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Gomez, Gabriel, Saez, Martinez and Casper/Larson Take Space City Open

Roberto Gomez

Last week, players made their way to the $8,000 added Space City Open X. Held at Big Tyme Billiards in Spring, TX – a suburb of Houston – owners Billy Sharp, Jim Henry, Mark Avery and Matthew McFarren and their staff laid out the red carpet for both players and fans.

The tournament kicked off on Thursday night with the $1,000 added 9 Ball Banks event. This single elimination race to four event saw a full field of 32 players post their $100 entry fees. After the players auction, meeting & draw, the action began.

After being scarce on the tournament trail since the birth of his daughter two years ago, Robb Saez made up for lost time as he rocketed through the bracket taking down Alan Poisel 4-1, JC Torres 4-0, Mark Nanashee 4-2 and Ernesto Bayaua 4-0. In the bottom portion of the chart, Alex Calderon squeaked by Jeff Sullivan 4-3 and then dusted off Leon Contreras 4-1 and Raed Shabib 4-0 before running into Roberto Gomez. The match was a good one but Alex prevailed 4-2. 

That win put Calderon into the finals against the red hot Saez. Alex went down 4-1 – guess baby needed a new pair of shoes! Congratulations, Robb! Good job, Alex!

Starting on Friday night was the main event – the $3,500 added Open 9 Ball. Drawing a full field of 128 players, this double elimination event had a $75 entry fee and was played on seven foot tables. Races were to 9/7 with winner breaks.

Bogies was getting their money’s worth with their house pro and defending champ, Roberto Gomez, as he marched through the field. He was never seriously threatened as he defeated Timothy Lapointe 4-0, Richard Hughes 9-4, John Weeks 9-2, Javier Alienes 9-4, Ernesto Bayaua 9-1 and Blaine Barcus 9-3 to arrive at the hot seat match.

Another man slicing through the field was Oklahoma’s John Gabriel. He started with wins over Pedro Oviolo 9-2 and Calvin Chappell 9-3 before a tough one with young gun Lazaro Martinez. John barely survived that one 9-8 and then coasted past Cesar Arechiga 9-0. Next were Joey Torres and Ryan Robinson – they went down 9-6 and 9-3 and John also arrived at the hot seat match.

The hot seat match was all Roberto as he spanked John 9-3 and locked up his seat in the finals. John headed west to play Bayaua who had eliminated Saez 7-4. Robb finished in fourth place. Then, it was John who beat Ernesto by the same score – 7-4. He finished in third place.

Knowing he had to defeat Roberto twice to take the title, John put up a tough fight but when it was all over, Gomez had gotten his revenge for John knocking him out of the one pocket event and defended his title! He won the match 9-6. Congratulations, Roberto! Good event, John!

Lazaro Martinez III

Sunday was the start for both the $500 added Ladies 9 Ball and the $500 added Junior 9 Ball events. The players auction, meeting and draw for the juniors was first followed by the same for the ladies.

Twenty three boys and girls paid a $35 entry fee to play in the double elimination event played on the seven foot Diamonds. They raced to 7/5 with winner breaks.

Former BEF Junior National champ and defending champion Lazaro Martinez defeated Carlos Jinez 7-5, Mary Grigsby 7-1, Vania Davila 7-0 and Kailye Stevens 7-2 to arrive at the hot seat match.

Kyle Yi was the victor over Oscar Ruiz 7-2, Hunter Jackson 7-0, Tyler Miller 7-0 and Larissa Almendarez 7-5 to claim the other seat in the hot seat match.

Kyle then defeated Lazaro 7-3 to go on to the finals. Lazaro headed to the one loss side to face Carlos Jinez who had beaten Kailye Stevens 5-3. Kailye finished in fourth place. 

Looking to get back into the finals, Lazaro made short work of Carlos 5-1 leaving him in third place.

Needing to defeat Kyle twice to both defend and claim the title, Lazaro won the first set 7-4. The final set was a battle but it was Lazaro that took the title 5-3. Congratulations, Lazaro! Good event, Kyle!

Thirty two ladies filled the field posting their $45 entry fees. They also raced to 7/5 with winner breaks on the seven footers.

April Larson made her trek to the hot seat by defeating Vivian Christopher and Bridget Parker by the same score – 7-1. She then beat Crystal Cisneros 7-4, the always tough Ming Ng 7-3 and awaited her opponent in the hot seat match.

Making her way through the bottom of the bracket was Ricki Casper. She defeated Michelle Abernathy 7-1 and Robyn Petrosino 7-3 before going to the wire with Michelle Yim 7-6 and then winning over Tam Trinh 7-5. 

Ricki Casper

The hot seat match began and both players fought hard but in the end, Ricki had edged out April 7-6! April headed west.

Waiting for her was Ming. She had just beaten Robyn – she finished in fourth place. The match began to see who’d be in the final match. April came out on top 5-3 leaving Ming in third place.

Due to the late hour, the ladies decided to split the honors. Congratulations to both players!

The $1,000 added One Pocket event also started on Friday night. Having a full field of 32 who paid $100 to enter, the format was again single elimination with races to four. Following the players auction, meeting & draw, the matches began.

Still on fire from his runner-up finish in the banks event, Alex Calderon tore through the top half of the bracket skunking both Sonny Bosshamer and Raed Shabib but had rougher matches against Ernesto Bayaua and Marvin Diaz. He won both matches 4-2 and landed in the finals.

