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International 9-Ball down to final four; Gorst/Zielinski, Shaw/Ko Pin Yi to play semifinals at 4 & 6

Wiktor Zielinski

JIC quarter and semifinals feature a Tate family gathering

It’s come down to Russia’s Fedor Gorst, Poland’s Wiktor Zielinski. Scotland’s Jason Shaw and Taipei’s Ko Pin Yi. In matches that began today (Friday, Nov. 4) at around noon and lasted until about five minutes ago, the International 9-Ball Open’s field of 128, in single-elimination fashion, came down to its final four.

The final eight began squaring off immediately following the conclusion of a banquet and ceremonies which inducted Dennis Orcollo and Professional Billiard Instructor Association’s Jerry Briesath into the Billiard Congress of America’s Hall of Fame. While Briesath was present at the ceremony, addressing the crowd and accepting the award for his accomplishments as an instructor for many years. Dennis Orcollo, due to ongoing visa problems, accepted the award via a Zoom call from the Philippines, which, though it had its moments of humorous glitches went smoothly. Orcollo was introduced from a podium at the banquet and when the moment was turned over to him, he sat smiling on the screen for a number of minutes before the connection and cues translated across the thousands of miles from the Philippines and Norfolk, VA was accomplished.

Four of the eight 9-Ball quarterfinalists and a number of the Junior competitors went right from the tables in the banquet hall to the tables in the arena of the Sheraton Norfolk/Waterside in Norfolk, VA. Germany’s Joshua Filler and Wictor Zielinski took center stage in the Accu-stats feature arena, while Fedor Gorst and Austrian Albin Ouschan moved to one of the adjacent areas nearby. 

The Junior International Championships matches – the semifinals of the 18 & Under Girls division and the quarterfinals of the 18 & Under Boys division got underway in another adjacent area at the edge of the center arena (more on this later).

Zielinski and Filler played before an appreciative and noisy crowd which had something to applaud at least once in all 16 games that made up their race-to-10. Zielinski edged out in front near the end to win it 10-6 and be the first quarterfinalist to advance. As Gorst and Ouschan continued their struggle, with Gorst getting ahead early and staying there to win it 10-3, Shaw and Spain’s Jonas Souto practiced in the Accu-Stat feature arena. Shortly after they got  underway, Mario He and Ko Pin Yi squared off at a table in an adjacent area.

As Gorst had done to Ouschan, Shaw did likewise to Souto, by the same 10-3 score, becoming the third quarterfinalist to advance. And as Zielinski had done to Filler, Ko Pin Yi became the final piece to the International Open 9-Ball’s semifinal puzzle, eliminating Mario He, by the same 10-6 score.

The semifinals and finals of the 9-ball Open will play out on the Accu-State feature arena tomorrow (Sat., Nov. 5), beginning with Gorst and Zielinski at 4 p.m. Shaw and Ko Pin Yi will meet at 6 p.m. The finals are scheduled for 8 p.m.

Noelle Tate

Three siblings battle for sure slot in the finals, a chance at getting there and 3rd place in JIC

As the two sisters, 12-year-old Noelle and 15-year-old Bethany Tate began their semifinal match in the 18 & Under Girls division of the Junior International Championships, they were keenly aware of their 17-year-old brother, Joey, who was playing versus Payne McBride in the quarterfinals of the 18 & Under Boys division. They had to be, because they were playing at adjacent tables, forcing them to more or less constantly pay attention to what was happening at the next table to avoid poking someone with a stick; didn’t happen often, although checking to be sure that it didn’t happen, did happen often.

They went off at more or less the same time, while Filler and Zielinski were playing their quarterfinal 9-ball Open match. Applause emanating from the feature arena crowd had a way of coinciding with some good shooting going on in the junior matches. There was no mistaking which girl was which; the older Bethany, more than just a few inches taller than her relatively diminuitive younger sibling, Noelle. It was not a distinction that played out on the table.

One might have been fooled early, watching Bethany chalk up the first-game win, but it became clear when Noelle won the next two that this was not going to be easy for either of them. It was a pool game, but one that featured as something of a sideshow, sibling rivalry, age differentiation and that particular distaste for losing which has a way of playing out more emotionally at a younger age. 

