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Callado wins four to capture NAPT Desert Challenge in Las Vegas

(l to r): Tara Williams, Gigi Callejas, Veronique Menard & Eleanor Callado

In a short field of 23 entrants, some of whom competed last year at the same event, Eleanor Callado won four straight matches to capture the North American Pool Tour’s (NAPT) 4th Desert Challenge title on the weekend of September 19-22 at Griff’s in Las Vegas, NV. Callado faced separate challengers in the hot seat and finals of this 10-ball competition – Gigi Callejas (hot seat) and Canada’s Veronique Menard (finals) – to complete her undefeated run.
 
Granted an opening round bye, as eight of the event’s 12 competitors squared off in a play-in round, Callado drew Kim Pierce off that play-in round and defeated her 7-5 to open her four-match march to the winners’ circle. She then faced Melissa Herndon in one of the winners’ side semifinals. Gigi Callejas, in the meantime, who’d defeated Christina Gonzalez 7-5 in the play-in round, went on to get by Tara Williams 7-5 and draw Veronique Menard in the other winners’ side semifinal.
 
Callado and Callejas advanced to the hot seat match with identical 7-4 wins over Herndon and Menard, respectively. Callado grabbed the hot seat with a 7-2 win over Callejas and waited on the return of Menard.
 
Over on the loss side, Menard picked up Nicole King, who’d defeated Laura Bendikas 7-3 and Kim Pierce 7-5 to reach her. Herndon drew Tara Williams, who’d eliminated Debra Aarens 7-3 and shut out Bernie Store.
 
Menard downed King 7-5 and in the quarterfinals, faced Williams, who’d survived a double hill battle versus Herndon. Menard took the quarterfinal match 7-5 over Williams to earn a rematch against Callejas in the semifinals.
 
Menard earned her slot in the finals with a 7-3 rematch win over Callejas in the semifinals. Callado, though, punctuated her brief, but successful run on the Desert Challenge by giving up only a single rack to Menard in the event finals.
 
NAPT President Adrienne Beach thanked Mark Griffin and his staff for their hospitality, as well as Rail2Rail Productions for their live streaming of selected matches throughout the weekend. The next NAPT event, scheduled for October 24-27 will be the Division I Pro Coupe Du Quebec, hosted by Dooly’s in Quebec, Canada.

Herndon hangs on to win NAPT West Coast Challenge

Melissa Herndon, Eleanor Collado, Khanh Ngo and Veronique Menard

It’s the kind of match that spectator fans love to see. A player sends an opponent to the loss side in an early round and that opponent treks all the way back through the loss side to face that opponent in the finals. And then, it’s a double elimination final and the loss side opponent wins the first set, double hill. They battle a second time to double hill and the hot seat occupant finally wins it. So went the North American Pool Tour’s (NAPT) Division I West Coast Challenge, a 10-ball tournament, held on the long weekend of June 20-23 at Hard Times Billiards in Sacramento, CA. It was Melissa Herndon who sent Veronique Menard to the loss side in the event. Menard won seven on the loss side and defeated Herndon double hill in the opening set of the double elimination final. Herndon returned the favor, defeating Menard in the second set, double hill to claim the title. The event drew 33 entrants to Hard Time Billiards.
 
Herndon and Menard clashed first in the second round of play. Herndon had opened with a 7-1 victory over Samantha Hill, while Menard was busy downing Sher Ahola 7-3. Herndon took the first of their three matches 7- 4 and moved on past Bernie Store (7-3) to arrive at a winners’ side semifinal against Rachel Lang. Eleanor Callado, in the meantime, who’d almost been sent to the loss side in the opening round, survived that double hill match against Laura Bendikas and advanced to defeat Amani Ali 7-1, and shut out Kelly Nickl to arrive at the other winners’ side semifinal against Khanh Ngo.
 
On the loss side, it was Lang who ran into Menard, four matches into her loss side streak, which had most recently eliminated Stephanie Hefner 7-3 and Nickl 7-5. Ngo picked up Bernie Store, who, following her defeat at the hands of Herndon, had survived two straight double hill fights against Janna Sue Nelson and Sher Ahola. 
 