Quietly making his way through the bottom portion of the bracket was Oklahoma’s John Gabriel. He won his first match over Joey Barnes 4-2 and continued with wins over Ryan Baselman and Ryan Robinson – both 4-1. Down went Superman as John defeated Roberto Gomez 4-2 to get to the finals.

The final match started late and went long into the early morning hours and at the end, it was John taking top honors 4-2. Great tournament, John! Good showing, Alex! 

John Gabriel

Congratulations to this year’s champions and to Roberto Gomez for taking down the $1,500 All Around Bonus!

PoolActionTV.com would again like to thank owners Billy Sharp, Jim Henry, Mark Avery and Matthew McFarren and their staff as well the event sponsors. They are Outsville, Diamond Billiard Products, Brutal Game Gear, Poison by Predator, Jerry Olivier Custom Cues, Simonis, Aramith, Predator, Immediate Smiles Dentures & Dentistry of Spring, TX, Alamo Billiards of Houston, TX, and Fort Worth Billliards Superstore of Fort Worth, TX.

We’d also like to thank Tournament Director Teresa Garland and her assistant, Jason Hill, for juggling all the various events.

In addition, thanks to Larry Schwartz and Ray Hansen for their excellent commentary.

PoolActionTV.com would also like to thank our fans and sponsors. Our sponsors include JB Cases, Hanshew Jump Cues, Diamond Billiard Products, Durbin Custom Cues, Savage Billiard Apparel, Immediate Smiles Dentures & Dentistry of Spring, TX, Action Palace of Dayton, OH and Fort Worth Billiards Superstore of Fort Worth, TX. 

Our next event is the 35th Annual Music City Open Nine Ball Championships at JOB Billiard Club in Madison, TN – a suburb of Nashville. Dates are January 11th-15th – hope to see you there!

And, here’s wishing everyone happy holidays and a healthy and prosperous new year!

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Wolford & Keeney Make Sweet Music at Music City

Shane Wolford

The 34th Annual Music City Open was once again hosted by JOB’s Billiards in Madison, TN – a suburb of Nashville. Played on seven foot Diamonds, $7,000 was added to the event. Owner Ricky Gamble and his staff went all out to welcome all the players and fans.

Kicking off the event on Wednesday evening was a single elimination open 9 ball mini tournament. Sixty four players joined the fray – format was races to seven, winner breaks.

Directed by our own Ray Hansen, the field was whittled down to four players. Manny Perez handily beat Josh O’Neal 7-0 while James Davee beat Jeremiah Petty 7-3 to move into the finals. Due to the late hour, Manny and James decided to split the pot.

The $6,000 added Open 9 Ball division began the following evening. 127 players paid their $100 entry fees into this double elimination event. Races were to eleven with winner breaks. Following the players meeting, a rousing players auction and draw, play began.

Notable matches in the first round action saw John Gabriel thump Chris Baskerville 11-1 as did Shane Wolford over Raed Shabib 11-3. Brian Bryant had a bit of a tougher time with cuemaker Mike Durbin – the final score was 11-7. Young guns Sergio Rivas smoked Tracy Blevins 11-2 while Manny Perez defeated Steve Legace 11-3. John Hennessee blitzed Bob Ferrell 11-0 and Dave Matlock notched a forfeit over Jesse Couch.

In the second round and still having a fairly easy time of it, Tulsa’s John Gabriel then defeated Dominick Iraggi 11-3. Shane Wolford, owner of the Wolf’s Den in Roanoke, VA made short work of Mark Nanashee 11-4 and Jeremiah Petty skunked Brandon Andre 11 zip. Manny Perez claimed victory over Chris Busby 11-5 and Hennessee spanked Michael Williamson 11-3. Robert Hall defeated Ron Frank 11-7, James Davee outran Andrew Stroup 11-8 and Mike Gann forfeited his match to Josh O’Neal.

Legendary bar box king Dave Matlock had his hands full with the straight shooting Sergio Rivas. Hoping for a flashback, Dave played well but Sergio took him down 11-7.

Third round action saw John Gabriel run into a buzz saw named Shane Wolford. Catching up to the great breaking Shane a couple of times, Wolford finally pulled away to a 10-6 lead. No slouch himself, John clawed his way back to tie it up at ten apiece! In a heartbreaker of a game, a relieved Shane finally edged him out.

Other matches from that round had Rivas easing past Tab Pranee 11-5 as Chuck Raulston eased past Steve Cruse 11-2. Seemingly unable to find his game, Manny Perez was smoked by Rusty Jackson 11-3 and Hennessee from Tennessee took care of Anthony Gunn 11-5. Joey Yarbrough was no threat to Robert Hall – he lost 11-2 while James Davee wrestled Lee Uhles for an 11-8 win.

With both the Open and Ladies event in full swing, Saturday night was ground zero for the Midnight Madness nine ball mini. Eight players put up a $500 entry fee. Format was single elimination with races to eleven and winner breaks. Shane Wolford and Hennessee were the last men standing – they also decided to split the pot.

After a scare in his previous match with John Gabriel, Shane Wolford cruised to an 11-2 victory over Scott Roberts and Rivas was in the zone with an 11-1 win over Gene Drerup. Raulston sent Kevin Ping packing – same score – 11-1.

After his big win over Manny Perez, Rusty Jackson had his hands full with Hennessee – he lost 11-7. James Davee also survived a tough one – he defeated Joey Yarbrough 11-9.

Playing great, Wolford swept past Chip Gaither 11-2. Same great play by Rivas got him past Chuck Raulston 11-6 while Hennessee sent Davee west 11-6.

