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Clevinger and Atwell split top prizes on Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball Tour

Mike Skeens, Janet Atwell and Mike Clevinger

Tour raises $1,650 for Michael Putnam and family, owners of Papertown Billiards, Asheville

Mike Clevinger and room owner/professional competitor Janet Atwell opted out of a final match at this past weekend’s (June 12-13) stop on the Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball Tour, hosted by Atwell’s room, Borderline Billiards in Bristol, TN. As the undefeated occupant of the hot seat at the time, Clevinger claimed the official event title. The event drew 39 entrants.

In addition to the event itself, the tour organized a fund raiser to benefit Michael Putnam and his family. Michael, co-owner with his wife, Alicia, of Papertown Billiards in Asheville, NC, is currently on a ventilator, coping with complications related to COVID. The tour was able to raise $1,650 to donate to his family. Members of the pool community wishing to contribute to the ongoing campaign should reach out to Janet Atwell, a personal friend of the Putnams, who competes in a regularly scheduled Papertown Ladies Tour, run by Alicia Putnam. Atwell can be reached via the Borderline Billiards page on Facebook.

Of particular note at this most recent event was the performance of junior competitor, Hayleigh Marion, 14, who is the #7-ranked player in the 18-and-under Girls division of the ongoing series of Junior International Championships being held regularly under the auspices of On the Wire Creative Media. Marion, who is mentored and taught by Janet Atwell, signed on to compete in this event, won two matches on the winners’ side and then, five on the loss side, advancing to the quarterfinals, when she met and was defeated by Atwell. A familiar face on the Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball Tour, Marion and Yoshiaki Kanamura competed as a doubles team on the tour last March and claimed the event title. In June 2020, Marion and Atwell played as a doubles team on the tour and finished in the tie for 5th place. 

Eventual, official winner this past weekend, Mike Clevinger advanced to a winners’ side semifinal against Chris Cowan, while Mike Skeens squared off against Janet Atwell. Clevinger sent Cowan to the loss side 6-3, while Skeens downed Atwell 5-4 (Atwell racing to 7). Clevinger claimed the hot seat in what proved to be his last match with a 6-1 victory over Skeens.

On the loss side, Cowan was the one who drew Hayleigh Marion, four matches into her loss-side streak, having most recently eliminated David Hopkins 5-3 and Reid Vance (racing to 7), 4-2. Prior to being defeated by Marion, Vance had defeated her former doubles partner, Yoshiaki Kanamura. Atwell picked up Ricky Chitwood, who’d shut out Joe Blackburn (responsible for sending Marion to the loss side) and downed Amanda Mann 6-1.

Atwell ended Chitwood’s run 7-2, as her pupil was busy eliminating Chris Cowan 4-2. Atwell then defeated her student 7-0 in the quarterfinals.

In what proved to be the last match of the event, Atwell downed Mike Skeens in the semifinals. She and Clevinger agreed to the split and Clevinger claimed the official title.

Tour director Herman Parker thanked Atwell and her Borderline Billiards staff for their hospitality, as well as title sponsor Viking Cues, BarPoolTables.net, Dirty South Grind Apparel Co., AZBilliards, Federal Savings Bank mortgage division and Diamond Brat.

The next stop on the Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball Tour, scheduled for this weekend, June 19-20, will feature two events, a 9-ball tournament and a limited-entry (16; $100 entry fee) One Pocket tournament. The events will be hosted by Railbird Billiards in Hickory, NC.

Black Widow benefit ‘train’ stops at Atwell’s Borderline Billiards and raises $16k

Rodney Morris and Jaiden Hess

Though unable to physically appear at the latest tournament that was organized and held for her benefit,  Jeanette Lee, the Black Widow, arguably the most recognizable name in billiard sports, did make a video-call appearance at Janet Atwell’s Borderline Billiards in Bristol, TN on Saturday, April 17. In the latest of an ongoing series of Black Widow Legacy Tournaments, organized by her fellow professionals and legions of fans all across the country, Lee explained to those who had gathered in Borderline Billiards to help her as she battles ovarian cancer, that she will continue to fight and that efforts to help her and her daughters have not gone unnoticed.

