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Hollingsworth and Mast win respective 18U boys and girls division at JIC regular season finale

Landon Hollingsworth

Hollingsworth adds ProAm title, Mast adds 13U final event and 13U Championship

It was quite a weekend for two of the top names in the pool world of junior competition. There were seven total events at the last regular season stop (#8) on the Junior International Championship (JIC) series, held last weekend (Sept. 23-25) at Wolf’s Den in Roanoke, VA. Between them, Landon Hollingsworth and Sofia Mast won five of them; Hollingsworth, chalking up the win in the 18U Boys and ProAm divisions, as Mast (just a little busier) won both the 18U & 13U Girls titles and then went on to win the 13U Championship event, which was run concurrently with that division’s final regular season competition. Mast did not compete in the other division (ProAm) for which she was eligible, but given the strength of her performance in the three for which she was eligible, there was idle speculation that she might have taken that title as well.

Along the way, in the finals of her three events, Mast faced and defeated two members of the Tate family (Bethany in the 18U Girls division and her sister, Noelle in the 13U Girls division) and her perennial rival in both female divisions, Skylar Hess, in the 13U Girls championship. Bethany Tate (17th) and Hess (13th) were among the seven young women who competed in the ProAm event, along with Savanna Wolford, Courtney Hairfield (13th), Kennedy Meyman (17th), Skylynn Elliot (17th) and Precilia Kinsley (17th).

The ProAm event, the last of the 2022 JIC season, drew the weekend’s largest field (27) and seemed destined to feature a battle or two between the top two competitors in the division’s standings; Joey Tate and Landon Hollingsworth, who, between them, had won six of the division’s eight events, including the last one, won by Hollingsworth. But a funny thing happened on the way to the event finals. Tate was sent to the loss side in a winners’ side quarterfinal battle versus Brent Worth (7-5) and lost his first match on that side of the bracket to Grayson Vaughan 7-5.

Hollingsworth’s undefeated path to the hot seat and finals was not an easy one. It started out well, with 7-1 victories over two of the seven females in the field, Bethany Tate and Skylynn Elliott. It moved on from there to successive double-hill battles versus Jayce Little in a winners’ side quarterfinal and Nathan Childress in a winners’ side semifinal, which put Hollingsworth into the hot seat match. Jas Makhani in the meantime, who’d sent Brent Worth to the loss side immediately after Worth had sent Joey Tate over, joined Hollingsworth in the hot seat match. Hollingsworth, apparently tired of having to play two successive double hill matches, gave up only a single rack to Makhani and claimed the hot seat.

On the loss side, Logan Whitaker, who’d lost his opening round match to Payne McBride, embarked on an eight-match, loss-side winning streak that would take him to the finals against Hollingsworth. He’d recently defeated Cameron Hollingsworth (Landon’s brother), double hill and Grayson Vaughan 7-3 to draw Nathan Childress. Worth drew Hayden Ernst (eventual winner of the 13U Boys division tournament), who’d defeated McBride, double hill, and Cole Lewis 7-5 to reach him.

Worth and Whitaker advanced to the quarterfinals, won by Whitaker 7-1, who advanced to down Makhani in the semifinals 7-5.  

Whitaker, appearing in only his third ProAm event of the JIC series (previously 5th and 7th) gave Hollingsworth a run for his money in the finals. He came within a game of forcing a deciding 17th game. Hollingsworth claimed the ProAm’s last 2022 JIC title 9-7. He and Joey Tate, who finished 2nd and 1st, respectively, in the final ProAm standings were awarded entry fees to a Pro event of their choice. Tate will attend next month’s International Open in Norfolk, VA, while Hollingsworth opted to attend the Puerto Rico Open 10-Ball event in mid-November.

The expected matchup of the two top competitors in the 18U Boys division – Hollingsworth and Tate – happened in that division’s 23-entrant regular season finale, twice. Hollingsworth’s path to the finals took an unexpected turn when he lost his opening match in a double hill fight against Niko Konkel, who’d entered the tournament outside of the division’s top ten in the standings and finished in 5th place. It took Tate five matches to get into the hot seat. It took Hollingsworth eight loss-side matches to reach him in the finals.

Joey Tate got by Cole Lewis, Jas Makhani and Payne McBride to get into the hot seat match against Logan Whitaker. Runner-up in the ProAm event, which finished some three hours after the 18U tournament, Whitaker would figure prominently in this event, as well. Right after Konkel had sent Hollingsworth to the loss side, Whitaker sent him over and advanced through D’Angelo Spain and Brent Worth to reach the hot seat match against Tate. Tate claimed the hot seat 7-2, sending Whitaker to a semifinal matchup against Hollingsworth.

Hollingsworth’s loss-side run faced its most serious challenge when Payne McBride, in his first loss-side match, forced a double-hill deciding match. Hollingsworth advanced to successfully navigate his rematch against Konkel in the quarterfinals 7-2 and then dropped Whitaker into third place 7-3 in the semifinals.

Anticipation of the final was probably stronger than the match itself. Hollingsworth downed Tate 9-4 to claim the last regular season event for the 18U Boys division. They’ll both be moving onto the 18U Boys Championship in Norfolk, VA at the end of the month.

