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Atencio downs Davis, Jr. twice to claim 10th Annual NC State Open Championships

Jesus Atencio

Norris defeats junior competitor, Bethany Tate twice to win 2nd Annual Ladies Open

Whoever said that “showing up is half the battle” might have had pool in mind and could point to Venezuela’s Jesus Atencio as a case in point. This past Memorial Day weekend (May 28-29), Atencio signed on to the $1,000-added, 10th Annual North Carolina State Open Championships, held under the auspices of the Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball Tour and hosted by Break Time Billiards and Sports Bar in Winston-Salem, NC.

Atencio went undefeated through the field of 73 entrants to chalk up his 12th recorded cash payout of the year, but only his first event title. He is moving toward improving on his best recorded earnings year (2021), in which he cashed in 17 events, including victories on the Lone Star Billiards Tour, the Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball Tour and the New City Heritage Super Tournament. So, 29 cash finishes in two years, only four of them event victories, and Atencio is halfway toward making 2022 his best recorded earnings year. Primarily by just showing up. 

It was a competitive field, according to Tour Director Herman Parker, and although it did not include the 2021 champion (BJ Ussery), it did include Mike Davis, Jr. who has won the event four times, as well as NC State Championships in other disciplines over the years (8-Ball, 10- Ball). A glance at Davis’ earnings record over the years has its share of event wins, but like Atencio, the lion’s share of it has been the result of “just showing up.” 

Atencio and Davis, who’d last run into each other on a Player Madness Tournament in March, when they were to appear in the event final but opted out and split the top two cash prizes, met twice in the 2022 NC State Open. They advanced from different ends of the bracket to a winners’ side semifinal; Atencio versus Eric Roberts and Davis facing Adam Pendley.

Atencio defeated Roberts 7-3 and in the hot seat match, faced Davis, who’d sent Pendley west 7-2. Atencio and Davis battled to double hill, before Atencio prevailed to claim the hot seat. 

On the loss side, Roberts and Pendley ran right into their second straight loss. Roberts had picked up Brian White, who’d assured himself a $200 reward for his version of “showing up” by downing Josh Newman 7-5 in the first money round and then, and at least $100 more when he defeated Clint Clark 7-3 to face Roberts. Pendley drew Billy Fowler, who’d run the same early-money-rounds gauntlet, eliminating Danny Farren 7-5 and Michael Robertson 7-3.  

White and Fowler defeated Roberts and Pendley, respectively, both 7-4. Fowler advanced one more step, eliminating White in the quarterfinals 7-5, before having his run ended by Davis in the semifinals, also 7-5.

Atencio completed his second appearance and second win on the Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball Tour with a 7-4 victory over Davis in the finals. 

Norris comes back from hot seat loss to double dip her junior opponent, Bethany Tate

The finalists in the short field of 10 that signed on to the $500-added, 2nd Annual NC State Ladies Open were appearing at opposite ends of their individual “showing up” spectrum. Christy Norris, who’s been showing up longer than her opponent, Bethany Tate has been alive, got to the hot seat match, but found herself facing a former Junior National Champion (at the age of 11 in 2018), a recent winner of the 18 & Under Girls division of the Junior International Championships series in February, and the third-place finisher in the Women’s VA State 10-Ball Championships in April. Norris lost to Tate, but came back to double-dip her in the event’s true double elimination final.

They’d both advanced to winners’ side semifinals against Allie Tilley (for Norris) and Shannon Johnson (for Tate). Norris gave up just a single rack to Tilley, while Tate gave up four to Johnson. Tate claimed the hot seat 7-2 over Norris, not knowing, and arguably not suspecting, that she’d won her last match of the event.

On the loss side, Tilley picked up Lisa Cossette, who’d defeated Bethany Tate’s younger sister, Noelle, double hill, to reach her. Johnson drew Katie Bischoff, who’d eliminated Dorothy Strater, also double hill. 

As had happened in the Open, the competitors who came to the loss side from the winners’ side semifinal, ran right into their second straight loss. Cossette shut out Tilley and in the quarterfinals, faced Bischoff who’d eliminated Johnson 5-3.