Bethany came back to tie the score at 2-2. They would go on to tie five times at each numerical progression; 1-1 through 5-5. As it happened, the ‘table’ offered each of them numerous opportunities to win using a combination that included the 9-ball. Bethany ended up doing it twice; once tying the match at 4-4 and again, at 5-5.

Meanwhile, brother Joey was behind in his match versus Payne McBride; a fact that there’s no doubt they were noticing, though they never, not once, let it be known, as they maintained their focus at their own table.

Bethany won games 2, 3, 5, 8 & 10. Noelle took games 1, 4, 6, 7 & 9. By the time they reached the 10th game, they had picked up their pace. Games 9 & 10 were played at a very rapid pace, with both girls taking and making bank shots and any other shots necessary to reach the finish line, quickly. Bethany was a little too quick in Game 11 to assess the lie of the last two balls; very close to each other, Bethany dropped the 8-ball well enough, but her shot pushed the 9-ball into a tough target range. She missed the 9-ball and Noelle sunk it to reach the hill first.

Still working at a rapid pace, Bethany was on her way through the 12th rack looking to force a double-hill, deciding game and made two successive (quick) bank shots to get the first shot at the 9-ball. It rattled in the hole and for all intents and purposes, it was over. Noelle did not shoot at the 9-ball, because Bethany saw the ‘writing on the wall’ and stepped in to give her a hug, effectively ending it. 

Noelle had finished in 6th place in the JIC’s season-ending standings, based on performance in eight events. On her way to the finals in the 18 & Under Girls Championship, scheduled for noon tomorrow (Sat. Nov. 5), she had been defeated only once, by Courtney Hairfield, who’d finished in 7th place in the standings. On the loss side, Noelle had defeated Kennedy Meyman (#5), Precilia Kinsley (#3) and her own sister, Bethany, who had finished the JIC season as the division’s #1-ranked competitor.

“I was so nervous,” said Noelle, minutes after the match, “because normally, she beats me.”

Though aware that projecting how things might turn out in any ‘road ahead’ tournament setting was not generally a good idea, she did harbor some feelings about what wasn’t going to happen.

“I was not really thinking of being in the finals,” she said of tomorrow’s match versus The Pink Dagger, aka Sofia Mast, who finished as the division’s #2 competitor at the end of the season and sat next to Precilia Kinsley’s mother during the match between the Tate sisters and joined in the conversation about it afterwards. Asked how she had acquired the skills necessary to keep her own nervousness at bay during her match, Noelle smiled.

“It’s just a game, and you try to just have fun,” she said. “I have to keep thinking that.”

Meanwhile, the two Tate sisters were able to turn their attention to their brother Joey, who, last time they looked, was a few racks behind in his quarterfinal match. Though McBride reached the hill first, Tate caught up and won the final rack. He moved on within a matter of minutes to face Garrett Vaughan in the semifinals, winning it 7-4. So once again, as they did last year, Joey Tate and Landon Hollingsworth will square off in the finals of the JIC’s 18 & Under Boys Championship (2 p.m., today). He’ll get the opportunity to root for Noelle in the 18 & Under Girls final at noon and later, looking for the finals win this time, he’ll have his two sisters rooting for him from the viewing seats.  

All of Saturday’s action will take place on the featured table and fans will be able to watch the junior matches free on Facebook and YouTube. Fans hoping to catch the semi-finals and finals of the main event will have to do so with  the Accu-Stats PPV coverage. They can also follow all of the action online with real-time scoring and online brackets all week long.

PPV Coverage
One Pocket Stage One Online Brackets
One Pocket Stage Two Online Brackets
Big Foot 10-Ball Brackets
9-Ball Brackets
Real Time Scoring

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International Open Advances 16 to Single Elimination Phase

JIC series begins its 18 & Under Boys and Girls Championships 

The winners’ side final 8 has been set for the beginning of the single elimination phase of the International Open’s 9-Ball tournament tomorrow (Fri., Nov. 4). As this report is being compiled (10 p.m., Thursday night), the eight competitors who will advance to the final 16 from the loss side are still competing. If Francisco Sanchez-Ruiz emerges victorious from his match against Bader Alawahdi, the final 16 in the event will contain seven of the top eight finishers (half the field) from the recently-concluded Big Foot 10-Ball Challenge, including Fedor Gorst, who won it and runner-up Joshua Filler.

Also advancing from the winners’ side into the final 16 will be Albin Ouschan, Wictor Zielinski, Jayson Shaw, Konrad Juszczyszyn, Roberto Gomez, and Alex Kazakis.

