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Mastermaker goes undefeated to win Action Pool Tour stop #11 in Midlothian

Danny Mastermaker & Larry Kressel

In 2013, Danny Mastermaker was everywhere and playing in his best earnings year since AZBilliards began recording his winnings in 2007. He won a stop on the Action Pool Tour and another on the Great Southern Billiard Tour, and cashed in 11 other events, including that year’s VA State 10-Ball Championship (3rd), the George “Ginky” Sansouci Memorial (7th), the Super Billiards Expo’s Amateur Championship (9th), the VA State 9-Ball Championship (9th), the US Open 9-Ball Championships (17th) and Turning Stone XXI (17th).

As he came into stop #11 on this year’s Action Pool Tour, he had only one cash winning to his 2019 credit; he finished 7th at the VA State 10-Ball Championship in February. Mastermaker went undefeated at the Saturday, November 16 10-Ball event to claim his first (recorded) event title since he won the VA State Bar Table 9-Ball tournament in Lynchburg, VA in July, 2014. Oddly enough, Mastermaker downed Larry Kressel in the finals of that bar table 9-ball tournament five years ago and at the Action Pool Tour event this past weekend that drew 30 players to Diamond Billiards in Midlothian, VA, he defeated Kressel in the finals again.

He got by Kressel twice, actually. Mastermaker got by Zach Gladfelder, Adnan Ahsan and John Wright to draw Kelly Farrar in one of the winners’ side semifinals, as Kressel sent Shane Buchanan, Jason Trigo and Dave Hunt to the loss side and picked up Scott Roberts in the other winners’ side semifinal. Mastermaker dominated his match versus Farrar and sent him to the loss side 8-1, as Kressel sent Roberts over 8-5. In their first of two, Mastermaker prevailed 8-3 over Kressel.

On the loss side, Farrar drew Shane Wolford, who’d lost his opening round match and was working on a seven-match, loss-side winning streak that would take him all the way to the semifinals. He’d most recently defeated Dave Hunt 7-3 and Chris Bruner 7-1 to arrive at Farrar. Roberts drew Jimmy Bird, the man who’d sent Farrar to the loss side in the opening round. Bird was on a five-match, loss-side streak that was about to come to an end. He’d most recently eliminated John Wright 7-4 and Josh Craig 7-5.

Wolford shut Farrar out, as Roberts ended Bird’s streak 7-3. Wolford then defeated Roberts 7-5 in the quarterfinals.

Kressel put a stop to Wolford’s run in the semifinals by allowing him only a single rack in a race to 7. Kressel earned his second shot at Mastermaker in the hot seat.

Mastermaker had to chalk up one more rack than he had in the hot seat match in the finals’ race to 9. Kressel duplicated his effort in the hot seat match and Mastermaker claimed the event title 9-3.

Tour directors Kim Wylie and Tiger Baker thanked the ownership and staff at Diamond Billiards, as well as sponsors Predator Cues, Viking Cues, Simonis Cloth, Aramith Balls, Brown’s Mechanical LLC, Kamui, Diamond Billiard Products, Ozone Billiards, CSI, Grant Wylie Photography and George Hammerbacher, Advanced Pool Instructor. The next stop on the Action Pool Tour, scheduled for the weekend of December 7-8, will be the Pineapple Morris Memorial Shootout at Q Master Billiards in Virginia Beach, VA.

Bruner wins seven on the loss side to down Shuff and take Brown’s Mechanical 9-Ball Open

Chris Bruner

At the mid-point of the Action Pool Tour’s 2019 season on the weekend of June 15-16, there was a little shuffling among the tour’s top players, spearheaded by a strong, come-from-the-loss-side performance by Chris Bruner, who backed up his runner-up performance in Stop #5 with a victory over Brandon Shuff in the finals of Stop #6 – The Brown’s Mechanical 9-Ball Open, which drew 38 entrants to Diamond Billiards in Midlothian, VA.
 
A player’s position in the tour rankings is based on a formula which assigns specific points to a player’s finish in an event (20 points for 1st, 19 for 2nd, 18 for 3rd, etc.) times the number of entrants in a given tournament. In addition to the points assigned at an individual event, a player’s position on the list is also affected by the number of times he/she competes on the tour.
 
In the absence of three of the tour’s top five players at this most recent event (#1 RJ Carmona, #3 Reymart Lim and #4 Liz Taylor), Bruner, who entered the tournament in the fifth spot on the tour rankings advanced two spots to #3, while Steve Fleming, who entered the tournament as the #2-ranked player (having appeared in all six of the tour’s stops) was able to advance ahead of RJ Carmona to take the top spot. With only 1360 points separating 1st place from 5th place, these positions are likely to change in the second half of the 2019 APT season.
 
