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Champions Reignite at Space City Open VII

Josh Roberts (Photo courtesy of Chris Lue, Next Action Media)

James Davis, Jr., “Junior”, of Austin, Texas, went undefeated in a 128-player field, to win the Space City Open VII, open 9-ball title, becoming the second player to win it twice. Josh “The Beast” Roberts not only defended his one pocket title, but finished second in banks, and thirty-third in the 9-ball, earning himself the “All-Around” title, and a hefty $1,500 bonus. First-time competitor, Evan Lunda of Detroit, Michigan, cleaned up in the 32-player, 9-ball banks division, going hill-hill with only a single opponent. In the 32-player, ladies 9-ball, Ming “The Empress” Ng redeemed herself in the second set of the true, double elimination final, securing her second title, and becoming the first, two-time winner in this division. Nine junior players, including eight young men, and one young lady, traveled from across Texas to compete in their very own division. Lazaro “Little Laz” Martinez, III, of San Antonio, Texas, went undefeated in this category, earning the first win in this division debut.
 
For years, Space City Open has featured top players from across America, and this year was no exception. Former Mosconi Cup players, contenders, and champions alike were in attendance, vying for a piece of the $53,415 payout. Space City Open superstars included Justin Hall, Josh Roberts, Danny Smith, Shane McMinn, John Morra, Charlie “Hillbilly” Bryant, Richie Richeson, Alex Calderone, Sylver Ochoa, Ernesto Bayaua, James Davis, Jr., Can Salim, Chris Robinson, Evan Lunda, Jamie Baraks, Manny Perez, Justin Espinosa, Tommy Tokoph, and Jesus Atencio.  
 
This year’s $7,500 added, Space City Open VII, was held December 6th-9th, 2018, and implemented a number of positive changes, including a $1,500 All-Around bonus, and a seventeen-and-under, juniors 9-ball division. In its seventh year, the “derby-like” event, now hosting five divisions over four days, was also held at a brand new venue. Big Tyme Billiards in Spring, Texas, stepped up to host, generously adding $4,000 to the purse, providing twenty Diamond bar tables and six nine foot tables, on which to compete. Twenty-six, brand new, Cyclop “Zeus” ball sets, and Accu-Racks by Outsville, were provided by Space City. The bar tables were a popular change from the eight foot tables used in previous years (for the open 9-ball division), and the format changes for one pocket and banks were also a huge hit. These divisions were still held on nine foot tables, but in a single elimination format as opposed to double, and the consensus was clear. Players loved the expediency, along with the added pressure and intensity of the “one-and-done” arrangement. For the first time, all divisions filled, with players on stand-by.
 
The open 9-ball division presented a monstrous, challenging field, played on the great equalizer; the bar table. On the road to victory, James Davis, Jr. defeated Matt Williams, Charlie Bryant, 9-8, Evan Lunda, 9-8, and Shelby Green, 9-5, to reach the winners’ side final eight. Espinosa logged wins over Angelina Dean, 9-1, Marshal Ward, 9-2, Eric Aicinena, 9-4, and Victor Rojas, 9-7, while Danny Smith defeated Mike Landry, 9-2, Colton Berzins, 9-1, John Morra, 9-5, and Mike Alonzo, 9-8. Jamie Baraks made quick work of Beto Cavazos, 9-3, Rick Moreno, 9-3, David Thomas, 9-7, and Shane McMinn, 9-4. Houston’s Andy Jethwa passed Grady Cooper, 9-1, Mark Galicia, 9-5, Sylver Ochoa, 9-8, and Corey Flud, 9-6. Richie Richeson ousted Alan Myers, Jerry Miller, 9-8, David Chow, and Billy “Big Tyme” Sharp, 9-4, while Alex Calderone overcame Chase Wheeler, 9-2, Ricki Casper, 9-6, Aaron Springs, 9-7, and Germany’s Can Salim, 9-8. On the one loss side and in the money, Kenneth Price upset Chris Robinson, 7-5, and bested Flud, 7-7, while Morra topped Curt Sheldon, 7-3, and Shelby Green, 7-2. Bryant subdued Angel Mentzel, but fell to Sharp by the same score, 7-2. Galicia upended Aicinena, 7-4, but fell to Salim, 7-2, while Moreno won an impressive five matches, ousting Springs, 7-3, and Rojas, 7-4. Following a second round loss to Morra, Ernesto Bayaua made a phenomenal comeback, securing five matches, including wins over Derek Fontenot, 7-3, and Poon, 7-0. Jesus Atencio, on a similar mission, marked up five on the one loss side, among the ruins, Reginal Samples, 7-1, and Alonzo, 7-5. Jimmy Krone racked up five victories on the one loss side, but was stopped by Ochoa, 7-4. Ochoa was taken out by McMinn, 7-6, wrapping up top sixteen action. Back on the east side, Espinosa throttled Perez, 9-1, Baraks triumphed over Smith, 9-7, while Davis, Jr. snuck by Jethwa, 9-7, and Calderone inched by Richeson, 9-8. Espinosa squeaked by Baraks, 9-8, and Davis Jr. served it up cold to Calderone, 9-4. The hot seat match-up marked an Austin-area shoot-out, and a short-lived set for Espinosa, who sustained his first blow from Davis, Jr., 9-5. On the west side, Morra took a stand, ending Price, 7-3, and Perez, 7-2, while Salim took out heavy hitters  Sharp, 7-3, and Smith, 7-2. Bayaua recorded his seventh win on the one loss side, ending Moreno, 7-1, and Jethwa, 7-3. Ochoa finished off Atencio, 7-3, but fell to Richeson, 7-5. Salim went on to defeat Morra, 7-5, and Calderone, 7-3, while Bayaua buried Richeson and Baraks, 7-3. Bayaua registered his ninth win, but no more. Winning the case game against Bayaua, Salim secured his sixth win, and slid into third place. Espinosa was ready for Salim, but got off to a slow start. At a 6-3 deficit, Espinosa came back to win, 7-6, earning himself a second shot at Junior, and the title. Once again, Espinosa found himself in troubled waters, as Davis was in perfect rhythm with the table, and couldn’t be denied. Davis Jr. surged to a 9-3 win, and his second 9-ball title since the inception of Space City. 
 