Bernie Store’s third straight double hill match was not the proverbial ‘charm’ she’d hoped it would be. Ngo hung on to win the match and advance to the quarterfinals, where she was met by Menard, who’d chalked up loss-side win #5 against Lang 7-1. Menard then put an end to Ngo’s weekend with a 7-3 win in the quarterfinals and followed up with a 7-5 win over Callado in the semifinals. 
 
It was clear from the opening set of the final that neither of these women was going to go quietly. Menard had the usual momentum boost from seven matches on the loss side and Herndon knew she only had to win one more set to go home with the top prize. Herndon arguably had more at stake than Menard did. They’d both been around competing since the turn of the century, but in recent years, Herndon had been taking time off for a job and a husband routine. For her, standing on the brink of her first major title in years, there was an “I’m back” feel to the whole process, which would have felt good no matter how the finals turned out, but winning it was clearly on her mind and in her game.
Menard took an early, short lead in the opening set, but Herndon caught up to tie things at 4-4. The ninth rack turned into a back-and-forth safety battle as they both worked at dropping the 5-ball. Menard broke through, but jumped up, shooting at the 8-ball and turned the table over to Herndon. Herndon dropped it, but scratched shooting at the 9-ball, giving Menard a ball-in-hand shot at the 10-ball and immediately thereafter, the lead.
 
Herndon took the 10th rack to tie things at 5-5. Menard took game 11 to reach the hill first. With a connect-the-dots finish to rack #12, Menard missed the 9-ball, allowing Herndon to finish and force a deciding rack. Menard broke and ran rack #13, claiming the first set and forcing a second.
 
Tension mounts in the second set of a true double elimination final like an old-fashioned Jack in the Box. Especially when it goes back and forth as this one did. The crank keeps turning, ratcheting up the tension, as you brace for that damn clown to jump out at you.
 
Two things were evident right from the start of the second set. No one was going to jump out to any kind of substantial lead. They were both tight and cautious, one game at a time. And they were getting a bit tired. Making mistakes; missing shots, rattling them in holes, putting each other in tough situations and alternately shooting right out of them.
 
They established a lead/tie pattern right from the start, with Menard taking the first rack, Herndon, the second. Back and forth to a 2-2 tie, until Herndon threatened to go out in front for the first time as she aimed at the 10-ball. She missed it, tapping the 10-ball to concede the rack and the pattern resumed, all the way to a 4-4 tie.
 
Herndon broke the pattern, and took her first lead, 5-4, in game #9, and with nothing byt the 9 and 10-ball to go in rack #10, she threatened to go up by two. She left herself in an awkward position shooting at the 9-ball and missed it, allowing Menard to knot things at 5-5.
 
Herndon misjudged a position shot in game #11 that left a 5-ball hanging in the pocket and allowed Menard to recapture the lead and reach the hill first at 6-5. 
 
At this point, Menard was probably the only person in the room, or the extended chat world that didn’t want Herndon to tie things up at 6-6 to force a deciding game. Herndon being the strongest proponent for forcing a game #13, tried to accomplish it a little early, going for a 5-10 combo, which she rushed and missed. Menard dropped the 5-ball and with five balls down and five to go, things looked grim for Herndon.
 
Menard made it to a shot at the 8-ball, which she attempted to put into a side pocket. But she over-anxiously hit it way too hard and when it caromed off the rail next to the side pocket, it looked as though it had enough speed on it to reach a table in New York City. Herndon stepped to the table and promptly tied the match at 6-6.
 
Herndon broke the final rack, sinking the 8-ball and giving herself a decent look at the 1-ball. But like Menard, she got a little over-anxious and bounced the 1-ball off the side rail. Subsequent ball action dropped two other balls. Since the ball at which Herndon was shooting didn’t drop, 10-ball rules dictated that Menard had the option of taking over or allowing Herndon to keep shooting. Menard chose to shoot, ran to the 5-ball and rattled it in and out of the side pocket. 
 
Herndon played safe and Menard safed her right back, but not quite good enough. Herndon made a terrific, long-table, oblique angle shot on that 5-ball that drifted it within less than an inch or two of two other balls on its way into the corner pocket. Herndon dropped the last three balls and claimed the NAPT’s West Coast Challenge title.
 
