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Childress, Tate continue JIC battle for top spots in Pro Am and 18 & Under Boys divisions

Ivo Linkin, Nathan Childress and Ra Hanna

Linkin downs Childress twice to win Pro Am event on tour’s 5th stop in Texas

Whatever else the Junior International Championships (JIC) have done for the future of junior competition in pool going forward (and it appears as though it could be significant), they have managed to elevate and draw attention to the level of excitement possible when you organize a tour that qualifies the best a tour has to offer in a tour finale event. The competition among the individual players is evident to all, player and fans alike. As of this past weekend, June 25-27, the JIC, held under the auspices of On the Wire Creative Media, has held five events, with three to go, not including the JIC finale, scheduled to coincide in time and space with Pat Fleming’s International Open in Norfolk, VA in October. 

This report will cover two of the five events, the Open Pro and the 18 & Under Boys Division of the JIC. The 18 & Under Girls Division and both of the 13 & Under Divisions are covered in a separate report, available elsewhere in our News pages.

Five different junior players have won the JIC’s Pro Am multi-gender, age-open event, beginning with Lukas Fracasso-Verner in January, who was followed by Gabriel Martinez (March), Joey Tate (April), Nathan Childress (May) and just this past weekend, in the event that drew 27 entrants to Stixx & Stones in Lewisville, TX, Ivo Linkin. The overall leader in the Pro Am event rankings at this point is Tate, who, in addition to his win in April, was second in March and third this past weekend. Childress is right behind him, with his win and a second and third place finish, as well. He is slightly behind Tate because in the two events in which he and Tate did not finish among the top three, he didn’t do quite as well as Tate; 13th and 4th, as opposed to Tate’s 7th and 4th. Trenton White is currently third in the rankings, with a runner-up finish in the fourth event, while Landon Hollingsworth is fourth. Ivo Linkin, who’s currently in fifth place, started slow in this event, finishing in the tie for 17th three times before finishing fifth in the fourth event and going undefeated to chalk up the win in this most recent one, while downing 2nd-place-in-rankings Childress twice.

Victories over Nathan Nunes, Riley Adkins and Cameron Cummings put Linkin in a winners’ side semifinal match against Spencer Ladin. Childress, in the meantime, had sent Zaiden Leary and, significantly, Joey Tate to the loss side to arrive at a winners’ side semifinal against 13-year-old Gabriel Martinez. Linkin leapfrogged into the hot seat match when Ladin forfeited. Childress joined him after chalking up a double hill win over Martinez. Linkin claimed the hot seat 7-3.

On the loss side, Ladin, returning to the competition, drew Joey Tate, who, following his defeat at the hands of Childress in a winners’ side quarterfinal, defeated Riley Adkins 7-1 and April Larson 7-4. Martinez drew Landon Hollingsworth, who’d been defeated by Spencer Ladin in a winners’ side quarterfinal and to reach Gabriel Martinez, had defeated Gabriel’s brother, 14-year-old Lazaro Martinez, double hill and Zaiden Leary 7-5.

Gabriel Martinez downed Hollingsworth 7-3 and in the quarterfinals, faced Tate, who’d survived a double hill fight versus Ladin. Tate then eliminated Gabriel Martinez 7-4 in those quarterfinals, only to have his brief, loss-side run stopped by his Pro Am arch-rival, Nathan Childress 7-5 in the semifinals. Childress and Linkin locked up in a double hill, single race-to-9 final match, won eventually by Linkin 9-8.

Nathan Childress

In the 18 & Under Boys competition, with many of the same players (more of them; 32, in all), Childress faced Tate twice and though he lost the first match, relinquishing the hot seat to Tate, he returned from the semifinals to win the race-to-9 final match.

Childress’ path to the winners’ circle went through Dylan Waugh, Treyshawn Bia and Trenton White, to arrive at a winners’ side semifinal versus Lazaro Martinez. Tate got by Riley Adkins, Cash Lance and Kodi Allen to arrive at his winners’ side semifinal versus Lazaro’s brother, Gabriel. 

Tate downed Gabriel Martinez 7-2, as Childress was busy sending his brother, Lazaro, to the loss side 7-4. As befitting the rivalry that’s ongoing with these two, Tate and Childress battled to double hill for possession of the hot seat. Tate claimed it.

On the loss side, the Martinez brothers were poised for a matchup in the quarterfinals. Gabriel (13) drew the Pro Am winner, Ivo Linkin, who’d been shut out by Trenton White in the opening round of this event and went on a five-match, loss-side winning streak that had eliminated Landon Hollingsworth in a double hill match, Dylan Waugh by shutout, Ben Kleinfelter 7-3 and in a sweet revenge match, survived a double hill battle on a rematch versus Trenton White. Brother Lazaro (14) picked up Riley Adkins, who’d lost his opening match to Joey Tate and mounted a five-match winning streak, as well. He got by Zaiden Leary, Hunter Leinen, Carlos Jinez, Brent Worth and Kodi Allen to meet up with Lazaro Martinez.