In the one pocket division, Josh Roberts took no prisoners, eliminating Charlie Bryant, Jamie Baraks, and Chris Robinson, 4-3, while Alex Calderone defeated Greg Trent, Jim McCary, and Sylver Ochoa, 4-2. Local favorite, Richie Richeson, defeated Marc Garza and Manny Perez, by the same score, 4-1, and John Morra, 4-1. Ernesto Bayaua rounded out the final four, booking wins over Bobby Roland, Aaron Springs, 4-3, and Evan Lunda. In the final four round, Roberts shut-out Calderone, 4-0, and Richeson slid past Bayaua, 4-3. For the first time, Richeson found himself at the end of the board, facing the defending champion. The pressure was on, as both players were in close running for the All-Around bonus. In the final, numerous games came down to the case ball. The fans were treated to an offensive juggernaut; a display of maneuvers and banks, not soon forgotten, but even the creativity of the venerable Richeson, was not enough. With an accounting of two, eight-and-out runs, Roberts was up 3-2, with one ball remaining in game six. Following an unforced error by Richeson, Roberts took it home, along with his second, Space City Open one pocket title.
 
Evan Lunda was in charge of the banks. The Detroit product eliminated Jim Walker, 4-0, Danny Smith, 4-3, and Jose Barbosa, 4-1. His upcoming challenger, Shane McMinn, took out Mike Alonzo, Gail Eaton and James Davis, Jr. by the same score, 4-2. Josh Roberts overwhelmed Marc Garza, 4-1, Kent Berthelot, 4-0, and John Morra, 4-1, while Richie Richeson completed the final four, with wins over Bret Harlan, 4-0, Jamie Baraks, 4-2, and Justin Hall, 4-3. Lunda ended McMinn, 4-2, and Roberts robbed Richeson, 4-1. Lunda and Roberts found themselves in their first, banks final, vying for new milestones; Lunda, aiming for his first title, and Roberts, going for first-time champion of two different divisions. Lunda’s casual style showcased epic moves, and wowed spectators as he banked his way to victory. He shut out Roberts in the final of the single elimination schedule, 4-0, to win his first Space City Open title.
 
On Sunday morning, thirty-two women started battling it out in the ladies 9-ball division. The 2013 ladies 9-ball division champion, Ming “The Empress” Ng, began her trek with wins over Terri Resendez, 7-2, two-time ladies 9-ball champion, Gail “Virginia Slim” Eaton, 7-6, and Kim “Texas Heat” Pierce, 7-1, as Robyn Petrosino plowed through Ruth Paine, 7-0, Brittany Kromer, 7-3, and Teresa “Princess of Pool” Garland, 7-1. Yvonne “Casher” Asher made her way to the cash, defeating Karen Reilly, Tam “MZ Tam” Trinh, 7-3, and Jillian Nickerson, 7-6, while Ricky “The Ghost” Casper, drifted past Matty Sword, 7-1, Sara Bork, 7-3, and Hopey “Hurricane” Lawrence, 7-2. Ng went on to shut out Petrosino, 7-0, and Casper stopped Asher, 7-4. In the hot seat match, Ng emerged victorious over Casper, 7-4. On the one loss side and in the final eight, Pierce and Eaton shut out Garland and Nickerson, respectively, 5-0. Pierce derailed Asher, and Eaton eliminated Petrosino, moving into the final four. Eaton went on to eliminate Pierce, 5-0, and Casper, 5-4, to meet Ng in the finals. Ng, going for her second title, and Eaton, searching for her third, battled to the bitter end. In the first set, Ng simply couldn’t get it together, and Eaton was on fire, taking the first set, 7-1. Following a five minute break, the second set got underway. This time, Ng took her turn, beating Eaton 5-3, to win her second, Space City Open title. 
 
Nine players, seventeen and under, competed in the inaugural, juniors 9-ball division. Lazaro Martinez, III, aka “Little Laz”, outplayed April Gonzales, 5-2, and Alex Fonseca bested Jonathan Cortez, 5-1. Jacob Gonzales beat John Benavides, but fell to Kyle Yi, while Gabriel Martinez passed Nathan Garay, 5-1. Martinez, III logged a third win against Fonseca, 5-2, and G. Martinez ousted Yi, for a brother versus brother, hot seat match-up. G. Martinez denied his brother, and awaited his final opponent. On the one loss side, and in the final six, Fonseca eliminated Garay, and Yi overcame Benavides. Yi eliminated Fonseca, but fell to Martinez, III. Once again, “Little Laz” faced off with brother, Gabriel, in the final. The final told a different story, as Little Laz overwhelmed Gabriel, 5-2, 5-3, to win his first Space City Open title.
 
Space City Open VII goes down in the record books as the most successful one to date. “I have no words for the outpouring of support from the Texas pool community. Even with the last minute venue and format changes, the event over-filled. Billy Sharp and Deborah Sharp of Big Tyme Billiards came through for all of us” commented Kim Newsome, Space City Open Founder and Director. Space City Open extends a heartfelt “thank you” to everyone involved in the production of this event; John Newsome and Johnny Gonzales of Eagle Plumbing who sponsored the $1,500, All-Around bonus; staff members Kim Newsome, John Newsome, Erica Hanlon, and Chuck Adams who managed every facet of the event; Ceferina Ramirez and Ruth Paine for their contributions; Mike Fabacher with Southern Streaming who provided a free, four-day live stream; Chris Lue of Next Action Media, whose photographs captured the essence of the event; sponsors Roger Schuett with the APA of North Harris County, Mike McDonald of VaporKnightsUSA.com, Poison by Predator Cues, Cyclop Pool Balls, Chris Renfro with Outsville Billiards, Charlie and Heather Bryant of Brutal Game Gear, and David Taylor and Teresa Garland with Houston Best of Billiards; vendors Jerry Olivier Cue Repair, Joe Salazar Connoisseur of Custom Cues, Arthur Politte with Qxtender.com, Darrold Stiehl with Champions Cues, and Brutal Game Gear. 
 