“The support makes a difference,” she told the assembled crowd, who, as they had done a week earlier in Florida, stopped what they were doing to listen to her on the large screen that had been set up in Atwell’s room for the purpose. “You guys are just lifting me up and I will kick this cancer.”

Two days after undergoing a related operation, she explained to the crowd that she would have loved to be there in person, but that traveling on an airplane for her was just too dangerous.

“But I love you guys,” she said. “I’m so thankful and I’m looking forward to watching these matches.”

Lee, as well as those at the venue and any who watched the live stream were treated to a number of entertaining pool matches, not the least of which was a true double elimination set of final matches in which “Rocket” Rodney Morris, who came from the loss side, was defeated by a 16-year-old competitor by the name of Jaiden Hess. Earlier, he’d been sent to the loss side by a 14-year-old junior by the name of Precilia Kinsley. The event drew 106 entrants, including a number of strong area competitors like Kia Burwell, Reid Vance, Cole Lewis, Eric Roberts, Lisa Cossette, Ryan Fossum, Scott Howard and Corey Morphew (among others, Morris included).

“Rocket” was, of course, playing with an A+++ handicap and throughout most of the tournament was being required to win at least twice as many games as the opponents he ended up facing in individual matches. He got an opening round “bye” and won just a single winners’ side match before running into 14-year-old Precilia Kinsley, who sent him to the loss side. Nine matches later, he returned from the loss side and though he took the opening set of the true double elimination final against Jaiden Hess, Hess came back and fought to double hill in the second set, before dropping the final 9-ball and claiming the event title.

In spite of the handicap, “Rocket” was impressed by the youngsters he faced in this event.

“These kids are getting some good coaching, good teaching,” he said. “Of course, they have a long way to go, learning about the cue ball (among other things), but they have got the passion.”

“Somebody’s out there,” he added. “keeping them focused, instilling that love of the game. And then, that boy, Jaiden, ends up beating me in the finals, and we’ve got ourselves a couple of lifers now.”

Janet Atwell and Rodney Morris

Morris also had high praise for Atwell and the Legacy Tournament she’d organized to benefit her fellow professional.

“It was a very emotional weekend,” said Morris, who’d been able to speak to Jeanette just prior to her appearance on the big screen to talk to all of those present. “Everybody did a great job.”

“Janet was amazing,” he added. “She is top-notch, just a very genuine person.”

According to Atwell, she will be hosting another benefit for Lee in the future, at a date to be announced. She credited her landlords, Jeff and Terri Gregory, with donating $2,000, $1,000 of which will go towards added-money for the next event.

“Counting online donations, local donations and everything raised during the event,
 Atwell wrote later, “we raised $16,867.”

There will be another Black Widow Legacy Tournament in Florida on the weekend of May 8-9, the second to be organized by Jeannie Seaver and Sonya Chbeeb. The Black Widow Open Benefit Event will be hosted by Stroker’s Billiards in Palm Harbor, FL. 

“With the support of hundreds of people like you,” the Black Widow had noted before the event at Borderline Billiards got underway, “I don’t think this cancer has a chance.”

Ussery, Manley split top prizes at 1st Annual Brian James Memorial Tournament in Bristol, TN

(l to r): Brian James and TD Herman Parker

If and when the Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball Tour holds its annual Tour Championship in September, it will once again honor one of its tour members with a Sportsmanship Award. The award will go to a player chosen by members of the tour. This year and in the years to come, that award will bear the name and honor the memory of Brian James of Rosedale, West Virginia, a long-time member of the tour, who passed away on June 3, following a prolonged battle with pancreatic cancer. James, a close friend of tour directors Herman and Angela Parker, had fulfilled a long-time dream earlier this year, when he competed at the annual Derby City Classic in January, finishing in a four-way tie for 5th place in the 9-Ball Mini Tournament. James was to have competed on the Q City 9-Ball Tour this past April, but the tour was halted due to the pandemic well ahead of his scheduled participation. By the time the tour was able to get back to the work of pool competition, James was no longer able to compete.