Lazaro downed Adkins 7-5, as Gabriel was busy eliminating Linkin 7-1. The younger brother, Gabriel won the siblings matchup 7-4, only to have his loss-side streak terminated by Childress 7-4 in the semifinals. Childress ‘cashed’ his revenge check in the finals, downing Tate 9-7 to claim the 18 & under Boys title at this event.

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. 

Eric Roberts Crowned All Around Champion at 2nd Annual US Juniors Classic

Eric Roberts

It has been said that pool has too much to compete with in order to keep the attention of the youth of today. Video games, social media and sports are said to be much more popular to kids than the game of pool. Anyone who attended the 2nd Annual US Juniors Classic at Breakers Grill in Florence, Kentucky on January 11th – 12th might disagree though.
This “Derby City Style” event saw a field of players ranging in age from 8 to 18, from sixteen different states, competing in 9-ball, 9-ball banks and one pocket for over $4,000 in cash and prizes. Also just like the Derby City Classic, points were awarded for each event finish and an overall champion was named, who received paid entry into the 2020 Derby City Classic (which was paid out in cash to the player when the rules changed regarding juniors playing at Derby City this year). 
Last year’s all around champion, Eric Roberts, was back in action again this year. Last year he won the banks division and finished third in both the 9-ball and one pocket divisions. He did himself one better this year, as he won both the 9-ball banks and one pocket division. He came in second in the 9-ball division, losing in the finals to Austin Summers. George Kieselat Jr. finished second in the 9-ball banks and Chase Stumfoll finished second in the one pocket division both this year and last. 
In addition to the individual events, and all around championship, awards were also given this year to Ivo Linkin for being the top 15 & Under player, and Casey Cork for turning in the top female player all around finish. 
The event is the work of organizer Justin Tingle, who says it is all about the kids. “I created this event to bring together the best of the best Jr players and give them a platform to showcase their talents and abilities in all aspects of the game.  It has proven to be a highlight of their year and I want to continue it and hopefully grow it into the most prestigious title for them, just like Master of the table at Derby City” he says. As for the future, Tingle hopes to double the field. “The 32 player field is usually full before November each year. With help and support, I’d like to eventually be able to accommodate 64 players.”

International 9-Ball Open Day One Complete

Max Lechner (Erwin Dionisio)

The International 9-Ball Open began Monday, October 28 with 96 players prepared to battle for the title. Two side stories that fans were watching this week were that Max Eberle and Corey Deuel are both shooting for the final spot on the Mosconi Cup team. With the final decision due immediately following this event, their play this week could be the deciding factor. One other interesting tidbit is that we are getting to see all three of the Ko brothers in competition for the first time here in Norfolk. Pool fans are familiar with the games of Ko Pin-Yi and his younger brother Ko Ping-Chung, but this will be most US fans first chance to see the youngest, Ko Ping-Han in action.
The opening round kicked off Monday morning with some great matches. Austrian young gun Maximillian Lechner took down Team USA member Skyler Woodward 11-4, by simply denying Woodward opportunities at the table. Justin Bergman came from four games down to defeat John Schmidt on the hill. Other notable scores from the opening round were Johnny Archer winning 11-8 over Ivo Linkin, and Jeremy Jones over Yu-Lun Chang 11-5.
The second round of the day saw Ko Ping-Chung take down Ernesto Dominguez 11-5 and Alex Pagulayan besting Michael Yednak 11-6. 
The third round also had some matches of interest, with Alex Kazakis and Fedor Gorst both shooting perfect matches with Kazakis over Chris Lawson 11-0 and Gorst giving the snowball to William Brewer. James Aranas went past Mark Vidal 11-4 and Donny Mills owned William Collins 11-3.
Coming back from the dinner break, the crowd was treated to a battle between Roberto Gomez and Ko Pin-Yi. Ko took an early 2-0 lead, but Gomez came back to take his first lead at 5-4. Gomez held that lead until 10-10 when a miss on the 8-ball left the table and match for Ko 11-10. In another 6:30 match, Ralf Souquet found himself in a 7-3 hole against Matt Krah. Ralf came back to 7-6 down, but hung an 8-ball that would have tied things at 7-7. Souquet did get back to a tie at 8-8 and traded racks with Krah until he pocketed the final 9-ball for the 11-10 win. 
In the 8:30 round, Earl Strickland had his hands full with the event’s lone Japanese competitor, Kengo Suzuki. The match was tied at 6-6 when Strickland won two for an 8-6 lead. Suzuki came right back to tie things at 8-8 before Strickland took control and won the match 11-9. Another battle in the 8:30 round saw Tommy Kennedy take American 14.1 Straight Pool Champion Ruslan Chinahov to hill-hill before Chinahov won the match 11-10. 
The final round of the night was not pretty for US players, as Billy Thorpe, Donny Mills and Frankie Hernandez were all sent to the one loss side. Neither Thorpe or Mills looked to be comfortable at the table in their matches, as Thorpe dropped an 11-3 match to Vietnam’s Quoc Hoang Duong and Mills couldn’t stay with a free wheeling Chris Melling in an 11-4 match. While Frankie Hernandez’s match was more competitive, he still fell to Marco Teutscher 11-6.
You can follow the action all week long, with our online brackets and real time scoring. Select matches will also be streamed online as part of Accu-Stats PPV coverage of the event