NAPT President Adrianne Beach thanked the ownership and staff at Hard Time Billiards, as well as Cue Sports Live and the players who made it out to play. The next Division I NAPT event, scheduled for August 15-18 will be the 4th Annual NAPT Summer Classic, to be hosted by Shooter’s Sports Bar and Billiards in Grayslake, IL.

May Billiards Buzz Released

AzBilliards has released the May 2018 issue of the Billiards Buzz Online Magazine. 

 

The May issue includes reports from the World Pool Series, Euro Tour, Super Billiards Expo and other headlines from the last month. Our regular columnists are back again with contributions from Jerry Briesath, Anthony Beeler, Dr. Chris Stankovich and Melinda Bailey. Melinda has a great interview with The Dragon Lady, Melissa Herndon this month. This moth also sees the addition of our new collaboration with the North American Pool Tour. Each month Skip Maloney will be focusing on one select NAPT player and we start things off this month with the spotlight on Brittany Bryant

 

This issue, along with every past issue, can be found online at www.azbilliards.com/buzz/

Beau Runningen Wins First Annual Brendan Crockett Memorial

Beau Runningen (in Brendan Crockett’s favorite jacket) and Vilmos Foldes

Beau Runningen recovered from a second round loss, and went on to win the 1st Annual Brendan Crockett Memorial 10-Ball Tournament held at On Cue Billiards in La Mesa, California on June 10th – 11th. 

 
Runningen’s weekend started off on the right foot with a 7-2 win over Reid Fleming, but was quickly derailed in his second match when he lost a 7-5 decision to Ramil Gallego. After that loss, Runningen went on an impressive seven match winning streak that included notable wins over Fach Garcia, Oscar Dominguez, Dave Hemmah, Ernesto Dominguez, Rodney Morris and Tyler Styer
 
Runningen rode that winning streak into the finals, where he faced previously unbeaten Vilmos Foldes. Vilmos’ run through the winner’s side includes wins over Michael Robinson, Melissa Herndon, Rey Lorenzo, Dave Hemmah, Rodney Morris and Tyler Styer. The final match started off close with the player tied at 1-1, but an uncharacteristic miss on the 10-ball in rack three seemed to start Foldes’ game unravelling. Runningen controlled the match from that point and easily defeated Foldes 11-4 for first place. 
 
While the tournament drew a field of 87 players, those players and the fans weren’t just there for the thrill of competition. They were all gathered to remember the short life of Brendan Crockett, who passed away almost a year ago with his brother Jefferson, in a car accident. 
 
Brendan was a regular competitor on the West Coast and the idea to hold a memorial tournament came together by Melissa Herndon and Desiree Dominguez pretty quickly. Herndon commented on the emotional weekend, “It was incredibly moving to see so many players show up to celebrate Brendan and play in the inaugural memorial tourney.  I heard a bunch of new stories about him, and it really felt like the weekend was about him and not just another tournament.  Brendan loved competition, and 10-ball was his favorite.  His friends, the sponsors, On Cue Billiards, and the players all came together to make this event into an event that Brendan would've loved…and we look forward to making the 2nd Annual Brendan Crockett Memorial 10-Ball Open an even bigger, badder tournament that draws more top name players! “
 
To help raise money at the event, Brendan’s father Bill raffled off a Bill Stroud Joss West cue from his personal collection. Bill Crockett is a cue collector and plans on raffling off a cue at this event each year. The tournament raised nearly $1500 for the Brendan Crockett Scholarship Fund. More information on this fund can be found online at Brendancrockett.org

Mika wins Mezz West State Stop 7

For stop number 7 of the MWST, the tour found itself at Diamond Billiards in Fresno, California. Many top players made the trip to play in the $2000 added event.  Mika Immonen, Rodney Morris, Oscar Dominguez, Vilmos Foldes, Amar Kang and Beau Runningen are just a few that loaded up this monster field. 
 
At the top half of the bracket, Mika Immonen was doing major damage with wins over Ceasar Tejeda, Paul Silva, Jason Williams. Beau Runningen, Melissa Herndon and Joey Chin before running into Amar Kang for the Hot Seat match. Amar made his way through the bottom half of the bracket with wins over Bobby Lees, John Nekali, Ronnie Rodas, Rodney Wynn and Oscar Dominguez. 
 
