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Gerson Martinez & Mary Rakin Tam Crowned Texas Open 10 Ball Champs

Gerson Martinez (Pool Action TV)

Skinny Bob’s Billiards & Sports Bar in Round Rock, TX was the venue for the 7th Annual Texas Open 10 Ball Championships. 

Produced by Cue & A Promotions, this event featured three divisions – the $2,000 added Scotch Doubles, the $2,000 added Ladies 10 Ball and the 10,000 added 10 Ball Open. A total of $15,750 was added to the prize fund.

Local sponsors included Mints Amusements, Hanshew Jump Cues, Austin Pro Siding, Windows & Roofing, GAF, DigitalPool.com and ABC Supply Co., Inc.

The tournament began on Wednesday night with a $500 added 10 Ball mini tournament. This $25 entry single elimination race to three event had a full field of 64 players. Hailing from Sarajevo, Bosnia, Sanjin Pehlivanovic took the cheese. Defending US Open Pool champ Carlo Biado took second while Lima, Peru’s Gerson Martinez and Roland Garcia each tied for third place.

Following a players meeting and auction, play commenced on Thursday afternoon in the Jack & Jill Scotch Doubles 10 Ball Championship. Twenty three teams posted $125 entry fees to play in this double elimination, race to seven event. 

Continuing his hot streak, Carlo Biado and his partner, Mary Rakin Tam took first place over Alex Pagulayan and April Larson.

Thursday evening also featured the $500 added Banks Ring Game. At the end, Denmark’s Mickey Krause, John Morra and Manny Chau did a three-way chop of the cash.

Carlo Biado and Mary Rakin Tam (Pool Action TV)

Friday began with both a $500 added Open Ring Game and a $250 added Ladies Ring Game. John Morra won the Open Ring Game and the Ladies was won by Jenna Bishoff.

Later that evening, a players meeting and auction kicked off the main event. 125 players paid their $150 entry fees into this double elimination, race to seven with alternate break format. Play began the following day.

Meeting in the first round, Roland Garcia edged out Josh Roberts 7-6 and Alex Pagulayan defeated Evan Lunda 7-3.

Second round action saw Lee Vann Corteza spank John Gabriel 7-2 as Gerson Martinez squeaked by Sergio Rivas 7-6. Robbie Capito eked out a 7-6 win over recent Music City Open champ Shane Wolford, Singapore’s Sarik Sayed trounced local favorite Justin Espinosa 7-2 while Pagulayan toughed out his match with Pehlivanovic 7-5. 

In the third round, straight shooting veteran Tommy Sanders shot down Blaine Barcus 7-3 as did Biado over Krause with an identical score. Gerson Martinez sent Lee Vann west 7-4 while Sean Black upset the legendary David Matlock 7-5.  John Morra blistered Shane McMinn 7-2 while Manny Chau sent Michael Yednak packing 7-3. Fellow Houstonians Roberto Gomez and Tommy Tokoph duked it out with Tommy emerging the victor 7-3 and Sayed lost to Pagulayan 7-4.

Matches in the fourth round saw Sanders bow to Krause 7-4 and Chris Reinhold lose to Gerson Martinez by the same score. Morra toasted Sean Black as did Chip Compton versus Nicholas De Leon – both matches were 7-3. Sending another Houstonian to the one loss side, Tokoph bested Chau 7-5 – Capito went down to Pagulayan 7-4.

Round five had Gerson Martinez mowing down Krause 7-4 and Tokoph easing past Christopher Teves 7-3. With identical 7-1 scores, Pagulayan bested Souto as did Tokoph over Christopher Tevez.

Now down to four players on the winners side, Gerson Martinez defeated Morra 7-5 while Pagulayan beat Tokoph 7-3. Both Alex and Gerson moved into the hot seat match as their opponents headed west.

Saturday evening saw the players meeting and auction for the Ladies 10 Ball event. A full field of 32 players posted a $100 entry – same format as the Open 10 Ball.

Notable first round matches included perennial favorite Ming Ng’s victory over Kelly Durbin 7-5 with both Kim Sanders edging out Mary Avina and Margaret Fox over Tam Trinh 7-6. 

Second round action saw Jenna Bishoff eke out a win over Jennifer Kraber 7-6 as Mary Rakin Tam defeated Ng by the same score. Sanders defeated Emily Sumrall 7-3 and Melissa Rushton took care of Fox 7-4.

After skunking her two previous opponents, April Larson had a bit of a tougher time with Kim Pierce – April won 7-3. Tam sent Bishoff packing 7-5, Chris Fields pummeled Rachel Hurst 7-1 and Rushton notched another win over Sanders 7-5.

