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Kraber wins two-match battle against the Grinder to win OTB Ladies Tour finale

April Larson, Kim Sanders, Jennifer Kraber and Rhio Anne Flores

There’s a lot of it going around these days. A younger generation of pool players going head to head against an older generation of players who were around before they were born. In Puerto Rico recently, the phenomenon featured WPBA top pro Kelly Fisher doing battle against 12-year-old Savannah Easton and in the early going, the 12-year-old was ahead 3-2, albeit not for long. That sort, though not precisely that sort of generational ‘combat’ was on display this past weekend at the On the Ball Ladies Tour in the finale of the tour’s season. Veteran Texas competitor, Jennifer Kraber, whose recorded-to-us career got its start when she finished 17th on the Hunter Tour back in 2000, and former five-time BEF Junior National Champion (2012-2016) and current WPBA competitor April Larson (aka The Grinder) squared off twice in the hot seat and finals of the $3,000-added ($2,000, On the Ball Co., $1,000, Skinny Bob’s) season finale, that drew 28 entrants to Skinny Bob’s in Round Rock, TX. 

Kraber went undefeated at the event to claim the title, while Larson ended the tour’s season as its tour champion, beating out Ming Ng by a mere five points. In all, the tour handed out over $1,000 in awards and giveaways over the weekend. Its Most Improved Player award went to Chris Fields, who was also credited with the Most Break & Runs award. Natalie Mans was acknowledged as the tour’s top competitor at making the Most 9’s on the Snap, while Natalie Rocha received the tour’s Best Sportmanship award.

Kraber’s path to the winners’ circle in the tour’s season finale went through Rhio Anne (“Annie”) Flores, Kim Pierce and Gail Roles to arrive at a winners’ side semifinal matchup against Kim Sanders. The Grinder, in the meantime, got by Erica Hanlon, Molly McWhorter and Zoe Lozano to reach her winners’ side semifinal opponent, Michelle Cortez.

Kraber downed Sander 7-3, as Larson was dispatching Cortez to the loss side 7-2. The two generations battled to double hill in the hot seat match before Kraber won it and sat in the seat, awaiting Larson’s return. 

On the loss side, Sanders picked up Ming Ng, who’d lost her third winners’ side match to Cortez, double hill and then defeated tour director Teresa Garland 7-5, and Chris Fields, double hill to face Sanders. Cortez, in the meantime, drew “Annie” Flores, who’d followed her opening round loss to Kraber with four loss-side wins, giving up only three total racks to Brenda Viola (1), Brittany Kromer (1), Carmel Luttrell (1) and Nicole McDaniel (0). 

Flores made it five in a row, eliminating Cortez 7-4. Sanders and Ng locked up in a double hill fight that eventually put Sanders into the quarterfinals against Flores.

Another double hill battle ensued, this one eventually sent Sanders to the semifinals against Larson. Larson got a second shot at Kraber, waiting for her in the hot seat with a 7-4 win over Sanders in those semifinals.

The finals came within a game of double hill. Kraber, though, edged out in front near the end and won it 7-5, claiming the OTB Tour’s season finale title.

Tour director Teresa Garland thanked the ownership and staff at Skinny Bob’s for their hospitality, as well as title sponsor On the Ball Co., and Backwards Billiards for the free live streaming on YouTube. The On the Ball Ladies Tour for 2023 will be coming soon and available on the tour’s page here at AZBilliards.

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The Grinder ‘shows up’ to go undefeated on OTB Ladies Tour

Ming Ng and April Larson

Though it’s been said in a lot of different ways, it was Woody Allen who said it the simplest way – 90% of life is just showing up. It’s a statement that resonates in the pool world, where cumulative earnings in a given year can often be a matter of how many times you competed, rather than how many event victories you’ve chalked up. Case in point: The Grinder (aka April Larson), whose best earnings year, to date, was 2018, a year in which she cashed (as far as we know) in six events and didn’t win any of them.

Now, in 2022, Larson has cashed (again, as far as we know) in nine events and won four of them, bringing her, as of this past weekend, within about 30% of her 2018 totals. She chalked up her latest on Saturday, Sept. 24, going undefeated on the On the Ball (OTB) Ladies Tour in Texas. The $2,000-added event drew 23 entrants Big Tyme Billiards in Spring, TX. 

