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Junior National Brackets Tightening Up

Kennedy Meyman

The brackets at the 2021 Billiard Education Foundation Junior National Championship are working their way towards the end and some brackets already have hot-seat occupants. 

In the 16 & Under Girls division, Kennedy Meyman from Minnesota has cruised into the hot-seat. Meyman turned in a combined score of 23-4 to take the hot-seat and will await the winner of Hayleigh Marion and Elli Gonzales in the finals. 

The 18 & Under Girls has Aryana Lynch in the hot-seat, after a marathon 9-7 victory over Tiana Jiang today. Jiang will face either Sofia Mast or Savanna Wolford in the semi-finals early Friday morning. 

Rounding out the Girls divisions, Skylar Hess sits in the 14 & Under Girls hot-seat, after a hill-hill win over Hayleigh Marion today. Marion is facing Bethany Tate today, with the winner earning their place in the finals against Hess. 

The Boys Divisions have a few more matches to go. In the 18 & Under Boys division, Landon Hollingsworth will take on Riley Adkins for the hot-seat on Friday. 

Hollingsworth will also compete for the 16 & Under hot-seat, in a match against Lazaro Martinez III on Friday. 

In the 14 & Under Boys division, Kyle Yi and Harry Leinen will compete for the hot-seat on Friday morning. 

The 8-ball division sees the possibility of an all Martinez hot-seat match on Friday with Lazaro Martinez III and Gabriel Martinez both in the final four on the winner’s side. 

Finally, the 10-ball division has Mason Koch in the hot-seat with a 9-7 win over Ricky Evans. Evans will go to battle with Justin Toye on Friday morning to determine who faces Koch in the finals. 

All of the action can be followed this week with online brackets at compusport.ca and BBTV is streaming select matches on his YouTube and Facebook pages.

Martinez brothers win two out of five divisions of Junior International Championships

Lazaro and Gabriel Martinez
(Photo courtesy Chris Robinson)

In the second of eight Junior International Championships (JIC), held under the auspices of On the Wire Creative Media at Racks Billiards and Sports Bar in Sanford, FL this past weekend (March 12-14), two brothers – Gabriel and Lazaro Martinez – won two of the five events. The younger Martinez, Gabriel (13), won the Pro/Am event that drew 28 entrants, while the older brother, Lazaro (14) won the 18 & Under Boys event that drew the largest field of entrants (36). Gabriel competed against the 18 & Under Boys, as well, although he was sent to the loss side by his brother in a winners’ side semifinal and eliminated by the eventual runner-up, Nathan Childress, in the event semifinals. Gabriel won the first JIC event in the 13 & Under Boys division and competed in that event this time, as well, although he was sent to the loss side in a winners’ side semifinal match by the eventual winner, Adrian Prasad (who was runner-up to Martinez last time), and later eliminated in his first loss-side match by D’Angelo (Jaws) Spain.

In the female divisions, Ohio’s Tatum Cutting won the 18 & Under event that drew 12 entrants and North Carolina’s Bethany Tate won the 13 & Under division that drew 9 entrants.

There were, in all, 77 entrants and 99 entries, indicative of the fact that more than just the Martinez brothers competed in a number of events at this most recent JIC. The junior competitors are collecting tour points that will be used for seeding in the tour finale, scheduled to coincide with the International Open at the Sheraton Norfolk Waterside in Norfolk, VA in October. 

At present, Gabriel Martinez leads the two-event point totals with 10,000 for his two victories. Adrian Prasad is in second place with 9,250 and D’Angelo Spain is in 3rd place with 3,500 points.

As originally designed, the events were broken down into their separate age divisions so that younger players would not have to enter events and face the possibility of competing against older, more experienced opponents and potentially, getting discouraged when they lost, early and often. The reaction to this division by ages surprised On the Wire Creative Media’s Ra Hanna.

“I didn’t want the 13-year-olds to get disappointed,” he said, “but I didn’t realize how much interest the younger kids would have in competing against the older players. They want to play with the big boys.”

“That,” he added, thinking of case-in-point, Gabriel Martinez, “has been fantastic.”

As always, ladies first. The increased opportunities for competition among younger females has not begun to affect the numbers that these junior events are seeing in the female divisions. Neither of the female events which drew 9 and 12 entrants this past weekend, drew as many as the Boys 13 & under (14) and combined, the girls’ events didn’t draw as many as either the Pro Am (28; which included some female competitors) or the Boys 18 & Under (36). That, as players and their parents, begin to become aware of these events, is likely to change.

Tatum Cutting’s undefeated path to the winners’ circle in the Girls 18 & Under event went through Precilia Kinsley, Alana Sanchez and Bethany Tate, with an aggregate score of 21-5, which put her in the hot seat match against Sofia Mast, who’d been awarded an opening round bye and then defeated Kennedy Meyman 7-5 and Savanna Wolford 7-3 to join Cutting. Mast chalked up as many racks against Cutting in the hot seat match as all of her previous opponents, combined, but was sent to the semifinals 7-5. Mast and Bethany Tate fought a double hill battle in those semifinals, both looking for a rematch against Cutting. Tate prevailed, and then fell to Cutting in the finals 9-4.