Bischoff won the quarterfinal match 5-1 over Cossette before having her very brief loss-side trip stopped by Norris 5-3 in the semifinals. Norris went on to win the opening set of the true double elimination final 7-3 and then allowed Tate only a single rack in the second set to claim the event title 5-1.

Tour director Herman Parker thanked the ownership and staff at Break Time for their hospitality, as well as 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, June 4-5, will be the Brian James Memorial, hosted by Borderline Billiards in Bristol, TN.

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Ronny Park Benefit Memorial – Clint Clark vs BJ Ussery

Junior competitor Zayas goes undefeated on Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball Tour

Hunter Zayas

A day later, he was still shaking his head.

Herman Parker and the Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball Tour paid a visit to West End Billiards in Gastonia, NC this past weekend (February 6-7). In spite of it being Super Bowl weekend for a population trying to avoid contracting a virus that’s turned into a global pandemic, the $250-added event drew 78 entrants. And Herman was shaking his head, because . . .

“The week before, we didn’t even know where we were going to be,” he said. “West End Billiards gave us an opportunity.”

“Oh, and by the way,” he added. “A 14-year-old won the whole thing.”

And the 14-year-old (Hunter Zayas) was not alone. He battled against another Junior player, Cole Lewis, in a winners’ side semifinal (Lewis finished third the week before), while a third junior player, Landon Hollingsworth, was fighting to get into the money, as the 78-player field whittled down to eight.

In his first year of recorded cash winnings in our database, Hunter Zayas cashed in seven Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball Tour events, which included his first recorded tour victory anywhere, at the tour’s annual Turkey Bowl, last November. A month later, he was runner-up to BJ Ussery at a new venue for the tour, Overtime Bar & Grill in Columbia, SC.  

Hunter Zayas went undefeated to claim the event title. He gave up a total of 8 racks in four of the seven matches he played, but his opponents chalked up 14 in the other three, including four in his opening match, six in a double hill, winners’ side quarterfinal and four in what proved to be the last match of the event, the semifinals. Zayas and Clint Clark opted out of a final match and split the top two prizes. It should be noted that while Zayas now has two tour victories on his resume, both of them came as the result of being the undefeated occupant of the hot seat at the conclusion of the semifinals and opting out of a final match against the winner of those semifinals (Billy Fowler at the Turkey Bowl and Clark at this most recent event). There are unconfirmed reports that Zayas is so good, that players coming out of the semifinals don’t want to take him on.  

They’d met first in the hot seat match. Clark had started his winners’ side semifinal contest against Josh Heeter with a single bead on the wire, in a race to 9 and sent Heeter to the loss side 8-4. Zayas joined him after sending his fellow-junior player, Cole Lewis over 6-2. Zayas started the hot seat match with two on the wire in a race to 8 and sent packing for the semifinals 6-4.

On the loss side, Lewis and Heeter ran straight into their second straight loss. Jason Gardner had eliminated Jonjon Newman double hill (5-5) and Ricky Bingham 5-3 to meet and then defeat Lewis, double hill (5-5 again). Heeter drew Justin Duncan, who’d defeated Joey Fox, double hill, and knocked out the third prominent junior player, Landon Hollingsworth 6-4. Duncan, with three beads on the wire, to start, in a race to 9, defeated Heeter 6-5 to join Gardner in the quarterfinals. 

Gardner chalked up his second straight double hill win, defeating Duncan in the quarterfinals. Clint Clark ended Gardner’s loss-side run 8-1 in the semifinals. At that point, Clark and Zayas agreed to a split of the top two cash prizes. As the undefeated occupant of the hot seat, Zayas laid claim to the official event title.

Tour director Herman Parker thanked the ownership and staff at West End Billiards, as well as title sponsor Viking Cues, BarPoolTables.net, AZBilliards, Federal Savings Bank Mortgage Division and Dirty South Grind Apparel Co. The next stop on the Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball Tour, scheduled for this weekend, Feb. 13-14, will be hosted by Borderline Billiards in Bristol, TN. 