Finally, Space City would like to extend its deepest gratitude to the players who support this event, year in and year out. Without the players, none of this would be possible.
 
Space City Open is one of the biggest billiard events in Texas, and is held annually, the first week in December. For more information, visit www.SpaceCityOpen.com
 

2018 US Open Bank Pool Matches Released on YouTube

CSI is pleased to announce that recorded matches from the 2018 US Open Bank Pool Championship have been released on the CSI YouTube Channel.  Twelve (12) matches featuring notable players such as Shane Van Boening, Ronnie Alcano, and Warren Kiamco can be viewed in their entirety – absolutely free!
 
The 2018 US Open Bank Pool Championship was held March 20-22 at Griff's Bar & Billiards in Las Vegas, NV and was made possible by the following sponsors:
 
​Griff's Bar & Billiards: www.griffslv.com
CueSports International (CSI): www.playcsipool.com
Simonis Cloth: www.simoniscloth.com
Cyclop Balls: www.diamondpooltables.com/Cyclop-Ball-Sets
Tiger Products: www.tigerproducts.com
OB Cues: www.obcues.com
 
RECORDED MATCHES
Match 1: Warren Kiamco vs Bob Herchik
Match 2: Gary Lutman vs Bill Thompson
Match 3: Shane Van Boening vs Tres Kane
Match 4: Brandon Shuff vs Gary Lutman
Match 5: Shane Van Boening vs Ronnie Alcano
Match 6: Manny Perez vs Steve Lingelbach
Match 7: Brandon Shuff vs Steve Lingelbach
Match 8: Shane Van Boening vs Dee Atkins
Match 9: Chris Lulek vs Neal Jacobs
Match 10: Shane Van Boening vs Neal Jacobs (Hot Seat Match)
Match 11: Neal Jacobs vs Gary Lutman (Semi-Final Match)
Match 12: Shane Van Boening vs Neal Jacobs (Finals)
 
Please SUBSCRIBE to the CSI YouTube Channel to be notified whenever we upload new content.

Olinger, Gray, Lincoln-Carton win 9-Ball, One Pocket, Ladies events on Midwest 9-Ball Tour

Alex Olinger (Photo courtesy of Erwin Dionisio)

The Midwest 9-Ball Tour was back at Shooter’s in Olathe, KS on the long weekend of July 12-15, and played host to three separate tournaments. The $1,000-added One Pocket event, which launched the weekend on Thursday, July 12 drew 38 entrants and was won by Joey Gray. The $600-added Ladies event, won by Karen Lincoln-Catron, drew 19 entrants. The $3,400-added 9-Ball Open drew the largest crowd (116) and was won by Alex Olinger.
 
Karen Lincoln-Catron was the only winner to go undefeated. She got into the hot seat with a 7-3 win over Marnie Zimmerman. On the loss side, Carlee Hart defeated Sandra Derham 7-5 in the quarterfinals, and then, Zimmerman in the semifinals 7-3. Lincoln-Catron needed only the first set of the true double elimination final to defeat Hart 7-4 and complete her undefeated run.
 
It was Joey Gray who advanced to the hot seat in the One Pocket event, downing Raymund Faroan, double hill. On the loss side, Charlie “Hillbilly” Bryant downed Mike Beehler in the quarterfinals, double hill and then left Faroan in third place with a double win in the semifinals, as well. Bryant took the opening set of the true double elimination final 3-1. Gray came back to win the second set by the same score to capture the One Pocket title.
 
Alex Olinger and Manny Perez battled three times in their effort to claim the 9-Ball Open title. They met first in the hot seat match, won by Olinger 9-7. On the loss side, Raymund Faroan downed Mike Beehler in the quarterfinals 9-7, only to be defeated by Perez double hill (9-8) in the semifinals. Perez won his second straight double hill match in the opening set of the true double elimination final. Olinger took the second set 9-4 to claim the Open 9-Ball title.

Hjorleifson goes undefeated to win 22nd Annual Jay Swanson (Swanee) Memorial

(l to r): Manny Perez & Eric Hjorleifson

It’s hard to know what causes the roller coaster of some careers in pool. Jobs, family, and a host of other influences can impact pool earnings in significant ways, including the distinct possibility of incomplete information. What may look in a given database (our own, included) like a severe drop in a player’s level of participation, may, in fact, just be just a gap in the information reported on his, or her activities.
 
Take Canada’s Erik Hjorleifson, for example, who just went undefeated to win the 22nd Annual Jay Swanson (“Swanee”) Memorial, held on the weekend of February 24-25. Fourteen years ago, he finished in the four-way tie for ninth place at the US Open 9-Ball Championships with three competitors well-known enough to be recognizable by their first names – Earl, Tony, and Ralf (Strickland, Robles and Souquet). A couple of years later (2006; his best recorded earnings year, to date, according to our records), Hjorleifson won two stops, back to back, on what’s known as the Canadian 30K Tour, and here in the US, finished runner-up to Dennis Hatch at a stop on the Joss NE 9-Ball Tour. He won another Canadian 30K Tour stop the following year, and cashed in 10 other events, including Turning Stone VIII (17th). And then, though he continued to appear on payout lists, there were no major tour victories of any kind until he showed up as the winner of the Canadian Championship Men’s Open 10-Ball in 2014.
 
Though he hasn’t been inactive or absent from payouts lists since then (second to Mika Immonen at Turning Stone XXV in 2016, for example, and 25th at both Turning Stone XXVII and XXVIII in 2017), Hjorleifson does appear to have experienced a drop in competitive frequency. Whether his victory at the recent Jay Swanson Memorial is a sign that his personal roller coaster is rising again, remains to be seen, but it was definitely a significant move in the right direction. He went undefeated through the field of 128 entrants that split a $10,000 prize pool. The event was hosted by OnCue Billiards in La Mesa, CA.
 
