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Earl the Pearl tops Friday night battles in the Diamond Open 9-Ball Players Championship

Earl Strickland

Fishers still alive in the WPBA 9-Ball Pro Players Championship. 

He’d played twice already. On Friday night at 9:30, Earl Strickland stepped to the tables of the Super Billiards Expo’s arena in search of his second win in the Diamond Open 9-Ball Professional Players Championship. On Thursday, after a bye, he’d lost his opening match, double hill, to Alan Rolon Rosada and at 11:30 a.m. on Friday, downed Tyler Henninger 9-6. Both matches were very lightly attended. Modest crowds, dotting the three-level risers to either side of the 16 tables, laid end to end, side by side.

Friday night, though, was different. This was weekend-is-here Earl the Pearl time. And he got himself an audience. While there were certainly people in the crowd of some 200 or so spectators who were itching to see a show; not a pool show necessarily, but an Earl show, as only he can bring it. Instead, they got the professional ‘Earl’s here to win’ show, full of rock-solid shooting that saw him take control of a 2-2 match and win six in a row before some of the audience had even settled in. People (though not many) started leaving, like baseball fans leaving a stadium when the score is 12-0 in the seventh inning, wanting to get ahead of the traffic jam. Those who remained were switching their attention between what was left of Earl’s match and what was going on at the tables on either side of him (Shannelle Lorraine and Ada Lio were playing south of him, while Jesus Atencio and Mason Koch were battling it out north of him). 

Gomez managed to chalk up three racks and the remaining crowd went wild. Very quietly and not for long.

Earl finished off Gomez, quickly, only giving up one more rack and moved to the lobby outside the arena where folks gathered around the hand-written brackets to see who was coming up against who in today’s (Saturday) matches. Earl was scheduled to play Bart Czapla at noon, in a match that will determine whether he advances to the 16-player, single elimination phase of the event. The first round of that phase will play out at 6 p.m.

Earl was among those looking to see what was coming up next, and he took the opportunity to play to the audience that had been relatively quiet during his win over Gomez. They were lined up two or three deep around him, cameras at the ready, as he gave them a genteel comedian to play with. Standing for one shot with a broad grin on his face, he said that the woman to his left was prettier than he was, riffing on this to talk about his sagging limbs and a “face that looked like a truck hit me and then backed up.” Manifestly not true, but it got a laugh. He embellished on that central joke for a while before moving on to chat with spectators who’d obviously been paying strict attention to his match as it played out; questions and comments about shot situations and potential solutions, back and forth.

Jayson Shaw, still on the winners’ side of the bracket, looking to advance to the final 16 today, as well (2:30 p.m. against Billy Thorpe), joined the throng gathered around him and it took about two seconds for them to launch into a discussion about the tables and how they ‘played’ in a given match.

“I hit this shot,” said Shaw at one point, “that went into the hole and bounced out. The cue ball jumped up onto the rail, travelled all the way down table, jumping over the side pocket and then went back on the table, giving me a straight shot at the 4-ball.”

Lives of the legends playing out in one of their homes away from home.

There’ll be 32 competitors in the Players Championship facing advancement to pool’s version of the Sweet 16 today. Among those 32, on the winners’ side of the bracket, will be Thorsten Hohmann, Warren Kiamco, Ralf Souquet, Fedor Gorst, Darren Appleton and Shane Wolford.  In addition to Strickland, other loss-side competitors looking to make the cut and who’ll have to play two rounds to do it (or not), will be Danny Olson, Lukas Fracasso-Verner, Joe Dupuis, Landon Hollingsworth, BJ Ussery, Jr. and Bucky Souvanthong. As of noon today, the potential for Strickland to face Rosado a second time remained alive, as Rosado stepped to the tables, looking for advancement beyond Eric Roberts.

The two Fishers continue to play for advancement to the final 16 of the WPBA Pro Players event 

Competition at the WPBA 9-Ball Pro Players Championship will dominate the afternoon schedule at the pro player arena. All 16 women who step to the tables at 2:30 p.m. today, haven’t played a match since Thursday; half of them on Thursday afternoon and the other half on Thursday night.

On Friday afternoon, the Fishers, Allison and Kelly, squared off in a game of 8-ball that was not part of the official proceedings and did not involve cue sticks, felt cloth or actual pockets. Instead, they settled into another kind of table to play an 8-Ball Pool Board Game that’s on display and being pre-sold (prior to publication) to attendees at the SBE from a vendor booth surrounded by cue manufacturers. Kelly is acting as the game’s Brand Ambassador and has been at the booth where it’s being demonstrated a number of times, playing against, among others, Darren Appleton, who reportedly broke and ran the first game of it he played. 

While the game doesn’t employ any of pool’s tactile qualities with cues or aiming skills (there are basically no missed shots if you’ve lined up the cue and target properly), it does manage to offer a degree of strategy and tactics, very similar to the kinds of decision-making involved in the actual game of 8-ball. There are opportunities for bank shots (played out on strict horizontal/vertical target paths) safety play and you can scratch, for example, all of which plays out in ways unique to the board game.   

