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34th Annual BEF Junior National Pool Championships Crowns 2022 National Champions

The Billiard Education Foundation recently held its 34th annual Junior National Pool Championships, Tuesday, June 21 to Saturday, June 25. The event attracted more than 130 of the top junior pool players across the country.

During the event, the Billiard Education Foundation recognized more than 90 players as Academic All Americans, as they all had a great point average of 3.0 GPA or better. Of those players, 39 players had a 4.0 GPA or higher. Along with the Academic All Americans, the BEF also recognized Hayleigh Marion and Kaden Hillman as the recipients of this year’s Brenden Crocket Sportsman Award for exemplifying the ideals of sportsmanship while at the pool table with ethical behavior, fair play, and integrity throughout the event.

During the week-long tournament BCA Hall of Famer Tom “Dr. Cue” Rossman also held his 28th consecutive annual artistic pool competition. Dr. Cue presented the 2022 Artistic Pool awards to this year’s champions: Brody Hillman (U18 boys division), Kaden Hillman (U16 and U14 boys divisions), Sofia Mast (U18 girls division), Hayleigh Marion (U16 girls division), and Skylar Hess (U14 girls division).

On Saturday, June 25th the Junior National Pool Championships concluded with the final matches in each category. In an effort to align with the WPA World Junior 9-Ball Championship, the BEF awarded gold, silver and bronze medals to the top three finishers of each division.

The finalist of this year’s BEF Junior National 9-Ball Championships presented by Iwan Simonis are:

Gold Medalists:
18UB Landon Hollingsworth (Greenville, SC)
18UG Skylar Hess (Queenstown, MD)
16UB Adrian Prasad (Sacramento, CA)
16UG Precilia Kinsley (Roanoke, VA)
14UB Eddie Vonderau (Rapid City, SD)
14UG Savannah Easton (Las Vegas, NV)

Silver Medalists:
18UB Joey Tate (Elm City, NC)
18UG Kennedy Meyman (White Bear Lake, MN)
16UB Harry Leinen (Waconia, MN)
16UG Bethany Tate (Elm City, NC)
14UB Jayce Little (High Point, NC)
14UG Sofia Mast (Land O’ Lakes, FL)

Bronze Medalists:
18UB Niko Konkel (Winston-Salem, NC)
18UG Courtney Hairfield (Chester, VA)
16UB Niko Konkel (Winston-Salem, NC)
16UG Hayleigh Marion (Bristol, VA)
14UB Jordan Witkin (Algonquin, IL)
14UG Noelle Tate (Elm City, NC)

The finalist of this year’s BEF U18 8-Ball National Championship presented by Lucasi Cues are:

8-Ball Girls Division:
Gold Medalist: Savannah Easton (Las Vegas, NV)
Silver Medalist: Sofia Mast (Land O’ Lakes, FL)
Bronze Medalist: Jordan Helfrey (St. Joseph, MO)

8-Ball Boys Division:
Gold Medalist: Trent White (Plant City, FL)
Silver Medalist: Jacob Kohl (Stevens, PA)
Bronze Medalist: Brent Worth (Hampton, VA)

The finalist of this year’s BEF U22 10-Ball National Championship presented by Diamond Billiard Products are:

Gold Medalist: Landon Hollingsworth (Greenville, SC)
Silver Medalist: Nathan Nunes (Fremont, CA)
Bronze Medalist: Adrian Prasad (Sacramento, CA)

Introduced at this year’s BEF Junior National Pool Championships was the Michael J. Repici Girls in Billiards Scholarship. The new scholarship fund provided $1,000 to the three girls 9-Ball division champions. In its inaugural year, the recipients of the Michael J Repici include: U18 9-Ball Champion Skylar Hess; U16 9-Ball Champion Precilia Kinsley; and U14 9-Ball Champion Savannah Easton.

Sponsors for this year’s event included:

About Billiard Education Foundation
The Billiard Education Foundation (BEF) was formed in 1993 as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit charity committed to promoting a love of pool and building the next generation of players through youth programs and academic scholarships. The BEF is managed by the Billiard Congress of America. For more information about the BEF or to learn how you can support the foundation please visit BilliardEducation.org.

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Hollingsworth takes two titles for the second time at BEF Junior Nationals in Vegas

2022 Winners (Courtesy Roy Pastor – BEF)

Nine events, drawn from 22 national qualifiers across 17 states, yields 110 unique competitors

For the second year in a row, since the Billiards Education Foundation initiated a new rule allowing players to compete in more than one division of their Junior National Championships, Greenville, SC’s Landon Hollingworth has taken advantage of an opportunity to claim two separate titles at the annual event. He claimed two 2021 Junior National titles in both the 18 & Under and 16 & Under divisions and last week, though he’d aged out of eligibility for the 16 & Under division of the 2022 Junior Nationals, he won his second 18 & Under division title and added a win in the event’s 10-Ball Championships. Nine divisions drew 110 unique entrants to the 2022 Junior National Championships, which were hosted by the South Point Hotel & Convention Center in Las Vegas, NV from June 21-25.

