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Tate and Mast come out on top of BEF qualifier; CA State Junior Championships in Sacramento

Joey Tate (Photo courtesy Cris Constantin)

Currently riding atop the 18U Boys division of the ongoing second season of the Junior International Championship series, having won three of its six stops in 2022, North Carolina’s Joey Tate made his way to the West Coast last weekend (August 6-7) and with a hot seat ‘hiccup’ and a subsequent rematch against Adrian Prasad in the finals, claimed the BEF’s Junior National-qualifying spot at the CA State Junior Championships. The $5,000-added boys’ division drew 17 entrants to Hard Times Billiards in Sacramento, CA.

On the opposite end of the gender spectrum, two of the best-known, not to mention youngest female competitors in the sport – Sofia Mast (14) and Savannah Easton (12) – battled in the hot seat and finals of the $5,000-added, 18U Girls division of the event, which drew 7 entrants to the same location. Easton claimed the hot seat, but Mast came back from defeating her long-time (well, two-year) rival, Skylar Hess, in the semifinals and returned to defeat Easton in the finals to claim the event title.

The California event was just one of many tournaments that have occurred in this calendar year which are manifestations of the Junior International Championships (JIC), founded by Ra Hanna and his On the Wire Creative Media company in 2021. At the conclusion of the first season and just prior to the second, Hanna made note of the fact that the first season was “just practice” and that “practice was (now) over.” His intent, at the start of the second season, was to encourage his junior competitors to step away from tournaments restricted to their peers and get themselves out in the ‘real world’ of tough competition against older opponents. And the top JIC competitors have been doing just that. While not leaping to the top of ranked players, they’ve been cashing in a lot of tournaments and impressing veteran players on a lot of the tours, as, by way of just a couple of examples, the Viking Cues Q City 9-Ball Tour on which the Tate family (Joey, Bethany and Noelle) has been competing regularly and a number of Florida tours and independent events, on which Tampa-based Sophia Mast has been playing.

Though the California event drew a number of the JIC competitors back among their peers, it also had a way of demonstrating the impact of the JIC throughout the country. Ten of the 17 California event competitors in the 18U Boys division were JIC veterans and all but one of the seven girls in the 18U Girls division were regulars on the JIC series. The top four finishers in both divisions of the California State Junior Championships came from the ranks of the JIC.

Joey Tate has proved to be the JIC’s top competitor this year, not only winning the three of the series’ six events thus far in the 18U division, but two of the series’ six in the ProAm division. With the exception of Adrian Prasad, who made somewhat of a surprise showing in California, finishing third, the top four finishers among the boys in California were the top-ranked competitors in the JIC 18U division.

Tate got by his first two opponents in California, Nathan Nunes and Cody Hill, giving up just a single rack to Nunes. Cameron Hollingsworth, brother to Landon (#2 among JIC 18U Boys), chalked up three against him in their winners’ side semifinal. Adrian Prasad, in the meantime, got by Cash Lance and Gabe Martinez (who’d previously sent Landon Hollingsworth to the loss side) before defeating Carlos Jinez to join Tate in the hot seat match. Tate and Prasad locked up in a double hill fight that did, eventually, leave Prasad in the hot seat.

On the loss side, the Hollingsworth brothers were looking at the possibility of meeting in the event quarterfinals. Landon did his part, defeating Carlos Jinez 7-2, but Lazaro Martinez, #3 among the JIC 18U Boys, battled Cameron to double hill before eventually defeating him. Martinez made it two brothers in a row, defeating Landon in the quarterfinals 7-4, but Tate stopped Martinez 7-5 in the semifinals for a second shot at Prasad in the hot seat.

Tate completed his title run with a 9-6 rematch victory over Prasad in the finals.

Sofia Mast (Photo courtesy Cris Constantin)

The “Pink Dagger” and “Roadrunner” square off in CA 18U Girls hot seat and finals

You can almost imagine these two young women facing each other before a match. The “Pink Dagger,” (Sofia Mast) pretending, with a quiet smile, that she has a dagger and pretending to thrust it, while the “Roadrunner” (Savannah Easton) takes a step back and with a twinkle in her eye, says, “Beep! Beep.”

The Pink Dagger found its target this past weekend. While the Roadrunner “beep-beeped’ her way into the hot seat, the Dagger came back and downed her in the finals.

The short field made for a short run to their first match. Mast got by the only competitor not drawn from the JIC ranks, Emars Selgado, in the opening round 7-2 and walked into the JIC’s #1-ranked competitor in the 18U Girls division, Bethany Tate, in a winners’ side semifinal (Mast is 4th and Easton 9th in the JIC 18U Girls division). Easton, in the meantime, opened with a 7-4 win over Kennedy Meyman and drew Skylar Hess in the other winners’ side semifinal.

Mast defeated Tate 7-2, as Easton was downing Hess 7-4. Easton then defeated Mast 7-2 and claimed the hot seat.

To absolutely no one’s surprise, it was Hess and Tate who squared off in the event’s quarterfinals, once Hess had eliminated Hayleigh Marion and Tate had defeated Meyman, both 7-3. Hess (5th among the JIC 18U Girls) defeated Tate in those quarterfinals 7-3, but fell to Mast in the semifinals 7-5. The “Pink Dagger” flashed the sharp blade of her precision shooting and cool-as-the-proverbial-cucumber demeanor in the finals, giving up only a single rack to Easton and claiming the CA State Junior Championship title. 

After this BEF Junior National qualification gig, the girls and boys of the JIC will be back at it  later this month (Aug. 19-21), when they visit Big Dog Billiards in Des Moines, IA. 

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34th Annual BEF Junior National Pool Championships Crowns 2022 National Champions

The Billiard Education Foundation recently held its 34th annual Junior National Pool Championships, Tuesday, June 21 to Saturday, June 25. The event attracted more than 130 of the top junior pool players across the country.

During the event, the Billiard Education Foundation recognized more than 90 players as Academic All Americans, as they all had a great point average of 3.0 GPA or better. Of those players, 39 players had a 4.0 GPA or higher. Along with the Academic All Americans, the BEF also recognized Hayleigh Marion and Kaden Hillman as the recipients of this year’s Brenden Crocket Sportsman Award for exemplifying the ideals of sportsmanship while at the pool table with ethical behavior, fair play, and integrity throughout the event.

During the week-long tournament BCA Hall of Famer Tom “Dr. Cue” Rossman also held his 28th consecutive annual artistic pool competition. Dr. Cue presented the 2022 Artistic Pool awards to this year’s champions: Brody Hillman (U18 boys division), Kaden Hillman (U16 and U14 boys divisions), Sofia Mast (U18 girls division), Hayleigh Marion (U16 girls division), and Skylar Hess (U14 girls division).

On Saturday, June 25th the Junior National Pool Championships concluded with the final matches in each category. In an effort to align with the WPA World Junior 9-Ball Championship, the BEF awarded gold, silver and bronze medals to the top three finishers of each division.

