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Kleinfelter, Mast win Stop #7 18U JIC divisions, Tate wins third ProAm division

Joey Tate

Vonderau & Mast claim 13U titles

Back in February, we began our report on Stop #2 of the 2022 Junior International Championships sponsored by Viking Cues (JIC) by comparing the series to the start of a horse race, basically noting that at that juncture, the track announcer had just gotten “And they’re off!” out of his mouth. Stop #7 on the JIC was held in Des Moines, IA this past weekend (Aug. 19-21) and the same voice is telling us that the “horses are coming around the far turn and headed for home.” Bear in mind, we’re talking five races going on simultaneously, further complicated by the fact that some of the horses are running in more than one of the races. Not to mention that while the ‘fillies’ and ‘colts’ of the JIC race separately, according to their age (18U & 13U Boys and Girls), they all race together in one of the JIC divisions (ProAm) and some of them compete in both of their gender appropriate races.

‘Home’ in this case will be the final stop of the JIC, scheduled for Sept. 23-25 at Wolf’s Den in Roanoke, VA, after which some of the divisions will move on in October to compete in divisional championships, coinciding in time and place with the annual International Open in Norfolk, VA. This past weekend’s five divisional tournaments drew 95 entrants (with aforementioned crossovers) to Big Dog Billiards in Des Moines, IA.

Out in front by about ‘half-a-length’ in the ProAm division is North Carolina’s Joey Tate, who went undefeated among 37 entrants in Iowa to claim his third JIC stop of the series’ seven (runner-up three times, third once). Chase Stumfoil, appearing in his first ProAm event of the series, was the event’s runner-up, downed by Tate twice, in the hot seat 7-2 and finals 9-4. Ben Kleinfelter, who won the 18U Boys division at this stop, finished third. The victory for Tate kept him atop the ProAm division going into the final stop next month. Second in the division, Landon Hollingsworth, who finished 5th, was able to maintain his position and heads into the final stop behind Tate by only 250 points. In the absence of the division’s third-ranked player, Lazaro Martinez, Riley Adkins, who finished 5th at Stop #7, moved up into third, dropping Martinez into 4th place in the division. Payne McBride, who finished in the tie for 9th/12th, edged up behind him in the rankings to 5th place.   

Ben Kleinfelter

In the 18U Boys ‘race,’ Tate and Hollingsworth remained atop those division standings, as well (same order), although they finished 3rd and 4th, respectively, at this most recent stop. Kleinfelter went undefeated through the field of 32, defeating Payne McBride twice, hot seat 7-4 and in a nail-biting final 9-8. Tate and Hollingsworth squared off in the quarterfinals of this divisional event; Tate, having defeated Adkins 7-3 in one of the 5/6 matches, Hollingsworth having eliminated Chase Stumfoil, double hill, in the other one. Tate then downed Hollingsworth 7-3 in those quarterfinals, only to be stopped in his bid for a second event title by McBride in the semifinals 7-5. Kleinfelter survived the double hill final against McBride to claim his first JIC title. Kleinfelter’s win moved him up to the #5 slot in the 18U standings, just behind McBride. Though not in attendance at this event, Lazaro Martinez maintained his hold on third place in the 18U Boys division, as the JIC’s top ‘colts’ bunched up, headed for home.

The top four 18U ‘fillies’ of the JIC came around this final bend already bunched up, with Bethany Tate leading the way, ahead of Sofia Mast, Precilia Kinsley and Skylar Hess, in that order. Tate, who’s won four of the seven stops so far, maintained her position at the top of the pack, while finishing third among the 11 entrants who competed in the division at this stop. Precilia Kinsley, who came in to the event third in the standings, finished 4th, but edged ahead of Sofia Mast in the standings to grab second place. Mast, who went undefeated to claim the official event title, her second of the season, dropped to third. Skylar Hess, who was runner-up to Mast for the second time this season, maintained her 4th place position in the standings. 

Sofia Mast

Mast and Hess met twice in this event; in a thriller hot seat match, won by Mast and the finals, also won by Mast 9-5. Tate, who’d lost her second round match, won four on the loss side and then, defeated Kinsley in the quarterfinals, before being defeated by Hess in another double hill battle in the semifinals. Tate and Hess would square off again, and again in the hot seat and finals, of the 13U Girls division.

Vonderau and Mast claim 13U titles

Eddie Vonderau has the distinction of having won all four of the JIC’s 13U Boys events in which he has competed, including this most recent 10-entrant event, in which he went undefeated to claim the fourth title. He’s been out in front of the 13U Boys pack of ‘colts’ from the beginning, although Deke Squier, having competed in all seven of the events has stayed close. Squier finished in 5th place this time out.

Hayden Ernst, who won the third stop in this division, was runner-up this time out and moved up to 7th place in the 13U Boys standings. Seven of this event’s 10 entrants were competing in the JIC series for the first time, and in the absence of the four competitors who, coming into the event, were ranked #3 through #6 (D’Angelo Spain, Jas Makhani, Grayson Vaughan and Jayce Little), it was also an opportunity. First-timer Noel Montano finished in third place when Ernst defeated him in the semifinals. Jax Seaboy lost the quarterfinals to Montano.

Eddie Vonderau

First-timer Braylon Jensen finished in the tie for 5th (with Squier). Also first-timers Dawson Aksamit and Garrett Lawson finished in the tie for 7th place, while Wyatt Andrist and Evan Lawson finished 9th.

