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Gomez, Gorst, Tkach & Oi In The Texas Open Winner’s Circle

Roberto Gomez and Alex Calderon

Players from all over the planet hightailed it to Skinny Bob’s in Round Rock, TX for the 49th Annual Texas Open – all trying to get a piece of this $40,000 added event!

Owners Kim and Tracy Sanders and their local sponsors welcomed all the players and fans to one of the most beautiful rooms in the country. Sponsors included GAF, ABC Supply Co. Inc., Hanshew Custom Cues, Sanders Roofing & Exteriors, LLC, Aramith and Mints Amusements. 

The event featured four divisions – one pocket, scotch doubles, open nine ball and ladies nine ball as well as three minis – a banks ring game, a nine ball mini and a ladies ring game! Nonstop pool action!

The event began with the $2,000 added Scotch Doubles Championship. The team of Fedor Gorst and Kristina Tkach took top honors, Alex Pagulayan and April Larson took second place, Chris Reinhold and Emily Sumrall took third and Blaine Barcus and Sakura Muramatsu took fourth. Congratulations to all!

Waiting in the wings and featuring a stellar field of 26 players, the $13,000 added One Pocket division began on Monday evening. It had a $1,000 entry with races to 5/4 with alternate breaks – double elimination. 

Following a rousing player’s auction and the draw, play began.

Hot off his victory of Chip Compton earlier this month in the One Pocket Challenge, Fedor Gorst defeated veteran Scott Kitto and the always tough John Morra battled One Pocket Hall of Famer Jeremy Jones. Both matches had a 5-3 score.

Two-time Derby City One Pocket champ, Billy Thorpe, won his match over former Senior One Pocket champ James Davis Sr. 5-2 as did the current Iron City One Pocket Champ Josh Roberts over Filipino star Roland Garcia by the same score.

In a rerun of last month’s Big Dog one pocket final match, Sky Woodward got his revenge over Tony Chohan and the 2022 Scotty Townsend Memorial One Pocket champ Alex Pagulayan beat Evan Lunda – the victor in July’s One Pocket Champions Challenge with Josh Roberts. Morra also took down One Pocket Hall of Famer Scott Frost. The score in these matches was 5-2.

Scotch Doubles Champions Kristina Tkach and Fedor Gorst

Second round action also saw Alex Calderon and Tommy Tokoph duking it out. It went down to the wire but Alex edged out the win 5-4.

After drawing a first round bye, Roberto Gomez battled Josh Roberts and took the win 5-3 as did Billy Thorpe over young gun Lazaro Martinez III by the same score.

Third round pitted Woodward against Pagulayan. Sky took the win as did Calderon over Morra and Gomez over Thorpe. All scores 5-4!

After winning his first match, Gorst was quietly making his way through the field with victories over Jacob Pennison 5-1 and Nicholas De Leon 5-2. In dead punch, he smoked Woodward 5-2 and moved into the hot seat match. At the bottom of the bracket, Gomez made quick work of Calderon to lock up the other berth – also 5-2.

The hot seat match began and was close until Gomez pulled away to send Gorst west with a 5-3 score. 

Meanwhile, after having lost his first match, Garcia clawed and fought his way through the one loss side with wins over Pennison, Robert Frost, Morra, Chohan and Woodward until finally succumbing to Calderon 4-2. Roland finished in fourth place.

Cooling his heels and looking to get back into the finals against Gomez, Gorst had to get past Calderon. It wasn’t in the cards as Fedor was eliminated 4-2.

It was an all Houston final as Calderon took on Gomez for the title. Since it was true double elimination, Alex would have to defeat Roberto twice to take it down. Gomez wasn’t having any of that – he took the match 5-3! Congratulations, Roberto! Good tournament, Alex!

Naoyuki Oi and Skyler Woodward

The $500 added Nine Ball Mini took place after the one pocket finals. When the smoke cleared it was Japan’s Naoyuki Oi over Sky Woodward. Great shooting, guys!!!

