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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Dominguez goes undefeated to claim 26th Annual ‘Swanee’ Classic at Griff’s in Vegas

Oscar Dominguez, Tim Kovacs and Ruben Bautista

In the absence of the event’s defending champion and runner-up, Shane Van Boening and Corey Deuel, the 26th Annual Jay Swanson “Swanee” Memorial’s 2022 champion was Oscar Dominguez, who went undefeated through a field of 64. Advancing to the hot seat against him was the 2019 winner, Max Eberle, who was ousted in the semifinals by runner-up, Ruben Bautista. The $4,000-added event was hosted by Griff’s in Las Vegas.

As is always the case, the annual memorial to someone who is remembered in the pool community, leads to conversations about him. Jay “Swanee” Swanson, referred to as a ‘Gentle Giant,’ was, by all accounts, one of the best ‘money’ players of all time, before he passed in 1996. In June, 2008, a Forum thread was initiated on AZBilliards, entitled “Tell me about Jay Swanson.” If you weren’t at the tournament and/or know nothing about the man, use the opportunity and read that thread, in lieu of a moment of silence in his honor, to learn what many in the existing pool community already know. 

As it turned out, Oscar Dominguez’ undefeated seven-match march to the finish line of the “Swanee” Memorial was not the longest string of wins at the event. Jordan Holman also had a seven-match winning streak, in between his opening match loss and his final loss in the battles for 5th/6th. The ‘most wins in a row’ prize went to Ronnie Wiseman, who finished 4th, also sandwiching his eight wins between an opening round loss and his last match.

Dominguez’ seven-match march to the finish line started out with a shutout and until the hot seat match, no one chalked up more than four racks against him in the races to 8. Tom Whitten was the opponent he shut out before he gave up three each to Richard Burns and Vilmos Foldes. It was Ernie Rivas who managed the four, which brought Dominguez to a winners’ side semifinal against Ian Costello. 

Eberle, in the meantime, opened with back-to-back 8-2 victories over Charles Joseph Jacques and Scott Bush, before James Davee threw a one-game-away-from-double-hill scare into him with six racks. The ‘scare’ appeared to inspire him, as he shut out his next opponent, Matt Hardwick, and moved on to a winners’ side semifinal against Ruben Bautista.

Dominguez got into the hot seat match with an 8-1 victory over Costello. Eberle joined him after downing Bautista 8-5 and sending him to the loss side from which he would return to challenge Eberle again, in the semifinals, and Dominguez in the finals. 

On the loss side, Bautista picked up Jordan Holman, who’d lost to Jeff Gray in the opening, winners’ side round and was six matches into his loss-side run, that had included recent victories over Ernie Rivas 7-2 and a shutout win over Tim Daniel. Costello drew Ronnie Wiseman, who was six matches into his eight-in-a-row, loss-side run. He’d eliminated Jeff Gray (for Holman), had recently handed Matt Hardwick his second straight shutout and sent Bret Huth home 6-2.

Bautista ended Holman’s loss-side streak, though not before Holman had forced a 13th deciding game. Wiseman, in the meantime, extended his streak to its eighth win, downing Costello 7-2. Bautista left Wiseman in the 4th place dust (7-2) and then, in a rematch, defeated Eberle 7-4 in the semifinals. 

Entering the finals, Oscar Dominguez was sporting a 73% game-winning average through six matches (48-17). Bautista stepped to the table with a 66% average through eight matches (58-29); his loss to Eberle and his first loss-side, double hill match versus Holman had dropped that percentage down from the 78% it had been before he’d run into Eberle. Dominguez won the game-winning percentage in the finals by a fair amount (66%). Bautista’s game-winning average in the finals was dramatically low at 38%, much more dramatic than the actual score. Dominguez completed his undefeated run with an 11-7 win over Bautista to claim the 26th Annual “Swanee” Memorial title.

Tournament director Tim Kovacs thanked Mark Griffin (“for adding the $4,000 and for all (he) does for pool) and his “always awesome” Griff’s Staff for their hospitality. He thanked Daniel Krupinski, as well, for filling in on short notice and doing a good job running the free stream. Kovacs also thanked Mike Moyer for helping things run smoothly ‘on the board.’ He broadened the scope of general thanks, to include any and all who’d supported the event.

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Espinosa and Jueco Win Poison Lone Star Season Opener

Justin Espinosa, Bobby Perez, Kevin Gray, Ruben Bautista, Jesus Alcocer and Roberto Gomez

Justin Espinosa went undefeated in the 55-player, open 9-ball division, defeating Ruben Bautista, 6-4, to win his first Poison Lone Star Billiards Tour, open division title. In the 64-player, amateur 9-ball division, Junior Jueco was unmatched, beating Felipe Yniguez, 5-4, to earn his first, amateur division, Tour title.
 
On January 4th-5th, 2020, the Poison Lone Star Billiards Tour Season Opener went off like a rocket at Slick Willies Family Pool Hall, located at 5913 Westheimer, in Houston’s upscale Galleria area. Slick Willies will host four stops on the 2020 Poison Lone Star Tour, including an event in San Antonio. Tour title sponsor, Poison by Predator Cues, sponsors Cyclop Pool Balls, APA of North Harris County, Alamo Billiards, and Outsville Billiards facilitated a successful event that drew notables Justin Espinosa, Ruben Bautista, Jesus Alcocer, Ernesto Bayaua, and Andy Jethwa, and paid out $8,485 in prize money. The next event is February 8th-9th, at Diamond Sports Bar and Billiards in Port Arthur, Texas.  For more information about the Poison Lone Star Tour, visit www.LoneStarBilliardsTour.com.
 
In the open 9-ball division, Austin’s Justin Espinosa fought his way to the winners’ side final four with victories over Michael Lui, Louie Vickio, 6-1, Kenneth Price, 6-4, and Will Felder, 6-0, while Jesus Alcocer denied Ronjan Mathur, Bobby Dominguez, Junior Jueco, 6-4, and J.C. Torres, 6-5. Brand new to the Tour, Kevin Gray bested 2019 Tour Champion, Ernesto Bayaua, 6-5, Joseph Corona, 6-5, and Victor Belmares, 6-5, and Roberto “Superman” Gomez powered through Eric Gauthier, 6-5, Aaron Springs, 7-2, and Ruben Bautista, 6-0. Down to the final sixteen, on the one-loss side, Bobby Perez eliminated Corona, 6-5, and J.C. Torres, 6-5, while David Leal took out Springs, 6-3, and Felder, 6-0. Bayaua sent home Price, 6-3, but succumbed to Bautista, 6-2, while Jueco fell to Andy Jethwa, 6-4, who in turn lost to Belmares, 6-5. On the winners’ side, Gomez dealt Gray his first loss, 6-3, and Espinosa overwhelmed Alcocer, 6-3.  Gomez and Espinosa were set to battle in their first, hot seat match up.  Fresh off a big win against Alcocer, Espinosa dominated Gomez, claiming the set, 6-3. On the consolation side, Perez plowed through Leal, 6-4, and Gray, 6-3, as Bautista derailed Belmares, 6-4, and ended Alcocer, 6-0. Bautista’s momentum seemed impenetrable, racking up five matches, including wins over Perez and Gomez, by the same score, 6-4. Bautista earned himself a shot at Espinosa, and the title. In the final set, Espinosa overpowered Bautista, 6-3, marking his first, open division win. Justin Won his first amateur division title in 2015, followed by two wins in 2017. In 2018, the Austin player was moved into the Tour’s “open only” division, and earned “runner-up” at the 2018 Space City Open. The Tour would like to congratulate him on his dedication to improving his game, over the last five years. 
 