The finalist of this year’s BEF Junior National 9-Ball Championships presented by Iwan Simonis are:

Gold Medalists:
18UB Landon Hollingsworth (Greenville, SC)
18UG Skylar Hess (Queenstown, MD)
16UB Adrian Prasad (Sacramento, CA)
16UG Precilia Kinsley (Roanoke, VA)
14UB Eddie Vonderau (Rapid City, SD)
14UG Savannah Easton (Las Vegas, NV)

Silver Medalists:
18UB Joey Tate (Elm City, NC)
18UG Kennedy Meyman (White Bear Lake, MN)
16UB Harry Leinen (Waconia, MN)
16UG Bethany Tate (Elm City, NC)
14UB Jayce Little (High Point, NC)
14UG Sofia Mast (Land O’ Lakes, FL)

Bronze Medalists:
18UB Niko Konkel (Winston-Salem, NC)
18UG Courtney Hairfield (Chester, VA)
16UB Niko Konkel (Winston-Salem, NC)
16UG Hayleigh Marion (Bristol, VA)
14UB Jordan Witkin (Algonquin, IL)
14UG Noelle Tate (Elm City, NC)

The finalist of this year’s BEF U18 8-Ball National Championship presented by Lucasi Cues are:

8-Ball Girls Division:
Gold Medalist: Savannah Easton (Las Vegas, NV)
Silver Medalist: Sofia Mast (Land O’ Lakes, FL)
Bronze Medalist: Jordan Helfrey (St. Joseph, MO)

8-Ball Boys Division:
Gold Medalist: Trent White (Plant City, FL)
Silver Medalist: Jacob Kohl (Stevens, PA)
Bronze Medalist: Brent Worth (Hampton, VA)

The finalist of this year’s BEF U22 10-Ball National Championship presented by Diamond Billiard Products are:

Gold Medalist: Landon Hollingsworth (Greenville, SC)
Silver Medalist: Nathan Nunes (Fremont, CA)
Bronze Medalist: Adrian Prasad (Sacramento, CA)

Introduced at this year’s BEF Junior National Pool Championships was the Michael J. Repici Girls in Billiards Scholarship. The new scholarship fund provided $1,000 to the three girls 9-Ball division champions. In its inaugural year, the recipients of the Michael J Repici include: U18 9-Ball Champion Skylar Hess; U16 9-Ball Champion Precilia Kinsley; and U14 9-Ball Champion Savannah Easton.

Sponsors for this year’s event included:

About Billiard Education Foundation
The Billiard Education Foundation (BEF) was formed in 1993 as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit charity committed to promoting a love of pool and building the next generation of players through youth programs and academic scholarships. The BEF is managed by the Billiard Congress of America. For more information about the BEF or to learn how you can support the foundation please visit BilliardEducation.org.

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Hollingsworth takes two titles for the second time at BEF Junior Nationals in Vegas

2022 Winners (Courtesy Roy Pastor – BEF)

Nine events, drawn from 22 national qualifiers across 17 states, yields 110 unique competitors

For the second year in a row, since the Billiards Education Foundation initiated a new rule allowing players to compete in more than one division of their Junior National Championships, Greenville, SC’s Landon Hollingworth has taken advantage of an opportunity to claim two separate titles at the annual event. He claimed two 2021 Junior National titles in both the 18 & Under and 16 & Under divisions and last week, though he’d aged out of eligibility for the 16 & Under division of the 2022 Junior Nationals, he won his second 18 & Under division title and added a win in the event’s 10-Ball Championships. Nine divisions drew 110 unique entrants to the 2022 Junior National Championships, which were hosted by the South Point Hotel & Convention Center in Las Vegas, NV from June 21-25.

Three of the nine events were designated as qualifiers for the World Junior 9-Ball Championships, scheduled for the week of November 14-20 at the Puerto Rico Convention Center in San Juan, Puerto Rico. In addition to the 18U Boys division event, won by Hollingsworth, the 18U Girls division, won by Skylar Hess and the 16U Boys division, won by Adrian Prasad will yield eligible entrants to the World Juniors event. The BEF will make an announcement sometime in the future regarding which players among those who participated will be eligible, taking into account finish positions in each of the qualifying events and the ability of individual players to attend.

The influence of the ongoing Junior International Championship (JIC) series of tournaments, now midway through its second year, was very evident in the results of this year’s Junior Nationals. Of the 27 medals awarded to competitors (gold, silver, bronze; three in each division), 25 of them went to active competitors in the JIC series. 

“Proud is an understatement,” wrote On the Wire Creative Media’s Ra Hanna, who organized and runs the series, in the JIC Facebook page. “We’re a family; that’s it, pure and simple. We work hard and we play hard.” 

Hollingsworth’s two Gold medals at the BEF Junior Nationals were not without their challenges. Though he’d go undefeated in the second-largest event in terms of entrants, the 18U Boys 9-Ball World Qualifier, which drew 35 entrants, he had to play one loss-side match in his 10-Ball Championship run, which drew 32.

Niko Konkel, Landon Hollingsworth and Joey Tate

None of his five opponents in his 9-Ball event run chalked up less than four racks against him and one of them, Garrett Vaughan, forced him to win the final game of a double hill struggle. He downed Niko Konkel 9-6 to claim the hot seat, before he had to face one of his regular opponents on the JIC circuit, Joey Tate, in the finals. Tate had been sent to the loss side, where he defeated Nicholas Fiore, Trent White in the quarterfinals and Konkel, who picked up the event’s Bronze medal, in the semifinals. Hollingsworth grabbed the Gold medal with a 10-7 final victory over Tate, who went home with the Silver medal. 

In the 10-Ball Championships, Hollingsworth began his run to the hot seat match by defeating his younger brother Cameron and then defeated three more opponents to reach and challenge Nathan Nunes for the hot seat. Nunes handed him his first, and as it turned out, only loss of the week 7-3 and claimed the hot seat. Hollingsworth was challenged to his second double hill match by Adrian Prasad in the semifinals and prevailed for a second chance against Nunes. In the very early morning hour or so of Saturday, June 25, he collected his second Gold medal with a 7-5 victory over Nunes in the finals of the 10-Ball event.

In the 18U Girls world qualifier, which drew 17 entrants, Skylar Hess won three on the loss side to down Kennedy Meyman in the finals. Hess had been sent to the loss side by Meyman, who’d advanced to claim the hot seat in a double hill win over Courtney Hairfield. On the loss side, Hess defeated Bethany Tate in the quarterfinals and Hairfield in the semifinals, both 7-5. She won her rematch versus Meyman 10-3 to claim the event’s Gold medal. The top four finishers in this event were among the JIC’s top-ranked competitors in its 18UG division, midway through the JIC season. The winner of the BEF 18UG event, Hess, is 4th on the JIC list, while the runner-up, Meyman, is 2nd. Precilia Kinsley, who finished in the tie for 5th/6th at this event is 3rd on the JIC list, while the 4th place finisher is currently the JIC’s top-ranked young female competitor, Bethany Tate.  