With Carmona, Lim and Taylor absent, the door was open for Fleming to advance to the top spot from the beginning, but he was sent to the loss side 8-6 in the second round by Brandon Shuff. Shuff advanced to shut out Jared Pitts and face Shorty Davis in one of the winners’ side semifinals. Two rounds earlier, Davis, appearing in his second event on the tour, was responsible for sending Bruner to the loss side 8-3, and then, sending perennial favorite and perennially competitive Shaun Wilkie over 8-6. James Blackburn, in the meantime, got by Hai Chi, Dave Hunt and David Hairfield to face Shane Buchanan in the other winners’ side semifinal.
 
Shuff downed Davis 8-2 and was joined in the hot seat match by Blackburn, who’d defeated Buchanan 8-5. Shuff, making his third appearance on this year’s tour, got into the hot seat and guaranteed himself a major jump in the tour rankings (from #24 to #9) with an 8-6 victory over Blackburn.
 
On the loss side, Shorty Davis ran into an immediate re-match against Bruner, who was four matches into his seven-match, loss-side winning streak, which had included, most recently, victories over Graham Swinson 7-1 and John Jordan 7-2. Buchanan picked up Larry Kressel, who was five matches into his own loss-side winning streak, which had begun with an opening round loss to Jared Pitts. He’d most recently eliminated Shaun Wilkie 7-5 and Dave Hunt 7-1. In the previous round, Hunt had spoiled a potential Kressel/Pitts re-match by defeating Pitts 7-1.
 
Bruner had a successful rematch against Davis, downing him 7-4. He was joined in the quarterfinals by Kressel, who’d eliminated Buchanan 7-2. With Bruner looking for his sixth straight loss-side win, and Kressel looking for his seventh, the quarterfinal was a somewhat predictable double hill match. Bruner ended Kressel’s run with the win and earned himself a shot at Shuff in the hot seat with a 7-2 victory over Blackburn in the semifinals.
 
As it turned out, Shuff was going to move into the 9th spot in the tour rankings, regardless of the result of the final match. Bruner, as well, would advance to 3rd place, regardless of the outcome. They battled to within a game of double hill, before Bruner edged out in front near the end of the final to win it 10-8.
 
A Second Chance event drew six entrants, which elicited more of a highly competitive tournament than one might normally expect from such a small field. Brian Sewell and Graham Swinson met in the second winners’ side round, with Swinson shutting Sewell out. Swinson moved on to occupy the hot seat. Sewell played and won two loss-side matches for a second shot at him and took full advantage, downing Swinson, double hill, to claim the Second Chance title.
 
Tour directors Kris Wylie and Tiger Baker thanked the ownership and staff at Diamond Billiards for their hospitality, as well as the event’s title sponsor Brown’s Mechanical LLC, CSI, Viking Cues, Predator Cues, Diamond Billiard Products, Ozone Billiards, Simonis Cloth, Aramith Balls, Kamui, Chix Cabinets, and George Hammerbacher (Advanced Pool Instructor). The next stop on the Action Pool Tour (#7), scheduled for the weekend of July 13-14, will be the APT Bar Box 10-Ball Open, hosted by Peninsula Billiards in Newport News, VA.

Carmona comes back from semifinals to win 7th Annual VA State 10-Ball Championships

(l to r): TD Tiger Baker, Scott Haas & RJ Carmona

Atwell comes back from semifinals to claim her 5th VA State 10-Ball title
 
In the seven-year history of the Virginia State 10-Ball Championships, there have been seven different winners in the event’s Open Division. The most recent winner at the 7th Annual event was RJ Carmona. In that same time frame, there have only been three women who have claimed the title – Tracie Majors (2014), Meredith Lynch (2017) and Janet Atwell, who won the inaugural event in 2013, and claimed the title in successive years, twice; 2015, 2016, 2018, and this past weekend, February 16-17, 2019. Both competitors at this year’s championships, held under the auspices of the Action Pool Tour and hosted by Diamond Billiards in Midlothian, VA, made it to their respective hot seat matches, and lost. They both came back to meet and defeat their hot seat opponent and claim the event title.
 
The Open division of the annual event drew 48 entrants, and only one former champion (Eric Moore, 2016). The Women’s Championship drew 15 entrants, including four-time and defending champion, Atwell. The Open event drew 9 of the top 10 finishers from the APT season opener in January, including that event’s winner (Reymart Lim).
 