PoolActionTV.com would again like to thank Kim and Tracy Sanders and their staff for taking great care of all the players and fans. 

Thanks to Tournament Director Jason Hill for doing a great job!

We’d also like to thank Scott Rabon, Jeremy Jones, Robert Frost and Alex Pagulayan for their topnotch commentary.

And, we’d also like to thank our fans and sponsors. They include JB Cases, Hanshew Jump Cues, EnviroAssessments, Lomax Custom Cues, Aramith, Simonis, Diveney Cues, Diamond Billiard Products, Durbin Custom Cues, the Action Palace of Dayton, OH and the Fort Worth Billiards Superstore of Fort Worth, TX. 

Stay tuned for the rest of the results of the Texas Open – the $20,000 added Nine Ball Open, the $3,500 added Ladies Nine Ball, the $500 added Banks Ring Game and the $500 added Ladies Ring Game! 

And if you haven’t already, get your pass at PoolActionTV.com and come sweat it with us!!!

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New Champions Launch at Space City Open IX

Roberto Gomez

Gomez, Bayaua, Compton, Almaraz, and Martinez, III Earn Titles

Roberto “Superman” Gomez captured the Space City Open IX, 128-player 9-ball division, defeating John “Mr. Smooth” Morra in the finals, 9-2, 7-5, taking home his first 9-ball division title. Gomez earned a well-deserved, $1,500 bonus, and new “All-Around” title, for his stellar play across all three divisions. Taking home first titles, Houston’s Ernesto Bayaua showed off his skills, defeating Alex Calderone in the one pocket division final, 4-3, while Oklahoma’s Chip Compton ousted Las Vegas’ Gary Lutman in the 9-ball banks division final, 4-3. In the ladies open 9-ball division, Mille Almaraz went undefeated, besting Ming “The Empress” Ng in the finals, 7-4. Finally, in the junior 9-ball division, Lazaro “Little Laz” Martinez, III, defended his 2019 title, marking up three consecutive title wins in his division. 

The Derby-like, Space City Open IX, was held December 2nd-5th, 2021, at Big Tyme Billiards in Spring, Texas, with four days of free live streaming provided by Southern Streaming. The event featured 178 players, competing in five divisions, over four days. The event drew players from Oklahoma, New Mexico, Nevada, and even Canada. Roberto Gomez returned to defend his 2019 one pocket title, along with champions John Morra, Chip Compton, Tommy Tokoph, Ernesto Bayaua, Manny Chau, Alex Calderone, Charlie Bryant, and WPBA Touring Professional, Loreejon Jones, all vying for a piece of the $56,195 payout and $1,500 “All-Around” bonus. 

Space City would like to thank those who were instrumental in the production of this event; John Newsome, Kim Newsome, Ruth Paine, Chuck Adams, Mike Fabacher with Southern Streaming, owners and staff at Big Tyme Billiards, Mike McDonald and Alamo Billiards, Poison by Predator Cues, Predator Cues, Outsville Billiards, Jerry Olivier, and Brutal Game Gear. Vendors for this event included Jerry Olivier Cues and Cue Repair, Joe Salazar Connoisseur of Custom Cues, and Brutal Game Gear. Special “thanks” to Jerry Olivier Custom Cues and Cue Repair and Brutal Game Gear who added an additional $500 to this year’s junior division. 

The open, ladies, and junior 9-ball divisions were played on twenty-four, Diamond bar tables. The one pocket and banks were played on six, nine foot tables. Predator Arcos II ball sets and Accu-Racks were used on all tables, supplied by event sponsors Predator Cues and Outsville Billiards, respectively. Big Tyme Billiards provided a smoke-free environment, and some of the best playing equipment Texas has to offer, for the billiard extravaganza.