The hot seat match between Kang and Immonen was an exciting one! Both players traded racks back and forth before Kang made two errors, which Immonen capitalized on, allowing him to find victory and take the hot seat. 
 
Meanwhile Rodney Morris who was defeated in the winners side fourth round by top 7 Phil Prentice, was grinding through players Greg Harada, Jeff Padjan, Rodney Wynn, Vilmos Foldes and Joey Chin. This winning streak lead him to the 4th place match against tour owner Oscar Dominguez who was beaten by Amar Kang in the semi-finals. Morris made some uncharacteristic mistakes which Dominguez punished him for. Dominguez would find quick victory over Morris 9-4. Dominguez then went on to face a tough Amar Kang for a chance at the finals. Kang played flawlessly and Dominguez seemed to run out of steam and despite putting up a battle, lost to Kang 9-5. This win sent Kang back to the finals for another chance at Immonen. 
 
The finals between Amar Kang and Mika Immonen was one for the books. Each player, made incredible outs and showed off their top notch safety game and shot making. This match not only went back and forth, but went hill-hill in the single race to 11. The final rack, Immonen scratched on the break, giving Amar an open table with ball in hand.  Once Kang ran out to the 8 ball, everyone thought it was over. Kang shot and made the 8 ball but unfortunately scratched in the side pocket, leaving Immonen with ball in hand on the 9 ball for the victory. 
 
The Mezz West State Tour would like to thank all their sponsors: Mezz Cues (Miki-Mezz.com), West State Billiard Supply (WestStateBilliards.com), Ozzy Reynolds and CSI (PlayCSIPool.com), Ladin Hyundai and Subaru  (LadinAutoGroup.com),Zan Tips (Zan-Tip.com), Taom Break/Jump Tips (TaomTips.com), Andy Cloth (AndyCloth.com), PiUs Company, So Cal Tap League, Kurzweil Country Meats, fast&loose desgins (fastnloosedesigns.com), Contact Point Media, Turtle Rack, NYC Grind (NYCGrind.com) and AZ Billiards (AZBilliards.com).
 
We would also like to thank Sheri Dadian and her mother Pat, along with the entire Diamond Billiards staff for hosting the event. We would also like to thank all the players for coming out and supporting the tour. 

Runningen Wins Arizona Mezz West State Tour Stop

Beau Runningen

On the weekend of July 11th and 12th, a very talented group of 79 pool players escaped the blistering heat of Phoenix, Arizona to compete in the Mezz West State Tour's 5th event of their 17 stop season. Room owners of Bull Shooters, Mike and Julie Bates have one of the premier pool rooms in the nation boasting a huge array of tables, full kitchen, and full bar catering to both the recreational and serious pool fan. This is the second time the tour has visited Bull Shooters and the players thoroughly enjoy the venue. 
 
Several of the tour "regulars" were in attendance who came from California and Nevada to compete against the top players from the Arizona area including Bernie Pettipiece, Tim Daniel, Bobby Emmons, Tres Kane among others. Leading the top half of the tournament board was co founder of the MWST, Oscar Dominguez with wins over Mike Massey, James Main, Nick De Leon, Bobby Emmons, Tim Daniel, and Beau Runningen setting up for the hot seat match.
 
The bottom half of the bracket was lead by one pocket specialist Bernie Pettipiece with wins over Marshall Anonby, Michael Langarica, John Ritonya, George Tehachea, and Mark Whitehead to face Dominguez for the hotseat.
 
Meanwhile on the one loss side, early tounament favorites such as Sal Butera, Dave Hemmah, Rodney Morris, Vilmos Foldes, Brian Parks, and Ernesto Dominguez all faced early defeats making the one loss side littered with top players and amateurs. Once the dust settled, it was former Junior National Champion Beau Runningen clawing his way through the B bracket with wins over Bobby Emmons, 17 year old sharpshooter Chris Robinson, and Bernie Pettipiece to set up an all Southern California finals between Dominguez and Runningen for the title in the single extended race finals. After a few critical mistakes by Oscar, Beau capitalized with solid safety play and firepower to take tour stop #5 and first prize.
 