Pinegar wins 2019 SBE Pro Am Bar Box Championship

Jonathan Pinegar (Photo courtesy Super Billiards Expo)

Davis tops largest SBE field of 1,024 to win Amateur Open
In its multi-discipline, varied-skill format that, with some overlap among 11 events, drew over 3,000 pool players to the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center at Oaks, PA over the weekend of March 28-31, the Super Billiard Expo’s Pro Am Bar Box Championships has always existed as something of a challenge. In 2018, they used the challenge in promoting the event, asking potential participants a simple question – How good do you really think you are?
Open to all levels of competitors, without restriction, its field is capped at 32 players, who play a ‘best of three set’ format with races to 6 in each set (all other Amateur events utilized the same format, although with races to 5 in each set). While encouraging and expecting a wide variety of players from the amateur to the pro, this year’s ProAm Bar Box Championships featured a field that was tipped somewhat toward the amateur end of things. Not completely, because it was won by 20-year veteran Jonathan Pinegar, who’s been winning and cashing in amateur and semi-pro events for nearly 20 years. Known throughout most of his career as “Hennessee from Tennessee,” Pinegar has, in recent years, been signing on to events with his given name. At this year’s SBE, he signed in as John Pinegar. This year’s runner-up was Demetrius Jelatis.
The posted brackets on the SBE Web site for all of the amateur events (including the ProAm Bar Box) do not indicate the scores of the individual sets, which masks the give and take of game-by-game scoring. Instead, each player is seen to have won their individual matches by only one of two possible outcomes; 2-0 or 2-1. There is no way of knowing, therefore, a given player’s game-winning percentage, only his or her set-winning percentage.
Pinegar won 10 of 12 sets he played over five matches. He opened with a 2-1 win over Alex Olinger, went 2-0 against Kevin West and allowed Scott Haas a single set in the third round, which brought him to a semifinal matchup against Justin Espinosa. Jelatis, in the meantime, won eight of the 12 sets he played over five matches. He opened with two straight 2-0 set victories over Shane Clayton and Alan Rolan, before giving up a set to Ryan McCreesh. This set him (Jelatis) up against Jorge Rodriguez in the other semifinal. Rodriguez is another one of those competitors who’s been competing at the semi-pro and pro-level for years.
Pinegar got into the finals with a 2-0 set victory over Espinosa. Jelatis joined him after a 2-1 set victory over Rodriguez. Pinegar completed his undefeated (in sets) run with a 2-0 victory over Jelatis.
Davis goes undefeated in his individual bracket, advances to win Amateur Open
In the largest field of the SBE, the Amateur Open, 1,024 entrants initially split up into 16 brackets of 64 players each. Each of those brackets delivered a single player to a Final 16 bracket. Phil Davis didn’t lose a single set (best of three sets in races to 5) in his initial bracket, going 2-0 against Chris Garrett, Matt Clatterbuck, Mark Alicea, Paul Swinson, Richard Anderson and in his bracket’s finals, Jason Balas. He gave up his first set in the opening round of the single-elimination final 16 bracket, going 2-1 against Joe Wright. He went back to his 2-0 pattern against Mark Nanashee in the second round, which moved him into the semifinals against Julio Burgos.
Raed Shabib, in the meantime, gave up his first set, in the opening round of his 64-player bracket, to Christopher Balderson. He didn’t give up another one until his bracket finals, having gone 2-0 against Abel Rosario, John Hoge, Bill Mason and Randy Tate. He took the bracket final 2-1 over James Adams. He opened the Final 16 portion of his run with a 2-1 victory over George Crawford and then downed Brett Stottlemeyer 2-0, to arrive at a semifinal against Chris Bruner.
Davis and Shabib advanced to the finals with identical 2-1 set victories over Burgos and Bruner, respectively. Davis completed his undefeated run with a 2-1 victory over Shabib in the finals.
Amateur highlights
The next highest attended Amateur tournament was the Open Seniors event (for 50+), which drew 384 entrants. Originally split into eight preliminary brackets, yielding a single winner, the event was won by Bobby Connor. He advanced through the Final 8 field with set wins over Oscar Bonilla and Dennis Spears, both 2-1. He was met in the finals by Efrain Morales, who’d defeated Joe Armeni 2-1 and Chuck Ross 2-0. Connor didn’t give up a set in claiming the Open Seniors title.
Next up, with 192 entrants, was the Super Seniors (65+), who started in four initial brackets, yielding a very short final field of four. Ed Matushoneck downed Tom Acciavatti 2-1 to claim his spot in the finals, and was joined by Ronny Park, who’d defeated Nelson Rivera 2-1. Matushoneck claimed the Super Seniors title with a 2-0 win over Park.
The Amateur Ladies drew 188, just four less than the Super Seniors. Combined, those two events would have yielded an enormously entertaining field with just four less than the Open Seniors event. As it was, the 188 ladies, like the Super Seniors, started with four initial 64-player brackets (with a number of opening round byes) and ended with a final field of 4. Rachel Lang and Michelle Jiang advanced to the finals without giving up a set to either Marie-France Blanchette and Stacey Tonkin. Lang downed Jiang in the finals two sets to one.
In the 12 and under Juniors event, which drew 56 entrants, Parker Jakubczak downed 2018 11 & under Junior National Champion Kyle Yi in the finals 2-1. In the 17 & under category, which drew 76 entrants, two-time 14 & under National Junior Champion Nathan Childress defeated Ivo Linkin in two straight sets.

