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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. 

Ussery goes undefeated to win* his fourth 2020 Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball Tour stop

Alex Rose, Hunter Zayas, BJ Ussery and Josh Williamson

The hot seat and finals of the second-to-last stop on the 2020 Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball Tour featured two competitors adding cash to their respective best earnings year, ever. For 14-year-old Hunter Zayas, it was his first runner-up finish in seven starts on the 2020 tour, which had included a win on the tour’s annual Turkey Bowl last month. It’s his best earnings year ever, because it’s his only earnings year, ever. So far.

For winner, BJ Ussery, it was his fourth win on the 2020 tour and his 14th cash finish, across a variety of tournaments, overall. He’d won the VA State 10-Ball Championships back in February, and was runner-up in the MD State 10-Ball Championships and the 1st Annual Muecci Classic 9-Ball tournament last month. It was not only his best (recorded) earnings year, it was his second straight best earnings year. As he entered this past weekend’s (Dec. 12-13) tournament, he had already exceeded his 2019 ‘best ever at the time’ earnings by $60. 

Next week was to have been the tour’s season finale with its annual Bar Table 9-Ball Championships, but some overlapping schedules led tour directors Herman and Angela Parker to change that schedule. The last stop on the 2020 tour will occur next weekend (Dec. 19-20), but it will not be the invitation-only Tour Championships. It will be an appearance at a new venue for the tour – Peyton’s Place in Knoxville, TN – hosting a $500-added event. The $1,000-added Tour Championships were moved ahead to the weekend of January 9-10, 2021 at their scheduled location, Break & Run Billiards in Chesnee, SC. 

So, BJ and the Kid at the $500-added event that drew 44 entrants to yet another new location for the ever-expanding tour, Overtime Bar & Grill in Columbia, SC. . . .

They worked their way through the field to the two winners’ side semifinals. Ussery faced Benny Walters, as Zayas squared off against Justin Cromer. Ussery got into the hot seat match with an 11-3 win over Walters (racing to 5). Zayas had to survive a double hill challenge by Cromer, but did, eventually advance (6-5) to meet Ussery in the hot seat match. Ussery sent him over, as well, with an 11-2 win that proved to be Ussery’s title match. 

On the loss side, Walters and Cromer got right back to winning again. Walters picked up Corey Morphew, who’d defeated Hank Powell 9-3 and Donnie Stewart 9-4 to reach him. Cromer drew Marty Free, who’d recently eliminated Matt Lucas and Larry David, both 8-3.

Walters sent Morphew home 5-3 and in the quarterfinals, faced Cromer, who’d eliminated Free 6-2. Cromer then ended Walters brief, loss-side trip 6-2 in those quarterfinals. 

Zayas ended Cromer’s one-match-longer, loss-side trip with a 6-3 victory that finished the event. BJ and The Kid agreed to a split, took their photos with the room owners and home everyone went.

Tour directors Herman and Angela Parker thanked room owners Alex Rose and Josh Williamson, as well as their staff for hosting the event. They also thanked 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. As noted earlier, Peyton’s Place in Knoxville, TN will host the $500-added, last 2020 tour stop this coming weekend (Dec. 19-20). 

Junior competitor Hunter Zayas wins* his first Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball Tour stop

Hunter Zayas

He’ll take it.

Though 14-year-old Hunter Zayas’ first win on a major tour comes with an asterisk, indicating the absence of a final match, the fact that he made it to the hot seat undefeated was, in itself, something of a proverbial ‘feather in his cap.’ Added to that, the knowledge that he had, in fact, already defeated the opponent he would have faced in the final (Billy Fowler), most likely had the youngster justifiably pleased with his performance this past weekend (Nov. 21-22). The feat was performed at the $500-added annual Turkey Bowl event on the Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball Tour that drew 41 entrants to Break & Run Billiards in Chesnee, SC.