In the remaining world-qualifying event, the 16U Boys 9-Ball, which drew one entrant less than the 18U Boys event (34), the 10-Ball Championship’s Bronze medalist, Adrian Prasad came from the loss side to down Harrison Leinen in the finals. Prasad had been defeated by Leinen 9-7 in the battle for the hot seat, and then eliminated the 9-Ball event’s Bronze medalist Niko Konkel in the semifinals 7-2. Prasad completed his run with a 10-8 victory over Leinen in the finals.

The 16U Girls had, by far, the shortest field in the Junior Nationals with only 7 entrants and the above-noted Precilia Kinsley and Bethany Tate finished as winner and runner-up. Those two battled first in a winners’ side semifinal that went double hill before Tate advanced to the hot seat match against Hayleigh Marion. In her second straight double hill match, Tate defeated Marion to claim the hot seat. On the loss side, Kinsley won two matches, including a double hill win over Marion in the semifinals, before coming back to down Tate in the finals 7-2.

8-Ball Championships draw larger field (44), than 14U Girls and Boys combined (40)

Trenton White and Brent Worth

The popularity of 8-Ball was as evident at the BEF Junior Nationals as it is in the general amateur fields of competition, like various leagues and independent-venue, weekend  tournaments from coast to coast. The 44-entrant size of the field featured a lot of competitors not included in the JIC rosters of regular competitors. The JIC series, in general, features 9-ball competition, though later this year, there are plans to include a 14:1 tournament. Though they don’t play 8-ball, all three of the event’s medals went to regular JIC competitors. 

Trent White, who competes in the JIC 18U Boys division, went undefeated through the field to claim the BEF’s 18U 8-Ball Championships. White faced separate opponents in the hot seat match and finals, downing Brent Worth, double hill, in the former and Jacob Kohl 5-2 in the latter. 

Eddie Vonderau, who sits atop the current JIC ranking roster in the 13UB division, went undefeated through the BEF’s 14U Boys event, which drew 28 entrants. Like White in the 8-Ball event, Vonderau faced different opponents in the hot seat and finals. He gave up only a single rack to Jordan Witkin in the hot seat match and faced Jayce Little in the finals. Little won three on the loss side, including two double hill matches, against Grayson Vaughan and in the semifinals, Witkin, for a shot against Vonderau. Witkin chalked up four racks in the finals, but Vonderau got his 8 to claim the Gold medal.

Sofia Mast, Savannah Easton and Noelle Tate

The 12-entrant 14U Girls event was won by Savannah Easton, who went undefeated through the field, downing Sofia Mast twice; hot seat and finals. Easton had defeated the youngest of the three-member Tate clan, Noelle, in a winners’ side semifinal and in the hot seat match, drew Mast, who’d defeated her ‘storied’ arch-rival in the JIC series, Skylar Hess (winner of the 18UG world qualifier), in a winners’ side quarterfinal before defeating Jordan Helfery in the other winners’ side semifinal.

Easton grabbed the hot seat 7-5 over Mast. When Mast returned after defeating Noelle Tate a second time, 5-1, Easton defeated her a second time, 7-3 in the finals to grab the 14U Girls Gold medal. 

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Joey Tate wins 18U Boys and ProAm divisions of JIC’s Stop #4 in Arizona

Bethany and Joey Tate (Corby Dayhoff)

Sister, Bethany Tate claims 18U girls title

All in all, it was a good weekend for the Tate family on the Junior International Championships, which held its fourth 2022 stop in the series at Bullshooters in Phoenix, AZ this past weekend (May 6-8). The family’s oldest son that plays on the JIC (among 12 in the family), Joey Tate, went undefeated in the 18U Boys division and came back from a winners’ side semifinal loss to arch-rival Landon Hollingsworth in the ProAm division to down him in the finals. Sister Bethany lost the hot seat match in the 18U Girls Division, but came back from the semifinals to down Savanna Wolford in the finals. Bethany ended up meeting and being defeated by brother Joey in a winners’ side semifinal in the ProAm division, while younger sister, Noelle, finished in the tie for 7th in the 18U Girls and 4th in the 13U Girls Division.

It was also a good day for the JIC’s most well-known rivalries with Tate and Hollingsworth squaring off in both the 18U Boys division and in the ProAm division, while Sofia Mast and Skylar Hess battled in the finals of the 13U Girls division; both won by Mast. They competed, but not against each other, in the 18U Girls division.

The event drew a total of 53 entrants (with some crossovers) to Bullshooter’s. The younger divisions drew very low numbers (three for the 13U Boys and four for the 13U Girls).

Tate’s undefeated win in the 17-entrant, 18U Boys division opened with a 7-4 victory over Landon Hollingsworth and then sent Ivo Lemon to the loss side 7-3, which set Tate up for a winners’ side semifinal against Rylan Yoder. Eddie Vonderau, in the meantime, defeated Deke Squier 7-3 and Payne McBride 7-5 to arrive at his winners’ side semifinal against Nathan Nunes. Two double hill matches ensued for advancement to the hot seat match, won by Tate and Vonderau. Tate claimed the hot seat 7-4.

On the loss side, Yoder picked up Payne McBride, who’d followed his loss to Vondereau by eliminating Hollingsworth 7-4 and Ben Kleinfelter 7-5. Nunes picked up Brent Worth, who’d defeated (among others) Jamison Gall 7-3 and Justin Maywin 7-5 to reach him.

McBride and Nunes advanced to the quarterfinals, where McBride won a double hill match versus Nunes, only to be downed himself in a double hill match by Vondereau in the semifinals. Tate completed his undefeated run with a second win over Vondereau in the finals 9-5.

The multi-gender, 20-entrant ProAm field (largest at this event) featured two matches between Joey Tate and Hollingsworth; hot seat and finals. Tate had sent Ben Kleinfelter and Jahnythan Craig to the loss side to meet up with his sister, Bethany. Hollingsworth, in the meantime, got by Rylan Yoder and Nathan Nunes to face Payne McBride in the other winners’ side semifinal.

Hollingsworth defeated McBride 7-4, as Joey was working at sending his own sister to the loss side 7-2. Hollingsworth claimed the hot seat over Tate 7-2. 

On the loss side, Bethany Tate picked up Brent Worth, who’d followed his winners’ side loss to Hollingsworth with a double hill win Justin Maywin and a 7-2 win over Nunes. McBride drew Jahnythan Craig, who’d recently eliminated Yoder and Gall, both 7-2.

McBride and Worth advanced to the quarterfinals, where McBride prevailed 7-3 and was then downed 7-4 by Tate in the semifinals. The tables were turned on Hollingsworth in the finals, who chalked up only two racks in the 9-2 win that gave Tate his second title of the event.