Though new to the game, Allison won the single game against Kelly. They could play a real game of 9-ball against each other before the end of the women’s tournament, but only, for starters, if both of them advance to the event’s final 16. Kelly, who’s only played a single match so far, defeating Jessica Barnes on Thursday night, was to play Liz Taylor at 2:30 today and if successful, would play the winner of an Ashley Burrows/Emily Duddy match in the opening round of the single-elimination phase at 8:30 p.m. Allison, who played two women from the J. Pechauer Northeast Women’s Tour (JPNEWT) on Thursday (Judie Wilson and Kathy Friend) will be facing Angela Janic at 2:30 and if successful, will also play at 8:30, against the winner of a Monica Webb/Kim Newsome match (check the SBE Web site for streaming options).

Other competitors, still on the winners’ side of the bracket, looking for a slot among the final 16 women, include Emilyn Callado, Brittany Bryant, Caroline Pao and LoreeJon Brown. On the loss-side of the bracket, at noon today, also looking for advancement to the final 16, will be,  among others, Janet Atwell, Jennifer Baretta, and both Kia Burwell and Judie Wilson, representing the JPNEWT. Matches at 6 p.m. on the loss-side of the bracket will determine the eight loss-side competitors among the Sweet 16.

Super Seniors get underway, as Amateur Ladies, Seniors continue, with Juniors in the wings 

The original Super Seniors tournament, with long lines hoping for a waiting-list entry, gathered early this morning, while the 996-entrant Open Amateur event looked to enter its Final 16 phase at 1 p.m. today. The four-brackets of the Amateur Ladies event is still ongoing, as is the (plain, so to speak) Seniors tournament. Two junior competitions (17U & 12U) are set to begin today, as well. 

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

Manny Chau and BJ Ussery

Junior competitor Precilia Kinsley takes Ladies title

There were times, as the 2022 VA State 10-Ball Championships, held under the auspices of the Action Pool Tour, were playing out, that one might have thought they’d taken a wrong turn somewhere and ended up at an event on the Junior International Championships (JIC). In both the concurrently-run Open and Ladies tournament, held this past weekend (April 9-10), there was strong representation from the up-and-coming crowd of junior competitors.

Precilia Kinsley (15) won the Ladies event and though the Open event was won by BJ Ussery, Jr., it was a different kind of junior (Nathan Childress) who sent him to the loss side. Three of the five matches he played after that to get to the finals put him up against Childress a second time and two other prominent male juniors on the JIC roster, Joey Tate and Landon Hollingsworth. All four and Brent Worth, another player on the JIC, competed in the Open event. Kinsley went two-and-out, while Worth went three-and-out in that division. The event drew 46 Open competitors and 20 Ladies to Diamond Billiards in Midlothian, VA.

Ussery’s path to the Open finals was rolling along smoothly through his first three matches, in which he’d given up only one rack, against Luther Pickeral (0), Shane Buchanan (1) and Larry Kressel (0). Then, he ran into Childress, who defeated him 8-5. Childress advanced to a winners’ side semifinal against Manny Chau. Hollingsworth became the second junior competitor in the winners’ side semifinals, having, on his way, given up only three racks, once, and two racks twice before facing Danny Mastermaker, who’d given up that many racks in his previous winners’ side quarterfinal win over Mac Harrell.

Mastermaker advanced to the hot seat match, sending Hollingsworth to the loss side 8-6. Chau joined him after downing Childress 8-4. Chau claimed the hot seat 8-1 over Mastermaker and waited on what he, with good reason, might have assumed was one of the three junior competitors still at work on the loss side.

On that loss side of the bracket, Childress drew Scott Roberts, who’d lost his opening match to Larry Kressel and was working on a seven-match, loss-side winning streak that was about to come to an end. He’d recently survived two straight double-hill matches against Mac Harrell and Chris Bruner. Hollingsworth drew Ussery, who was working on his own loss-side streak and had recently defeated Reggie Jackson 7-1 and JIC competitor Joey Tate 7-3.

Ussery defeated Hollingsworth 7-3 and advanced to his quarterfinal rematch against Childress, who joined him after putting a stop to Roberts’ loss-side streak 7-1. A little older by a matter of hours and presumably a little wiser, Ussery, Jr. stepped to the proverbial ‘plate’ and battled Childress to a deciding 13th game, his only double hill match of the tournament, before eliminating him.

Ussery then defeated Mastermaker 7-3 in the semifinals and claimed the VA State 10-Ball Championship title with a 9-6 victory Chau in the finals.

Precilia Kinsley and Liz Taylor

Six from JIC (30% of the field) compete, Kinsley comes from the loss side to take the title

Like Ussery, Precilia Kinsley had to come from the loss side to win the Ladies division of the VA State 10-Ball Championships. The winners’ side semifinals in the Ladies tournament featured two juniors against each other in one and two veterans in the other.

Kinsley was one of the juniors. She’d gotten by Cheryl Pritchard and Buffy Jolie to face fellow junior competitor, Bethany Tate in their winners’ side semifinal. Liz Taylor, who, at the same venue, won last October’s VA State Ladies 9-Ball Championship, ran a sort of JIC young ladies’ gauntlet. Four of her five total opponents in the event were JIC competitors. She opened with a victory over Courtney Hairfield (who’d finished 5th/6th in the last JIC 18U Girls division event, two weeks ago) and Hayleigh Marion (double hill) before stepping into her winners’ side semifinal against someone much closer to her in age, Lisa Cossette.

