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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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The Grinder (aka April Larson) wins third On the Ball Ladies Tour stop in Houston, TX

Robyn Petrosino, April Larson, Michelle Cortez and Michelle Yim

Combined with her second straight and third overall win on the 2022 On The Ball (OTB) Ladies Tour in Texas this past weekend (Sat., Oct. 15), April Larson has won six of the 10 events in which she has cashed this year. She had previously won in May (Stop #3) and in September (Stop #5), adding to wins at the Scotty Townsend Memorial and the Midwest Open, both in March. Her victory over Melissa Helland in a 9-Ball Challenge Match in April rounds out the six event victories for her, while her two 2nd and 3rd place finishes completes the list of 10 in which she’s cashed.

The Grinder made it to the hot seat undefeated, downing Robyn Petrosino in the winners’ side final. She lost the first set of a true double elimination final to Michelle Cortez, who’d won five on the loss side to challenge her, and then, in a double hill fight, won the second set to claim the title. The event drew a short field of 12 entrants to R House Bar & Grill in Houston, TX.

Larson made it to the hot seat with an aggregate score of 28-7 (80%). Three of the seven game losses came as a result of her opening match versus veteran Ming Ng. Larson advanced from that match to down Christy Grigsby (1) and draw Terry Petrosino in one of the winners’ side semifinals. Robyn Petrosino, in the meantime, got by Michelle Yim 7-4 and tour director Teresa Garland 7-5 to arrive at her winners’ side semifinal against Chris Fields.

Larson defeated Terry Petrosino 7-1 as Robyn Petrosino sent Chris Fields to the loss side 7-4. Larson claimed the hot seat 7-2 over Robyn and waited for Cortez to complete her loss-side run.

Following her 7-1, opening-round loss to Natalie Mans, Cortez advanced on the loss side through Garland 7-3 and Ming Ng 7-1 to draw Terry Petrosino. Fields picked up Michelle Yim, who’d survived a double hill match versus Natalie Mans and then downed Vania Davila 7-3 to reach her.

Cortez defeated Terry Petrosino 7-2, as Yim stayed busy and eventually won a double hill fight against Fields. Cortez won the quarterfinals that followed 7-5 over Yim and completed her loss-side trip 7-3 over Robyn Petrosino in the semifinals.

In winning the opening set of the true double elimination final, Cortez chalked up as many racks as all of Larson’s previous opponents combined. The 7-4 Cortez win forced a second set that went double hill before Larson prevailed to claim the event title.

Tour representatives thanked the ownership and staff at R House Bar & Grill for their hospitality, as well as title sponsor On the Ball Co. for their continuing support of the tour. They also gave a “shout out” to Lonnie Best and Lisa Bailey with Backward Billiards “for jumping on board to do the live streaming.”

The On the Ball Ladies Tour’s season finale, scheduled for the weekend of November 19-20, will be a $3,000-added event, hosted by Skinny Bob’s Billiards in Round Rock, TX. The tour will crown its 2022 Champion at the event. 

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The Grinder goes undefeated to take Stop #3 of On The Ball Ladies Tour in Texas

April Larson

April Larson, aka The Grinder, has come a long way from winning her first pro event, back in August of 2016. She’d represented the USA that year in the Atlantic Cup Challenge, a Mosconi Cup-type event for junior competitors, and won her fifth BEF Junior Nationals title earlier that summer. The victory on the North American Pool Tour’s Summer 10-Ball Classic rendered her literally speechless, when she was handed the winning check. She’d actually been fascinated by the trophy and when she’d collected that, had completely forgotten about the money that went along with it, presented to her sometime later by NAPT’s Adrianne Beach.

Now, she’s the house pro at Stixx and Stones Billiards in Lewisville, TX and is in the midst of trying to duplicate her best earnings year (2018) since that first win, six years ago. She’s just a little more than half-way to her 2018 earnings at the table, having won three events so far this year, and it’s only May. In February, she was runner-up to Mary Rakin in the 7th Annual Texas Open’s Ladies 10-Ball event, before winning both the Ladies Division of the Scotty Townsend Memorial and the 2022 Midwest Ladies Open in March. In April, she chalked up a 9-ball challenge victory over Melissa Helland.