Bethany Tate wins 18U Girls, Mast wins 13U Girls as Vondereau takes 13U Boys

Bethany Tate’s path to the winners’ circle in the 18U Girls division went through her sister, Noelle, whom she defeated in the opening round in a somewhat predictable double hill fight. Tate then faced two ‘Savanna’s’ in a row; one with and one without an ‘h.’ She downed Savannah Easton 7-5 in a winners’ side semifinal to advance to the hot seat against Savanna Wolford, who’d defeated Sofia Mast 7-4 in their winners’ side semifinal. 

It was Wolford who grabbed the hot seat 7-3 over Tate. On the loss side, Precilia Kinsley backed up her winners’ side, first-round defeat of Skylar Hess with a 7-4 victory over Mast in her (Mast’s) first loss-side match. In the quarterfinals, Kinsley faced Kennedy Meyman, who’d survived a double hill match against Easton.

Kinsley advanced one more step, downing Meyman 7-2 in those quarterfinals, before she and Bethany Tate locked up in a double-hill semifinal that eventually sent Tate to a second shot against Wolford. Tate and Wolford battled to double hill, before Tate dropped the last ball to claim the 18U Girls title.

The two 13U-division events, with a combined eight entrants, were combined into a single event, which played out, in the beginning, as a round robin event, with each competitor playing seven matches. The top contenders were arranged into a male/female pair of single elimination matches that determined the winner in each division. 

Eddie Vondereau’s record in the round robin games earned him a bye in the single elimination phase of the 13U Boys division, as Deke Squier downed Brennan Fee 7-2. Vondereau downed Squier in the finals 9-2, with Fee finishing third. In the opening round of the single elimination phase of the 13U Girls division, Sofia Mast defeated Noelle Tate 7-2, as Skylar Hess downed Savannah Easton 7-4. In the event’s modified single-elimination format, Easton defeated Tate to finish third, with Tate, fourth. In the finals, Mast claimed the 13U Girls title with 9-5 win over Hess. 

Stop #4 of the Junior International Championships, sponsored by Viking Cues, signaled the end of the series’ first half of competition. With four events left, Joey Tate and Landon Hollingsworth are in possession of the top two spots in both the 18U Boys division and ProAm division. Tate, with this past weekend’s win and three previous runner-up finishes, is atop the ProAm division, with Hollingsworth in 2nd place, Brent Worth in 3rd and Lazaro Martinez, 4th. In the 18U division, the order is Tate, Hollingsworth, Ivo Lemon and Lazaro Martinez.

Bethany Tate, who’s won three of the first four events, is atop the 18U Girls division, with Kennedy Meyman in 2nd place. Noelle Tate sits in 3rd place and Skylar Hess is 4th. In the 13U Boys division, it’s D’Angelo Spain atop the standings. He’s been runner-up twice and 3rd twice, though he has yet to win a stop. Deke Squier is 2nd, with Eddie Vondereau, who’s won the two events in which he has competed, in 3rd place.

In an effort to assist in travel arrangements associated with the Junior International Championships and the BEF Junior Nationals, the next stop on the former has been scheduled in close time-and-location proximity to the latter. The JIC’s fifth stop, scheduled for the weekend of June 18-20, will be hosted by Griff’s in Las Vegas, while the BEF Junior Nationals will be held the following week (June 21-25) at the South Point Hotel & Convention Center in the same city.

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Bethany Tate and Skylar Hess win second straight 18U/13U Girls titles on JIC Stop #3

Arianna Houston, Skyler Hess and Noelle Tate

Logan Whitaker, Hayden Ernst win 18U/13U Boys titles, Lazaro Martinez takes ProAm event

As of this past weekend (March 26-27), three of the five divisions of the Junior International Championships have had different winners through the series’ first three stops. Bethany Tate has won the last two 18 & Under Girls division titles, while Skylar Hess has captured the last two 13 & Under Girls titles. Kennedy Meyman won the first 18 & Under Girls title back in January, while Sofia Mast took the season-opening 13 & Under Girls’ title.

The continuing JIC series has sparked a number of notable rivalries in each of its five divisions, reflected in the ongoing battle for supremacy in the 13U Girls division, where, dating back to last  year’s series, Sylar Hess and Sofia Mast do regular battle. When Mast won the division’s 2022 season opener, Hess was runner-up. When Hess grabbed the title at Stop #2, Mast was runner-up. 

This past weekend, however, Mast was in Las Vegas for the BCA Pool League’s World Championships, where she lost a battle for the hot seat and was defeated in the semifinals of the Ladies’ 8-Ball Singles event. The absence of Mast did not grant Hess any automatic ticket to the 10-entrant, JIC 13 & Under winners’ circle, though. In fact, after downing Aubrey Whited 7-3 in her opening round, Hess was sent to the loss side by Arianna Houston 7-3 in a winners’ side semifinal. Joining Houston in the hot seat match was Noelle Tate, a regular threat in the division, who’d defeated Kayden Willis 7-2 in their winners’ side semifinal.

Tate grabbed the hot seat 7-2 over Houston, guaranteeing her (Tate) third place, minimum. She’d finished 4th in the opener and 7th in the second event. Noelle had finished 3rd in the opener of the 18 and Under Girls division and 5th, twice, in the next two).

On the loss side, Hess picked up Skylnn Elliott, while Willis drew Gianna “Mini Banks” Fiore. Hess and Fiore advanced to the quarterfinals; Hess over Elliott and Fiore over Willis, both 7-1. Hess then eliminated Fiore 7-4 and downed Houston in the semifinals 7-3. Hess and Tate battled to double hill in the finals, before Hess claimed her second 13 & Under title.

Kennedy Meyman, Bethany Tate and Skyler Hess

Noelle’s older sister, Bethany, grabbed her second straight title in the 14-entrant, 18 & Under Girls division, having defeated both Sofia Mast in the finals of the 2nd event in Florida and Hess in this most recent event, also in the finals. Bethany went undefeated in this one, while Hess, who’d been defeated by Bethany in the opening round of play, won six on the loss side to meet her in the finals. Both Bethany and Hess had to get by Noelle Tate to earn their spot in the finals; Bethany had downed her sister in a winners’ side semifinal, while Hess was Noelle’s first, loss-side opponent. 

It was Bethany and Kennedy Meyman (winner of the 18 & Under Girls’ division in the season opener) who squared off in the hot seat match, won by Bethany 7-4. On the loss side, Hess eliminated Noelle 7-4, advancing to the quarterfinals against Taylor Perkins, who’d defeated Courtney Hairfield, double hill. Hess defeated Perkins 7-1 and then, downed Meyman 7-4 for a second shot at Bethany, waiting for her in the hot seat. Bethany completed her undefeated run 9-2 in the finals to chalk up her second straight 18 & Under Girls’ title.