Following victories over Naiel Tito, Victor Ignacio (double hill), Jose Mendoza, Ben Hrabina (all, save Ignacio, 8-4), and the patriarch of the Dominguez clan, Ernesto 8-6, Hjorleifson moved into a winners’ side semifinal match against Dave Hemmah. Manny Perez, in the meantime, the eventual runner-up, was looking for what would be his first major event victory. He got by Johnny Kang, Marshall Jung, Steven Choy, Justin Marks and the “Swanee” Memorial’s defending champion, Brian Parks, to face Hungary’s Vilmos Foldes (7th in the event last year) in the other winners’ side semifinal.
 
Perez got into the hot seat match with an 8-4 victory over Foldes, and was joined by Hjorleifson, who’d sent Hemmah to the loss side 8-6. Hjorleifson claimed the hot seat 8-4 over Perez and sat in it to await his return.
 
On the loss side, Foldes picked up Mitch Ellerman, who, after being downed by Hemmah in a winners’ side quarterfinal, had gotten by Justin Marks 7-3, and Fach Garcia 7-4 to reach him. Garcia had previously eliminated the elder Dominguez, Ernest, which kept him (Ernesto) from an approaching match versus his son, Oscar (a matchup that the elder Dominguez traditionally forfeits). Hemmah picked up the son, Oscar, who, after his defeat at the hands of Foldes, in a winners’ side quarterfinal, had eliminated Mika Immonen 7-2 and Brian Parks 7-4.
 
Foldes advanced to the quarterfinals 7-2 over Ellerman, and was joined by Oscar Dominguez, who’d defeated Hemmah 7-5. Oscar eliminated Foldes in those quarterfinals and then, locked up in a double hill fight against Perez in the semifinals; a fight won by Perez to earn himself a second shot against Hjorleifson in the finals.
 
Hjorleifson completed his undefeated run. A repeat performance of the hot seat match 8-4 over Perez secured it.
 

2017 Mosconi Cup – Final Team USA standings

With the qualification period for Team USA spots now complete, it was Shane Van Boening who topped the ranking after another stellar eight months that saw him record a string of victories. With qualification for the 2017 Mosconi Cup on a different footing, players needed to have finished in the top ten of the ranking to have a chance of being selected for the team by USA captain Johan Ruijsink.
 
To give himself what he feels is the best possible chance for the USA to win the Mosconi Cup for the first time since 2009, the captain will pick his side from the top ten with the option of going outside the ten for one of his picks should he feel it necessary.
 
Ruijsink is expected to name his full side early this week.
 
The 24th running of the Mosconi Cup takes place from Monday to Thursday 4th to 7th December at the Mandalay Bay Resort in Las Vegas. The defending champions are Europe as Team USA look for their first victory in eight years.
 
Final Ranking
 
1 Shane VAN BOENING                 330 
2 Dennis Hatch                             185  
3 Skyler Woodward                  173 
4 Billy Thorpe                                134  
5 Rodney Morris                          128
6 Donny Mills                                118  
7 Oscar Dominguez                    116
8 Corey Deuel                                102 
9 Hunter Lombardo                   100 
10 Brandon Shuff                         93
11 Johnny Archer                        83  
12 Earl Strickland                      74
13 Josh Roberts                            63
14 Jeremy Jones                            59 
15 Justin Bergman                      49
16 Shaun Wilkie                            48 
17 Devin Poteet                            45 
T18 James DAVIS                            38
T18 Jeremy Sossei                        38
20 Manny Perez                            37
 
For full rankings to www.matchroompool.com/mosconi-cup
 
Tickets for the Mosconi Cup are available from www.mosconicup.com

29th Annual BEF Junior Nationals Rolls Ahead in Las Vegas

The most respected, skilled and academically brilliant minded junior cueists from across the United States were just in Vegas competing in an action packed week of billiards. A few miles south of the Vegas strip the Billiard Education Foundation (BEF) had presented and concluded the 29th Annual Junior National 9-Ball Championships. This challenging co-event was held Wednesday-
 
Saturday August 2nd- 5th, 2017, having returned to the family friendly South Point Hotel, Casino & Spa in Las Vegas, Nevada. Showcased at one end of the Billiard Congress of America (BCA) Billiard & Home Leisure Expo was the BEF junior national’s arena. The competition area boasted 20 professional 9-foot Diamond tables. This junior event is the only opportunity for U.S. billiard student-athletes to qualify to compete at the World Pool-Billiard Association (WPA) World Junior 9-Ball Championships being held this year Oct 31st – Nov. 5th, 2017 in Moscow, Russia.
 
On Tuesday, the registration process was in full motion with the noise and bustle of last minute preparations for the tournament and expo grand openings. There, the junior players received BEF sponsor gifts and a 2017 tournament memorabilia shirt. The junior events kicked off that evening with the highly anticipated and popular annual Adult-Youth Scotch Doubles tournament, which gave parents and juniors the chance to showcase their skills for a doubles fun-filled night and prizes. Even the pros were actively seeking to be recruited to fill in and play. BEF Tournament director Earl Munson remarked, “Big grins everywhere. The pros were playing like kids and the kids were playing like pros!” BCA Hall of Famers and multi world champions Nick Varner & Loree Jon Hasson along with Mosconi Team USA and doubles silver medalist in World Cup of Pool, Skyler Woodward & Shane Van Boening joined with the junior players. Former 2002 junior national champion Beau Runningen was eagerly paired and proved he still had game, and fellow 2017 Team USA member Manny Perez matched up as well. Parent’s skill levels ranged in doubles competition from yikes (Where is the instructor quick?), to wow (Did you see that parent play?!). Eventually the fun night ended with all the pros/junior teams converging to the semi-finals. 1st Place was Skyler Woodward & Trenton White, 2nd Place Nick Varner & Justin Toye, 3rd Place Loree Jon Hasson & Xavier Hultze, 4th Place Beau Runningen & Spencer Ladin.
 
