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

Chris Bruner

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

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

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

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

Brandon Sluzalis sweeps the field at the first Maryland State Bar Table 9-Ball Championship

It was another successful weekend of pool for “On The Hill” Productions. Tour owners Rick Scarlato Jr. and Loye Bolyard decided to have the first event of 2019 at Brews & Cues on The Blvd in Glen Burnie, Maryland. Due to minor size constraints the field was decreased from 128 players to 104, but that did not prevent the world-class players from showing up to steal the show.
 
The event consisted of such top-flight players as James Aranas (PHI), Kristina Tkach (RUS), Del Sim (SCO) and local champions Shaun Wilkie and Brett Stottlemyer to name a few. Little did they know that Brandon Sluzalis, a top-regional player from Bethlehem, PA would be waiting for them. There was also a generous helping of young talent, which is always encouraging for the future of the game. Hailing from Lancaster, PA and Hazleton PA respectively, seventeen-year-old Thomas Haas has been lighting up the tables in almost every event. Eighteen-year-old Dylan Spohr has proven to be a constant threat. Coen Bell from Cambridge, MD is only fourteen, but his game has been improving steadily for the past two years. Not to be outdone, Skylar Hess has been making her opponents nervous at the ripe old age of ten!
 
As with any major event, there was no shortage of surprises. Russian sensation Kristina Tkach finished out of the top 24 places. Delaware champion Kevin West only won his first match before falling first to Shaun Wilkie and then Derick Daya. The usually reliable Tim Tanana went 0-2, which was very unusual for him, and tour director Rick Scarlato Jr. had a surprising finish out of the money. Other top players who did not cash were Rick Molineiro, Scott Haas, John Moody Sr. and Matt Krah. Young Travis Manning, for whom pool is his second passion (bowling is his first) surprised everyone by finishing in the top 24! Travis held his composure and shot well all weekend. Despite having to face the world-class talent of James Aranas (PHI) in the first round (on the Stream Table no less!), Travis bore down and mowed through the field to get in the money.
 
The story of the day, however, belonged to Brandon Sluzalis. A well-known tour grinder, Brandon smoothly played his way into the Hot Seat, defeating Shaun Wilkie, Brett Stottlemyer and James Aranas on the way. The first-round bye had no effect on his demeanor or his momentum, and he calmly dismantled everyone who crossed his path. It was as though he knew the championship was his from the start, and everyone else was simply in his way.
 
Congratulations to all who finished in the top 24 places this weekend. The Maryland State Events have been consistently providing extremely tough competition for modest entry fees with excellent payouts.
 
Many thanks to Anthony Manning and the staff at Brews & Cues for outstanding accommodations, which included the installation of an extra table for the live stream. Thanks as well to the owners of Billiard Sports Network, Jake Lawson and Josh Setterfield for the free high-quality streaming all weekend, with commentary.
 
This event would not have been possible without the work and contributions of the following sponsors:
McDermott Cues
Billiard Sports Network
Lights Out Billiard Apparel
Phillippi Custom Cues
TAP Pool League – Chesapeake Region
 
Tour owners Rick Scarlato Jr. and Loye Bolyard, along with Theresa Scarlato and Beverlee Longstreet-Dillow, worked tirelessly to ensure a smooth, efficient event, with little to no hiccups. The Maryland State Events have cemented their place on the East Coast as one of the premier events to enjoy.

Reymart Lim goes undefeated to win Action Pool Tour’s 2019 season opener

(l to r): APT Director Tiger Baker & Reymart Lim

Sykes wins short-field Ladies opener
 
The opening rounds of the Action Pool Tour’s (APT) 2019 season opener on the weekend of January 19-20 featured a match between the winner of the 2018 APT Season Finale a little over a month ago (JT Ringgold) and the eventual winner of the opener, Reymart Lim. Between the preliminary round, and the second winners’ side round, seven of the APT’s top 2018 players participated, including the 2018 Tour Champion, Steve Fleming, runner-up Jason Trigo, and Reymart Lim, who finished 2018 in fifth place on the tour rankings. Lim went undefeated through the field, downing separate opponents in the hot seat (Kenny Miller) and finals (Ty Laha). The $200-added event drew 49 entrants to Q Master Billiards in Virginia Beach, VA.
 
When enough women had signed on to the opening event, APT’s tour directors opted to hold a Ladies’ season opener, as well. Seven women signed on to compete in the $150-added ladies event, including the 2018 VA State 8-Ball Ladies Champion, Bethany Sykes. Sykes went undefeated through the short field, playing two of her three matches against Liz Taylor, whom she faced in the hot seat match and finals (6-2, 7-1). Both Sykes and Taylor competed in the Open event, with Taylor cashing in both.
 
As noted above, the season opener’s main event began with a match between Reymart Lim and JT Ringgold. The two battled to double hill before Lim prevailed 7-6. Ringgold moved to the loss side and began a six-match, loss-side winning streak that would take him as far as the matches to determine the tie for 5th place. Lim, in the meantime, moved on to continue his seven-match, winner’s side streak that would eventually earn him the event title. Four matches in, he met his eventual opponent in the finals, Ty Laha, in a winners’ side semifinal. Kenny Miller, in the meantime, squared off against Bill Duggan in the other winners’ side semifinal.
 
Lim sent Laha to the loss side 7-3, where he ran in to an immediate match against Ringgold. Miller downed Duggan 7-2 and met up with Lim in the hot seat match. Lim won 7-2 and waited on the return of Laha.
 
On the loss side, Laha drew Ringgold, who’d recently chalked up loss-side wins #5 and #6, defeating Danny Bell 6-3 and Dave Hunt 6-2. Duggan picked up Mac Harrell, who’d just eliminated RJ Carmona 6-3 and Coen Bell 6-2.
 
Laha ended Ringgold’s run 6-4 and in the quarterfinals, faced Harrell, who’d defeated Duggan 6-1. Laha and Harrell fought back and forth to double hill in those quarterfinals before Laha prevailed 6-5. Laha’s subsequent match, the semifinals against Miller, wasn’t as obviously difficult. Laha defeated Miller 6-1 to earn a rematch against Lim in the finals.
 
Lim was on the verge of starting 2019 the same way he’d started 2018, as the winner of the APT season opener. He won two on the APT last year, won the NC State 9-Ball Championships in March and was runner-up in the state’s 10-Ball Open. He completed his 2019 season-opening run with a 9-2 victory over Ty Laha in the finals.
 
Eight players signed on to a second chance event. It was won by Derek Davis, who the APT’s 2018 Player Champion Steve Fleming in the finals.
 
Tour directors Kris Wylie and Tiger Baker thanked the ownership and staff at Q Master Billiards, as well as sponsors Diamond Billiard Products, Viking Cues, Predator, Tiger, Kamui Tips, Ozone Billiards, Simonis Cloth, and George Hammerbacher Advanced Pool Instructor. The next stop on the 2019 Action Pool Tour, scheduled for February 16-17, will be hosted by Diamond Billiards in Midlothian, VA.