Archive Page

Early favorite, Atencio goes undefeated at 1st Annual Ronny Park Memorial Tournament

Jesus Atencio

On March 23, the pool community lost one of its dearest, true-blue friends, Ronny Park, who passed away, having contracted COVID when he was also battling a variety of pre-existing conditions. He was not what you’d call a household name, but within the community, there are very few places where he wasn’t known, beginning with his early days in Connecticut, and very few players who didn’t know of him. Some of you reading this may remember when Tommy Kennedy passed out at a tournament a few months ago and as he and his family began to deal with what proved to be a very slow but successful recovery, arrangements began almost immediately to raise money for Kennedy and his family. 

It was Ronny Park who set that financial assistance into motion. Kennedy joined 95 other players, including Park’s roommate for the last eight years, Kevin Shaw, along with Johnny Archer, BJ Ussery and the eventual undefeated winner of this first, though certain not to be the last memorial in Park’s honor, Jesus Atencio. In addition to a couple of days of top-notch competition, the $500-added event, held under the auspices of the Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball Tour, also raised over $10,000 to help defer the costs associated with Park’s funeral.

As the flyer promoting the event noted, the event was designed to be a celebration of Park’s life, and at Josh Newman’s West End Billiards in Gastonia, NC, where Park spent a lot of time, that celebration was marked by the people who knew him gathering primarily outside the facility, because the facility itself, almost every inch of its available space, was occupied, as Park would likely have preferred, with pool tables and players. At the center of the event was Herman Parker, tour director of the Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball Tour, who roomed with Park, early in their respective careers and room owner, Josh Newman, who offered food to those who gathered, both on Friday night as the players began to arrive and during both Saturday and Sunday while they played; the grill was going outside pretty much throughout the event.

In addition to being there for the family who’d done so much to help him personally, Kennedy donated some cues as raffle prizes, as did cue maker Daniel Heidrich, who, in addition to donating a cue valued at $2k, became the event runner-up after challenging Atencio twice. Herman Parker donated a Viking cue for raffle. One of the tour’s sponsors, Diamond Brat, purveyor of pool jewelry and giftware (including some terrific, acrylic designs for pocket markers) donated a portion of their proceeds to the benefit. Others took advantage of on-line ways to donate. 

“And,” Parker noted, “the cue that Ron used to shoot with was raffled off. It was a Shawn Putnam cue, in fact.”

The event officially got underway, late afternoon on Saturday, and at around 6 p.m., room owner Josh Newman and Johnny Archer squared off in a challenge match. Archer won the match 9-4.

One of the surprises that emerged late in the tournament was 16-year-old Landon Hollingsworth, who began his Saturday work with two victories, before running into Josh Newman. Newman sent him to the loss side, where Hollingsworth embarked on an eight-match, loss-side winning streak that would take him as far as the semifinals. Tour director Herman Parker, though reluctant to indicate that the teenager had “played way above his head,” not just because of the loss-side streak, but the quality of the opponents he faced and defeated down the stretch, described Hollingsworth’s loss-side run as a “ridiculous tear to third place.”

With Hollingsworth at work on the loss side, Jesus Atencio and Danny Heidrich advanced to the winners’ side semifinals. Atencio faced Hunter White, as Heidrich squared off against Chuck Ritchie. Heidrich defeated Ritchie 7-5 and in the hot seat match, faced Atencio, who’d sent White to the loss side 7-4. In their first of two, Atencio sent Heidrich to the semifinals 7-2 and sat in the hot seat, awaiting his return.

On the loss side, it was Hunter White, not long from being a junior player himself, who drew the teenager, Hollingsworth, six matches into his loss-side streak. Hollingsworth had already defeated last week’s winner on the tour, Sammy Manley, and a few other tour veterans like Bruce Campbell, Josh Heeter and David Anderson, before eliminating Joey Fox 5-2 and then, at the end of his match versus Tommy Kennedy, shot what Herman Parker described as “a ridiculous jump shot on the 8-ball and ran out” to defeat Kennedy 5-2, as well. Chuck Ritchie drew The Scorpion, Johnny Archer, who’d defeated Mike Bumgarner, double hill and BJ Ussery 5-3 to reach him.