Zayas and Fowler advanced to their respective winners’ side semifinal matches. Zayas squared off against Jason Gardner, as Fowler faced Jeff Abernathy. Zayas got into the hot seat match with a 6-3 win over Gardner and was joined by Fowler, who’d sent Abernathy to the loss side 10-6. Zayas began the only match he and Fowler would play, battling for the hot seat, with four beads on the wire in a race to 10. He and Fowler chalked up six racks each, but the advantage gave the hot seat to Zayas.

On the loss side, Gardner drew Montez Lloyd, who’d defeated Rudy Maybin 6-4 and Steven Ellis 6-2 to reach him. Abernathy picked up Ryan Hollingsworth, who’d eliminated Justin Duncan 8-3 and Shane Cooper 8-4.

Lloyd advanced to the quarterfinals 6-2 over Gardner. He was joined by Abernathy, who’d defeated Hollingsworth 9-5. Abernathy advanced one more step, downing Lloyd in those quarterfinals 9-3.

Fowler ended Abernathy’s brief sojourn on the loss side with a 10-4 victory in the semifinals. It was the last match of the evening, as Fowler and Zayas agreed to the split. As the undefeated hot seat occupant, Zayas laid claim to his first title.

Tour director Herman Parker thanked the ownership and staff at Break & Run Billiards, 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. With four stops left in 2020, the Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball Tour will visit Jac’s All-American Billiards, Brews & More in Newport, TN this weekend (Nov. 28-29) for a Scotch Doubles event.

Ussery and Bumgarner split top prizes on Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball Tour stop

BJ Ussery

Since he began 2020 with a 5th/6th place finish (tied with John Gabriel) behind Sky Woodward, Dennis Orcollo, Jeffrey DeLuna and Josh Roberts at the Music City Classic’s Open event in January, BJ Ussery has been on a roll, albeit one that’s stumbled a bit thanks to the pandemic. Though he would finish as runner-up in a Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball event in early February, winning the opening set of a true double elimination final to Billy Walker, but dropping the title-winning second set, Ussery went on to win his next three; the VA State 10-Ball Championships, and two stops on the Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball Tour, including last week’s (June 13-14) 1st Annual Brian James Memorial. He made it four in a row with a second straight ‘asterisk’ victory this past weekend (June 20-21). Ussery and Mike Bumgarner (who’d won the June 6-7 stop on the tour at the same location) opted out of a final match and split the top two prizes. As the undefeated occupant of the hot seat, Ussery claimed the official win. The event drew 39 entrants to Randolph’s Billiards in Hickory, NC.

Their first and only encounter, battling for the hot seat, followed a 7-1 victory for Bumgarner over Sammy Manley and a 12-5 win for Ussery versus Graham Swinson. Ussery took what proved to be the title match 12-2 over Bumgarner and sat in the hot seat.

On the loss side, Manley picked up Matt Harrell, who’d defeated Matt Lucas 7-2 and Stevie McClinton 7-4 to reach him. Swinson drew Hunter Zayas, who’d recently eliminated Cameron Hollingsworth (elder half-brother to junior player Landon Hollingsworth) 5-2.

In the first money round, battling for 5th/6th, Manley and Swinson got right back to work and advanced to the quarterfinals; Manley, with a double hill win (5-6) over Harrell and Swinson 7-3 over Zayas. Swinson then downed Manley 7-2 in those quarterfinals.

In what was the final match of the day on Sunday (an Open event, which was scheduled for Sunday, did not materialize), Bumgarner foiled Swinson’s hope for a  rematch against Ussery with a 7-5 victory in the semifinals. Ussery and Bumgarner negotiated their split of the top two prizes, with Ussery claiming the official event title.

Tour directors Herman and Angela Parker thanked the ownership and staff at Randolph Billiards, as well as title sponsor Viking Cues, Bar Pool Tables, Delta 13 Racks, AZBilliards, and Tickler Pool Ball Washing Machine, Skyline Construction, 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 (June 27-28) will be hosted by Pal’s Billiards in Piedmont, SC.

Bumgarner goes undefeated to take 53-entrant Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball stop in Hickory, NC

The numbers came as a bit of surprise to tour directors Herman and Angela Parker, who were expecting a modest but respectable 30-or-so players to show up for the June 6-7 stop on their Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball Tour. Instead, the event, hosted by Randolph Billiards in Hickory, NC played host to 53 entrants. Mike Bumgarner, who, according to our records, entered the tournament looking for his first win on the tour, found it. He went undefeated through the field, downing separate opponents in the hot seat match (Dalton Messer) and final (Hunter White).

