, owner of Lucky Shots in Phelps, KY and John Brockman, owner of Sonny’s in Princeton, WV.

On the loss side, Zach Wilson picked up Brent Hensley, who’d defeated Sean McGrady, double hill, and Gary South 6-4. South had defeated Lucky Shots’ owner Rife 7-3 in the previous round. Lester drew Daniel Shelton, who’d recently eliminated Mike Clevinger 7-4 and Todd Kihnley 7-3. It was Kihnley who’d defeated Sonny’s owner Brockman 5-3 in the previous round.

Zach Wilson downed Hensley 5-3, as Lester was busy eliminating Shelton 5-2. Lester gave up only a single rack to Zach Wilson in the quarterfinals and only one more than that in the semifinals versus Chris Wilson.

Lester threw a bit of a scare into Cameron Lawhorne in the opening set of the true double elimination final by repeating the single-rack performance of his quarterfinal match. Lawhorne, though, battled Lester to double hill in the second set before dropping the final 9-Ball to claim the event title.

Tour director Herman Parker thanked Janet Atwell and her Borderline Billiards staff for their hospitality, as well as title sponsor Viking Cues, BarPoolTables.net, Dirty South Grind Apparel Co., Diamond Brat, Federal Savings Bank’s Mortgage Division and AZBilliards. The next stop on the Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball Tour, scheduled for this weekend (Oct. 16-17), will be hosted by Buck’s Billiards in Raleigh, NC. 

Billy Joe Walker wins his second Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball Tour stop

Billy Walker

Billy Joe Walker and Justin Knuckles played twice in the true double elimination final at last Saturday’s (Aug. 7) stop on the Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball Tour; Walker looking for his second win on the tour, Knuckles in search of his first. They each won a match, but it was Walker, who’d been waiting in the hot seat, who took the last one and claimed that second title. The $600-added event drew 40 entrants to The Clubhouse in Lynchburg, VA.

With Knuckles at work on the loss side, Walker advanced to a winners’ side semifinal against Travis Guerra. Jake Lebon squared off with Brian Overman in the other one. 

Walker downed Guerra 7-4 and in the hot seat match, faced Lebon, who’d sent Overman to the loss side 6-2. Walker claimed the hot seat 7-3 over Lebon and waited for Knuckles to join him for the finals.

On the loss side, Knuckles got by Scott Largen 5-4 (Largen racing to 6) and Sean McGrady, double hill, to draw Overman. Guerra picked up Cameron Lawhorne, who picked up a forfeit win over Clubhouse owner Chris England (The Clubhouse sponsors Lawhorne) and defeated Jonathan Ailstock 8-4. Lawhorne and Knuckles handed Guerra and Overman their second straight loss; Lawhorne over Guerra 8-3 and Knuckles over Overman 5-3.

Knuckles then defeated Lawhorne 5-3 in the quarterfinals and with Jake Lebon racing to 6 in the semifinals, defeated him 5-4 for a shot at Walker, waiting for him in the hot seat.

It would seem that Knuckles caught Walker just a little off guard in the opening set. Knuckles took that set 5-1. Walker settled himself and came out strong in the second set, winning it 7-1 to claim that second event title on the tour since he won it 18 months ago at the same location.

Tour director Herman Parker thanked Chris England and his Clubhouse staff for their ongoing hospitality and continued support of the tour. He also thanked title sponsor Viking Cues, BarPoolTables.net, Dirty South Grind Apparel Co., Diamond Brat, Federal Savings Bank’s Mortgage Division and AZBilliards. The next stop on the Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball Tour, scheduled for August 14-15, will be a $500-added ($1k with 64 entrants) event that will be hosted by Rock House Billiards in Gastonia, NC. 

Wolford goes undefeated at Memorial Day weekend stop on Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball Tour

Shane Wolford

Next tour stop to benefit tour veteran, Anthony Mabe, who passed away this past weekend 

In the midst of his best earnings year to date at the tables, former junior competitor, Shane Wolford, added a victory on the Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball Tour to his resume this past weekend (May 29-30). He recorded that win at the site where he recorded his first cash payout, four years ago. Wolford joined the AZBilliards database in April, 2017, when he finished 4th at a stop on the tour, hosted by The Clubhouse in Lynchburg, VA. He’s cashed in six events so far this year, including a victory at the Maryland State Bar Table 9-Ball Championships in April and went undefeated at the $1,000-added event that drew 66 entrants to The Clubhouse. 

Wolford and Jody Musselman would battle twice for the title, in the usual-suspect places, hot seat and finals. Wolford advanced through the field to face Josh Shultz in one of the winners’ side semifinals, as Musselman faced Anthony Johnson in the other one. 

Wolford downed Shultz 10-4 to get into the hot seat match. Musselman joined him after dispatching Johnson to the loss side 6-1. Wolford claimed the hot seat 10-3 over Musselman and waited on his return.