Sofia Mast

Mast played in all three of the events she won, simultaneously

The “Pink Dagger,” Sofia Mast, struck three times on the weekend, winning the 13U Girls Championship at 8 p.m. on Saturday night, the 13U Girls regular season finale at 1 p.m. on Sunday and the 18U Girls title at 4 p.m. on Sunday. She went undefeated in all three, downing Skylar Hess in the finals of the first, Noelle Tate in the finals of the second and Noelle’s sister Bethany in the finals of the third.

In what proved to be her final title-claiming event, Mast faced and successfully navigated two double hill challenges, from Precilia Kinsley in the second round and Bethany Tate in the battle for the hot seat. Until she reached the hot seat match, Tate hadn’t faced an opponent who’d chalked up more than two racks against her, including her sister, Noelle, who chalked up that many in their winners’ side semifinal matchup.

Mast’s victory in the hot seat match sent Tate to the semifinals, where she ran into Courtney Hairfield, who chalked up two against her, as well. In the finals, when Mast chalked up her second rack, on her way to a title-claiming 9-5 victory, she had already won more games against Tate than all of Tate’s opponents combined.

As it happened, while Mast drew a lot of the weekend’s spotlight, it was Bethany Tate who ended up at the top of the 18U Girls division standings, significantly ahead of Mast in 2nd place. Tate won four of the division’s eight events, to Mast’s three; all in a row, including one in which she defeated Mast in the finals and two in which Mast finished in the tie for 5th place. Precilia Kinsley, Skylar Hess and Kennedy Meyman rounded out the division’s top five. Meyman won the only event that Tate and Mast, both of them competing, did not; the first, in January. They’ll all move on to Norfolk, where they’ll compete in the 18U Girls Championship, in the latter days of Pat Fleming’s 9-day International Open between October 28- November 5.

(Editor’s Note: Details on the two (each) 13U Girls and 13U Boys events, can be found elsewhere in our News section.) 

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34th Annual BEF Junior National Pool Championships Crowns 2022 National Champions

The Billiard Education Foundation recently held its 34th annual Junior National Pool Championships, Tuesday, June 21 to Saturday, June 25. The event attracted more than 130 of the top junior pool players across the country.

During the event, the Billiard Education Foundation recognized more than 90 players as Academic All Americans, as they all had a great point average of 3.0 GPA or better. Of those players, 39 players had a 4.0 GPA or higher. Along with the Academic All Americans, the BEF also recognized Hayleigh Marion and Kaden Hillman as the recipients of this year’s Brenden Crocket Sportsman Award for exemplifying the ideals of sportsmanship while at the pool table with ethical behavior, fair play, and integrity throughout the event.

During the week-long tournament BCA Hall of Famer Tom “Dr. Cue” Rossman also held his 28th consecutive annual artistic pool competition. Dr. Cue presented the 2022 Artistic Pool awards to this year’s champions: Brody Hillman (U18 boys division), Kaden Hillman (U16 and U14 boys divisions), Sofia Mast (U18 girls division), Hayleigh Marion (U16 girls division), and Skylar Hess (U14 girls division).

On Saturday, June 25th the Junior National Pool Championships concluded with the final matches in each category. In an effort to align with the WPA World Junior 9-Ball Championship, the BEF awarded gold, silver and bronze medals to the top three finishers of each division.

The finalist of this year’s BEF Junior National 9-Ball Championships presented by Iwan Simonis are:

Gold Medalists:
18UB Landon Hollingsworth (Greenville, SC)
18UG Skylar Hess (Queenstown, MD)
16UB Adrian Prasad (Sacramento, CA)
16UG Precilia Kinsley (Roanoke, VA)
14UB Eddie Vonderau (Rapid City, SD)
14UG Savannah Easton (Las Vegas, NV)

Silver Medalists:
18UB Joey Tate (Elm City, NC)
18UG Kennedy Meyman (White Bear Lake, MN)
16UB Harry Leinen (Waconia, MN)
16UG Bethany Tate (Elm City, NC)
14UB Jayce Little (High Point, NC)
14UG Sofia Mast (Land O’ Lakes, FL)

Bronze Medalists:
18UB Niko Konkel (Winston-Salem, NC)
18UG Courtney Hairfield (Chester, VA)
16UB Niko Konkel (Winston-Salem, NC)
16UG Hayleigh Marion (Bristol, VA)
14UB Jordan Witkin (Algonquin, IL)
14UG Noelle Tate (Elm City, NC)

The finalist of this year’s BEF U18 8-Ball National Championship presented by Lucasi Cues are:

8-Ball Girls Division:
Gold Medalist: Savannah Easton (Las Vegas, NV)
Silver Medalist: Sofia Mast (Land O’ Lakes, FL)
Bronze Medalist: Jordan Helfrey (St. Joseph, MO)

8-Ball Boys Division:
Gold Medalist: Trent White (Plant City, FL)
Silver Medalist: Jacob Kohl (Stevens, PA)
Bronze Medalist: Brent Worth (Hampton, VA)

The finalist of this year’s BEF U22 10-Ball National Championship presented by Diamond Billiard Products are:

Gold Medalist: Landon Hollingsworth (Greenville, SC)
Silver Medalist: Nathan Nunes (Fremont, CA)
Bronze Medalist: Adrian Prasad (Sacramento, CA)

Introduced at this year’s BEF Junior National Pool Championships was the Michael J. Repici Girls in Billiards Scholarship. The new scholarship fund provided $1,000 to the three girls 9-Ball division champions. In its inaugural year, the recipients of the Michael J Repici include: U18 9-Ball Champion Skylar Hess; U16 9-Ball Champion Precilia Kinsley; and U14 9-Ball Champion Savannah Easton.

