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US and Canadian Teams Announced For World Junior Pool Championship

Three members of Team USA, Sofia Mast, Aryana Lynch and Tiana Jiang (Photo courtesy Roy Pastor)

While the recent changes in requirements for travel to Europe, have the event in a sort of limbo, the Billiard Congress of America is still proud to announce the participants who are slated to travel to Austria on October 6th – 10th for the Predator 2021 WPA World Junior 9-Ball Championships. 

The members of Team USA are:

Riley Adkins, Daniel Martin, Landon Hollingsworth, Joey Tate, Payne McBride, Kyle Yi, Jayden Liu, Niko Konkel, Harry Leinen, Aryana Lynch, Sofia Mast, Tiana Jiang, Savanna Wolford, Skylar Hess, Alice Adams, Hayleigh Marion and Kennedy Meyman

In addition to the seventeen players representing the USA, the BCA also announced that Arnaud Rakovich, Issac Yee and Haydar Ali Cappo are representing Team Canada at this event. 

As announced in a previous release from the BEF, “Allocations for the prestigious 2021 2021 WPA Predator World Junior Pool Championship, (…) will be provided to the highest placed finishers in the boys open 16 & Under and 18 & Under divisions, and in the girls open 18 & Under division”. With some candidates unable to travel to Austria, the BCA opened up invitations to the champions from the 14 & Under Girls, 16 & Under Girls and 14 & Under Boys Divisions. All three of these division winners are confirmed for Team USA.  

Some of these warriors are asking for help on social media to fund their trips to Austria, so if you see one of your favorite players on the list of players, check out their social media pages and help any way that you can. 

Hollingsworth Highlights Slate of New Junior National Champions

Landon Hollingsworth

With a total of ten divisions being contested over five days, the 2021 Billiard Education Foundation’s Junior National Championship at the South Point Hotel & Convention Center was going to have a number of players celebrating hard fought wins, but the player walking away with the most accolades was South Carolina’s Landon Hollingsworth.

Hollingsworth didn’t just turn in one undefeated performance. He went undefeated to win both the 18 & Under Boys Division and the 16 & Under Boys Division. Hollingsworth had an early scare in the 18 & Under Division, going hill-hill before beating Indiana’s Jake Sollman. After that win, it was pretty much smooth sailing as Hollingsworth won twenty three of his next twenty eight racks to take the hot-seat, defeating Ohio’s Riley Adkins in the process. Adkins made quick work of Eric Roberts in the semi-final match 7-1, and then took his best shot at Hollingsworth in the finals. In the end though, it was Hollingsworth with an 11-7 win over Adkins, for the division win.

Hollingsworth was tested in the 16 & Under Boys Division, not only by reigning 14 & Under Boys Division Winner (from 2019) Lazaro Martinez III, but also Joey Tate. After sending Tate to the one loss side in the final four on the winner’s side, Hollingsworth faced off against Martinez for the hot-seat, and Martinez took him to hill-hill before Hollingsworth won the match. Martinez then lost in the semi-final match to Tate, giving Tate an opportunity to avenge his that earlier loss to Hollingsworth. The final match was a close one, but didn’t start out that way. Hollingsworth rushed out to a 9-3 lead, before Tate turned it on and pulled back within two racks at 9-7. Tate kept up the pressure and was within one rack at 10-9 down when he missed a 9-ball while stretched across the table, to leave Hollingsworth with ball-in-hand on the case 9-ball for the title.

The two rack difference in the finals was stressful enough on the parents and fans in attendance, but the finals of the 14 & Under Division did them one better, with a hill-hill final match to determine the Champion. Minnesota’s Harry Leinen had defeated Kyle Yi, out of Texas, in a 9-5 hot-seat match. Yi was right back in the finals, and took Leinen to hill-hill before Leinen deposited the final 9-ball for the title.

Aryana Lynch

In the 18 & Under Girls Division, eventual winner Aryana Lynch was tested from the starting gun, as she won back to back hill-hill matches (Bailey Barber and Hayleigh Marion) to get things started. After a relatively stress free 7-2 win over Savanna Wolford, Lynch was again tested, this time by Tiana Jiang in Jiang’s first real competition in over a year. Lynch finally sent Jiang to the one-loss side 9-7 and Sofia Mast then defeated Jiang 7-3 to setup the final match between Mast and Lynch. That final match went Lynch’s way 11-6 for the title.