The top female bonus was awarded to Melissa Herndon and we would like to thank all our sponsors and players for their continued support.
 
The Mezz West State Tour would like to thank all their sponsors: Mezz Cues (Miki-Mezz.com), West State Billiard Supply (WestStateBilliards.com), Zan Tips (Zan-Tip.com), Taom Break/Jump Tips (TaomTips.com), Andy Cloth (AndyCloth.com), Ozzy Reynolds and CSI (PlayCSIPool.com), PiUs Company, So Cal Tap, Kurzweil Country Meats, fast&loose desgins (fastnloosedesigns.com), Contact Point Media, Turtle Rack, NYC Grind (NYCGrind.com) and AZ Billiards (AZBilliards.com). 
 
We would also like to thank Mike and Julie Bates, along with their two daughters and the entire Bull Shooters staff for hosting the event. We would also like to thank all the players for coming out and supporting the tour. 
 

Oscar Dominguez Wins Mezz West State Tour Stop 3

Oscar Dominguez

The Mezz West State Tour travelled to gorgeous Stiix Billiards in Ventura, California over the weekend of May 23rd and 24th. The event attracted 93 players, which Rodney Morris, Oscar Dominguez, Sal Butera, Beau Runningen, Dave Hemmah and Vilmos Foldes were just a few heavy hitters that made it out to the tournament. Not to be taken lightly, the open players made their presence known with the attendance of Chris Robinson, Attila Csorba, Manny Herrera, Joey Chin, Geoff Somers and newcomer Brian Cady.
 
The top half of the bracket was all about the “7”players with Brian Cady, Melissa Herndon, Manny Herrera and Joey Chin making it out of a tough top bracket to find themselves in the final eight winners side. The bracket included big names such as Brian Parks, Sal Butera and Dave Hemmah. Newcomer, Brian Cady made his way to the final eight winners by finding victory over tour regulars James Harris, Bob DePlachett and Justin Logan before running into Manny Herrera in the final eight. Manny found himself there after wins over Rich Hodge, Spencer Ladin, Jay Beatty and Chino Reyes. The match between Brian and Manny went HILL-HILL with Brian taking the W, securing him into the final four winners of the event to face off against LA local Joey Chin. Joey Chin secured his spot in the final four by winning against Mark Anthony Hernandez, Brook Thomason, Sal Butera and Chris Santana before running into Melissa Herndon in the final eight. Melissa took wins over Juan Smith, Geoff Somer and Bob Jocz. The Melissa and Joey match up went HILL-HILL as well, with Joey making a great out to secure the win. In the final four, Brian Cady vs Joey Chin was one to be seen. The match stayed tied the entire set, eventually reaching HILL-HILL once again, with Brian Cady moving onto the hot seat match. 
 
The bottom bracket was also loaded with killers like Oscar Dominguez, Rodney Morris, Vilmos Foldes, Corey Harper, Attila Csorba, Daminen Rebman, Beau Runningen and young-gun Chris Robinson. Making their way to the final eight winners were Attila Csorba with wins over Frank “The Barber” Almanza, Ashton Schaffer and Rhiyan Qi, where he was met with  top player Corey Harper. Corey Harper found his way there with wins over Rodney Morris, a match that he was down 8-2 in and grinded back to win 9-8, Henry Brodt and Marshall Anonby. The match between Csorba and Harper was heavily one sided, with Csorba taking the win and moving on the final four winners , where he would meet Oscar Dominguez who took wins over Cole Gibbons, Dan Aguiar, Vilmos Foldes and Chris Robinson.  The face-off between Dominguez and Csorba was a tough one, but in the end Csorba made a few errors that Dominguez took advantage of, allowing Dominguez to be victorious 9-5 and sending him to face Brian Cady in the hot seat match. 
 
In the hot seat match, Dominguez showed complete domination over Cady winning 9-4, without Cady making too many errors. Cady would then travel to the loser side and await his chance to make it to the finals. 
 