This past weekend (May 14-15), Larson signed on to the On the Ball Ladies Tour for its third stop of the year and went undefeated through a field of 29 entrants to claim the title. The $2,000-added event was hosted by Skinny Bob’s in Round Rock, TX.

Larson’s trip to the winners’ circle was almost derailed, or to be more accurate, sidetracked early. She defeated Edwidge Cavanna 7-2 in the opening round before having to battle through two straight double hill matches, against Nicole McDaniel and Michelle Yim, which set her up for a winners’ side semifinal against Kim Sanders. Chris Fields, in the meantime, who’d face Larson twice before all was said and done, opened with a 7-2 win, as well, against Ruth Paine and advanced to down Ximena Duarte 7-4 and Ming Ng, double hill, to arrive at her winners’ side semifinal against Jennifer Kraber.

Larson, apparently having had quite enough of double hill matches for the day, shut Sanders out and advanced to the hot seat match. She was joined by Fields, who sent Kraber to the loss side 7-2. Larson gave up only a single rack to Fields and claimed the hot seat.

On the loss side, Kraber picked up Jenna Bishoff, who’d lost her opening round match to McDaniel and went on a five-match, loss-side winning streak that had recently eliminated Mille Almarez 7-5 and Michelle Yim 7-3. Sanders drew a rematch against Cristina Schneider, whom she’d sent to the loss side in the second round and was in the midst of a four-match, loss-side run that included most recent wins over Ming Ng 7-3 and Angie Payne 7-2.

Bishoff and Schneider had their loss-side winning streaks ended by Kraber and Sanders, in completely different ways. In advancing to the quarterfinals, Sanders gave up only a single rack to Schneider. Bishoff fought Kraber to a 13th deciding game before Kraber prevailed to join Sanders in those quarterfinals.

Sanders then defeated Kraber 7-4, only to be downed by Fields in the semifinals 7-2. Though Fields would do considerably better against Larson in the finals than she had in the hot seat match, Larson edged out in front near the end of the final match, claiming the event title 7-5.

As may be noted in the accompanying photo, Larson remembered her check this time.

The next stop (#4) on the On the Ball Ladies Tour is scheduled for the weekend of July 24-25 and will be hosted by Betsy’s Billiards in Austin, TX. 

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Fields comes from the loss side to double dip Ng in finals of OTB Ladies Tour

Ming Ng and Chris Fields

Chris Fields, no stranger to the felt since she first started recording payouts on Florida’s Flamingo and Bay Area Amateur tours 12 years ago, chalked up her first win in just over two years when she came from the loss side to meet and defeat Ming Ng in the finals of a stop on the Texas-based (as is Fields) On The Ball Ladies Tour this past weekend (March 12-13). Her last (recorded) win came on the DFW 9-Ball Tour’s Women’s Finale in October, 2020, when, through six matches, she chalked up an aggregate score of 36-6. At this recent event, Fields had that many racks, plus one, scored against her in her second round of play, which sent her to the loss side for more; more ‘for’ than ‘against’ as it turned out on that side of the bracket. The $2,000-added event drew 34 entrants to Betsy’s Billiards in Austin, TX.

Fields got by her opening match okay, shutting out Leigh Constant, but ran into Kim Sanders in the second round, who fought her to double hill, before she (Sanders) prevailed, launching Fields into a seven-match, loss-side winning streak that eventually led her back to hot seat occupant Ming Ng.

Ng, part of a hot-seat-match pair of what might be aptly described as ‘heavy hitters’ on the Texas Ladies Pool scene, had opened her bid for the title with a double hill win over Angie Payne and went on to defeat Cheyenne Valdez and Natalie Rocha before facing Kim Pierce in one of the winners’ side semifinals. The other member of the ‘heavy hitters’ pair was Jennifer Kraber, who’d gotten by Margaret Fox, Nicole McDaniel, and shut out Michelle Cortez in a winners’ side quarterfinal to face Michelle Yim in the other winners’ side semifinal.

Kraber downed Yim 7-2 and in the hot seat match, faced Ng, who’d sent Pierce to the loss side 7-5. Ng sent Kraber off to what would prove to be a fateful matchup in the semifinals, claiming the hot seat 7-4.