On the weekend of January 11-12 at Borderline Billiards in Bristol, TN (where James enjoyed playing the most), the tour held a fundraising tournament, attended by James, to help defray the costs of his ongoing health care. Through the raffling of cues, balls and an assortment of other products from keychains to clothing, the event raised $3,300. Six months later, this past weekend (June 13-14), the tour went back to Borderline Billiards and drew 74 entrants to a celebration of life tournament. BJ Ussery and Sammy Manley ended up splitting the top two prizes of the commemorative event that drew 74 entrants.

“Brian’s daughters, Nina and Jesse, came to the tournament,” said Herman Parker, “and had a very emotional meeting with the players, thanking everybody.”

“He was the most genuine person,” said Parker of his friend. “There was just never any drama with him, which is why the Sportsmanship Award will be named in his honor. He was a good family man and always courteous when it came to the game. He was one of those guys; a 100% gentleman.”

And, as he most assuredly would have wanted, the tournament began.

The winner and runner-up at this event never competed. Though Ussery would go undefeated to the hot seat, Sammy Manley, who defeated Jeff Abernathy in the opening round of play, but lost to Scott Roberts in the second round, won nine matches on the loss side for the right to face Ussery in the final match that didn’t happen.

Ussery advanced to a winners’ side semifinal against junior player Landon Hollingsworth. Jordan Gray, in the meantime, squared off against Daniel “Papa John” Adams in the other one.

Ussery earned his spot in the hot seat match with a 12-3 win over Hollingsworth (racing to 6). Gray downed Adams 6-4. In what would prove to be his final victory, Ussery claimed the hot seat 12-3; like Hollingsworth, Gray was racing to 6.

With four wins of his nine on the loss side behind him, Manley defeated Travis Guerra 5-1 and Jody Musselman 5-4 (Musselman racing to 6) to draw “Papa John” coming over from his loss in the winners’ side semifinal. Hollingsworth drew Hank Powell, who’d defeated Josh Miller 7-1 and Dalton Messer 7-4 to reach him.

Manley downed “Papa John” 5-2 and was joined in the quarterfinals by Powell, who eliminated Hollingsworth 7-3. Manley then sent Powell to the figurative showers 5-3 in those quarterfinals.

In his 9th victory on the loss side and 10th, overall, Manley defeated Jordan Gray 5-2 in the semifinals. He and Ussery agreed to split the event’s top two cash prizes and the 1st Annual Brian James Memorial Tournament at Borderline Billiards in Bristol, TN was in the books. According to the Parkers, future events in James’ name will be held around the time of his passing each year.

The Parkers thanked Janet Atwell and her Borderline Billiards staff, as well as title sponsor Viking Cues, Bar Pool Tables, Delta 13 Racks, AZBilliards, 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 20-21), will be hosted by Randolph’s Billiards in Hickory, NC and feature two separate events. On Saturday, June 20th, the tour will mount its normal handicap event, which will, dependent on the number of entrants, conclude on Saturday night. On Sunday, June 21, the tour will hold an Open event (no handicaps), featuring races to 6.

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.

Ussery and Vance split top prizes at Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball Tour stop in TN

BJ Ussery

In what shaped up to be only his second cash finish on the Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball Tour, Reid Vance, in agreement with BJ Ussery, opted out of a final match at the February 22-23 stop on the tour. It was Vance’s second finish as runner-up, having finished behind Ricky Bingham at a stop in September, 2018. Vance had gotten into the hot seat at that event, only to be double-dipped by Bingham in the true double elimination final. This time, around, at the same location – Borderline Billiards in Bristol, TN – it was BJ Ussery in the hot seat, with Vance coming from the loss side to challenge and ultimately, to negotiate an equitable split of the top two cash prizes. The event drew 68 entrants to Borderline Billiards.
 
They might have met in the hot seat match, had Joe Edmisten not defeated Vance in one of the winners’ side semifinals 5-4 (Vance racing to 6). Edmisten went on to face Ussery, who’d sent Hank Powell west 12-4 in the other winners’ side semifinal. Ussery and Edmisten fought to double hill (11-4) before Ussery prevailed in what proved to be his last match.
 