Larson and her eventual opponent in the hot seat and finals, veteran Ming Ng, recorded exactly the same aggregate score, defeating their opponents by exactly the same individual scores (though not in the same order) to face each other in the hot seat. Larson gave up a single rack to Darcy Durham, none at all to Natalie Mans, two to Terry Petrosino and in a winners’ side semifinal, three to Carmel Luttrell for an aggregate score of 28-6 (82%). Ng’s 28-6 (82%) path went through Cheyenne Valdez (2), Eva Grigsby (1), Michelle Abernathy (0) and in the other winners’ side semifinal, Angie Payne (3). Surprising no one, The Grinder and The Empress locked up in a double hill battle for the hot seat. The Grinder prevailed, claiming the hot seat and waiting in it for Ng’s return.

Both of the opponents Luttrell and Payne faced when they arrived on the loss-side of the bracket had lost their opening match and were working on a five-match winning streak that would come to an end for one of them in the quarterfinals. Luttrell picked up Larissa Almandariz, who’d recently eliminated Michelle Abernathy and tour TD Teresa Garland, both 7-3. Payne drew Chris Fields, who’d benefited from a forfeit by Terry Petrosino and survived a double hill battle versus Natalie Rocha to reach her. 

Almandariz defeated Luttrell 7-4, while Fields was busy eliminating Payne 7-5. Fields ended Almandariz’ loss-side streak 7-4 in the quarterfinals that followed. Fields’ streak came to an end when she was defeated by Ng in the semifinals 7-1. 

Expectations of a second double hill battle between Larson and Ng, battling for the title, had to have been high. Didn’t happen, though. The Grinder got out in front early and went on to a 7-2 win in the finals to claim her second 2022 OTB title, and her fourth event victory on the year.

Tour representatives thanked the ownership and staff at Big Tyme Billiards for their hospitality, as well as title sponsor On the Ball Company and Accu-rack. The next stop on the OTB Ladies Tour, scheduled for the weekend of Oct. 15-16, will be a $2,000-added event hosted by R House Bar & Grill in Houston, TX.

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House Champions Justin Espinosa and Kim Sanders Takes 3rd Stop 2022 Arcadia Centex Pool Tour

Skinny Bob’s Billiards in Round Rock, Texas was a buzz on the weekend of April 30th 2022 as the Predator Arcadia CenTex Pool Tour made its debut in the Austin-Round Rock area with its third stop at the wildly popular venue featuring 18 9-foot Diamond tables.

In the Open Division, 67 local and traveling players competed in the $1500 added 9-ball tournament with a $40 entry. The double-elimination event featured the Predator Arcos II ball set and Accu-Rack template racks with races to 7/5, alternative breaks, and 3-foul and 3-point rules in effect.  This event attracted Diveney-sponsored touring professional, Chip Compton, Predator professionals Ruben Bautista from Mexico and Daniel Schneider, and Predator Junior Pro, Lazaro ‘Lil Laz’ Martinez III. A handful of local Austin heavy hitters joined in their ranks: pro Justin Espinosa, up-and-coming Noah Contreras and the seasoned champs Kevin Guimond and James Davis Jr. Several favorites from across Texas also made their way for this stop: Albert Luna, Matthew Shoemaker and Jon Giles from San Antonio, Andy Jethwa from Houston, Robert Perez from Corpus Christi and Sky Massingill and Curtis Tidmore from Odessa.

The opening rounds proved safe for the higher ranked competitors with exceptions for Kevin Guimond, who lost his first match to Lil Laz 4-7, and for James Davis Jr, who also suffered a first-round 4-7 loss by local player, John Wright. Sky Massingill from Odessa, Texas squared off against the formidable Chip Compton in his second match and was sent to the one-loss side after a 4-7 defeat.  Jon Giles also found his way to the one-loss side in his second round by local player Kenney Nguyen 2-7.

In the concluding rounds, Chip Compton, fresh from his victory against Sky, secured his position on the winner’s bracket by defeating Daniel Schneider 7-3 on the streaming table. Albert Luna and Andy Jethwa also squared off in the fourth round where Albert capitalized on Andy’s shortcomings, sending Andy to the one-loss side with a 7-4 victory.  Justin Espinosa overcame Matthew Shoemaker with a dominating 7-2 win. As the day drew to a close, Laz Martinez, Curtis Tidmore, Noah Contreras and John Wright completed their rounds unscathed to move onto the next day’s proceedings.