As the Open 9 Ball played on, the $1,000 added Ladies Division began on Friday night. Forty two players entered this double elimination event – format was races to seven with winners break. As always, there was a players meeting and auction followed by the draw.

The ladies played down to the final four on the winners side. Nicole Keeney defeated Amanda Huff 7-3 and Amy Theriault was defeated by Edie Dean. Edie & Nicole advanced to the hot seat match where Nicole breezed through the match and locked up her berth in the finals 7-1. Edie headed west to await an opponent.

After losing her first match, Laura Kanov’s run to the finals was finally thwarted by Julie Skirpac 7-3. Laura finished in fourth place. Julie then went on to face Edie Dean but lost 7-5. She finished third – Edie would get another shot at Nicole in the finals.

Since this was a double elimination event, Edie would have to win two sets to claim the title. She won the first two games but Nicole came roaring back to win the next four. Edie managed to put two more games on the board but it wasn’t enough – Nicole took the match and the title 7-4! Fantastic tournament for both players!!!

Finally down to four on the winners side in the Open event, Wolford made short work of Brian Bryant 11-5 while Rivas outlasted Hennessee 11-7. Sergio and Shane headed to the hot seat match – their opponents slogged over to the one loss side of the chart.

The hot seat match was all Shane Wolford. He kept Rivas pretty much nailed to his chair and moved undefeated into the finals – 11-4.

On the other side of the brackets, Bryant and Mike Gann battled – Gann was eliminated 11-8. On the other table, Josh O’Neal and Hennessee took it down to the wire – Josh was eliminated 11-10. After escaping his previous match, Hennessee tortured Brian Bryant 11-1 – Brian finished in fourth place.

Fighting to claim the remaining berth in the finals and looking to avenge his previous loss to Rivas, Hennessee was taking no prisoners this time. Hennessee defeated Sergio 11-6 and headed to the finals. Sergio finished in third place.

As this was double elimination, Wolford would have to be beaten twice for Hennessee to win the tournament. By mid-match, it was tied at five apiece. Shane won the next three games – making it 8-5. Could he run out the set?!!!

Nope!!! Hennessee rallies and ties it up at eight!!! Wins the next game and takes his first lead of the match!!! His lead didn’t last long though as Shane tied it up again at nine games each but once again, Hennessee won the next game. He was on the hill – 10-9. Could he win this last game and force a second set?

Not so fast!!! He scratched on the break!!! A dejected Hennessee slowly walked back to the chair to watch Shane run out the rack making it 10-10!!!

Making the one on the break, he had a wide open rack! Methodically running the balls but leaving himself a little long on the seven, he took a deep breath and rifled it in to win the event!!! Great tournament for both players!!!

PoolActionTV.com would like to again thank Ricky Gamble and local sponsor Action 24/7 for another fabulous event. Tournament Director Jason Hill – ably assisted by Steve McDonald – did an excellent job coordinating the various events.

We’d like to thank commentators Larry Schwartz, Mary Kenniston and Jeremy Jones – great job!

We’d also like to thank our sponsors and fans. Our sponsors include JB Cases, Hanshew Jump Cues, StraightPoolEye, Lomax Custom Cues, Diamond, Durbin Custom Cues, Simonis, Aramith, the Action Palace of Dayton, OH and Fort Worth Billiards Superstore of Fort Worth, TX.

Our next stop is the long awaited Derby City Classic in New Albany, IN – dates are January 21st-29th. As always, we hope to see you there and in our Aramith Action Room!!!

New Champions Launch at Space City Open IX

Roberto Gomez

Gomez, Bayaua, Compton, Almaraz, and Martinez, III Earn Titles

Roberto “Superman” Gomez captured the Space City Open IX, 128-player 9-ball division, defeating John “Mr. Smooth” Morra in the finals, 9-2, 7-5, taking home his first 9-ball division title. Gomez earned a well-deserved, $1,500 bonus, and new “All-Around” title, for his stellar play across all three divisions. Taking home first titles, Houston’s Ernesto Bayaua showed off his skills, defeating Alex Calderone in the one pocket division final, 4-3, while Oklahoma’s Chip Compton ousted Las Vegas’ Gary Lutman in the 9-ball banks division final, 4-3. In the ladies open 9-ball division, Mille Almaraz went undefeated, besting Ming “The Empress” Ng in the finals, 7-4. Finally, in the junior 9-ball division, Lazaro “Little Laz” Martinez, III, defended his 2019 title, marking up three consecutive title wins in his division. 

The Derby-like, Space City Open IX, was held December 2nd-5th, 2021, at Big Tyme Billiards in Spring, Texas, with four days of free live streaming provided by Southern Streaming. The event featured 178 players, competing in five divisions, over four days. The event drew players from Oklahoma, New Mexico, Nevada, and even Canada. Roberto Gomez returned to defend his 2019 one pocket title, along with champions John Morra, Chip Compton, Tommy Tokoph, Ernesto Bayaua, Manny Chau, Alex Calderone, Charlie Bryant, and WPBA Touring Professional, Loreejon Jones, all vying for a piece of the $56,195 payout and $1,500 “All-Around” bonus. 

Space City would like to thank those who were instrumental in the production of this event; John Newsome, Kim Newsome, Ruth Paine, Chuck Adams, Mike Fabacher with Southern Streaming, owners and staff at Big Tyme Billiards, Mike McDonald and Alamo Billiards, Poison by Predator Cues, Predator Cues, Outsville Billiards, Jerry Olivier, and Brutal Game Gear. Vendors for this event included Jerry Olivier Cues and Cue Repair, Joe Salazar Connoisseur of Custom Cues, and Brutal Game Gear. Special “thanks” to Jerry Olivier Custom Cues and Cue Repair and Brutal Game Gear who added an additional $500 to this year’s junior division. 

