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Bennett goes undefeated to capture 5th Annual NC State 9-Ball Championships

Keith Bennett

In the absence of defending champion Reymart Lim and 2015 champion Jeff Abernathy, it was left to former two-time champion Mike Davis (2016, 2017) and last year’s runner-up, Brandon Shuff to carry the flag (so to speak) into the 2019 North Carolina State 9-Ball Open (or Championships, if you prefer). Though Shuff would, for the second year in a row, do battle in the hot seat match, it was Keith Bennett, who finished in the four-way tie for 9th place last year, who claimed the hot seat. Shuff was subsequently denied the opportunity for a second shot at Bennett, when, in the semifinals, he was defeated by Justin Martin, who had lost to Bennett in the third round and won seven on the loss side to face him a second time in the finals. Bennett prevailed in those finals, however, to claim the 2019 NC State 9-Ball title. The $500-added event, held under the auspices of the Viking Cues Q City 9-Ball Tour, drew 41 entrants to Brown’s Billiards in Raleigh on this past Memorial Day weekend (May 25-26).
Bennett and Shuff’s only match, battling for the hot seat, followed Bennett’s 7-2 victory over Steve Page and Shuff’s defeat of Kelly Farrar 7-4 in the two winners’ side semifinals. In a double hill hot seat battle, Shuff scratched, shooting at the 7-ball in the deciding game and Bennett closed it out. Shuff, as noted, would not return.
On the loss side, where, for a while, Mike Davis, JT Ringgold, BJ Ussery and the 2017 Q City 9-Ball Tour champion Joshua Padron remained in the hunt for a win, Justin Martin continued his steady progress to a re-match versus Bennett in the finals. He chalked up loss-side wins #3 and #4 against Billy Fowler 7-3 and eliminated JT Ringgold, double hill to face Page. Farrar drew Mike Davis, who’d most recently defeated Ussery and Padron, both 7-5.
Martin downed Page 7-3 and in the quarterfinals, faced Farrar, who’d survived a double hill fight against Davis. Though Davis had reached the hill first, Farrar rallied to win it. Martin gave up just a single rack to Farrar in the quarterfinals and then spoiled Shuff’s bid for a second appearance in these NC State 9-Ball Open finals, by defeating him, double hill.
It was a hard fought battle for the 2019 title that fell a game short of going double hill. Bennett edged out in front at the end to claim the title 9-7.
Tour directors Herman and Angela Parker thanked the ownership and staff at Brown’s Billiards, 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 (June 1-2) will be a $200-added event, hosted by a new venue on the tour; the Sunrise Saloon & Grill in Greer, SC.

Lim ends Davis’ two-year reign as NC State 9-Ball Champion

l to r: Reymart Lim & Brandon Shuff

Though the 4th Annual NC State 9-Ball Championships, held under the auspices of the Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball Tour on the weekend of March 3-4, saw both of its former champions – Jeff Abernathy (2015) and Mike Davis (2016, 2017) – competing for the title, it was NC State’s current 10-Ball Champion, Reymart Lim, who came back from a defeat by Brandon Shuff, in a winners’ side semifinal, to down him in the finals and claim the title. Before it was done, Lim had also defeated Abernathy, and the Q City 9-Ball Tour’s 2017 Tour Champion, Joshua Padron. The $750-added event drew 50 entrants to Brass Tap Billiards in Raleigh, NC.
Lim advanced through the field to draw Shuff in a winners’ side semifinal, while Abernathy squared off against Chris Bruner in the other one. Shuff, a member of the USA Mosconi Cup team in 2012, and one of three USA players to finish among the top 10 in the 2016 US Open 9-Ball Championships (Shane Van Boening, who won it, and Jeremy Jones were the other two), defeated Lim 9-6 in their first meeting. He was joined in the hot seat match by Bruner, who’d sent Abernathy to the loss side 9-5. Shuff then claimed the hot seat in a double hill battle against Bruner and waited on Lim’s return.
Prior to Lim’s arrival on the loss side, defending champion Davis and Padron had made it to the event’s first money round, where they met. Padron ended Davis’ bid for a third straight title with a 7-5 win, and then eliminated teenager Peter Abatangelo, also 7-5, to draw Lim. Abernathy picked up long-time Carolinas competitor, Keith Bennett, who’d defeated Norris Brady 7-1 and survived a double hill fight against Barry Mashburn.
Lim downed Padron 7-1, and was joined in the quarterfinals by Abernathy, who’d eliminated Bennett 7-5. Abernathy, looking for his second straight appearance in the finals of this event, had his short, loss-side trip ended by Lim 7-2 in those quarterfinals.
Lim went on to down Bruner 7-4 in the semifinals. He completed his run with an 11-6 victory over Shuff in the finals and claimed the NC State 9-Ball title.
Tour directors Herman and Angela Parker thanked the ownership and staff at Brass Tap Billiards, as well as title sponsor Viking Cues, Delta 13 Racks, AZBilliards and Professor Q Ball. The next stop on the Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball Tour, scheduled for the weekend of March 10-11, will be a $500-added event, hosted by Cue Time Billiards in Spartanburg, SC.