In the amateur 9-ball division, Jueco made his way to the winners’ side final four with wins over Ray Porter, Terry Washington, Jesus Alcocer, 5-2, and Johnny Hendrix, 5-4, while Bill Fuller defeated Jeremy Owen, Jeremy Lauer, 5-1, Carl Honey, 5-1, and Bobby Perez. Joshua Garcia was on fire, ousting newcomer Doug Grams, David Williams, 5-3, Darryl Amos, 5-1, and Kenneth Price, 5-3. Rounding out the final four, Felipe Yniguez denied junior player, Kaleb Gray, Tim Jerkins, Fadi Barah, 5-3, and Brandon Tang, 5-3. On the west side, in the final sixteen, Javier Alienas eliminated Robert “Phaminator” Pham, 5-1, and Hendrix, 5-3, while Amos terminated Chris Hogan, 5-2, and Perez, 5-3. Springs bestEd Porter, 5-4, and Price, 5-4, while Victor Belmares overcame Pete Charles, 5-2, falling to Brandon Tang by the same score. On the east side, final four action witnessed Yniguez detour Garcia, 5-2, and Jueco derail Fuller, 5-3. Playing in their first-ever, hot seat match, the players kept it close, but in the end, Jueco edged out Yniguez, 5-4, to conquer the winners’ side.  On the one-loss side, Amos defeated Alienas, 5-4, only to be stopped by Garcia, 5-3. Following a third round blow by Perez, Springs wrapped up six wins, toppling Fuller, 5-4, and Garcia, 5-0, but was cut short by Yniguez, 5-4. Once more, Yniguez and Jueco faced-off, but this time, it was for the title. Yniguez had to beat Jueco two sets in the true, double elimination format, and he was prepared to do just that. Jueco was prepared to go all the way, but it was déjà vu for Yniguez, as Jueco closed out the opening set, 5-4, to win his first, Poison Lone Star Billiards Tour title. 
 
First-time players, Kevin Gray (finished 5th-6th in the open), and his son, Kaleb, brought the entire family out to enjoy a weekend of pool.  PLSBT would like to welcome all the new players who attended this event, and invite them back at every opportunity.
 
Congratulations to Joseph Corona who took home a new, Poison Arsenic3-2 playing cue, and Brian Rosenbaum who scored a Poison VX Break/Jump cue, in the weekend raffles. 
 
Tournament director, John Newsome, Chuck Adams, and David Kimmy worked tirelessly on the production of this event, and their efforts are greatly appreciated.
 
The next event is February 8th-9th, at Diamond Sports Bar and Billiards in Port Arthur, Texas.  For more information about the Poison Lone Star Tour, visit www.LoneStarBilliardsTour.com
 

 

32 Advance, 32 Out As Day 1 Of The WPA Players Championship Is Complete

Darren Appleton (Photo courtesy of JP Parmentier)

The first ever WPA Players Championship got underway at Griffs Billiards in Las Vegas on Tuesday, and the quality of the match ups on offer out of the box certainly didn’t disappoint. That’s because the 64 player field is one of the highest quality gatherings of pool’s current and rising stars. 
 
The format of the event is designed to offer plenty of excitement as well.   Matches through the quarterfinals are all race to 7, alternate break. In addition, the tournament is single elimination. Thus, every shot matters and one mistake early one can spell curtains even for pool’s biggest names.
 
This is exactly what befell world number two Alexander Kazakis in his opening round match against Japan’s Toru Kuribayashi. The Japanese veteran took advantage of several early errors by the Greek star and led throughout, eventually winning 7-2.
 
Two time world champion and two time US Open 9-ball champion Darren Appleton opened up proceedings with a tasty showdown against three time world champion Thorsten Hohmann.  Appleton, who’s had to take significant time away from the game in the last two years because of several family issues, looked like a renewed man today, and took down the German great, 7-5.
 
Defending US Open champion Jayson Shaw came to Vegas looking fit and ready to defend his title next week across town at the Mandalay Bay. Shaw cruised to an opening round win over Gerson Martinez, 7-3.
 
It was a good day from the Ko family from Taiwan. Two time world champion Ko Pin Yi and his younger brother Ko Ping Chung both won their matches. Compatriot Chang Jung Lin had high hopes coming into this event, but fell to Russia’s Maksim Dudanets of Russia, 7-3. Veterans Yang Ching Shun and Chang Yu Leung both notched victories today.
 
USA great Shane Van Boening led the American contingent and advanced with a 7-5 win over Kai Lun Hsu of Taiwan. Skylar Woodward advanced with a handy 7-2 win over Qatar’s Bashar Hussain.  Shawn Wilkie had to bear down against fellow American Billy Thorpe, and hung on to win 7-5. Corey Duel faced off with Mosconi foe Niels Feijen of the Netherlands and emerged victorious, 7-2.
 
It was a solid start for the always stingy team Philippines. World number 3 Carlo Biado  led the charge with an easy win over Ruben Bautista Escaler, 7-3. 2017 WPA World 9-ball champion joins James Aranas, Johann Chua, Raymond Faroun and Jeffrey De Luna in the final 32. Jeffrey Ignacio proved the lone loser for the Philippines today, losing to two time world champion, Mika Immonen, 7-5.
 
Other winners today include Albania’s Klenti Kaci, the Netherlands Marc Bijsterbosch, England’s Chris Melling, Germany’s Ralf Souquet and  Poland’s Wojciech Szewczyk.
 
In perhaps the most exciting match of the day, Japan’s Nayouki Oi went to the limit with young Russian Fedor Gorst. The match went into extra innings as neither player could get the two rack advantage needed to win. Oi took the sudden death rack to advance with a 10-9 win.
 
Play in the WPA Players Championship continues on Wednesday at 12 noon local time.
 
The format will be single elimination race to 7 (win by 2), with the semi-final and final being a race to 9 (win by 2). 
 
WPA Players Championship Payouts
 
1 – $10,000
2 – $7,000
3/4 – $5,000 ea.
5/8 – $3,000 ea.
9/16 – $1,500 ea.
17/32 – $400 ea.
 
Consolation Tournament Payouts
 
1 – $1,500
2 – $1,000
3/4 – $500 ea.
5/8 – $250 ea.
9/16 – $150 ea.
 