Boys’ events and Pro Am crown their third season champions

In the ProAm division, while there have been three different winners (in order, Landon Hollingsworth, Trenton White, and this past weekend, Lazaro Martinez), Joey Tate has been runner-up in all three. There are a lot of crossover competitors in the age-and-gender-separated divisions, as well as, in particular, the ProAm and 18 & Under Boys divisions. Lazaro Martinez, as a random example, almost won two divisions on the same weekend, and did win the 36-entrant Pro Am, although not before Joey Tate defeated him in the hot seat match 7-5 and he had to eliminate Landon Hollingsworth 7-1 in the semifinals for a second shot at Tate. It was a successful second shot, as it turned out, with Martinez downing Tate in the finals 9-4. 

Lazaro Martinez, Logan Whitaker and Ivo Lemon

The winner of the 33-entrant, 18 & Under Boys division, Logan Whitaker, it should be noted, was sent to the loss side by Joey Tate in the ProAm and eliminated in his first, loss-side match by another regular threat in the boys’ and ProAm divisions, Nathan Childress.  He had to come from the loss side to capture the 18 & Under Boys title, as well.

After downing Hollingsworth in a winners’ side quarterfinal 7-4, Whitaker was sent to the loss side by Ivo Lemon in a winners’ side semifinal. In the hot seat match, Lemon faced Lazaro Martinez, who’d just defeated Tate, double hill in their winners’ side semifinal. Martinez claimed the hot seat 7-1 over Lemon and was a single step away from securing a second title on the weekend. 

Whitaker opened his loss-side campaign against RJ Mills, as Hollingsworth and Joey Tate were squaring off in a double hill fight that eventually sent Hollingsworth to the quarterfinals. Whitaker joined him after downing Mills 7-5. In their second match, Whitaker downed Hollingsworth a second time, 7-3 and eliminated Lemon 7-3 in the semifinals.

With one competitor looking for his first win on the JIC and the other looking to chalk up his second at just this one stop on the series, a double hill fight was not a surprise. Whitaker prevailed to claim his first JIC title.

Hayden Ernst

Hayden Ernst, appearing in his first JIC event, finished in the tie for 7th place in the ProAm division, but went undefeated to claim the 13-entrant, 13 & Under Boys division. He faced Jayce Little in the hot seat match, downing him 7-4 to claim his first JIC hot seat. 

D’Angelo “Jaws” Spain, in the meantime, who’d been sent to the loss side in a double hill battle versus Jas Makhani, worked his way through five, loss-side opponents (including a successful rematch against Makhani; 7-5 in the quarterfinals). “Jaws” dropped Jayce Little 7-5 in the semifinals and got a shot at Ernst, waiting for him in the hot seat.

Ernst claimed his first title, to go along with his 7th place finish in the ProAm. He defeated “Jaws” in the 13 & Under Boys finals 9-2.

The JIC series heads for the desert in a little over a month. Stop #4 on the Junior International Championships, scheduled for the weekend of May 6-8, will be hosted by Bullshooters in Phoenix, AZ. 

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White and Joey Tate go undefeated to win Pro Am/18 & Under Boys division at Stop #2 of JIC

Joey Tate, Trenton White and Nathan Childress

Bethany Tate, Hess and Leinen take 18 & Under Girls, 13 & Under Girls and Boys titles

“And they’re off!!” says a voice emanating from some mythical PA system, followed, seconds later, by “Rounding the first turn, it’s ‘GoGetEm’ in the lead . . .”

If you think of competition in each of the five divisions comprising the Junior International Championships (JIC), sponsored by Viking Cues, as a series of eight horse races, Stop #2 in the 2022 series is like a snapshot of the junior competitors, just after they’ve broken out of the gate and are headed into the first turn of a mile-long race. Not a lot of useful information in that snapshot in terms of how it will all play out as they round the final turn and head for home in the fall, but it’s compelling to watch as they jockey for position. 

The five divisional events drew a total of 112 entrants to Diamond Billiards in Cape Coral, FL, with a great deal of crossover, including in the ProAm division, which saw nine girls from both age groups make up just over 22% of the 40-entrant Pro Am field. As intended by JIC tournament director and On the Wire Creative Media’s Ra Hanna, this group of young competitors do not flinch at playing above their normal ‘pay grade,’ whether that be defined by age or gender. The ferocity of competition, even as viewed in the snapshot of the series’ ‘first turn,’ is fierce. None of the five winners from Stop #1 repeated as winners in Stop #2. Some of the Stop #2 winners had not chalked up a win in the first season.

Sofia Mast, Skylar Hess and Gianna Fiore

Some of the ‘ponies’ in their separate divisional races are hot on each other’s trail. In the 13 & Under Girls race, Sophia Mast and Skylar Hess are running neck and neck. They met twice in the season opener; in their opening match, won by Hess, and again, in the finals, won by Mast. They met twice last weekend, too, and once again, in their opening matches of the 10-entrant event. They fought to double hill before Mast prevailed, moving on to a winners’ side semifinal against Asia Gillespie, and from there, to the hot seat match, which she won, downing Gianna “Mini Banks” Fiore 7-5. Hess came back through five matches on the loss side, including a 7-5 win over Savannah Easton in the quarterfinals and a 7-1 victory over Fiore in the semifinals. In the finals, this time Hess prevailed 9-5. Hess was also the top finishing young woman (9-12) in the 40-entrant ProAm division (the largest field at Stop #2).

The winner and runner-up in Stop #1 of Season Two in the ProAm division (Landon Hollingsworth and Joey Tate, who were also winner and runner-up in Season 1’s 18 & Under Boys division championship) become runner-up (Tate) and among the eight competitors who tied for 17th (Hollingsworth). Trenton White, who had yet to win an event in the series (either season) went undefeated to claim the Stop #2 ProAm title. He got by five opponents, including a double hill win over Justin Toye and a winners’ side semifinal, 7-5 win over Kashton Keeton to give Joey Tate a shot at him in the hot seat match. White won their first of two ‘rounds’ 7-5.

On the loss side, two veterans of the JIC series, Riley Adkins and Nathan Childress, faced each other in the quarterfinals. Childress, who’d entered last season’s 18 & Under Championships as the #1-ranked player in the division, downed Adkins 7-4 and then fell to Tate by the same score in the semifinals. White took Tate down a second time, in the finals 9-6, to claim Stop #2’s Pro Am title.

White fared well in the 18 & Under Boys division, as well, finishing in the tie for 5th/6th, but Tate went undefeated in that event and never faced White, which, from Tate’s perspective, was probably just as well. Tate advanced through to the hot seat match, where he defeated Ivo Lemon 7-5. White was eliminated in the 5th/6th matches by Hollingsworth 7-5, who went on to defeat Dustin Muir 7-3 in the quarterfinals. He was eliminated 7-4 by Lemon in the semifinals, which, again from Tate’s perspective, worked out just fine. Tate claimed the 18 & Under Boys title, downing Lemon a second time, 9-5.