Sponsors for this year’s event included:

About Billiard Education Foundation
The Billiard Education Foundation (BEF) was formed in 1993 as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit charity committed to promoting a love of pool and building the next generation of players through youth programs and academic scholarships. The BEF is managed by the Billiard Congress of America. For more information about the BEF or to learn how you can support the foundation please visit BilliardEducation.org.

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Hollingsworth takes two titles for the second time at BEF Junior Nationals in Vegas

2022 Winners (Courtesy Roy Pastor – BEF)

Nine events, drawn from 22 national qualifiers across 17 states, yields 110 unique competitors

For the second year in a row, since the Billiards Education Foundation initiated a new rule allowing players to compete in more than one division of their Junior National Championships, Greenville, SC’s Landon Hollingworth has taken advantage of an opportunity to claim two separate titles at the annual event. He claimed two 2021 Junior National titles in both the 18 & Under and 16 & Under divisions and last week, though he’d aged out of eligibility for the 16 & Under division of the 2022 Junior Nationals, he won his second 18 & Under division title and added a win in the event’s 10-Ball Championships. Nine divisions drew 110 unique entrants to the 2022 Junior National Championships, which were hosted by the South Point Hotel & Convention Center in Las Vegas, NV from June 21-25.

Three of the nine events were designated as qualifiers for the World Junior 9-Ball Championships, scheduled for the week of November 14-20 at the Puerto Rico Convention Center in San Juan, Puerto Rico. In addition to the 18U Boys division event, won by Hollingsworth, the 18U Girls division, won by Skylar Hess and the 16U Boys division, won by Adrian Prasad will yield eligible entrants to the World Juniors event. The BEF will make an announcement sometime in the future regarding which players among those who participated will be eligible, taking into account finish positions in each of the qualifying events and the ability of individual players to attend.

The influence of the ongoing Junior International Championship (JIC) series of tournaments, now midway through its second year, was very evident in the results of this year’s Junior Nationals. Of the 27 medals awarded to competitors (gold, silver, bronze; three in each division), 25 of them went to active competitors in the JIC series. 

“Proud is an understatement,” wrote On the Wire Creative Media’s Ra Hanna, who organized and runs the series, in the JIC Facebook page. “We’re a family; that’s it, pure and simple. We work hard and we play hard.” 

Hollingsworth’s two Gold medals at the BEF Junior Nationals were not without their challenges. Though he’d go undefeated in the second-largest event in terms of entrants, the 18U Boys 9-Ball World Qualifier, which drew 35 entrants, he had to play one loss-side match in his 10-Ball Championship run, which drew 32.

Niko Konkel, Landon Hollingsworth and Joey Tate

None of his five opponents in his 9-Ball event run chalked up less than four racks against him and one of them, Garrett Vaughan, forced him to win the final game of a double hill struggle. He downed Niko Konkel 9-6 to claim the hot seat, before he had to face one of his regular opponents on the JIC circuit, Joey Tate, in the finals. Tate had been sent to the loss side, where he defeated Nicholas Fiore, Trent White in the quarterfinals and Konkel, who picked up the event’s Bronze medal, in the semifinals. Hollingsworth grabbed the Gold medal with a 10-7 final victory over Tate, who went home with the Silver medal. 

In the 10-Ball Championships, Hollingsworth began his run to the hot seat match by defeating his younger brother Cameron and then defeated three more opponents to reach and challenge Nathan Nunes for the hot seat. Nunes handed him his first, and as it turned out, only loss of the week 7-3 and claimed the hot seat. Hollingsworth was challenged to his second double hill match by Adrian Prasad in the semifinals and prevailed for a second chance against Nunes. In the very early morning hour or so of Saturday, June 25, he collected his second Gold medal with a 7-5 victory over Nunes in the finals of the 10-Ball event.

In the 18U Girls world qualifier, which drew 17 entrants, Skylar Hess won three on the loss side to down Kennedy Meyman in the finals. Hess had been sent to the loss side by Meyman, who’d advanced to claim the hot seat in a double hill win over Courtney Hairfield. On the loss side, Hess defeated Bethany Tate in the quarterfinals and Hairfield in the semifinals, both 7-5. She won her rematch versus Meyman 10-3 to claim the event’s Gold medal. The top four finishers in this event were among the JIC’s top-ranked competitors in its 18UG division, midway through the JIC season. The winner of the BEF 18UG event, Hess, is 4th on the JIC list, while the runner-up, Meyman, is 2nd. Precilia Kinsley, who finished in the tie for 5th/6th at this event is 3rd on the JIC list, while the 4th place finisher is currently the JIC’s top-ranked young female competitor, Bethany Tate.  

