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BJ Ussery goes undefeated on first Action Pool Tour stop since February

BJ Ussery and Chris Bruner

“Guess who just got back today?
Them wild-eyed boys that’d been away
Haven’t changed, had much to say
But man, I still think them cats are crazy”  – Thin Lizzy “The Boys are Back in Town”

They were joined, it should be noted immediately, by a crew of “wild-eyed girls” who’d been away, too. Dorothy Strater, Cheryl Pritchard, Tina Malm, Bethany Sykes, Reene Driskill, Soo Emmett and Sheri Bruner (mother of the tour’s 2019 Champion, Chris Bruner), who, along with 46 other entrants, signed on to last weekend’s (July 17-18) stop on the Action Pool Tour, hosted by Diamond Billiards in Midlothian, VA. It was the first stop on the 2021 tour since the VA State 10-Ball Championships in February, and according to co-tour director Kris Wylie, it will be the last until sometime in September. A previously scheduled event, slated for August 14-15 at Wolf’s Den in Roanoke, VA had to be changed to accommodate amateur league events, scheduled for Las Vegas at the same time. Wylie and room owners, the Wolfords, are still working on details that will determine when, in September, the tour will visit the room.

“We were a little concerned,” noted Wiley of the tour’s return to activity, “what with falling out of the public eye, but we were very happy with the turnout and now, it’s just a matter of sorting out the rest of this year’s schedule.”

Visitors to the Action Pool Tour Web site will note that there’s no tour rankings list as there has been in previous years. That list, normally used to determine who earns entry into a year-end event for the tour, was deemed impractical, given the unexpected cancellation of stops and the ongoing plans for future events.

“We determined that there was no real value to have ‘points leaders’ at this point,” Wylie explained, adding that there will be a year-end event for the tour, but that a means of determining some way to get participants invited is still in the planning stages. “We just couldn’t come up with a way of having a tour leader right now.”

BJ Ussery would likely have been a candidate for top spot on this year’s tour rankings list on the basis of his undefeated run at this past weekend’s event. He came out of the gate real fast, giving up only four racks through his first 36 games to Jamie Bess (0), Graham Swinson (2), Kelly Farrar (0) and James Coleman (2). He drew Collin Hall in one of the winners’ side semifinals.

Ussery’s eventual hot seat opponent, Mac Harrell, had a little different experience with his trip to a winners’ side semifinal matchup versus Scott Roberts. Harrell chalked up the same 32 games-won as Ussery, but he gave up 16 racks to Enrique Barrios (4), Jason Trigo (3), David Parker (4) and David Hunt (5).

Ussery and Harrell downed Hall and Roberts, both 8-5. Ussery claimed the hot seat 8-3 over Harrell, though over his last two matches, he’d dropped his game-winning average from 88% down to 80%. 

On the loss side, Scott Roberts drew Graham Swinson, who followed his 2nd round loss to Ussery with a seven-match, loss-side winning streak that had begun when he eliminated Sheri Bruner, thereby eliminating any hope of a mother-son matchup somewhere down the loss-side line. He had most recently eliminated Thomas Dorsey 7-5 and shut out James Coleman. Collin Hall picked up Chris Bruner, who’d lost a double hill fight to Scott Roberts in one of the winners’ side quarterfinals and realizing that he was not going to have to face his mother in a loss-side match, went on to defeat Shane Buchanan and David Hunt, both 7-4. 

Bruner advanced to the quarterfinals 7-3 over Hall. Roberts joined him for their rematch after ending Swinson’s loss-side streak 7-4. As had happened on the winners’ side, Bruner and Roberts locked up in a double hill fight. The ending was different, with Bruner advancing to face and defeat Mac Harrell 7-5 in the semifinals.

Two very familiar faces in the mid-Atlantic pool scene and to each other squared off in the finals; one, thus far undefeated and the other, having won five on the loss side for the right to play the final match. Ussery prevailed 9-6 to claim his first event title of 2021.