Three of the nine events were designated as qualifiers for the World Junior 9-Ball Championships, scheduled for the week of November 14-20 at the Puerto Rico Convention Center in San Juan, Puerto Rico. In addition to the 18U Boys division event, won by Hollingsworth, the 18U Girls division, won by Skylar Hess and the 16U Boys division, won by Adrian Prasad will yield eligible entrants to the World Juniors event. The BEF will make an announcement sometime in the future regarding which players among those who participated will be eligible, taking into account finish positions in each of the qualifying events and the ability of individual players to attend.

The influence of the ongoing Junior International Championship (JIC) series of tournaments, now midway through its second year, was very evident in the results of this year’s Junior Nationals. Of the 27 medals awarded to competitors (gold, silver, bronze; three in each division), 25 of them went to active competitors in the JIC series. 

“Proud is an understatement,” wrote On the Wire Creative Media’s Ra Hanna, who organized and runs the series, in the JIC Facebook page. “We’re a family; that’s it, pure and simple. We work hard and we play hard.” 

Hollingsworth’s two Gold medals at the BEF Junior Nationals were not without their challenges. Though he’d go undefeated in the second-largest event in terms of entrants, the 18U Boys 9-Ball World Qualifier, which drew 35 entrants, he had to play one loss-side match in his 10-Ball Championship run, which drew 32.

Niko Konkel, Landon Hollingsworth and Joey Tate

None of his five opponents in his 9-Ball event run chalked up less than four racks against him and one of them, Garrett Vaughan, forced him to win the final game of a double hill struggle. He downed Niko Konkel 9-6 to claim the hot seat, before he had to face one of his regular opponents on the JIC circuit, Joey Tate, in the finals. Tate had been sent to the loss side, where he defeated Nicholas Fiore, Trent White in the quarterfinals and Konkel, who picked up the event’s Bronze medal, in the semifinals. Hollingsworth grabbed the Gold medal with a 10-7 final victory over Tate, who went home with the Silver medal. 

In the 10-Ball Championships, Hollingsworth began his run to the hot seat match by defeating his younger brother Cameron and then defeated three more opponents to reach and challenge Nathan Nunes for the hot seat. Nunes handed him his first, and as it turned out, only loss of the week 7-3 and claimed the hot seat. Hollingsworth was challenged to his second double hill match by Adrian Prasad in the semifinals and prevailed for a second chance against Nunes. In the very early morning hour or so of Saturday, June 25, he collected his second Gold medal with a 7-5 victory over Nunes in the finals of the 10-Ball event.

In the 18U Girls world qualifier, which drew 17 entrants, Skylar Hess won three on the loss side to down Kennedy Meyman in the finals. Hess had been sent to the loss side by Meyman, who’d advanced to claim the hot seat in a double hill win over Courtney Hairfield. On the loss side, Hess defeated Bethany Tate in the quarterfinals and Hairfield in the semifinals, both 7-5. She won her rematch versus Meyman 10-3 to claim the event’s Gold medal. The top four finishers in this event were among the JIC’s top-ranked competitors in its 18UG division, midway through the JIC season. The winner of the BEF 18UG event, Hess, is 4th on the JIC list, while the runner-up, Meyman, is 2nd. Precilia Kinsley, who finished in the tie for 5th/6th at this event is 3rd on the JIC list, while the 4th place finisher is currently the JIC’s top-ranked young female competitor, Bethany Tate.  

In the remaining world-qualifying event, the 16U Boys 9-Ball, which drew one entrant less than the 18U Boys event (34), the 10-Ball Championship’s Bronze medalist, Adrian Prasad came from the loss side to down Harrison Leinen in the finals. Prasad had been defeated by Leinen 9-7 in the battle for the hot seat, and then eliminated the 9-Ball event’s Bronze medalist Niko Konkel in the semifinals 7-2. Prasad completed his run with a 10-8 victory over Leinen in the finals.

The 16U Girls had, by far, the shortest field in the Junior Nationals with only 7 entrants and the above-noted Precilia Kinsley and Bethany Tate finished as winner and runner-up. Those two battled first in a winners’ side semifinal that went double hill before Tate advanced to the hot seat match against Hayleigh Marion. In her second straight double hill match, Tate defeated Marion to claim the hot seat. On the loss side, Kinsley won two matches, including a double hill win over Marion in the semifinals, before coming back to down Tate in the finals 7-2.

8-Ball Championships draw larger field (44), than 14U Girls and Boys combined (40)

Trenton White and Brent Worth

The popularity of 8-Ball was as evident at the BEF Junior Nationals as it is in the general amateur fields of competition, like various leagues and independent-venue, weekend  tournaments from coast to coast. The 44-entrant size of the field featured a lot of competitors not included in the JIC rosters of regular competitors. The JIC series, in general, features 9-ball competition, though later this year, there are plans to include a 14:1 tournament. Though they don’t play 8-ball, all three of the event’s medals went to regular JIC competitors. 

Trent White, who competes in the JIC 18U Boys division, went undefeated through the field to claim the BEF’s 18U 8-Ball Championships. White faced separate opponents in the hot seat match and finals, downing Brent Worth, double hill, in the former and Jacob Kohl 5-2 in the latter. 