Meanwhile, in the one-loss side, Jon Giles prevailed into the second day by edging Kevin Guimond and Daniel Schneider in back-to-back hill-hill battles. Andy Jethwa, after his loss to Albert Luna, eliminated James Davis Jr.5-0 and Patrick Perez, after his loss to Ruben Bautista, defeated Michael Taylor 5-1.  Sky Massingill barely skated by Robert Sopha 5-4 in the third round and proceeded to conclude his day by eliminating Robert Perez 5-2 and Bill Regalis 5-1.

16 players returned for second day in the Open Division with 8 players scheduled to face-off in the winner’s bracket: Albert Luna vs Curtis Tidmore, Noah Contreras vs John Wright, Chip Compton vs Ruben Bautista and Justin Espinosa vs Lazaro Martinez, and another 8 players in the one-loss side: Jon Giles vs Patrick Perez, Matthew Shoemaker vs Cody Simko, Andy Jethwa vs Joe Cannata and Eduardo Ramirez vs Sky Massingill.  Jon Giles, Cody Simko, Joe Cannata and Eduardo Ramirez’s run drew to a close in the 7th round of the one-loss side by the hands of their opponents and placing 13th- 16th.  The remaining top 12 players were guaranteed a payout.

Albert Luna advanced into the 6th round of the winner’s bracket against Noah Contreras when Curtis Tidmore’s attempt to take the match to hill-hill with Albert was unsuccessful.  However, Noah swiftly encapsulated his victory over Albert 7-1 to earn Noah his place in the hotseat match. Fresh to the one-loss side and in the 8th and 9th round, Curtis eliminated Patrick Perez 5-0  and Matthew Shoemaker 5-3.

Chip Compton and Ruben Bautista’s match quickly drew to a close as Chip overwhelmed Ruben with a 7-3 victory, allowing Chip to observe his next opponent between Justin Espinosa vs Laz Martinez. In Justin and Laz’s hill-hill match, attendants watched Laz Martinez execute a beautiful close-proximity jump shot, only to overcut the 6-ball and enable Justin to claim victory and advance to the next match against Chip.  Laz Martinez was unrecoverable and was swiftly eliminated by Sky Massingill in a stunning 0-5 loss, placing Laz 9th-12th.  Ruben also unceremoniously ended his run for the top, placing 9th-12th, when he was eliminated by Andy Jethwa.  Meanwhile, Justin and Chip’s exciting battle for the hotseat match took a surprising turn as streaming viewers witnessed Justin, down 3-6 with Chip on the hill, fought his way to victory.  Good friends, Noah and Justin fought a friendly but fierce match for the hotseat with Justin claiming the spot 7-4.

In the 10th round of the one-loss side for 5th-6th place, both remaining Odessa players were eliminated from competition as Chip briskly defeated Curtis Tidmore 5-0 while Albert Luna edged by in a hill-hill win against Sky Massingill 5-4.  In a swift match for 4th place, San Antonio’s ‘GOAT’ Albert Luna escaped a hill-hill match against Chip 5-3 to face Noah once more.  Afterward and in a tighter match between Albert and Noah for 3rd, Noah overcame Albert on the hill 5-4, and the Open Division tournament concluded with Noah and Justin splitting top place.

In the Women’s Division, seventeen bright and talented ladies competed in the 2-day double-elimination 9-ball event at the third stop of Predator Arcadia CenTex Tour that ran concurrently with the Open Division.  The event was played on Skinny Bob’s Billiards’s 9-foot Diamond tables using Predator Arcos II ball set and Accu-Rack template racks. Rules consisted of races 5/4, alternative breaks and 3-foul rule in effect with a 100% payout to the top 6 players accumulated from the $25 player entries and additional $500 added to the event.

12 of the 17 competitors were first-time attendants to the Predator Arcadia CenTex Pool Tour, including formidable Skinny Bob co-owner, Kim Sanders, alongside her fellow local Austin frontrunners: Jennifer Kraber, Michelle Cortez, Nicole Mcdaniel and Kim Pierce. Travelling contenders included Houston favorite, Natalie Rocha, and challengers Crystal Jones and Jamie Wilson from Odessa, Texas and Mary Mikita from Corpus Christi.