As for the aforementioned ladies who signed on to compete (Sheri Bruner, Dorothy Strater, Cheryl Pritchard, Bethany Sykes, Reene Driskill, Soo Emmet & Tina Malm), Tina Malm advanced the furthest, finishing in the money in the four-way tie for 9th place. 

Tour directors Kris Wylie and Tiger Baker thanked the ownership and staff at Diamond Billiards for their hospitality, as well as sponsors Haselman & Hunt Family Dentistry, George Hammerbacher (Advanced Pool Instructor) and CSI. As noted, the August 14-15 stop on the Action Pool Tour has been postponed to a date-to-be-determined in September. Visit the tour’s Web site, www.actionpooltour.com, for a future announcement.

Bruner wins two-match battle with Haas to claim On the Hill Productions’ Summer Slam

Loye Bolyard, Scott Haas, Chris Bruner and Rick Scarlato, Jr

As with most pool players, not to mention good folks everywhere, 2020 was a bit of an ‘off’ year for Chris Bruner. Having recorded his best earnings year in 2019 (of 14 years on record), when, in eight of the 10 tournaments in which he cashed, he finished among the top five and won four of those eight, he finished ‘in the money’ only twice in 2020; 3rd and 13th in stops on the Action Pool Tour. Before last Saturday’s (June 12) Summer Slam, held under the auspices of On the Hill Productions at Brews & Cues on the Boulevard in Glen Burnie, MD, he’d already cashed in two events, finishing 3rd at the VA 10-Ball Championships in February and 4th at a stop on the Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball Tour a couple of weeks ago (May 29-30). Scott Haas sent Bruner to the semifinals in the Summer Slam, but Bruner came back to down him in the finals to claim the title. The event drew 39 entrants to Brews & Cues. 

Bruner won his first three matches, versus Rick Wilson, Garrett Vaughan and fellow ‘2020-was- an-off-year’ competitor, Steve Fleming by an aggregate score of 21-4. This set him up to face Jimmy Varias in a winners’ side semifinal. Scott Haas, in the meantime, ran into some tough competition in his opening three. He opened against Brett Stottlemyer and after sending him to the loss side 7-4, ran into co-tour director Rick Scarlato, Jr., who gave him a double-hill run for his money, before joining Stottlemyer on the loss side. Haas then defeated Joshua McCauley 7-3 to draw Dylan Spohr in the other winners’ side semifinal.

Two double hill matches determined the competitors for the hot seat match; Bruner over Varias and Haas over Spohr. A third double hill battle left Haas in the hot seat and Bruner on his way to the semifinals.

On the loss side, Spohr picked up a by-now very determined Brett Stottlemyer, who’d followed his loss against Scott Haas with six straight loss-side victories that included wins over Scott Haas’ son, Thomas and the other co-tour director, Loye Bolyard. Stottlemyer had more recently eliminated Bryan Jones 7-4 and in the only double-hill match he played, Russ Redhead. Spohr, in the meantime, picked up Steve Fleming, who’d been sent to the loss side by Bruner in a winners’ side quarterfinal and then, defeated Scarlato, Jr. 7-4 and Trey Frank 7-2.

Spohr sent Fleming home 7-4. He was joined in the quarterfinals by Varias, who’d ended Stottlemyer’s loss-side run 7-5. Spohr then ended Varias’ day 7-4.

Spohr had his brief, loss-side run stopped at two by Bruner, who defeated him 7-3 in the semifinals for a second shot at Scott Haas in the hot seat, waiting for him. They almost repeated their double hill hot seat match, but in the end, Bruner pulled out ahead to win it by two 7-5.

Tour directors Loye Bolyard and Rick Scarlato, Jr. of On the Hill Productions thanked the ownership and staff at Brews & Cues for their hospitality, as well as sponsors AlleyKat Cue Sports, AZBilliards.com, Aramith Balls, Lucid Ballsports (Predator Arena Light), Mezz Cues, Turtle Racks, Simonis Cloth, TAP Chesapeake Bay Region and Safe Harbor Retirement Planners. The next On the Hill Productions event, scheduled for July 24-25, will be the MD State 8-Ball Championships, to be hosted by Champion Billiards in Frederick, MD. 