In the remaining world-qualifying event, the 16U Boys 9-Ball, which drew one entrant less than the 18U Boys event (34), the 10-Ball Championship’s Bronze medalist, Adrian Prasad came from the loss side to down Harrison Leinen in the finals. Prasad had been defeated by Leinen 9-7 in the battle for the hot seat, and then eliminated the 9-Ball event’s Bronze medalist Niko Konkel in the semifinals 7-2. Prasad completed his run with a 10-8 victory over Leinen in the finals.

The 16U Girls had, by far, the shortest field in the Junior Nationals with only 7 entrants and the above-noted Precilia Kinsley and Bethany Tate finished as winner and runner-up. Those two battled first in a winners’ side semifinal that went double hill before Tate advanced to the hot seat match against Hayleigh Marion. In her second straight double hill match, Tate defeated Marion to claim the hot seat. On the loss side, Kinsley won two matches, including a double hill win over Marion in the semifinals, before coming back to down Tate in the finals 7-2.

8-Ball Championships draw larger field (44), than 14U Girls and Boys combined (40)

Trenton White and Brent Worth

The popularity of 8-Ball was as evident at the BEF Junior Nationals as it is in the general amateur fields of competition, like various leagues and independent-venue, weekend  tournaments from coast to coast. The 44-entrant size of the field featured a lot of competitors not included in the JIC rosters of regular competitors. The JIC series, in general, features 9-ball competition, though later this year, there are plans to include a 14:1 tournament. Though they don’t play 8-ball, all three of the event’s medals went to regular JIC competitors. 

Trent White, who competes in the JIC 18U Boys division, went undefeated through the field to claim the BEF’s 18U 8-Ball Championships. White faced separate opponents in the hot seat match and finals, downing Brent Worth, double hill, in the former and Jacob Kohl 5-2 in the latter. 

Eddie Vonderau, who sits atop the current JIC ranking roster in the 13UB division, went undefeated through the BEF’s 14U Boys event, which drew 28 entrants. Like White in the 8-Ball event, Vonderau faced different opponents in the hot seat and finals. He gave up only a single rack to Jordan Witkin in the hot seat match and faced Jayce Little in the finals. Little won three on the loss side, including two double hill matches, against Grayson Vaughan and in the semifinals, Witkin, for a shot against Vonderau. Witkin chalked up four racks in the finals, but Vonderau got his 8 to claim the Gold medal.

Sofia Mast, Savannah Easton and Noelle Tate

The 12-entrant 14U Girls event was won by Savannah Easton, who went undefeated through the field, downing Sofia Mast twice; hot seat and finals. Easton had defeated the youngest of the three-member Tate clan, Noelle, in a winners’ side semifinal and in the hot seat match, drew Mast, who’d defeated her ‘storied’ arch-rival in the JIC series, Skylar Hess (winner of the 18UG world qualifier), in a winners’ side quarterfinal before defeating Jordan Helfery in the other winners’ side semifinal.

Easton grabbed the hot seat 7-5 over Mast. When Mast returned after defeating Noelle Tate a second time, 5-1, Easton defeated her a second time, 7-3 in the finals to grab the 14U Girls Gold medal. 

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Newcomer to Tour Director role, Casey Cork, organizes BEF qualifier in Winston-Salem

Casey Cork (File photo)

Tate siblings win 18U Boys and Girls events, Jas Makhani wins Coed 14 & Under

One day, 20-year-old Casey Cork, a veteran of the Junior International Championship series of events, who finished 9th in the overall standings of the 18U girls division in the JIC’s first year and has aged out of competition in all but the ProAm division this year, decided that she wanted to organize a pool tournament for juniors. Not content with the availability of junior tournaments in her Greensboro, NC area, she reached out to Sandeep (Sonny) Makhani, owner of Breaktime Billiards in Winston-Salem and got him to split the cost of such a tournament and then, reached out to the Billiards Education Foundation and got them to agree to its designation as a qualifier for the annual Junior Nationals.

Easy-peasy, right? Well, probably not.

“I had no clue what I was in for,” she said.

But she got it done and this past weekend, Saturday, April 30, Breaktime hosted a BEF qualifier in three divisions: 18 & Under Boys and Girls and a 14 & Under Coed division. It was arguably for the best that it didn’t draw as many entrants as she’d hoped for (35-40), as she discovered what it was actually all about. The 18U Boys drew 13 entrants, the 14U Coed event drew 11 (and was won by the room owner’s son, Jas Makhani) and there were only six 18U girls. Among this short field were a number of JIC veterans, like the Tate siblings, Joey and Bethany, who both went undefeated to claim the 18U Boys and the 18U Girls titles. Noelle Tate competed, as well, along with Skylar Hess, the Vaughan brothers, and Niko Konkel, to name just a few. 