Howard goes undefeated* to claim first major title on Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball Tour

Scott Howard

Scott Howard has pocketed more cash and climbed higher on the AZBilliards Money Leaderboard this year than at any other time since we first began recording his payouts back in 2011. He held spot #2,627 on our leaderboard that year and five years later, had managed to get as high as #952. This year, going into last weekend’s (Dec. 5) stop on the Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball Tour, Howard had already jumped to #329 on the leaderboard with only two cash finishes, both on the Q City 9-Ball Tour; 5th at a stop on the last weekend in October, spilling over into November, at Borderline Billiards, and runner-up to Hunter Apple at a Gate City Billiards Club stop in September.

Howard added cash, climbed a few steps on the Money Leaderboard and added his first recorded victory to that just-about-decade-long resume by going undefeated this past weekend. It was, however, a victory with an asterisk (*). The one-day event drew 24 entrants to Randolph’s Billiards in Hickory, NC.

Howard faced separate opponents in the hot seat and finals of this one; Clint Clark in the former and Hank Powell in the latter. He and Powell opted out of a final match, which gave Howard, occupying the hot seat at the time, the official event title.

Howard advanced to a winners’ side semifinal against Gary South, while Clark squared off against Powell in the other one. Howard bested South 7-4 and in the hot seat match, drew Clark, who’d sent Powell to the left bracket 8-4. According to our records, Howard was playing in his first hot seat match. He’d been sent to the loss side and won three matches to be in the finals back in September, and in October, 2016, he’d been sent to the loss side in a winners’ side quarterfinal, winning five loss-side matches to make it to the finals. This time, after downing Clark 7-4, Howard would come into the finals in possession of the hot seat.

On the loss side, Gary South picked up Andrew Haas, who’d recently chalked up two straight double hill wins to reach him; against Casey Looper (6-4) and Randolph Billiards owner, Randy Canipe (6-7).  Powell drew Stevie McClinton, who’d eliminated Lauren Kauffman, double hill (7-3) and Jonathan Ailstock 7-2.

Powell and South advanced to the quarterfinals after eliminating McClinton (7-2) and Haas (7-3), respectively. Powell then sent South home 7-4 in those quarterfinals.

Powell then spoiled Clint Clark’s bid for a second shot against Howard with a 7-2 victory in the semifinals. At that point, Howard and Powell decided against playing a final match and agreed to a split of the top two prizes.

Tour directors Herman and Angela Parker thanked Randy Canipe and his Randolph Billiards staff as well as title sponsor Viking Cues, Bar Pool Tables, JB Magic Templates, AZBilliards, Tickler Pool Ball Washing Machine, Skyline Construction, Federal Savings Bank Mortgage Division and Dirty South Grind Apparel Co. 

There are only two stops left in the 2020 Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball Tour season. The first is scheduled for this weekend, Dec. 12-13, when a new venue for the tour – Overtime Bar & Grill in Columbia, SC – will host a $500-added event. The following weekend, Dec. 19-20, Break and Run Billiards will host the tour’s 2020 Bar Table 9-Ball Championships. 

Garcia and Martin split top prizes on 1st stop back for the Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball Tour

Roland Garcia

Five days before the Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball Tour got back to the business of pool tournaments, the governor of South Carolina, Henry McMaster, gave restaurants in the state the ‘green light’ to open up at 50% capacity. A day later (May 12), he signed an Executive Order extending South Carolina’s specific State of Emergency for 15 days, while noting that as of that day, the state had identified 7,927 cases of COVID-19, to include 355 deaths. According to Tour Director Herman Parker, that occupancy percentage was adhered to during the tour’s two-day stay at Break & Run Billiards in Chesnee, SC, where, this past weekend (May 16-17), Roland Garcia and Justin Martin split the top prizes at the $500-added event that drew 52 entrants. Parker estimated that total occupancy at any given time during the two-day event was about 80 people and that while no one was utilizing masks, an informal social distance protocol was able to be maintained.