In the beginning rounds, Nicole Mcdaniel suffered an early loss from the redoubtable Michelle Cortez 1-5 and fought her way into the second day by eliminating  Kim Pierce 4-0, Zoe Lozano 4-0 and Michelle Abernathy 4-2 from the one-loss side. Michelle Cortez, fresh from her win against Nicole in the first round, also sent accomplished Jennifer Kraber to the one-loss side with a 5-3 victory to conclude Michelle’s matches for the first day. Crystal Jones from Odessa, Texas impressively defeated Kim Pierce 5-0 and her traveling companion, Jamie Wilson 5-3 before being sent to the one-loss side herself from her defeat to Kim Sanders 3-5.  Angela Miles remained undefeated at the conclusion of the first day with her victories against Rachel Hurst 5-3 and Natalie Rocha 5-4. Joining Angela, Michelle and Kim in the winner’s side, Mary Mikita defeated San Antonians, Zoe Lisa Bailey 5-3 and Zoe Lozano 5-1. Jennifer Kraber successfully persisted through the first day by eliminating Makenna Sanders 4-1 and Houston’s Natalie Rocha 4-3 from the one-loss side.

Six competitors returned for the event’s second day with a guaranteed pay-out for all places. On the winner’s side: Kim Sanders battled Mary Mikita on the streaming table and on the table adjacent, Angela Miles faced off against Michelle Cortez while Nicole Mcdaniel and Jennifer Kraber waited in the one-loss side.  Skinny Bob’s Billiards’ locals Kim Sanders 5-1 and Michelle Cortez 5-3 defeated their out-of-town opponents to battle it out in the hotseat match.  In the proceeding matches in the one-loss side, Nicole eliminated Angela Miles 4-3 and Mary Mikita ended Jennifer Kraber’s run for the top 4-1, placing Angela and Jennifer in 5th/6th place.  In the 4th place match, Mary Mikita swiftly defeated Nicole Mcdaniel 4-0 to face-off against Michelle Cortez after Michelle’s hotseat match loss to Kim Sanders 2-5.  The strategic 3rd place match between Mary and Michelle reached hill-hill with numerous back-and-forth safety plays where Michelle Cortez edged for the win and ended Mary’s first participation in the CenTex tours in 3rd place.  Good friends Michelle Cortez and Kim Sanders fought an intense battle in the finale where, for the second time, Kim proclaimed victory over Michelle with an outstanding 5-3 win and was crowned winner of the Women’s Division 3rd stop and Michelle as runner-up.

The next stop for Predator Arcadia CenTex Pool Tour 2022 is scheduled for the weekend of June 11th-12th, 2022 as a $2000-added Jack-and-Jill Scotch Doubles 9-ball Tournament hosted by Banana’s Billiards in San Antonio, Texas.

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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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Peters goes undefeated to take season opener of On the Ball Ladies Tour

Courtney Peters

The winner and runner-up at the On the Ball Ladies Tour’s season opener brought almost 30 years of combined (recorded) experience to the tables. Courtney Peters, who went undefeated in the $2,000-added event that drew 32 entrants to Big Tyme Billiards in Spring, TX this past weekend (Jan. 29-30), has data going back as far as 2005. Runner-up and tour representative Teresa Garland’s profile on our site identifies 2010 as the first year in which she brought home a cash payout. The same records that tell us about Peters’ progress through the years, also tells us that 2021 was a breakout year for her. She reportedly took home more cash last year than in all of the previous 17 years combined. 

Peters and Garland met first in the hot seat match. Peters began her journey to the winners’ circle with a 7-2 win over another Texas tours and WPBA veteran, Ming Ng, who brought 24 years of experience to the tables and also had herself a lucrative 2021, cashing in a total of 10 events that included a win at the very first stop of the On the Ball Ladies Tour in October. Peters continued her advance through a gallery of tour, Texas and WPBA veterans, including Kim Pierce (22 recorded years at the tables), and Natalie Rocha to arrive at a winners’ side semifinal versus another 22-year veteran, Jennifer Kraber. Kraber had won the last stop on the tour, double-dipping Peters in the finals. 

Garland opened her bid with a 7-3 win over Terry Petrosino, who was not only Garland’s first win, but as it turned out, her last, as well. Garland then sent Yvonne Asher and Yvette Cox to the loss side to pick up Michelle Cortez in the other winners’ side semifinal.

Garland and Cortez battled to double hill, before Garland advanced to the hot seat match. Peters joined her after sending Kraber over 7-2. Peters and Garland came within a game of double hill, but Peters pulled out in front at the end to claim the hot seat 7-5.