Archer got by Ritchie 5-1, as Hollingsworth was at work shutting Hunter White out. The teenager couldn’t have picked a better opponent to chalk up what would prove to be his last win at the event than Johnny Archer. He did so in the quarterfinals 5-2.

Heidrich turned the tables on Hollingsworth, ending the young man’s impressive loss-side streak 5-2 and turning for a second shot against Atencio, waiting for him in the hot seat. Atencio hadn’t lost his edge waiting.

The final, an extended race to 9, took 26 minutes. With alternating breaks, Heidrich broke four times and failed to make a ball on any of them. Atencio ran each of those racks, and on his breaks, broke and ran all five times to shut Heidrich out. 

Much to the chagrin of Upstate AL, who ran a live stream on Saturday and most of Sunday, the streaming operation ran into what proved to be an insurmountable technical glitch that for all intents and purposes, shut the stream down on Sunday afternoon. The best matches of the tournament, which from all appearances, occurred near the end, with the teenager’s streak, the final matches of Kennedy & Archer, and the 26-minute final could not be seen. The problem was not with the streaming operation itself, but with the on-line infrastructure of the facility, which learned, late on Sunday, that a ‘fix,’ requiring a major overhaul of the room’s systems, wasn’t possible. “There was,” explained AL, “nothing we could do.”

Tour directors Herman and Angela Parker thanked Newman and his staff for their hospitality, as well as title sponsor Viking Cues,, Dirty South Grind Apparel Co., AZBilliards, Federal Savings Bank mortgage division and Diamond Brat. They also thanked the numerous individuals and groups that donated to the success of this 1st memorial in honor of their friend, Ronny Park, including Danny Heidrich and Tommy Kennedy for their cue donations for the raffles.

The next stop on the Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball Tour will be a three-day affair, getting under way this Friday, May 14 and continuing through until Sunday, May 16. The $3,000-added event will be hosted by Stroker’s Billiards, in Sumter, SC.

Davis successfully defends NC State 8-Ball title

Mike Davis

Though by any kind of figuring, Mike Davis was the odds-on favorite to win the 2nd Annual North Carolina State 8-Ball Championships, held on the weekend of November 5-6, and did, in fact, win it, successfully defending his title, it wasn’t without its moments of drama. He had to survive a double hill hot seat match, during which his opponent – Shannon Fitch, the current NC State 10-Ball champion – was able to take aim at the 8-ball in the deciding game. Later, Davis had to face a surging Chris Gentile, who’d won three on the loss side to face him in the finals. Davis weathered both storms to win the $400-added event on the Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball Tour that drew 28 entrants to Breaktime Billiards in Cary, NC.
In a winners’ side semifinal, Davis defeated Mike Gulyassy 9-5 to get into the hot seat match, while Fitch downed Gentile 9-6 to join him. A tight hot seat match led to the circumstance of Fitch taking aim at the 8-ball in the deciding double hill last game. Though reportedly not a particularly easy shot, it was high up in the probability percentages. Fitch missed it, and Davis was in the hot seat.
Meanwhile, on the loss side, Gentile had picked up James Blackburn, who’d gotten by Dan Heidrich 7-3 (ending a five-match, loss-side streak by Heidrich), and shut out Jake Spataro. Gulyassy drew George Crawford, who’d lost his opening match and was on his own five-match, loss-side streak, having eliminated Steve Page 7-1 and Michael Robertson, double hill, to reach Gulyassy.
Gentile advanced to the quarterfinals 7-4 over Blackburn, and was joined by Crawford, who benefited from a forfeit by Gulyassy. Gentile then chalked up two straight double hill matches; versus Crawford in the quarterfinals, and Fitch, in the semifinals. 
Given the double hill drama of the three matches that preceded the final, the final itself was a little anticlimactic. Davis defeated Gentile 11-5 to retain his NC State 8-Ball Championship title.
Tour director Herman Parker thanked the ownership and staff at Breaktime Billiards, as well as title sponsor Viking Cues, Delta-13 racks and Ruthless Billiards. The next stop on the Viking Cues' Q City 9-Ball Tour, scheduled for the weekend of November 12-13, will be hosted by Corner Pockets in Fayetteville, 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.