Joey Tate got by Garrett Vaughn twice in the 18U Boys event; hot seat and finals. Tate gave up more than a single rack only once through the five matches that it took him to claim the title. The one who chalked up five against him was Garrett Vaughn’s brother, Grayson. Niko Konkel, who finished third played both brothers; Grayson in the quarterfinals (shutting him out) and Garrett in the semifinals, who defeated him in a double hill match. Tate downed Garrett Vaughn by the same 7-1 score in both the hot seat match and finals.

Grayson Vaughan also competed in the 14U Coed tourney, and was proceeding along nicely until he ran into the eventual winner, Jas Makhani, in a winners’ side semifinal. Makhani advanced to the hot seat match 7-5 over Vaughan and met up with Skylar Hess, who’d sent Max Moore to the loss side by the same 7-5 score. Makhani claimed the hot seat 7-1, sending Hess to the semifinals and a 5-2 win over Jayce Little, who’d previously defeated Vaughan in the quarterfinals. Hess managed one more rack against Makhani in the finals than she’d chalked up against him in their hot seat match, but Makhani claimed the title 7-2.

 Hess showed up in the finals of the 10-match 18U Girls event, too. Downed by Bethany Tate 7-3 in the opening round, Hess came back through half the field (three opponents) to challenge her in the finals. Bethany Tate (15) had downed her younger sister, Noelle (12) in a winners’ side semifinal 7-3, advancing to the hot seat against Alana Sanchez, who’d sent Taylor Perkins to the loss side 7-1. Bethany claimed the hot seat 7-4. Hess, after downing Perkins 7-4, Noelle Tate 5-3 in the quarterfinals and Sanchez, double hill, in the semifinals got a second shot against Bethany Tate. Tate won their title-claiming rematch 7-4.

“There were some bumps in the road, some conflicts,” said Cork of her first tournament-direction experience, as, she noted by example, the fact that the venue had to move some of the bar box tables toward the end of the evening to accommodate the arrival of a band, “but otherwise, it went well.”

Well enough, she went on to say, that she’s already setting her sights toward future junior tournaments and the possibility of launching a series of women’s tournaments, as well. Not everyone walks away from their first tournament-directing experience with as much enthusiasm and immediate plans for the next one. We suspect we’ll be hearing more from this young woman and her pool-tournament aspirations in the months and hopefully, years ahead. 

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Roberts and Morphew split top prizes on Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball Tour

Scott Roberts

Scott Roberts and Cory Morphew haven’t exactly been dormant since the pandemic landed two years ago, though Roberts, in particular, saw his climb up the earnings ladder in the last decade drop a few steps right after he’d chalked up his best recorded earnings year in 2019. For his part, Morphew’s climb up the same ladder has been something of an up-and-down affair, in something of a reverse order. Prior to this past weekend, his best recorded earnings year was his first in 2011. His finish at this past weekend’s stop on the Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball Tour (Feb. 19-20) put him $15 over his 2011 figure, and it’s only February.

They split the top two prizes. Roberts went undefeated, downing Morphew in the hot seat match and when Morphew returned from the semifinals, they opted out of a final match at the event that drew 33 entrants to Borderline Billiards in Bristol, TN.

Roberts faced Scott Howard in one of the winners’ side semifinal matches, as Morphew squared off against Chris Cowan. Morphew got into the hot seat match without giving up a rack. Roberts joined him after an 8-4 win over Howard. The hot seat match went double hill before Roberts prevailed to essentially claim the title. 

On the loss side, Eric Roberts (no relation to Scott) and Adam Pendley were both on a seven-match winning streak that would bring them together in the quarterfinals. Cowan drew Roberts, who, at the time, was five matches into his loss-side run that had recently included the elimination of Reid Vance 9-3 and Gary South 9-4. It was Howard who picked up Pendley, six matches into his loss-side run, with recent wins over 14-year-old Niko Konkel 9-1 and in a rematch from the winners’ side, double hill over 12-year-old Jas Makhani. 

Roberts and Pendley advanced to the quarterfinals; Pendley, with his seventh loss-side win, 9-6 over Howard and Roberts with his sixth, 9-3 over Cowan. Roberts then chalked up his seventh loss-side win, downing Pendley 9-6 in those quarterfinals.

The semifinals were a rematch. Morphew had downed Roberts on the winners’ side of the bracket 9-4 and chalked up a second one against him 9-1 for the right to face Scott Roberts a second time. It didn’t happen. They opted out and split the top two prizes, with Roberts, as the undefeated occupant of the hot seat laid claim to the event title.

Tour director Herman Parker thanked Janet Atwell and her Borderline Billiards staff for their hospitality, as well as title sponsor Viking Cues, BarPoolTables.net, Dirty South Grind Apparel Co., Realty One Group Results, Diamond Brat, AZBilliards.com, and Federal Savings Bank Mortgage Division. The next stop on the Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball Tour, scheduled for this weekend (Feb. 26-27), will be a $500-added event, hosted by the Rock House Grill & Billiards in Gastonia, NC.