On the loss side, Yim drew Kim Sanders, who, following her loss to Pierce had defeated Angie Payne and Natalie Rocha, both 7-5. Pierce picked up Fields, four matches into her loss-side streak, which had recently eliminated Carmel Luttrell and Stephanie Reyes, both 7-1.

Fields advanced to the quarterfinals 7-5 over Pierce and was met by Yim, who’d survived a double hill fight versus Sanders, and was thus able to avoid a rematch against Fields. Fields eliminated Yim 7-4 in those quarterfinals and then, Kraber in the semifinals 7-3.

It was a true double elimination final, forcing Fields to win twice to claim the title. A predictable double hill battle characterized the opening set, won by Fields. Fields chalked up the second set 7-4 and claimed the event title.

A $100-added Best of the Rest event drew 10 entrants. Angie Payne took home the top prize, with Zoe Lozano as runner-up. 

Tour representatives thanked the ownership and staff at Betsy’s Billiards, as well as title sponsor On the Ball Co., which also provided streaming services for the event. The next stop (#3) of the On the Ball Ladies Tour, scheduled for the weekend of May 14-15, will be a $2,000-added event, hosted by Skinny Bob’s Billiards in Round Rock, TX. 

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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. 

World-class trio of Orcollo, Kiamco & Bustamante go 1, 2, 3 at 6th Annual Texas Open 10-Ball

Kraber goes undefeated to win her second Texas Women’s 10-Ball Championship

(l to r): John Palmore, Dennis Orcollo & James Davis, Sr.

Being Texas, it’s never enough to just hold an Open and Ladies 10-Ball tournament every year. Instead, Skinny Bob’s Billiards in Round Rock, TX hosts a six-day extravaganza (this year, from Feb. 12-17) that has a way of feeling like a month-long extravaganza, headlined by the annual Texas 10-Ball Open and Ladies 10-Ball Championships.

Things got underway on Wednesday, Feb. 12 with a 10-Ball mini-tournament, as more or less of a warm-up for events to come. On Thursday, the activity was a Scotch Doubles tournament that was eventually won by the team of Warren Kiamco and Ellen Robinson, who downed John Gabriel and Ellen Jones in the finals. Later in the day, a Banks/Rails game was won Sergio Rivas, who defeated John Demet in the finals. On Friday, an Open Ring game was won by Jeffrey DeLuna, with Sky Woodward as runner-up and John Gabriel in third place.

In the absence of a defending champion (Alex Pagulayan), a few relatively well-known Filipino competitors stepped in to fill the gap at the $4,000-added 6th Annual Texas Open 10-Ball, which got underway on Friday evening. Dennis Orcollo ended up going undefeated through the field. He downed Warren Kiamco twice (hot seat and finals) and waited patiently as Kiamco eliminated Francisco Bustamante in the semifinals. We’ll get back to them in a while, but first. . . the ladies.

The $1,000-added Ladies 10-Ball Championship, which drew 20 entrants, got underway on Saturday. Unlike the Open Championship, the Ladies event featured its defending champion, Gail Eaton. It was won by its 2018 champion, Jennifer Kraber, who went undefeated through the field, downing Courtney Peters twice, hot seat and finals.

Following victories over Kim Pierce, Kelly Jones and Rachel Hurst, Kraber moved into a winners’ side semifinal against Ming Ng. After being awarded an opening round bye, Peters downed Latonia Taylor and Michelle Yim, to draw Nicole McDaniel in the other winners’ side semifinal.

Kraber and Ng locked up in a double hill fight that eventually advanced Kraber to the hot seat match. She was joined by Peters, who’d defeated McDaniel 7-1. Kraber won the first of two versus Peters 7-3 and waited in the hot seat for her return.

On the loss side, Nicole McDaniel drew Kim Sanders, who’d recently eliminated defending champion Gail Eaton and Rachel Hurst, both 5-3. Ming Ng picked up Michelle Yim, who’d defeated Ellen Robinson 5-3 and Kelly Jones 5-2 to reach her.