Tate downed Kinsley 6-4, as Taylor was working on a 6-2 win over Cossette. Taylor claimed the hot seat 6-2 over Tate and waited on the return of her last junior competitor.

On the loss side, that competitor, Kinsley, drew fellow JIC competitor Hayleigh Marion, who’d recently eliminated Britt Faries 5-2 and yet another JIC competitor, Savanna Wolford, double hill. Cossette picked up Buffy Jolie, who’d survived a double hill fight versus Courtney Hairfield and defeated Bethany Sykes 5-2 to reach her.

Cossette downed Jolie 5-3 and in the quarterfinals, faced Kinsley, who’d survived a double hill match against Marion. Kinsley defeated Cossette 5-3 and in their semifinal rematch, eliminated Tate 5-3, as well. Kinsley and Taylor came within a game of double hill, but in the end, the youngster edged out in front of the woman who owns a number of VA State titles. Kinsley downed Taylor 7-5 to claim her first. 

A five-entrant Second Chance tournament was won by Chris Bruner, who took home $80 for the effort. Brian Sewell ($20) was runner-up

Tour directors Kris Wylie and Tiger Baker thanked the ownership and staff at Diamond Billiards, as well as sponsors George Hammerbacher and Haselman & Hunt, D.D.S., P.C. Family Dentistry (Haselman & As the Action Pool Tour works on adding two more events to their 2022 calendar, the next scheduled event, to be held on the weekend of November 19-20, will bring the tour back to Diamond Billiards for the VA State 8-Ball Championships. 

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First Triple Crown Women’s Invitational In The Books

Joann Mason-Parker and Monica Webb

This past week, the legendary Q-Masters Billiards of Virginia Beach, VA hosted StraightPoolEye’s Triple Crown Women’s Invitational. The brainstorm of StraightPoolEyes’ founder, Eric Nelson, the $10,000 added event had three divisions – Straight Pool, Ten Ball and One Pocket. Twenty three ladies paid a $450 entry fee for all three divisions.

A players meeting, players auction and draw was held on Sunday night while play in the Straight Pool division started on Monday. All preliminary rounds were fifty point matches while the final match was to one hundred points. Monica Webb defeated Janet Atwell to advance to the finals against the undefeated Joann Mason Parker. Janet finished in third place.

Monica took advantage of a couple of Joann’s missed break shots to shoot out to a big lead. Joann clawed her way back and by the last few racks of the finals, it was neck and neck. The final rack was a nailbiter as both players played cat and mouse but it was Monica who pocketed the last few balls to take the match 100-94. Congratulations, Monica! Good tournament, Joann! Thanks to Straight Pool Tournament Director, Ron Shepard, for running a fine event!

Now, on to the Ten Ball! The tournament played down to the hot seat match which featured the new versus the old guard. Veteran and former US Open 9 Ball Champion Joann Mason Parker was sent west by the straight shooting Kaylee McIntosh. There, Joann faced another veteran player, Liz Taylor. The match went down to the wire 5-4 with Liz moving on to the finals. Joann finished in third place.

Liz Taylor and Kaylee McIntosh

Racing to seven, the final match was a battle between Kaylee and Liz. As this was true double elimination, Liz would have to defeat Kaylee twice to claim the title. Liz won the first set 7-4 to force a second set. It was a squeaker going down to the case game! Liz pocketed the final ball to win the Ten Ball division 5-4! Congratulations, Liz! Good tournament, Kaylee! Thanks to the Ten Ball Tournament Director, Rho Reyes, for doing a first class job!

The final event of the Triple Crown was the One Pocket division. The hot seat match featured Monica Webb and Julie Melman Cone with Monica claiming her seat in the finals. Julie then faced Janet Atwell to vie for the remaining seat in the finals. Julie prevailed leaving Janet with another third place finish. Good job, Janet!

Racing to three, the One Pocket title was claimed in the first set by the undefeated Monica Webb 3-0. Congratulations, Monica! Good tournament, Julie! Thanks to the One Pocket Tournament Director, Alex Shapsevich, for a great job!

StraightPoolEyes would also like to congratulate our first Master of the Table, Joann Mason Parker! Fantastic performance, Joann!

StraightPoolEyes and would like to thank the Behrman family, owners of Q-Masters, General Manager Gary Ornoff his staff for rolling out the red carpet for all the players fans.

We’d also like to thank the Triple Crown tournament sponsors for a fantastic inaugural event! They include becue, Simonis, Aramith, LS2 Helmets, the Punch Zaddy Band, Hanshew Jump Cues, IPKT,, Contractor Equipment & Supply, Olympic Technologies, Inc. and Fort Worth Billiards Superstore of Fort Worth, TX. would like to thank Jeremy Jones, Larry Schwartz, Mary Kenniston and Justin Cone for their topnotch commentary.