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.

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

(l to r): Reymart Lim, TD Tiger Baker & BJ Ussery

Taylor becomes only 4th woman since 2013 to win VA State Women’s 10-Ball title
 
It’s a little early to start making predictions or get too much of a ‘read’ on a tour’s point standings (at least those that run on a calendar year schedule), but the Action Pool Tour’s second stop provided some intriguing information. It wasn’t so much about who’s in the top spots at this point, but who, among last year’s top players are apparently starting out a little slow. Stop #2 on the Action Pool Tour – the 2020 VA State 10-Ball Open Championships – drew 73 entrants to Diamond Billiards in Midlothian, VA on the weekend of February 15-16. Six of last year’s top 10 players in the tour’s final standings competed in this event. Two finished out of the money, including the event’s defending champion, RJ Carmona. Three, including last year’s tour champion, Chris Bruner, finished in the first money round. Reymart Lim, who finished in 4th place overall last year and won this year’s season opener was this event’s runner-up. In his first appearance on the tour in seven years, BJ Ussery came from the loss side to earn a finals rematch against Lim, which he won to claim the event title.
 
Meanwhile, the 2020 VA State Women’s 10-Ball Championships drew 16 women to the same location. As they did last year, Liz Taylor and Janet Atwell battled twice to claim this title. The results of those two battles were a reverse of last year’s; Atwell, winning the first and Taylor, winning the final (more on this a bit later).
 
Ussery’s appearance on the Action Pool Tour is a reflection of his desire to play generally stronger opponents than those he tends to face on regional handicapped tours. The last time he’d appeared on the APT, he’d finished 7th in the inaugural (2013) VA State 10-Ball Championships.
 
“I’m hoping to play in more of these (APT events) this year,” said Ussery. “I want to play against better players and compete in the some of the bigger events, like the US Open or the Super Billiards Expo.”
 
Any time at table, ultimately, is good time at table, but playing in a handicap system, no matter which one it is, carries a downside. According to Ussery, it’s less about the game and more about human nature.
 
“I get so used to giving up a handicap,” Ussery explained, “that when I get into a non-handicap game, it’s hard for me to bear down.”
 
His opening matches tended to demonstrate this. Ussery opened with an 8-6 win over Reggie Jackson, had a strong 8-1 victory over Jonathan Syphanthavong, and then gave up five against Shorty Davis. He had to win a deciding, 15th game in his fourth match, against Justin Martin. Nathan Childress chalked up six against him next, but Ussery prevailed and advanced to his first meeting against Reymart Lim, in one of the winners’ side semifinals. Lim had downed Barry Mashburn, RJ Carmona, Larry Kressel and shut out Greg Sabins (last year’s #12 in the point standings) to reach Ussery. Shane Wolford and Eric Moore (the APT’s 2016 Tour Champion) squared off in the other one.
 
By identical 8-1 scores, Lim and Wolford advanced to the hot seat match over Ussery and Moore. Lim and Wolford then locked up in a double hill fight that eventually sent Wolford to the semifinals and left Lim in the hot seat.
 
Ussery opened up on the loss side against Mike Davis, who was working on a five-match winning streak that was about to end and had included recent wins over Kelly Farrar 7-3 and Justin Martin 7-2. Moore picked up Scott Roberts, who’d been shut out by Greg Sabins in the second round and was working on his own seven-match, loss-side streak that included a successful 7-5 rematch against Sabins and a 7-5 victory over Nathan Childress, which led to Moore.
 
Ussery ended Davis’ streak 7-3 and in the quarterfinals, faced Roberts, who’d defeated Moore 7-4. Ussery ended Roberts’ streak and Wolford’s short visit to the loss side in the semifinals, both 7-5.
 
Going into the final match, Ussery was mindful not only of the earlier matchup, in which Lim had allowed him only a single rack, but previous matchups, as well. They’d faced each other on a number of occasions over the years, and playing against him, Ussery knew what the difference was.
 