Yim and Sanders handed Ng and McDaniel their second straight loss; Yim, 5-3 over Ng and Sanders shut McDaniel out to join Yim in the quarterfinals. Yim then did unto Sanders that which Sanders had most recently done to McDaniel; shut her out to advance.

In the semifinals that followed, Yim became the third shutout victim in a row and gave Peters a second shot at Kraber in the hot seat. Peters chalked up two more racks in the finals than she’d chalked up against Kraber in the hot seat match, but they weren’t enough, as Kraber completed her undefeated run 7-5 to claim the Ladies 10-Ball title.

Orcollo backs up Derby City Master of the Table title with undefeated run at Texas Open 10-Ball
It’s only February and Dennis Orcollo has pocketed money that would be the envy of most pool players to earn in an entire year. He finished 16th in the Derby City’s One Pocket Division, 3rd in the 9-Ball Division and won the 9-Ball Banks, all of which earned him the coveted Master of the Table title. All of this followed his victory at the Music City’s Midnight Madness Tournament and his runner-up finish (to Skyler Woodward) in the Music City’s Open Division. He didn’t get a chance to meet Woodward in this event, although Warren Kiamco did.

Robocop (as they call him) got by Kenny Loftis, John Gabriel, Justin Hall, Kevin Guimond and Junior Jueco by an aggregate score of 35-12, giving up just over two racks per match (on average). Orcollo drew Naoyuki Oi in one of the winners’ side semifinals.

Warren Kiamco, in the meantime, started his campaign out with back-to-back shutouts of Thomas Smith and Pat Castro. He then defeated Josh Roberts 7-1, Robert Gomez 7-3 and won a knock-down, drag-out, double hill match versus Sky Woodward (this event’s 2016 champion) to arrive at his winners’ side semifinal matchup with a 35-10 aggregate score and having given up an exact average of two racks per match. Kiamco squared off in his winners’ side semifinal against a very familiar opponent, Francisco Bustamante, who’d sent this event’s 2015 and 2017 champion, Manny Chau to the loss side.

Orcollo sent Oi to the loss side 7-2 and was joined in the hot seat match by Kiamco, who’d defeated Bustamante 7-4. Orcollo and Kiamco played an entertaining double hill hot seat match that eventually sent Kiamco to the semifinals and left Robocop in the hot seat.

On the loss side, Naoyuki Oi drew James Davis, Sr. (known as Strop, because he’s originally from Bastrop, TX), who’d recently defeated two strong opponents in a row to reach him; first Josh Roberts 7-4 and then, Sky Woodward 7-5. Bustamante picked up Roberto Gomez, who’d defeated Junior Jueco 7-1 and Sergio Rivas 7-3 to reach him.

Strop and Oi locked up in a double hill fight, eventually won by Strop. Bustamante joined Strop in the quarterfinals after eliminating Gomez 7-4. Bustamante then sent Davis, Sr. home 7-3 in those quarterfinals.

Those who thought that Bustamante and Kiamco would get into a double hill fight for a shot at Orcollo in the hot seat were disappointed. Kiamco gave up just a single rack and advanced to the finals 7-1 over Bustamante.

One might have been forgiven for believing that with that 7-1 momentum, the final rematch between Kiamco and Orcollo would have been something of an epic struggle. It wasn’t, really. Orcollo shut Kiamco out 7-0 to claim the event title.

Tour directors John Palmore and James Davis, Sr. thanked John and Sue Cielo and their Skinny Bob’s staff for their continued support of this event, to include their hands-on assistance with varied aspects of running the tournament; entries, money management, etc. In addition, noted Palmore, “Kaye Watson is the glue that holds everything together for (Davis) and I. She helps with bracket management and most importantly, that all the the money is correct coming in and going out.” They also thanked event sponsors Simonis, Hanshew Jump Cues and Sleep Inn.

Ng Takes Gulf Coast Tour Season Opener

Kim Reiner, Teresa Garland, Ming Ng, Natalie Rocha and Ellen Robinson

Ming Ng fought through a field of twenty-two, tough, female competitors, escaping Natalie Rocha in the second set of the true, double elimination final, to claim the first stop on the 2020 Gulf Coast Women’s Regional Billiards Tour.  
 