We’d also like to thank our sponsors. They include Acme Cases, Durbin Custom Cues, Clutch Shot Billiards Apparel, Digital Pool, Hanshew Custom Cues, Diamond Billiard Products, Aramith, Simonis, Lomax Custom Cues, Fort Worth Billiards Superstore of Fort Worth, TX and The Action Palace of Dayton, OH.

Our next event is The Rematch of the Battle4TheBorder – Team Michigan vs. Team Ohio! To be held at the Causeway Bay Hotel & Conference Center, the dates are December 3rd-5th. Hope to see you there!!!

Pao goes undefeated to chalk up her seventh win on the JPNEWT since 2019

Caroline Pao and Nicole Nester

Last month (April 10-11), Caroline Pao joined 18 other competitors at stop #2 on the J. Pechauer Northeast Women’s Tour, looking for her seventh straight win on the tour, dating back to 2019. Liz Taylor defeated her twice; once, in a winners’ side semifinal and again, in the finals. This past weekend, as 24 women gathered to compete at stop #3, hosted by First Break Sports Bar in Sterling, VA, there was some speculation that Taylor v. Pao might go at it again, in search of the event title. It didn’t happen. In fact, they didn’t meet in this one at all. Pao, though, went undefeated through the field to claim that seventh, though not ‘seventh straight’ JPNEWT title.

Pao faced separate opponents in the hot seat and finals. She was awarded an opening round bye and opened her campaign with a 7-3 win over Kia Burwell. She then shut out Judie Wilson and drew Kelly Wyatt in one of the winners’ side semifinals. Carol V. Clark, in the meantime, also with an opening round bye, survived a double hill fight against Ashley Burrows and defeated Lai Li 7-5 to draw Nicole Nester in the other winners’ side semifinal. Nester, who would go on to face Pao in the finals, had just survived her own double hill challenge versus Liz Taylor, sending her to the loss side in their winners’ side quarterfinal match. 

Clark sent Nester to the loss side 7-4 and in the hot seat match, faced Pao, who’d defeated Wyatt 7-3. Pao gave up just a single rack to claim the hot seat over Clark.

Tour director Linda Shea, who’d started out in a promising direction on the winners’ side with two straight shutouts over Calaia Jackson and Kimberly Smith-Martin, ran into Kelly Wyatt in one of the winners’ side quarterfinals. When Wyatt sent her to the loss side 7-3, she downed Melissa Jenkins 7-4 and then, survived a double hill battle versus Ashley Burrows to draw Nester. Wyatt, in the meantime, picked up Liz Taylor, who’d followed her defeat at the hands of Nester with victories over Cecilia Strain 7-2 and Kia Burwell 7-1.

There were, at this point, six competitors left. Five of the six were among the top 10 in the tour standings going into this third stop. Pao, Taylor, Nester and Shea were, in order, #1 through #4, while Carol V. Clark was #6.  There were two rematch possibilities in the quarterfinals. It was Taylor and Nester who advanced to meet a second time. Taylor eliminated Wyatt 7-3, as Nester was busy in a double hill fight that she eventually won over Shea.

Any hopes for a second straight tour stop with Pao and Taylor in the finals was eliminated in the quarterfinals, when Nester downed Taylor 7-2. Nester earned her spot in the finals with a 7-5 win over Clark in the semifinals. 

Pao completed her undefeated run with a 7-5 win in the finals, which allowed her to maintain her top spot in the tour standings. In fact, the tour’s top five in the standings maintained their positions with the points they earned at this event. Pao, Taylor, Nester, Shea and Wilson (who finished in tie for 9th place) remained as the top five. Kia Burwell moved up a single spot to #6, while Carol V. Clark’s third-place finish moved her up from #9 to a tie with Burwell.

Tour director Shea thanked the ownership and staff at First Break Sports Bar for their hospitality, as well as title sponsor J. Pechauer Custom Cues, Bitzel and Associates PTPA (Physical Therapists), George Hammerbacher (Advanced Pool Instructor/stream commentator) and for the live stream, Britanya E. Rapp of angle aim Art. The next stop on the JPNEWT (#4), scheduled for June 12-13, will be hosted by Triple Nines Bar & Billiards in Elkridge, MD.


Taylor comes back from down-by-four in finals to defeat Pao on JPNEWT

Liz Taylor (Jay Chiu)

There was little doubt in anyone’s mind that Caroline Pao signed on to the April 10-11 stop on the J. Pechauer Northeast Women’s Tour (JPNEWT), looking for her seventh straight win on the tour, dating back to 2019. Of course, everyone else who signed on was looking for a win as well, including Liz Taylor, who’d finished in 3rd place, behind Pao and Nicole Nester in the tour’s season opener last month (March 6-7).

As she’d done in March, Pao was forced to seek this past weekend’s event title from the loss side. In fact, this time out, she was forced to win three on the loss side just to get into the finals. Liz Taylor had sent her over and though Pao would come back to challenge her in the finals, Taylor completed an undefeated run to claim her first event title since she’d gone back-to-back last November, winning the VA State Ladies 8-Ball Championship and a week, later, Stop #10 on the 2020 JPNEWT. The event this past weekend drew 19 entrants to Markley Billiards in Norristown, PA. 