The open, ladies, and junior 9-ball divisions were played on twenty-four, Diamond bar tables. The one pocket and banks were played on six, nine foot tables. Predator Arcos II ball sets and Accu-Racks were used on all tables, supplied by event sponsors Predator Cues and Outsville Billiards, respectively. Big Tyme Billiards provided a smoke-free environment, and some of the best playing equipment Texas has to offer, for the billiard extravaganza.

Roberto Gomez (Chris Castaneda)

The true double elimination, 128-player open 9-ball division kicked off Saturday morning at 10am, and concluded on Sunday evening. In the final sixteen on the winners’ side, Ernesto Bayaua sent Manny Chau west, 9-2, Eric Aicinena overwhelmed Felipe Yniguez, 9-4, and John Morra overpowered Joey Bourgeois, Jr., 9-3. Las Vegas’ Scott Kitto slid by Andy Jethwa, 9-7, Roberto Gomez denied Kenneth Price, 9-5, and Austin’s Justin Espinosa eased past Steve Lenz, 9-8. Derek Fontenot beat Eric Cantrell, 9-4, and San Antonio’s Rick Moreno outplayed Jessie Moore, 9-4. The next round witnessed Aicinena oust Bayaua, 9-4, Morra deny Kitto, 9-3, and Gomez detour Espinosa, 9-3. Rounding out the final four, Fontenot bested Moreno, 9-3. 

Advancing to the hot seat, Morra thwarted Aicinena, 9-2, while Fontenot upset Gomez, 9-4. Morra defeated Fontenot in the hot seat match, 9-6. On the one-loss side, Steve Lenz fought his way into the final eight with wins over Charlie “Hillbilly” Bryant, 7-3, Price, 7-3, and Bayaua, 7-2. Blaine Barcus eliminated eight players, including Cantrell, 7-3, Moore, 7-2, and Kitto, 7-4. Chau dusted off New Mexico’s Donivan Pedroncelli, 7-3, Cesar Arrechiga, 7-2, and Espinosa, 7-2, while Moreno ended Bourgeois, Jr., 7-3. Barcus maintained momentum, ousting Lenz, 7-4, but falling to Gomez by the same score. Chau handily beat Moreno, 7-2,  and Aicinena, 7-4. Gomez defeated Chau, 7-2, and Fontenot, 7-1, to meet Morra in the finals. In the first set, Morra could not gain ground, while Gomez had the break down cold. Gomez dominated the first set, 9-2. In the second set, Morra seemed to regroup, but Gomez inched ahead to capture the second set, 7-5, and his first, Space City, open 9-ball division title.

Ernesto Bayaua

In the single elimination, 38-player one pocket division, teeing off in the final eight, Alex Calderone defeated Roberto Gomez, 4-2, while Kenneth Price made quick work of J.C. Torres, 4-1. Ernesto Bayaua slid past John Morra, 4-3, and John Gabriel overwhelmed Mark Nanashee, 4-1. Final four action witnessed Calderone eliminate Price, 4-1, and Bayaua escape Gabriel, 4-3. In the final match, it was a fight to the finish for Calderone and Bayaua. Players traded safeties and games, for hours, until a determined Bayaua pulled ahead to close out the set, 4-3, earning his first Space City, one pocket division title.

In the single elimination, 36-player 9-ball banks division, final eight action witnessed Chip Compton defeat Alex Calderone, 4-1, and John Morra shut out Kenneth Price, 4-0. Local favorite, Tommy Tokoph, curbed Mark Nanashee, 4-1, and Gary Lutman sent Gabriel packing, 4-1. Down to the final four, Compton struck a blow against Morra, 4-2, and Lutman upset Tokoph, 4-3.  In the final match, Compton edged out Lutman, 4-3, to win his first, Space City, 9-ball banks division title.

Mille Almaraz

The 34-player, ladies open 9-ball division, featured defending champion, Ming Ng, returning champion, Natalie Rocha, Indiana’s Toni Tucker, and Canadian, WPBA Touring Professional, Suzanne Peters. Making their way to the winners’ side, final four, La Le overcame Mary “Princess” Avina, 7-6, Michelle Yim, 7-4, and Suzanne Peters, 7-2, while Ming “The Empress” Ng passed Michelle Abernathy, 7-3, Toni Tucker, 7-4, and Christy Grigsby, 7-4. Mille Almaraz detoured Ruth Paine, 7-3, Yvonne “The Casher” Asher, 7-1, and Natalie Rocha, 7-6. Laurie Clouette came on strong, with wins over Sara Bork, 7-4, Brandi Scott, 7-5, Loretta Miller, 7-2, and Teresa “Princess of Pool” Garland, 7-6. On the west side, reaching the final eight, Tucker shut out Rocha, 5-0, while Garland took out McHaney, 5-3. Peters overwhelmed Pierce, 5-2, and Petrosino sent Grigsby home, 5-3. On the winners’ side, Ng bested Le, 7-2, and it was Almaraz over Clouette, 7-2. In her hot seat match debut, Almaraz took down the defending champ, 7-5, further securing her position in a very tough field. Back on the one-loss side, Tucker took out Garland, 5-2, and Le, 5-3, while Petrosino ended Peters, 5-3, and Clouette, 5-0. Tucker claimed five matches before Petrosino stopped her run, 5-3. This was Petrosino’s eighth, match win, an incredible run to reach the final three, after losing her very first match to Melissa Smith, 7-5. Petrosino was forced to settle for third place, after suffering a 5-3 loss at the hands of Ng. The rematch between Almaraz and Ng was set in motion. A confident Almaraz took control of the first set, and did not look back. She defeated Ng, 7-4, to capture her first, Space City, women’s open 9-ball division title.