Eddie Vonderau, who sits atop the current JIC ranking roster in the 13UB division, went undefeated through the BEF’s 14U Boys event, which drew 28 entrants. Like White in the 8-Ball event, Vonderau faced different opponents in the hot seat and finals. He gave up only a single rack to Jordan Witkin in the hot seat match and faced Jayce Little in the finals. Little won three on the loss side, including two double hill matches, against Grayson Vaughan and in the semifinals, Witkin, for a shot against Vonderau. Witkin chalked up four racks in the finals, but Vonderau got his 8 to claim the Gold medal.

Sofia Mast, Savannah Easton and Noelle Tate

The 12-entrant 14U Girls event was won by Savannah Easton, who went undefeated through the field, downing Sofia Mast twice; hot seat and finals. Easton had defeated the youngest of the three-member Tate clan, Noelle, in a winners’ side semifinal and in the hot seat match, drew Mast, who’d defeated her ‘storied’ arch-rival in the JIC series, Skylar Hess (winner of the 18UG world qualifier), in a winners’ side quarterfinal before defeating Jordan Helfery in the other winners’ side semifinal.

Easton grabbed the hot seat 7-5 over Mast. When Mast returned after defeating Noelle Tate a second time, 5-1, Easton defeated her a second time, 7-3 in the finals to grab the 14U Girls Gold medal. 

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

Manny Chau and BJ Ussery

Junior competitor Precilia Kinsley takes Ladies title

There were times, as the 2022 VA State 10-Ball Championships, held under the auspices of the Action Pool Tour, were playing out, that one might have thought they’d taken a wrong turn somewhere and ended up at an event on the Junior International Championships (JIC). In both the concurrently-run Open and Ladies tournament, held this past weekend (April 9-10), there was strong representation from the up-and-coming crowd of junior competitors.

Precilia Kinsley (15) won the Ladies event and though the Open event was won by BJ Ussery, Jr., it was a different kind of junior (Nathan Childress) who sent him to the loss side. Three of the five matches he played after that to get to the finals put him up against Childress a second time and two other prominent male juniors on the JIC roster, Joey Tate and Landon Hollingsworth. All four and Brent Worth, another player on the JIC, competed in the Open event. Kinsley went two-and-out, while Worth went three-and-out in that division. The event drew 46 Open competitors and 20 Ladies to Diamond Billiards in Midlothian, VA.

Ussery’s path to the Open finals was rolling along smoothly through his first three matches, in which he’d given up only one rack, against Luther Pickeral (0), Shane Buchanan (1) and Larry Kressel (0). Then, he ran into Childress, who defeated him 8-5. Childress advanced to a winners’ side semifinal against Manny Chau. Hollingsworth became the second junior competitor in the winners’ side semifinals, having, on his way, given up only three racks, once, and two racks twice before facing Danny Mastermaker, who’d given up that many racks in his previous winners’ side quarterfinal win over Mac Harrell.

Mastermaker advanced to the hot seat match, sending Hollingsworth to the loss side 8-6. Chau joined him after downing Childress 8-4. Chau claimed the hot seat 8-1 over Mastermaker and waited on what he, with good reason, might have assumed was one of the three junior competitors still at work on the loss side.

On that loss side of the bracket, Childress drew Scott Roberts, who’d lost his opening match to Larry Kressel and was working on a seven-match, loss-side winning streak that was about to come to an end. He’d recently survived two straight double-hill matches against Mac Harrell and Chris Bruner. Hollingsworth drew Ussery, who was working on his own loss-side streak and had recently defeated Reggie Jackson 7-1 and JIC competitor Joey Tate 7-3.

Ussery defeated Hollingsworth 7-3 and advanced to his quarterfinal rematch against Childress, who joined him after putting a stop to Roberts’ loss-side streak 7-1. A little older by a matter of hours and presumably a little wiser, Ussery, Jr. stepped to the proverbial ‘plate’ and battled Childress to a deciding 13th game, his only double hill match of the tournament, before eliminating him.

Ussery then defeated Mastermaker 7-3 in the semifinals and claimed the VA State 10-Ball Championship title with a 9-6 victory Chau in the finals.

Precilia Kinsley and Liz Taylor

Six from JIC (30% of the field) compete, Kinsley comes from the loss side to take the title

Like Ussery, Precilia Kinsley had to come from the loss side to win the Ladies division of the VA State 10-Ball Championships. The winners’ side semifinals in the Ladies tournament featured two juniors against each other in one and two veterans in the other.

Kinsley was one of the juniors. She’d gotten by Cheryl Pritchard and Buffy Jolie to face fellow junior competitor, Bethany Tate in their winners’ side semifinal. Liz Taylor, who, at the same venue, won last October’s VA State Ladies 9-Ball Championship, ran a sort of JIC young ladies’ gauntlet. Four of her five total opponents in the event were JIC competitors. She opened with a victory over Courtney Hairfield (who’d finished 5th/6th in the last JIC 18U Girls division event, two weeks ago) and Hayleigh Marion (double hill) before stepping into her winners’ side semifinal against someone much closer to her in age, Lisa Cossette.

Tate downed Kinsley 6-4, as Taylor was working on a 6-2 win over Cossette. Taylor claimed the hot seat 6-2 over Tate and waited on the return of her last junior competitor.