“I knew he was a good player when we’d met before,” said Ussery, “but I knew then, that part of the reason he was beating me was that he’d been putting in the time.”
 
“These days,” Ussery added, “I’m as prepared as anybody.”
 
Ussery spoiled Lim’s bid for a second straight win on the APT. He defeated him 10-8 to claim his first APT title.
 
Taylor spoils Atwell’s bid for a third straight, sixth overall VA State 10-Ball Woman’s title.
 
[photo id=51605|align=right]Since 2013, there have been four women who’ve claimed the VA State Women’s 10-Ball title. Tracie Majors won it in 2014 and Meredith Lynch captured the title in 2017. Janet Atwell has claimed the title five times; once in its inaugural year (2013) and then, back-to-back, twice (’15,’16, ’18, ’19). Last year, Atwell was defeated by Liz Taylor, double hill, in the hot seat match and came back to down Taylor 8-2 in the finals to claim her second straight and fifth overall title.  This year, at the event that drew 16 entrants (one more than last year), they reversed things. Taylor was defeated in the hot seat match and came back to defeat Atwell in the finals and claim the 2020 women’s title.
 
It took them each three matches to meet for the first time in the hot seat match. Atwell got by Nicole King, Tina Nash and, in a winners’ side semifinal, shut out Hayleigh Marion. Taylor defeated Soo Emmett, Christy Norris and, in her winners’ side semifinal, survived a double hill match against Lisa Cossette. Atwell claimed the hot seat 6-1.
 
Taylor’s return faced a stiff challenge from Deeqa Nur, who’d been defeated in the opening round of play by Cheryl Sporleder and came back through five opponents to draw Taylor in the semifinals. Nur battled to double hill against two of those opponents. She picked up Hayleigh Marion, coming over from the winners’ side semifinal and defeated her, just ahead of downing Lisa Cossette in a double hill quarterfinal. Taylor spoiled the strong, loss-side bid 5-3 in the semifinals.
 
And so it was, that for the second year in a row, Liz Taylor and Janet Atwell battled for the State of Virginia’s Women’s 10-Ball title. In a reversal of fortunes, Taylor gave up only one rack to Atwell in claiming the event title 8-1.
 
Tour directors Kris Wylie and Tiger Baker thanked the ownership and staff at Diamond Billiards for their hospitality, as well as sponsors Full Stroke Billiards Apparel and Haselman & Hunt, D.D.S., P.C. Family Dentistry. The next stop on the Action Pool Tour, scheduled for March 28-29, will be a Double Points event – The East Coast Landscaping Bar Box Bash – to be hosted by Peninsula Billiards in Newport News, VA.

Wilkie goes undefeated to capture his third Maryland State title in eight years

Shaun Wilkie

Shaun Wilkie has chalked up his fair share of tournament victories over the years, dating back to our first recorded awareness of his presence 20 years ago, when he finished 9th at a stop on the Planet Pool Tour in Pikesville, MD. His first recorded victory in an event came two years later on that same tour. Since that time, he’s gone on to win events on the Action Pool Tour (APT; lots of them), the Blaze Tour, the Mezz Pro Am Tour, the Predator Pro Am Tour, the Joss Northeast 9-Ball Tour and various State of Virginia championships. With two exceptions, however, he’s had a difficult time securing a victory at a tournament with “Maryland” in its official title. He came close four times last year, finishing as runner-up in the MD State 10-Ball, 9-Ball Bar Table, and 9-Ball Championships and third in the MD State 8-Ball Championships. The two exceptions in this ‘drought’ was a victory in the Maryland State 8-Ball, two years ago and a victory in the Maryland Open, eight years ago.
 
Wilkie ended his extended Maryland State drought with a victory at the 2020 Mezz Cues Maryland State Bar Table 8-Ball Championships on the weekend of February 8-9. He went undefeated through the field of 105 entrants, at the event, hosted by Brews & Cues on the Blvd. in Glen Burnie, MD.
 