ONLINE BRACKETS
 
The online tournament brackets can be found at www.CTSonDemand.com.
 
WATCH LIVE
The entire event is being streamed live by CSI media, a division of CueSports International (CSI). The production, complete with full-time commentary led by former World 8-Ball Champion, Karl Boyes, begins each day at noon pacific time. To watch live, visit www.playcsipool.com/watch-live.
 
The World Pool-Billiard Association (WPA) is the international governing body for pocket billiards and is comprised of six member federations representing North America, South America, Europe, Asia, Africa and Australia.
 
The WPA is the world-recognized body for sanctioning World Championship events. It is also one of the three member organizations of the World Confederation of Billiards Sports (WCBS), representing the billiard disciplines of pool, snooker and carom. For more information about the WPA, visit www.wpapool.com.
 
CueSports International (CSI) is an international pool league and event leader and is currently comprised of three divisions: CSI leagues, CSI events and CSI media. CSI leagues manages the BCA Pool Leagueand USA Pool League, CSI events produces numerous amateur and professional events around the globe and CSI media creates live streaming and digital content. Through its vision and strategic alliances, CSI is “shaping the future of pool.” For more information about CSI or any of its divisions, visit www.playcsipool.com or find CueSports International on Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and Twitter.
 
The WPA Players Championship is made possible by the following sponsors:
 
Andy Billiard Cloth • Cyclop Balls • Diamond • Griff’s Billiards • HOW Tips • Predator • Master Billiard Chalk

Edwin Garcia wins 1st Predator Caribbean 10 Ball Open with undefeated run

This past weekend (Jan 26-27, 2019) Pool Players Factory in Puerto Rico hosted their first major event of the year with 5k added money thanks to the sponsorship of Predator Cues.  The event was open to all Puerto Rican, Caribbean and Latin American Players. 
 
Among those in attendance were Ruben Bautista (Mexico), Julio Burgos, Joselito Martinez, and Ricardo Joel Rodriguez, all Puerto Rican players currently living in the USA.  Other tournament notables were Alan Rolon, Efrain Morales, Edwin Toro, Anthony Perez, Jomax Garcia, Geovanni Serrano, Wilbert Ortiz, Wilfredo Camacho, Juan Poventud, Nelson Hernandez, Shooter Pagan, Miguel “Pito” Batista, among many others.
 
Sixty-four (64) players showed up for the two-day tournament with many of the top Islanders not disappointing their fans with brilliant plays throughout the event.  Format was two races to five with a sudden death match if necessary.  Much to the surprise of the tournament directors was the fact that 42 of the 126 matches (33%) went to a sudden-death game.  Obviously endurance and/or fatigue was a factor within the tournament.  Nonetheless by the end of the first day we had 16 of the best tournament players ready to chalk-up for the first-place prize of $ 4,000.
 
The last four players in the event were Edwin Garcia and Julio Burgos in the winner’s side and Reinaldo Dendariarena and Ruben Bautista in the one-loss side.  Reinaldo was sent to the one-loss side by Edwin Garcia, and Ruben Bautista was sent by Julio Burgos.  Both matches were decided by sudden death wins. 
 
Reinaldo and Ruben Bautista then met for the 4th place prize with a fairly easy win for Bautista.  Edwin Garcia and Julio Burgos were now setup to meet each other to see whom was to claim the hot seat of the tournament.  Edwin Garcia won the first set 5 to 3.  Julio Burgos won the second set 5-2.  Sudden death went to Edwin Garcia with a break and run.
 
A rematch between Julio Burgos and Ruben Bautista was now in play.  Everyone was excited since Julio (Puerto Rico) had won against Ruben (Mexico) in their previous match.   After the dust was cleared, Ruben had ousted Julio with two wins by score of 5-1 and 5-1 with Julio Burgos obtaining third place in the event.
 
For the Championship Match between Edwin Garcia and Ruben Bautista, more excitement was built-up.  Ruben Bautista had been determined to be the tournament favorite at the get-go, and obviously there was a sense by some people that Bautista could snatch the event.  Edwin Garcia is one of the best top 2 players in Puerto Rico and everyone was certain that Edwin would not go down easily; and that he too had a great chance of success.
 
On the last match of the night, Ruben took the first set 5-2.  Edwin came back with a 5-3 win, and now the outcome of the event relied on the 42nd sudden-death match of the tournament.  Edwin won the lag but came up with a dry break, Ruben played a safety on the one, Edwin returned the safety. Ruben had to jump the cue-ball leaving the one open.  Edwin pocketed the one but tried to leave a safe on the two returning the table to Ruben.  Ruben proceeded to pocket the two, three, and four ball.  The five was straight-in to the upper right corner, a makeable ball but somehow Ruben rattled the 5 and that was it for Ruben’s performance.  Edwin cleared the table and claimed the tournament Championship.
 
Jose Garcia and Alejandro Rodriguez, proud owners of Pool Players Factory, the largest pool hall in the Caribbean with (14) Diamond Pro Tables and six (6) 7ft Smart Tables greeted players and fans alike.  Also on a very special and surprise appearance, Mr. Karim Belhaj, CEO of Predator Cues addressed the crowd on day two with encouraging words as to a sponsored tour for the Island, with future Predator sponsored events like this one.  Needless to say, Mr. Belhaj made the day for all of us whom have been dreaming of something like this to happen.  We thank Jose Garcia, Alejandro Rodriguez and Karim Belhaj for the great news and their combined willingness to help establish a Puerto Rican Tour.
 
 

Chau Charges on Poison Lone Star Tour

Felipe Yniguez, Ruben Bautista, Jesus Blanco and Manny Chau

Houston’s own Manny Chau annihilated a field of 46 competitors at Fat Racks Sports Bar and Billiards in San Antonio, Texas, to claim the second annual, Poison Lone Star Tour, San Antonio 9-Ball Open. In the finals, a formidable Ruben Bautista dealt Chau his first blow, 6-0, but Chau answered back in the second set, defeating Bautista 6-0, to capture his second, Poison Lone Star Tour victory of 2018.
 
On March 10th-11th, 2018, the Poison Lone Star Billiards Tour held its third stop of the season at Fat Racks Sports Bar and Billiards in San Antonio, Texas. The tournament amassed 46 players from cities throughout Texas, including New Braunfels, Corpus Christi, Brownsville, and the “Valley”, with a payout pushing $7,000. The Tour would like to thank Fat Racks, Daniel and Alice Tarpley, and their entire staff, title sponsor Poison by Predator Cues PoisonBilliards.com, and sponsors Cyclop Pool Balls Facebook@CyclopPoolBalls, Ozone Billiards OzoneBilliards.com, APA of North Harris County Facebook@APANorthHarrisCounty, OutsvilleBilliards.com, and www.VaporKnightsUSA.com for facilitating another successful event for the Poison Lone Star Tour players.
 