The 13U Girls Division was a ‘five-horse’ race, which, with Mast, Hess and Noelle Tate (Bethany’s younger sister) in the running, did not bode well for the other two competitors, Jordan Helfrey and Skylynn Elliott. They opted for a round robin format, which eventually put Mast and Hess against each other in a final match. Noelle Tate had worked her way through the field, eventually downing Helfrey 7-4, before herself being defeated by Hess 7-3, which set up the final match. Mast stayed undefeated and defeated Hess 9-4 in those finals.

At this point, an announcer at a race track is getting really excited, transmitting that excitement with a pitch in his voice, letting everyone know. . “and here they come to the finish line!!” That finish line is in Roanoke, VA next month. Like horses, the young competitors who’ve been at work on this JIC series since January are as excited about the finish line that they can now ‘see’ as the likely group of a lot of spectators who’ll join then in Roanoke, and later, Norfolk to watch.

 

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Joey Tate wins 18U Boys and ProAm divisions of JIC’s Stop #4 in Arizona

Bethany and Joey Tate (Corby Dayhoff)

Sister, Bethany Tate claims 18U girls title

All in all, it was a good weekend for the Tate family on the Junior International Championships, which held its fourth 2022 stop in the series at Bullshooters in Phoenix, AZ this past weekend (May 6-8). The family’s oldest son that plays on the JIC (among 12 in the family), Joey Tate, went undefeated in the 18U Boys division and came back from a winners’ side semifinal loss to arch-rival Landon Hollingsworth in the ProAm division to down him in the finals. Sister Bethany lost the hot seat match in the 18U Girls Division, but came back from the semifinals to down Savanna Wolford in the finals. Bethany ended up meeting and being defeated by brother Joey in a winners’ side semifinal in the ProAm division, while younger sister, Noelle, finished in the tie for 7th in the 18U Girls and 4th in the 13U Girls Division.

It was also a good day for the JIC’s most well-known rivalries with Tate and Hollingsworth squaring off in both the 18U Boys division and in the ProAm division, while Sofia Mast and Skylar Hess battled in the finals of the 13U Girls division; both won by Mast. They competed, but not against each other, in the 18U Girls division.

The event drew a total of 53 entrants (with some crossovers) to Bullshooter’s. The younger divisions drew very low numbers (three for the 13U Boys and four for the 13U Girls).

Tate’s undefeated win in the 17-entrant, 18U Boys division opened with a 7-4 victory over Landon Hollingsworth and then sent Ivo Lemon to the loss side 7-3, which set Tate up for a winners’ side semifinal against Rylan Yoder. Eddie Vonderau, in the meantime, defeated Deke Squier 7-3 and Payne McBride 7-5 to arrive at his winners’ side semifinal against Nathan Nunes. Two double hill matches ensued for advancement to the hot seat match, won by Tate and Vonderau. Tate claimed the hot seat 7-4.

On the loss side, Yoder picked up Payne McBride, who’d followed his loss to Vondereau by eliminating Hollingsworth 7-4 and Ben Kleinfelter 7-5. Nunes picked up Brent Worth, who’d defeated (among others) Jamison Gall 7-3 and Justin Maywin 7-5 to reach him.

McBride and Nunes advanced to the quarterfinals, where McBride won a double hill match versus Nunes, only to be downed himself in a double hill match by Vondereau in the semifinals. Tate completed his undefeated run with a second win over Vondereau in the finals 9-5.

The multi-gender, 20-entrant ProAm field (largest at this event) featured two matches between Joey Tate and Hollingsworth; hot seat and finals. Tate had sent Ben Kleinfelter and Jahnythan Craig to the loss side to meet up with his sister, Bethany. Hollingsworth, in the meantime, got by Rylan Yoder and Nathan Nunes to face Payne McBride in the other winners’ side semifinal.

Hollingsworth defeated McBride 7-4, as Joey was working at sending his own sister to the loss side 7-2. Hollingsworth claimed the hot seat over Tate 7-2. 

On the loss side, Bethany Tate picked up Brent Worth, who’d followed his winners’ side loss to Hollingsworth with a double hill win Justin Maywin and a 7-2 win over Nunes. McBride drew Jahnythan Craig, who’d recently eliminated Yoder and Gall, both 7-2.

McBride and Worth advanced to the quarterfinals, where McBride prevailed 7-3 and was then downed 7-4 by Tate in the semifinals. The tables were turned on Hollingsworth in the finals, who chalked up only two racks in the 9-2 win that gave Tate his second title of the event.

Bethany Tate wins 18U Girls, Mast wins 13U Girls as Vondereau takes 13U Boys

Bethany Tate’s path to the winners’ circle in the 18U Girls division went through her sister, Noelle, whom she defeated in the opening round in a somewhat predictable double hill fight. Tate then faced two ‘Savanna’s’ in a row; one with and one without an ‘h.’ She downed Savannah Easton 7-5 in a winners’ side semifinal to advance to the hot seat against Savanna Wolford, who’d defeated Sofia Mast 7-4 in their winners’ side semifinal. 

It was Wolford who grabbed the hot seat 7-3 over Tate. On the loss side, Precilia Kinsley backed up her winners’ side, first-round defeat of Skylar Hess with a 7-4 victory over Mast in her (Mast’s) first loss-side match. In the quarterfinals, Kinsley faced Kennedy Meyman, who’d survived a double hill match against Easton.