Wilkie and long-time opponent Rick Molineiro battled twice for this title. Molineiro’s career, while not as illustrious or as successful as Wilkie’s, began, in our records, with a 5th place finish on the Planet Pool Tour in 2001. Like Wilkie, Molineiro’s a regular competitor on the Action  Pool Tour and also like Wilkie, has found limited success in Maryland, although he did finish third at this event last year.
 
They met first in the hot seat, once Wilkie had disposed of his winners’ side semifinal opponent, Tom D’Alfonso 6-2 and Molineiro had defeated another APT veteran, Steve Fleming, 6-4 in the other one. In their first of two, they battle to double hill before Wilkie prevailed to claim the hot seat.
 
On the loss side, Fleming ran right into Kristina Tkach, the young Russian woman, who’s a strong competitor in the ‘stable’ of Roy’s Basement. Tkach had lost her third-round match to Wilkie and was in the midst of an eight-match, loss-side winning streak that would take her as far as the semifinals. She had recently eliminated Del Sim, double hill, and Roger Haldar 6-4 to draw Fleming. D’Alfonso drew Eddie Abraham, who’d recently defeated Tom Zippler and Shane Wolford, both 6-4.
 
Tkach eliminated the Action Pool Tour’s 2018 Tour Champion and last year’s runner-up, Steve Fleming 6-1. She was joined in the quarterfinals by Abraham, who’d defeated D’Alfonso 6-3. In a double hill quarterfinal, Tkach prevailed and advanced to meet Molineiro in the semifinals.
 
Molineiro was arguably playing ‘above his weight’ in the semifinals; up against an opponent with four event victories last year alone, to include a win on the APT, downing Chris Bruner, the tour’s #1 competitor at the time, in the hot seat and finals. Had Chris not won the semifinals, Tkach would have faced Wilkie in the finals of that event. Molineiro pulled it off, though, downing Tkach in this event’s semifinals 6-4 to earn himself a second shot at Wilkie in the hot seat.
 
Momentum may have been on Molineiro’s side, but Wilkie wasn’t interested. He took command of the only set that proved necessary, downing Molineiro 6-2 to complete his first Maryland State title run in two years.
 
Event directors at On the Hill Productions, Loye Bolyard and Rick Scarlato, Jr. thanked the ownership and staff at Brews & Cues on the Blvd., as well as title sponsor Mezz Cues, Lights Out Billiards Apparel, TAP Pool League (Chesapeake Bay Region), Billiard Sports Network for their stream of the event throughout the weekend, AZBilliards, Aramith Balls, Simonis Cloth, and Turtle Racks. On the Hill Productions will return to Brews & Cues on the Blvd. for their next scheduled event, the MD State Bar Table 9-Ball Championships, to be held on the weekend of April 4-5.

Reymart Lim comes back from hot seat loss to claim Action Pool Tour season opener

(l to r): Reymart Lim & Nathan Childress

It marked the second year in a row that Reymart Lim had won the Action Pool Tour’s (APT) season opener at Q Master Billiards in Virginia Beach, VA. Last year at this time, he went undefeated through a field of 49 to win his first of two APT events; the second came in March. This year, there was just a little hitch in his get-along, as he succumbed to Nathan Childress in the battle for the hot seat and had to come back from a semifinal versus 2019’s Tour Champion, Chris Bruner, for a second shot at Childress. He took that second shot and won the match to claim his first 2020 title. In the past four years, Lim has finished, in order, 29th, 13th, 5th and 4th in the APT’s final tour standings. If he’s looking to improve (and why wouldn’t he be?), this could be the year he secures that APT Tour Champion title. Winning this event that drew 53 entrants to Q Master Billiards on the weekend of January 18-19 was a good start.
 