In this open 9-ball event, Chau defeated Shawn Owen, 6-1, Jeff Smith, 6-2, and Chester Hamoy, 6-1, while Corpus Christi’s Dale Briones denied Joe Heinaman, 6-0, Joshua Lammert, 6-5, Santiago Carrillo, 6-2, and Pablo Munoz, 6-5. Ruben Bautista ousted Wayne Senn, 6-2, Mark Galicia, 6-5, and Ismael Ramirez, 6-0, while Felipe Yniguez took down Jack Collins, 6-3, Rudy Sanchez, 6-4, and Jesus Blanco, 6-4. The winners’ side final four took shape, while action heated up on the west side. Ramirez ended Canchola, while Blanco made quick work of Heinaman, 6-3. Houston’s Joey Torres eliminated Hamoy, 6-2, and Mark Galicia dusted off Munoz, 6-2. Back on the east side, Chau buried Briones and Yniguez upset Bautista, by the same score, 6-4. Chau wasted little time with Yniguez, sending him to the one loss side, 6-2. Meanwhile, west side players fought to stay in the game. Blanco mounted a comeback, with wins over Ramirez, 6-1, and Briones, 6-4, while Mark Galicia overcame Torres, 6-4, but fell to Bautista, 6-2. Clearly, Bautista was on a mission, eliminating Blanco, 6-2, then Yniguez, 6-3, earning himself a shot at Chau, and the title. In the first set, Bautista raced around the table, and balls flew in the pockets from every angle. Before he knew it, Chau had lost the first set, 6-0. In the second set, it was as if the players had traded places. Now, it was Chau who raced around the table, breaking and running out, from all possible positions. In the end, Chau firmly answered back, 6-0, to win his second, Tour victory of 2018.
 
On Sunday, the Tour held a “second chance” tournament. Joe Heinaman of Beeville, Texas, took home first place, while Sophia Lopez of San Antonio, Texas, finished runner-up. Congratulations to both Joe and Sophia on a well-fought event! Mark Canchola and Fernando Lopez were two more players that didn’t walk away empty handed. Mark won a Poison VX STK playing cue, and Fernando won a Poison VX BRK break cue in the Poison Cue Raffles.
 
The next event will be held April 21st-22nd, 2018, at Bogies Billiards, 3040 FM 1960 E., in Houston, Texas. For more information, please visit www.LoneStarBilliardsTour.com

Chinakhov takes two out of three over Loftis to win 4th Annual Texas Open 10-Ball Championships

Ruslan Chinakhov (Photo courtesy of Erwin Dionisio)

Since January 1 of this year, Russia’s Ruslan Chinakhov has (according to available records here at AZBilliards) earned $247.11 per day shooting pool (not including any Calcutta earnings), which would put him on track to reported earnings of $90,197.11 by December 31, almost triple what he’s reportedly earned in any year since 2007. Chinakhov is reportedly back home in Moscow, after a blistering hot month-and-a-half here in the US of A. Following an eight-man shared victory at the Derby City’s 14:1 Challenge (and other payouts from multiple events), a successful one-on-one, 10-ball challenge versus Oscar Dominguez and a victory in the Virginia State 10-Ball Championships, Chinakhov flew to Round Rock, TX, where, on the long weekend of February 15-18, he chalked up a victory on the 4th Annual Texas Open 10-Ball Championships. Chinakhov went won eight of his nine matches in Texas, downing Kenny Loftis in the hot seat match, losing the opening set of a true double elimination final to Loftis, and then taking the second set to claim the event title. The $4,000-added event drew 128 entrants to Skinny Bob’s Billiards in Round Rock.
 
In addition to a Jack & Jill Scotch Doubles Tournament, an Open Banks Rails Game, an Open 10-Ball Tourney (all on Thursday, February 15), and two (Open and Ladies) Ring Games on Friday, the annual event also featured a $1,000-added Ladies 10-Ball tournament, which drew 32 entrants and saw Jennifer Kraber go undefeated through the field to claim that event title (separate story).
 
Though both of the previous two Texas Open 10-Ball Championships were in attendance at this year’s event, neither figured into Chinakhov’s victory. Those two previous champions, Manny Chau (2017) and Skyler Woodward (2016) were shut out in a winners’ side match (Chau by James Dabel, Woodward by Loftis) and faced each other in the seventh, loss-side round (determining the four-way tie for 13th). Woodward advanced with a shutout over Chau, and then, three rounds later, ran into Charlie “Hillbilly” Bryant, who defeated him in a double hill match (any bets that “Hillbilly” had himself a nice growl/grin/handshake for the ‘young whippersnapper’ Woodward at the end of that match?).
 
Though Chinakhov earned the headline for this event, it should be noted that runner-up Kenny Loftis was the surprise competitor. Loftis, in all of his (reported) pool-playing career since 2011, has earned as much as Chinakhov is projected to make (see above) in the next six-and-a-half days. The surprise commenced with his winners’ side shutout over Sky Woodward, continued with a subsequent, double hill win over “Hillbilly,” and reached its peak when he defeated Chinakhov in the opening set of the true double elimination final.
 
“He certainly was the surprise of the weekend,” said Skinny Bob’ Billiards’ owner, John Cielo. “He’s been consistent finishing in the money in these annual 9-ball and 10-ball events, but he’d never made the top eight before.
 
“He played outstanding,” Cielo added.
 
Through his first 43 games against five opponents (Rich Anglin, Pat Castro, Ray Lopez, Shane Manaole and Alex Calderon), Chinakhov gave up a total of eight racks. Half of those were surrendered in his winners’ side quarterfinal against Calderon, which set him up to face Ronnie Alcano in one of the winners’ side semifinals. Loftis, in the meantime, who’d given up 11 racks through his first 46 games against Charlie Morra, Leon Contreras, Jason Harkrider, Sky Woodward (the shutout) and Ruben Bautista, squared off against Bryant in the other winners’ side semifinal.
 
Loftis and Bryant fought their double hill battle, which advanced Loftis to the hot seat. Chinakhov joined him after shutting out Alcano. In their first of three, Chinakhov moved into the hot seat with a 7-5 win over Loftis.
 
On the loss side, “Hillbilly” picked up Woodward, who was in the midst of a four-match, loss-side winning streak that included victories over Robb Saez 7-3, and Roberto Gomez 7-4. Alcano drew Ruben Bautista, who’d defeated Jeffrey Luna 7-5 and eliminated the ever-dangerous Jeremy Jones in a double hill match.
 
Bryant chalked up his double hill win over Woodward, and was joined in the quarterfinal match by Alcano, who’d defeated Bautista 7-3. Alcano then ended Bryant’s bid 7-3, before himself being eliminated, by Loftis in the semifinals 7-5.
 
One has to imagine that the results of the first double-elimination set of the finals came as a surprise to both Chinakhov and Loftis; Chinakhov, because of how things had been going for him since 2017 had turned into 2018, and Loftis because of how things had been going for him since he started showing up on regional tour payout lists here at AZBilliards seven years ago. Loftis took that opening set 7-5.
 