Kinsley advanced one more step, downing Meyman 7-2 in those quarterfinals, before she and Bethany Tate locked up in a double-hill semifinal that eventually sent Tate to a second shot against Wolford. Tate and Wolford battled to double hill, before Tate dropped the last ball to claim the 18U Girls title.

The two 13U-division events, with a combined eight entrants, were combined into a single event, which played out, in the beginning, as a round robin event, with each competitor playing seven matches. The top contenders were arranged into a male/female pair of single elimination matches that determined the winner in each division. 

Eddie Vondereau’s record in the round robin games earned him a bye in the single elimination phase of the 13U Boys division, as Deke Squier downed Brennan Fee 7-2. Vondereau downed Squier in the finals 9-2, with Fee finishing third. In the opening round of the single elimination phase of the 13U Girls division, Sofia Mast defeated Noelle Tate 7-2, as Skylar Hess downed Savannah Easton 7-4. In the event’s modified single-elimination format, Easton defeated Tate to finish third, with Tate, fourth. In the finals, Mast claimed the 13U Girls title with 9-5 win over Hess. 

Stop #4 of the Junior International Championships, sponsored by Viking Cues, signaled the end of the series’ first half of competition. With four events left, Joey Tate and Landon Hollingsworth are in possession of the top two spots in both the 18U Boys division and ProAm division. Tate, with this past weekend’s win and three previous runner-up finishes, is atop the ProAm division, with Hollingsworth in 2nd place, Brent Worth in 3rd and Lazaro Martinez, 4th. In the 18U division, the order is Tate, Hollingsworth, Ivo Lemon and Lazaro Martinez.

Bethany Tate, who’s won three of the first four events, is atop the 18U Girls division, with Kennedy Meyman in 2nd place. Noelle Tate sits in 3rd place and Skylar Hess is 4th. In the 13U Boys division, it’s D’Angelo Spain atop the standings. He’s been runner-up twice and 3rd twice, though he has yet to win a stop. Deke Squier is 2nd, with Eddie Vondereau, who’s won the two events in which he has competed, in 3rd place.

In an effort to assist in travel arrangements associated with the Junior International Championships and the BEF Junior Nationals, the next stop on the former has been scheduled in close time-and-location proximity to the latter. The JIC’s fifth stop, scheduled for the weekend of June 18-20, will be hosted by Griff’s in Las Vegas, while the BEF Junior Nationals will be held the following week (June 21-25) at the South Point Hotel & Convention Center in the same city.

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Shaw wins final battle versus Appleton in Open NineBall Pro Players Championship

Jayson Shaw

Nearly 2,000 entrants, with some event crossovers, compete in Amateur events

As of March 31, three weeks before the Super Billiards Expo opened its doors, the Diamond Open NineBall Professional Players Championship was designated as an Official Nineball World Ranking event, and while it did not literally draw its entrance field from everywhere, there was a very evident sense of international competition. The final 16 featured representation from the US (five) and 11 competitors from seven foreign countries – Austria, Germany (2), Russia, the UK (2), Canada (2), the Philippines and Hong Kong (2). The international ‘feel’ of the event was most evident in what was easily among (if not “the”) most anticipated matchup of the four-day event, between the UK’s Jayson Shaw and Russia’s Fedor Gorst. The matchup, which occurred in the single-elimination quarterfinals, lived up to its billing, as the two battled to double hill before Shaw advanced. More on this later, along with the final matchup between Shaw and Darren Appleton, which waited until the 17th of its potential 21 games before Shaw pulled away to win the next two and claim the title. 

There were quite a few “wish I coulda been there” matches throughout the event’s four days, up to and including matches among the final 16, which were, for obvious reasons, witnessed by the SBE’s largest crowds in the Pro arena. Pre-single-elimination, there was the double hill battle between Shaw and Billy Thorpe, which moved Shaw into the final 16, the Fedor Gorst and Ralf Souquet (new school/old school) match that sent Gorst to the final 16, and Appleton’s two straight double hill matches; one win (Jeff Beckley) and one loss (Mhet Vergara), which sent “Dynamite” to the loss side, where a single win, over Bucky Souvanthong, sent him (Appleton) to the final 16. And, as always, any match featuring Earl Strickland as a competitor is always entertaining, whether because of exuberant antics or just plain rock-solid shooting.

The Shaw/Gorst match followed a Shaw “Sweet 16” victory over John Morra 11-6 and a Gorst win over Thorsten Hohmann 11-8. Gorst opened with two straight racks and kept that as a minimum lead until rack #17. By the 12th rack, Gorst was leading by four. Two straight racks that featured Shaw dropping a combination shot that dropped the 9-ball cut that lead in half. Gorst went three-up at 9-6, but Shaw came right back with a break and run that reduced it to two again.

Off a Gorst break, Shaw narrowed the lead to one until that 17th rack, when Shaw came within one. Shaw broke the 18th, but turned the table over briefly, before, with a second chance, he dropped a 3-9 combination that yielded the match’s first tie. Gorst dropped two balls on his break, but Shaw came through to get on the hill with his first lead of the match. Gorst, with a scratch-on-the-break assist from Shaw, made it interesting by winning the 20th, double hill rack.

Gorst broke dry in the deciding rack, but Shaw turned the table back over to Gorst, who promptly scratched shooting at the 2-ball. Shaw ran to the 8-ball and Gorst conceded the game and match. 