Sofia Mast, Bethany Tate and April Gonzaez

‘Favorites’ in the 18 & Under Girls race fall to a (medium) ‘longshot’

With Sofia Mast, Skylar Hess and Kennedy Meyman (winner of this division last month) in the 16-entrant, 18 & Under Girls division, they’d have shown up on a ‘toteboard’ as a group of three ‘favorites’ in Stop #2’s race. And at the end of four rounds of match play (around the final turn and headed for home), Sophia Mast was in the lead. . uhh, hot seat. She’d not faced Hess, which, from her perspective, was probably just as well, but she had sent Meyman to the loss side in the opening round, survived a winners’ side semifinal, double hill fight against Bethany Tate, and shut out April Gonzalez in the hot seat match.

Bethany Tate (15) had entered her winners’ side semifinal match against Mast, looking at the distinct possibility that she could face her 11-year-old sister, Noelle, in the hot seat match. It failed to materialize when Mast sent Bethany to the loss side and April Gonalez sent Noelle over. The sisters arrived on the loss side of the bracket at the same time, again looking at the distinct possibility of facing each other, this time in the quarterfinals. Bethany did her part, eliminating Courtney Hairfield 7-5. Noelle was eliminated by Precilia Kinsley, though not before she’d forced a 13th single game, for all of the proverbial marbles.

In the quarterfinals that followed, Bethany and Kinsley also battled to double hill, before Bethany prevailed, advancing to eliminate the competitor who’d sent her sister to the loss side, April Gonzalez (7-5) in the semifinals. It doesn’t take much of an imagination to see Noelle rooting for her sister to cross the finish line first, as Bethany and Sofia Mast stepped to the table for the finals. And it worked. Bethany and Mast came to within a game of double hill, but Bethany chalked up her first JIC win 9-7.

D’ Angelo Spain, Hank Leinen and Roman Boone

Absent last month’s winner and runner-up in the 13 & Under Boys division, Hank Leinen stepped up to go undefeated and become yet another junior competitor to win a first division-event title. D’Angelo “Jaws” Spain finished as runner-up. They met first in a winners’ side semifinal, won by Leinen 7-3.

Meeting up with Leinen in the hot seat match was Roman Boone, who’d sent Gaige Wells to the loss side 7-4 in the other winners’ side semifinal. Leinen claimed the hot seat 7-2 and waited on Spain’s return from the semifinals.

On the loss side, Spain, after eliminating Landon Dunlap 7-2, advanced to a quarterfinal versus Jayce Little, who’d defeated Wells 7-1. Spain and Little locked up in a double hill fight that eventually advanced Spain to a semifinal win over Boone 7-3. The 13 & Under Boys final pitting Spain against Leinen came within a game of double hill, but in the end, Leinen edged out in front to claim the division title 9-7

Ra Hanna and all of his support ‘crew’ thanked the owners and staff at Diamond Billiards, as well as title sponsor Viking Cues. The next stop on the Junior International Championships (#3), which will see the competitors stretch their ‘legs’ through the long straightaway on the far side of the track (stops #3 through #7), is scheduled for March 25-27 and will be hosted by The Rack and Grill III in Aiken, SC.

Go to thread

A familiar trio of AWBT veterans get together for season opener, won by Evans-Taylor

Nina Tagley and Rae Evans

Bustamante, Miller take Balls Only, Second Chance events

It was actually back-to-back victories on the Arizona Women’s Billiard Tour (AWBT) for her, albeit separated by 14 months. In November of 2020, with all of the tour’s host locations having closed thanks to the pandemic, Rae Evans-Taylor teamed with Brian Honoway to win the tour’s traditional season finale, a Jack and Jill Scotch Doubles event, hosted by Main Street Billiards in Mesa. One year and two months later, this past weekend (Jan. 29-30), the AWBT opened a new season at Bull Shooters in Phoenix and Rae Evans-Taylor, went undefeated to win the $1,000-added, 9-ball main event that drew 40 entrants to the room.

In a pair of concurrently-run events, Joven Bustamante came from the loss side to win a $250-added, BALLS ONLY 10-Ball event that drew 30 entrants and Sara Miller went undefeated to win a $250-added Second Chance event that drew 12.

Any thoughts that things might be a little different at the end of the 14-month hiatus were dispelled as Evans-Taylor faced two tour veterans in the hot seat match and finals of the 9-ball main event. Both of those veterans, Susan Mello and Nina Tagley, battled her to a double hill final game before she prevailed to claim the 9-ball title.

Evans-Taylor had gotten by Tracy Price, Jill Watson and Veronica Poore to arrive at a winners’ side semifinal against Jaye Succo. Mello, in the meantime, the first of the two tour veterans to face Evans-Taylor, had won a play-in preliminary round over Jodi Hirning and then sent Crystal Parada, Mari Simonson and junior competitor Kennedy Meyman to the loss side to meet up with Jamie Hagerty in the other winners’ side semifinal. Nina Tagley had won her opening match against Colette Kruse, before losing a double hill fight to Amanda Pulley and embarking on a seven-match, loss-side winning streak that would see her compete in the finals.

Mello downed Hagerty 6-4 while Evans-Taylor defeated Succo 7-5. Evans-Taylor claimed the hot seat with a double hill win over Mello.

On the loss side, Hagerty was the one who had the misfortune of drawing Tagley, who was, at the time, four matches into her loss-side trip, which had recently included victories over Marcy Thomas and Veronica Poore. Succo picked up Leandrea Gaff, who was also working on a four-match winning streak that was about to end. Gaff had just eliminated Amanda Pulley, double hill and Colette Kruse 6-3.

Tagley sent Hagerty home 7-1 and in the quarterfinals, faced Succo, who’d ended Gaff’s loss-side streak 7-2. Tagley stopped Succo’s loss-side wins at 1 with a 7-3 win in those quarterfinals.

Tagley and Mello battled in the semifinals, both of them looking for a rematch against Evans-Taylor in the hot seat. Mello had faced her most recently in the hot seat match of this event, while Tagley and Evans-Taylor had battled at other times and other places on the tour.

Tagley won the semifinal battle 7-3 over Mello. The finals were a straight up, extended race to 9 and proved to be the second double hill match of the event for both of them. Evans-Taylor dropped the last 9-ball and claimed the title.

Bustamante wins 7 on the loss side to win BALLS ONLY, Miller wins 4 to claim Second Chance

Joven Bustamante’s winners’ side journey in the 30-entrant BALLS ONLY, 10-ball event saw him give up five racks in two matches, losing the second match to a competitor (Adam Hanten) who only had to chalk up four racks to win, which he did. Bustamante’s subsequent seven-match, loss-side trip saw him give up a total of nine racks in seven matches; two racks, three times/one rack, three times and one shut out. He crowned this achievement with back-to-back shutouts in a true double elimination final over Robert Moreno, who’d been sitting in the hot seat waiting for him.