 

Garcia and Martin opted to split the event’s top two prizes shortly after Martin won the first set of a true double elimination final on Sunday evening, thereby evening their match results at that point to 1-1. Garcia was declared the official winner of the event.

 

They’d met first in a winners’ side semifinal, as Justin Duncan and Landon Hollingsworth met in the other one. Garcia sent Martin to the loss side 12-4 (Martin racing to 10). Duncan dispatched Hollingsworth to the left bracket 6-4, and then, followed him over when Garcia downed him 6-4 to claim the hot seat.

 

On the loss side, Martin began his trek back to the finals against Sammy Manley, who’d defeated Clint Clark 5-6 (Clark racing to 8) and Billy Fowler 5-7 (Fowler, racing to 9). Hollingsworth picked up Hunter White, who’d lost his opening match to Romy Malonzo, and then embarked on an eight-match, loss-side winning streak that had most recently included victories over Jacob Brooks 9-4 and Kelly Piercy 9-2.

 

The four of them played 22 games for the right to advance to the quarterfinals. Manley and Hollingsworth won only three of those 22; Manley chalking up two against Martin and Hollingsworth managing only one against White.

 

Martin ended White’s eight-game winning streak 10-6 in those quarterfinals and then, spoiled Duncan’s hopes for a re-match against Garcia with a 10-4 victory over him. With that ever-intangible, though never underestimated ‘loss-side momentum,’ Martin battled Garcia to double hill in the opening set of the true double elimination final and then won it, to force a second set.

 

They didn’t play it. They opted to split the top two prizes and allow Garcia to claim the official event title.

 

Tour directors Herman and Angela Parker thanked the ownership and staff at Break & Run Billiards, as well as title sponsor Viking Cues, Bar Pool Tables, Delta 13 Racks, AZBilliards, and Tickler Pool Ball Washing Machine. The next stop on the Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball Tour is being planned. Visit the tour’s Facebook page for specific information on the date and time.

 

Ussery chalks up his second 2019 Q City 9-Ball title

BJ Ussery

In six appearances on the 2019 Q City 9-Ball Tour (in which he has cashed), BJ Ussery has only been outside of the top three finishers once. On Saturday, April 20, he added a second victory to that list, going undefeated through a field of 21 entrants, on hand to compete at Randolph’s Billiards in Hickory, NC. It was a wild-weather Easter weekend in the foothills of the mountains on the western border of North Carolina, with a combination of cold rain and snow. That, combined with an APA event in Charlotte, about an hour south of Hickory, had an impact on entrant numbers, but it didn’t dampen Ussery’s march to the finish line, in which, over six matches, he gave up a total of only nine racks and recorded three shutouts.
 
Ussery advanced to a winners’ side semifinal versus Kirk Overcash, as Terry Easter (appropriately enough) squared off against Tim Gill. Ussery gave up one of his nine racks in that match, downing Overcash 11-1. Easter, in the meantime, sent Gill to the loss side, double hill (5-5). Ussery went on to record one of his shutouts, against Easter, to claim the hot seat.
 
On the loss side, Overcash picked up Jeff Abernathy, who’d defeated Gary South 9-4 and Brian Overman 9-5 to reach him. Gill drew Hank Powell, who’d recently shutout Daniel Adams and eliminated Clint Clark 7-2 to reach him.
 
Overcash downed Abernathy 5-6 (Abernathy racing to 9), and in the quarterfinals, faced Gill, who’d defeated Powell 6-3. Overcash then sent Gill home, double hill (5-5).
 
Overcash earned himself a re-match against Ussery in the finals with a 5-3 victory over Easter in the semifinals. Unfortunately, for Overcash, second verse was the same as the first. Ussery shut him out a second time to claim the event title.
 
Tour directors Herman and Angela Parker thanked the ownership and staff at Randolph’s Billiards, as well as title sponsor Viking Cues, Bar Pool Tables, Delta 13 Racks, AZ Billiards and Professor Q-Ball. The next stop on the Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball Tour, scheduled for this weekend (April 27-28), will be hosted by The Clubhouse in Lynchburg, VA.
 