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Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball Tour launches series of seasonal Open events

Lisa Cossette

Martin and Cossette take Open and Ladies events at inaugural Winter Classic

In the future, there’ll be a Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall Classic on the Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball Tour. They are a component of a larger plan that tour director Herman Parker is initiating to feature more Open (non-handicapped) events on the tour schedule. In the inaugural Winter Classic, held this past weekend (Feb. 5-6), Justin Martin and Lisa Cossette went undefeated through the Open and Ladies fields to claim the two titles. 

“I want to attract the culture of people who want to play in Open events, rather than handicapped events,” he said, following the completion of the Winter Classic. “I’m planning on 10-12 this year and my goal, down the road is to have it be 50-50; that’d be ideal.”

“I don’t know if it’ll get there,” he added, “but this year, I want to do, on average, about one (Open event) a month.”

The inaugural Winter Classic, featuring its Open tournament and a Ladies event, which, according to Parker, is a side of the tour that he is trying to grow. Three women who competed in the Ladies tournament, also competed in the Open event. The $1,500-added events ($1,000 in the Open and $500 in the Ladies) drew 52 and 18 entrants, respectively, to Break Time Billiards and Sports Bar in Winston-Salem, NC. The 18 women were the largest number of female entrants to ever compete in an Open event on the tour. One of them, 11-year-old Noelle Tate, who finished 4th, became the youngest competitor of either gender to cash in a Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball event in the nine years of its existence.

So, we’ll start there and focus on the 11-year-old for a moment. Noelle Tate is just one member of a family of competitors who are making a name for themselves at the pool tables. Noelle is a younger sister to Bethany and Joey Tate. They were all competitors during last year’s nation-wide series of events, known as the Junior International Championships (JIC), which began its second season just last month. JIC founder, tour director and something of a ‘parental unit’ at JIC events, Ra Hanna, had announced, prior to the start of the JIC’s second season, that part of the second-year plan was to move the junior competitors into the arena of regional tours and Open events. Noelle Tate and (in the Open event) Landon Hollingsworth are manifestations of that plan. Tate came into the event and lost her second-round match to Marianne Merrill. She went on to win four on the loss side, including a 5-2 win over the woman who was favored to win the tournament, Christy Norris. She was eliminated in the quarterfinals by Katie Bischoff 5-3.

The eventual winner, Lisa Cossette, advanced through the field to a winners’ side semifinal against Norris, as Shannon Johnson and Amanda Mann squared off in the other one. Cossette and Johnson, following victories over Norris (double hill) and Mann (7-4), advanced to the hot seat match, at which Cossette prevailed 7-3.

Norris moved to the loss side and ran into Tate, who’d recently eliminated Casey Cork, double hill and Beth Allen 5-2. Mann picked up Katie Bischoff, who’d downed Marianne Merrill and Allie Tilley, both 5-2, to reach her. Tate defeated Norris 5-2 and was joined in the quarterfinals by Bischoff, who’d shut Mann out.

Bischoff eliminated Tate in that quarterfinal (5-3), but not soon enough to keep the 11-year-old out of the money in what was the first money round. Bischoff moved on to defeat Johnson in the semifinals 5-3. An appropriate double hill fight ensued in the single-match finals with Cossette claiming the title over Bischoff 7-6.

Justin Martin

Martin and Ussery battle twice to claim first Winter Classic title

Nine times out of 10, the winner and runner-up of an event, if they’ve competed against each other twice, have done so in the hot seat match and finals. Not so, this time around. Justin Martin and BJ Ussery, both heavily favored as potential winners of the event, met first in the third round. Martin sent Ussery to the loss side 7-1, where he began a seven-match, loss-side winning streak that would offer him a second shot against Martin in the finals.

Martin advanced to a winners’ side semifinal against Graham Swinson, as Corey Sykes and Jeff Abernathy squared off in the other one. Martin shut out Swinson and was joined in the hot seat match by Sykes, who’d sent Abernathy west 7-1. Martin claimed the hot seat in a double hill fight over Sykes.

On the loss side, Swinson drew Ussery, three matches into his loss-side streak, which had recently eliminated Thomas Sansone 7-5 and Josh Padron 7-1. Abernathy picked up junior competitor Landon Hollingsworth, who’d defeated Niko Konkel and Barry Mashburn, both 7-1. Mashburn had been afforded the opportunity to face Hollingsworth when, in the previous round, Christy Norris, one of the three women who competed in the Open event, along with Allie Tilley and Beth Allen, forfeited her match to Mashburn.

Ussery downed Swinson 7-2 and was joined in the quarterfinals by Abernathy, who’d defeated Hollingsworth 7-3. Ussery then eliminated Abernathy 7-2 and in the semifinals, Sykes in a double hill match. Martin defeated Ussery a second time in the finals, this time 7-2 to claim the inaugural Winter Classic.

Tour director Herman Parker thanked the ownership and staff at Break Time Billiards, as well as title sponsor Viking Cues, BarPoolTables.net, Dirty South Grind Apparel Co., Realty One Group Results, Diamond Brat, AZBilliards.com, and Federal Savings Bank Mortgage Division. The next stop on the Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball Tour, scheduled for this weekend (Feb. 12-13) will be hosted by Gate City Billiards Club in Greensboro, NC.