Wednesday, the players meeting and group photo opened the 3 pm start of the first five rounds of the 2017 BEF Junior National 9-Ball tournament. This year’s tournament format incorporated the WPA World Junior style of preliminary double elimination brackets qualifying to a seeded single elimination finals bracket. The format also allows for the larger fields sizes, table and time constraints. This year’s field represented: 167 players, ranging from 7 to 18 years of age, from over 30 qualifying events, more than 25 states and including the U.S. Virgin Islands. There were four participating divisions included 18 & Under Boys (18UB), 18 & Under Girls (18UG), 14 & Under Boys (14UB) and 14 & Under Girls (14UG). The divisions played in 64, 64, 32 and 32 double elimination brackets respectively. The top 25% of players from each division then moved to single elimination brackets with the winners seeded and the one-loss players listed by a blind draw. Without a doubt match play all week was exciting and intense as all players vied to make it to their respective finals single-elimination brackets.
 
On Friday night before the finals, the packed banquet night was held. The banquet comfortably seated all juniors, family members, pros, sponsors, and BEF staff and volunteers to enjoy a great meal, laughs, heartfelt speeches, recognitions, remembrance, awards and honors.
 
Each year players are nominated by their peers at the junior nationals to recognize sportsmanship on and off the table. This special award is in remembrance and recognition of one of BEF’s alumni’s, Brendan Crockett, who was more than just a talented young player taken early from life. Brendan grew from an eager teen-ager to an intelligent, charming gentleman with true character and humility. His humor, willingness to work hard and ability to lead have been an important part of our programs. The 2017 Brendan Crockett Character Award Recipients were: Eric Roberts from Crossville, Tennessee and Eliana Rodriguez from Brooklyn, New York.
 
The Special Guest Speaker at the banquet this year was “The Colonel”, Nick Varner. He humorously recounted his junior moments in the game and he jokingly had some great advice to share. “If you bet twice as much, you will learn twice as fast.” Varner has long been an enthusiastic supporter of the juniors and also stated, “This event is amazing and a great showcase of our (nations) top junior players”.
 
Newly inducted 2017 BCA Hall of Famer Tom “Dr. Cue” Rossman also made his 24th appearance at the junior nationals. Dr. Cue, presented the 2017 Artistic Pool awards to this year’s champions, Timmy Bly (Bettendorf, IA), Michelle Jiang (Harvard, MA), Joey Tate Raleigh, NC) and Lana Keith (Dyersburg, TN).
 
The banquet night again amassed much of the junior field with the coveted title of “Academic All American” (AAA) when awards were presented. Of the entire 167 player field, an incredible 45% of this year’s participants (75 players!) earned school GPA’s of 3.5 and 31.6% of the AAA field earned 4.0 GPA’s, to receive recognition! The sport of billiards is definitely attracting, developing, and maintaining academic excellence! The banquet concluded with words of optimism and change from longtime BEF Trustee Tom Riccobene, “Each of us can take home what we have learned here this week and share with the people we love and meet. You’re all champions and we are honored to learn from you”, Riccobene said.
 
The finals play for all divisions was held on Saturday Aug. 5th. In an effort to stay more aligned with the WPA World event, the BEF awarded Gold, Silver and Bronze medals to the top four finishers of each division.
 
All medalists in the 18UB & 18UG divisions along with the gold and silver medalists from the 14UG & 14UB divisions have been nominated for the 2017 WPA World Junior 9-Ball Championships October 31st to November 5th in Moscow, Russia.
 
This junior national was a year of competitive upsets. A trio of past back-to-back champions made up of Nathan Childress (14UB from North Chesterfield, VA), April “The Grinder” Larson (18UG from Bloomington, MN), and Ashley Fullerton (14UG from Lake Park, MN) all sought to become three-peat champions but fell short and all new gold medalists emerged.
 
Larson drew a bye sliding her to the winner side where she then matched up and defeated Katelin Ballou and then Abigail Reese to move her to the 18UG finals 8 bracket. In the semifinals match April was determined to move on but rival Michelle Jiang from Harvard, MA ended her bid to claim her 3rd straight 18UG’s title earning Larson a bronze medal instead for her effort. Gracie Davis from Decatur, IL with her great play also joined Larson for the bronze. Jiang battled it out in the 18UG finals match against Alex Booth from Mount Ayr, IA with Jiang excitedly getting her first 18UG gold medal win with Booth taking the very respectable silver. Jiang has been playing very strong the last few months with her now qualifying for her 4th Junior Worlds. Jiang will head to Moscow, Russia with her fellow Team USA members on Oct 31st, 2017.
 
In the 14UG division it was also a battle to maintain the championship reign, as the 2016 14UG Champion Fullerton from Lake Park, MN tried but failed to make the 14UG’s final bracket losing her first match to Tatum Cutting from Diamond, OH and her second to Vivian Liu from Harvard, MA. Liu and Cutting would eventually become opponents in the bronze medal round where Liu moved on leaving Cutting with the bronze. Gracie Davis from Decatur, IL matched up with Savanna Wolford from Troutville, VA in the other half of the semis with Davis also getting the bronze and earning Wolford a match up with Liu in the finals. The 14UG finals match played at 11am on Saturday spotlighted the two young quiet and upcoming players in Liu and Wolford. Both played well with Liu edging out the win with her first gold medal and Wolford proudly taking home the silver.
 
The title of 18UB champion was newly earned this year by Austin Summers from Metropolis, IL. Summers started out strong winning his first two matches only to come up short against Graham Swinson to earn a spot on the final 16 bracket winner seeded position. Needing only a single match win on the one loss side gave Summer’s his spot on the Final 16 single elimination 18UB bracket. Taking down Lukas Fracasso-Verner in a rescheduled reprieve match due to a disqualification sent Summer’s to play Ricky Evans in the semifinals. Evans from St. Peters, MO was last year’s 18UB champion but Evans struggled to keep Summer’s from finally advancing to gold earning Evans the bronze medal this year. Summers traded wins with Kaiden Hunkins from Waukesha, WI until the match was over with Austin Summers winning gold and Hunkins taking the silver medal for being runner-up in this year’s 18UB division. Thomas Haas from Lancaster, PA also took the bronze medal losing in the semifinals to Hunkins.
 