Lim got a bye out of a preliminary round and started his march to the winners’ circle with an 8-1 victory over Graham Swinson. He then defeated Bill Duggan 8-4 and Johnathan Syphanthavong 8-3 to draw a winners’ side semifinal match against Scott Roberts, who finished two spots below him on last year’s tour standings list. Childress, in the meantime, who was the Billiards Education Foundation’s 14-and-under Junior National Champion two years in a row (’15 & ’16) and was looking to secure what would be (according to our records) his first major regional tour title, opened with an 8-5 victory over RJ Carmona, who finished one step above Lim last year. After Carmona, Childress sent Jason Trigo (double hill), Reggie Jackson (8-4) and another junior player, Shane Wolford (8-4) to the loss side to arrive at a winners’ side semifinal match against Bruner.
 
Childress sent Bruner west 8-6 and in the hot seat match, faced Lim, who’d defeated Roberts, double hill. Childress claimed the hot seat 8-4 and waited in it for Lim to get back from the semifinals.
 
On the loss side, Bruner picked up Nilbert Lim (no relation to Reymart, although a close friend), who’d lost a double hill match to Scott Roberts in the second winners’ side round and was in the midst of a six-match, loss-side winning streak that was about to end and had most recently included two victories in which he’d allowed his opponents only a single rack, combined; none to Syphanthavong and one to Mac Harrell. Roberts drew David Hunt (5th in the 2019 standings), who’d lost a winners’ side quarterfinal match to Bruner and gone on to defeat David Givens, double hill and Shane Wolford 7-4.
 
Roberts moved on to the quarterfinals with a 7-2 win over Hunt. Bruner, flexing his muscles a bit, shut Nilbert Lim out to join him. Bruner then defeated Roberts 7-5 in those quarterfinals.
 
Reymart Lim stepped into the semifinal ‘frame,’ flexing a few muscles of his own. He gave up only a single rack to Bruner, to earn himself a second shot at Childress.
 
Childress didn’t give up his shot at his first major ‘pro’ title easily. He fought tooth and nail to double hill before Lim sealed his first 2020 victory 10-9.
 
A Second Chance event drew eight entrants. It was won by Graham Swinson, who came back from a 5-2 hot seat loss to shut Johnathan Syphanthavong out 6-0.
 
Tour directors Kris Wylie and Tiger Baker thanked the ownership and staff at Q Master Billiards, as well as sponsors Predator Cues, Aramith Balls, Simonis Cloth. Viking Cues, 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 2020 APT, scheduled for February 15-16, will be the VA State 10-Ball Championships, hosted by Diamond Billiards in Midlothian, VA.

Bruner goes undefeated to win Action Pool Tour season finale and finish as Tour Champion

Chris Bruner 2019 Action Pool Tour Champion

Chris Bruner competed in all but one of the 12 Action Pool Tour stops in 2019. He won four of them – June, July, October (VA State 8-Ball Championship) and the tour’s season finale this past weekend (December 7-8). He was runner-up in two others; to Mike Davis in May and Kristina Tkach in August. He tripled the number of appearances he made on the tour this year, which, factored into tournament results as the APT’s season concluded, gave Bruner the 2019 Tour Champion title. Last year’s champion, Steve Fleming competed in all but two of this year’s tour stops and finished as runner-up.
 
Bruner went undefeated through a field of 19 pre-qualified entrants, who signed on for the season finale – The Pineapple Morris Memorial Shootout on Saturday, December 7 at Q Master Billiards in Virginia Beach, VA. Named after Craig “Pineapple” Morris, a fixture as a teacher at Q Master Billiards and doorman at the annual US Open 9-Ball Championships for many years, the event was limited to the Top 16 men and three women in the tour’s point standings. Thanks to primary tour sponsors Predator Cues, Aramith and Simonis, every player who competed was paid.
 
Fleming was on-hand as well, with the opportunity to defend his tour championship title there for the taking. Fleming was one of six entrants who played a preliminary round for entrance into the event’s official 16-player, double elimination bracket. He and Larry Kressel locked up in a double hill fight that advanced Kressel and sent Fleming to the loss side, where he lasted three rounds.
 