Taylor and Pao were on something of a collision course from the start. Pao got by Suzzie Wong, Shelah Joner and Christine Pross (7-2, 7-3, 7-3), as Taylor, awarded an opening round bye, shut out April Hatcher and then downed Kia Burwell 7-5. This set them up to face each other in one of the winners’ side semifinals. In the other winners’ side semifinal, the tour director, Linda Shea, squared off against Judie Wilson, who, following a bye, had chalked up two 7-4 victories against Nicole Nester and Kelly Fox.

A third straight 7-4 win put Wilson into the hot seat match for the first time since 2018 (her best recorded earnings year, to date), when she fought for it twice; once, in April, against Burwell (then, Kia Sidbury) and then, versus Shea in December. Taylor and Pao, in the meantime, battled to double hill, before Taylor prevailed. Taylor put the hammer down in the hot seat match, giving up only a single rack to Wilson.

On the loss side, Pao picked up Kelly Fox, who, following her defeat at the hands of Wilson had eliminated Sharon O’Hanlon 7-3 and Kris Consalvo-Kemp 7-4. Shea drew Pross, who followed her loss to Pao with victories over Rachel Walters 7-5 and Carianne Merkle 7-3. 

Pao advanced to the quarterfinals 7-2 over Cox and met up with Shea, who’d defeated Pross 7-5. Pao eliminated Shea 7-3 in those quarterfinals and then, Wilson 7-4 in the semifinals.

Taylor got off to a bit of a rocky start in the extended-race-to-9 final. If she reached 7 racks first, it’d be over. If Pao reached 7 first, the race extended to 9. With the momentum of her three loss-side matches, Pao jumped out to an early lead that was four racks by the end of the 6th game, 5-1.

Taylor chipped away at that lead, winning four of the next six (7-5), but couldn’t stop Pao’s extension of the match to nine games. She did, however, stop Pao from completing any more games. Taylor won four in a row to claim the event title.

Tour director Linda Shea thanked Russ Urffer and his Markley Billiards’ staff for their hospitality, as well as title sponsor J. Pechauer Custom Cues, Bitzel and Associates PTPA (Physical Therapy), George Hammerbacher (Advanced Pool Instructor), and, for the livestream, angle aim Art (Britanya E Rapp). The next stop on the JPNEWT, scheduled for the weekend of May 15-16, will be hosted by First Break Bar & Grill in Sterling, VA.

Pao comes from the loss side to win sixth title on the J. Pechauer Northeast Women’s Tour

Nicole Nester and Caroline Pao

Caroline Pao won twice on the J. Pechauer Northeast Women’s Tour (JPNEWT) last year (2020). The two wins followed a somewhat brief, pandemic-inspired, competitive-play drought, before which she had finished in the tie for 9th place at the Ashton Twins Classic in January. She’d won all three times she competed on the tour in 2019, which proved to be, and remains, her best recorded earnings year to date.

On the weekend of March 6-7, 2021, at the JPNEWT season opener, she entered her sixth JPNEWT event in the past two years. She was looking for her sixth straight win on the tour and she found it. At Triple Nines in Elkridge, MD, where she met another long-time veteran of the tour, Nicole Nester, twice. Though knocked out of the hot seat match by Nester, Pao returned from a victory in the semifinals to defeat Nester in the finals. The event drew 26 entrants to Triple Nines.

Pao opened with a shutout over Melissa Mason, a 7-1 win over Lynn Richard and a 7-4 win against Teri Thomas, which set her (Pao) up in a winners’ side semifinal against Tour Director Linda Shea, with whom she’s had a battle or two over the years. Nicole Nester, in the meantime, got by KanKan Yu 7-4, and Deb Peterman 7-3, as a prelude to a double hill battle against Liz Taylor, fresh off a 3rd place finish at the VA State Ladies 10-Ball Championships a couple of weeks ago. Nester prevailed and advanced to her winners’ side semifinal matchup, against Kathy Friend.

Pao moved on to the hot seat match with a 7-3 win over Shea and was joined by Nester, who’d defeated Friend 7-4. Nester claimed the hot seat 7-3.

On the loss side, Friend picked up Christine Pross, who’d suffered a winners’ side quarterfinal 7-5 loss to Shea. Pross went on to down Ceci Strain 7-3 and survive a double hill bout against Shanna Lewis. Liz Taylor, who’d followed her loss to Pao with a loss side victory over Judie Wilson 7-1, locked up in a double hill battle with the tour’s #2 competitor in the standings, Kia Burwell. Taylor jumped out of that frying pan and into the fire of the #1 player in the standings, TD Linda Shea.

Taylor dropped Shea 7-2 and in the quarterfinals, faced Friend, who’d defeated Pross 7-5. Taylor won that quarterfinal match 7-4 over Friend before having her modest four-match, loss-side streak ended by Pao in the semifinals 7-4. Pao completed her sixth straight win on the tour with a 9-3 victory in the finals.

Tour director Shea thanked Stan Nasiatka and his Triple Nines staff for their hospitality, as well as sponsors Bitzel and Associates Physical Therapy and Brit Rapp of angle aim Art for sponsoring the live stream. The next stop (#2) on the tour, scheduled for April 10-11, will be hosted by Markley Billiards in Norristown, PA.