On the loss side, Vance began his three-match trip back to the finals against Anthony Mabe, who’d defeated Tyler Mayfield 7-3 and Jaiden Hess 7-1 to reach him. Hank Powell picked up a rematch against a former junior player, Anthony Adams, whom he’d defeated in the event’s second round. Adams embarked on a nine-match, loss side winning streak that had most recently included victories over Matt Shaw 6-3 and Brandon Helton 6-1.
 
Vance got into the quarterfinals with a 6-4 win over Mabe. He was joined by Adams, who’d battled in his Powell rematch to double hill before advancing to take on Vance. Though Adams would battle Vance to double hill as well in those quarterfinals, Vance prevailed in the end.
 
Vance made short work of Edmisten in the semifinals that followed. Vance’s 6-1 victory assured him at minimum, another runner-up finish on the tour. The agreement with Ussery to split made it official. As the undefeated occupant of the hot seat, Ussery claimed the official title.
 
Tour directors Herman and Angela Parker thanked Janet Atwell and her staff at Borderline Billiards, as well as title sponsor Viking Cues, Bar Pool Tables, Delta 13 Racks, AZ Billiards and Tickler Pool Ball Washing Machine. The next stop on the tour, scheduled for March 1-2, will be the 2020 NC State 9-Ball Open, a $500-added event, hosted by Randolph’s Billiards in Hickory, NC.

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

(l to r): Reymart Lim, TD Tiger Baker & BJ Ussery

Taylor becomes only 4th woman since 2013 to win VA State Women’s 10-Ball title
 
It’s a little early to start making predictions or get too much of a ‘read’ on a tour’s point standings (at least those that run on a calendar year schedule), but the Action Pool Tour’s second stop provided some intriguing information. It wasn’t so much about who’s in the top spots at this point, but who, among last year’s top players are apparently starting out a little slow. Stop #2 on the Action Pool Tour – the 2020 VA State 10-Ball Open Championships – drew 73 entrants to Diamond Billiards in Midlothian, VA on the weekend of February 15-16. Six of last year’s top 10 players in the tour’s final standings competed in this event. Two finished out of the money, including the event’s defending champion, RJ Carmona. Three, including last year’s tour champion, Chris Bruner, finished in the first money round. Reymart Lim, who finished in 4th place overall last year and won this year’s season opener was this event’s runner-up. In his first appearance on the tour in seven years, BJ Ussery came from the loss side to earn a finals rematch against Lim, which he won to claim the event title.
 
Meanwhile, the 2020 VA State Women’s 10-Ball Championships drew 16 women to the same location. As they did last year, Liz Taylor and Janet Atwell battled twice to claim this title. The results of those two battles were a reverse of last year’s; Atwell, winning the first and Taylor, winning the final (more on this a bit later).
 
Ussery’s appearance on the Action Pool Tour is a reflection of his desire to play generally stronger opponents than those he tends to face on regional handicapped tours. The last time he’d appeared on the APT, he’d finished 7th in the inaugural (2013) VA State 10-Ball Championships.
 
“I’m hoping to play in more of these (APT events) this year,” said Ussery. “I want to play against better players and compete in the some of the bigger events, like the US Open or the Super Billiards Expo.”
 
Any time at table, ultimately, is good time at table, but playing in a handicap system, no matter which one it is, carries a downside. According to Ussery, it’s less about the game and more about human nature.
 
“I get so used to giving up a handicap,” Ussery explained, “that when I get into a non-handicap game, it’s hard for me to bear down.”
 
His opening matches tended to demonstrate this. Ussery opened with an 8-6 win over Reggie Jackson, had a strong 8-1 victory over Jonathan Syphanthavong, and then gave up five against Shorty Davis. He had to win a deciding, 15th game in his fourth match, against Justin Martin. Nathan Childress chalked up six against him next, but Ussery prevailed and advanced to his first meeting against Reymart Lim, in one of the winners’ side semifinals. Lim had downed Barry Mashburn, RJ Carmona, Larry Kressel and shut out Greg Sabins (last year’s #12 in the point standings) to reach Ussery. Shane Wolford and Eric Moore (the APT’s 2016 Tour Champion) squared off in the other one.
 