On the loss side, that competitor, Kinsley, drew fellow JIC competitor Hayleigh Marion, who’d recently eliminated Britt Faries 5-2 and yet another JIC competitor, Savanna Wolford, double hill. Cossette picked up Buffy Jolie, who’d survived a double hill fight versus Courtney Hairfield and defeated Bethany Sykes 5-2 to reach her.

Cossette downed Jolie 5-3 and in the quarterfinals, faced Kinsley, who’d survived a double hill match against Marion. Kinsley defeated Cossette 5-3 and in their semifinal rematch, eliminated Tate 5-3, as well. Kinsley and Taylor came within a game of double hill, but in the end, the youngster edged out in front of the woman who owns a number of VA State titles. Kinsley downed Taylor 7-5 to claim her first. 

A five-entrant Second Chance tournament was won by Chris Bruner, who took home $80 for the effort. Brian Sewell ($20) was runner-up

Tour directors Kris Wylie and Tiger Baker thanked the ownership and staff at Diamond Billiards, as well as sponsors George Hammerbacher and Haselman & Hunt, D.D.S., P.C. Family Dentistry (Haselman & Hunt.com). As the Action Pool Tour works on adding two more events to their 2022 calendar, the next scheduled event, to be held on the weekend of November 19-20, will bring the tour back to Diamond Billiards for the VA State 8-Ball Championships. 

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Bethany Tate and Skylar Hess win second straight 18U/13U Girls titles on JIC Stop #3

Arianna Houston, Skyler Hess and Noelle Tate

Logan Whitaker, Hayden Ernst win 18U/13U Boys titles, Lazaro Martinez takes ProAm event

As of this past weekend (March 26-27), three of the five divisions of the Junior International Championships have had different winners through the series’ first three stops. Bethany Tate has won the last two 18 & Under Girls division titles, while Skylar Hess has captured the last two 13 & Under Girls titles. Kennedy Meyman won the first 18 & Under Girls title back in January, while Sofia Mast took the season-opening 13 & Under Girls’ title.

The continuing JIC series has sparked a number of notable rivalries in each of its five divisions, reflected in the ongoing battle for supremacy in the 13U Girls division, where, dating back to last  year’s series, Sylar Hess and Sofia Mast do regular battle. When Mast won the division’s 2022 season opener, Hess was runner-up. When Hess grabbed the title at Stop #2, Mast was runner-up. 

This past weekend, however, Mast was in Las Vegas for the BCA Pool League’s World Championships, where she lost a battle for the hot seat and was defeated in the semifinals of the Ladies’ 8-Ball Singles event. The absence of Mast did not grant Hess any automatic ticket to the 10-entrant, JIC 13 & Under winners’ circle, though. In fact, after downing Aubrey Whited 7-3 in her opening round, Hess was sent to the loss side by Arianna Houston 7-3 in a winners’ side semifinal. Joining Houston in the hot seat match was Noelle Tate, a regular threat in the division, who’d defeated Kayden Willis 7-2 in their winners’ side semifinal.

Tate grabbed the hot seat 7-2 over Houston, guaranteeing her (Tate) third place, minimum. She’d finished 4th in the opener and 7th in the second event. Noelle had finished 3rd in the opener of the 18 and Under Girls division and 5th, twice, in the next two).

On the loss side, Hess picked up Skylnn Elliott, while Willis drew Gianna “Mini Banks” Fiore. Hess and Fiore advanced to the quarterfinals; Hess over Elliott and Fiore over Willis, both 7-1. Hess then eliminated Fiore 7-4 and downed Houston in the semifinals 7-3. Hess and Tate battled to double hill in the finals, before Hess claimed her second 13 & Under title.

Kennedy Meyman, Bethany Tate and Skyler Hess

Noelle’s older sister, Bethany, grabbed her second straight title in the 14-entrant, 18 & Under Girls division, having defeated both Sofia Mast in the finals of the 2nd event in Florida and Hess in this most recent event, also in the finals. Bethany went undefeated in this one, while Hess, who’d been defeated by Bethany in the opening round of play, won six on the loss side to meet her in the finals. Both Bethany and Hess had to get by Noelle Tate to earn their spot in the finals; Bethany had downed her sister in a winners’ side semifinal, while Hess was Noelle’s first, loss-side opponent. 

It was Bethany and Kennedy Meyman (winner of the 18 & Under Girls’ division in the season opener) who squared off in the hot seat match, won by Bethany 7-4. On the loss side, Hess eliminated Noelle 7-4, advancing to the quarterfinals against Taylor Perkins, who’d defeated Courtney Hairfield, double hill. Hess defeated Perkins 7-1 and then, downed Meyman 7-4 for a second shot at Bethany, waiting for her in the hot seat. Bethany completed her undefeated run 9-2 in the finals to chalk up her second straight 18 & Under Girls’ title.

Boys’ events and Pro Am crown their third season champions

In the ProAm division, while there have been three different winners (in order, Landon Hollingsworth, Trenton White, and this past weekend, Lazaro Martinez), Joey Tate has been runner-up in all three. There are a lot of crossover competitors in the age-and-gender-separated divisions, as well as, in particular, the ProAm and 18 & Under Boys divisions. Lazaro Martinez, as a random example, almost won two divisions on the same weekend, and did win the 36-entrant Pro Am, although not before Joey Tate defeated him in the hot seat match 7-5 and he had to eliminate Landon Hollingsworth 7-1 in the semifinals for a second shot at Tate. It was a successful second shot, as it turned out, with Martinez downing Tate in the finals 9-4. 