With all of the drama in the other divisions, the 16 & Under Girls Division really had very little drama to speak of. Minnesota’s Kennedy Meyman put on a 9-ball clinic, beating four opponents and not allowing one of them past two racks. Meyman’s final record for the entire division was thirty four wins out of a total of thirty nine racks. She defeated Elli Gonzales for the hot-seat and again in the finals by a combined record of 20-3.

The 14 & Under Girls division was the only division that had a defending champion involved in the finals. Reigning champion Skylar Hess took the hot-seat with a 9-8 win over Virginia’s Hayleigh Marion. Marion was back with a vengeance in the finals, and defeated Hess in another close match, 11-9, for the title.

This year’s event saw the addition of two new divisions for the players to compete in. The 10-ball division was open to any players 22 and younger in a unique “triple elimination” format. While players had to lose three matches to be eliminated from this one, Wisconsin’s Mason Koch showed that the best way to make sure you don’t lose three matches is to not lose any of them. Koch defeated Ricky Evans for the hot-seat, and then Florida’s Justin Toye in the finals.

The 8-ball division was also something new this year, and the field of 65 male and female competitors proved how popular it was. This division saw Lazaro Martinez III in the hot-seat, after a 3-0 win over brother Gabriel Martinez. In the finals though, it was Gabriel taking control and defeating Lazaro for the division win.

Also in play at this event, were two blind draw scotch doubles events that saw Lazaro Martinez III team up with Joey Tate to win the 22 & Under Scotch Division and Landon Hollingsworth teaming up with Savannah Easton to win the 16 & Under Division.

Dates are already set for the 2022 Junior National Championship and the event will take place on June 21st – 25th, right back at the South Point Hotel and Convention Center.

 

Junior National Brackets Tightening Up

Kennedy Meyman

The brackets at the 2021 Billiard Education Foundation Junior National Championship are working their way towards the end and some brackets already have hot-seat occupants. 

In the 16 & Under Girls division, Kennedy Meyman from Minnesota has cruised into the hot-seat. Meyman turned in a combined score of 23-4 to take the hot-seat and will await the winner of Hayleigh Marion and Elli Gonzales in the finals. 

The 18 & Under Girls has Aryana Lynch in the hot-seat, after a marathon 9-7 victory over Tiana Jiang today. Jiang will face either Sofia Mast or Savanna Wolford in the semi-finals early Friday morning. 

Rounding out the Girls divisions, Skylar Hess sits in the 14 & Under Girls hot-seat, after a hill-hill win over Hayleigh Marion today. Marion is facing Bethany Tate today, with the winner earning their place in the finals against Hess. 

The Boys Divisions have a few more matches to go. In the 18 & Under Boys division, Landon Hollingsworth will take on Riley Adkins for the hot-seat on Friday. 

Hollingsworth will also compete for the 16 & Under hot-seat, in a match against Lazaro Martinez III on Friday. 

In the 14 & Under Boys division, Kyle Yi and Harry Leinen will compete for the hot-seat on Friday morning. 

The 8-ball division sees the possibility of an all Martinez hot-seat match on Friday with Lazaro Martinez III and Gabriel Martinez both in the final four on the winner’s side. 

Finally, the 10-ball division has Mason Koch in the hot-seat with a 9-7 win over Ricky Evans. Evans will go to battle with Justin Toye on Friday morning to determine who faces Koch in the finals. 

All of the action can be followed this week with online brackets at compusport.ca and BBTV is streaming select matches on his YouTube and Facebook pages.

Sofia Mast continues domination of JIC Girls’ divisions

Sofia Mast

Gabriel Martinez wins 13 & Under Boys division, Prasad stays on top of the division rankings

Sofia Mast, 12, has won two of the five 18 & Under Girls events of the Junior International Championships (JIC), being held under the auspices of On the Wire Creative Media. This past weekend (June 24-26), at a JIC stop at Stixx & Stones in Lewisville, TX, which drew 11 entrants, she went undefeated to chalk up her second win in a row, having won the previous event, held in May in Bowie, MD. She was third in this division event in March and finished in 5th place twice. She has been the winner in three of the five 13 & Under Girls events, as well, including this most recent event last weekend (in a round robin format for four entrants), and was runner-up in the other two. As a result, she is at the top of the rankings in both of the girls’ divisions of these JIC.