On January 4th, 2020, sponsors Cyclop Pool Balls, Poison by Predator Cues, APA of North Harris County, Alamo Billiards, Outsville Billiards, and the Tour’s newest sponsor, Team Straight Pool Eye, facilitated a successful event for the Gulf Coast Women’s Regional Billiards Tour, paying out $940 in prize money, for the one-day, $500 added, women’s 9-ball event. The tournament was held at the legendary Slick Willies Family Pool Hall, located at 5913 Westheimer, in Houston’s upscale, Galleria area. The Gulf Coast Tour would like to thank Slick Willies’ Director of Operations, David Kimmey, for signing on to another season of events for women pool players. “We are proud to be back at Slick Willies for a second year, and thank them for their continued support” said Kim Newsome, Gulf Coast Tour Founder and Director. Slick Willies will host four events in Houston, and one in San Antonio, during the 2020 season. The next event will be held at Diamond Sports Bar and Billiards in Port Arthur, Texas, on February 8th-9th. 
 
Ming “The Empress” Ng made her way to the winners’ side final four with wins over Brittany Kromer, 7-3, and Michelle Yim, 7-4, while Teresa “Princess of Pool” Garland defeated Sandra Melo, 7-2, and Kim Reiner, 7-5. Ellen Robinson bested newcomer, Louisiana Le, 7-6, and Verda Jones, 7-1, while Natalie Rocha ousted first-timer, Brenda Gunter, 7-1, Carmel Luttrell, 7-2, and Courtney Peters, 7-5. On the one-loss side, Sherry Hildebrand ended Sandra Melo, 5-3, but was eliminated in turn by Vada Selsor. Michelle Abernathy overcame Ginger Abadilla, 5-3, while Kromer handled Gunter, 5-2. Luttrell passed Matty Sword, 5-2, Stacy Berry dismissed Terri Resendez, 5-3, and Le denied Kim Woodworth, 5-1. Rounding out the final four on the one-loss side, Selsor defended against Hildebrand, but fell to Peters, 5-2, while Kromer took out Abernathy, 5-1, and Jones, 5-3. Berry sent home Luttrell, 5-2, but lost to Reiner, 5-4, while D’Andrea McQuirter derailed Le, 5-4, only to be taken out by Yim, 5-4. It was down to the final eight players, and the action was heating up on the east side. Vying for the hot seat, Rocha dealt Robinson her first blow, while Ng shut-out Garland, pitting two of the finest, Houston players, in a hot seat showdown. Rocha was determined to change the narrative, but Ng resisted, and forged ahead to win the hot seat, 7-4. On the west side, Peters plowed through Kromer, 5-1, but was stopped by Garland, 5-4, as Reiner finished off Abernathy, 5-4, but fell to Robinson, 5-3. Final four tournament action witnessed Robinson conquer Garland, 5-2, but failing to advance further, losing to Rocha, 5-2. Rocha earned a rematch with Ng, along with a shot at redemption, and the title. In the first set, Rocha came on strong, defeating the current Tour champion, 7-5. In overtime, Ng shifted gears, defeating Rocha, 5-2, to win the Gulf Coast Tour, 2020 Season Opener.
 
Gulf Coast welcomes all of its new members, and returning members, to the 2020 Tour! The Tour offers a number of member perks, including free, 15-minute pool clinics on tournament weekends, hosted by WPBA Exempt Professional, Kim Newsome, and renowned players, Ming Ng, and Kim Pierce. Clinics are aimed at helping women improve their overall game and mindset. For more information about Tour benefits, please visit www.GulfCoastWomensTour.com.
 
Board Members Ming Ng and D’Andrea McQuirter, along with Ellen Robinson and Teresa Garland, ran a seamless event, while Ginger Abadilla photographed the players in action. The Tour would like to thank these wonderful women for a job well done.
 
The next event is February 8th-9th, 2020 at Diamond Sports Bar and Billiards in Port Arthur, Texas.  This event is played on open bar tables. For more information, visit www.GulfCoastWomensTour.com. 