By identical 8-1 scores, Lim and Wolford advanced to the hot seat match over Ussery and Moore. Lim and Wolford then locked up in a double hill fight that eventually sent Wolford to the semifinals and left Lim in the hot seat.
 
Ussery opened up on the loss side against Mike Davis, who was working on a five-match winning streak that was about to end and had included recent wins over Kelly Farrar 7-3 and Justin Martin 7-2. Moore picked up Scott Roberts, who’d been shut out by Greg Sabins in the second round and was working on his own seven-match, loss-side streak that included a successful 7-5 rematch against Sabins and a 7-5 victory over Nathan Childress, which led to Moore.
 
Ussery ended Davis’ streak 7-3 and in the quarterfinals, faced Roberts, who’d defeated Moore 7-4. Ussery ended Roberts’ streak and Wolford’s short visit to the loss side in the semifinals, both 7-5.
 
Going into the final match, Ussery was mindful not only of the earlier matchup, in which Lim had allowed him only a single rack, but previous matchups, as well. They’d faced each other on a number of occasions over the years, and playing against him, Ussery knew what the difference was.
 
“I knew he was a good player when we’d met before,” said Ussery, “but I knew then, that part of the reason he was beating me was that he’d been putting in the time.”
 
“These days,” Ussery added, “I’m as prepared as anybody.”
 
Ussery spoiled Lim’s bid for a second straight win on the APT. He defeated him 10-8 to claim his first APT title.
 
Taylor spoils Atwell’s bid for a third straight, sixth overall VA State 10-Ball Woman’s title.
 
[photo id=51605|align=right]Since 2013, there have been four women who’ve claimed the VA State Women’s 10-Ball title. Tracie Majors won it in 2014 and Meredith Lynch captured the title in 2017. Janet Atwell has claimed the title five times; once in its inaugural year (2013) and then, back-to-back, twice (’15,’16, ’18, ’19). Last year, Atwell was defeated by Liz Taylor, double hill, in the hot seat match and came back to down Taylor 8-2 in the finals to claim her second straight and fifth overall title.  This year, at the event that drew 16 entrants (one more than last year), they reversed things. Taylor was defeated in the hot seat match and came back to defeat Atwell in the finals and claim the 2020 women’s title.
 
It took them each three matches to meet for the first time in the hot seat match. Atwell got by Nicole King, Tina Nash and, in a winners’ side semifinal, shut out Hayleigh Marion. Taylor defeated Soo Emmett, Christy Norris and, in her winners’ side semifinal, survived a double hill match against Lisa Cossette. Atwell claimed the hot seat 6-1.
 
Taylor’s return faced a stiff challenge from Deeqa Nur, who’d been defeated in the opening round of play by Cheryl Sporleder and came back through five opponents to draw Taylor in the semifinals. Nur battled to double hill against two of those opponents. She picked up Hayleigh Marion, coming over from the winners’ side semifinal and defeated her, just ahead of downing Lisa Cossette in a double hill quarterfinal. Taylor spoiled the strong, loss-side bid 5-3 in the semifinals.
 
And so it was, that for the second year in a row, Liz Taylor and Janet Atwell battled for the State of Virginia’s Women’s 10-Ball title. In a reversal of fortunes, Taylor gave up only one rack to Atwell in claiming the event title 8-1.
 
Tour directors Kris Wylie and Tiger Baker thanked the ownership and staff at Diamond Billiards for their hospitality, as well as sponsors Full Stroke Billiards Apparel and Haselman & Hunt, D.D.S., P.C. Family Dentistry. The next stop on the Action Pool Tour, scheduled for March 28-29, will be a Double Points event – The East Coast Landscaping Bar Box Bash – to be hosted by Peninsula Billiards in Newport News, VA.

Walker takes two out of three over Ussery to win Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball Tour stop

Billy Joe Walker

Billy Walker and BJ Ussery met three times in last weekend’s (Feb. 8-9) Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball Tour stop in Lynchburg, VA. According to FargoRate calculations, Walker, rated at 532, came into the match with a 10.2% chance of defeating the 732-rated Ussery in a match, with Ussery racing to 11 and Walker to 6. They met three times; once, in the hot seat match and twice in the finals. Walker took two out of three of those matches to claim the event title and presumably up his Fargo Rate in the process. He was looking for and eventually secured his first Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball Tour title and, in fact, his first recorded title anywhere. The $1,000-added event drew 46 entrants to The Clubhouse in Lynchburg, VA.
 