Moving into the semifinals, Shaw drew Mario He, who’d earlier defeated Jonathan Pinegar 11-7 and Oscar Dominguez 11-9. Appleton’s path to the finals from the final 16 started out against Earl Strickland. He got by him 11-6 and then downed Joseph Spence 11-3. In the semifinals, Appleton drew Billy Thorpe, who’d recently eliminated Robbie Capito 11-9 and Souquet 11-8. 

Shaw downed He 11-7, as Appleton was busy dispatching Thorpe 11-4. The all-UK battle was on.

In the early going of the finals, it appeared as though neither of them was going to win a rack off their own break. Appleton won the lag, broke dry and Shaw ran the table to take a 1-0 lead. Shaw broke, dropping two balls and scratching. Appleton set up a 1-9 combination to tie it up. They went back and forth like this, winning the other’s break to a single game lead for Shaw at 4-3.

Shaw broke the 8th rack, dropped one, and after giving the table back to Appleton briefly, won the rack, his first off his own break, to take the game’s first two-game lead. He made it a three-game lead (his first of two), before Appleton chalked up two in a row to make it 6-5. Shaw used a terrific jump shot at the 2-ball to maintain his run of rack #12. On Appleton’s break of rack #13, he dropped one ball, but almost immediately gave the table to Shaw, who missed hitting the 1-ball, completely. Shaw saw an obvious 1-9 combination awaiting Appleton’s arrival at the table, so, gentleman that he was, he picked up the cue ball and placed it in the position it needed to be for Appleton to make the combination. He did so without handling the cue ball Shaw had set for him.

Shaw dropped two balls on the break of rack #14 and used another terrific jump shot to jumpstart his third win off his own break and then, off Darren’s break, established his second three-rack lead at 9-6. Appleton fought right back, winning the next two and including his own terrific jump shot at the 1-ball that started his 8th game win.

Ahead by a single rack at 9-8, Shaw broke and ran the 18th (his fourth win off his own break) to reach the hill first. Darren broke the 19th rack, sinking one ball, but couldn’t see the 1-ball. He pushed (the one and only time that happened all match) and Shaw finished the game to claim the event title. 

Amateur events draw 35 shy of 2,000 entrants

Not including the two junior events for ages 17/Under and 12/under, the total entrants for which were not recorded, the nine amateur events of the 2022 SBE drew a total of 1,965 entrants (with some crossover between events). This brought the total number of participating pool players to 2,101. The two Pro events (73 Open and 63 Women) thus represented just 6% of the total number of players who competed this year. Trying to detail 9 events, especially the 996-entrant Open Amateur would be unwieldy, so we offer some information about and congratulations to the 94% percent who were the largest participating contingent of pool players at the 2022 SBE.

6-Ball Amateur Players Championship (200) – 1st Danny Mastermaker, 2nd Fred Goodman III, 3rd Jared Demalia/Daniel Dagotdot

Early Bird Super Seniors (58) – 1st Ike Runnels, 2nd Martin Ciccia, 3rd Al Muccilli/Flaco Rodriguez

Open Amateur (996) – 1st Chris Bruner, 2nd Pat McNally, 3rd Jomax Garcia/Derick Daya

Senior Amateur (364) – 1st Raymond McNamara, 2nd Chris Sutzer, 3rd Javier Perez/Efrain Morales

Super Seniors (149) – 1st Gene Rossi, 2nd Ed Matushonek, 3rd Frank Sorriento/Ace Aughty

Women’s Amateur (166) – 1st Tina Malm, 2nd Ashley Benoit, 3rd Nicole Nester/Bethany Tate

Junior (12 & Under) – 1st Jim Powell, 2nd D’Angelo (“Jaws”) Spain, 3rd Noah Majersky, 4th Evan Demelo

Junior (18 & Under) – 1st Brent Worth, 2nd Payne McBride, 3rd Landon Hollingsworth, 4th Yan Pena

ProAm BarBox (32) – 1st Joe Dupuis, 2nd Alan Rolan Rosado, 3rd Bart Czapla/Joey Tate

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Danny Mastermaker collects first Super Billiards Expo title in debut of 6-Ball

The competition is starting to heat up at the 2022 Super Billiards Expo being held at the Greater Philadelphia Convention Center in Oaks, PA. The doors opened on Monday (April 18) with TAP League’s National Championships and by Tuesday, the SBE had crowned its first champion. Emerging from a field of 204 entrants, initially spread out over four single-elimination brackets, Danny Mastermaker grabbed that first title in the game format of 6-Ball, downing Fred Goodman in the finals 6-2, 6-2.

Though not by any means a new format, it made its debut here as an SBE event, playing out on Diamond ‘bar box’ tables. Utilizing the same rules as 9-Ball, with, as one might imagine, the 6-ball as the game’s ‘money’ ball, it has some advantages and disadvantages over the more popular standards; 8-ball, 9-ball and 10-ball. It is, also as one might imagine, a much quicker game. Here, at the SBE, it played out in races to six, best two out of three sets for advancement. For some, it was a familiar game, while for others, like Daniel Dagotdot, who was one of the four competitors emerging from the four brackets, it was a new experience. His thoughts on the game itself highlighted aspects of the game, which are something of a good news, bad news situation.

“It is so hard to make a ball on the break,” he noted of his first experience, “and if you break and don’t drop a ball, 90% of the time, you lose.”

It also creates a ‘do or die’ scenario, where if you step to the table after your opponent has broken, you better be prepared to finish the game from that point. An alternate break format softens the ‘do or die’ consequences somewhat, though Dagotdot made note of the same cautionary note about the nature of the game.

“Unless there’s a pack somewhere,” he said, “if you miss, you’re done, too.”