In the second set, Chinakhov regained control. He gave up only two racks to Loftis in that second set and claimed the event title.
 
“He impressed me,” said tour director James Davis, Sr. of Chinakhov’s performance, “and I’m not easily impressed.”
 
“He’s tall,” Davis added, “and has the most powerful break I have ever seen. He makes every shot look so simple, just an amazing player.”
 

Aicinena Takes Poison Lone Star San Antonio Open

Eric Aicinena, Rudy Sanchez and Manny Chau

Eric Aicinena proved he is the player to beat in San Antonio, going undefeated in a field of 57 competitors, overcoming Manny Chau in the finals, 6-5, to capture the inaugural Poison Lone Star Billiards Tour, San Antonio Open 9-Ball Event. 
 
Recently named the #1 Sports Bar by the San Antonio Express News, Fat Racks Sports Bar and Billiards hosted a stellar event this past weekend, July 8th-9th, featuring some of the best players Texas has to offer. Champions in attendance included Manny Chau, Ruben Bautista, David Guttierrez, and local favorites, Rudy Sanchez, Sam Manaole, and Frank Ferrer, Jr. Fat Racks added a generous $1,000 to the purse, and with 100% payback in the player auctions, the tournament paid an impressive $10,870. Thanks to the support of Fat Racks’ owners, Daniel and Alice Tarpley, title sponsor Poison by Predator Cues, PoisonBilliards.com, and sponsors Cyclop Pool Balls facebook@CyclopPoolBalls, Ozone Billiards OzoneBilliards.com, APA of North Harris County, facebook@APANorthHarrisCounty,  OutsvilleBilliards.com, and Jimmy Jenkins Realty , the Poison Lone Star Billiards Tour posted one of its largest payouts to date. 
 
This special event featured one, open 9-ball division, as opposed to the two-division format (amateur and open), typical of Poison Lone Star Tour Events. On Saturday, players raced to six on both sides, and on Sunday, the one loss side was a race to five. San Antonio’s Eric Aicinena carved out wins over Cassidy Adams, 6-0, Fernando Colunga, 6-5, Joey Barajas, 6-1, and Candy Ramos, 6-1, while David Gutierrez “David G”, bested Jimmy Jenkins, 6-2, Daniel Tarpley, 6-0, Mickey Woinicki, 6-5, and Santiago Garza, 6-1. Sam Manaole logged wins over Clem Saenz, Justin Espinosa, 6-2, and Nuevo Laredo’s Felipe Yniguez, 6-3, while Manny Chau ousted Rudy Sanchez, 6-4, Albert Luna, 6-3, and Lynn Mascheck, 6-2. As the final four winners’ side took shape, one loss side matches were underway. Following a second round loss to Aicinena, 6-5, Colunga took out Chris Ramoz, 6-3, Neil Khan, 6-5, Martin Ramos, 5-2, Luna, 5-4, and Candy Ramos, 5-2. Following a third round loss to Garza, 6-4, Frank Ferrer, Jr. took out David Gonzalez, 6-5, Mark Canchola, 6-1, Joe Heinaman, 5-2, and Ariel Estrada, 5-1, before falling to Garza, once again, 5-2.  After suffering a second round loss to Chau, 6-4, Sanchez made an incredible comeback, securing eight wins, eliminating Ruben Bautista, 6-5, Jenkins, 6-0, Gail Eaton, 5-2, Sophia Lopez, 5-0, and Mascheck, 5-2. Newcomer Benje Piamonte eliminated Mingo Ybarra, 6-2, Espinosa, 6-2, and David Leal, 5-3, before falling to Mickey Woinicki, 5-4. In turn, Woinicki met his fate with Yniguez, 5-4. As the final four on the one loss side panned out, winners’ side action witnessed Chau defeat Manaole, 6-4, and Aicinena slide by Gutierrez, 6-5. Still alive on the one loss side, Colunga defeated Garza, 5-3, while Sanchez claimed his sixth win over Yniguez, 5-3. Manaole ended Colunga’s run, 5-2, while Sanchez overwhelmed Gutierrez, 5-2. Meanwhile, Chau and Aicinena teed off for the hot seat. Overwhelming play by Aicinena sent Chau to unfamiliar territory, 6-3. On the west side, Sanchez overcame Manaole, 5-2, but was stopped short by Chau, 5-1. Once again, Chau would face off with Aicinena, going head to head in the true, double elimination final. The crowd was silenced as Aicinena took the lead, 4-1, and Chau came back to tie it up, 4-4. Aicinena won the next game and Chau answered back. It was hill-hill and the tension was so thick, you could cut it with a knife. Following a series of forced and unforced errors in the second half of the rack, Aicinena caught a break, winning the final game, and his first win on the Poison Lone Star Billiards Tour.
 
There were six ladies competing in this event, including Gail Eaton, Sophia Lopez, Kawania Watson, Megan Hardin, Angela Garza, and Clem Saenz. Congratulations to Sophia Lopez who finished 13th-16th, taking home the “Last Lady Standing” award in this open 9-ball event.
 
On Thursday, July 6th, 2017, the Texas billiard community suffered a great loss with the sudden passing of a dear friend and fellow pool player, Helen Hayes (43 years-old). Upon hearing the news, Fat Racks organized a balloon release on Saturday, raffled off product, and accepted donations, all on behalf of the Hayes family. Over 100 balloons were released in Helen’s honor, and $1,100 was raised to assist with medical and funeral expenses. The tour would like to express its deepest condolences to Helen’s family and friends, and thank each and every person who came out on Saturday to support this impromptu remembrance and benefit.
 
There were a number of players at this event competing on tour for the first time.  The tour would like to thank all those players and invite them back at every opportunity. The tour would also like to thank Jimmy Jenkins for his assistance in running the event, and Jerry Olivier for performing cue repair throughout the weekend. Congratulations to one of our newest players, Eddie Martinez, on winning the Poison Armour Cue Case, and Charlie Elders and Chase Nevels on winning Poison VX Break Jump Cues, in the Poison Raffles. 
 
The tour would like to acknowledge and thank its “special supporters” of this event, Veteran Albert Cortez, “Nino”, Tito Fernandez, Pat Castro “Chicago”, and Zach Ballas. 
 