As always the 14UB’s is a very competitive division with high levels of play even for that age. As in the 18UG and 14UG, defending national champion Nathan Childress from North Chesterfield, VA was chasing his third consecutive championship. But Childress ran into a wall this year from a veteran BEF tournament player from Crossville, TN named Eric Roberts. Roberts knocked the defending champion, in a resounding statement of 6-0, to the one loss side where they would again meet up on the blind draw of the 14UB finals bracket. Again Roberts took Childress out this time for good with another convincing 6-2 win. Roberts would go on to win again in the quarterfinals against Jayden Liu from Harvard, MA only to eventually lose to Joey Tate from Lake Villa, IL in the semifinals earning Roberts his first medal ever with the Bronze. The very skilled Gabriel Martinez from New Braunfels, TX also earned a bronze medal after Joshua Shultz from Stedman, NC defeated him. Shultz earned a finals match with Joey Tate. Tate with 2X Junior Worlds experience under his belt was at an advantage in the high- pressure match for the gold with Shultz. After the last 9-ball was pocketed for the match wins the entire five-players strong Tate family, applauded with joy as their brother was crowned the BEF 2017 14UB Gold Medal Champion and Shultz as runner-up Silver Medalist.
 
The future is very bright for our BEF junior program members as there are now more than ever before, so many high level competitive opportunities at the local, state, national, and international level.
 
Gold Medals:
 
18UB Austin Summers, (Metropolis, IL)
 
18UG Michelle Jiang, (Harvard, MA)
 
14UB Joey Tate, (Lake Villa, IL)
 
14UG Vivian Liu, (Harvard, MA)
 
Silver Medals:
 
18UB Kaiden Hunkins, (Waukesha, WI)
 
18UG Alex Booth, (Mount Ayr, IA)
 
14UB Joshua Shultz, (Stedman, NC)
 
14UG Savanna Wolford, (Troutville, VA)
 
Bronze Medals:
 
18UB Thomas Haas, (Lancaster, PA) and Ricky Evans, (St Peters, MO)
 
18UG Hailey Fullerton, (Lake Park, MN) and April Larson, (Bloomington, MN)
 
14UB Eric Roberts, (Crossville, TN) and Gabriel Martinez, (New Braunfels, TX)
 
14UG Tatum Cutting, (Diamond, OH) and Gracie Davis, (Decatur, IL)
 
The Billiard Education Foundation proudly recognizes the industry leaders who helped make this year’s event possible.
 
Event Sponsors: Billiard Congress of America. Diamond Billiard Products, TLP Billiards, Simonis, Aramith, Ultimate Team Gear, Jacoby Cues, On the Wire Creative Media, Pechaur Cue, ACS, Champion, Valley, Dynamo, Connelly, FCI Billiards, McDermott, Predator, OB Cues, DigiCue, Presidential Billiards, West State Billiards, OGB Millwork, Professional Billiards Instructor Association, Master Chalk, Tiger, Presidential Billiards Pool & Billiard Magazine, Professor Q Ball, Billiards Digest, AzBilliards.com, Dr. Cue, Billiard University, Dave Alciatore, Bob Jewett, Brett Lewis, Jay Helfert, Jeremiah Gage and Tom Riccobene.
 
The BEF gives special thanks to all the individuals who gave countless hours throughout the year to help make this event possible: Samm Diep-Vidal, Tom Riccobene (BEF Treasurer), Jeremiah Gage (BEF Secretary), Shari Stauch (BEF President), Tammy Jo Leonard (BEF Assistant National Director), Earl Munson (BEF Tournament Director) received the 2017 BCA Presidents Award, Rick Doner (BEF Head Referee), Justin Ballou (Assistant Head Referee), Ed Smith (Referee), Ed Stephens (Referee), Angela Williams (Referee), Dennis & Doris Stotler (Referees), Jim Ladin (Volunteer/Donor), Corey and Trena Wolford, Stephanie Shaw (Volunteer), Steve Strange(volunteer), congratulations to the new 2017 BCA Hall-of-Famer “Dr. Cue” Tom Rossman (Junior Artistic Pool Championship Director), Nick Varner (Pro Guest Speaker), Ra Hanna & Beau Runningen for providing live streaming/scoring/brackets through On The Wire Creative Media and pro commentary by Loree Jon Hasson and Max Eberle, Brian Glasgow and his professional team, all the staff at South Point and a huge thanks to BCA’s Rob Johnson, Chance Pack, and Shane Tyree for all their help and support, and to all the parents and juniors who are so dedicated to the sport we give a hearty thank you and we will see you next year in New Orleans.

Pagulayan beats Van Boening for US Open 8-Ball title

Alex Pagulayan

Alex Pagulayan proved the Lion still roars within him as he came from behind to steal the US Open 8-Ball Championship from Shane Van Boening, who had hoped for a second consecutive title and to earn back-to-back wins of both the US Open 8-Ball and US Open 10-Ball Championships. 
 
Pagulayan’s path to the finals included wins over: Danny Stone, Australia, 8-6; Skyler Woodward, Kentucky, 8-2; and Denis Grabe, Estonia, 8-3; before losing to Dennis Orcollo, Philippines, 7-8. In the loser’s bracket, Pagulayan bested Thorsten Hohmann, Germany, 8-7 and Lee Vann Corteza, Philippines and then gained revenge on Orcollo in the semi-finals, beating him 8-6. 
 
Van Boening’s path to the hot seat included wins over Sina Valizadeh, 8-2; Manny Perez, 8-5; Josh Roberts, 8-3; Lee Vann Corteza, 8-6; and Dennis Orcollo, whom he beat 8-4 to gain the hot seat, to meet Pagulayan in the finals.  
 
Van Boening jumped out to a fast 7-2 lead, which may have seemed insurmountable to all but Pagulayan. But as Van Boening’s breaks came up dry, Pagulayan was able to capitalize, slowly closing the gap and soon the score was tied at 8-8. The score was tied again at 9-9 in the race-to-10 final, with Van Boening breaking. But once again the break failed Van Boening, with the cue ball scratching – giving Pagulayan an opportunity at the table, which was all he needed. With ball-in-hand, Pagulayan was able to run out to earn the US Open 8-Ball Champion title, cup and $13,500 purse. 
 
The 2017 US Open 8-Ball was held at Griff’s in Las Vegas in conjunction with the 41st BCAPL National Championships, July 19-29 at The Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino. Sponsors include Viking, Kamui, Omega Billiards, Cyclop, Diamond, Simonis, and Predator.  
 