“I do like the game,” he added, “and you can’t ever really say you don’t get a chance.”

The game format appears to be attracting its share of ‘side action’ matchups at the SBE. Apparently, Dagotdot noted, players on the amateur end of the player spectrum like the odds better in a game that’s “fast-paced, with very little safety play and (not much) strategy.

“It might develop as a format with that action angle to it,” said Dagotdot. “I saw a lot of players doing that in the first two days.”

Loye Bolyard, tour director of the Maryland State Championships series of events, played 6-ball growing up, but at this stage, doesn’t see it showing up on his event calendar any time soon. Like Dagotdot, he noted the most obvious difference that it makes in game play.

“It’s all about the break, but there’s really no downside to it,” he said. “The good thing is that anybody can play.”

Open Amateur tournaments are underway, as are the two Pro events

The SBE’s Open Amateur event, with 962 registered entrants got underway on Wednesday, sporting 16 double-elimination brackets. The TAP League National Championships concluded, while its Rally in the Valley event began. On Thursday, the two Pro events got underway; the Diamond Open 9-Ball Professional Players Championship and the WPBA 9-Ball Pro Players Championships. Today (Friday), as the Open Amateur Players championship entered its third day, the Seniors Amateur Players Championship and the Women’s Amateur Player Championships got underway. 

The 74-entrant Diamond Open 9-Ball Pro event finished two rounds of play on Thursday, with a list of the ‘usual suspects’ advancing. The only real (apparent) surprise in the early rounds, which included a lot of opening round byes, was Earl Strickland’s second round (after a bye), double-hill loss to Alan Rolon Rosado. Among those advancing to a third round today (Friday) were Darren Appleton, Mika Immonen (downing junior competitor Landon Hollingsworth), Thorsten Hohmann, Warren Kiamco, Ralf Souquet, BJ Ussery, Fedor Gorst, Jayson Shaw, Billy Thorpe, John Morra and Kristina Tkach, who was the only one who played two matches, albeit one, a forfeit win over Lukas Fracasso-Verner.

The 63-entrant WPBA 9-Ball Pro Players Championships had much fewer byes in its opening round and played a single round, followed by eight matches of a second round. Like the Open event, it featured its own set of ‘usual suspects’ advancing. Kelly Fisher was the only player to receive a bye and won her opener. Winning two and advancing to a third round were (among others) Kelly Fisher, Allison Fisher, Monica Webb and Kim Newsome. Playing their second round today (Friday) were (also among others) were Jennifer Baretta, Janet Atwell, Brittany Bryant, Carolyn Pao and Loree Jon Brown.

Junior players like Landon Hollingsworth, Payne McBride, Skylar Hess and Savannah Easton (among others) are competing in the Pro events and will be competing in two separate junior events (17 & Under, 12 & Under), beginning on Saturday. The winner of each division will win paid entry to Billiards Education Foundation’s Junior Nationals. The top 16 in each division will qualify for the event. Each division’s winner will be recognized by the BEF as the Pennsylvania Jrs. State 9-Ball Champion. 

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Hollingsworth and Tate win their divisions in BSN Dynaspheres Cup Jr. 9-Ball Championships

It’s not that junior competitions, sprouting up everywhere, are more compelling or of more general interest than the Pro or Regional Tour activity that goes on. It’s more like a booster shot to accompany the good-vibe ‘vaccines’ of increased participation and growing interest in the sport that has evolved over the past four or five years. While not much essential has changed in that time, there does appear to be a renewed spirit in the air, suggesting that as dour and cynical as we can all get about the sport sometimes, there are some encouraging signs; junior competitions being only one of them, but one that makes us at least think of a future and not the arguably dismal past or the often-confusing present. 

These kids are GOOD, right??! For all of us.

The most recent entry in the junior competition roster of opportunities was this past weekend’s (March 12-13) Billiard Sports Network’s Dynaspheres’ Cup Junior 9-Ball Championships, hosted by Bank Shot Bar & Grill in Laurel, MD. Tournaments were held in two divisions; 20 & Under and 16 & Under. Not surprisingly, given the history of the current crop of junior competitors, players eligible for the younger division competed in both. Also not surprising (same current crop), was seeing Landon Hollingsworth and Joey Tate (both eligible for the two divisions) come out on top. Hollingsworth won the 18-entrant, 20 & Under division with Nathan Childress as runner-up and Tate, finishing third. Tate won the 13-entrant, 16 & Under division with Hollingsworth as runner-up and Garrett Vaughan, finishing third.

Also very much indicative of this current crop of juniors, was the fact that competition was not separated by gender. Precilia Kinsley, Skylar Hess and Courtney Hairfield, eligible for both divisions, played in both divisions. Sabrina Long competed in the 16 & Under, only. Kinsley finished 7th in the younger division, but 5th among the 20 and under crowd, and won the top Female Junior award and $40 in both divisions. As it turned out, she and Hess (7th in 16 & Under, 13th in 20 & Under) tied for the award in the 16 & Under division and decided to ‘duke it out’ on the tables, engaging in a best-of-three match, which went predictably double hill and earned Kinsley $40 for was won by Kinsley. 

 BSN also handed out two Sportsmanship awards, intended to be for the separate divisions, but with Tate and Hollingsworth as the recipients, while each went to the winner of their division, it was effectively a toss-up as to who won which. Best Shot on the TV Table awards went to Hollingsworth and Tanner Elliot.