It was Moreno and Joey Barrera who battled for the hot seat in this one. It turned into a double hill fight that eventually sent Barrera to a doomed semifinal meetup with Bustamante. The two opponents who’d lost out in the winners’ side semifinals – Tim Biggs to Moreno 5-0 and Jesse Johnson to Barrera, double hill – moved to the loss side and walked right into their second straight loss.

Biggs lost to Avery Reece and Johnson ran into Bustamante, four matches into his loss-side streak. Bustamante downed Reece in the quarterfinals 7-1 and began a 21-0 streak that saw him defeat Barrera once in the semifinals and Moreno twice in the finals.

Sara Miller’s run through the 12-entrant Second Chance field was a breeze by comparison. She dropped three opponents 4-2 to claim the hot seat and then defeated one of those three (Kaia Fujimoto) a second time, double hill to claim the Second Chance title.

Fujimoto was Miller’s first and last victory (4-0). Miller was Fujimoto’s second and eighth opponent, representing both of her losses (6-2).

Miller’s third opponent, Mari Simonson, battled for the hot seat, but as the victim of Miller’s third 4-2 victory in a row, she moved to the semifinals to be shut out by Fujimoto. Jill Watson, who’d been defeated by Miller 4-2 in a winners’ side semifinal, survived a double hill fight versus Barbara Lee on the loss side, lost a double hill, quarterfinal match to Fujimoto and finished 4th.

Tour representatives thanked the ownership and staff at Bull Shooters, as well as sponsors Realty One Group, A Best Billiards, Las Glorias Grill, Goober Pet Direct, Your Way Logistics, Idle Hands Vintage, Sophia’s House Cleaning, Avalon Home Performance LLC, Big Time Threads and Friends of the AWBT. The nest stop on the AWBT, scheduled for March 5-6, will be hosted by Griff’s in Las Vegas, NV.

Hollingsworth, Martinez and Meyman win their divisions at JIC Season 2, Stop #1

Courtney Hairfield, Kennedy Meyman and Noelle Tate

Vonderau and Mast capture 13 & Under titles

“Last year was practice,” said Ra Hanna of On The Wire Creative Media and tour director of the Junior International Championships, sponsored by Viking Cues, which began its second season last weekend (Jan. 14-16). In a snowstorm.

“Practice is over now.”

The weather had an impact that forced Hanna to cut it short. His concern for the safety of his junior competitors, as well as the family members who’d helped get them to Roanoke, VA, led to squeezing play in all five of the JIC divisions into two days, instead of three. That same weather led to flight cancellations that pinned Hanna in Roanoke until Wednesday.

“The safety of the players and their families was what was most important,” he said, noting that a cycle of soft snow and freezing temperatures had made the roads “like an ice-skating rink.”

The event, now officially known as the Junior International Championships, sponsored by Viking Cues, drew a total of just over 100 entrants, across its five divisions (with some cross-over between divisions), to Wolf’s Den in Roanoke, VA. Hanna had expected more and was convinced that in the absence of the weather, there would have been more.

Niko Konkel, Lazaro Martinez and Garrett Vaughan

Returning to compete in the JIC’s second season were the winner and runner-up of 2021’s 18 & Under Championship finals, Landon Hollingsworth and Joey Tate, who finished 1st and 2nd in Season 2/Stop #1’s 31-entrant Pro Am Division. They did not fare as well in the 18 & Under division, finishing 4th (Hollingsworth) and in the tie for 17th place (Tate).  The 18 & Under Boys division was won by Lazaro Martinez, who went undefeated, downing Niko Konkel, who’d lost to him in the hot seat match and returned from a victory over Garrett Vaughan in the semifinals, to be defeated a second time.

In the absence of 2021’s 18 and Under Girls’ Champion, Tatum Cutting (who has turned 19), the young woman she shut out in the championship finals of that division in October, Kennedy Meyman, got ‘right back on the horse,’ so to speak. Meyman lost her opening match in the 11-entrant, 2022 division opener, but rallied to win six in a row and then, down Courtney Hairfield in the finals.

The 13 & Under divisions, which drew 17 boys and 9 girls, saw the emergence of a new(er) rivalry and the renewal of an old one. Eddie Vondereau and Grayson Vaughan battled twice for the boys’ title; hot seat and finals. Vonderau downed Vaughan both times to claim that title.

Grayson Vaughan, Eddie Vonderau and D’Angelo Spain

And in the 13 & Under Girls’ division, it was storied JIC rivals, Sofia Mast and Skylar Hess, who, like Vonderau and Vaughan, battled twice for the event’s division title. After each was awarded a bye in the opening round of play, they met in what was the first match for both of them. They came within a game of double hill, but it was Hess who edged out in front to send Mast to the loss side 7-5. Mast breezed through her first three rounds on the loss side by an aggregate score of 21-4. In the quarterfinals that followed, Noelle Tate (sister to Joey) put up a fight that earned her more racks against Mast than her first three loss-side opponents, combined. Mast advanced 7-5 to the semifinals, where she defeated Savannah Easton, appearing in her first JIC event, 7-4.

“That was one of the surprises of the event,” said Hannah. “(Easton) beat out some of the top girls in that division (Franki Spain, Raygen Wilson & Skylynn Elliott) to finish third in her first event.”

So, once again, it was Mast and Hess squaring off against each other; a matchup that occurred in the quarterfinals of the 18 & Under Girls Championship last October. Mast dominated the extended race-to-9, winning it 9-2 to claim her first, and likely, not her last 2022 JIC title. 

If it ain’t broke . . .

There are differences in this second JIC season, but they’re about some minor additions and an expectation level being fostered by Hanna and the crew of folks who helped him last year and continue to do so this year. Kory and Trena Wolford, owners of Wolf’s Den, are among them.

Skylar Hess, Sofia Mast and Savannah Easton

Viking Cues has joined as a sponsor, and as such, will contribute to prizes, a scholarship to be awarded to the player who receives the tour’s Brendan Crockett Sportsmanship Award, aspects of the tour’s day-to-day operations, and when appropriate, unspecified equipment. Hanna noted that Dynaspheres “stepped up,” as did Mike Littman with Littman Lights. The tour is working with DigitalPool this year, which will feature what Hanna described as a “custom environment” with the expected brackets, updated division rankings, player profiles and live scoring.

“The players themselves are going to be doing the live scoring from their smart phones,” said Hanna. “They’ll be uploading scores to that site in real time.”

“We’re looking at a shot clock on the big tables,” he added of one other embellishment they’ll be considering bringing, literally, to the tables. “Modeling the atmosphere to that of the professionals, so that (the players) won’t be ‘deer in the headlights’ out in the world.”

“We’re also going to be sponsoring some of the players going into Pro events throughout the year,” he added. “It’ll be up to the player to decide which Pro event they might want to attend, whether it be Turning Stone, or the Super Billiards Expo. (The tour) will be off in April and we’re going to send a nice little contingent. With four of the divisions, a representative from each division would be nice.”