Go to thread

Hollingsworth, Martinez and Meyman win their divisions at JIC Season 2, Stop #1

Courtney Hairfield, Kennedy Meyman and Noelle Tate

Vonderau and Mast capture 13 & Under titles

“Last year was practice,” said Ra Hanna of On The Wire Creative Media and tour director of the Junior International Championships, sponsored by Viking Cues, which began its second season last weekend (Jan. 14-16). In a snowstorm.

“Practice is over now.”

The weather had an impact that forced Hanna to cut it short. His concern for the safety of his junior competitors, as well as the family members who’d helped get them to Roanoke, VA, led to squeezing play in all five of the JIC divisions into two days, instead of three. That same weather led to flight cancellations that pinned Hanna in Roanoke until Wednesday.

“The safety of the players and their families was what was most important,” he said, noting that a cycle of soft snow and freezing temperatures had made the roads “like an ice-skating rink.”

The event, now officially known as the Junior International Championships, sponsored by Viking Cues, drew a total of just over 100 entrants, across its five divisions (with some cross-over between divisions), to Wolf’s Den in Roanoke, VA. Hanna had expected more and was convinced that in the absence of the weather, there would have been more.

Niko Konkel, Lazaro Martinez and Garrett Vaughan

Returning to compete in the JIC’s second season were the winner and runner-up of 2021’s 18 & Under Championship finals, Landon Hollingsworth and Joey Tate, who finished 1st and 2nd in Season 2/Stop #1’s 31-entrant Pro Am Division. They did not fare as well in the 18 & Under division, finishing 4th (Hollingsworth) and in the tie for 17th place (Tate).  The 18 & Under Boys division was won by Lazaro Martinez, who went undefeated, downing Niko Konkel, who’d lost to him in the hot seat match and returned from a victory over Garrett Vaughan in the semifinals, to be defeated a second time.

In the absence of 2021’s 18 and Under Girls’ Champion, Tatum Cutting (who has turned 19), the young woman she shut out in the championship finals of that division in October, Kennedy Meyman, got ‘right back on the horse,’ so to speak. Meyman lost her opening match in the 11-entrant, 2022 division opener, but rallied to win six in a row and then, down Courtney Hairfield in the finals.

The 13 & Under divisions, which drew 17 boys and 9 girls, saw the emergence of a new(er) rivalry and the renewal of an old one. Eddie Vondereau and Grayson Vaughan battled twice for the boys’ title; hot seat and finals. Vonderau downed Vaughan both times to claim that title.

Grayson Vaughan, Eddie Vonderau and D’Angelo Spain

And in the 13 & Under Girls’ division, it was storied JIC rivals, Sofia Mast and Skylar Hess, who, like Vonderau and Vaughan, battled twice for the event’s division title. After each was awarded a bye in the opening round of play, they met in what was the first match for both of them. They came within a game of double hill, but it was Hess who edged out in front to send Mast to the loss side 7-5. Mast breezed through her first three rounds on the loss side by an aggregate score of 21-4. In the quarterfinals that followed, Noelle Tate (sister to Joey) put up a fight that earned her more racks against Mast than her first three loss-side opponents, combined. Mast advanced 7-5 to the semifinals, where she defeated Savannah Easton, appearing in her first JIC event, 7-4.

“That was one of the surprises of the event,” said Hannah. “(Easton) beat out some of the top girls in that division (Franki Spain, Raygen Wilson & Skylynn Elliott) to finish third in her first event.”

So, once again, it was Mast and Hess squaring off against each other; a matchup that occurred in the quarterfinals of the 18 & Under Girls Championship last October. Mast dominated the extended race-to-9, winning it 9-2 to claim her first, and likely, not her last 2022 JIC title. 

If it ain’t broke . . .

There are differences in this second JIC season, but they’re about some minor additions and an expectation level being fostered by Hanna and the crew of folks who helped him last year and continue to do so this year. Kory and Trena Wolford, owners of Wolf’s Den, are among them.

Skylar Hess, Sofia Mast and Savannah Easton

Viking Cues has joined as a sponsor, and as such, will contribute to prizes, a scholarship to be awarded to the player who receives the tour’s Brendan Crockett Sportsmanship Award, aspects of the tour’s day-to-day operations, and when appropriate, unspecified equipment. Hanna noted that Dynaspheres “stepped up,” as did Mike Littman with Littman Lights. The tour is working with DigitalPool this year, which will feature what Hanna described as a “custom environment” with the expected brackets, updated division rankings, player profiles and live scoring.

“The players themselves are going to be doing the live scoring from their smart phones,” said Hanna. “They’ll be uploading scores to that site in real time.”

“We’re looking at a shot clock on the big tables,” he added of one other embellishment they’ll be considering bringing, literally, to the tables. “Modeling the atmosphere to that of the professionals, so that (the players) won’t be ‘deer in the headlights’ out in the world.”

“We’re also going to be sponsoring some of the players going into Pro events throughout the year,” he added. “It’ll be up to the player to decide which Pro event they might want to attend, whether it be Turning Stone, or the Super Billiards Expo. (The tour) will be off in April and we’re going to send a nice little contingent. With four of the divisions, a representative from each division would be nice.”