Hollingsworth and Tate met twice in the 20 & Under division, though it was Hollingsworth and Childress who met twice in the hot seat and finals. After downing Brandon Buckmaster, double hill, and Garrett Vaughn 7-2, Hollingsworth faced Tate for the first time in a winners’ side semifinal. Childress, in the meantime, shut out Chase Longfield, for starters, and then defeated Payne McBride, double hill, to face Brent Worth in his winners’ side semifinal. In 17 winners’ side matches, double elimination finals included, the combatants chalked up six double hill fights and recorded six shutouts. 

In their first of two, Hollingsworth battled back and forth to double hill with Tate before Hollingsworth prevailed, advancing to the hot seat match. Childress joined him after downing Worth 7-3. Childress ‘caught a gear’ in the hot seat match, denying Hollingsworth, literally, zero traction.

On the loss side, Tate picked up Precilia Kinsley, who’d lost her second round, winners’ side match to Kamrin Kohr and was working on a three-match, loss-side streak that had eliminated Skylar Hess, Richard Burch and Jackson Hurst. Worth picked up Kohr, also on a three-match, loss-side streak that sent Chase Longfield, Garrett Vaughan and Jacob Kohl to the figurative showers.

Kohr and Tate defeated Worth and Kinsley, both 5-3, before Tate downed Kohr 5-2 in the quarterfinals. Hollingsworth eliminated Tate 5-2 in the semifinals and then, took the opening set of the finals against Childress 7-4. They battled to double hill in the second set before Hollingsworth finished to claim the 20 & Under title.

The action of the two divisions occurred more or less simultaneously, so when Tate was finished in the 20 & Under division, he’d already won the semifinals of the 16 & Under and moved on to the finals at the conclusion of the Hollingsworth/Childress battles. Tate’s path to the winners’ circle in the younger division went through Payne McBride before falling short against Garrett Vaughn 7-3 in a winners’ side semifinal. Hollingsworth, in the meantime, sent Tanner Elliott to the loss side in the other winners’ side semifinal and then, sent Vaughan to the semifinals 7-1.

On the loss side, Tate went through three straight loss-side opponents by the same 5-1 score; Brandon Buckmaster, Elliott in the quarterfinals and Vaughan in the semifinals, setting up a double elimination contest versus Hollingsworth in the finals. Tate took the opening set 7-5 and in a reduced-race second set survived a double hill challenge that eventually earned him the 16 & Under title.

Jake Lawson from BSN thanked the ownership and staff at Bank Shot Bar & Grill for their hospitality, as well as title sponsor Dynaspheres, Championship Fabric, Lucid Ballsports (Predator Arena Light), JB Cases, Gina Cunningham (Keller Williams Integrity), East Coast Prime Meats, Courtyard by Marriott (Fort Meade, MD), Integrity Cues, Break Out Apparel Co., AZBilliards, Premier Billiards, CueScore.com, The League Room, American Billiards Covering, B & R Productions (Rich France and Bruce Carder), DFE Billiards/XLR8. 

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Pair of Early Scares on Day One of FargoRate Ohio Open

Tyler Styer (Courtesy Matt Porinsky)

Last weekend, American Tyler Styer was battling Albania’s Eklent Kaci in the championship match of the inaugural Predator Austria Open, falling to the reigning World 10-Ball champion in straight sets.

Wednesday afternoon at the FargoRate Ohio Open, Styer had to fight and scrap to avoid an early upset, winning an overtime shootout to defeat junior upstart Payne McBride in the opening round of the four-day event being held at the Roberts Centre in Wilmington.

To say that the matchup appeared lopsided on paper would be an understatement. Styer, who has a Kremlin Cup championship along with two appearances on the United States’ Mosconi Cup team on his resume, carried a 761 FargoRate into the tournament compared to McBride’s 562. The gap appeared evident in the opening set, as Styer used a break-and-run paired with missed shots and a dry break from his opponent to paint a 4-0 whitewashing.

The 15-year-old McBride, who competed on the U.S. team in last week’s World Junior 9-Ball Championships, wasn’t deterred. He opened the second set by winning a safety exchange on the 1 ball and clearing the opening rack then added another game when his opponent scratched after pocketing the 8 ball. After Styer stole a game to cut the lead to 2-1, the young boy from Indiana used a combination shot on the 10 ball and a pair of misses by his opponent in the fifth rack to close out the set, 4-1, and force deciding spot shots.

Both players missed in their first attempts but pocketed the spotted 10 ball on their second try. Styer made the third frame shot while his opponent pushed the ball wide of the pocket and Styer secured victory when McBride missed for the third time in four tries.

Later in the day, Roberto Gomez Jr. found himself in a similar battle with American Jeremy Seaman, who rallied in the second set before falling to the Filipino in a shootout.

Gomez jumped out to an early 3-0 advantage in the first set thanks to a successful combination shot on the 10 ball in the opening rack and a break-and-run in the third game. Seaman cut the lead to 3-1 after winning a lengthy safety exchange on the 1 ball, but failed to pocket a ball on the break in the following game, allowing his opponent to close out the rack and the set, 4-1.

Gomez’s fortunes turned almost immediately in the second set when he scratched on the break of the opening game. His opponent cleared the table and appeared positioned to take a 2-0 advantage before missing the 10 ball. Gomez attempted a table-length bank of the ball but inadvertently pocketed the ball into a pocket he did not call, allowed Seaman to come back to the table and punch in the spotted ball to increase his lead to 2-0. After Seaman used a combination shot to pocket the 10 ball and build a 3-0 advantage, Gomez was able to claw out a win and cut the deficit to 3-1. The Filipino appeared positioned to cut the lead further in the fifth rack but missed the 4 ball in the corner pocket, allowing Seaman to clear the table and send the match to an extra frame.