Bruner’s path to the winners’ circle climbed a straight-up ladder that went through #12 Greg Sabins and #8 Bill Duggan, to arrive at a winners’ side semifinal against #4 Reymart Lim. Scott Roberts (#6), working in a pressure cooker of his own making, won two straight double hill matches against David Hunt (#5) and Jimmy Byrd (#18) to draw his winners’ side semifinal opponent, none other than the aforementioned Larry Kressel (#11).
 
Roberts won his third straight double hill match, downing Kressel to earn a spot in the hot seat match. Bruner joined him with a double hill win over Lim. Roberts recorded his first double hill loss, as Bruner chalked up his second straight double hill win to claim the hot seat.
 
On the loss side, Kressel picked up #3 RJ Carmona, who’d lost to #7 Scott Haas in the event’s first full opening round and was working on a four-match, loss-side winning streak that was about to end. He’d recently eliminated Bill Duggan 9-6 and David Hunt 9-5. Lim picked up Haas, who’d been sent over by Kressel in a winners’ side quarterfinal and then defeated Greg Sabins 9-5 and Jimmy Bird, double hill.
 
The possible Carmona/Haas rematch didn’t happen, as Kressel moved into the quarterfinals 9-7 over Carmona. Haas downed Lim 9-3, but in those quarterfinals, fell to Kressel 9-2.
 
The Roberts/Kressel semifinal came within a game of being the 5th double hill match among the event’s final 13 matches. Roberts prevailed 9-7 for a second shot at Bruner in the hot seat.
 
Bruner got out in front and claimed the event title and title of tour champion with an 11-7 victory over Roberts.
 
Tour directors Kris Wylie and Tiger Baker thanked the ownership and staff at Q Master Billiards, as well as sponsors Predator Cues, Aramith Balls, Simonis Cloth. Viking Cues, Brown’s Mechanical LLC, Kamui, Diamond Billiard Products, Ozone Billiards, CSI, Grant Wylie Photography and George Hammerbacher, Advanced Pool Instructor.

Mastermaker goes undefeated to win Action Pool Tour stop #11 in Midlothian

Danny Mastermaker & Larry Kressel

In 2013, Danny Mastermaker was everywhere and playing in his best earnings year since AZBilliards began recording his winnings in 2007. He won a stop on the Action Pool Tour and another on the Great Southern Billiard Tour, and cashed in 11 other events, including that year’s VA State 10-Ball Championship (3rd), the George “Ginky” Sansouci Memorial (7th), the Super Billiards Expo’s Amateur Championship (9th), the VA State 9-Ball Championship (9th), the US Open 9-Ball Championships (17th) and Turning Stone XXI (17th).

As he came into stop #11 on this year’s Action Pool Tour, he had only one cash winning to his 2019 credit; he finished 7th at the VA State 10-Ball Championship in February. Mastermaker went undefeated at the Saturday, November 16 10-Ball event to claim his first (recorded) event title since he won the VA State Bar Table 9-Ball tournament in Lynchburg, VA in July, 2014. Oddly enough, Mastermaker downed Larry Kressel in the finals of that bar table 9-ball tournament five years ago and at the Action Pool Tour event this past weekend that drew 30 players to Diamond Billiards in Midlothian, VA, he defeated Kressel in the finals again.

He got by Kressel twice, actually. Mastermaker got by Zach Gladfelder, Adnan Ahsan and John Wright to draw Kelly Farrar in one of the winners’ side semifinals, as Kressel sent Shane Buchanan, Jason Trigo and Dave Hunt to the loss side and picked up Scott Roberts in the other winners’ side semifinal. Mastermaker dominated his match versus Farrar and sent him to the loss side 8-1, as Kressel sent Roberts over 8-5. In their first of two, Mastermaker prevailed 8-3 over Kressel.

On the loss side, Farrar drew Shane Wolford, who’d lost his opening round match and was working on a seven-match, loss-side winning streak that would take him all the way to the semifinals. He’d most recently defeated Dave Hunt 7-3 and Chris Bruner 7-1 to arrive at Farrar. Roberts drew Jimmy Bird, the man who’d sent Farrar to the loss side in the opening round. Bird was on a five-match, loss-side streak that was about to come to an end. He’d most recently eliminated John Wright 7-4 and Josh Craig 7-5.