 

Bishoff takes two out of three versus Kraber to win Jerry Olivier Ladies’ Tour season finale

(l to r): Winner Jenna Bishoff & Tour Champion Kim Pierce

Looking for her second 2019 tour victory, her first having come on the North Central Pool Tour in Illinois (August), Jenna Bishoff shifted south a bit to join the Jerry Olivier Ladies Tour in League City, TX for its 7th tour stop and season finale, where she met up with Jennifer Kraber three times. The last two meetings were in the finals where Bishoff double-dipped Kraber to claim the event title. The $3,000-added event drew 45 entrants to Legends Billiards in League City.
 
Following victories over Natalie Rocha, Yvonne Asher, Ming Ng and Michelle Yim, Bishoff advanced to her first meeting with Kraber in one of the winners’ side semifinals. Kraber had gotten by Regina Gomez, Gail Roles, Aryana Lynch, and Calaia Jackson to draw Bishoff. Kim Sanders, in the meantime, faced off against tour director Teresa Garland in the other winners’ side semifinal.
 
Kraber won the first of three versus Bishoff 7-5 and in the hot seat match, faced Sanders who’d sent Garland west 7-4. Kraber gave up only a single rack to Sanders in the match that followed, winning what proved to be her last match and claiming the hot seat.
 
Over on the loss side, Bishoff picked up Autumn Duncan, who’d been sent to the loss side in the second round by Michelle Cortez in a double hill fight and was in the midst of a seven-match, loss-side winning streak that included recent victories over Belinda Lee 7-1 and Kim Pierce 7-2, and was about to come to an end. Garland drew Janeen Lee, who’d recently eliminated Calaia Jackson and Michelle Cortez, both 7-5.
 
Bishoff’s bid for a rematch against Kraber in the hot seat was almost stopped by Duncan, who battled her to double hill before giving way and settling for the two-way tie for 5th place. Lee, in the meantime, defeated Garland 7-5 to join Bishoff in the quarterfinals.
 
Bishoff then chalked up three straight 7-2 wins; against Lee in the quarterfinals, Sanders in the semifinals and Kraber in the opening set of the true double elimination finals. Bishoff punctuated her run with a shutout over Kraber in the second set of the finals to claim the tour’s season finale title.
 
In what was described as a “battle to the (tour) finish line,” Kim Pierce was announced as the 2019 Jerry Olivier Ladies Tour Champion. Kelly Jones was identified as the tour’s Most Improved Player, while Calaia Jackson picked up the Best Sportsmanship Award; all were awarded trophies for the accomplishment. Pierce and Jones received free entries for 2020. Jackson will receive one free entry. Jennifer Kraber received a $50 scratch-off ticket at the tour’s player with the most break-and-runs. Jackson was identified as the competitor with the season’s most 9-on-the-breaks.
 
Tour representatives thanked Mindy and Craig Cohen and their Legends staff, as well as title sponsor Jerry Olivier Custom Cues and tour affiliates Mz Tam and Strokin’ Billiards.

Kraber records her first 2019 victory, going undefeated on Jerry Olivier Ladies Tour

Jennifer Kraber

It was her first (recorded) victory on the Jerry Olivier Ladies Tour since its debut in March of last year, when she went undefeated to claim the inaugural tour title. On the weekend of October 19-20, Jennifer Kraber joined 21 competitors for the 6th stop on the 2019 tour and went undefeated through the field, downing Michelle Cortez twice to claim the event title. The $2,000-added event was hosted by Fast Eddie’s Billiards in Embassy Oaks, TX.
 
Following an opening round bye, Kraber chalked up wins over Michelle Yim 7-4 and Angie Payne 7-2 to arrive at a winners’ side semifinal match against Kelly Jones. Cortez, in the meantime, after her opening round bye, got by Ellen Robinson and Teresa Garland, both 7-5, to draw Rachel Hurst in the other winners’ side semifinal.
 
Kraber moved into the hot seat match with a 7-4 win over Jones and was joined by Cortez, who’d sent Hurst to the loss side 7-3. Kraber and Cortez battled to double hill in their struggle for the hot seat before Kraber prevailed and Cortez moved over to the semifinals.
 