Serving pool players, pool rooms, and sponsors since 2009, the Poison Lone Star Billiards Tour celebrates its 10th Anniversary in 2018 as the longest-running billiards tour in the south. A special 10th Anniversary Event will be held for players who compete in at least two events between now, and January 1st, 2018. The tour strongly encourages all players to meet the eligibility requirements, in order to gain entrance into this one-of-a-kind tournament. The next tour stop will be held on August 26th-27th, 2017, at Bogies Billiards West in Houston, Texas. For more information, please visit www.LoneStarBilliardsTour.com

McMinn Emerges at Space City Open V

Shane McMinn

Shane “Doomsday” McMinn captured his first-ever Space City Open 9-ball title, plowing through an 87-player field, besting Alex Calderone in the second set of the true double elimination final, 7-2. Justin Hall went unscathed in the 32-player one pocket division, ousting the famed Josh Roberts in the final set, 4-2, taking home his second Space City Open one pocket title. Jeremy “Double J” Jones went undefeated in the 9-ball banks division, taking down Manny Chau in the final set, 3-1, earning himself a third 9-ball banks title. Wrapping up four long days of match play, the ladies 9-ball concluded on Sunday afternoon, with hot seat winner Natalie Rocha defeating Ricki Casper in the second set, 5-0, capturing her very first Space City Open 9-ball title.
 
The 4-day, 4-division, $6,000 added Space City Open V (SCO) was held at Bogies Billiards and Sports Bar in Houston, Texas, December 1st-4th, 2016. In its fifth year, SCO continues to increase in talent and value, and professional players from across the U.S. flew in to take advantage of this annual event. This year’s line-up featured an all-star cast of phenomenal talent going head to head in a test of wills and stamina. New on the scene, Arizona’s Scott Frost and South Carolina’s Josh Roberts, along with resident players Jeremy “Double J” Jones (TX), Justin Hall (FL), Shane “Doomsday” McMinn (TN), Alex Calderone (FL), Sylver Ochoa (TX), Robb Saez (TN ), Manny Chau (Peru), Richie Richeson (MI), and many others, entertained a packed house and hundreds of at-home viewers who tuned in to the live stream provided by PoolActionTV.com. 
 
In the 87-player 9-ball field, McMinn took an early hit from Jeremy Jones in the fourth round, 9-4, but came back swinging. While McMinn made his way through the one-loss side, Alex Calderone was doing some damage of his own, taking down Ed Ambros, Tony Barrington, 9-8, and Josh Roberts, 9-6, to reach the winners’ side final four. Jeremy “Double J” Jones ousted Jason Klatt, Blaine Barcus, 9-1, McMinn, 9-4, and Justin Espinosa, 9-8, to reach Calderone. Manny Chau had an impressive run, defeating Scott Frost in the first round, 9-4, Jason Chance, 9-4, Ruben Bautista, 9-5, Ernesto Bayaua, 9-8, and Sylver Ochoa, 9-5. Playing out to meet Chau, Tommy Tokoph took down Lee Clark, 9-1, Bill Blanda, Kenneth Price, and Bob Eaton, 9-6. On the one-loss side, upsets included Jacob Watson with a stunning victory over Justin Hall, 7-4, and Bob “The Pittsburgh Kid” Guzik, eliminating Bautista, 7-6. Finding himself in unfamiliar territory, Frost secured five consecutive matches on the one-loss side, with wins over Klatt, 7-0, Sergio Rivas, 7-2, Blanda, 7-6, and Barrington, 7-3. Frost fell to Jethwa, 7-3, while McMinn took out Robb Saez, 7-6. Bayaua defeated Watson, and Joey Torres took out Kenneth Price, by the same score, 7-4. As the final eight took shape on the one-loss side, the winners’ side final four was on fire, with Calderone defeating Jones, 9-6, and Chau sliding by Tokoph, 9-8. Back on the west side, Roberts ousted Bayaua, 7-2, and Torres eliminated Espinosa, 7-6, while Ochoa overcame Jethwa, 7-5, and McMinn bested Eaton, 7-0. Roberts went on to win sets against Torres, 7-5, and Tokoph, 7-2, while McMinn took down Ochoa, 7-0, and Jones, 7-4. The hot seat match witnessed an undefeated Calderone make quick work of Chau, 9-4. McMinn dusted off Roberts, 7-6, then Chau, 7-1, for a shot at the title. Both Calderone and McMinn were hungry for their first Space City Open win, leading up to a battle for the finish line. The first set commenced, and it appeared to be anyone’s ball game. McMinn settled in, and pulled ahead to win the first set, 9-7. In overtime, there was little Calderone could do from the sidelines, as  McMinn had the break down cold, coasting to a 7-2 win over Calderone, and securing his first-ever, SCO 9-ball title.
 
Former Mosconi Cup Player and Southern Classic all-around Champion, Justin Hall, went through the 32-player one pocket division like a hot knife through butter. Hall blazed through Sonny Bosshamer, 4-2, Jeremy Jones, 4-3, Marvin Diaz, 4-1, and Sylver Ochoa, 4-1, while Josh Roberts took out Scott Frost, 4-0, Aaron Springs, 4-0, Jason Chance, 4-1, and Richie Richeson, 4-0. On the one-loss side, Jones won an incredible five consecutive matches, besting Adam Cooper, 3-0, James Davis, Jr., Tommy Tokoph, 3-0, Chance, 3-1, and Ochoa, 3-2. Following a third round loss to Hall, 4-1, Diaz came back to defeat Jeff Sparks, 3-0, Sergio Rivas, and Richie Richeson, 3-2, to meet Jones. Back on the east side, after a long, drawn-out battle, Hall secured the hot seat, 4-3. Back on the one-loss side, in a surprising upset, Diaz defeated Jones, 3-0, to meet Roberts. Fresh off a hot seat loss, Roberts did what any champion would do, and that’s fight back. He made quick work of Diaz, 3-0, earning himself a rematch with Hall. In the final set, Hall was bit more subdued, but determined to not to let this one slip away. Once again, a seasoned Hall overcame Roberts in the first set, 4-2, going undefeated to win his second SCO one pocket title, becoming the only player to win two titles in this division.
 
Kicking off Space City Open V was the 20-player, 9-ball banks division, witnessing former Mosconi Cup MVP and former U.S. Open Champion, Jeremy Jones, capture his third Space City Open banks title. It was a long row to hoe for Jones, as he took down a list of worthy competitors, including Chris Thompson, Jason Chance, 3-0, Anthony Shea, 3-0, and Denis Strickland, 3-2. Also making his way through the field, Manny Chau defeated Viet Do, 3-1, Gail Eaton, 3-0, and Norman Small, 3-0, to face Jones for the hot seat. On the one-loss side, after suffering a first round loss to Do, James Davis, Jr. came back to win six consecutive matches, eliminating Scott Frost, Jim McCarry, Richie Richeson, Aaron Springs, 3-0, and Strickland, 3-0. Sergio Rivas was dealt a first round loss by Strickland, and also came back to win sex consecutive matches, booking wins over C.J. Escalera, Do, 3-2, Shea, 3-1, Thompson, 3-0, and Small, 3-1. On the east side, Jones took the hot seat wheel, defeating Chau, 3-0.  Back on the west side, Davis ended Rivas, 3-0, but fell to Chau, 3-0. The rematch between Jones and Chau ended all-too quickly for Chau, as Jones pulled ahead, winning the first set, 3-1. Jones crushed it, losing a total of three games throughout the 9-ball banks event, defending his 2015 title, while securing his third SCO banks title.
 