Lazaro Martinez III

The junior 9-ball division commenced on Sunday, featuring 13 competitors from across Texas. On their way to the winners’ side, final four, Gabriel Martinez defeated Aniyah Maldonado, 7-2, and Ace Smith, 7-2, while Lazaro “Little Laz” Martinez, III, bested Vania Davila, 7-0, and Jayden Holt, 7-1. Mary Grigsby outran Makenzlee Cameron, 7-4, and Cameron King, 7-4, while Kevin Gallegos slid past Nathan Garay, 7-6, and Eva Grigsby, 7-4. On the one-loss side, after suffering a first round loss to Holt, Tyler Miller was on a mission, eliminating Davila, 5-2, King, 5-0, and Maldonado, 5-3. Holt dusted off Cameron, 5-1, while Smith ended Garay, 5-2. Smith vanquished Holt, 5-2, and along with Miller, reached the final six, and the money. On the east side, the Martinez brothers faced off in the final four, with Gabriel advancing, 7-1, while M. Grigsby lost her bid for the hot seat to Gallegos, 7-2. G. Martinez made quick work of Gallegos, 7-0, to capture the hot seat. On the west side, Laz ousted Miller, 5-2, and M. Grigsby defeated Ace, 5-3. Laz went on to eliminate Grigsby and Gallegos, to meet brother Gabriel in the finals. Gabriel gave it his best shot, but was outmatched by Laz, suffering a two-set defeat. With this victory, Laz secured his third, consecutive, Space City, junior 9-ball division title.

The Space City Open is the largest pool tournament in Texas, featuring five divisions, and is held annually, the first week in December. For more information, visit www.SpaceCityOpen.com. 

West comes from the loss side to win his second Bob Stocks Memorial title

Kevin West (Grant Wylie Photography)

The annual Bob Stocks Memorial Tournament, held under the auspices of the Action Pool Tour, has developed something of a reputation for crowning new winners every year. Until this most recent, 13th annual tournament, only one competitor, Shaun Wilkie, had ever won it twice. On the weekend of April 13-14, Kevin West became the second. Having won this event in 2017, and after skipping the following year, which saw Zoren James Aranas and Dennis Orcollo battle in the finals, West returned to give it another shot. He was sent to the loss side by Brian Bryant in a winners’ side semifinal and came back after winning three to challenge and defeat Bryant in the finals. The event drew 31 entrants to First Break Café in Sterling, VA.
 
West was challenged early in this one; his first match, a double hill affair that eventually sent Paul Helms to the loss side. West moved on to defeat former Bob Stock Memorial Champion Brandon Shuff and Scott Roberts, both 9-5, to draw Bryant in one of the winners’ side semifinals. Bryant had defeated Alvin Thomas 9-6, Alex Parker, 9-3 and Paul Swinson 9-4 to meet West. Scott Haas, in the meantime, defeated Ali Gee 9-1, Andrew Manning 9-7 and Graham Swinson 9-3 to draw Chris Bruner in the other winners’ side semifinal.
 
Bryant sent West west 9-7 and in the hot seat match, faced Haas, who’d defeated Bruner 9-7. Bryant claimed the hot seat 9-5 Haas, and waited on the return of West.
 
On the loss side, West drew Steve Fleming, the tour’s #4-ranked player on the tour coming into the event, who, after being defeated by Chris Bruner 9-6 in a winners’ side quarterfinal, had defeated Bruce Choyce 7-1 and Brandon Shuff 7-5 to meet West. Bruner picked up Scott Roberts, who’d survived a double hill battle versus Mark Nanashee and eliminated Kirill Rutman to face Bruner.
 
West and Roberts advanced to the quarterfinals; West, 7-3 over Fleming and Roberts, 7-4 over Bruner, denying West a second shot at him. West took the quarterfinal match 7-5 over Roberts and then, downed Haas 7-4 in the semifinals.
 
The tightly contested final match between West and Bryant featured the maximum number of games possible in a race-to-11; 21, also known as double hill, but recognized, as well, as a lot of games to play to decide a winner. West dropped the final 9-Ball to claim his second Bob Stocks Memorial title.
 
Tour directors Kris Wylie and Tiger Baker thanked the ownership and staff at First Break Café, as well as sponsors East Coast Landscaping, Inc., Cue Sports International (CSI), Chix Cabinets Direct, Grant Wylie (professional photographer), Brown’s Mechanical, LLC, and George Hammerbacher Advanced Pool Instructor. The next stop on the APT, will take players “Back to the Beach,” at an event scheduled for the weekend of May 18-19 at Q Master Billiards in Virginia Beach, VA.

Pinegar wins 2019 SBE Pro Am Bar Box Championship

Jonathan Pinegar (Photo courtesy Super Billiards Expo)

Davis tops largest SBE field of 1,024 to win Amateur Open
 
In its multi-discipline, varied-skill format that, with some overlap among 11 events, drew over 3,000 pool players to the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center at Oaks, PA over the weekend of March 28-31, the Super Billiard Expo’s Pro Am Bar Box Championships has always existed as something of a challenge. In 2018, they used the challenge in promoting the event, asking potential participants a simple question – How good do you really think you are?
 