The plan is to provide the junior players with more than just an opportunity to compete throughout the year, but to provide them, as well, with the tools necessary to compete against increasingly difficult competition in what could well be difficult venues.

“I don’t want them complacent,” said Hanna. “I want them to know that there’s always going to be someone coming for you and that things aren’t always going to be perfect; not the balls, not the tables, not the general environment.”

“I want to go to war with this group,” he added. “The make-up of this group is the right combo to succeed; we’ve got everything – gunslingers, mercenaries, the quiet types. We’re going to make some noise this year.” 

The Junior International Championships, sponsored by Viking Cues, will hold the second stop of its second season on the weekend of Feb. 11-13. It will be hosted by Diamond Billiards in Cape Coral, FL.

US and Canadian Teams Announced For World Junior Pool Championship

Three members of Team USA, Sofia Mast, Aryana Lynch and Tiana Jiang (Photo courtesy Roy Pastor)

While the recent changes in requirements for travel to Europe, have the event in a sort of limbo, the Billiard Congress of America is still proud to announce the participants who are slated to travel to Austria on October 6th – 10th for the Predator 2021 WPA World Junior 9-Ball Championships. 

The members of Team USA are:

Riley Adkins, Daniel Martin, Landon Hollingsworth, Joey Tate, Payne McBride, Kyle Yi, Jayden Liu, Niko Konkel, Harry Leinen, Aryana Lynch, Sofia Mast, Tiana Jiang, Savanna Wolford, Skylar Hess, Alice Adams, Hayleigh Marion and Kennedy Meyman

In addition to the seventeen players representing the USA, the BCA also announced that Arnaud Rakovich, Issac Yee and Haydar Ali Cappo are representing Team Canada at this event. 

As announced in a previous release from the BEF, “Allocations for the prestigious 2021 2021 WPA Predator World Junior Pool Championship, (…) will be provided to the highest placed finishers in the boys open 16 & Under and 18 & Under divisions, and in the girls open 18 & Under division”. With some candidates unable to travel to Austria, the BCA opened up invitations to the champions from the 14 & Under Girls, 16 & Under Girls and 14 & Under Boys Divisions. All three of these division winners are confirmed for Team USA.  

Some of these warriors are asking for help on social media to fund their trips to Austria, so if you see one of your favorite players on the list of players, check out their social media pages and help any way that you can. 

Hollingsworth Highlights Slate of New Junior National Champions

Landon Hollingsworth

With a total of ten divisions being contested over five days, the 2021 Billiard Education Foundation’s Junior National Championship at the South Point Hotel & Convention Center was going to have a number of players celebrating hard fought wins, but the player walking away with the most accolades was South Carolina’s Landon Hollingsworth.

Hollingsworth didn’t just turn in one undefeated performance. He went undefeated to win both the 18 & Under Boys Division and the 16 & Under Boys Division. Hollingsworth had an early scare in the 18 & Under Division, going hill-hill before beating Indiana’s Jake Sollman. After that win, it was pretty much smooth sailing as Hollingsworth won twenty three of his next twenty eight racks to take the hot-seat, defeating Ohio’s Riley Adkins in the process. Adkins made quick work of Eric Roberts in the semi-final match 7-1, and then took his best shot at Hollingsworth in the finals. In the end though, it was Hollingsworth with an 11-7 win over Adkins, for the division win.

Hollingsworth was tested in the 16 & Under Boys Division, not only by reigning 14 & Under Boys Division Winner (from 2019) Lazaro Martinez III, but also Joey Tate. After sending Tate to the one loss side in the final four on the winner’s side, Hollingsworth faced off against Martinez for the hot-seat, and Martinez took him to hill-hill before Hollingsworth won the match. Martinez then lost in the semi-final match to Tate, giving Tate an opportunity to avenge his that earlier loss to Hollingsworth. The final match was a close one, but didn’t start out that way. Hollingsworth rushed out to a 9-3 lead, before Tate turned it on and pulled back within two racks at 9-7. Tate kept up the pressure and was within one rack at 10-9 down when he missed a 9-ball while stretched across the table, to leave Hollingsworth with ball-in-hand on the case 9-ball for the title.

The two rack difference in the finals was stressful enough on the parents and fans in attendance, but the finals of the 14 & Under Division did them one better, with a hill-hill final match to determine the Champion. Minnesota’s Harry Leinen had defeated Kyle Yi, out of Texas, in a 9-5 hot-seat match. Yi was right back in the finals, and took Leinen to hill-hill before Leinen deposited the final 9-ball for the title.

Aryana Lynch

In the 18 & Under Girls Division, eventual winner Aryana Lynch was tested from the starting gun, as she won back to back hill-hill matches (Bailey Barber and Hayleigh Marion) to get things started. After a relatively stress free 7-2 win over Savanna Wolford, Lynch was again tested, this time by Tiana Jiang in Jiang’s first real competition in over a year. Lynch finally sent Jiang to the one-loss side 9-7 and Sofia Mast then defeated Jiang 7-3 to setup the final match between Mast and Lynch. That final match went Lynch’s way 11-6 for the title.

With all of the drama in the other divisions, the 16 & Under Girls Division really had very little drama to speak of. Minnesota’s Kennedy Meyman put on a 9-ball clinic, beating four opponents and not allowing one of them past two racks. Meyman’s final record for the entire division was thirty four wins out of a total of thirty nine racks. She defeated Elli Gonzales for the hot-seat and again in the finals by a combined record of 20-3.

The 14 & Under Girls division was the only division that had a defending champion involved in the finals. Reigning champion Skylar Hess took the hot-seat with a 9-8 win over Virginia’s Hayleigh Marion. Marion was back with a vengeance in the finals, and defeated Hess in another close match, 11-9, for the title.

This year’s event saw the addition of two new divisions for the players to compete in. The 10-ball division was open to any players 22 and younger in a unique “triple elimination” format. While players had to lose three matches to be eliminated from this one, Wisconsin’s Mason Koch showed that the best way to make sure you don’t lose three matches is to not lose any of them. Koch defeated Ricky Evans for the hot-seat, and then Florida’s Justin Toye in the finals.

The 8-ball division was also something new this year, and the field of 65 male and female competitors proved how popular it was. This division saw Lazaro Martinez III in the hot-seat, after a 3-0 win over brother Gabriel Martinez. In the finals though, it was Gabriel taking control and defeating Lazaro for the division win.

Also in play at this event, were two blind draw scotch doubles events that saw Lazaro Martinez III team up with Joey Tate to win the 22 & Under Scotch Division and Landon Hollingsworth teaming up with Savannah Easton to win the 16 & Under Division.

Dates are already set for the 2022 Junior National Championship and the event will take place on June 21st – 25th, right back at the South Point Hotel and Convention Center.