Lowery and Francis split top prizes on Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball Tour

Mackie Lowery

As far as we can determine, Mackie Lowery’s been at the tables for about 15 years. He’s cashed, according to our records, in a total of nine events, including a Viking Cue 9-Ball Tour, runner-up payday almost exactly 10 years ago at Randolph’s Billiards in Hickory, NC. On Saturday, Oct. 27, leaking into the early hours of Sunday, Lowery went undefeated to claim his first title, on the Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball Tour, at Randolph’s Billiards in NC; a clear application of the ‘location, location, location’ answer to the question of where a player does his best work. The $250-added event drew 33 entrants to Randolph’s and while Lowery was declared the official winner, he split the top two prizes with runner-up Brian Francis, who’d won five on the loss side to face him in the finals.
 
When Justin Clark sent Francis to the loss side, he advanced to a winners’ side semifinal against Kirk Overcash. Lowery, in the meantime, squared off against Zac Leonard. Lowery moved on to the hot seat match with a 7-4 win over Leonard, and was joined by Overcash, who’d sent Clark to the loss side 5-3. Lowery claimed the hot seat and, in effect, the event title with a 7-2 victory over Overcash.
 
On the loss side, Francis opened his trek to the finals with a 6-8 victory over JT Ringgold (Ringgold racing to 10) and a 6-1 defeat of Clint Clark (no relation to Justin). This set him up to face Leonard coming over from his winners’ side semifinal defeat. Justin Clark picked up Mike Bumgarner, who’d survived two straight double hill matches, against Clay Davis and Josh Heeter, to reach him.
 
Francis downed Leonard 6-4, as Bumgarner was eliminating Justin Clark 7-4. Francis and Bumgarner locked up in a double hill quarterfinal fight, won eventually by Francis, who moved on to what turned out to be the last match of the event, the semifinals against Overcash. It was a second straight double hill fight for Francis and his last win of the night. He and Lowery agreed on the split and the event was over.
 
Tour directors Herman and Angela Parker thanked the ownership and staff at Randolph’s, as well as title sponsor Viking Cues, Bar Pool Tables, Delta 13 Racks, AZ Billiards and Professor Q-Ball. The next stop on the Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball Tour, scheduled for this weekend (Nov. 3-4), will be hosted by Corner Pockets in Fayetteville, NC.

Guerra wins second set of true-double final over Capps to win Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball stop

Travis Guerra

Travis Guerra's been poking at the winners' circle on the Viking Cues' Q City 9-Ball Tour all year long. He was runner-up at a stop in January (to Greg Taylor), and a couple of weeks later, finished fifth in the 2016 Tour Championships. He made it as far as the semifinals, twice; once in April and once in May. He broke through to chalk up his first event victory of the year at a stop on July 1-2, which drew 30 entrants to Randolph's Billiards in Hickory, NC. It was his first win on the tour since he'd gone undefeated in an 8-ball event, two years ago. This time around, though he made it to the hot seat, Brian Capps gave him a run for his money in the double elimination finals, taking the first set.
 
They'd missed battling for the hot seat by a match. Guerra advanced to that hot seat match with a 6-4 win over Matt Lucas in one winners' side semifinal. Justin Clark, in the meantime, racing to 6, downed Capps (racing to 10) 6-1 in the other winners' side semifinal. In a straight up race to 6, Guerra claimed the hot seat over Clark and waited on the return of Capps.
 
On the loss side, Capps picked up Trey Frank, who'd just eliminated Tim Monk and Jeff Young, both 7-2. Lucas drew Clint Clark (no relation to Justin), who, racing to 10, had shut out Joe Sims, and given up only a single rack to Steve Reece.
 
With Clark and Capps both racing to 10, they both advanced to the quarterfinals; Clark 10-4 over Lucas, and Capps 10-3 over Frank. In what was arguably the best match of the weekend (two top-tier players racing to 10) Capps and Clint Clark battled back and forth to double hill, before Capps prevailed to take on his second Clark in a row (Justin) in the semifinals.
 