Fresh from VA State Championship, Taylor goes undefeated on JPNEWT Season Finale

Liz Taylor and Kia Burwell

The last two times that Liz Taylor played on the J. Pechauer Northeast Women’s Tour, finishing as winner, and later, 9th place in the spring of 2010, Barack Obama was President of the United States. Now, 10 years later, as the world waits to see who will be the 46th President, Liz Taylor made a somewhat triumphant return and went undefeated on the tour’s 2020 season finale. The victory came a week after she had successfully defended her title in the 2020 VA State 8-Ball Championships. The tour’s season finale drew 18 entrants to On Cue Sports Bar & Grill in Front Royal, VA.

After being awarded an opening round bye, Taylor advanced to defeat Tiffany Lear and Lynn Richard, both 7-3, to draw the tour’s second highest ranked player, Kia Burwell in one of the winners’ side semifinals. Playing in the other one was the tour’s #1-ranked player, tour director Linda Shea, who had also been awarded an opening round bye, and then shut out Dawn Takacs and defeated Christie Hurdel 7-2 to draw 4th-ranked Lai Li.

Taylor and Shea advanced to the hot seat match with identical 7-4 wins over Burwell and Li, respectively. In what would prove to be one of the more entertaining matches of the event, Shea and Taylor traded the opening two racks, before Shea began edging out to what appeared to be a commanding 5-1 lead. Taylor, though, won the next rack to make it 5-2, before Shea reached the hill at 6-2. Taylor won the next four to force a 13th and deciding game.

With three balls left in the deciding rack (6, 8, & 9), Taylor took a long, two-rail kick shot in an attempt to hit the 6-ball and it sent both the 6-ball and the cue ball, down table, where Shea had herself a bit of a connect-the-dots pattern to finish the rack and the match. The 6-ball went down smoothly, Shea had positioned herself well for the 8-ball and it went down, too. The cue ball fell either a little short or a little long, depending on your perspective. Shorter, and Shea would have had a credible shot to put the 9-ball in a corner pocket. Longer, and she could have put it straight into a side pocket. Where it lay, she had an oblique angle shot at putting it in a side pocket, and she came within half a ball of doing just that. But the half that didn’t make it, bounced the 9-ball out into the center of the table, as the cue ball meandered into place for a fairly straight-in shot for Taylor. She made it and claimed the hot seat, as Shea moved to the semifinals. 

On the loss side, Burwell began her three-match march back to the finals against Christie Hurdel, who’d followed her defeat at the hands of Shea with victories over Kelly Costello 7-3 and Shelah Joner 7-4. Li drew Shanna Lewis, who’d lost a winners’ side, double hill battle versus Burwell and then, defeated Sharita Green 7-3 and Misti Zamora 7-2.

Li advanced to the quarterfinals 7-3 over Lewis, as Burwell downed Hurdel 7-5. Burwell then eliminated Li 7-3 in those quarterfinals. In the semifinal battle between the tour’s top two ranked players, #2 (Burwell) downed #1 (Shea) 7-1 for a shot at Taylor waiting in the hot seat. 

It was Burwell’s third appearance in a 2020 JPNEWT final and she was still looking for a win. She’d been runner-up to Shea in July and to Caroline Pao in October. The wait, for Taylor, which included the quarterfinal and semifinal matches, did not appear to affect her game at all.

She broke out to a 4-0 lead, before Burwell got on the board with a rack; the only one she would record. Taylor came back and won three straight to complete her undefeated run.

Based on their number of appearances and how they finished throughout the year, Shea and Burwell will finish the JPNEWT season as the top two players on the tour. Lai Li’s 4th place finish edged her ahead of Kathy Friend into third place. Friend and Caroline Pao round out the tour’s 2020 top five.

Shea thanked the ownership and staff at On Cue Sports Bar & Grill for their hospitality, as well as title sponsor J. Pechauer Custom Cues, angle aim Art (Britanya E Rapp) and Turtle Rack. She also added her gratitude for the “girls” on the tour, who consistently lend a hand when needed, like Sharon O’Hanlon and Judie Wilson.

Though like most pool tours, the JPNEWT was affected by the pandemic, it had to cancel only tthree of its events; one each in April, May and June. At the same time, according to Shea, the tour attracted new players at almost every event.

“I’m feeling grateful,” said Shea, the day after the season finale and three days ahead of Thanksgiving. “It was a good year, everybody (in a broad circle of family, friends and members of the pool community) is healthy.”

Shea said that the 2021 JPNEWT schedule is in the works and that the tour will be improving on location and numbers.

“We have a lot of league pool players in the area, who generally play on bar boxes,” she said, “so this coming year, we’ll be at a total of 12 locations and two of them will have bar box tables to bridge to the area’s league players.”

“Overall,” she added, embracing activities beyond her direction of the pool tour, “I don’t think I have a thing to complain about.”