Lazaro Martinez, Logan Whitaker and Ivo Lemon

The winner of the 33-entrant, 18 & Under Boys division, Logan Whitaker, it should be noted, was sent to the loss side by Joey Tate in the ProAm and eliminated in his first, loss-side match by another regular threat in the boys’ and ProAm divisions, Nathan Childress.  He had to come from the loss side to capture the 18 & Under Boys title, as well.

After downing Hollingsworth in a winners’ side quarterfinal 7-4, Whitaker was sent to the loss side by Ivo Lemon in a winners’ side semifinal. In the hot seat match, Lemon faced Lazaro Martinez, who’d just defeated Tate, double hill in their winners’ side semifinal. Martinez claimed the hot seat 7-1 over Lemon and was a single step away from securing a second title on the weekend. 

Whitaker opened his loss-side campaign against RJ Mills, as Hollingsworth and Joey Tate were squaring off in a double hill fight that eventually sent Hollingsworth to the quarterfinals. Whitaker joined him after downing Mills 7-5. In their second match, Whitaker downed Hollingsworth a second time, 7-3 and eliminated Lemon 7-3 in the semifinals.

With one competitor looking for his first win on the JIC and the other looking to chalk up his second at just this one stop on the series, a double hill fight was not a surprise. Whitaker prevailed to claim his first JIC title.

Hayden Ernst

Hayden Ernst, appearing in his first JIC event, finished in the tie for 7th place in the ProAm division, but went undefeated to claim the 13-entrant, 13 & Under Boys division. He faced Jayce Little in the hot seat match, downing him 7-4 to claim his first JIC hot seat. 

D’Angelo “Jaws” Spain, in the meantime, who’d been sent to the loss side in a double hill battle versus Jas Makhani, worked his way through five, loss-side opponents (including a successful rematch against Makhani; 7-5 in the quarterfinals). “Jaws” dropped Jayce Little 7-5 in the semifinals and got a shot at Ernst, waiting for him in the hot seat.

Ernst claimed his first title, to go along with his 7th place finish in the ProAm. He defeated “Jaws” in the 13 & Under Boys finals 9-2.

The JIC series heads for the desert in a little over a month. Stop #4 on the Junior International Championships, scheduled for the weekend of May 6-8, will be hosted by Bullshooters in Phoenix, AZ. 

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Hollingsworth and Tate win their divisions in BSN Dynaspheres Cup Jr. 9-Ball Championships

It’s not that junior competitions, sprouting up everywhere, are more compelling or of more general interest than the Pro or Regional Tour activity that goes on. It’s more like a booster shot to accompany the good-vibe ‘vaccines’ of increased participation and growing interest in the sport that has evolved over the past four or five years. While not much essential has changed in that time, there does appear to be a renewed spirit in the air, suggesting that as dour and cynical as we can all get about the sport sometimes, there are some encouraging signs; junior competitions being only one of them, but one that makes us at least think of a future and not the arguably dismal past or the often-confusing present. 

These kids are GOOD, right??! For all of us.

The most recent entry in the junior competition roster of opportunities was this past weekend’s (March 12-13) Billiard Sports Network’s Dynaspheres’ Cup Junior 9-Ball Championships, hosted by Bank Shot Bar & Grill in Laurel, MD. Tournaments were held in two divisions; 20 & Under and 16 & Under. Not surprisingly, given the history of the current crop of junior competitors, players eligible for the younger division competed in both. Also not surprising (same current crop), was seeing Landon Hollingsworth and Joey Tate (both eligible for the two divisions) come out on top. Hollingsworth won the 18-entrant, 20 & Under division with Nathan Childress as runner-up and Tate, finishing third. Tate won the 13-entrant, 16 & Under division with Hollingsworth as runner-up and Garrett Vaughan, finishing third.

Also very much indicative of this current crop of juniors, was the fact that competition was not separated by gender. Precilia Kinsley, Skylar Hess and Courtney Hairfield, eligible for both divisions, played in both divisions. Sabrina Long competed in the 16 & Under, only. Kinsley finished 7th in the younger division, but 5th among the 20 and under crowd, and won the top Female Junior award and $40 in both divisions. As it turned out, she and Hess (7th in 16 & Under, 13th in 20 & Under) tied for the award in the 16 & Under division and decided to ‘duke it out’ on the tables, engaging in a best-of-three match, which went predictably double hill and earned Kinsley $40 for was won by Kinsley. 

 BSN also handed out two Sportsmanship awards, intended to be for the separate divisions, but with Tate and Hollingsworth as the recipients, while each went to the winner of their division, it was effectively a toss-up as to who won which. Best Shot on the TV Table awards went to Hollingsworth and Tanner Elliot.

Hollingsworth and Tate met twice in the 20 & Under division, though it was Hollingsworth and Childress who met twice in the hot seat and finals. After downing Brandon Buckmaster, double hill, and Garrett Vaughn 7-2, Hollingsworth faced Tate for the first time in a winners’ side semifinal. Childress, in the meantime, shut out Chase Longfield, for starters, and then defeated Payne McBride, double hill, to face Brent Worth in his winners’ side semifinal. In 17 winners’ side matches, double elimination finals included, the combatants chalked up six double hill fights and recorded six shutouts. 