Roberto Gomez (Chris Castaneda)

The true double elimination, 128-player open 9-ball division kicked off Saturday morning at 10am, and concluded on Sunday evening. In the final sixteen on the winners’ side, Ernesto Bayaua sent Manny Chau west, 9-2, Eric Aicinena overwhelmed Felipe Yniguez, 9-4, and John Morra overpowered Joey Bourgeois, Jr., 9-3. Las Vegas’ Scott Kitto slid by Andy Jethwa, 9-7, Roberto Gomez denied Kenneth Price, 9-5, and Austin’s Justin Espinosa eased past Steve Lenz, 9-8. Derek Fontenot beat Eric Cantrell, 9-4, and San Antonio’s Rick Moreno outplayed Jessie Moore, 9-4. The next round witnessed Aicinena oust Bayaua, 9-4, Morra deny Kitto, 9-3, and Gomez detour Espinosa, 9-3. Rounding out the final four, Fontenot bested Moreno, 9-3. 

Advancing to the hot seat, Morra thwarted Aicinena, 9-2, while Fontenot upset Gomez, 9-4. Morra defeated Fontenot in the hot seat match, 9-6. On the one-loss side, Steve Lenz fought his way into the final eight with wins over Charlie “Hillbilly” Bryant, 7-3, Price, 7-3, and Bayaua, 7-2. Blaine Barcus eliminated eight players, including Cantrell, 7-3, Moore, 7-2, and Kitto, 7-4. Chau dusted off New Mexico’s Donivan Pedroncelli, 7-3, Cesar Arrechiga, 7-2, and Espinosa, 7-2, while Moreno ended Bourgeois, Jr., 7-3. Barcus maintained momentum, ousting Lenz, 7-4, but falling to Gomez by the same score. Chau handily beat Moreno, 7-2,  and Aicinena, 7-4. Gomez defeated Chau, 7-2, and Fontenot, 7-1, to meet Morra in the finals. In the first set, Morra could not gain ground, while Gomez had the break down cold. Gomez dominated the first set, 9-2. In the second set, Morra seemed to regroup, but Gomez inched ahead to capture the second set, 7-5, and his first, Space City, open 9-ball division title.

Ernesto Bayaua

In the single elimination, 38-player one pocket division, teeing off in the final eight, Alex Calderone defeated Roberto Gomez, 4-2, while Kenneth Price made quick work of J.C. Torres, 4-1. Ernesto Bayaua slid past John Morra, 4-3, and John Gabriel overwhelmed Mark Nanashee, 4-1. Final four action witnessed Calderone eliminate Price, 4-1, and Bayaua escape Gabriel, 4-3. In the final match, it was a fight to the finish for Calderone and Bayaua. Players traded safeties and games, for hours, until a determined Bayaua pulled ahead to close out the set, 4-3, earning his first Space City, one pocket division title.

In the single elimination, 36-player 9-ball banks division, final eight action witnessed Chip Compton defeat Alex Calderone, 4-1, and John Morra shut out Kenneth Price, 4-0. Local favorite, Tommy Tokoph, curbed Mark Nanashee, 4-1, and Gary Lutman sent Gabriel packing, 4-1. Down to the final four, Compton struck a blow against Morra, 4-2, and Lutman upset Tokoph, 4-3.  In the final match, Compton edged out Lutman, 4-3, to win his first, Space City, 9-ball banks division title.