Davis and Taylor win Open/Ladies events at VA State 8-Ball Championships

Brother/sister Wolford junior duo are runners-up in the two events

It had been nine months since the Action Pool Tour had held a 2020 stop. In February, at Diamond Billiards in Midlothian, VA, BJ Ussery downed Reymart Lim (winner of the season opener) to claim the VA State 10-Ball Championship title, while Liz Taylor snatched the title from Janet Atwell, who’d defeated her in the finals of the event in 2019. The pandemic led to the cancellation of the next eight stops on the tour and just hours ahead of new pandemic guidelines, which seemed likely to prohibit similar gatherings anytime soon, the APT returned to Diamond Billiards this past weekend (Nov. 14-15), where the 2020 VA State 8-Ball Championships were held. The pandemic restrictions, announced the day before the event, were to take effect at midnight on Sunday.

Mike Davis, as he’d done in the earlier 10-Ball event, came from the loss side in the Open event of the 2020 VA State 8-Ball Championships to down the competitor who’d sent him there, junior player/young gun Shane Wolford (21). Liz Taylor successfully defended the title she’d won last October, and defeated Shane Wolford’s younger sister, Savanna Wolford twice – hot seat and finals to claim the Ladies title. The Open drew 29 entrants and the Ladies drew a very short field of eight entrants to Diamond Billiards.

Savanna Wolford and Liz Taylor (Tim McClure)

Ladies first . . .

Taylor downed four opponents in five matches to claim the Ladies title. She won a play-in preliminary match over Soo Emmett, before downing Jordyn Worley and advancing to a winners’ side semifinal against Reene Driskill. Savanna Wolford, in the meantime, got by Lisa White to draw Sheila Layne in the other winners’ side semifinal.

Taylor advanced to the hot seat match with a shutout over Driskill, bringing her aggregate score going into the hot seat match to 18-4. Wolford downed Layne 6-2 to join her.

Taylor took the first of their two matches 6-1 and waited in the hot seat for Wolford to return.

On the loss side, Driskill drew Kelly Wyatt, who’d defeated Soo Emmett 5-3 to reach her. Layne picked up Jordyn Worley, who’d eliminated Dorothy Strater 5-1.

Driskill advanced to the quarterfinals with a shutout over Wyatt. Worley defeated Layne 5-2 to join her. Driskill took another step and downed Worley 5-3, before being defeated by Wolford 5-2 in the semifinals.

A little bit of momentum helped Wolford chalk up two more racks in the finals than she’d done in the hot seat match, but it wasn’t enough as Taylor completed her defense of the 8-Ball title 7-3.

Mike Davis and Shane Wolford

Davis plays two junior players, wins two out of three matches against them to claim Open title

Though the 2020 field did not contain the 2019 VA State 8-Ball Champion, Chris Bruner, it did feature a number of competitors from that event and long-time veterans of the Action Pool Tour, including Shaun Wilkie, Eric Moore, Scott Roberts and of course, this year’s winner, Mike Davis. Conspicuous in their absence were such APT regulars as Reymart Lim, JT Ringgold, RJ Carmona and Steve Fleming (among others), who were part of the 37-entrant field last year.

Davis began what would prove to be his winning campaign with wins over Paul Shank 7-2, Kelly Farrar 7-3 and then ran into two straight junior players. The first, teenager Nathan Childress, battled him to double hill before he (Davis) prevailed and advanced to a winners’ side semifinal against the second junior player (albeit, now turned 21), Shane Wolford. Meanwhile, it was Matt Clatterbuck advancing past the aforementioned Eric Moore, double hill and then, defeating Jesse Rice 7-3, and winning a second double hill fight versus BJ Ussery to draw Brian Bryant in the other winners’ side semifinal.

Clatterbuck sent Bryant to the loss side 7-4 and was joined in the hot seat match by Wolford, who downed Davis 7-2. Wolford claimed the hot seat 7-3 over Clatterbuck in what proved to be his last win of the event.

On the loss side, Bryant ran into the junior player, Nathan Childress, who’d followed his defeat at the hands of Davis with loss-side victories over Heath Thomas 6-1 and Scott Roberts 6-4. Davis drew BJ Ussery, who’d followed up his loss to Clatterbuck by eliminating Christopher Wilburn 6-3 and Shaun Wilkie 6-4.

Davis and Ussery fought a somewhat predictable double hill fight for advancement to the quarterfinals, eventually won by Davis. Childress had a much easier time against Brian Bryant, allowing him only a single rack, and advancing to a quarterfinal re-match against Davis.

Davis won the re-match 6-2 and then, by the same score, spoiled Clatterbuck’s semifinal bid for a second shot at Wolford in the hot seat. Davis moved on and claimed the event title with an 8-4 victory in the finals.

Tour directors Kris Wylie and Tiger Baker thanked the ownership and staff at Diamond Billiards, as well as event sponsor Haselman & Hunt, D.D.S., PC Family Dentistry. The Action Pool Tour’s December year-end event, scheduled for the weekend of Dec. 12-13 at Q Master Billiards in Virginia Beach, VA, is still on that schedule. However, due to the public gathering restrictions that went into effect a matter of hours after this recent tour stop ended, Wylie and Baker will be working with the folks at Q Master Billiards to assure that the event will be compliant and will update the status of the event as soon as the information is available.