Already advancing from the loss side are Aloysius Yapp, who (very) recently defeated Jesus Atencio 10-8 and Mario He, who downed Sky Woodward 10-4. Still to be decided were matches between Robbie Capito/Ko Pin Yi, Jonas Souto/Noayuki Oi, Jani Uski/Moritz Neuhausen, Francisco Sanchez-Ruiz/Bader Alawahdi, Ping Chung Ko/Mieszko Fortunski and David Alcaide/Abdullah Alyousef

JIC underway; Boys will play winners’ side final four and 7/8 matches, Girls to play hot seat and quarterfinals

A total of 16 boys (18 & Under) and 8 girls (18 & Under) came to Norfolk to compete in the final events of the 2022 Junior International Championship series. In the course of the eight-event season, which began in January, the competitors amassed points which, at the end of the eighth stop on the series, yielded a ‘top players’ list, which led to invitations to the Championship events for the 18 & Under Boys and Girls. 

Both of those events got underway today, Thursday, Nov. 3. At the end of the day, there were six boys and four girls left. The top two girls in the year-long rankings – Bethany Tate #1 and Sofia Mast #2 – will square off tomorrow afternoon (Friday, Nov. 4; 2 p.m.) in the 18 & Under Girls hot seat match. At noon, Precilia Kinsley and Noelle Tate will square off in the quarterfinals, to be followed by the semifinals at 7 p.m., pitting whoever did not claim the hot seat and the winner of the quarterfinals. The finals are scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 5 at noon.

At 10 a.m., tomorrow morning (Friday), the #2 and #3-ranked competitors from the 18 & Under Boys division – Landon Hollingsworth and Payne McBride will meet in one of the winners’ side semifinals. In the other one, #13 Garrett Vaughan and #15 Justin Maywin will meet. On the loss side, also at 10 a.m., playing in the two 7/8 matches, the #1-ranked Joey Tate will meet the #14-ranked Logan Whitaker.

Of the remaining six, three of them (Worth, McBride & Tate) competed in the International Open’s 9-Ball Tournament, with Brent Worth drawing what was arguably the toughest draw. He faced Hall of Fame German Ralf Souquet in the opening round and then, on the loss side, faced and lost to former junior competitor Chris Reinhold. McBride lost a winners’ side match to one of the semifinalists in last week’s American 14.1 Straight Pool Championship, Mieszko Fortunski and fell to Alecsa Pecelj on the loss side. Tate lost to Abdullah Alyousef on the winners’ side and Sullivan Clark on the loss side.

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Fisher stays atop WPBA rankings with come-from-the-loss-side win at Sledgehammer Open

Kelly Fisher, Janet Atwell and Kristina Tkach

The late Helena Thornfeldt remembered in heartfelt 1st Annual event named in her honor

She was nicknamed the Sledgehammer because of her powerful break. Whenever conversations about Helena Thornfeldt broke out among friends and competitors at the 1st Annual WPBA Cherokee Sledgehammer Open, named in her honor this past weekend (Wed., Oct. 19 – Sun., Oct. 23), more than just a few of the gathered women had cause to remember it; the loud whack of initial contact and the way the balls spread out as though desperate for space beyond the rails to dissipate the energy of it. It had taken over two years for the pool community’s widespread respect and admiration for the late Helena Thornfeldt to arrive at a gathering in her honor. The WPBA Hall of Famer died in August of 2019 and though Janet Atwell, in an attempt to organize a 2020 event, began work on it almost immediately, COVID had other ideas, that persisted.

This past weekend, Atwell’s room, Borderline Billiards in Bristol, TN had one of Thornfeldt’s favorite things, sunflowers, on prominent display. A table was set aside to hold a variety of individual and collections of photos. The trophies that were handed to the winner, Kelly Fisher and runner-up Kristina Tkach were accompanied by two actual sledgehammers, made by Robert Ingold of Team SuperShaft. Atwell is working on the creation of a permanent wall plaque at Borderline Billiards with engraving space for the event’s present and future winners, along with a pair of crossed sledgehammers. The event began on Wednesday with words from Janet Atwell and a video made by Bonnie Arnold that featured, among other things, Thornfeldt singing a karaoke version of Born to be Wild. The event officially opened with the National Anthem sung by Christina Druen.