Lim wins seven on the loss side to meet, defeat Moore and win Action Pool Tour’s season finale

Malm and Townsend finish 1st & 2nd for third straight time in Women’s event
It’s been a good year for Reymart Lim; his best recorded earnings year since he started showing up on the AZBilliards’ database, four years ago. He began the year in February by finishing fourth in the 2017 VA State 10-Ball Championships, behind Dennis Orcollo, Shaun Wilkie and Larry Kressel. Since that time, he’s cashed in nine other events, including victories on the Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball Tour, and the North Carolina State 10-Ball Open. Only once, all year, has he been outside of an event’s top 10 finishers. The exception was the 42nd Annual US Open 9-Ball Championships, at which he finished in the tie for 25th. There were only seven US players among the Open’s top 25 finishers – Lim, Earl Strickland (also in the tie for 25th), Skyler Woodward, Justin Bergman, Shane Van Boening (all 13th), Billy Thorpe (9th), and Corey Deuel (7th).
Good company, to say the least. On the weekend of December 9-10, Lim added a victory on the Action Pool Tour to his resumé and had to win seven on the loss side to do it. He challenged and defeated hot seat occupant, Eric Moore in the finals. It was the APT’s season finale and it drew 35 entrants to Q Master Billiards in Virginia Beach, VA. A concurrently-run Women’s event drew a very short field of six entrants and saw Tina Malm and Gwen Townsend finish 1st & 2nd, respectively, for the third straight time on the tour.
In the women’s event, a preliminary, two-match round of play advanced Malm and Meredith Lynch to the winners’ side semifinals. Malm had defeated Soo Emmett 7-2 to draw Townsend. Lynch had sent Donisha Riddick to the loss side 7-1 and picked up Cheryl Pritchard. Malm and Townsend battled to double hill, before Townsend finished it to advance to the hot seat match. She was joined by Pritchard, who’d defeated Lynch 7-5. Townsend successfully fought a second double hill match and sat in the hot seat, awaiting Malm’s return from a three-match trip on the loss side.
On the loss side, Malm downed Riddick 7-2, advancing to meet Lynch, who’d defeated Emmett 7-1. Malm and Lynch came within a game of double hill, before Malm advanced to the semifinals 7-5. Malm then downed Pritchard 7-1 for a second shot at Townsend in the hot seat. The race was extended to 9, and Malm needed 16 of the match’s potential 17 games to close it out. She did so, 9-7, to chalk up her third straight victory on the tour (7th overall). It was also Townsend’s third straight finish as runner-up (to go along with a victory in May). The two finished 1st and 2nd in the tour’s rankings for the year.
In the Open event (in which Malm participated, as well, going two-and-out), Lim won his opening-round match against Brad Hedges 9-3, and was then sent to the loss side by Tuan Chau 9-6. Chau advanced to meet Eric Moore, who defeated him, double hill, and then advanced to a winners’ side semifinal against Kenny Miller. JT Ringgold, having defeated Mac Harrell, Michael Hughes, and Greg Sabins, advanced to meet Chris Wilburn, who entered (and finished) the tournament as the tour’s #2-ranked player (Shaun Wilkie, who did not compete, remained in the #1 slot).
Moore downed Miller 9-6, as Ringgold defeated Wilburn 9-3. Moore and Ringgold locked up in a double hill fight for possession of the hot seat and Moore claimed it.
On the loss side, Lim opened his trek back to the finals with victories over Jose Vega-Hernandez (7-1), Joshua Padron (7-2), Greg Sabins (7-2), and Mac Harrell (7-4), to draw Miller. Wilburn picked up the man who’d sent Lim to the loss side, Tuan Chau, who’d recently defeated Michael Hughes 7-2 and Nilbert Lim (no relation, though a friend, to Reymart) 7-4.
Chau defeated Wilburn, as Reymart Lim was busy eliminating Harrell, both 7-4. Lim wreaked his vengeance on Chau 7-2 in the quarterfinals, and went on to down Ringgold 7-5 in the semifinals. Lim took command of the finals, and finished it at 11-5 to claim the event title.
Tour director Ozzy Reynolds thanked the ownership and staff at Q Master Billiards for their hospitality and sponsorship, along with Cue Sports International, Predator, Ozone Billiards and George Hammerbach. The event, as the season finale, also ended the mega-battle for tour rankings in the male and Open divisions. Leading the way in the Open Division was Shaun Wilkie, who earned airfare, hotel and entry fee to the 2018 US Open 10-Ball Championships. Chris Wilburn, who finished second, earned hotel and entry fee to the same event.
Tina Malm, who finished at the top of the women’s rankings, received hotel accommodations and entry fee to the 2018 BCAPL World Championships in July. Unless a female finishes at the top of the tour’s Open rankings, Malm became the APT’s last separate female tour champion, because the APT will no longer offer separate tournaments for a female division of the tour.