Wrapping up the event, 20 women battled it out on Sunday for over $2,200 in cash, in the ladies 9-ball division. Natalie Rocha came out firing, ousting Brandi Humber, 7-1, Gail Roles, 7-3, and Marie Clark, 7-3, while Ming Ng defeated Monica DeTuncq, 7-0, and Kim Pierce, 7-6. Ricki Casper made her way to the winners’ side final four with wins over Gail Eaton, 7-6, and Alicia Huff, 7-1, while Teresa Garland bested Lois Morgado, 7-3, and Nicole King, 7-6. Ng fell to Rocha, 7-3, and Casper defeated Garland, 7-4.  Rocha went on to secure the hot seat, over Casper, 7-4. On the one-loss side, Eaton dusted off Clark, 5-1, and Garland, 5-2, while Roles ousted DeTuncq, 5-4, only to be eliminated by Ng. Eaton ended  Ng, 5-4, but fell to Casper, 5-4. Casper earned herself a rematch with Rocha, and she intended to use it for all it was worth. As the first set commenced, the players fought relentlessly, each vying for their first Space City Open title. Rocha and Casper traded game for game, until Casper inched ahead to win the first set, 7-6. The second set was a different story, as Rocha came out of the gate running, and never slowed down. Rocha closed out the final set, 5-0, winning her first Space City Open 9-ball title. 
 
The Space City Open extends a heartfelt “thank you” to the venue, staff, sponsors, supporters, and vendors for this event; Bogies Billiards and Sports Bar, along with owners David and Shannon Richardson, the entire Bogies’ staff, assistant tournament director, John Newsome, Mike Fabacher, Ray Hansen and Justin Schwarz with PoolActionTV.com, Simplified Electronics, APA of North Harris County, Vapor Knights, Ozone Billiards, Outsville Billiards who supplied Accu-Racks for this event, Crazy Erica, and RE Visual Concepts. Special supporters included Marc McClure, Jeff Kay, David Taylor, Willie Duran, and Floyd Smith, and this year’s vendors, Ron Geyer and Jerry Olivier (cues) with the Custom Cue Connection, Joe Salazar Connoisseur of Custom Cues, and Darrold Stiehl of Champions Cues.
 
Space City Open VI will take place November 30th-December 3rd, 2017. For more information, visit SpaceCityOpen.com and Facebook @SpaceCityOpen.

Pressure Becomes The Great Equalizer On Judgement Day

Omar Al Shaheen. photo by Bader

(Doha, Qatar)-Omar Al Shaheen knows that success in championship pool is as much about perseverance as it is about being an amazing shot maker.  Sometimes, when things aren’t going your way, you just have to be patient.  When your time finally does come, you have to be ready to grab the cherry.

 

Today at the Al Arabi Sports Club in Doha, that cherry came in the form of a brilliantly played match against former World 9-ball Champion Darren Appleton. Today was Judgement Day at the 2016 World 9-ball Championship, the last chance to make it into the Final 64, the knockout rounds and the real road to 9-ball glory. 

 

Of course Appleton, one of pool’s giants, was the heavy favorite. But the 23 year old Kuwaiti played flawlessly and completely carefee, while the Brit couldn’t find the measure of the break shot and looked tight. Al Shaheen won in a master class, 9-5, putting Appleton out, and himself in the money rounds of pool’s biggest event.

 

To understand just how Al Shaheen got to this point of being able to oust one of pool’s best players, it helps to look back over the last few days.  The talented and good looking youngster didn’t even have a spot in the tournament a few days ago. He entered the brutally tough qualifiers last week, reached the finals two times, only to lose to two top players. But as he was lamenting what could have been this year, he got the call that another player had dropped out and, as the leading point holder of the qualifiers, he got the very last spot in the world championship.

 

Al Shaheen then lost his very first match and was forced over to the losers’ side of his group bracket. But then the Kuwaiti found his groove, handily beating Sweden’s Marcus Chamat, to set up a showdown with Appleton. He suddenly realized all the tough competition and, yes, the losing, had prepared him for this moment.

“I think it’s good that I lost many times,” an ecstatic Al Shaheen said after disposing of Appleton. “In the qualifiers I lost three times, two of them in finals to very good players. In the group stages I lost my first match. So that’s four times. So now I can accept losing. And it was good practice. Today I just play my game and I am relaxed. Darren is a very good player and I feel very good right now.”

 

31 one other players left the Al Arabi with similar wide grins today as they booked their spots in the Final 64 which begins Tuesdaymorning here.  They  join the 32 players who qualified on Sunday in what is a brutally stellar  field of pool greats ready to do battle  over the next three days  for  pool’s most prestigious prize.

 

Leading the way, as usual, are the Taiwanese and the Filipinos. Taiwan brings 10 heavyweights into the knockout stages, including defending champion Ko Pin Yi, Chang Yu Lung and Chang Jun Lin. Filipino fans will have nine players to get behind  including Dennis Orcollo, Warren Kiamco, Lee Vann Corteza, Carlo Biado, Jeffrey De Luna and Johann Chua. Filipino Alex Pagulayan, who won the World 9-ball crown in 2004, plays out of Canada and also made it through to the knockout rounds.

 

It wouldn’t be surprising if China finally takes its first World 9-ball title. Former champion Wu Jiaqing(formerly Wu Chia Ching) is playing rock solid pool, while Lui Haitao has consistently been raising his game over the last few years. Six Chinese players will be featured in the Final 64.

 

Poland has proved this year that it could arguably be Europe’s leading pool country with four players qualifying. A slew of other Europeans make up the field as well. 

Perhaps the most notable statistic this year is the rise of the Middle Eastern players.  Six players from the Middle East have qualified for the knockout rounds, a first in the history of this prestigious event. Clearly having the World 9-ball Championship in Qatar for the last seven years has significantly helped the sport grow.

 

Judgement Day always brings with it plenty of jangling nerves and high drama as players wilt under the gravity of the circumstances. One small roll of the ball can spell the difference between a player going 2 games and out, and perhaps a run at a world title.  If there was ever a sport where whole careers rest on a razor’s  edge, pool is it.

 

The Philippines young Jeffrey Ingacio has given Pinoy fans high hopes for the young generation to make their mark, but he had to get very lucky in holding off tough Canadian Francis Crevier to advance, 9-7. 
 

Great Britain’s Jayson Shaw has played himself into being one of the top players in the world over the last six months, but today he had to come from way behind against a stingy Justin Campbell of Australia to qualify, 9-7. 
 

2007  World 9-ball Champion Daryl Peach had to go toe to toe with the Philippines Antonio Gabica, but the Brit prevailed 9-7 in a high quality match.