Ussery’s races to 11 can make his path to a winners’ circle tricky. Case in point: his winners’ side semifinal match against Billie Spadafora, who was racing to 5. They battled to double hill before Ussery won his 11th game and advanced to the hot seat match. Walker joined him after defeating Zach Hampton 6-4 in the other winners’ side semifinal. Walker then took the first of three against Ussery 6-8 to claim the hot seat.
 
On the loss side, Hampton picked up Janet Atwell, who’d defeated Victor Williams 7-1 and Dylan Carr 7-2. Spadafora would have drawn Jordyn Worley, who’d shut out Jonathan Ailstock and downed Collin Hall 4-3 to reach him (Hall racing to 7), but Spadafora did not make it back to the event’s second day.
 
Worley leapfrogged into the quarterfinals, where she was joined by Hampton, who’d eliminated Atwell 9-4. Worley took another step, downing Hampton 4-3 (Hampton racing to 9) in those quarterfinals.
 
Ussery put a stop to Worley’s aspirations with an 11-2 win in the semifinals that followed and then, riding that intangible mount known as momentum, took the opening set of the final against Walker. But just barely, with Walker chalking up a 5th rack to force a deciding 16th game. Ussery won that game and the opening set. Walker, though, had plenty left in the ‘tank’ and took the second set 6-9 to claim his first event title on the tour.
 
Tour directors Herman and Angela Parker thanked the ownership and staff at The Clubhouse, as well as title sponsor Viking Cues, Bar Pool Tables, Delta 13 Racks, AZ Billiards and Professor Q-Ball. The next stop on the tour, scheduled for Feb. 15-16, will be a $1,000-added Scotch Double event (combined high handicap of 15), hosted by Break & Run Billiards in Chesnee, SC.

Frank & Ailstock split top prizes at Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball Brian James Benefit

Brian James and TD Herman Parker

The Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball Tour, through its tour directors Herman and Angela Parker turned their recent tour stop on the weekend of January 11-12 into a benefit event for Brian James, a tour competitor battling fatal pancreatic cancer. Through the raffling of cues, balls and an assortment of other products from keychains to clothing, the tour was able to raise $3,300 to help defray some of the costs of his ongoing health care. James was on hand for the tour stop that followed, which drew 63 entrants to Borderline Billiards in Bristol, TN. Trey Frank went undefeated to the hot seat match, where he sent Jonathan Ailstock to the semifinals. The win would stand as the definitive final match between the two, as Ailstock returned from those semifinals to negotiate a split with Frank of the event’s top two prizes.

Their first meeting followed their victories in the winners’ side semifinals. They each gave up only a single rack in advancing to the hot seat match. Frank had defeated Michael Chapman 7-1, as Ailstock was sending Steve Dye to the loss side 6-1. Their hot seat match, appropriately enough, was a double hill affair, eventually won by Frank.

On the loss side, Chapman and Dye walked right into their second straight loss. Chapman picked up Chris Stump, who’d been defeated by Frank in the 4th round, and was in the midst of a six-match, loss-side winning streak that would take him as far as the semifinals. He’d recently eliminated Doug Schulz 5-1 and Charles Hartung 5-2 and then eliminated Chapman 5-3. Dye drew Hershel Rife, who’d defeated Dalton Messer 5-4 (Messer racing to 6) and Anthony Mabe 5-3.

Chapman and Dye fell to Stump and Rife by the same 5-3 score. Stump then downed Rife 5-2 in the quarterfinals that followed.

In what proved to be the last match of the night, Ailstock ended Stump’s loss-side streak 6-2 in the semifinals. Ailstock agreed to the split, and as the undefeated occupant of the hot seat, Frank claimed the event title.