Davis wins third straight NC State 8-Ball Championship

Mike Davis, Jr.

If state pool championships are the measurement device, then Mike Davis is the best pool player in North Carolina. He owns back-to-back titles in the state’s 9-Ball Championships and on the weekend of November 4-5, he chalked up his third straight NC State 8-Ball title.
Say what you will about competing in a small field, Davis locked up his third 8-Ball title by defeating one of the game’s better known veterans, Mark Tademy, cited by The Hyper Texts ( as one of a list of “unknown monster players who could play with anyone on a given day.” A little over 10 years ago (2006), Davis and Tademy were among a  world-wide cast of the best in the International Pool Tour’s (IPT) North American Open Championship in Las Vegas. Finishing in the tie for 61st, and pocketing $5K, Tademy was in tied company with (among others) Keith McCready, Mike Sigel, George “Ginky” Sansouci, Shannon Daulton, Allison Fisher, Loree Jon Hasson, Jeremy Jones, Allen Hopkins and Gerda Hofstatter. Davis, who finished 121st, and pocketed $2K, was in tied company with (among others) Grady Mathews, Jose Parica, Mike Massey, Tommy Kennedy, Warren Kiamco, Ewa Mataya Laurance, Tony Robles, Shane Van Boening, Karen Corr, and Billy Incardona.
And so, the hot seat and finals of the 2017 NC State 8-Ball Championships, held under the auspices of the Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball Tour, featured two of the sport’s more prominent competitors; one (Tademy), a little more old-school than the other (Davis). The $300-added event drew 23 entrants to Brown’s Billiards in Raleigh, NC. It should be noted that the weekend of November 4-5 played host to at least two other major 8-Ball Tournaments, which are about as rare as teenagers who don’t play video games – NYC’s BCA-sanctioned 8-Ball Championships, which drew 241 entrants (with some duplication over six separate events) and Maryland State’s 8-Ball Championships, which drew a full field of 128 entrants. North Carolina appeared to have drawn the ‘short straw’ on available 8-ball competitors.
The tournament did, however, draw two marquee players into its final two matches. Davis and Tademy met first in the hot seat match, once Davis had sent Jim Lewis to the loss side 7-3 in one winners’ side semifinal and Tademy had dispatched former NC State 9-Ball Champion Jeff Abernathy 7-4 in the other one. Davis claimed the hot seat 7-3 over Tademy and waited for round two.
On the loss side, Abernathy picked up Eddie Little, who’d gotten by Kenny Daughtrey 7-3 and Steve Page 7-4. Lewis drew Joshua Padron (winner of the 2016 Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball Tour Championships this past January), who’d defeated Brown’s Billiards’ owner Dave Huffman 7-2 and Tyler Chappell 7-5.
Little and Padron eliminated winners’ side semifinalists Abernathy and Lewis, respectively; Little, 7-4 over Abernathy and Padron, 7-3 over Lewis. Little dropped Padron 7-5 in the quarterfinals that followed, before having his two-match, loss-side run ended by Tademy 7-3 in the semifinals.
The two veterans, Davis and Tademy, fought back and forth in the early going of the finals to a 5-5 tie. Davis, though, took command at that point and chalked up the next four in a row to win it and claim his third straight NC State 8-Ball title.
Tour directors Herman and Angela Parker thanked Brown’s Billiards’ owner Dave Huffman and his staff for their hospitality, as well as title sponsor Viking Cues, Delta 13 Racks, AZBilliards and Professor Q Ball. The next stop on the Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball Tour, scheduled for November 11-12, will be a $1,000-added event, hosted by Mr. Cues II in Atlanta, GA.

