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Champions Reignite at Space City Open VII

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

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

Smith Lights Up Space City Open VI

Danny Smith

Danny “The Shredder” Smith captured his first-ever Space City Open 9-Ball title, plowing through an 83-player field, undefeated, besting Roberto “Superman” Gomez in the first set of the true double elimination final, 9-3. Josh Roberts went undefeated in the 40-player, one pocket division, ousting John Morra in the first set, 3-2, taking home his first Space City Open One Pocket title. Jeremy “Double J” Jones went undefeated in the 9-ball banks division, taking down Tommy Tokoph in the first set, 3-2, earning himself a whopping fourth, banks division title. Wrapping up four long days of match play, the ladies 9-ball concluded on Sunday, with Gail “Virginia Slim” Eaton defeating Ming “The Empress” Ng, to capture her second, Space City Open title. 
 
In its sixth year, the four-day, four-division, $6,000 added Space City Open VI (SCO) was held at Bogies Billiards and Sports Bar in Houston, Texas, November 30th – December 3rd, 2017, featuring top players from across America. This year’s line-up featured a cast of new talent, including Danny Smith, Roberto Gomez, John Morra, Jason Brown, and Kelly Isaac, along with numerous others. Admission was free, and fans enjoyed four days of top-notch pool, provided by world-class players.
 
In the 9-ball division, Danny Smith obliterated the field with wins over Marlin Griffith, 9-4, J.C. Torres, 9-3, Jeremy Jones, 9-7, and Alex Calderone, 9-4, while Jason “Jaybird” Brown took down Taylor Hobbs, 9-8, Curt Sheldon, Josh Roberts, 9-8, and James Davis, Jr., 9-2. Two-time Space City Open 9-Ball Champion, Charlie “Hillbilly” Bryant, made his way to the final four with victories over Mike Wilson, 9-2, David Twitty, 9-6, Kevin Guimond, 9-0, and Cesar Arechiga, 9-2, while Roberto “Superman” Gomez overcame Kenneth Price, 9-6, Randy Nickerson, 9-3, Chase Rudder, 9-5, and John Morra, 9-2. On the one loss side, Tommy Tokoph took out Roberts, 7-3, and Jones eliminated former pro C.J. Wiley, 7-1, while Yovani Salvia ousted Rudder, 7-4, and Jeff Chauncey destroyed Guimond, 7-1. Back on the east side, Gomez bested Bryant, 9-6, while Smith overwhelmed Brown, 9-4. Smith ran away with the hot seat match, defeating Gomez, 9-2. The one loss side witnessed Morra overpower Tokoph, 7-1, and Jones handily defeat Arechiga, 7-0. Davis, Jr. ended Rudder, 7-6, while Guimond dusted off Calderone, 7-4. Morra went on to eliminate Jones, 7-4, and Brown, 7-1, while Guimond overcame Davis, Jr., 7-3. Bryant squeezed by Guimond, 7-6, rounding out the final four players in the division. Morra was on a role, taking out Bryant, 7-2, to win his fourth match on the one loss side. He was stopped short by Gomez, 7-1, finishing in a respectable, third place. Gomez earned himself a rematch with Smith, and “The Shredder” was ready. With his spot-on break, it was a short-lived set for Gomez, much like the first. Smith shot out of the gate and never looked back, capturing the first set, 9-3, and his first, Space City Open 9-Ball title.
 
[photo id=48363|align=right]Last year, Josh Roberts finished runner-up in the one pocket division, but this year he came out on top.  Roberts ran through a 40-player field, undefeated, booking wins over Jim McCary, Adam Cooper, and Ted Reeves, 3-1, while John Morra overcame Gabe Owen, Marvin Diaz, 3-0, and Sylver Ochoa, 3-1. Houston’s Ernesto Bayaua made his way to the final four with wins over Cliff Joyner, Dallas’ Gerardo Perez, 3-0, and Roberto Gomez, 3-1, while Justin Whitehead overwhelmed Curt Sheldon, 3-0, Corey Flud, 3-0, and Kent Berthelot, 3-1. On the one loss side, Davis, Jr. eliminated Ochoa, 3-1, Brown defeated Reeves, 3-0, and Diaz ended Berthelot, 3-1. Following an early hit at the hands of Roberts, Jeremy Jones won four matches, including victories over Jeff Bramblet, 3-0, Jeff Chauncey, 3-1, and Gomez, 3-1. As the final eight took shape, winners’ side matches witnessed Roberts edge out Morra, 3-2, and Whitehead dust off Bayaua, 3-1. Roberts wasted little time with Whitehead, capturing the hot seat, 3-0. Back on the west side, Brown denied Ochoa, 3-0, and Bayaua, 3-2, while Jones squeezed by Diaz, 3-2, falling in turn to Morra, by the same score.  Morra made quick work of Whitehead, 3-0, moving on to Roberts, and the finals. In the first set, players were neck and neck. Tied at two a piece, an unforced error by Morra sealed his fate, and Roberts ended the set to secure his first, Space City Open One Pocket title.
 