Down to four on the winners side, Tam sneaked past Larson 7-5 and Fields beat Rushton 7-4. Both Tam and Fields advanced to the hot seat match. Mary handily beat Chris 7-2 and claimed her seat in the finals. Chris headed west to await an opponent.

On the one loss side, Bishoff defeated Rushton 7-4 while Larson eliminated Trinh 7-5. Larson won her match with Bishoff 7-4 leaving Jenna in fourth place. April then defeated Chris 7-2 to move into the finals. Chris finished with a third place finish.

Since this was true double elimination, April would have to defeat Mary twice to claim the title. However, it was not to be as April was relegated to a well-deserved second place finish and Mary went undefeated to claim her first Texas Open 10 Ball title!!! 

Meanwhile, the Open 10 Ball was winding down to its last few players! In the hot seat match, Gerson Martinez mowed down his last opponent to lock up his berth in the finals. Pagulayan lost 7-4 and headed to the other side of the chart to await an opponent.

Lee Vann Corteza ended Tommy Tokoph’s hopes for the title 7-3 as John Morra did the same to Jonas Souto 7-3. Lee Vann and John locked horns and battled it out to a 7-6 result. Leaving Lee Vann in fourth place, Morra’s next opponent was fellow Canadian, Alex Pagulayan. Also a tough one, John emerged to take on Gerson for the title. Alex finished in third place.

Again, as this was true double elimination, Morra would have to defeat Martinez twice to win the title. The match started out close until John pulled away to close out the first set 7-4. The final set was also close but this time, Gerson pulled away to put him one game away from the title – 6-4. John clawed back to win another game but that was it. Gerson won the final game & the title leaving John with a well deserved runner-up finish!  

Congratulations to both Gerson Martinez and Mary Rakin Tam – this year’s Texas Open 10 Ball champions!!!

PoolActionTV.com would like to thank owners Kim and Tracy Sanders as well as their General Manager, Shayla Neris, and their staff for rolling out the red carpet for all of the players and fans.

Thank you to Tournament Director Jason Hill for doing an exemplary job juggling all the various events.  

We’d like to thank Blake Kamiab, Clint Palaci and David (“Doc”) Reyes for running the DFW Tour setup broadcasting the ladies event on our free channel. 

We’d also like to thank Larry Schwartz, Michael Yednak, Alex Pagulayan, Mary Kenniston and Ray Hansen for their expert commentary.

And, last but not least, we’d like to thank our sponsors and fans. Our sponsors include JB Cases, Hanshew Jump Cues, StraightPoolEye, Lomax Custom Cues, Diamond Billiard Products, Aramith, Simonis, Durbin Custom Cues, the Action Palace of Dayton, OH and the Fort Worth Billiards Superstore of Fort Worth, TX. 

Our next event is the 5th Annual Scotty Townsend Memorial in West Monroe, LA featuring three divisions – Pro One Pocket, Open 9 Ball and Women’s 9 Ball. The dates are March 1st-6th. Hope to see you there!!!

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Liu goes undefeated on 20th Anniversary celebration and season finale of NWPA Tour

Kim Jones, Jing Liu, Melissa Rushton and TD Chris Rogers

It was kind of a “hello/goodbye” situation.

On the weekend of Dec. 11-12, the North American Women’s Pool Association (NWPA) returned to the tables after a year-plus hiatus, courtesy of the pandemic. It returned with a new President – Stephanie Drakulic (née Hefner) – who, immediately upon recognizing that 2021 was actually the tour’s 20th anniversary (Sept., 2001), decided that the tour would celebrate that anniversary in style.

“I knew I wanted a kick-ass banquet with delicious food,” she wrote in a Facebook post of her thoughts when she ascended to the presidency of the tour in early 2020. “I wanted a big turnout. A HUGE celebration!”

“And then,” she added, “COVID hit and laughed at me for making plans.”

In June of this year, she detected a “shift,” as mask mandates were reduced and vaccination availability was widespread. Her desire for a 20th anniversary celebration had survived and she started making plans, which culminated in the Dec. 11-12, $550-added event that was, in effect, the only event of the year and thus, the season opener and finale, simultaneously. The event drew 33 entrants to Golden Fleece Billiards in Everett, WA. 

For the winner, it was kind of a “hello”/“I’m back” situation. Jing Liu went undefeated through the field, chalking up her first (recorded) win anywhere since she’d won the NWPA’s 5th Annual Martha Hartsell Memorial, back in April, 2015, downing Liz Cole in the finals. Half of Liu’s six opponents in the most recent event forced a single, deciding match against her, including the last one, when she and Melissa Rushton battled for the title.

Liu and Rushton advanced through the field to arrive at their winners’ side semifinal matches. Rushton, who’d just sent the aforementioned Liz Cole to the loss side, faced Nicole Donisi, while Liu squared off against the aforementioned new President of the NWPA, Stephanie Drakulic. 