Open to all levels of competitors, without restriction, its field is capped at 32 players, who play a ‘best of three set’ format with races to 6 in each set (all other Amateur events utilized the same format, although with races to 5 in each set). While encouraging and expecting a wide variety of players from the amateur to the pro, this year’s ProAm Bar Box Championships featured a field that was tipped somewhat toward the amateur end of things. Not completely, because it was won by 20-year veteran Jonathan Pinegar, who’s been winning and cashing in amateur and semi-pro events for nearly 20 years. Known throughout most of his career as “Hennessee from Tennessee,” Pinegar has, in recent years, been signing on to events with his given name. At this year’s SBE, he signed in as John Pinegar. This year’s runner-up was Demetrius Jelatis.
 
The posted brackets on the SBE Web site for all of the amateur events (including the ProAm Bar Box) do not indicate the scores of the individual sets, which masks the give and take of game-by-game scoring. Instead, each player is seen to have won their individual matches by only one of two possible outcomes; 2-0 or 2-1. There is no way of knowing, therefore, a given player’s game-winning percentage, only his or her set-winning percentage.
 
Pinegar won 10 of 12 sets he played over five matches. He opened with a 2-1 win over Alex Olinger, went 2-0 against Kevin West and allowed Scott Haas a single set in the third round, which brought him to a semifinal matchup against Justin Espinosa. Jelatis, in the meantime, won eight of the 12 sets he played over five matches. He opened with two straight 2-0 set victories over Shane Clayton and Alan Rolan, before giving up a set to Ryan McCreesh. This set him (Jelatis) up against Jorge Rodriguez in the other semifinal. Rodriguez is another one of those competitors who’s been competing at the semi-pro and pro-level for years.
 
Pinegar got into the finals with a 2-0 set victory over Espinosa. Jelatis joined him after a 2-1 set victory over Rodriguez. Pinegar completed his undefeated (in sets) run with a 2-0 victory over Jelatis.
 
Davis goes undefeated in his individual bracket, advances to win Amateur Open
 
In the largest field of the SBE, the Amateur Open, 1,024 entrants initially split up into 16 brackets of 64 players each. Each of those brackets delivered a single player to a Final 16 bracket. Phil Davis didn’t lose a single set (best of three sets in races to 5) in his initial bracket, going 2-0 against Chris Garrett, Matt Clatterbuck, Mark Alicea, Paul Swinson, Richard Anderson and in his bracket’s finals, Jason Balas. He gave up his first set in the opening round of the single-elimination final 16 bracket, going 2-1 against Joe Wright. He went back to his 2-0 pattern against Mark Nanashee in the second round, which moved him into the semifinals against Julio Burgos.
 
Raed Shabib, in the meantime, gave up his first set, in the opening round of his 64-player bracket, to Christopher Balderson. He didn’t give up another one until his bracket finals, having gone 2-0 against Abel Rosario, John Hoge, Bill Mason and Randy Tate. He took the bracket final 2-1 over James Adams. He opened the Final 16 portion of his run with a 2-1 victory over George Crawford and then downed Brett Stottlemeyer 2-0, to arrive at a semifinal against Chris Bruner.
 
Davis and Shabib advanced to the finals with identical 2-1 set victories over Burgos and Bruner, respectively. Davis completed his undefeated run with a 2-1 victory over Shabib in the finals.
 
Amateur highlights
 
The next highest attended Amateur tournament was the Open Seniors event (for 50+), which drew 384 entrants. Originally split into eight preliminary brackets, yielding a single winner, the event was won by Bobby Connor. He advanced through the Final 8 field with set wins over Oscar Bonilla and Dennis Spears, both 2-1. He was met in the finals by Efrain Morales, who’d defeated Joe Armeni 2-1 and Chuck Ross 2-0. Connor didn’t give up a set in claiming the Open Seniors title.
 
Next up, with 192 entrants, was the Super Seniors (65+), who started in four initial brackets, yielding a very short final field of four. Ed Matushoneck downed Tom Acciavatti 2-1 to claim his spot in the finals, and was joined by Ronny Park, who’d defeated Nelson Rivera 2-1. Matushoneck claimed the Super Seniors title with a 2-0 win over Park.
 
The Amateur Ladies drew 188, just four less than the Super Seniors. Combined, those two events would have yielded an enormously entertaining field with just four less than the Open Seniors event. As it was, the 188 ladies, like the Super Seniors, started with four initial 64-player brackets (with a number of opening round byes) and ended with a final field of 4. Rachel Lang and Michelle Jiang advanced to the finals without giving up a set to either Marie-France Blanchette and Stacey Tonkin. Lang downed Jiang in the finals two sets to one.
 
In the 12 and under Juniors event, which drew 56 entrants, Parker Jakubczak downed 2018 11 & under Junior National Champion Kyle Yi in the finals 2-1. In the 17 & under category, which drew 76 entrants, two-time 14 & under National Junior Champion Nathan Childress defeated Ivo Linkin in two straight sets.

Kazakis Makes It Three In A Row At The Spot

Ruslan Chinakhov and Alex Kazakis (Photo courtesy of Erwin Dionisio)

Alex Kazakis made it “three in a row” with another undefeated run through the field at The Perfect Storm Open event at The Spot Billiards in Nanuet, NY on November 9th – 11th. 
 
After his undefeated run and victory over Tony Robles in the Grand Master’s division of the NYC 8-Ball Championship at Steinway Billiards on November 3rd – 4th, Kazakis then came from the one loss side to double dip James Aranas at the Sandcastle Billiards’ Player Relief Open 9-Ball event on November 8th. Kazakis kept up his winning ways over the weekend of November 9th – 11th with another undefeated run, this time in the Men’s Pro 10-Ball division at The Spot. 
 