The extra session mirrored that of Styer and McBride early on, with both competitors missing their shots in the first inning but pocketing the balls in the following frame. When each player again missed in the third inning the spot shot competition reached sudden-death, which Gomez won by pocketing the ball in the fourth inning.

In other matches from the day, Poland’s Mieszko Fortunski defeated Russia’s Ruslan Chinahov in straight sets, 4-0, 4-2, and reigning World Pool Masters champion Alex Kazakis of Greece fell to Japan’s Naoyuki Oi.

Competition resumes Thursday morning at 10:30 a.m. local time, with notable matches including Styer meeting Filipino Warren Kiamco and Poland’s Wiktor Zielinski taking on Mohammad Ali Berjaoui of Lebanon. Tournament coverage begins at noon on Billiard TV and also will be broadcast on the WorldBilliardTV YouTube channel.

The FargoRate Ohio Open is the fourth and final stop of the U.S. Pro Billiard Series, which features four open professional events between July and the end of the year. Created by Predator Group and amateur league operator CueSports International, these tournaments will run in tandem alongside of CSI league amateur events being held throughout the country. The winner of each competition receives a guaranteed spot in the $130,000-added 2022 Predator World 10-Ball Championship, which will be held March 28 through April 1 in Las Vegas at the Rio Hotel and Casino.

This competition was played on Predator Pro pool tables covered with Predator Arcadia performance cloth, with Predator Arcos II precision balls, and under the Predator Arena billiard lights.

For more information on the U.S. Pro Billiard Series or amateur leagues, visit www.playcsipool.com.

For the latest information on the Predator Pro Billiard Series action, follow @ProBilliardSeries on Facebook and Instagram. Watch replays on Billiard TV  or on the WorldBilliardTV YouTube channel.

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. 

Billiards Sports Networks launches Dynaspheres Cup Series with Junior Championships

Nathan Childress, Jackson Hurst, Cameron Lawhorne, Kodi Allen, Joey Tate, Landon Hollingsworth

Raleigh NC’s Joey Tate and Shenandoah, VA’s Garret Vaughan win their divisions

There have always been junior players, far more of them than the numbers that have actually graduated to professional levels of competition. In an off-the-top-of-one’s-head category of examples, Johnny Archer was a junior player once. So was Shannon Daulton and a lot of other now well-known professionals like Billy Thorpe and Chris Robinson, to name just a couple. Events capable of accommodating the development of junior players have, however, lagged behind the increasing 21st century numbers of interested juniors.

Until recently, the only widely-known avenue for junior competition was the Billiard Education Foundation’s annual Junior National Championships, preceded by a number of nationwide qualifying events. Last month, January 7-9, On the Wire Creative Media launched a Junior International Tour, with five junior events held at Wolf’s Den in Roanoke, VA (see related article in our News Archive, dated January 13), with eight other events planned through October. On the weekend of February 20-21, the Maryland-based Billiard Sports Network (BSN) joined the list of organizations looking to promote further junior competition for the increasingly growing number of junior players interested in competing. Their efforts were initiated with the first of two planned junior events for this year, nestled in the midst of a broader “collection of tournaments,” all under the ‘umbrella’ title of the Dynaspheres Cups.

Originally engaged in streaming live pool events, BSN and its founders, Jake Lawson and Josh Setterfield, had always projected that they would eventually start and run their own events. The pandemic brought those ideas to the forefront.

“We were going to start a collection of tournaments throughout the year,” said Lawson, “and we started reaching out to folks with whom we had relationships in the industry.”

This led BSN to Dynaspheres Balls, a subsidiary of Championship Fabric, LLC. Lawson also owns BreakOut Apparel (formerly LightsOut Apparel) and had a distribution deal with Dynaspheres Balls.

“When we decided to do this collection of tournaments,” said Lawson, “Dynaspheres came back and said they were interested in getting involved.”

Though the events were originally going to utilize the name, BSN Cups, the nature and commitment to the deal arranged with Dynaspheres Balls led Lawson and Setterfield to give them title sponsorship.

“It was the right thing to do,” said Lawson, adding that the decision to open their “collection” with a junior event was part of the ongoing response to the need for more of them. “There are just not enough junior events out there.”

This first Dynaspheres Cup Juniors 9-Ball Championship, this past weekend, crowned two champions; Raleigh, NC’s Joey Tate (15-18) and Shenandoah, VA’s Garrett Vaughan (14 and under). It was, in fact, a bit of a family affair for both of the winners. Tate’s younger sisters, Bethany and Noelle competed in the 14-and-under event, while Garrett’s brother, Grayson, competed with him in the 14-and-under event, as well. They met in the quarterfinals. The 15-18 year-old, $500-added event drew 27 entrants, while the 14-and-under $500-added tournament drew 22 to Brews and Cues on the Boulevard in Glen Burnie, MD.

Joey Tate and runner-up in the 15-to-18 year-old event, Landon Hollingsworth came to the event with a degree of Amateur tour experience, particularly with the Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball Tour on which they both play regularly. Tate has been playing on that tour since 2017, has cashed in eight appearances and won three times. Hollingsworth has cashed in 18 appearances on the tour since 2018 and like Tate, has won three times. All of Hollingsworth’s victories came last year. Tate chalked up his first 2021 victory at this Juniors event, coming from a one-match trip to the loss side to claim the title, when he downed Hollingsworth in the finals.