Tour directors Herman and Angela Parker thanked Janet Atwell and her Borderline Billiards staff for their hospitality and all of those who donated to and/or participated in the raffle that was able to donate $3,300 to Brian James and his family. The Parkers also thanked title sponsor Viking Cues, Bar Pool Tables, Delta 13 Racks, AZ Billiards and Professor Q-Ball. The next stop on the tour, scheduled for January 18-19, will be hosted by Mickey Milligans in New Bern, NC.

Fisher comes back from hot seat loss to down Barretta and claim Ashton Twins Classic in Alberta

Holem, Plowman, Osborn and Lane win four concurrently-run Amateur/Open events

 

Two of pool’s old-school professionals battled in the hot seat and finals of the WPBA’s 4th Annual Ashton Twins Classic over the weekend (Dec. 2-5). Allison Fisher, who entered the tournament as the WPBA's #1 competitor,, and Jennifer Barretta (#3) fought to double hill in the hot seat match, before Barretta prevailed. Fisher came back from the semifinals to meet and defeat her in the finals and claim the 4th Ashton Twins Classic title, her 82nd pro title. Since the event debuted in 2017, it’s been won by two ‘new-school’ professionals, Brittany Bryant (2017, currently #2) and April Larson (2018, currently #23) and in the past two years, by old-school professionals, Vivian Villareal (2019, currently #48) and Fisher this year. The $20,000-added event drew 50 entrants to the Grey Eagle Resort & Casino in Calgary, Alberta.

 

The long weekend also featured four, concurrently-run Amateur and Open events; an Amateur Men’s 9-Ball (51 entrants), a Women’s Amateur 9-Ball (26), a Men’s 8-ball (71; the highest number of the weekend’s events) and a Women’s 8-Ball event (56). A summary of these four events, to include winners and runners-up will follow the Pro event details.

 

While the old-school professionals were represented in this year’s final, the new-school professionals were right there behind them, finishing 3rd (Russia’s Kristina Tkach, #22) and 4th (China’s Wei Tzu-Chien, #4). The tie for 5th place featured one each from the two categories; Janet Atwell (#11), who fell to Wei Tzu-Chien and the event’s 2017 winner, Brittany Bryant, who was eliminated by Tkach. The event’s 2018 champion, April Larson was on hand for this event, as well. She was sent to the loss side by Wei Tzu-Chien and was defeated in her first loss-side match by Kim Newsome (#24). Vivian Villareal did not make the trip to Canada.

 

Following an opening round bye, Fisher opened her six-match winning campaign with three victories in which she gave up a combined total of two racks; one each to (first) Stephanie Hefner and (third) Caroline Pao, with a shutout over Laura Smith in between. This set Fisher up to face Wei Tzu-Chien in one of the winners’ side semifinals (old-school/new-school). Barretta, in the meantime, had also been awarded a bye, and though not quite the domineering performance exhibited by Fisher, she did get by Stephanie Mitchell 9-2, June Maiers 9-3 and Monica Webb 9-2 to arrive at her winners’ side semifinal against Brittany Bryant (another old-school/new-school matchup).

 

Bryant chalked up as many racks against Barretta as all three of Barretta’s previous opponents combined, but fell two short, advancing Barretta 9-7 to the hot seat match. Wei Tzu-Chien chalked up three times as many racks as Fisher’s first three opponents combined, but fell three short, advancing Fisher 9-6 to meet Barretta. As befitted their status, Barretta and Fisher locked up in a double hill fight that saw Barretta down 5-8, before mounting a four-match comeback that left her in the hot seat and Fisher headed for a semifinal matchup versus Kristina Tkach.

 

Going into the money rounds on the loss side (17-24), there were still more than just a handful of potential winners vying to get back to the finals. Among them were Janet Atwell, who’d been defeated, double hill, by Caroline Pao and dropped into the loss side’s first money round. She subsequently got by Emily Duddy 9-7, Laura Smith 9-3, Monica Webb 9-6, and Jia Li 9-6, to draw Wei Tzu-Chien, coming over from the winners’ side semifinal.