The losers side was a battle with Dave Hemmah winning 7 matches straight until being knocked out by Chris Robinson and forcing him to take 7th/8th. Chris Robinson went on to knock out Joey Chin, before losing to Attila Csorba, forcing him to take 4th place in the 93 player field. Csorba would now face a determined Cady for his chance in the finals. Cady out played Csorba winning 9-5 and giving him another chance at Dominguez in the finals. 
 
During the finals, each player struggled with the break, forcing several dry breaks and push outs. In the end Dominguez took advantage of every error Cady made found himself winning 11-6. This was the first ever win for Dominguez on the MWST and would push him into the #1 spot in the point rankings.
 
The Mezz West State Tour would like to thank all their sponsors: Mezz Cues (Miki-Mezz.com), West State Billiard Supply (WestStateBilliards.com), Zan Tips (Zan-Tip.com), Taom Break/Jump Tips (TaomTips.com), Andy Cloth (AndyCloth.com), PiUs Company, So Cal Tap, Kurzweil Country Meats, fast&loose desgins (fastnloosedesigns.com), Contact Point Media, Turtle Rack, NYC Grind (NYCGrind.com) and AZ Billiards (AZBilliards.com). 
We would also like to thank owners Jerry and Peggy Matchin, along with the entire Stiix Ventura Billiards staff for hosting the event. We would also like to thank all the players for coming out and supporting the tour. 

Morris wins Mezz West State Tour Stop 2

Rodney Morris

The Mezz West State Tour held its second stop in beautiful Northridge, CA over the weekend of May 9th and 10th. This 9 ball event attracted 90 players, including Mika Immonen, Oscar Dominguez, Rodney Morris and Vilmos Foldes. This event was held at Plush Pocket Billiards, which is an old school style pool room which has 17 nine foot tables and 3 Diamond bar tables. 
 
The event started with a heavy hitter top and bottom bracket. The top bracket held big gun players; Brian Parks, Fach Garcia, Oscar Dominguez, Mika Immonen and Johnny Kang. Making their way through the top half of the upper bracket was Fach Garcia who had wins over Justin Marks, Jaden Brock, Al Moreno and Attile Corsba. He was met in the final four winners by Oscar Dominguez who had wins over James Harris, Laurie Butera, Sal Butera, and Mika Immonen. Garcia was up early leading 7-2. But in true Dominguez style Oscar grinded back to eventually win 9-7 sending him to the hot seat match. 
 
The lower bracket was even tougher with heavy hitters like Rodney Morris, Melissa Herndon, Vilmos Foldes, Danny Gohkul, Dave Hemmah and Ernesto Dominguez. Melissa Herndon showed her dominance with wins over Dave Hemmah, Shaun Smallwood, Manny Herrea, Henry Bodt and Aaron Estrada. She was met in the final four winners by “Rocket” Rodney Morris who had wins over Dave Martineau, Jeremy Long, Danny Gohkul and Vilmos Foldes. This was tight match with it tied at 3, 4 and 5. Eventually the “Rocket” took off, winning 9-6.  
 
Meanwhile on the losers side, Beau Runningen, Billy Dyke, Brian Parks, Jerry Lin, Johnny Kang, Ernesto Dominguez and Dave Hemmah were all duking it out. Beau Runningen made a tough fight winning four matches on the losers side before being beaten by Attila Corsba, forcing him to settle for 9th-12th. Attila then moved on to face “Iceman” Mika Immonen who was on fire and ran through him 9-3.  Mika would continue his streak by beating Melissa Herndon and then Dave Hemmah. Dave Hemmah had a great run with wins over Fach Garcia, Aaron Estrada, Vilmos Foldes, Johnny Kang, Sal Butera, Lawerence Rocheda and Mark Anthony. His loss to Immonen forced him to settle for 4th place. 
 
The hot seat match between Rodney Morris and Oscar Dominguez was a nail biter, with several break and runs, along with phenomenal safety play. The match went hill-hill, with Rodney Morris coming away with the win. This sent Dominguez to the 3rd place match to face Immonen. This match was heavily one sided and we did not see Immonen in his best performance, allowing Dominguez to win 9-2 and sending him to a rematch with Morris in the finals. 
 