Tate followed an opening round bye with victories over Jeffrie Martinez and Brent Worth to arrive at a winners’ side semifinal match against Cameron Lawhorne, another Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball alumnus (14 cash payouts on the tour since 2017, with two wins). Hollingsworth got by Jacob Kohl, Joshua Joseph and Kodi Allen to arrive at his winners’ side semifinal matchup versus Nathan Childress, who started appearing on cash payout lists just last year and chalked up six cash prizes, including two wins; one, at On the Hill Productions’ 9-Ball Fall Shootout and the other, with Shane Wolford in a Scotch Doubles event.

Tate downed Lawhorne 7-4 and was joined in the hot seat match by Hollingsworth, who’d sent Childress to the loss side 7-5. As might have been expected, Hollingsworth and Tate locked up in a double hill fight for the hot seat. Hollingsworth claimed it and waited in it for Tate’s return.

On the loss side, Lawhorne picked up Kodi Allen, who, after being defeated by Hollingsworth on the winners’ side, defeated Jeffrie Martinez 7-2 and Hunter Frazier 7-4. Childress drew Jackson Hurst, who’d shut out Richard Burch and defeated Brent Worth to reach him.

Childress got by Hurst 7-3. Lawhorne joined him in the quarterfinals, after defeating Allen 7-2. In another predictable event, Lawhorne and Childress battled to double hill, before Lawhorne prevailed for a second shot against Tate. That, too, turned into a double hill contest that eventually sent Tate back over to challenge Hollingsworth in the hot seat.

It’s likely that a third straight double hill match was expected from the second Tate/Hollingsworth meeting, but it didn’t happen. Tate completed the Dynaspheres Cup’s first Junior 9-Ball Championship and his first victory run of 2021 with a 7-4 win in the finals.

Adrian Prasad, Payne McBride, Garrett Vaughn , D’Angelo “Jawz” Spain, Grayson Vaughn, Niko Konkel

Vaughan comes from the loss side to win 14-and-under division

The brothers Vaughan almost met in the hot seat match of the 14-and-under tournament.

As the elder brother, Garrett (14), got his bye and then worked his way through the field, shutting out Dylan Moore and defeating Niko Konkel 7-1 to arrive at a winners’ side semifinal match against D’Angelo “Jawz” Spain, younger brother Grayson (11) was doing his part by (without a bye) defeating Hayleigh Marion 7-1, shutting out Carley Tomaszewski and sending Adrian Prasad west 7-5, to arrive at his winners’ side semifinal match against Payne McBride.

There they sat, one match away from drawing each other in the hot seat match of a tournament. Garrett and “Jawz” fought to double hill before “Jawz” prevailed. McBride downed Grayson 7-3, and the brothers had to settle for the possibility of meeting in the event quarterfinals. McBride, in the meantime, defeated Spain 7-3 to claim the hot seat.

On the loss side, Garrett drew Adrian Prasad, who’d defeated Skylar Hess 7-2 and Hayleigh Marion 7-5 to reach him. Brother Grayson picked up Niko Konkel, who’d defeated Joey Tate’s younger sister, Noelle 7-1 and Jayce Little 7-3.

The stars aligned properly, although Grayson had his work cut out for him with a double hill battle against Konkel. He won it, eventually, and was joined in the quarterfinals by his brother, who’d come a game short of double hill in defeating Prasad 7-5. And the brothers locked up in a double hill fight that had to be of immense importance to both of them on a lot of different levels. Big brother Garrett won it, though, and advanced to face D’Angelo Spain in the semifinals.

With Grayson no doubt rooting for him all the way, Garrett shut Spain out and then, with Grayson rooting him on to defeat the player who’d sent him to the loss side, Garrett downed McBride 7-2 to claim the 14-and-under championship title.

Jake Lawson and Josh Setterfield thanked the ownership and staff at Brews & Cues for their hospitality, as well as title sponsor Dynaspheres, Lucid Ballsports (Predator Arena Light), Gina Cunningham (Keller Williams Integrity), East Coast Prime Meats, Center Pocket, Courtyard by Marriott Bowie, Maryland, Luke Thompson Photography, MB Cues/Mike Burton, Integrity Cues, Break Out Billiards Apparel, AZBilliards, Premier Billiards and CueScore.com. They also thanked Tour Director Steve Fleming, and their staff of Tracy Gebhard, Kim Huff and Robbie Hess.

The next tournament in The Dynaspheres Cup series, scheduled for May 1-2, will be the $5,000-added Open/Pro Dynaspheres Cup 10-Ball Championships, to which Shane Van Boening, James Aranas, Fedor Gorst, Kristina Tkach, Brandon Shuff and Shaun Wilkie, among others, have reportedly already signed up. The Dynaspheres Cup 8-Ball Championship is scheduled for June 5-6. The Dynaspheres Cup Double 8-Ball Championship is scheduled for July 31-August 1 and the second Junior Championship is set for September 25-26. The series finale, scheduled for November 6-7, will be The Dynaspheres Cup 9-Ball Championships. All events will be hosted by Center Pocket in Bowie, MD.

According to Lawson, plans are in motion to expand this first season’s four Open/Pro and two Junior events. BSN has a two-year-contract with Dynaspheres and is looking at planning for 12 events in 2022.