Turning Stone Classic XXIV – Dan Heidrich vs Greg Harada

Stevie Moore goes undefeated on Tiger SE Open 9-Ball stop

Stevie Moore

Two Steves squared off in the hot seat match during the March 8 stop on the Tiger Southeast Open 9-Ball Tour. The two Steves might have met again in the finals, had not one of the Steves been traveling with the guy he faced in the semifinals and forfeited the win to his traveling companion, Dan Heidrich. The winning Steve – Stevie Moore – defeated Heidrich to claim the event title, while the other Steve – Steve Hughes – went home thrilled at having battled Stevie Moore to double hill in the hot seat match, in what was reportedly his first professional tournament of any kind. The $500-added event drew 23 entrants to Badfish Billiards in Matthews, NC.
The two Steves met in their hot seat contest, once Moore had sent Ed Yero to the losers' bracket 7-3 and Hughes had sent Ron Park over 7-4. Hughes and Moore battled to the aforementioned double hill before Moore finally prevailed and waited on what turned out to be Heidrich.
On the loss side, Heidrich, after defeating Jeremy Faassan and Robin Hill, both 7-2, met up with Park. Ed Yero drew Matt Reed, who'd gotten by Bill Horn 7-4 and survived a double hill match against Mark Patterson. Heidrich and Yero moved on to the quarterfinals, once Heidrich had eliminated Park, double hill and Yero downed Reed 7-3. Heidrich took the quarterfinal match 7-4 over Yero, and then became the recipient of Hughes' forfeit in the semifinals. 
Moore completed his undefeated run with a 9-2 win over Heidrich in the finals. This Tiger Southeast Open 9-Ball title was the first 2014 win for Moore, who was last seen in the tour's winners' circle last December.
Tour Director Tommy Kennedy thanked room owner Morey Little and his staff, as well as signature sponsor Tiger Products,  J. Pechauer Custom Cues, Simonis Cloth, Mueller Recreational Products, Chris Nitti Cues and Andy Gilbert Cues.

McPherson holds off Roberts to win GSBT

Shannon Daulton Mike Mc Pherson, Scott Roberts, & Steve Compton (owner of Lucky Shot Billiards)

Mike McPherson survived two straight double hill matches to get into the hot seat of the Jun 30-July 1 stop on the Great Southern Billiard Tour, and came within a game of facing and winning a third in the finals. In those finals, he stopped an eight-match, loss-side winning streak by Scott Roberts, to capture the event title. The $1,500-added event drew 43 entrants to Lucky Shot Billiards in Albemarle, NC.

McPherson battled Josh Heeter (both B players) to double hill among the winners’ side final four before prevailing to advance to the hot seat match. His opponent was Mark Patterson, a B player, who’d sent Dan Heidrich (AA) to the loss side 7-10. In another straight race to seven, McPherson prevailed double hill to gain the hot seat.

With three notches on his loss-side belt, Roberts, in the meantime, defeated Christi Steele and Kris Chavez, both 7-3, to reach Heidrich. Heeter drew Shawn Padgett, who’d gotten by Britt Carson 7-1 and survived a double hill struggle versus Mike Mauney, who’d been responsible for sending Roberts west in the event’s second round.

It was Padgett and Roberts advancing to the quarterfinals; Padgett 7-4 over Heeter, and Roberts 7-9 against Heidrich. It was all B players from that point, straight up races to seven. Roberts downed Padgett 7-3 and then gave up only two racks in a semifinal victory over Patterson. 

Roberts battled McPherson to within a game of double hill, and the potential for a second set. McPherson, though, closed it out at 7-5 to take home top honors.

Shannon and Marge Daulton thanked Lucky Shot Billiards’ owner Steve Compton and his staff as well as sponsors Andy Gilbert Custom Cues, Nick Varner Cues and Cases, Mike Davis Exterminating, Tiger Products and Delta-13 racks. Next stop on the GSBT is set for July 14-15 at Michael’s in Fairfield, OH. The event will feature $1000-added events in both 8-ball and 9-ball, as well as a mini-banks tournament, scheduled to begin at 8 o’clock on Friday night, July 13.