 

Bangladesh isn’t the first country to come to mind when one thinks of great pool players. Today, however, will stand as a monumental day in Bangladeshi cue sports history. 29 year old MD Alim became the first player from Bangladesh to make it to the knockout rounds of the World 9-ball Championship. Alim, who owns a business installing satellite TV services in Dhaka, was playing in his very first world championship this week. Today, he went to the wire with Italy’s Bruno Muratore and showed major league poise and skills in crossing the finish line to qualify.

 

Another player to look out for is Iran’s Ali Maghsoud. A few days ago Maghsoud took down the great Mika Immonen. Today the Iranian sucked up the massive pressure and beat Japan’s Hiroshi Takenaka, 9-7 to make his first Final 64.

 

Other Middle Eastern players continued to impress. Abdul Rahman Al Amar of Saudi Arabi continues to show maturity beyond expectations. Today he came from behind to win at the wire against Poland’s Konard Juszczyszym, 9-8, and move on to the money rounds.

 

Last year’s runner up Shane Van Boening again had the break mastered as he trounced the Philippines Francisco Felicilda, 9-3. Oscar Dominguez made it two Americans in the final 64 with a win today.

 

Other notable players bouncing back from defeats and advancing today include the Netherlands’ Niels Feijen, Germany’s Ralf Souquet, the Philippines Dennis Orcollo, Japan’s Yukio Akagariyama and Taiwan’s Chang Yu Lung. 
 

One particular match at the end of today’s play seemed to encapsulate the drama and pressure of Judgement Day to a “T.”  The Philippines Carlo Biado was not playing well and found himself down to Japan’s Hayato Hijikata, 7-4 in a race to 9. Hijikata pushed the score to 8-6, but with the finish line and a qualification in sight, the Japanese began to wilt and the match went to 8- 8 and a pressure packed one rack decider, with Hijikata breaking.

 

The Japanese sank a ball on the break and then proceeded to make a superb full table bank on the two, with an open table to the win. But just as Biado started to slink down in defeat in his chair, Hijikata missed a wide open shot on the 4-ball. The Filipino bounced out of his chair but even then his legs looked weak from the pressure. Biado held it together and cleared the table for an unlikely spot in the knockout stages.

 

“When he made that 2-ball, I just knew the match was over,” a seriously relieved Biado said after the match. “But then he missed the 4-ball and I knew this was my chance. My heart was beating and it was pressure.  Now that I won the match, I have a lot of confidence. I’m in the Final 64. Anything can happen, and anyone can win. May the best man win.”

 

Play in the first day of the group stages begins Tuesday at 10am(GMT +3). All matches now become race to 11, alternate break. The round of 64 and round of 32 will be played on Tuesday. The round of 16 and quarterfinals will be played on Wednesday. The Semi-finals and Finals will be played on Thursday. The final will be a race to 13, alternate break.

 

**The 2015 WPA World 9-ball Championship takes place at the Al Arabi Sports Club Sports Club in Doha, Qatar from July 30-August 4, 2016. The winner of the 2015 World 9-ball Championship will receive $40,000. The runner up will receive $20,000. The total prize fund is $200,000.

 

The players will be competing on Wiraka DYNASTY  Tables with Simonis 860 Cloth, Electric Blue Color and using Aramith Tournament  Pro cup TV Pool Balls featuring the new Duramith Technology.

 

The 2016 World 9-ball Championship is being hosted by The Qatar Billiard and Snooker Federation(QBSF), and is sanctioned by the The World Pool Billiard Association, the governing body of the sport of pool.

 

Up to date brackets and live scoring can found at this link: 
http://www.online-brackets.com/view/user/wpc9ball/1010

 

The WPA will be on hand in Doha throughout this year’s World 9-ball Championship providing up to the minute information, live scoring, photographs and in depth articles with insights and analysis from WPA Press Officer Ted Lerner. 

 

Fans can interact with us through the WPA’s official Facebook Page for the event at this link;https://www.facebook.com/worldpoolbilliardassociation/

 

The WPA is also on Twitter; @poolwpa 

 

RESULTS DAY 3
Winners advance to the Final 64
Losers are out.

Group 1
Jeong Young Hwa(KOR) 9 – 1 Mazen Berjuai(LEB) 
Mario He(AUT) 9 – 4 Waleed Majid(QAT)

Group 2
Karol Skowerski(POL) 9 – 8 Petri Makkonen(FIN)
Jeffrey Ignacio(PHL) 9 – 7 Francis Crevier(CAN) 

Group 3
MD Alim(BAN) 9 – 8 Bruno Muratore(ITA) 
Omar Al Shaheen(KUW) 9 – 5 Darren Appleton(GBR)

Group 4
Daryl Peach(GBR) 9 – 7 Antonio Gabica(PHL)
Roberto Gomez(PHL) 9 – 3 Francisco Sanchez(ESP)

Group 5
Artem Koshovoj(UKR)9 – 8 Luong Chi Dong(VIE)
Yang Ching Shun(TPE)  9 – 6 John Morra(CAN)  

Group 6
Jeffrey De Luna(PHL) 9 – 1 Naoyuki Oi(JPN) 
Ali M Saeed Hamzaa(ERI) 9 -7 Wang Can(CHN)

Group 7
Irsal Nasution(INA) 9 – 5 Imran Majid(GBR) 
Dennis Orcollo(PHL)9 – 7 Christian Goetmann(GER) 

Group 8
Abdul Rahman Al Amar(KSA) 9 – 8 Konard Juszczyszym(POL)  
Jayson Shaw(GBR) 9 – 7 Justin Campbell(AUS) 

Group 9
Niels Feijen(NED) 9 – 3 Shaun Wilke(USA)   
Satoshi Kawabata(JPE) 9- 7 Jalal Yousef(VEN)

Group 10
Ali Maghsoud(IRN) 9 – 7 Hiroshi Takenaka(JPN)  
Mieszko Fortunski(POL) 9 – 5 Ruben Bautista(MEX)

Group 11
Wojciech Szewczyk(POL) 9 – 5 Skyler Woodward(USA) 
Ralf Souquet(GER)  9 – 7 Oliver Ortmann(GER)

Group 12
Muhammad Bewi(INA) 9 – 4 Nick Van Den Berg(NED) 
Carlo Biado(PHL) 9 – 8  Hayato Hijikata(JPN)

Group 13
Oscar Dominguez(USA) 9 – 6 Ali Al Obaidli(QAT)  
Mateusz Sniegocki(POL) 9 – 5 Ryu Ceung Woo(KOR)

Group 14
Yukio Akagariyama(JPN) 9 – 1 Marco Teutscher(NED)  
Shane Van Boening(USA) 9 – 3 Francisco Felicilda(QAT-PHL)

Group 15
Salah Eldeen Al Remawi(UAE)   9 – 5 Rogelio Selleca Sotero(PHL) 
Chang Yu Lung(TPE)  9 – 3 Abdulla Al Shemmari(KSA)

Group 16
Cheng Yu Hsuan(TPE) 9 – 3 Joshua Filler(GER)  
Ahmed Mohammad Salah(JOR)  9 – 5 Bashar Hussain(QAT)