Jones and Hurst arrived on the loss side of the bracket and immediately picked up their second straight loss; Jones, falling 7-5 to Kim Pierce, who’d defeated Gail Roles 7-1 and Michelle Yim 7-3 to reach her and Hurst, defeated by Ellen Robinson, who’d eliminated Angie Payne 7-4 and Tam Trinh 7-2.
 
Robinson won the quarterfinal match that followed 7-3, but had her six-match, loss-side winning streak ended by Cortez 7-4 in the semifinals. By the same score, Cortez had her single-match, loss-side winning streak ended by Kraber in the finals, who claimed the event title.
 
Tour representatives thanked the ownership and staff at Fast Eddie’s as well as title sponsor Jerry Olivier Custom Cues and MZTam.com. The next stop on the Jerry Olivier Ladies Tour (#7), scheduled for the weekend of November 16-17, will be the tour’s Season Finale, hosted by Legends Billiards in League City, TX. 

Jones goes undefeated second straight time to take Stop #4 on the Jerry Olivier Ladies Tour

(l to r): Kim Pierce, Kelly Jones & Tara Williams

Shades of Yogi Berra and his musing about ‘Déjà vu all over again.’ On the weekend of June 8-9 at JR Pockets Sports Bar and Grill in Denton, TX, Kelly Jones and Kim Pierce faced each other twice to claim an event title (Stop #4) on the Jerry Olivier Custom Cues Ladies Tour, just as they had on the weekend of April 13-14 (Stop #3) at the Diamond Sports Bar and Grill in Port Arthur, TX. With the same result – Kelly Jones claiming the title, Kim Pierce finishing as runner-up. At this most recent event, however, their first meeting came in the hot seat match (it was in a winners’ side semifinal back in April), while for the second straight time on the tour, they were the event finalists. The $2,000-added event drew 48 entrants to JR Pockets.
 
Jones’ path to the hot seat match was almost derailed at the outset. She was awarded an opening round bye before facing Michelle Cortez in the second round. Cortez battled her to double hill before giving way. Jones advanced to defeat Rachel Hurst and Belinda Lee, to face Angie Payne in one of the winners’ side semifinals. Pierce, in the meantime, without an opening round bye, defeated Ellen Robinson, Glynda Fuller, Tam Trinh, and Orietta Strickland to draw Ashley Nandrasy in the other winners’ side semifinal.
 
Jones got into the hot seat match with a 7-2 win over Payne and was joined by Pierce, who’d survived a double hill match against Nandrasy. Jones claimed the hot seat 7-5 and waited for the second straight time on the tour for the return of Pierce.
 
On the loss side, Payne picked up Tara Williams, who’d been defeated by Belinda Lee in the third winners’ side round and defeated Stacie Putnam 7-2, Rachel Hurst 7-4, picked up a forfeit win from Ricki Lee Casper and downed Kim Sanders 7-5. Nandrasy drew Aryana Lynch, who’d been sent to the loss side by Payne in a winners’ side quarterfinal and downed Michelle Yim 7-3 and Ellen Robinson 7-4 to reach Nandrasy.
 
Nandrasy advanced to the quarterfinals with a 7-4 victory over Lynch and was joined by Williams, who’d eliminated Payne 7-2. Williams made it six in a row on the loss side with a 7-2 victory over Nandrasy in those quarterfinals.
 
Pierce stopped Williams’ loss-side run with a 7-4 victory in the semifinals for a second shot (a second time) at Jones in the hot seat. Second verse, same as the first, as they say. Jones took the semifinal match 7-4 to claim her second Jerry Olivier Ladies Tour title.
 
A Best of the Rest event with 11 entrants saw Rachel Hurst take the top prize, with Nicole McDaniel in 2nd place. McDaniel was in the hot seat, but left to get home to her family. Corina Campbell finished 3rd and Melissa Smith came in 4th.
 
Tour representatives thanked the ownership and staff at JR Pockets, as well as title sponsor Jerry Olivier Custom Cues, MzTam.com and a “huge shout out” to Rackem TV for providing a live stream. The next stop (#5) on the Jerry Olivier Custom Cues Ladies Tour, scheduled for the weekend of September 14-15, will be hosted by Slick Willie’s Family Pool Hall in Austin, TX.