Mille Almaraz

The 34-player, ladies open 9-ball division, featured defending champion, Ming Ng, returning champion, Natalie Rocha, Indiana’s Toni Tucker, and Canadian, WPBA Touring Professional, Suzanne Peters. Making their way to the winners’ side, final four, La Le overcame Mary “Princess” Avina, 7-6, Michelle Yim, 7-4, and Suzanne Peters, 7-2, while Ming “The Empress” Ng passed Michelle Abernathy, 7-3, Toni Tucker, 7-4, and Christy Grigsby, 7-4. Mille Almaraz detoured Ruth Paine, 7-3, Yvonne “The Casher” Asher, 7-1, and Natalie Rocha, 7-6. Laurie Clouette came on strong, with wins over Sara Bork, 7-4, Brandi Scott, 7-5, Loretta Miller, 7-2, and Teresa “Princess of Pool” Garland, 7-6. On the west side, reaching the final eight, Tucker shut out Rocha, 5-0, while Garland took out McHaney, 5-3. Peters overwhelmed Pierce, 5-2, and Petrosino sent Grigsby home, 5-3. On the winners’ side, Ng bested Le, 7-2, and it was Almaraz over Clouette, 7-2. In her hot seat match debut, Almaraz took down the defending champ, 7-5, further securing her position in a very tough field. Back on the one-loss side, Tucker took out Garland, 5-2, and Le, 5-3, while Petrosino ended Peters, 5-3, and Clouette, 5-0. Tucker claimed five matches before Petrosino stopped her run, 5-3. This was Petrosino’s eighth, match win, an incredible run to reach the final three, after losing her very first match to Melissa Smith, 7-5. Petrosino was forced to settle for third place, after suffering a 5-3 loss at the hands of Ng. The rematch between Almaraz and Ng was set in motion. A confident Almaraz took control of the first set, and did not look back. She defeated Ng, 7-4, to capture her first, Space City, women’s open 9-ball division title.

Lazaro Martinez III

The junior 9-ball division commenced on Sunday, featuring 13 competitors from across Texas. On their way to the winners’ side, final four, Gabriel Martinez defeated Aniyah Maldonado, 7-2, and Ace Smith, 7-2, while Lazaro “Little Laz” Martinez, III, bested Vania Davila, 7-0, and Jayden Holt, 7-1. Mary Grigsby outran Makenzlee Cameron, 7-4, and Cameron King, 7-4, while Kevin Gallegos slid past Nathan Garay, 7-6, and Eva Grigsby, 7-4. On the one-loss side, after suffering a first round loss to Holt, Tyler Miller was on a mission, eliminating Davila, 5-2, King, 5-0, and Maldonado, 5-3. Holt dusted off Cameron, 5-1, while Smith ended Garay, 5-2. Smith vanquished Holt, 5-2, and along with Miller, reached the final six, and the money. On the east side, the Martinez brothers faced off in the final four, with Gabriel advancing, 7-1, while M. Grigsby lost her bid for the hot seat to Gallegos, 7-2. G. Martinez made quick work of Gallegos, 7-0, to capture the hot seat. On the west side, Laz ousted Miller, 5-2, and M. Grigsby defeated Ace, 5-3. Laz went on to eliminate Grigsby and Gallegos, to meet brother Gabriel in the finals. Gabriel gave it his best shot, but was outmatched by Laz, suffering a two-set defeat. With this victory, Laz secured his third, consecutive, Space City, junior 9-ball division title.

The Space City Open is the largest pool tournament in Texas, featuring five divisions, and is held annually, the first week in December. For more information, visit www.SpaceCityOpen.com. 

Saez downs Gray in finals of 1st Texas Tornado Open; Villareal wins short-field Ladies event

Joey Gray and Robb Saez

Robb Saez and Joey Gray stepped into the finals of the 1st Annual Texas Tornado Open on the weekend of May 10-11 with some history between them. Back in April, they'd squared off in what amounted to a $5,000, race-to-21 quarterfinal match at the 1st Annual Smokin' Aces Bar Box Tournament in Poplar Bluff, MO, won by Saez. Three years ago, they met in the finals of both the 38th Annual Texas Open and a stop on the Midwest 9-Ball Tour, both won by Saez, who pocketed just over two grand, total, more than Gray in those two meetings. The payout difference in the finals of the $10,000-added Texas Tornado tournament that drew 80 entrants to Easy Eight Billiards and Sports Bar in McAllen, TX was $1,480, and once again, Saez came out on top, completing an undefeated run to claim the first of what Texas Tornado Vivian Villareal hopes will become a twice-yearly event.
 
"We're testing the waters," she said in the days just prior to start of the tournament, "If it's successful, we might try to do it twice a year."
 