“I think it was an emotional event for everyone,” said Atwell. “Some went through some struggles with it.”

“Absolutely,” agreed Kelly Fisher. “A very emotional event, that first night. There wasn’t a dry eye in the place.”

Kelly Fisher

“We all missed her really,” she added, “and we hadn’t had a chance to show that or feel that, as a family, together. I know that for myself, during that final and a during a few other close matches as well, I could just imagine Helena saying things to me. I went outside at one point to get a breath of air and Monica (Webb) said something to me that Helena would have said and I got kind of fired up there. So for me, personally, she was definitely a presence in my heart and mind.”

Among those in attendance, including Fisher, Tkach and Atwell of course, was Jeannette Lee, who had, in a 2017 interview, called Thornfeldt “the best female straight pool player in the world.” Lee joined Atwell as a member of a ProAm team (one of many) that played a social tournament on opening night, full of blatant sharking and fun. Monica Webb, who ran a restaurant business with Thornfeldt for a number of years, was there, as well. So, too, was the WPBA’s Peg Ledman, a personal friend of Thornfeldt. Not present, though there in spirit, was Allison Fisher, who was in England being awarded an MBE title (a Member of the British Empire) for her “contributions to sport,” many of those, from Britain’s point of view, earned as a snooker player there. The event also featured a strong contingent of (now) relatively well-known junior competitors like Hayleigh Marion (for whom Borderline Billiards is a home room), Sofia Mast, Skylar Hess and recipient of a great deal of attention, 12-year-old Savannah Easton.

The $10,000-added Sledgehammer Open drew a total of 80 entrants to Borderline Billiards, 32 of them drawing byes exempting them from Stage One competition. The 48 others, 16 of whom drew opening round byes in Stage One, played in a double-elimination bracket until there were eight on each side of it. Stage Two awarded byes to the top 16 in the WPBA standings, as the double-elimination bracket got underway, and . . . they were off. 

Headlining the eight competitors who advanced to Stage Two from the winners’ side of the Stage One bracket was Sofia Mast, one of the 16 who’d been awarded opening round byes in Stage One. Her first opponent was Savannah Easton, setting up an early junior marquee matchup. Mast advanced on the winners’ side 7-2, while Easton would move to the loss side, winning three by an aggregate score of 21-5 and advancing to Stage Two. Also advancing on the winners’ side of the Stage One bracket were Kathy Friend, Jaye Succo, Nathalie Chabot, Christy Norris and the Callado sisters, Eleanor and Emilyn. Along with Easton, loss-side competitors advancing to Stage Two were junior competitors Skylar Hess and Precilia Kinsley, along with Nicole Albergaria, Dawn Oldag, Kim Housman, Lisa Cossette and Casey Cork.

Kristina Tkach

The opening round of Stage Two, with Kelly Fisher (among others) idle with opening round byes. Kristina Tkach played and won her opening round against Casey Cork 8-3 and then downed Stephanie Mitchell 8-3 in a match that set her up to face Fisher. Savannah Easton opened the Stage Two part of her title bid with a successful, double-hill match versus J. Pechauer Northeast Women’s Tour (JPNEWT) veteran Kia Burwell. Easton advanced to face another JPNEWT veteran and the #1-ranked American player in the WPBA rankings, Caroline Pao, where she (Easton), as they say, met her match; Pao winning the contest 8-5. Mast lost her opening Stage Two match to Meng-Hsia (Bean) Hung 8-2, and moved west for an eventual rematch against Easton. 

Fisher, in the second round, downed Eleanor Callado 8-3 and then, in a late match, fell to Tkach 8-6. Tkach advanced to the other winners’ side semifinal against Pao.

“She obviously had worked very hard and perfected that cut break and I just wasn’t getting my break going,” said Fisher. “She obviously played very well to beat me. I knew she was in good shape and thought “Oh, my!”

At the other end of the bracket, Margaret Fefilova, with relative ease, was working her way through the winners’ side for an eventual matchup against Jennifer Baretta in the other winners’ side semifinal. Fefilova got by Lisa Cossette 8-3 before running into what turned out to be her toughest opponent (as gauged by racks-against), Janet Atwell, who chalked up five against her. Fefilova moved on to down Ashley Rice 8-2 and record a shutout over the #3 competitor in the WPBA rankings, Brittany Bryant, which set her up against Baretta.