Kazakis Wins Player Relief Open

Alex Kazakis (Photo courtesy of Erwin Dionisio)

With the last minute cancellation of the 2018 Tornado Open, a large number of top players who were in the states for the event found themselves with in search of a place to play and an event to play in. It would have been easy for anyone to just shake their head and think that it was another bad roll for the players. Sandcastle Billiards’ owner Ed Liddawi isn’t just anyone though. 
On short notice, Liddawi put together the Player Relief Open 9-Ball Tournament at Sandcastle on November 8th and drew a talented field of international players. “I felt real bad about the tragic situation with the cancellation of the Tornado Open not only for Vivian Villarreal but for all the struggling traveling players that spent so much money on flights and hotels just to get to New Jersey. Not only were they out money but they also had no competition to enjoy or try to make up for their losses.”, Liddawi said. “Being a premier pool room in NJ dedicated to the serious player, I just HAD to do something while all the top players from around the World were already in the same state.”
The field of players was a who’s who of top talent including such notables as Alex Kazakis, Casper Matikainen, James Aranas, Johann Chua, John Morra, Konrad Juszczyszyn, Kristina Tkach, Maksim Dudanets, Ruslan Chinakhov and Mieszko Fortunski
The two players who were able to navigate this field of tough players without a loss were James Aranas and Casper Matikainen. Aranas had wins over 14 year old Ivo Linkin, Juszczyszyn and Chinakhov, while Matikainen had wins over Chua, Morra, Eric Bayhon and Fortunski. Aranas then took the hot-seat with a 7-4 win over Matikainen. 
Alex Kazakis had lost his second match of the day to Fortunski 7-5, but was cruising through the left side of the board. To get to the semi-final match against Matikainen, Kazakis had wins over Tkach, Joey Korsiak, Chinakhov and Dudanets. He then scored a 7-4 win over Matikainen to earn his spot in the finals. 
With the momentum of his one loss side winning streak, Kazakis defeated Aranas 7-3 in the first set of the finals and then again hill-hill in the second set to earn first place and $1,200 in prize money. 
After the tournament, Liddawi expressed his gratitude to Iwan Simonis, Aramith Billiard Balls, Outsville Inc., Accu-Stats Video Productions, Erwin Dionisio, Ivan Lee, Roy's Basement Ariel Roy Francisco, Jerry Forsyth, Mike Howerton, Billiards Digest, Michael Panozzo,, Ramin Bakhtiari, Patrick Fleming, Jim Fredericks,  Jose Burgos, Paul Lieb, Michael Sasso, Alyssa Solt, Saliba Liddawi, Nawal Liddawi, Alex Liddawi and Anastasia Beaverhausen. 
With all of those thanks, he forgot the most important thanks. That was a thanks to Liddawi himself for coming through for the players like he did. It’s room owners like Liddawi that keep this game alive.