Kazakis had wins over Ryan McCreesh, Mike Dechaine, RYan Lineham and then Ruslan Chinakhov for the hot-seat. On the one loss side, Chinakhov had a rematch with Casper Matikainen who had lost to Chinakhov in the first round. Chinakhov was successful again in the rematch, but still couldn’t get by Kazakis in the finals. 
 
The Men’s Pro event was only one of four events that took place at The Spot over the long weekend. A six player round robin Women’s Pro event saw Chezka Centeno come out on top of the field, with Kyoko Sone taking second. The Women’s Amateur division was won by Jia Li, who defeated Borana Andoni for the hot-seat and again in the finals. Finally, the Men’s Amateur division was won by Ryan Lineham, who defeated Mark Nanashee for the hot-seat and then Mhet Vergara in the finals. 
 
The Spot added $1000 to each Pro event and co-owner Lenore Donovan-Chen was appreciative of everyone for their help managing the different divisions and players on this weekend. She thanked event sponsors Pro Vapes Liquid and Clutch Shot Apparel, Upstate Al for streaming the event and Ariel Roy Francisco from Roy’s Basement for bringing his players out to support the event. 

Shuff slices through a field of 79 to claim inaugural MD State 10-Ball Championships

Brandon Shuff (Photo courtesy of Erwin Dionisio)

Aranas wins nine on the loss side to challenge him in the finals
 
Brandon Shuff chalked up his first 2018 major event victory at the On the Hill Productions’ 2018 Maryland State 10-Ball Championships, navigating his way through a field of 79 entrants at Champion Billiards in Frederick, MD on the weekend of Sept. 22-23. He went undefeated through that field.  In the end, he claimed the title by defeating, in his final two matches, Earl Strickland for the hot seat and in the finals, Philipines’ Zoren James Aranas, who'd won nine on the loss side to challenge him and was looking to earn his eighth 2018 title.
 
It was an extraordinarily robust field of entrants for an event with a total prize package of just under $6,000 ($5,925) and included a list of this and other country’s top players, beginning with Shuff, Aranas and Strickland. Also on hand were Shaun Wilkie, Zion Zvi, Alex Osipov, Matt Krah and Jorge Rodriguez. There were women competing, as well; among them, Karen Corr, Jennifer Barretta and Kia Sidbury.
 
It was, said Shuff, in a post-finals interview with Billiard Sports Network, the first time that he’d been able to leap the ‘Zoren James Aranas’ hurdle. They’d met, most recently, in April at the 2nd Annual Barry Behrman Memorial, where Shuff was defending the title he’d won in the inaugural event. Aranas sent Shuff to the loss side in a winners’ side quarterfinal match, and though he’d come back through five loss-side matches to challenge him in the finals, Aranas defeated him a second time to claim that title.
 
This time, it was Aranas coming from the loss side. It was Shaun Wilkie who sent Aranas over 7-5 in the second round, which launched the nine-match, loss-side streak that ended in the finals. Shuff in the meantime, was launching his own uninterrupted winners’ side streak with victories over Mark Nanashee 7-2, Kenny Rutman 7-1, Matt Krah in a double hill fight, and Jennifer Barretta 7-4. Shuff drew Eddie Abraham in one of the winners’ side semifinals.
 
Also in the meantime, Earl Strickland was working on the winners’ side toward a meetup with Shuff in the hot seat match. Strickland had downed Eric Gonzalez 7-3, shut out Corey Rausch, defeated Dylan Spohr 7-2, sent James Blackburn west 7-1 and got into a winners’ side semifinal match against Del Sim with a 7-3 win over Wilkie.
 
Strickland got into the hot seat match with a 7-1 win over Sim. Shuff joined him after a 7-5 victory over Abraham. In the battle for the hot seat, their respective Fargo Ratings – 775 for Strickland and 738 for Shuff – gave Strickland a 68.1% edge in their race to 7. In the first of two straight matches, Shuff defied the odds and claimed the hot seat with a 7-4 win.
 
Meanwhile, back at the loss-side ranch, Aranas was working his way through to a meetup with Abraham. Aranas had most recently defeated Joey Korsiak 7-4 (loss-side win #6) and eliminated Wilkie (#7) 7-5 to reach him. Sim drew Jennifer Barretta, originally sent to the loss side by Shuff in the fifth round, who’d most recently defeated Tom Matikainen 7-4 and survived a double hill fight against Adam Kielar.
 
Aranas advanced to the quarterfinals with a 7-3 victory over Abraham, and was joined by Sim, who’d eliminated Barretta 7-4. Barretta’s finish in the tie for 5th place made her the top finishing female at this event. Corr finished just out of the money in the eight-way tie for 25th.
 
Aranas and Sim then locked up in a quarterfinal, double hill fight which eventually sent Aranas to a semifinal match against Strickland. Aranas got his shot at Shuff in the hot seat with a 7-3 win over Strickland.
 
Shuff and Aranas entered the finals with a 68-point differential in their respective Fargo Ratings; Aranas with the advantage, 806 to 738. The calculated ‘odds’ gave Aranas an 80.6% advantage in their race to 7.
 
Shuff didn’t get the Fargo memo. He downed Aranas 7-5 in those finals to win his first 2018 title and claim the first Maryland State 10-Ball Championships.
 