Villareal, in addition to overseeing her first tournament, assisted by tour director Tito Fernandez, found time to compete in the Open, where she finished in the tie for 13th place, and a short field (seven entrants) Ladies Tournament, which she won, defeating Erin Lacy in the finals. 
 
If success is measured by participant response, it looks as though this first Texas Tornado Tournament won't be the last.
 
"Players, room owners and sponsors were very happy," said Fernandez, who was flying solo on this one, after something of an apprenticeship under Lewis Jones, tour director of the Fast Eddie's Tour. 
 
"There were some glitches," he admitted, "but overall, things ran smoothly."
 
Winner Robb Saez agreed, noting that while there were a few "quirks to fix," match scheduling worked well and didn't fall behind anywhere. He was also pleased with the tournament officials' decision to maintain the promised $10,000-added, which was to have been applied to a full 128-player field.
 
"They added the $10,000, in spite of not having the expected 128," said Saez. "Nobody does that. These people were short over 40 people and they added the $10,000, anyway. That's pretty awesome."
 
According to Fernandez, plans for next year include doubling that $10K-added and again, looking to guarantee that amount.
 
The entry list for this first-ever Texas Tornado Open contained a long list of usual suspects, from the big backyard of Texas (Villareal, Charlie Bryant, Sylver Ochoa) to the tables of the Midwest (Shane McMinn, John Gabriel, and of course, runner-up Gray). Saez and Gray met up first in a winners' side semifinal, while C.J. Wiley and Scott Kitto met in the other one. Saez took his first of two over Gray 7-5, and in the hot seat match, faced Wiley, who'd given up only a single rack to Kitto. Saez defeated Wiley 7-3, and waited on the return of Gray.
 
Gray had moved over and could not have been too pleased to draw Charlie Bryant right away. Bryant had defeated Sylver Ochoa 7-5 and John Gabriel 7-3 to reach Gray. Kitto, in the meantime, had his own problems, having drawn Shane McMinn, who'd defeated Rudy Sanchez 7-5 and shut out Nino Salazar, who was returning to competition after about 20 years away. 
McMinn eliminated Kitto 7-4, while Gray was doing likewise to the Hillbilly 7-5.
 
Gray went on to defeat McMinn 7-3 in the quarterfinals, and by the same score, downed C.J. Wiley in the semifinals, setting up a familiar match for Gray; one destined to have familiar results.
 
As he had done back in April at the Smokin' Aces Bar Box tournament, Gray took an early lead over Saez. He was ahead in that tournament quarterfinal 17-11, racing to 21, before Saez caught a gear and won 10 of the next 12. 
 
"He had me 5-1, racing to seven, in this one," said Saez, "and I beat him six in a row. He made a couple of unforced errors and I took advantage."
 
Villareal went undefeated through the short field of seven entrants, on-hand for the $1,000-added Ladies event. Everyone who played went home with a payout. Villareal defeated Sophie Lopez in the battle for the hot seat 7-3. Lopez moved over to a semifinal match against Erin Lacey, who'd just eliminated Rhea Brooks 7-4 in the quarterfinals. Lacey downed Lopez by the same score in the semifinals, for a shot at the Texas Tornado. Lacey put up a fight, forcing a case game, but Villareal prevailed to enshrine her own name in what will be the annals of her own namesake tournament.
 
Tour director Tito Fernandez thanked the ownership and staff at Easy Eight Billiards and Sports Bar for their hospitality, as well as sponsors Palenque Grill, Boggus Ford, Hampton Inn & Suites, Big Rio Grande Construction, Lopez Tires and Wheels, Texas Boiler Room, Villa Del Mar Restaurant, Careers Institute, Smiles Studio, Max Muscle Sports Nutrition, Voggo Business Consulting, Palenque Chicken, Taco Palenque, Mambo Seafood, Bellissima La Revista, G-Cues Billiard and Dart Supply, Mega Doctor News, FNT Horses & Carriages, LLC, Ozone Billiards and Texas Border Business.