In the 13 and Under girls’ event, it was the combatants in the 18 & Under semifinals (Bethany Tate and Sofia Mast) who battled twice before Tate claimed the younger girls’ title. Tate had gotten by Skylar Hess and her own sister, Noelle Tate and advanced to the hot seat match. Mast  joined her, following victories over Franki Spain and Gianna Fiore.

Tate claimed the hot seat after a double hill fight. Mast downed Hess 7-5 in the semifinals and returned for a rematch. A second double hill fight ensued and for the second time, Tate prevailed and was able to claim the event title.

One goes undefeated, the other with one loss to claim boys’ titles 

In the 18 & Under Boys division, Nathan Childress and Lazaro Martinez fought twice to claim the title. Martinez had gotten by Riley Adkins, Trenton White, Ivo Linkin and his own brother, Gabriel to arrive at the hot seat match. Childress’ path to the hot seat match went through Conner Scruggs, Hank Leinen, D’Angelo “Jaws” Spain, and, in a double hill fight, Nathan Nunes. 

Martinez downed Childress the first time 7-3. Childress’ semifinal was against Martinez’ younger brother, Gabriel and he just did survive it, double hill, for a second shot against Lazaro. Childress got much closer in the finals, but not close enough, as Martinez finished his undefeated run to claim the Boys’ 18 & Under title 9-7.

In the 13 & Under Boys’ division, it was Adrian Prasad and Harry Leinen battling twice. Leinen had gotten by Iann Nolen, Fred Hill, Jr., and Konnor McFayden to arrive at the hot seat match. Prasad had sent Caleb Chase, Andrew Johnson and Gabriel Martinez to the loss side to face Leinen.

Leinin took the first of their two, 7-4. Prasad returned from a 7-3 semifinal victory over D’Angelo “Jaws” Spain for a rematch. He won that rematch 9-7 to claim the 13 & Under Boys title.

In the mixed gender Pro Am event, 13-year-old Gabriel Martinez had his hands full. He seemed to be getting stronger as he got closer to the finish line. Following a bye, he advanced past Landon Hollingsworth, Brent Worth and Julio Estevez, demonstrating increased success – 7-5, 7-4, 7-2 – to arrive at the hot seat match. Joey Tate, in the meantime, seemed to be showing signs of getting weaker. He got by Cash Lance 7-3, Trenton White 7-2, Lazaro Martinez 7-4 and Kodi Allen 7-5. It was Tate, though, who claimed the hot seat 7-4. 

Gabriel moved west and in the semifinals, faced Justin Toye, who’d sent Gabriel’s brother, Lazaro, to the proverbial showers in the quarterfinals. Gabriel eliminated him 7-3 and got a second shot at Tate.

You could almost see it coming. Two of the most promising juniors in the game faced off in the finals of the mixed-gender, Pro Am finals and battled to double hill. Gabriel Martinez prevailed to earn his second title at the second event on the Junior International Championships calendar.

Ra Hanna thanked the ownership and staff at Racks Billiards and Sports Bar for hosting the event, as well as sponsors Mike Littman of Littman Lights, Dynaspheres and The League Room. He also extended thanks to his tournament director, Corey Wolford and Jay Helfert. The next stop on the Junior International Championships tour, scheduled for April 16-18, will be hosted by Racks on Rocks in Peoria, IL.

(Watch for an extended report on this second JIC event in the upcoming edition of the BUZZ, coming in April, which will include interviews with the participants and their parents about the growth of opportunities for junior players.)   

 

Roberto Gomez Wins Texas Open One Pocket Event

Dennis Orcollo, Ray Hansen from Pool Action TV and Roberto Gomez

After navigating a path of One Pocket heavyweights, Roberto Gomez has emerged as the 47th Annual Texas Open One Pocket Champion at Skinny Bob’s Billiards in Round Rock, Texas. His path to the finals started with comfortable wins over James Davis Jr, and Tommy Tokoph, followed by hill-hill wins over Alex Pagulayan and Tony Chohan.

With the 9-Ball division in full swing, the One Pocket finals were delayed to allow the final two competitors to get their matches played in that division. Ironically, Gomez and Orcollo faced off on the winner’s side of the 9-ball division, with Orcollo getting the best of Gomez 9-1. To make matter worse for Gomez, he then dropped a hill-hill match with 14 year old Lazaro Martinez III on the one loss side to be eliminated from the 9-ball division in 17th place.

The early loss in the 9-ball division didn’t seem to phase Gomez as he transitioned back into his One Pocket game for the finals against Orcollo. Gomez took an early 3-1 lead, but it was Orcollo getting to the hill first at 4-3. In the end though, it was Gomez pocketing the final ball for a hill-hill win and the first place payday of over $8,450 in One Pocket prize money. 

The 9-Ball division is down to sixteen players with matches starting at 10AM Central time on Sunday. The first round of matches scheduled for Sunday include some real marquee matchups like Orcollo vs Tony Chohan, Ernesto Domingez vs Jesus Atencio and Corey Deuel for Shane Van Boening. 

Fans can follow all of the action with online brackets and Pool Action TV’s online PPV coverage.