Tour directors Loye Bolyard and Rick Scarlato, Jr. thanked the ownership and staff at Champion Billiards for their hospitality, as well as sponsors McDermott Cues, Navigator Tips, Phillippe Cues, Lights Out Billiards Apparel, TAP Pool League (Chesapeake Bay), Billiards Sports Network, Aramith Balls, and Simonis Cloth. The next On the Hill Productions’ event, scheduled for the weekend of Nov. 3-4, will be the Maryland State 10-Ball Bar Table Championships, to be hosted by Bank Shot Bar & Grill in Laurel, MD.

Zippler and Jackson split top prizes on March 29 Mezz Tour stop

Tom Zippler and Shawn Jackson having played one match to its conclusion, opted out of a second, splitting the top two prizes. The undefeated Zippler claimed the $1,000-added, A-D Mezz Tour event title, which had drawn 26 entrants to the Magic 8 Cue Club in Cockeysville, MD on Sunday, March 29. 
 
They met first in the hot seat match. Zippler had downEd Scott Hass 7-3, while Jackson was not-so-busy, giving up only a single rack to Edd Moody. Zippler played what proved to be the title match and sent Jackson to the semifinals 7-2.
 
On the loss side, Hass picked up Trevor Dentz, who'd defeated Garrett Waechter 7-5 and just did get by Jim O'Hara 7-6. Moody drew Dan McGinnis, who'd just given up one rack to Al Tonelli and eliminated Mark Nanashee 7-4. Moody and McGinnis locked up in a double hill fight that eventually sent Moody to the quarterfinals, where he faced Dentz, who'd defeated Hass 7-2.
 
Dentz advanced to the semifinals with a 7-4 victory over Moody in the quarters. By the same score, Jackson sent Dentz home and got a second shot at Zippler in the hot seat. It was a shot the two didn't take. They opted out of a final, split the top two prizes and allowed Zippler to claim the official victory.

Krah and Abraham split top prizes on Mezz Pro/Am

Last week (February 15), on the Mezz Pro Am Tour, Michael Wong, in the hot seat, split the top two prizes with Matt Krah. This week (Sunday, February 22), Krah, in the hot seat, split the top two prizes with Eddie Abraham at the $1,000-added event that drew 32 entrants to Drexeline Billiards in Drexel Hill, PA. 
 
Unlike the week prior, during which the potential finalists had not met in a match, Krah and Abraham squared off to claim the hot seat. Abraham had sent last week's winner, Wong, to the losers' bracket, as Krah was doing the same to Mark Nanashee; both 7-5. Krah claimed the hot seat 7-4.
 
On the losers' side, Wong picked up Adam Kielar, who'd been defeated in the second round of winners' side play by Abraham and was in the midst of a five-match, loss-side winning streak that included  6-3 and 6-4 wins over Mike Saleh and Dustin Olsen. Nanashee drew Raphael Saldana, who'd eliminated Rob Hontz 6-4 and Vinne Cimarelli 6-2 to reach him.
 
Saldana handed Nanashee his second loss 6-2, as Kielar finished Wong 6-1. Kielar then downed Saldana 6-4 in the quarterfinals to earn himself a rematch against Abraham. Abraham downed Kielar a second time, 6-4, in the semifinals, before he and Krah opted out of playing a final match and chose to split the top two prizes.

Hontz comes from the loss side to defeat Praseutsy in Mezz Tour finals

Rob Hontz, owner Bob Maidhof, Michael Praseutsy and Wes Dobson

From among the final eight on the winners' side of the bracket in the opening stop on the 2014 Mezz Tour, Rob Hontz fought a double hill, ultimately unsuccessful battle against Mike Saleh, which sent him to the loss side. Hontz then won five in a row, and fought an ultimately successful battle against hot seat occupant, Michael Praseutsy, to claim the title. The $1,000-added, A-D handicapped event, held on the weekend of January 10-11, drew 32 entrants to Drexeline Billiards in Drexel Hill, PA.

 
With Hontz out of the way, Saleh moved into a winners' side semifinal against Wes Dobson, while Praseutsy faced Gary Serano. Saleh ended up in a second straight double hill match, but this one sent him to the losers' bracket and Dobson into the hot seat match. Praseutsy downed Serano 7-3, and then, by the same score, got into the hot seat over Dobson.
 
Hontz began his trek back to the finals with his second straight double hill match, winning this one, over George Ellinger. He came within a game of a third double hill match when he defeated Vinny Cimarelli 7-5, which set him up to face Serano. Saleh picked up Mark Nanashee, who'd shut out A.J. Fitzgerald and defeated Owen Collins 7-4 to reach him.
 
Hontz' opportunity for a re-match against Saleh was denied him when Nanashee defeated Saleh, double hill. Instead, after giving up only a single rack to Serano, Hontz faced Nanashee in the quarterfinals, where a 7-4 win gave him a shot at Dobson in the semifinals.
 
Hontz took full advantage. He gave up another solo rack to Dobson and entered the finals with a 35-17 loss-side record. By agreement, Hontz and Praseutsy opted out of a double elimination final, agreeing to play a single match for the title. Hontz won it 7-5 to claim the first stop on the 2014 Mezz Tour.
 
Tour director Jose Burgos thanked owner Bob Maidhof and his Drexeline Billiards staff, as well as sponsors Mezz Cues, Gamblin Clothing, Kamui Chalk, JD Custom Cues, Allen Hopkins Super Billiards Expo, John Barton, JB Cases, Jabcues and Things, Billiard Life, Howitzer Break Cues, and Steve Klapp Custom Cues.