Van Boening to meet Orcollo for hot seat of US Open 8-Ball

Dennis Orcollo

Shane Van Boening of South Dakota will meet Dennis Orcollo of the Philippines for the hot seat match of the US Open 8-Ball Championship at 1 p.m. PST July 31.  
 
Van Boening, who won the 2016 US Open 8-Ball & 10-Ball Championships, is hoping to repeat last year’s double dip. His path to the hot seat included wins over Sina Valizadeh, 8-2; Manny Perez, 8-5; Josh Roberts, 8-3; and Lee Vann Corteza, 8-6. 
 
Orcollo beat Chris McDaniel, 8-1; Danny Olson, 8-3; and Nick Malaj, 8-3; before sending Alex Pagulayan to the loser’s bracket in a tight hill-hill match. 
 
Corteza and Pagulayan join four others in the loser’s bracket, all hoping to grab a place in the finals.  
 
Vinnie Calabrese of Australia has been an impressive talent throughout the tournament. Calabrese posted wins over Hunter Lombardo, 8-7 and Kim Laaksonen, 8-5 before losing to Corteza, 6-8. On the B side of the bracket, he beat: Danny Stone, 8-7; Justin Bergman, 8-6; and Nick Malaj, 8-7. Calabrese will play Denis Grabe of Estonia at 9 a.m.
 
Grabe has also put a lot of great talent out of the tournament, with wins over: Michael Yednak, 8-7; Francisco Bustamante, 8-7 and Thorsten Hohmann, 8-2, before losing to Alex Pagulayan, 3-8. In the loser’s bracket, he bested Dennis Hatch, 8-6 and now faces Calabrese in the morning. The loser of that match is eliminated and places 5th/6th. 
 
Hohmann “The Hitman” of Germany is also fighting his way through the loser’s bracket. He beat Jesse Bowman, 8-4 in the first round and then was sent to the B side by Grabe, 2-8. Hohmann then beat Oscar Domiguez, 8-7; Kim Laaksonen, 8-4; and Josh Roberts, 8-4. He faces Rodney “The Rocket” Morris at 9 a.m. PST. 
 
Morris, always a crowd favorite, beat Chris Melling, 8-3 and Justin Bergman, 8-6, before losing to Lee Vann Corteza, then he beat Danny Olson to guarantee himself at least 5th/6th and a chance to continue through to the finals. 
 
The 2017 US Open 8-Ball is being held at Griff’s in Las Vegas in conjunction with the 41st BCAPL National Championships, July 19-29 at The Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino. The event featured more than 5,000 amateur players representing 47 states, nine Canadian provinces and 11 countries, competing in approximately 40 divisions, on 300 Diamond pool tables. The annual tournament also includes about 50 exhibitors. Sponsors include Viking, Kamui, Omega Billiards, Cyclop, Diamond, Simonis, and Predator. 
 

Low Expectation Brits Shine Bright On Day 1

Mark Gray

Admittedly low on confidence, Karl Boyes and Mark Gray burst out of the gates of the World Pool Series’ RYO Rack Classic in New York.

 

Can a player win a tournament even if they are not playing their best pool?
 
Generally when you have the best pool talent in the world under one roof for four days, the answer is usually a resounding no. But sometimes in pool, those that have the least expectations can do the most damage, especially players that have entered the winner’s circle more than a few times in their career.
 
Take Englishmen Mark Gray and Karl Boyes. The two Brits arrived in New York City for the third leg of the World Pool Series, The Ryo Rack Classic Championship, admittedly in the dumps. Gray just came off a miserable performance at the scotch doubles World Cup of Pool in London, and hasn’t had a solid finish in all of 2017. Boyes, a former World 8-ball Champion, has barely touched a cue over the last six months and came to the Big Apple with a confidence level near the bottom of the Hudson River.
 
But both players, playing without a shred of expectation,  each put in two impressive performances at Steinway Billiards Café in Queens on Wednesday, and have put themselves within one of reaching the final 16 single elimination stage of this 8-ball extravaganza.
 
The usually reliable Gray first thrashed American Greg Mitchell, 11-0.  Later in the day on the TV table, in front of an audience that reached over 50,000 viewers courtesy of social media giant Unilad Sport, Gray faced off with American Dennis Hatch.  The talented and passionate Hatch has had a good year so far and is close to getting back on the Mosconi Cup for Team USA
 
After a slow start by both players, Gray picked up the pace and played some of his best pool this year. He broke well, played solid positions, and kept the game simple. The result was a scintillating 11-3 thumping for the Brit.
 
“I played better in the second half of the match, but I still don’t think I played very good” Gray said afterward, trying to downplay any possible resurgence in his game. “I haven’t had a good year, haven’t had any good results and it’s just been awful. I don’t think I’ve turned things around yet. But I guess I have to just take things one game at a time and see what happens.”
Boyes, who won the World 8-ball Championship in 2010, had an even better day than his mate Gray. The Blackpool native first manhandled Qatar’s Waleed Majid, 11-5. Then in his next match he downed American great Johnny Archer, 11-8. It was as good a start as anyone could ask for, but afterward Boyes was having none of it. 
 
“ I have no chance to win,” Boyes said in jest, obviously trying to project a care free attitude that he hopes might actually generate a few more wins and a shot at the crown on Saturday.  “I played terrible. I have no clue what I’m doing out there. But, hey, maybe I’ll get lucky.”
 
The two Englishmen will actually face each other in the next round so at least one of them will have an excuse to keep their expectations down low.
 
And while both Englishman are clearly keeping their expectations justifiably low, some players here in New York clearly showed up with every intention to win this third leg of this fledging 8-ball tour.
 
Austria’s Mario He recently won the World Cup of Pool with his partner Albin Ouschan and came to New York brimming with confidence.  It showed on Wednesday as He outlasted 19 year old American Manny Perez, 11-7.  He then went on to bury German legend Ralf Souquet, 11-3. The big Austrian needs one more win to reach the final 16 single knockout stage.
 