On the loss side, Shultz ran into Chris Bruner, a mid-Atlantic pool veteran, who’d lost his opening match, double hill, to Scott Roberts and embarked on a nine-match, loss-side winning streak, destined to take him as far as the quarterfinals. He chalked up wins #7 & #8 against The Clubhouse owner Chris England (10-1) and Daniel Guill (10-3). Johnson drew Cameron Lawhorne, who’d recently defeated Brian Crist 7-1 and Chris Funk 7-5 to reach him.

Lawhorne defeated Johnson 7-3 and was joined in the quarterfinals by Bruner, who’d dispatched Shultz 10-4. Bruner and Lawhorne battled to double hill for the right to advance. It was Lawhorne who did so, ending Bruner’s loss-side streak.

Lawhorne followed Bruner to the figurative ‘showers,’ when Musselman defeated him 6-5 in the semifinals (Lawhorne racing to 7). Wolford completed his undefeated run with a 10-3 victory in the finals. 

Tour director Herman Parker thanked Chris England and his Clubhouse staff for their hospitality, as well as title sponsor Viking Cues, BarPoolTables.net, Dirty South Grind Apparel Co., AZBilliards, Federal Savings Bank mortgage division and Diamond Brat.

The next stop on the Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball Tour, scheduled for this coming weekend (June 5-6) will be an unexpected benefit for the family of Anthony Mabe, who passed away from injuries related to an automobile accident, which occurred in the early morning hours of Sunday, May 30. A long-time member of the Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball Tour and close friend of tour director Herman Parker, the tour stop, which will be hosted by Gate City Billiards Club in Greensboro, NC, will raise funds to help defer the cost of funeral arrangements, at a date to be determined.

Manley takes two out of three vs. Lawhorne to claim 1st Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball title

Tour will honor Ronnie Park at a Memorial event in Gastonia, NC this weekend (May 8-9)

Sammy Manley has cashed in seven events on the Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball Tour; twice in 2018, four times last year and once, this past weekend (May 1), when he came back from a loss in the opening set of a true double elimination final and defeated Cameron Lawhorne in the second set to claim the title. His progress in 2020 saw him steadily increasing his efficiency, as he finished from 5th to 2nd place in his four cash finishes, though not strictly in order – 5th in May, 4th in June, 3rd in August and a second-place split with BJ Ussery at the 1st Brian James Memorial in June. The $500-added event at which Manley claimed his first event title drew 30 entrants to Break & Run Billiards in Chesnee, SC.

He and Lawhorne met first in a winners’ side semifinal, as Trey Frank and Reid Vance squared off in the other one. Manley took the first of his three versus Lawhorne 6-4 and advanced to the hot seat match. Frank downed Vance 7-5 to join him. In his second appearance in a hot seat match (he’d appeared and lost to Matt Shaw in August and finished third), he gave up only a single rack to Frank and claimed the seat for the first time.

On the loss side, Vance ran into Jonathan Ailstock, who’d defeated Casey Looper 7-4 and Steven Ellis, double hill, to reach him. Lawhorne drew Tommy Scruggs, who’d recently eliminated Trent Talbert, double hill, and Junior Gabriel 5-2.

Vance downed Ailstock 5-2 and in the quarterfinals, faced Lawhorne, who’d dispatched Scruggs 7-1. Lawhorne then defeated Vance 7-4 in those quarterfinals.

In his final hurdle to the rematch against Manley, Lawhorne defeated Frank 7-3 in the semifinals. With 15 cash appearances on the tour since 2018, including two victories, the first of which was a come-from-the-loss-side win that earned him his first event win, anywhere, Lawhorne came into the finals with tour history and momentum.

He took advantage of both, fought Manley to double hill in the opening set and won 7-5 (Manley racing to 6). Manley fought back in the second set and pulled ahead by two (6-4) at the end to claim his first event title

Tour director Herman Parker thanked the ownership and staff at Break & Run Billiards for their hospitality, as well as title sponsor Viking Cues, BarPoolTables.net, Dirty South Grind Apparel Co., AZBilliards, Federal Savings Bank mortgage division and Diamond Brat.

The next stop on the Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball Tour, scheduled for this coming weekend, May 8-9, will be a Memorial Tournament in honor of Ronnie Park. The $500-added event will be hosted by Break & Run Billiards in Chesnee, SC.

On the Wire Creative Media launches Junior International Championship Tour

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

Lukas Fracasso Verner, Ra Hanna and Ricky Evans

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Top Three Finishers:

18 and under Boys
Cameron Lawhorne
Lazaro Martinez
Austin Summers

18 and under Girls
Kennedy Meyman
Bethany Tate
Courtney Hairfield

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

13 and under Girls
Sofia Mast
Bethany Tate
Noelle Tate

Pro Am
Lukas Fracasso Verner
Ricky Evans
Nathan Childress