Fefilova got into the hot seat match with an 8-3 win over Baretta and was joined by Tkach, who’d sent Pao to the loss side 8-4. On Saturday night, Tkach claimed the hot seat 8-2 over Fefilova and would wait until Sunday afternoon to see who came back from the semifinals.

It was Kelly Fisher. But she wouldn’t play that semifinal until Sunday. In the meantime, Pao and Baretta had business to attend to on what was left of Saturday night. Baretta picked up Savannah Easton, whose improbable and impressive run among this roomful of professional female pool players was still happening as the bracket whittled down to its final six. Easton had followed her loss to Pao with a loss-side, double-hill win over Beth Fondell and then, looking to advance into the first money round (17th/24th), she had the opportunity to avenge her Stage One loss to Sofia Mast. She did so, in a match that appropriately came within a game of going double hill. Easton then eliminated Laura Smith and won a double-hill battle against Emily Duddy. She then downed Monica Webb 8-6 and Dawn Hopkins 8-3.

Larry Easton, Savannah’s father, no stranger to his daughter’s talent, turned to Atwell as he was watching this, as amazed as many of the spectators at how far his daughter had come, in a lot of ways.

“I don’t even know what to say,” he told Atwell.

“She’s got great cue ball control, thinks ahead and plays very smart for her age,” Atwell would comment later. “She’s very strategic and plays great safeties. She plays like an adult and (her career) is off to a great start.”

Pao, in the meantime, drew Fisher, who’d started what she called a “grueling Saturday,” playing five matches in a row from noon to 8:30. She played and eliminated Meng-Hsia Hung (at noon), Janet Atwell (2 p.m.), Susan Williams (4:30) and the WPBA’s #2-ranked competitor, Brittany Bryant (6:30), all 8-4. Fisher defeated Pao 8-3 (8:30), as Baretta elicited a variety of mixed emotions from all assembled by ending Savannah Easton’s run 8-1. There was a lot of spectator applause in the moment, some of it for both of them, but a lot of it for the talented junior.

“People were excited to see her play,” said Atwell, “and happy with her finish.”

In a quarterfinal battle appropriate to the circumstances, played the following morning, Fisher and Baretta went double hill before Fisher prevailed. In the semifinals, Fisher went back to the loss-side pattern she’d established and punching her ticket to the finals, defeated Fefilova 8-4. Fisher might have played six matches to be in the finals, but thanks to Tkach, it required eight, including a loss. The rematch came within a game of double hill, but not before Fisher found herself down 2-5 and later, 5-8; Tkach a rack away from the hill.

“I was spurred on by pure determination really and the will to win it,” she said of her comeback. “I told Helena, I looked at her picture and like that, ‘Come on, do this for you’ kind of thing and whether you believe in that kind of thing or not, it’s not about who or what it takes to spur you on, but doing whatever it takes.” 

“Whatever it was,” she added, “things turned around. I dug in my heels, hit a gear and took charge of the match.”

From 2-5 down, Fisher won eight of the last 11 games, including the last five in a row. Quite the gear, all things considered. Whether it was herself, Helena, or just the adrenaline of a final push to the finish line, Fisher brought it all to bear and claimed title to her close friend’s first and likely not the last memorial.

Helena Thornfeldt

The 1st Annual WPBA Cherokee Sledgehammer Open came about through the efforts of any number of people, all of whom host Janet Atwell thanked, from the players and spectators to the members of her staff. She also thanked event sponsors the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, Brad Hendricks Law Firm (Little Rock, ARK), Patty and Walter Harper of Knoxville and the streaming services of DigitalPool with Upstate Al, Zach Goldsmith and a number of competitors who joined them in the booth.

Editor’s note: Helena Thornfeldt died on August 20, 2019 at the age of 52. Originally from Borlange, Sweden, she was living in Villa Rica, about 35 miles west of Atlanta, when she died. She had opened a new restaurant, Pizza Mania, 15 days before she passed. The “Sledgehammer” turned professional in 1994, was a three-time European straight pool champion and won the 2002 US Open Championship in New Mexico, downing Allison Fisher in the finals. In the year she was inducted into the WPBA Hall of Fame in 2017, she was ranked 9th among American pool players. We here at AZBilliards join with members of the ever-expanding pool community in mourning her loss and in the years to come, celebrating the life of such a vibrant, widely-admired and respected member of our community at an annual Sledgehammer Open.