Justin put up a bit of fight in those semifinals and came within a game of forcing a deciding game against Capps, but Capps closed it out at 10-4, for a shot at Guerra in the hot seat. With a dose of momentum on his side, Capps gave up only a single rack to Guerra in the opening set of the true double elimination final. Fortunes reversed in the second set, as they often do when it's nearing 2 a.m. on a Sunday morning after two days of pool shooting, and Guerra got out in front in the second set and stayed there, winning it 6-3 to claim the event title.
 
Tour director Herman Parker thanked the ownership and staff at Randolph Billiards, as well as title sponsor Viking Cues, Delta 13 Racks, AZBilliards and Professor Q Ball. The next stop on the Viking Cues' Q City 9-Ball Tour, scheduled for July 8-9, will be hosted by Mickey Milligan's in New Bern, NC.

Guerra goes undefeated during 8-ball event on the Q City 9-Ball Tour

Travis Geurra got by Derek Leonard twice to complete an undefeated run on the Q City 9-Ball Tour during the weekend of November 28-29. The 8-ball event drew an unexpected crowd of 52 entrants to Chandley's Chalk & Cue in Statesville, NC. 
 
Guerra and Leonard met first in the hot seat match. Guerra had defeated Rick Roper 5-3, as Leonard downed Matt Lucas 10-3 in the two winners' side semifinals. Guerra and Leonard battled to double hill (Leonard, 9 – Guerra, 4) before Guerra prevailed to sit in the hot seat.
 
On the loss side, Roper picked up Jonathan Ailstock, who, following a defeat at the hands of Lucas, eliminated Bryan Bryant 6-5 and Donnie Bradshaw 6-3. Lucas drew Mackie Lowery, who'd gotten by Clint Clark 8-8 (Clark racing to 10) and Brandon Lowe 8-4. 
 
Ailstock defeated Roper 6-4 to earn a quarterfinal rematch against Lucas, who'd eliminated Lowery 4-3 (Lowery racing to 8). Ailstock won the rematch 6-3, but was shut out by Leonard in the semifinals. With Leonard racing to 10, Guerra completed his undefeated run with a 5-6 win over Leonard in what proved to be the only set necessary.
 
The next stop on the Q City 9-Ball Tour, scheduled for the weekend of December 5-6, will be hosted by Randolph Billiards in Hickory, NC.
 

Davis adds NC State 8-Ball Championship to his list

Mike Davis

Having won the North Carolina State 10-Ball Championship back in July, Mike Davis returned to the Tar Heel State and chalked up an undefeated run to claim the NC State 8-Ball Championship on the weekend of November 7-8. The $1,000-added event drew 46 entrants to Chandley's Chalk and Cue, in Statesville, NC.
 
Davis was joined by a few familiar foes, a couple of whom – Stevie Moore and Justin Hall – he faced among the winners' side final four. As Davis was busy defeating Stevie Moore 9-4, Justin Hall was caught up in a double hill battle that he eventually won against Shannon Fitch. In the hot seat match that followed, Hall took an early and commanding lead that put him on the hill, ahead by six, at 8-2. Davis came back to claim the hot seat, where he waited for Hall's return.
 
On the loss side, Moore picked up Jundel Mazon, who'd been sent to the loss side by Hall in a winners' side final eight battle, and then defeated Jason "Jaybird" Brown, double hill, and Scott Lewis 9-4 (races shifted to 9 in the first, loss-side money rounds). Fitch drew Clint Clark, who'd defeated Andy Twichen 7-2 and survived a double hill battle against Dan Heidrich.
 
Clark and Mazon advanced to the quarterfinals; Clark with a 9-7 win over Fitch, and Mazon, eliminating Moore 9-3. Mazon downed Clark 9-7, before having his four-match, loss-side streak ended by Hall 9-6, in the semifinals. Davis completed his undefeated run with an 11-6 second victory over Hall in the finals.