Both matches for advancement to the hot seat match went double hill. Rushton played her first of two double hill matches in the event, sending Donisi to the loss side, while Liu played her second double hill match and sent Drakulic west. In their first of two, Liu claimed the hot seat 7-4 over Rushton and waited on her return.

On the loss side, Donisi picked up Suzanne Smith, who’d lost a winners’ side quarterfinal to Drakulic and then downed Tamre Rogers 6-2 and Andy Camping 6-3. Drakulic drew Cassie Francois, who’d lost her opening match to Rushton and was working on a six-match, loss-side winning streak that had recently eliminated Jo Woodward 6-4 and Kim Jones 6-3.

The potential Smith/Drakulic rematch did not happen. Smith got by Donisi 6-3, but Francois advanced one more step, downing Drakulic 6-4. Smith put an end to Francois’ loss-side trip 6-4 in the quarterfinals, only to have her own loss-side journey halted by Rushton 6-3 in the semifinals. Befitting the occasion, the “hello/goodbye” season opener and finale, along with the 20th anniversary of the tour ended with a double hill match, won by Liu to claim the title.

Drakulic and tour director Chris Rogers thanked the ownership and staff at Golden Fleece Billiards for their hospitality, as well as sponsors BCA Pool League’s Players Club Limited, Coava Coffee, OX Billiards, Robin Dreyer Billiards Instruction, Jam Up Apparel and Nicole Donisi Designs for her graphic arts work associated with an overhaul of NWPA designs for the tour’s flyers.

“Getting to compete alongside and with so many fantastic players is an honor and a privilege,” wrote President Drakulic on her Facebook page after the event. “Getting to be a part of this tour and help guide it and push it forward, is one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.”

“I love the NWPA,” she added, “and I love being a part of an organization with so much history and dedication to growing women’s pool.”

According to Drakulic, the full schedule of NWPA events for 2022 is still a work in progress. Check back with the AZBilliards calendar where that schedule will be posted as soon as it becomes available. Questions may be directed to NWPA’s e-mail account at playnwpa@gmail.com.

Cole goes undefeated to win Northwest Women’s Pool Association’s season opener

(l to r): Chris Rogers (TD), Liz Cole, Cindy Sliva & Mike Bean (Legends owner)

Under the leadership of a new President, Stephanie Hefner, the Northwest Womens’s Pool Association (NWPA) opened its 2020 season with a $1,000-added, 10-ball stop at Legends Billiards Room in Beaverton, OR last weekend (Feb. 22-23). Hefner, who won the NAPT Division II Championships the previous weekend (Feb.16-17) in Phoenix, AZ, won this most recent event’s Second Chance tournament while finishing in the tie for 17th in the main event. Liz Cole, a long-time competitor on the tour went undefeated through the field of 56 entrants. Cole faced different opponents in the hot seat and finals, but battled another veteran tour competitor, Cindy Sliva, twice to claim the title.
 
Cole opened up with victories over Claire Lewis 6-1, Stacie Larson 6-2 and shut out Cindy Doty before running into Sliva for the first time in the winners’ side quarterfinal. Cole sent Sliva to the loss side 6-3 and drew Melissa Rushton in one of the winners’ side semifinals. Kira North, in the meantime, squared off against Donna Kingsbury in the other one.
 
North and Cole advanced to the hot seat match; North, 6-2 over Kingsbury and Cole, 6-3 over Rushton. Cole downed North 6-3 to claim the hot seat.
 
Cindy Sliva had opened her loss-side campaign with two 6-3 victories over MaryBeth Johnson and Deby Welfringer to pick up Kingsbury. Rushton drew Robin Adams, who’d been defeated by Sliva in the event’s third round and was in the midst of a four-match, loss-side winning streak that had entailed three double hill wins for her. With two of those double hill wins behind her, Adams downed Joyce Robinson 6-3 and then, chalked up her third double hill win, against Shirley Morgan to reach Rushton.
 
Rushton spoiled Adams’ bid for a rematch against Sliva and ended her streak 6-4 to advance to the quarterfinals. She was joined by Sliva, who’d defeated Kingsbury 6-1. Rushton put up a fight in those quarterfinals, falling just a game short of double hill, but Sliva prevailed 6-4 and then, gave up just a single rack to North in the semifinals.
 
Cole completed her undefeated run with a strong victory in the finals. She gave up only two racks and claimed the title 9-2 over Sliva.
 
Tour director Chris Rogers thanked the ownership and staff at Legends Billiards for their hospitality. The next stop on the NWPA Tour will be the Martha Harstell Memorial Tournament, a 9-ball event, scheduled for the weekend of March 28-29, to be hosted by The Cue Ball in Salem, OR.