Kicking off the four-day, billiard extravaganza, was the 26-player, 9-ball banks division, witnessing former Mosconi Cup MVP and former U.S. Open Champion, Jeremy Jones, capture his fourth Space City Open Banks title. Jones blazed a path through Kent Berthelot, 3-0, Gail Eaton, 3-0, and Roberto Gomez, 3-1, while Tommy Tokoph handled Ricki Casper, 3-0, former U.S. Open runner-up, Tan Hoa, 3-2,  and Scotty Evans, 3-1. Former U.S. Open Champion, Gabe Owen, checked off Alfred Flores, 3-0, Richie Richeson, 3-0, and Jason “Jaybird” Brown, 3-1, while Cliff Joyner overwhelmed Beaumont’s Carl Honey, 3-0, Will Felder, 3-1, and Alan Myers, 3-1. On the one loss side, John Morra took out Berthelot, while Roberto Gomez ousted James Davis, Jr., 3-1. Canadian Alex Olinger ended Alan Myers, 3-2, while Josh Roberts handled Jason Brown, 3-1. Down to the final eight, on the east side, Jones defeated Tokoph, 3-1, and Owen slid by Joyner, 3-1. In a speedy, hot seat match, Jones crushed Owen, 3-0. Back on the west side, Gomez eliminated Morra, but fell to Joyner, 3-1, while Roberts took out Myers, 3-0, falling to Tokoph in the next round, 3-0. Tokoph was on the war path, sending home Joyner, 3-2, and Owen, 3-2, reaching Jones, and the finals. Players teed off, both keeping pace as the set progressed. Tied at two a piece, Jones inched ahead in the final game, closing out the set to defend his 2016 title and secure his fourth banks title.
 
[photo id=48362|align=right]Wrapping up Space City, 24 women battled it out on Sunday for over $2,400 in cash in the ladies 9-ball division. Gail “Virginia Slim” Eaton came out firing, ousting Terry “The Terrorizer” Petrosino, Calaia Jackson, 7-1, and Toledo’s Kelly Isaac, 7-6, whiLe Ming “The Empress” Ng made her way to the final four with wins over Cindy Ferry, Nayla Hoak, and Joyce Davis. Angleton’s Brandi Booth came out firing, securing victories over Ricki Casper, 7-3, and Robyn Petrosino, 7-6, while Teresa “The Princess of Pool” Garland took down Alicia Huff, 7-5, and Yvonne Asher, 7-1. On the west side, Isaac eliminated Denton’s Amy Jones, 5-2, and T. Petrosino reined in Davis, 5-3.  Natalie Mans squeezed by Asher, 5-4, and R. Petrosino extinguished Yvonne Ramirez, 5-2. Down to the final eight, east side action saw Isaac eliminate T. Petrosino, 5-3, and Garland, 5-4, while Mans dusted off R. Petrosino, 5-1, in turn, falling  to Ng, by the same score. Ng went on to eliminate Isaac, 5-4, and Booth, 5-1, earning herself a rematch with Eaton. In the first set of the true, double elimination final, Ng served Eaton her first loss, 7-6, and the finals ventured into overtime. Players displayed poise and composure in the late hour, but only one player could wear the crown. Players fought for every game, but it was Eaton who pulled ahead to end the second set, 5-3, capturing her second, Space City Open 9-ball title. 
 
The Space City Open extends a heartfelt “thank you” to everyone who supported this event; Bogies Billiards and Sports Bar, along with owners David and Shannon Richardson, the entire Bogies’ staff, assistant tournament director, John Newsome, Simplified Electronics, APA of North Harris County, Gulf War Veteran Mike McDonald, Ozone Billiards, and Outsville Billiards. “Special Supporters” of this event included Mark Stubbs, Glen Benton, Ted Reeves, Adam Cooper, Richard Holstein, Richard “Black Diamond” Stuart, and Art Politte. This year’s event featured booths by Jerry Olivier Cues and Cue Repair, Joe Salazar Connoisseur of Custom Cues, Champions Cues, Bryant Billiards, and Q-Xtender.com.
 
Space City Open VII is set for December 6th-9th, 2018. For sponsorship information, please contact Kim Newsome at 713.825.1411, or email lonestartour@gmail.com. 

Martin takes two of three versus Fitch to win record-breaking stop on Q City 9-Ball Tour

Justin Martin

In what Tour Director Herman Parker said was the best-attended event in the history of the Q City 9-Ball Tour, 17-year-old Justin Martin survived a double elimination challenge by Shannon Fitch to claim the title. The event, held over the July 4th weekend, broke a previous entrant record of 67 by drawing 69 entrants to Chandley's Chalk & Cue in Statesville, NC.
 
While his father (Jason) was at work on the loss side, Justin Martin was busy advancing to a winners' side semifinal versus Rocky Hawkes. Fitch and Chris Walsh squared off in the other winners' side semifinal. Martin downed Hawkes 9-5, as Fitch sent Walsh over 11-5. Martin claimed the hot seat 9-2 over Fitch and while likely keeping an eye on his Dad's progress, waited on Fitch's return.
 
Jason Martin got out of the 9/12 battles with a 5-0 shutout over Travis Duncan, but was defeated 6-1 in the 7/8 contests by Christy Norris, who'd defeated Mike McDonald 6-4 to reach him. Norris advanced to pick up Walsh. Hawkes drew Tim Gill, who'd benefited from a forfeit by Jeff Abernathy and then survived a double hill battle against Clay Davis.
 
Gill and Walsh moved on to the quarterfinals; Gill, 6-4 over Hawkes and Walsh, 7-5 over Norris. Walsh downed Gill 7-3 in those quarterfinals, but then had his loss-side streak ended 11-4 by Fitch in the semifinals.
 
Fitch dominated the opening set of the true double elimination final 11-2 to force a second set. Martin, though, caught a gear in the second set, and though not quite as dominant a performance as Fitch's in the opening set, he did win it 9-6 to claim the event title.
 
Tour director Herman Parker thanked Mike Chandley and his staff for their hospitality, as well as title sponsor Viking Cues, Delta-13 racks and GoPlayPool.com. The next stop on the Q City 9-Ball Tour, scheduled for July 9-10, will be hosted by Diamond Billiards in Midlothian, VA.