Padron goes undefeated to win youth-full Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball Tour Championships

Joshua Padron

In spite of an initial cancellation and a number of competing events (like Derby City), the Viking Cues' Q City 9-Ball Tour set a participant record during its 2016 Tour Championships, held on the weekend of January 21-22. Hosted by The Brass Tap in Raleigh, NC, the $1,000-added event drew 82 entrants, breaking a previous entrant record by 13. The roster of competitors included two junior players, who finished among the event's final four. Emerging from the field, undefeated, was Joshua Padron, who downed one of those juniors, 16-year-old Hunter White, twice, to claim the event title.
Originally scheduled for the weekend of January 7-8, the event was canceled and re-scheduled when the Raleigh area went under a state of emergency, related to expected ice and snow storms. It was an unavoidable cancellation, which didn't prevent a list of potential participants, who'd had to travel some distance, from complaining about that cancellation in the pool world blog-o-sphere. 
"In spite of the cancellation, it was a tremendous field," said tour director Herman Parker. "If it hadn't been for Derby City, we'd have had 128."
In the year ahead, the tour will hold two tour championships, one in September and another at the end of the year, each catering to participation on different sized tables. One will play out on 'bar box' tables and the other, on standard 9-ft. tables.
Padron's victory and young Hunter White's standout performance in the runner-up category had a way of overshadowing a strong showing by Greg Burke. He and White traveled together to the championships from the Greenville/Spartanburg area. Burke lost his opening round match, and chalked up 11 matches (one bye) on the loss side of the bracket before meeting his traveling companion in the semifinals.
Padron advanced to a winners' side semifinal against Travis Guerra (runner-up on the preceding tour stop – January 14), while Hunter White squared off against Barry Mashburn. Padron downed Guerra 6-4, and in the hot seat match, faced, in their first of two, White, who'd downed Mashburn 8-4. Padron claimed the hot seat and waited for White to get back from the semifinals, against Burke, as it turned out.
On the loss side, the event's other notable junior, Peter Abatangelo (15), defeated Earl Davis 5-2, and in a meeting between pool student (Abatangelo) and teacher (George Crawford), Abatangelo prevailed, 5-1, to draw Guerra, fresh off his defeat at the hands of Padron. Mashburn had the misfortune of drawing Burke, who, by this time, had chalked up eight victories on the loss side, including David Brown 7-4 and Blade Best 7-2. 
Abatangelo advanced to the quarterfinals 5-3 over Geurra, as Burke was downing loss-side opponent # 8 (Mashburn) 7-3, to join him. Burke was now poised to face two junior players in a row. He took care of the first one, Abatangelo, 7-2 in the quarterfinals, but then ran into his traveling companion, Hunter White. The two battled to double hill, before White chalked up the final game and advanced to the finals, presumably with his ride home not in jeopardy.
With White racing to 8, and Padron to 6, White had to win twice to claim the title. He didn't. Padron took the opening and only set 6-4 to become the Viking Cues' Q City 9-Ball Tour's 2016 Champion.
Tour director Herman Parker thanked the ownership and staff at The Brass Tap for their hospitality, as well as title sponsor Viking Cues, Delta 13 Racks, Ruthless Billiards,, AZBilliards and Professor Q Ball. The next stop on the Viking Cues' Q City 9-Ball Tour, scheduled for January 28-29, will be hosted by Gate City Billiards in Greensboro, NC.