Bumgarner and Zac Leonard met in one of the winners’ side semifinals, as Messer and Hunter White met in the other one. Bumgarner sent Leonard to the loss side 7-4, and was joined in the hot seat by Messer, who’d defeated White, double hill (6-8 with White racing to 9). Bumgarner sent Messer to a second meeting against White in the semifinals, claiming the hot set 7-2.

On the loss side, Hunter White began his trip back to the finals against Jose Irizarry, who’d defeated Jeff Abernathy (racing to 9) 6-2 and picked up a forfeit victory over Hunter Zayas to reach him. Zac Leonard drew Matt Harrell, who’d recently eliminated Travis Guerra 7-3 and Bobby McGrath 7-6 (McGrath racing to 10).

White defeated Irizarry 9-2, as Harrell and Leonard duked it out in a double hill fight that did eventually send Harrell 7-6 to the quarterfinals against White. White then promptly shut Harrell out to earn a second shot against Messer in the semifinals.

White gave up only a single rack to Messer in those semifinals, finishing his three-match, loss-side trip with a 27-3 game record. He gave up a little over twice as many racks to Bumgarner in the final than he’d given up in his three matches on the loss side. With White racing to 9, Bumgarner prevailed 7-7 to claim his first tour title.

The Parkers thanked the ownership and staff at Randolph’s 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, scheduled for this weekend (June 13-14), will be hosted by Janet Atwell at her room in Bristol, TN, Borderline Billiards.

Fowler and Duncan win Scotch Double event on the Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball Tour

Justin Duncan and Billy Fowler

In a final, race-to-six match that took 12 minutes, Billy Fowler and Justin Duncan defeated Kevin Ping and Tony Wall in the second set of a true double elimination final at the May 30-31 stop on the Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball Tour. The $500-added Scotch Doubles event drew 48 teams of two to Break & Run Billiards in Chesnee, SC.

 

The event finalists met first in the hot seat match. Fowler and Duncan had sent Hayleigh Marion, a junior player, and Janet Atwell to the loss side 6-4. Ping and Wall had defeated Team Abernathy (brothers Jeff and John) 6-3. Two out of three of the matches that Fowler/Duncan and Ping/Wall played went double hill and the hot seat match was the first of them. Fowler/Duncan claimed the hot seat and waited for Ping/Wall to get back from the semifinals.

 

Over on the loss side, Team Abernathy picked up Landon Hollingsworth and Junior Gabriel, who’d recently eliminated Justin Clark and Hank Powell 6-1 and Keno Patel and Steve Gerardi 6-3. Hayleigh/Atwell drew Hunter Zayas and Dalton Messer, who’d defeated Clay Davis and Kris Bower 6-2, and Joey Tate and Anthony Mabe 6-4 to reach them.

 

In the first money round, battling to get into the quarterfinals, Zayas and Messer leapfrogged into those quarterfinals when Hayleigh and Atwell could not return to compete on Sunday and forfeited. Team Abernathy, in the meantime, survived a double hill battle against Hollingsworth/Gabriel and joined Zayas/Messer.

 

A double hill fight eventually sent Ping and Wall to the semifinals over Zayas/Messer. Ping and Wall earned their second shot against Fowler/Duncan with a 6-4 win over Zayas/Messer.

 

In their second of three, the opening set of the true double elimination final, the two teams went double hill, before Ping and Wall prevailed to force a second set. Once the second match got underway, tour director Herman Parker chose to take a step outside. When he returned, moments later, the match was half over at 3-0 in favor of Fowler and Duncan.

 

According to Parker, the Fowler/Duncan team had chalked up three 9-ball combinations in a row to win those opening three games. They kept that pace up, and completed the second-set shutout that earned them the 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 will be held this weekend, June 6-7, and hosted by Randolph Billiards in Hickory, NC.