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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,, 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. 

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

(l to r): Brian Bagwell & Billy Fowler

As general manager of the Steakhorse Restaurant & Billiards facility in Spartanburg, SC, it stands to reason that Billy Fowler would have intimate knowledge of the room’s pool tables and whatever eccentricities they might (or might not) display at any given time. At the very least, one would expect that Fowler would end up with a lot of practice on those tables. But then, you’d expect Steakhorse Restaurant & Billiards owner, Dayne Miller to have an equal, if not greater familiarity with the same tables. Fowler and Brian Bagwell played three matches to determine the winner of last weekend’s (May 11-12) Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball Tour stop. Fowler took two out of the three to capture the event title. Miller, however, finished out of the money altogether and, one would suspect, went back to work when he was so eliminated. The $500-added event drew 44 entrants to the Steakhorse venue.
Fowler and Bagwell met first in the hot seat match. Fowler had sent Hank Powell to the loss side 8-5 in one of the winners’ side semifinals, while Bagwell sent Jason Gardner over 7-2 in the other one. Fowler took the first of the three against Bagwell 8-4 and sat in the hot seat, awaiting his return.
On the loss side, in Sunday matches, Powell and Gardner ran straight into their second loss. Powell, actually, did not return on Sunday and forfeited his match to Danny Rinehart, who’d defeated Steve Ellis and Nick Gaines, both 5-3 to reach him and then jumped right into the quarterfinals. He was joined by Jeff Abernathy, who’d defeated Dayne Miller 9-0 and Barry Mashburn, double hill, to draw and then defeat Jason Gardner 9-1.
With Abernathy racing to 9, Rinehart eliminated him in the quarterfinals 5-4. He then had his  loss-side winning streak ended by Bagwell 7-3 in the semifinals.
Fowler was giving Bagwell a single game on the wire in a race to 8. Bagwell, with some momentum on his side, won the double elimination’s opening set 7-3. Tied now at one match apiece, Fowler woke up soon enough to engage Bagwell in a double hill fight in the second set. Fowler won that second set to claim the event title, his fourth in as many years on the tour.
Fowler thanked tour directors Herman and Angela Parker for the first place prize, as the Parkers thanked Miller and Fowler and the Steakhorse staff for their hospitality, as well as title sponsor Viking Cues, Bar Pool Tables, Delta 13 Racks, AZ Billiards and Professor Q-Ball. The next stop on the Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball Tour, scheduled for this weekend (May 18-19), will be hosted by Borderline Billiards in Bristol, TN.