Fitch thwarts Davis bid to defend NC 10-Ball title

Shannon Fitch and Mike Davis

Mike Davis is the current North Carolina 8-ball and 9-ball champion. His bid to successfully defend his 10-ball title, won in 2015, was derailed on the weekend of July 16-17 by Shannon Fitch, who came back from a defeat in a winners' side semifinal to battle Davis to a case game in the finals and win it. The $800-added North Carolina State Open 10-Ball Championships, held under the auspices of the Q City 9-Ball Tour, drew 52 entrants to Brass Tap and Billiards in Raleigh, NC.
The event itself was almost derailed by a power outage on Saturday that, instead of the normal dozen or so that might have returned to play on Sunday, forced the return of 30 competitors. Play resumed on Sunday, with both Fitch and Davis advancing to a winners' side semifinal; Fitch versus Matt Bulfin and Davis against Daniel Gambill.
Fitch moved to the loss side after a 7-4 victory by Bulfin. Davis advanced with a 7-2 victory over Gambill. As he had done last year, at the same location, Davis grabbed the hot seat. This time, with a 7-3 victory over Bulfin.
Fitch opened his three-match, loss-side campaign against renowned cue maker Daniel Heidrich, who, in the event's first money round, had defeated Corey Sykes 7-3 and then, eliminated 'young gun' (age 16) Hunter White. Gambill drew Kenny Miller, who'd defeated Chris Wilburn and Joshua Padron, both 7-5.
Fitch and Gambill chalked up identical 7-4 victories over Heidrich and Miller and advanced to the quarterfinals. Fitch took that contest 7-5 and then defeated Bulfin in the semifinals by the same score.
The final was a single race to 9, and it was clear from the start that it wasn't going to be easy. Fitch and Davis battled back and forth through numerous ties until they reached the final one at 8-8. Davis broke and came up dry. Fitch stepped to the table and ran it to claim the 2016 North Carolina State Open 10-Ball title.
Tour director Herman Parker thanked the ownership and staff at Brass Tap, as well as title sponsor Viking Cues, and Delta-13 Racks. The next stop on the Q City 9-Ball Tour, scheduled for July 23, will be hosted by Brian's Billiards in Roanoke Rapids, NC.

Ringold hangs on to chalk up his first win on the Great Southern Billiard Tour

Shannon Daulton, JT Ringold and Greg Smith

There are a lot of nerve-wracking scenarios in the sport of pool; sitting in the hot seat, waiting for an opponent, who'd like nothing better than to knock you out of that seat, for example, or being in the midst of a lengthy loss-side run, during which every match puts you face to face with elimination. Here's one: you've managed to get yourself into the hot seat for the first time on a tour. You've defeated a tour veteran to get there, and then, a loss-side challenger, other than your hot seat opponent, faces and defeats you in the opening set of a true double elimination final, and you step to the table for a second set with everything on the line.
JT Ringold faced just such a scenario during the April 5-6 stop on the Great Southern Billiard Tour, defeating tour veteran Sidney Champion to get into the hot seat, and then, in the second set of a true double elimination final, defeating loss-side challenger Greg Smith to claim his first GSBT title. The $1,000-added event drew 30 entrants to Mickey Milligan's in New Bern, NC.
To get into the hot seat match against Champion, Ringold had defeated Paul Swinson 6-1. Champion, in the meantime, had sent Ringold's eventual opponent in the finals, Smith, to the losers' bracket 9-6. Ringold downed Champion 6-5 to complete the first half of the 'nerve-wracking scenario' that would end with him in the winners' circle.
Swinson moved to the loss side and picked up Joshua Padron, who'd given up only two racks over his previous two matches, giving up one to Shane Foy and the other to Chris McSorley. Smith drew Josh Heeter, who'd gotten by Younger Chapman 7-2 and Chad Pike 7-4. 
Smith survived a double hill fight versus Heeter to advance to the quarterfinals, while Swinson gave Padron a taste of his own 'one-rack' medicine, advancing 5-1 to meet Smith. Smith then downed Swinson 9-4, and took out Champion in the semifinals 9-3. Presumably with a little momentum on his side, Smith took command of the opening set of the finals against Ringold, winning it 9-3. Ringold, though, with his eyes no doubt firmly focused on the prize, took solid command of the second set, winning it 6-3 to successfully negotiate the 'nerve-wracking scenario' and claim his first GSBT title.
Tour director Shannon Daulton thanked the ownership and staff at Mickey Milligan's for their hospitality, as well as sponsors Nick Varner Cues & Cases, Delta-13, Ozone Billiards, Tiger Products, Andy Gilbert Custom Cues, Lomax Cues, and Universe Clothing for their continuing support of the tour. The next stop on the GSBT, scheduled for April 12-13, will be hosted by Shore Thing Billiards in Myrtle Beach, SC.