Gabriel Martinez won his second JIC in the 13 & Under Boys Division (10 entrants), this past weekend, having also won the event in March. Adrian Prasad, who did not compete at this event, leads the 13 and Under Boys division in the rankings, having won the event the other three times it’s been held and was runner-up to Martinez in the other event in which he competed.

A preliminary round set up three matches in the 18 & Under Girls event, which advanced Savanna Wolford, Tatum Cutting and Casey Cork, while awarding April Gonzales a bye. Sofia Mast’s path to the winners’ circle in the 18 & Under Girls Division began with a match against Tatum Cutting, which she won 7-4 to enter a winners’ side semifinal match versus Precilia Kinsley. Wolford faced Gonzales in the other one.

Wolford got into the hot seat match 7-4 over Gonzales and was joined by Mast, who defeated Kinsley 7-2. Mast claimed the hot seat 7-4 over Wolford and waited on what turned out to be the return of Tatum Cutting from the loss side.

On the loss side, Gonzales picked up Cutting, as Kinsley drew Kennedy Meyman. Cutting advanced to the quarterfinals 7-1 and was joined by Meyman, who defeated Kinsley 7-3. Cutting downed Meyman 7-4 in those quarterfinals and then, by the same score, eliminated Wolford in the semifinals. Mast completed her undefeated run with a 9-7 win over Cutting in the finals.

Mast defeated all three of her opponents in the four-entrant, round robin event for the 13 & Under Girls. She downed Taylor Perkins 7-2, April Gonzales 7-3 and Asia Gillespie 7-1 to claim the event title. April Gonzales finished in 2nd place, having won two of her three matches; double hill (7-6) over Asia Gillespie and 7-1 over Taylor Perkins.

Harry Leinen, Gabriel Martinez and Treyshawn Bia

A preliminary round in the 13 & Under Boys event advanced Treyshawn Bia, Hank Leinen, and, with byes, Jayse Alton and eventual winner Gabriel Martinez to a first winners’ side round. Martinez shut out his first opponent, Lucah Gianino and picked up Treyshawn Bia in the winners’ side semifinal. Hank Leinen shut out Tyler Smith in the preliminary round and gave up only a single rack against Landon Dunlop to draw Jayse Alton in the other winners’ side semifinal.

Martinez gave up only one rack to Bia and advanced to the hot seat match. Leinen shut out Alton to join him. It took a 13th deciding game to claim the hot seat and it was Leinen who did so.

On the loss side, Bia picked up Bryson Moore, who’d previously eliminated Landon Dunlap 7-4. Alton picked up Tyler Smith, who’d defeated Lucah Gianino 7-4. Bia defeated Moore 7-1 and was joined in the quarterfinals by Smith, who eliminated Alton 7-5. Bia won the quarterfinal match 7-2 over Smith, but had his loss-side streak ended 7-3 by Martinez in the semifinals. Martinez finished his run with a 9-6 victory over Leinen in the finals.

On the Wire Creative Media’s Ra Hanna awarded Precilia Kinsley the event’s regular Sportperson Award, while Joey Tate picked up the Jeanette Lee Comeback Award. He also thanked Anju and John Bergman and their Stixx & Stones staff for their hospitality, as well as his assistants, Chris Reinhold (handling photography), the Wolfords (Kory and Treena, for their help), Chris Wilson (owner of The League Room in Parkersburg, WV), Mike Littman of Littman Lights and Hanna’s streaming crew. Hanna once again gave a shout out to all of the families of the junior players, whose camaraderie has made these events “truly, one big traveling family.” 

The next stop on the JIC series of events, scheduled for July 16-18, will be hosted by The League Room in Parkersburg, WV. Detailed accounts of the Pro Am & 18 & Under Boys Division can be found elsewhere in our News reports.