Terry Petrosino, Courtney Peters, Teresa Garland and Michelle Cortez

On the loss side, Cortez drew Angie Payne, who’d lost a winners’ side quarterfinal to Kraber and then defeated two Natalies in a row; first, Natalie Mans 7-5 (Mans had just eliminated Ming Ng) and then, Natalie Rocha 7-4. Kraber ran into a determined Terry Petrosino, who’d followed her loss to Garland in the opening round with five straight wins, the most recent of which had eliminated Carmel Luttrell 7-3 and Shayla Neris 7-5.

Petrosino chalked up her sixth loss-side win 7-3 over Kraber, as Cortez defeated Payne 7-3. Petrosino dropped Cortez 7-5 in the subsequent quarterfinals before her loss-side streak came to an end the way it had begun, with a loss to Teresa Garland 7-4 in the semifinals.

Though one might have anticipated a tight, potentially double hill fight in the finals rematch that followed, it didn’t happen. Peters took command of the final match, allowing Garland only two racks and claimed the title 7-2.

A $100-added Best of the Rest tournament was won by Yvette Cox, who defeated Kim Pierce in the finals.

Tour representatives thanked the ownership and staff at Big Tyme Billiards, as well as title sponsor On the Ball Co., and Draw Nation Streaming for providing the live stream. The next stop (#2) of the On the Ball Ladies Tour, scheduled for the weekend of March 12-13, will be hosted by Betsy’s Billiards in Austin, TX.

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. 

Ng goes undefeated to claim Stop #2 on Jerry Olivier Ladies Tour

Ming Ng

Having won the season opener of the Gulf Coast Regional Tour in early January and a week later, finished as runner-up at the season opener of the 2020 Jerry Olivier Ladies Tour (JOLT), Ming Ng signed on to compete in Stop #2 of the JOLT and went undefeated to claim the title. She faced separate opponents in the hot seat and finals of this Feb. 29-March 1, $2,000-added  event that drew 27 entrants to Skinny Bob’s in Round Rock, TX.

Ng opened her campaign with victories over Sandra Melo and Tam Trinh before running into Angie Payne, who put up a double hill fight that almost sidetracked Ng’s march to the hot seat. Ng advanced to a winners’ side semifinal against Michelle Cortez, whom she’d face twice, before this was over. Natalie Rocha, in the meantime, who’d battled Ng twice (hot seat and finals) in that Gulf Coast Regional Tour season opener, worked her way through Rachel Hurst, Rosa Cantu and Jennifer Kraber to draw Teresa Garland in the other winners’ side semifinal.

Ng got into the hot seat match with a 7-5 victory over Cortez in their first of two. Rocha joined Ng following a 7-4 victory over Garland. Ng claimed the hot seat 7-4 over Rocha and waited on what turned out to be the return of Cortez.

On the loss side, Garland picked up Angie Payne, who, following her double hill loss to Ng on the winners’ side, downed Yvonne Asher 7-2 and Brittany Williams 7-4. Cortez drew a rematch against Kim Pierce, whom she’d defeated in the second winners’ side round. Pierce was in the midst of a four-match, loss-side winning streak that was about to end and had recently included victories over Jennifer Kraber 7-5 and Tam Trinh 7-3.

Garland eliminated Payne 7-4, as Cortez downed Pierce a second time, 7-5. Cortez and Garland battled to double hill in the quarterfinals before Cortez prevailed for a shot at Rocha in the semifinals.

Cortez completed her brief, successful loss-side run with a 7-4 win over Rocha in those semifinals. Momentum did not appear to be on Cortez’ side in the finals that followed. She’d battled to within a game of double hill in the earlier hot seat match, but could only manage a single rack in the finals. Ng completed her second undefeated 2020 run 7-1 to claim the event title.

A $100-added Best of the Rest Tournament was won by Jennifer Kraber. Yvonne Asher finished as runner-up.

Tour representatives thanked the ownership and staff at Skinny Bob’s, as well as title sponsor Jerry Olivier Cues. The next stop on the Jerry Olivier Ladies Tour, scheduled for the weekend of April 4-5 will be hosted by Diamond Sports Bar in Port Arthur, TX.

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.