The finals are an extended race to eleven and both Dominguez and Morris both breaking and running almost every rack. Both players played what could have been a 900 Accu- Stats. The match was tied the entire time at 7-7, 8-8,  9-9 and 10-10 (hill-hill). In the hill-hill game Dominguez was breaking. Dominguez broke in 2 balls, but had a tough opening shot on the two. He opted to play safe, but Morris played a great safe back. Dominguez executed an incredible kick-safe. Morris then kicked but accidentally made the two ball and was hooked on the three ball. Morris made an incredible kick and left Dominguez a tough cut on the three down the rail. Instead of trying to fire the shot, Dominguez played a creative safety. Morris made a good hit and left Dominguez still in a tough spot. Dominguez made the three, the four and played safe on the five. Morris then jumped in the five and ran out, winning the hill-hill set. 
 
The Mezz West State Tour would like to thank all their sponsors: Mezz Cues (Miki-Mezz.com), West State Billiard Supply (WestStateBilliards.com), Zan Tips (Zan-Tip.com), Taom Break/Jump Tips (TaomTips.com), Andy Cloth (AndyCloth.com), PiUs Company, So Cal Tap, Kurzweil Country Meats, fast&loose desgins (fastnloosedesigns.com), Contact Point Media, Turtle Rack, NYC Grind (NYCGrind.com) and AZ Billiards (AZBilliards.com). 
 
We would also like to thank owner Steve, along with the entire Plush Pocket Billiards staff for hosting the event. We would also like to thank all the players for coming out and supporting the tour. 

Rodney Morris Wins Mezz West State Tour Season Opener

Rodney Morris

The Mezz West State Tour returned the weekend of April 25th and 26th to the beautiful Hard Times Billiards of Sacramento, California. The first season was a huge success averaging 88 players per event. This second season started off with a bang accumulating a total of 114 players shattering the all time high of 96 players. Among the locals, strong talent from all over the west coast was in attendance including players from Oregon, Nevada, and Arizona. The railbirds and locals were treated to a great display of pool by some great talent including "Rocket" Rodney Morris  and "Iceman" Mika Immonen, alongside tour regulars Oscar and Ernesto Dominguez, Johnny Kang, Beau Runningen, Sal Butera and Amar Kang.  Several top amateur players also made an apperance including Tommy "Too Good" Soria, Kevin May, Spike Aiardo, Mark Chernin and Rylan Hartnett
 
With a field loaded with killers, there was no such thing as a "soft draw". The top of half of the bracket contained Sacramento Hard Times house pro Carl Wilson, Corey Harper, Johnny Kang, Jason Williams, Melissa Herndon, Spike Aiardo, Beau Runningen, Mika Immonen, Tommy Soria and Amar Kang. Battling through the top of that bracket was Phoenix's own Spike Aiardo with wins over Brandon Boatman, Mark Chernin, Jason Williams and Carl Wilson to reach the final four winners side of the event. Meeting him in there was a tough Mika Immonen, who had found victories over Patrick McLoud, Dirk Grundman, Chong Vang, Tommy Soria and Amar Kang. This match was heavily one sided with Mika pulling away to win 9-4, securing his place for the hot seat match. 
 
Meanwhile in the bottom bracket, Ernesto Dominguez, Oscar Dominguez, Rodney Morris, Vilmos Foldes, Jaynard Orque, Dave Hemmah, Bobby Emmons, Paul Silva and Sal Butera all battled it out. Coming through the top of that bracket was Oscar Dominguez with wins over Zaldy Rosaluna, Mike Mitchell, Paul Silva and Ernesto Dominguez to put him in the final four winner side. Vilmos Foldes was waiting for him in the bottom portion of the bracket with tough wins over Emerson Joiner, Dave Gomez, Rylan Hartnett and Rodney Morris. Foldes had Dominguez down 6 to 1 in the blink of an eye, but Dominguez showed heart grinding back to win 9-7 and securing his spot in the hotseat match to face Immonen.
 