In their first of two, Hollingsworth battled back and forth to double hill with Tate before Hollingsworth prevailed, advancing to the hot seat match. Childress joined him after downing Worth 7-3. Childress ‘caught a gear’ in the hot seat match, denying Hollingsworth, literally, zero traction.

On the loss side, Tate picked up Precilia Kinsley, who’d lost her second round, winners’ side match to Kamrin Kohr and was working on a three-match, loss-side streak that had eliminated Skylar Hess, Richard Burch and Jackson Hurst. Worth picked up Kohr, also on a three-match, loss-side streak that sent Chase Longfield, Garrett Vaughan and Jacob Kohl to the figurative showers.

Kohr and Tate defeated Worth and Kinsley, both 5-3, before Tate downed Kohr 5-2 in the quarterfinals. Hollingsworth eliminated Tate 5-2 in the semifinals and then, took the opening set of the finals against Childress 7-4. They battled to double hill in the second set before Hollingsworth finished to claim the 20 & Under title.

The action of the two divisions occurred more or less simultaneously, so when Tate was finished in the 20 & Under division, he’d already won the semifinals of the 16 & Under and moved on to the finals at the conclusion of the Hollingsworth/Childress battles. Tate’s path to the winners’ circle in the younger division went through Payne McBride before falling short against Garrett Vaughn 7-3 in a winners’ side semifinal. Hollingsworth, in the meantime, sent Tanner Elliott to the loss side in the other winners’ side semifinal and then, sent Vaughan to the semifinals 7-1.

On the loss side, Tate went through three straight loss-side opponents by the same 5-1 score; Brandon Buckmaster, Elliott in the quarterfinals and Vaughan in the semifinals, setting up a double elimination contest versus Hollingsworth in the finals. Tate took the opening set 7-5 and in a reduced-race second set survived a double hill challenge that eventually earned him the 16 & Under title.

Jake Lawson from BSN thanked the ownership and staff at Bank Shot Bar & Grill for their hospitality, as well as title sponsor Dynaspheres, Championship Fabric, Lucid Ballsports (Predator Arena Light), JB Cases, Gina Cunningham (Keller Williams Integrity), East Coast Prime Meats, Courtyard by Marriott (Fort Meade, MD), Integrity Cues, Break Out Apparel Co., AZBilliards, Premier Billiards, CueScore.com, The League Room, American Billiards Covering, B & R Productions (Rich France and Bruce Carder), DFE Billiards/XLR8. 

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White and Joey Tate go undefeated to win Pro Am/18 & Under Boys division at Stop #2 of JIC

Joey Tate, Trenton White and Nathan Childress

Bethany Tate, Hess and Leinen take 18 & Under Girls, 13 & Under Girls and Boys titles

“And they’re off!!” says a voice emanating from some mythical PA system, followed, seconds later, by “Rounding the first turn, it’s ‘GoGetEm’ in the lead . . .”

If you think of competition in each of the five divisions comprising the Junior International Championships (JIC), sponsored by Viking Cues, as a series of eight horse races, Stop #2 in the 2022 series is like a snapshot of the junior competitors, just after they’ve broken out of the gate and are headed into the first turn of a mile-long race. Not a lot of useful information in that snapshot in terms of how it will all play out as they round the final turn and head for home in the fall, but it’s compelling to watch as they jockey for position. 

The five divisional events drew a total of 112 entrants to Diamond Billiards in Cape Coral, FL, with a great deal of crossover, including in the ProAm division, which saw nine girls from both age groups make up just over 22% of the 40-entrant Pro Am field. As intended by JIC tournament director and On the Wire Creative Media’s Ra Hanna, this group of young competitors do not flinch at playing above their normal ‘pay grade,’ whether that be defined by age or gender. The ferocity of competition, even as viewed in the snapshot of the series’ ‘first turn,’ is fierce. None of the five winners from Stop #1 repeated as winners in Stop #2. Some of the Stop #2 winners had not chalked up a win in the first season.

Sofia Mast, Skylar Hess and Gianna Fiore

Some of the ‘ponies’ in their separate divisional races are hot on each other’s trail. In the 13 & Under Girls race, Sophia Mast and Skylar Hess are running neck and neck. They met twice in the season opener; in their opening match, won by Hess, and again, in the finals, won by Mast. They met twice last weekend, too, and once again, in their opening matches of the 10-entrant event. They fought to double hill before Mast prevailed, moving on to a winners’ side semifinal against Asia Gillespie, and from there, to the hot seat match, which she won, downing Gianna “Mini Banks” Fiore 7-5. Hess came back through five matches on the loss side, including a 7-5 win over Savannah Easton in the quarterfinals and a 7-1 victory over Fiore in the semifinals. In the finals, this time Hess prevailed 9-5. Hess was also the top finishing young woman (9-12) in the 40-entrant ProAm division (the largest field at Stop #2).