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

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

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

Bruner still on top of Action Pool Tour standings, claims VA State 8-Ball Championships

(l to r): Chris Bruner & RJ Carmona

Liz Taylor goes undefeated through Ladies field
Chris Bruner came into the October 12-13 VA State 8-Ball Championships as the Action Pool Tour’s top player. He went undefeated through a field of 37 at Q Master Billiards in Virginia Beach, VA to claim the event title and maintain his position as #1 on the tour’s player standings list. Eight of the players on the tour’s Top Ten list competed in this year’s event, but so did, among others, Shaun Wilkie (#14) and last year’s runner-up, Mike Davis (#30). Defending champion, Warren Kiamco, did not compete this year. Bruner sent #2, Steve Fleming, to the loss side, and faced #3, RJ Carmona, twice to claim the title.
The Ladies event drew a short field of 13 and was won by Liz Taylor, who, along with Jacki Duggan, who finished in 4th place, are the only women among the tour’s Top 20 in player standings. Like Bruner, Taylor went undefeated through the field and had to face the same opponent (Cheryl Pritchard) in both the hot seat and finals.
Bruner’s seven-match march to the finish line went through Jose Vega-Hernandez, Travis Southard, Jamie Bess and Fleming to arrive at a winners’ side semifinal match against Eric Moore, who would normally be among the tour’s top players, but was making here only his second appearance on the 2019 tour. Bruner arrived at the winners’ side semifinal, having given up only five total racks (two to Southard and three to Fleming).
Carmona got by Kenny Miller (#11), Jason Trigo (#17) and survived a double hill bout versus JT Ringgold (#21) to arrive at his winners’ side semifinal match against Reymart Lim (#5). Three of the four competitors in the winners’ side semifinals had won previous stops on the 2019 tour; Bruner and Lim with two each and Carmona with one.
Moore chalked up more racks against Bruner than all of his previous opponents combined. They fought to double hill before Bruner prevailed and advanced to the hot seat match. He was joined by Carmona, who’d sent Lim west 7-3. In their first of two, Bruner claimed the hot seat 7-4 over Carmona.
On the loss side, Lim picked up Scott Haas, who’d been defeated by Eric Moore 7-5 in a winners’ side quarterfinal match and gone on to defeat Shaun Wilkie 6-4 and Steve Fleming 6-2. Moore drew Ringgold, who, following his double hill loss to Bruner in a winners’ side quarterfinal, had defeated Tony Montalvo 6-2 and Kenny Miller 6-1.
Ringgold downed Moore 6-3 and in the quarterfinals, faced Lim, who’d defeated Haas 6-2. Lim took the quarterfinal match 6-3 over Ringgold.
In the semifinals that followed, Carmona gave up only a single rack to Lim and earned himself a second shot against Bruner. In their second meeting, the Bruner and Carmona battled to double hill before Bruner prevailed to deny Carmona his second 2019 tour victory and chalk up his own third win.
Taylor downs Pritchard twice to capture Ladies 8-Ball Title
Last year’s Ladies’ winner – Bethany Sykes – was ‘in the house’ for this event, though she was sent to the loss side 6-4 in the second round by the eventual winner, Liz Taylor. Sykes then won four on the loss side, before falling to the event’s runner-up, Cheryl Pritchard, in the semifinals.
It took Liz Taylor five matches to claim the title. She got by Maria Beckner 6-1 before sending the event’s defending champion, Bethany Sykes to the loss side 6-4. This set Taylor up in a winners’ side semifinal versus Kim Whitman. Awarded a preliminary round bye, Pritchard defeated Kelly Cox 6-3 to arrive at a winners’ side semifinal match against Lisa Uilani Vita.
Taylor and Whitman fought to double hill before Taylor prevailed 6-5 and sent Whitman west. Pritchard gave up only a single rack to Vita and joined Taylor in what would be their first of two, battling for the hot seat. Taylor took that first of two 6-3 and waited in the hot seat for Pritchard’s return.
On the loss side, Whitman drew Jacki Duggan, who’d lost an earlier battle to Vita and on the loss side, had eliminated Soo Emmett 5-1 and Maria Beckner 5-3. Vita picked up Sykes, who, following her defeat at the hands of Taylor, had defeated Kelly Wyatt 5-3 and Kim McKenna 5-1.
Duggan and Sykes advanced to the quarterfinals with 5-3 victories over Whitman and Vita. Sykes followed that with another 5-3 victory, over Duggan, in the quarterfinals.
Pritchard ended Sykes’ bid for a second year in the 8-Ball Championship finals with a 5-2 win in the semifinals. Taylor then ended Pritchard’s bid for the event title by shutting her out in the finals.
A Second Chance tournament drew 12 entrants and saw Steve Fleming come from the loss side to down hot seat occupant Justin Clark 6-1 in the finals. James Blackburn finished third, with Jimmy Bird in fourth place.
Tour directors Kim Wylie and Tiger Baker thanked the ownership and staff at Q Master Billiards, as well as sponsors as well as sponsors Predator Cues, Viking Cues, Simonis Cloth, Aramith Balls, Brown’s Mechanical LLC, Kamui, Diamond Billiard Products, Ozone Billiards, CSI, Grant Wylie Photography and George Hammerbacher, Advanced Pool Instructor. The next stop on the Action Pool Tour, scheduled for the weekend of November 16-17, will be hosted by Diamond Billiards in Midlothian, VA.