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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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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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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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Kent and Lawhorne split top prizes on Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball Tour

Earl Kent

The first time Earl Kent recorded a payout finish on the Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball Tour, nine days before Christmas in 2019, he and BJ Ussery negotiated a split of the event’s top two prizes. As occupant of the hot seat at the time, Ussery claimed the event title. This past weekend, May 14, at the same location, The Clubhouse in Lynchburg, VA, Kent, once again, split the top two prizes with his potential opponent in the finals. This time, however, Kent was in the hot seat and became the official winner, chalking up only his second recorded cash payout and his first tour win, albeit with the missed-final asterisk. The $500-added event drew 43 entrants to The Clubhouse.

He and Cameron Lawhorne worked their way through the field to arrive at Kent’s winners’ side semifinal against Chris Woodrum and Lawhorne’s against Brian Glisson. Kent got into the hot seat match 5-3 over Woodrum, as Lawhorne prevailed in a double hill match against Glisson (8-4; Glisson racing to 5). Battling for the hot seat became the defining match of the event with the two of them battling to a 12th deciding game and Kent finally winning it.

On the loss side, as matches dwindled down to the first money round (5th/6th), there was a junior competitor in the mix. Her name as Precilia Kinsley and is likely recognizable to anyone who’s been following the exploits of the Junior International Championships, now in their second season of events. After four events on the 2022 JIC so far, Kinsley is ranked 6th among 19 junior ladies in the 18 & Under division and finished 3rd at the JIC’s last stop in Phoenix, AZ a week ago. Like other junior competitors in the JIC, Kinsley has been encouraged to extend her ‘reach’ into regional tour events and according to Q City 9-Ball tour director, Herman Parker, she’s proved to be a formidable opponent.

“It was the first time she played with us,” said Parker, “and she won her first two matches; against another junior competitor and then, one of our regulars, Reid Vance, in a double hill match.”

She was sent to the loss side by the eventual winner, Earl Kent and eliminated by another Q City 9-Ball veteran, Scott Roberts, who ended up finishing third. Roberts advanced to down James Marvin, double hill, and Collin Hall 8-4 to draw Woodrum coming over from his winners’ side semifinal match. Glisson, arriving from the other winners’ side semifinal, picked up Thomas Sansone, who’d eliminated Clubhouse owner, Chris England 6-1 and Robert Cuneo 6-4.

In the first money round, Sansone and Roberts handed Glisson and Woodrum their second straight loss; Sansone advancing to the quarterfinals, double hill, as Roberts was busy eliminating Woodrum 8-2 to join him. Roberts and Sansone then battled to double hill in those quarterfinals, before Roberts advanced for a shot at Lawhorne in the semifinals.

In what would prove to be the event’s final match, Lawhorne defeated Roberts 8-6. The deal to split the top two prizes was made, with Kent taking the official event title, his first. 

Tour director Herman Parker thanked Chris England and his Clubhouse staff for their hospitality along with title sponsor Viking Cues, BarPoolTables.net, Dirty South Grind Apparel Co., Realty One Group Results, Diamond Brat, AZBilliards.com, Ridge Back Rails, and Federal Savings Bank Mortgage Division. The next stop on the Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball Tour, scheduled for this weekend, May 21-22, will be hosted Still Cluckin’ in Providence, NC. 

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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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Ussery comes from the loss side to take VA State 10-Ball Championships

Manny Chau and BJ Ussery

Junior competitor Precilia Kinsley takes Ladies title

There were times, as the 2022 VA State 10-Ball Championships, held under the auspices of the Action Pool Tour, were playing out, that one might have thought they’d taken a wrong turn somewhere and ended up at an event on the Junior International Championships (JIC). In both the concurrently-run Open and Ladies tournament, held this past weekend (April 9-10), there was strong representation from the up-and-coming crowd of junior competitors.

Precilia Kinsley (15) won the Ladies event and though the Open event was won by BJ Ussery, Jr., it was a different kind of junior (Nathan Childress) who sent him to the loss side. Three of the five matches he played after that to get to the finals put him up against Childress a second time and two other prominent male juniors on the JIC roster, Joey Tate and Landon Hollingsworth. All four and Brent Worth, another player on the JIC, competed in the Open event. Kinsley went two-and-out, while Worth went three-and-out in that division. The event drew 46 Open competitors and 20 Ladies to Diamond Billiards in Midlothian, VA.