Wolford shut Farrar out, as Roberts ended Bird’s streak 7-3. Wolford then defeated Roberts 7-5 in the quarterfinals.

Kressel put a stop to Wolford’s run in the semifinals by allowing him only a single rack in a race to 7. Kressel earned his second shot at Mastermaker in the hot seat.

Mastermaker had to chalk up one more rack than he had in the hot seat match in the finals’ race to 9. Kressel duplicated his effort in the hot seat match and Mastermaker claimed the event title 9-3.

Tour directors Kim Wylie and Tiger Baker thanked the ownership and staff at Diamond Billiards, 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 December 7-8, will be the Pineapple Morris Memorial Shootout at Q Master Billiards in Virginia Beach, VA.

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.

Wilkie chalks up his first 2019 win on the Action Pool Tour

Shaun Wilkie

Though he’s in the midst of a fairly good year at the tables – runner-up in Maryland’s 9-Ball Bar Table and State 9-Ball Tournaments, 3rd in that state’s 8-Ball Championships and cash payouts in six other events, including Turning Stone XXXII (9th), the SBE Pro Players Championship (13th) and the US Open 9-Ball Championship (49th) – Shaun Wilkie had yet to record a 2019 win. Until this past weekend, when he went undefeated on the Action Pool Tour; according to our records, his first win on the tour in just over a year. Wilkie came back from a hot seat loss to RJ Carmona to meet and defeat him in the finals. The 10-ball event drew 44 entrants to Breakers Sky Lounge in Herndon, VA on the weekend of September 14-15.
 
It was Wilkie’s third appearance on APT’s 2019 tour; he finished third at a stop in August and just out of the money at a stop in June. On this weekend, he got by Jim Davis 7-2, shut out Carlton Pelzer, downed Scott Roberts 7-4 and defeated the tour’s #2-ranked competitor, Steve Fleming 7-1 to draw Scott Haas in one of the winners’ side semifinals. RJ Carmona, in the meantime, whose runner-up finish would propel him into third place among the tour’s players, defeated Reymart Lim 7-4, Alex Parker 7-2, Tuan Chau 7-1 and Dave Hunt 7-5 to arrive at his winners’ side semifinal match against Kenny Miller.
 
Carmona defeated Miller 7-2, while Wilkie was moving into the hot seat match with a shutout over Scott Haas. Carmona claimed the hot seat 7-4 over Wilkie and waited on his return.
 
Miller moved to the loss side and picked up Larry Kressel, who’d been defeated by Dave Hunt in the second round and was in the midst of a six-match, loss-side winning streak that had included recent wins over the tour’s #1 and #5 competitors, Chris Bruner and Reymart Lim, both 6-3. Haas drew Nilbert Lim, in the midst of a five-match, loss-side winning streak that was about to end.
 
Haas ended Lim’s streak 6-3, as Kressel extended his with a 6-2 win over Miller. In the quarterfinals that followed, Haas downed Kressel 6-2 for a second shot against Wilkie. It proved to be Kressel’s best finish on the 2019 APT. Wilkie ended Haas’ short loss-side trip 6-2 in the semifinals.
 
Wilkie completed his first 2019 win on the tour with a 9-7 victory over Carmona in the finals. The victory moved Wilkie up on the APT rankings ladder from outside the top 25 to #14. It elevated Carmona from just outside the top 10 to #3.
 
A Second Chance event drew 10 players and saw Steve Fleming down Greg Sabins twice 5-4, 6-2 (hot seat and finals) to claim the $100 first-place prize.
 
Tour directors Kris Wylie and Tiger Baker thanked the ownership and staff at Breakers Sky Lounge for their hospitality, 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 October 12-13, will be the VA State 8-Ball Championships. A Double Point event, it will be hosted by Q Master Billiards in Virginia Beach, VA.