The winner and runner-up in Stop #1 of Season Two in the ProAm division (Landon Hollingsworth and Joey Tate, who were also winner and runner-up in Season 1’s 18 & Under Boys division championship) become runner-up (Tate) and among the eight competitors who tied for 17th (Hollingsworth). Trenton White, who had yet to win an event in the series (either season) went undefeated to claim the Stop #2 ProAm title. He got by five opponents, including a double hill win over Justin Toye and a winners’ side semifinal, 7-5 win over Kashton Keeton to give Joey Tate a shot at him in the hot seat match. White won their first of two ‘rounds’ 7-5.

On the loss side, two veterans of the JIC series, Riley Adkins and Nathan Childress, faced each other in the quarterfinals. Childress, who’d entered last season’s 18 & Under Championships as the #1-ranked player in the division, downed Adkins 7-4 and then fell to Tate by the same score in the semifinals. White took Tate down a second time, in the finals 9-6, to claim Stop #2’s Pro Am title.

White fared well in the 18 & Under Boys division, as well, finishing in the tie for 5th/6th, but Tate went undefeated in that event and never faced White, which, from Tate’s perspective, was probably just as well. Tate advanced through to the hot seat match, where he defeated Ivo Lemon 7-5. White was eliminated in the 5th/6th matches by Hollingsworth 7-5, who went on to defeat Dustin Muir 7-3 in the quarterfinals. He was eliminated 7-4 by Lemon in the semifinals, which, again from Tate’s perspective, worked out just fine. Tate claimed the 18 & Under Boys title, downing Lemon a second time, 9-5.

Sofia Mast, Bethany Tate and April Gonzaez

‘Favorites’ in the 18 & Under Girls race fall to a (medium) ‘longshot’

With Sofia Mast, Skylar Hess and Kennedy Meyman (winner of this division last month) in the 16-entrant, 18 & Under Girls division, they’d have shown up on a ‘toteboard’ as a group of three ‘favorites’ in Stop #2’s race. And at the end of four rounds of match play (around the final turn and headed for home), Sophia Mast was in the lead. . uhh, hot seat. She’d not faced Hess, which, from her perspective, was probably just as well, but she had sent Meyman to the loss side in the opening round, survived a winners’ side semifinal, double hill fight against Bethany Tate, and shut out April Gonzalez in the hot seat match.

Bethany Tate (15) had entered her winners’ side semifinal match against Mast, looking at the distinct possibility that she could face her 11-year-old sister, Noelle, in the hot seat match. It failed to materialize when Mast sent Bethany to the loss side and April Gonalez sent Noelle over. The sisters arrived on the loss side of the bracket at the same time, again looking at the distinct possibility of facing each other, this time in the quarterfinals. Bethany did her part, eliminating Courtney Hairfield 7-5. Noelle was eliminated by Precilia Kinsley, though not before she’d forced a 13th single game, for all of the proverbial marbles.

In the quarterfinals that followed, Bethany and Kinsley also battled to double hill, before Bethany prevailed, advancing to eliminate the competitor who’d sent her sister to the loss side, April Gonzalez (7-5) in the semifinals. It doesn’t take much of an imagination to see Noelle rooting for her sister to cross the finish line first, as Bethany and Sofia Mast stepped to the table for the finals. And it worked. Bethany and Mast came to within a game of double hill, but Bethany chalked up her first JIC win 9-7.

D’ Angelo Spain, Hank Leinen and Roman Boone

Absent last month’s winner and runner-up in the 13 & Under Boys division, Hank Leinen stepped up to go undefeated and become yet another junior competitor to win a first division-event title. D’Angelo “Jaws” Spain finished as runner-up. They met first in a winners’ side semifinal, won by Leinen 7-3.

Meeting up with Leinen in the hot seat match was Roman Boone, who’d sent Gaige Wells to the loss side 7-4 in the other winners’ side semifinal. Leinen claimed the hot seat 7-2 and waited on Spain’s return from the semifinals.

On the loss side, Spain, after eliminating Landon Dunlap 7-2, advanced to a quarterfinal versus Jayce Little, who’d defeated Wells 7-1. Spain and Little locked up in a double hill fight that eventually advanced Spain to a semifinal win over Boone 7-3. The 13 & Under Boys final pitting Spain against Leinen came within a game of double hill, but in the end, Leinen edged out in front to claim the division title 9-7

Ra Hanna and all of his support ‘crew’ thanked the owners and staff at Diamond Billiards, as well as title sponsor Viking Cues. The next stop on the Junior International Championships (#3), which will see the competitors stretch their ‘legs’ through the long straightaway on the far side of the track (stops #3 through #7), is scheduled for March 25-27 and will be hosted by The Rack and Grill III in Aiken, SC.

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Mast goes undefeated to win 13 & Under Girls’ JIC, comes from loss side to take 18 & Under

Sofia Mast

On the weekend of August 27-29, Tampa, FL’s Sofia Mast first went undefeated to claim her 4th Junior International Championships (JIC) title in the 13 & Under Girls division. Minutes later, she moved from the 7 ft. tables of the 13 & Under matches to the 9-ft. tables of the 18 & Under matches to face and eventually defeat Precilia Kinsley in the semifinals, and then, in the finals, Courtney Hairfield, to claim her 3rd 18 & under Girls division title. Headed toward the 8th and final (regular season) JIC event, scheduled for Sept. 24-26, at Wolf’s Den in Roanoke, VA, she has improved steadily throughout this series of events and is the undisputed leader in the rankings of both divisions, with a total of 7 titles among the two divisions’ 14 total events.