The hotseat was one sided with Dominguez breaking and running 4 racks on Immonen, allowing him to find victory 9-4. Mika would then travel to the one loss side to battle a tough Rodney Morris for his second shot at the finals. Rocket was in dead stroke at this point with wins over Tommy Soria, Geoff Somer, Spike Airado and Amar Kang. Immonen and Morris exchanged break and runs back and forth until it was 4-4. Rodney slowly pulled away winning 9-5. The finals are one extended race to 11 and Morris handled an exhausted Dominguez very easily winning the event 11-4. 
 
This Mezz West State Tour would like to thank all their sponsors: Mezz Cues (Miki-Mezz.com), West State Billiard Supply (WestStateBilliards.com), Zan Tips (Zan-Tip.com), Taom Break/Jump Tips (TaomTips.com), Andy Cloth (AndyCloth.com), PiUs Company, So Cal Tap, Kurzweil Country Meats, fast&loose desgins (fastnloosedesigns.com), Contact Point Media, Turtle Rack, NYC Grind (NYCGrind.com) and AZ Billiards (AZBilliards.com). 
We would also like to thank Karen, Mike and Rachel Markulis, along with the entire Hard Times Billiards staff for hosting the event. We would also like to thank all the players for coming out and supporting the tour. 

Bezdan Wins Mezz West State Tour Top Gun Event

After 11 events on the Mezz West State Tour, a total of 32 invited players came to Hard Times Billiards in Bellflower, CA to compete in the year end event for its 12th and final event of Season 1. The invited players were chosen based off a points system based off the Camel Pro Tour rankings. The top players accumulated points based off their performances to play in a special year end event of $2000 added prize money plus the membership dues collected throughout the season which totaled to 5750 off of 231 total members. In addition, as a bonus, the top 16 ranked players did not pay an entry fee while the 17-32nd ranked players paid a standard $65 entry fee.
 
The top half of the board was led by co founder of the MWST, Oscar Dominguez with wins over the Filipino veteran, Ramon Mistica 9-4, followed by wins over Johnny Kang 9-4, Dave Hemmah 9-5, and Ernesto Dominguez 9-0, to lead up to the hot seat match. The bottom half of the bracket was dominated by Hungarian sharpshooter, Attila Bezdan, with wins over Phil Prentice 9-3, Ramin Bahktiari 9-3, Melissa Herndon 9-4, and road companion Vilmos Foldes 9-4. The hot seat match was one sided as Attila came out firing balls in from all angles putting pressure on Dominguez. After a few failed safeties, Attila ran away with the match with a 9-5 score. 
 
Meanwhile on the losers side, Rodrigo Geronimo who lost his first match to Tang Hoa 8-4, had grinded through seven matches against Kevin May 9-3, Beau Runningen 9-7, Chris Fangre 9-3, Melissa Herndon 9-5, Tang Hoa 9-4,Ernesto Domiguez 9-4 and Ruben Bautista 9-7 to reach the 3rd place match against Oscar Dominguez. Rodrigo looked hungry to reach the finals and took a quick 5-1 lead over Dominguez. It wasnt until Geronimo missed a crucial 2 ball in the side pocket to widen the lead to 6-1 that Dominguez had a chance to take control of the table. Winning that game and then the next 3, Dominguez was able to tie it up 5. The following 6 games were each nail biters, with each player playing inspirational kick, jump and safety shots. Dominguez fell behind once again 7-5, but in his true fashion, showed a lot of heart to come back and win the match 9-7 sending him back to the finals to seek revenge on Bezdan.
 
The finals was one to be seen. Bezdan played flawless, only missing two balls the entire set. He pocketed every ball on the table as if they had eyes and controlled the cue ball at a top notch level. His break was also in top gear, leaving Dominguez helpless. Attila Bezdan went on to easily win the set 8-2. His victory was well deserved, as he was the best player on this day.  All of us on the Mezz West State Tour will surely miss him next season and would like to congratulate him on his very great accomplishment. 
 
We would like to again thank all of the players and sponsors who make all of this possible: Mezz Cues (miki-mezz.com), West State Billiards Supply (weststatebilliardsupply.com), ZAN tips (Zan-tip.com), Kurzweils Country Meats (kurzweilscountrymeats.com), AZbilliards.com, NYCGrind.com, POVPool.com, Marty Carey Jump Q, ontherailtv.com, Turtle Racks, and fast&loose designs.