 

Also lurking on the loss side was Kristina Tkach, who’d lost her first winners' side match (after a bye) to Kyoko Sone, and then launched an eight-match, loss-side winning streak that would take her all the way to the semifinals. After eliminating Ada Lio and Ashley Burrows to make it into the money rounds, she defeated Gail Eaton 9-1, Dawn Hopkins, double hill, Caroline Pao 9-5 and the WPBA’s #1-ranked competitor going into the tournament, Line Kjorsvik 9-2, to draw Bryant.

 

Tkach dispatched Bryant 9-2 and was joined in the quarterfinals by Wei Tzu-Chien, who’d eliminated Atwell 9-7. Tkach finished up her loss-side winning streak with a 9-3 win over Chien.

 

The commentators on the Cue Sports Live stream employed a slightly different vocabulary for the semifinal match, opting to call it a match between the ‘old guard’ and the ‘new guard.’ Fisher won the opening game of the semifinal match, and though Tkach responded to tie it up, she only did that twice and never got out in front. After the tie at the end of game #2, Fisher won three straight. Tkach came back with two, Fisher got another and Tkach won another two to create the second tie at 5-5. Fisher got out in front by two again, before Tkach chalked up her sixth and final rack. Fisher closed it out 9-6 for a second shot against Barretta.

 

The assembled were expecting a second double hill fight between the two ladies left standing. The race to 11 didn’t pan out that way, although it came close. Fisher took advantage of her second opportunity and downed Barretta 11-8 to claim her first (recorded) event title since she defeated Ga Young-Kim in the finals of the WPBA’s Ho-Chunk Classic in September of 2018.

 

From her home in Charlotte, NC a couple of days later, Fisher commented about her win and the prospect of future wins for her and players like her, like Jennifer Barretta, who's eight months younger than she is.

 

"It's like your own personal battle," she said. "You're constantly wondering 'Can you do it again?' 'Is it ever going to happen?' All those things go through your mind."

 

"There's not as much (time) distance (from former major victories) with me," she added, "but I was a prolific winner and as time goes on, you question and doubt. You're competing with yourself in personal growth."

 

Fisher is also assigning value to other considerations in her life; specifically her time at home with her family, which she noted she had not had much of in her past. Now, she's finding herself elevating that time on a priority scale above shooting pool. She has found that this shift in priorities tends to elevate the significance of each accomplishment.

 

"I don't play a lot these days, because some things (events) are not worth the time to be away from my family," she said. "I don't expect to be competing in 10 years time, so any victory is very valuable to me."

 

Concurrent Amateur/Open events take center stage

 

Kudos to Brian Champayne, who coordinated this long and multi-faceted event, which, as noted at the outset, included four other tournaments, including two which drew more entrants than the main event.

 

Up first on Thursday, January 2 were the Amateur Men’s and Women’s 9-Ball events. In the Men’s event, Tyler Edey and Kevin Osborn battled twice to claim the title. Edey won the first 7-1 to claim the hot seat. Osborn came back after downing Joe Spence 6-4 in the semifinals to defeat Edey 9-7 in the final and claim the Amateur Men’s 9-Ball title. Regene Lane went undefeated to grab the Women’s Amateur 9-Ball title. She and Cindy Nana fought a double hill hot seat match that eventually sent Nana to the semifinals, where she defeated Jenny Lucas 5-2. Lane defeated Nana a second time, this time 7-3 in the final to claim that 9-ball title.

 

On Friday, January 3, Tyler Edey was also in the finals of the most heavily-attended event of the long weekend, the Men’s 8-Ball, which drew 73 players. Edey was sent to the loss side in a double hill, winners’ side quarterfinal, as Stephen Holem advanced to the hot seat, downing Mike Robinson 6-1 in the winners’ side final. Edey worked his way back through five loss-side opponents, including a double hill win over Robinson in the semifinals to face Holem in the finals. Holem completed his undefeated run with a 7-4 victory over Edey.

 

In the Women’s 8-Ball event, which drew 56 entrants, Bonnie Plowman and Tasha Thomas battled twice, hot seat and finals, to determine the winner. Plowman, who finished undefeated, took the hot seat match 5-3, and when Thomas returned from a 4-2 victory over Jana Montour in the semifinals, defeated her a second time 6-4 to claim the event title.