In addition to winning four of the JIC’s 13 & Under Girls titles, she has been runner-up in the other three; to Bethany Tate in the first event in March, to Skylar Hess in the fourth event in May and to April Gonzales in the fifth event in June. At this most recent event, she and Skylar Hess renewed acquaintances, so to speak, meeting twice, in the hot seat and finals of the division that drew 8 entrants to Michael’s Billiards in Fairfield, OH. 

Mast began her quest for the 13 & Under Girls title against Skylynn Elliott, whom she defeated 7-2 to draw Bethany Tate in one of the winners’ side semifinals. Hess, in the meantime, got by Franki Spain 7-5 to draw Taylor Perkins in the other winners’ side semifinal.

Hess shut Perkins out to advance to the hot seat match and was joined by Mast, who sent Tate to the loss side 7-5. Mast gave up only a single rack in claiming the hot seat.

On the loss side, Bethany Tate (14) drew Airianna Taylor, who’d defeated Franki Spain 7-3 to reach her. Perkins drew Bethany’s younger sister, Noelle (11), who’d lost her opening match to her sister and then, shut out Skylynn Elliott to reach Perkins. The ground was laid for a sibling rematch in the quarterfinals.

It happened. Bethany eliminated Taylor 7-2, as Noelle dispatched Perkins 7-3. This time, though, the younger Tate (Noelle) defeated the elder Tate (Bethany) 7-5. Noelle couldn’t get around Skylar Hess in the semifinals, though. Hess eliminated her 7-2 for a second shot at Mast in the finals.

As expected, by all who’ve been paying attention, Mast and Hess put on an epic battle, featuring a lot of remarkable shooting, with everything from eye-popping bank shots to jump shots; one of which, by Skylar Hess in the 6th game, allowed her to win that game. They started out by trading racks to 1-1, before Mast chalked up three in a row to take her first of three, 3-point leads (4-1, 7-4, 8-5).

Hess kept fighting back, taking advantage of a few of Mast’s mistakes, to draw within a single rack twice, at 4-3 and 5-4. Mast regained a three-rack lead at 7-4, before Hess started what looked to be yet another comeback to draw close. Hess won the 12th rack to draw within two at 7-5.

Mast scratched early in game 13, shooting at the 2-ball, leaving Hess what looked to be a relatively easy path to a run. Near the end of the rack, there was some maneuvering around the table, until Mast took a shot at the 8-ball and it rattled in the hole and stayed on the edge. The downside for Hess was that the cue ball kept travelling and at a snail’s pace, nestled itself tight up against the 9-ball. Hess attempted a jump shot, but it failed and Mast reached the hill at 8-5. Seconds later, it was over and Mast was the event’s 13 & Under Girls winner.

Hot seat loss is first (and eventually, only) loss for Mast in the entire weekend

The 18 & Under Girls division drew 12 entrants; Mast and Hess among them. But it was Mast and Courtney Hairfield who battled twice to claim the title. 

After an opening round bye, Mast shut out Tatum Cutting (ranked 3rd in this division with two wins) and drew Kennedy Meyman in one of the winners’ side semifinals. Meyman, who won the season opener in this division in March, is in second place in the division behind Mast. Hairfield defeated Taylor Perkins 7-3 and survived a double hill battle versus Hayleigh Marion to draw Savanna Wolford in the other winners’ side semifinal.

Mast downed Meyman 7-5 and was joined in the hot seat match by Hairfield, who’d sent Wolford to the loss side 7-4. Mast and Hairfield battled to double hill, but Hairfield prevailed to claim the hot seat, handing Mast her only loss of the entire weekend.

Meyman drew Bethany Tate, who’d been defeated by Tatum Cutting in the opening round and then, on the loss side, started by shutting out Hayleigh Marion. Bethany and Noelle Tate then locked up in a double hill fight that eventually advanced Bethany to face Meyman. Wolford picked up Precilia Kinsley, who’d been defeated by Meyman in the second round and gone on to defeat Elli Gonzales and Tatum Cutting, both 7-4.

Tate advanced to the quarterfinals 7-5 over Meyman. Kinsley joined her after eliminating Wolford 7-2. Tate and Kinsley fought to double hill in those quarterfinals before Kinsley dropped the final 9-ball. 

For all of the ‘steam-rolling’ aspect of Sofia Mast’s match play to this point, in both divisions, she was not afforded the opportunity to rest on her laurels at the semifinal juncture of the 18 & Under Girls event. Precilia Kinsley put up a fight and came within a game of forcing a 13th double hill game. Mast did, though, edge out in front to win it 7-5 and earn a second shot at Hairfield waiting for her in the hot seat.

Mast did fire up the steamroller for her last match of the JIC weekend. Though Hairfield threatened in individual racks, she was never able to get any traction. Mast shut her out to claim her second title of the weekend.

JIC Tour Director Ra Hanna thanked all of his sponsors for their help in making this event possible, Mike Littman with Littman Lights, Matt Suite at American Billiard Covering, Dynaspheres, Chris Wilson at The League Room, Kory & Trena Wolford from Wolfs Den Billiards and Mike from Michael’s Billiards.