Ussery’s path to the Open finals was rolling along smoothly through his first three matches, in which he’d given up only one rack, against Luther Pickeral (0), Shane Buchanan (1) and Larry Kressel (0). Then, he ran into Childress, who defeated him 8-5. Childress advanced to a winners’ side semifinal against Manny Chau. Hollingsworth became the second junior competitor in the winners’ side semifinals, having, on his way, given up only three racks, once, and two racks twice before facing Danny Mastermaker, who’d given up that many racks in his previous winners’ side quarterfinal win over Mac Harrell.

Mastermaker advanced to the hot seat match, sending Hollingsworth to the loss side 8-6. Chau joined him after downing Childress 8-4. Chau claimed the hot seat 8-1 over Mastermaker and waited on what he, with good reason, might have assumed was one of the three junior competitors still at work on the loss side.

On that loss side of the bracket, Childress drew Scott Roberts, who’d lost his opening match to Larry Kressel and was working on a seven-match, loss-side winning streak that was about to come to an end. He’d recently survived two straight double-hill matches against Mac Harrell and Chris Bruner. Hollingsworth drew Ussery, who was working on his own loss-side streak and had recently defeated Reggie Jackson 7-1 and JIC competitor Joey Tate 7-3.

Ussery defeated Hollingsworth 7-3 and advanced to his quarterfinal rematch against Childress, who joined him after putting a stop to Roberts’ loss-side streak 7-1. A little older by a matter of hours and presumably a little wiser, Ussery, Jr. stepped to the proverbial ‘plate’ and battled Childress to a deciding 13th game, his only double hill match of the tournament, before eliminating him.

Ussery then defeated Mastermaker 7-3 in the semifinals and claimed the VA State 10-Ball Championship title with a 9-6 victory Chau in the finals.

Precilia Kinsley and Liz Taylor

Six from JIC (30% of the field) compete, Kinsley comes from the loss side to take the title

Like Ussery, Precilia Kinsley had to come from the loss side to win the Ladies division of the VA State 10-Ball Championships. The winners’ side semifinals in the Ladies tournament featured two juniors against each other in one and two veterans in the other.

Kinsley was one of the juniors. She’d gotten by Cheryl Pritchard and Buffy Jolie to face fellow junior competitor, Bethany Tate in their winners’ side semifinal. Liz Taylor, who, at the same venue, won last October’s VA State Ladies 9-Ball Championship, ran a sort of JIC young ladies’ gauntlet. Four of her five total opponents in the event were JIC competitors. She opened with a victory over Courtney Hairfield (who’d finished 5th/6th in the last JIC 18U Girls division event, two weeks ago) and Hayleigh Marion (double hill) before stepping into her winners’ side semifinal against someone much closer to her in age, Lisa Cossette.

Tate downed Kinsley 6-4, as Taylor was working on a 6-2 win over Cossette. Taylor claimed the hot seat 6-2 over Tate and waited on the return of her last junior competitor.

On the loss side, that competitor, Kinsley, drew fellow JIC competitor Hayleigh Marion, who’d recently eliminated Britt Faries 5-2 and yet another JIC competitor, Savanna Wolford, double hill. Cossette picked up Buffy Jolie, who’d survived a double hill fight versus Courtney Hairfield and defeated Bethany Sykes 5-2 to reach her.

Cossette downed Jolie 5-3 and in the quarterfinals, faced Kinsley, who’d survived a double hill match against Marion. Kinsley defeated Cossette 5-3 and in their semifinal rematch, eliminated Tate 5-3, as well. Kinsley and Taylor came within a game of double hill, but in the end, the youngster edged out in front of the woman who owns a number of VA State titles. Kinsley downed Taylor 7-5 to claim her first. 

A five-entrant Second Chance tournament was won by Chris Bruner, who took home $80 for the effort. Brian Sewell ($20) was runner-up

Tour directors Kris Wylie and Tiger Baker thanked the ownership and staff at Diamond Billiards, as well as sponsors George Hammerbacher and Haselman & Hunt, D.D.S., P.C. Family Dentistry (Haselman & Hunt.com). As the Action Pool Tour works on adding two more events to their 2022 calendar, the next scheduled event, to be held on the weekend of November 19-20, will bring the tour back to Diamond Billiards for the VA State 8-Ball Championships. 

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