Ng Ignites on Gulf Coast Tour

Robyn Petrosino, Ming Ng and Samantha Laws (A8 Photography)

Ming “The Empress” Ng went undefeated to capture the fifth stop on the 2019 Gulf Coast Women’s Regional Billiards Tour. Ng overcame Robyn Petrosino in the first set of the true, double elimination final, 7-3, earning her third title this season. On Sunday, Natalie Rocha crossed the finish line, unscathed, winning her first, second chance event, with new member, Verda Jones, claiming runner-up. 
 
On June 1st-2nd, 2019, sponsors Cyclop Pool Balls, Poison by Predator Cues, APA of North Harris County, Vapor Fiend, and Outsville Billiards, facilitated another successful event for the Gulf Coast Women’s Regional Billiards Tour, paying out $1,540 in prize money, for the two-day, $1,000 added women’s 9-ball event. This marked the Tour’s third and final event of the 2019 season, at the famous Slick Willies Family Pool Hall, located at 5913 Westheimer, in Houston’s upscale, Galleria area. The Gulf Coast Tour would like to thank the Slick Willies Corporation, and Director of Operations, David Kimmey, for hosting this season. The sixth stop on Tour will be held July 6th-7th, at Big Tyme Billiards, located at 100 Cypresswood Drive, Suite G, Spring, Texas, 77388. 
 
On her way to the winners' side final four, Ming Ng defeated newcomer Verda Jones, 7-2, Pamela Chavez, 7-4, and Natalie Rocha, 7-3. Stacie Putnam was on her way, with wins over Kim "Texas Heat" Pierce, 7-2, Hopey "Hurricane" Lawrence, 7-1, and Gail "Thunder" Roles, 7-6. New player, Samantha Laws, bested Michelle Abernathy, 7-6, and Tanyia Chuites, 7-3, while Robyn Petrosino ousted first-timer, Heather Taylor, 7-1, Ellen Robinson, 7-3, and Loretta "The Gem" Lindgren, 7-1. On the west side, vying for the final eight, Lawrence extinguished Lindgren, and Chuites slid by newcomer Veronica Buentello, 5-4. Roles dusted off Robinson, 5-2, and Rocha eliminated Abernathy, 5-1. Winners' side, final four witnessed Laws edge out Petrosino, 7-6, and Ng shut out Putnam, 7-0. In her Tour debut, Laws graduated to her first hot seat, but was cut short by Tour veteran Ng, 7-2. On the one-loss side, all making the final eight cut, Lawrence finished off Chuites, 5-3, and Putnam, 5-0. Roles upset Rocha, 5-2, but fell to Petrosino. Petrosino blew past Lawrence, 5-1, and Laws, 5-0, to meet Ng in the true, double elimination final. Coming off three strong wins, a determined Petrosino faced off with the veteran player. Ng hit the ground running, and Petrosino failed to keep pace, faltering the first set, 7-3. 
 
Natalie Rocha captured her first, second chance 9-ball event, with newcomer, Verda Jones, finishing second, and Ruth Paine, third. Also new to the Tour, Samantha Laws, finished third in her very first event. The Tour would like to congratulate all the top finishers, and those who reached a milestone during this competition. 
 
The Tour welcomes its newest, 2019 members; Verda Jones, Heather Taylor, Racheal Martin, Samantha Laws, Tanyia Chuites, Hopey Lawrence, Veronica Buentello, and Christina Morra. The Tour also extends its deepest appreciation to the Tour Committee members who directed this tournament. Ruth Paine performed a flawless job, along with Kim Pierce, Julie Acevedo, and Ming Ng, who assisted throughout the event.
 
The first annual, Gulf Coast Tour Invitational, $5,000 added event, will be held October 31st-November 3rd, 2019, at Skinny Bob’s Billiards in Round Rock, Texas. This is an “invitation only” event. Players who participate on the Gulf Coast Tour, will be eligible for invites, along with a number of other regional tours in the U.S., which will be extended a number of promotional spots, for their players. For more information, please email Kim Newsome at lonestartour@gmail.com. This event is presented by Vapor Fiend, www.onlinevapestore.com, and Cyclop Pool Balls, www.Cyclop-Billiards.com. Sponsors include Poison by Predator Cues, www.poisonbilliards.com, Outsville Billiards, www.Outsville.com, and the APA of North Harris County. 
 
The sixth stop of the 2019 season is July 6th-7th, at Big Tyme Billiards, located at 100 Cypresswood Drive,  Suite G, Spring, Texas, 77388. For more information, visit www.GulfCoastWomensTour.com.