American Skylar Woodward also has been riding a wave of good vibes lately after his runner up performance with Shane Van Boening in the World Cup of Pool. Woodward, who is hoping to move into the top 10 in the Mosconi Cup rankings for team USA ,had a good start to the event with wins over Blair Levandowski and Tommy Tokoph.
Albanian Klenti Kaci, who won the second leg of the World Pool Series in April, the Aramith Masters, had a bye in the first round and then took down American Jorge Rodriguez , 11-7. Ireland’s Hall of Famer Karen Corr, who resides in Philadelphia, looked the goods today with two solid victories, including a round-two victory over talented Spaniard Mark Vidal. England’s Imran Majid continued his fine play this year with two wins, first by a hill-hill shootout over Raymond Linares and then Korea’s Lee Kang.
 
Singapore’s Sharik Sayed had a confidence boosting day. In round one Sayed and the Philippines’ Warren Kiamco took their match to a shootout, which Sayed won handily. Sayed then sent German great Thorsten Hohmann over to the losers side of the bracket with an impressive 11-4 win.
 
Israel’s Zion Zvi, who is the house pro at Steinway and lives just down the street, took advantage of his home knowledge and won twice on Wednesday, including an 11-8 win over talented Estonian Dennis Grabe.  Mult-world champion and Hall of Famer Mika Immonen, who lives in New York,  won twice. World Pool Series founder Darren Appleton had a walkover in the first round, then went the distance with American Corey Duel in round two, and stayed on the winners side by winning a shootout.
 
Play continues on Thursday for the RYO Rack Classic Championship  beginning at 10:30am Eastern Time in the US.  By the end of play on day 2, the field will be paired down to the final 16 where the format will become single elimination knockout.
 
The winner of the RYO Rack Classic Championship will take home $10,000.
 

 

For the complete draw and live scoring please CLICK HERE.

Team Europe Wins the 2017 Atlantic Challenge Cup

With a more than clear and impressive overall score of 11:2, Team EUROPE won the 2017 version of the Atlantic Challenge Cup.
 
After the disastrous day yesterday, Team USA started out better today. The first two matches were mixed doubles. Leading 7:1, Europe had a big advantage and could enter the arena more relaxed than the US team. The first scotch double was played between Maksim Dudanets and Kristina Tkach versus Ricky Evans and April Larson. Though the US players contended much better than yesterday, they still made mistakes in their pocketing and – even worse – in their shot selection. Instead of going for a good safety shot, they went for the rail shots and most of the time missed them. Still, the first match was quite close and the Europeans were able to win it in the end with 6:4. The second scotch double was even closer. Patrick Hofmann and Diana Khodjaeva went hill-hill against Shane Wolford and Sierra Reams. Rack 11 was the decider in that match. Sierra Reams broke the rack and came up with an illegal break. Both teams exchanged safety shots and none of the players was willing to take any risk while at the table. The safety shots from the European team were better in the end and Shane Wolford had no other chance but trying to hit the 2-ball without committing a foul. He succeeded in doing so but left a shot for Khodjaeva who pocketed the 2-ball and paved the way for herself and Patrick Hofmann to win the rack and the match with 6:5. That took team Europe to 9:1 over team USA. The following individual match between Wiktor Zielinski and Manny Perez also turned out to become a heartbreaker. At 5:5, Zielinski missed the 6-ball with only the 8-ball and the 9-ball on the table. The following safety exchange was won by Perez who consequently took that rack to take team USA to 2 points in the overall score.
 
The evening session started with another individual. Daniel Maciol was up against Nathan Childress, the youngest player of the US team. That match became a clear affair for Maciol with 6:2, mainly because childress took the wrong shots and his nerves played a trick on him when he tried to pocket difficult or deciding balls. With that victory, team Europe was on the hill with11:2 over the US Americans. One more point needed for the Cup. That point was earned in the scotch doubles between Wiktor Zielinski and Diana Khodjaeva and Manny Perez and April Larson. Though Perez and Larson were probably the strongest of all US team players, they did not have chance against the Europeans today. 6:3 was the clear result that brought the Atlantic Challenge Cup to team Europe when the youngest team member Wiktor Zielinski pocketed the decisive 9-ball.
 
„Our team came here with a lot of experience already,“ stated European captain Albin Ouschan, „the team is really strong. They have won many titles at European Championships so far and I knew I had a great team.“ „The fact that most of these youngsters regularly play the Euro-Tour where they compete with the top players of the game makes these kids even stronger and better“. „The take the right decisions in the respective moments. That is what is missing with the US team. We were much more experienced than them“, added Ouschan. Said US captain Johnny Archer „Europe definitely has the better team. That’s for sure, from top to bottom!“, Archer mentioned. „Although the score this year was one less than last year I think that this team we have something to built on. I was impressed with our team,“ Archer continued, „there’s still work to be done but I see things to be built on from this. I know we’re going to lose some players since they will be too old next year but there are players ready to come on.“ „One reason for this huge loss was we had a horrible day yesterday. 0:5 was just a dagger in the heart“, Archer explained. „Today we played better in the mixed doubles and we lost quite close. This shows that Europe does not give many opportunities away. When you do get them, you have to get advantage!“
 
Results Day 3
 
Dudanets/Tkach v Evans/Larson 6:4
 
Hofmann/Khodjaeva v Wolford/Reams 6:5
 
Zielinski v Perez 5:6
 
Maciol v Childress 6:2
 
Zielinski/Khodjaeva v Perez/Larson 6:3
 
Team Europe
 
Kristina Tkach
Diana Khodjaeva
Maksim Dudanets
Patrick Hofmann (MVP)
Wiktor Zielinski
Daniel Maciol
Captain Albin Ouschan
Captain Tomas Brikmanis
 
Team USA
 
April Larson
Sierra Reams
Shane Wolford
Nathan Childress
Manny Perez (MVP)
Ricky Evans
Captain Johnny Archer
Captain Earl Munson
 
That concludes the coverage from this year’s Atlantic Challenge Cup in Klagenfurt, Austria. The complete event was streamed for free on www.kozoom.com. Additionally, all matches will be shown LIVE on the EPBF Facebook page.