The plan is to provide the junior players with more than just an opportunity to compete throughout the year, but to provide them, as well, with the tools necessary to compete against increasingly difficult competition in what could well be difficult venues.

“I don’t want them complacent,” said Hanna. “I want them to know that there’s always going to be someone coming for you and that things aren’t always going to be perfect; not the balls, not the tables, not the general environment.”

“I want to go to war with this group,” he added. “The make-up of this group is the right combo to succeed; we’ve got everything – gunslingers, mercenaries, the quiet types. We’re going to make some noise this year.” 

The Junior International Championships, sponsored by Viking Cues, will hold the second stop of its second season on the weekend of Feb. 11-13. It will be hosted by Diamond Billiards in Cape Coral, FL.

US and Canadian Teams Announced For World Junior Pool Championship

Three members of Team USA, Sofia Mast, Aryana Lynch and Tiana Jiang (Photo courtesy Roy Pastor)

While the recent changes in requirements for travel to Europe, have the event in a sort of limbo, the Billiard Congress of America is still proud to announce the participants who are slated to travel to Austria on October 6th – 10th for the Predator 2021 WPA World Junior 9-Ball Championships. 

The members of Team USA are:

Riley Adkins, Daniel Martin, Landon Hollingsworth, Joey Tate, Payne McBride, Kyle Yi, Jayden Liu, Niko Konkel, Harry Leinen, Aryana Lynch, Sofia Mast, Tiana Jiang, Savanna Wolford, Skylar Hess, Alice Adams, Hayleigh Marion and Kennedy Meyman

In addition to the seventeen players representing the USA, the BCA also announced that Arnaud Rakovich, Issac Yee and Haydar Ali Cappo are representing Team Canada at this event. 

As announced in a previous release from the BEF, “Allocations for the prestigious 2021 2021 WPA Predator World Junior Pool Championship, (…) will be provided to the highest placed finishers in the boys open 16 & Under and 18 & Under divisions, and in the girls open 18 & Under division”. With some candidates unable to travel to Austria, the BCA opened up invitations to the champions from the 14 & Under Girls, 16 & Under Girls and 14 & Under Boys Divisions. All three of these division winners are confirmed for Team USA.  

Some of these warriors are asking for help on social media to fund their trips to Austria, so if you see one of your favorite players on the list of players, check out their social media pages and help any way that you can. 

Harrell and Hollingsworth split top prizes on 4th of July stop on Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball Tour

Niko Konkel, Matt Harrell & Landon Hollingsworth

The Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball Tour returned to Breaktime Bar & Billiards in Winston-Salem, NC for the 4th of July weekend and attracted a field of 54 entrants to its $500-added event there. They brought back 12 competitors to the venue on Sunday, which normally would have closed for the 4th of July holiday. Those 12 battled down to the two competitors who squared off against each other in the finals, at which point, Matt Harrell and junior competitor Landon Hollingsworth agreed to a split of the top two prizes, so that one and all could proceed to area fireworks. As the occupant of the hot seat at the time of the agreement, Matt Harrell claimed the official event title.

Nearly half of the competitors who signed on for this event were either junior players or women. One of those junior players, Landon Hollingsworth, currently #4 in the Pro Am Rankings of the Junior International Championships being held at multiple venues nationwide, lost a match to the eventual winner in the third round of play and battled back through seven matches on the loss side for the right to face Harrell in the finals, which didn’t happen. 

With Hollingsworth already at work on the loss side, Matt Harrell advanced to a winners’ side semifinal match against a former junior competitor Hunter White. Yet another junior competitor, Niko Konkel (14) squared off against Josh Williams in the other winners’ side semifinal.

Konkel downed Williams 5-4 (Williams racing to 6). Harrell joined Konkel in the hot seat match, following his 7-6 win over White, who was racing to 9. Harrell, in what would prove to be his last match, claimed the hot seat 7-3 over Konkel.

On the loss side, it was White who picked up Hollingsworth, four matches into his seven-match, loss-side winning streak that had recently shut out Dakota Ash in the first money round and then eliminated Josh Shultz 7-4. Williams drew Collin Hall, who had defeated Travis Guerra 6-4 and Jeff Pruitt, double hill.

Williams downed Hall 6-2. Hollingsworth joined him in the quarterfinals, after defeating White 7-1. Hollingsworth then eliminated Williams 7-4 in those quarterfinals. Hollingsworth completed his loss side run with a 7-2 victory over Konkel in the semifinals.

Hollingsworth and Harrell negotiated the split of the top two prizes. Harrell was awarded the official event title and Independence Day celebrations resumed all around.

Tour director Herman Parker thanked Sundeep “Sunny” Makhni and his Breaktime staff for their hospitality, as well title sponsor Viking Cues, BarPoolTables.net, Dirty South Grind Apparel Co., Diamond Brat, Federal Savings Bank’s Mortgage Division and AZBilliards. The next stop on the Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball Tour, scheduled for this weekend, July 10-11, will be hosted by Sonny’s Bistro & Billiards in Princeton, WV.