Carmona opened his bid for the 2019 title with a shutout over Christopher Wilburn and then, battled to double hill against Del Sim before advancing. He downed Reymart Lim 8-6 and met up with Scott Roberts in a winners’ side semifinal. Carmona’s hot seat and finals opponent, Scott Haas, got by Danny Mastermaker, double hill, in the opening round and went on to defeat Shane Buchanan 8-5, before getting locked up in a second double hill battle against David Hairfield. Haas won that one to advance to a winners’ side semifinal against Brian Bryant.
 
Haas got into the hot seat match with an 8-4 win over Bryant. Carmona joined him after sending Roberts to the loss side 8-2. Haas claimed the hot seat 8-5 over Carmona and waited on his return.
 
On the loss side, Bryant picked up APT veteran/pro player Brandon Shuff, who’d lost a second- round match to Reymart Lim (double hill) and was in the midst of a seven-match, loss-side winning streak that would take him as far as the quarterfinals. He’d most recently eliminated Shorty Davis 7-3 and winner of the APT season opener, Reymart Lim 7-2. Scott Roberts drew Chris Bruner, who’d lost his second-round match to John Newton, and like Shuff, was on an extended loss-side streak (eight matches) that would take him to the seminfinals. He’d most recently defeated David Hairfield 7-5 and Danny Mastermaker 7-4.
 
Shuff and Bruner advanced to the quarterfinals with seven loss-side wins each, once Shuff had eliminated Bryant 7-5 and Bruner had defeated Roberts 7-3. Bruner broke the loss-side match tie with a 7-5 win over Shuff and with some momentum on his side, battled to double hill against Carmona in the semifinals. Carmona, though, finished it for a second shot at Haas in the hot seat.
 
Whatever happened in the Carmona/Haas finals, Reymart Lim was going to retain his top spot on the tour’s (two event) points-leader board, and RJ Carmona would hold on to his #2 spot. Haas, competing in his first 2019 APT stop, would enter the points-leader board at either #18, if he won, or #20, if he lost. Carmona completed his 2019 VA State 10-Ball Championship run with a 10-8 victory over Haas.
 
Atwell goes 3-1 to claim her fifth VA State 10-Ball Ladies title
 
It’s never easy, but short fields make for short runs to event titles. Janet Atwell played four matches and won three of them to claim her fifth VA State 10-Ball title. It was her first appearance on the APT in 2019 and her victory allowed her to enter the tour’s points-leader board at #83 (points are awarded based on a player’s finish and a formula related to the total number of entrants).
 
Atwell was awarded an opening round bye and then defeated Buffy Jolie 7-4 to arrive at a winners’ side semifinal against Marianne Merrill. Liz Taylor, in the meantime, got by Cheryl Pritchard 7-2 and Tina Castillo 7-4 to arrive at her winners’ side semifinal match against Linda Shea (tour director of the J. Pechauer Northeast Women’s Tour).
 
Atwell and Taylor advanced to the hot seat match with identical 7-4 victories over Merrill and Shea. Taylor claimed the hot seat in a double hill win.
 
On the loss side, Shea picked up Lisa Cossette, who’d defeated Kim McKenna and Nicole King, both 6-4, to reach her. Merrill drew Cheryl Sporleder, who’d defeated Dorothy Strater 6-1 and Bethany Sykes 6-4. Shea and Sporleder advanced to the quarterfinals, having given up only three racks between them in 15 games; Shea gave up two to Cossette and Sporleder gave up one to Merrill.
 
Shea gave up none at all to Sporleder in those quarterfinals, only to get locked up in what was most likely a predictable double hill fight between her and Atwell in the semifinals. Atwell prevailed and then in the finals rematch, downed Taylor 8-2 to claim the VA State 10-Ball Ladies title.
 
A Second Chance tournament drew 18 entrants. Greg Sabins and Robert Farmer worked their way through the field and battled in both the hot seat and finals. Farmer claimed the hot seat in a double hill fight, but Sabins came back from a shutout over Graham Swinson in the semifinals to shut Farmer out in the finals and claim the Second Chance top prize of $160. Farmer took home $100 as runner-up. Swinson finished third ($75), Cheryl Sporleder finished in fourth place ($50). Jamie Bess and Andrew Stephan each took home $30 for the 5th place tie.
 
Tour directors Kris Wylie and Tiger Baker thanked the ownership and staff at Diamond Billiards, as well as sponsors Diamond Billiard Products, Viking Cues, Predator, Tiger, Kamui Tips, Ozone Billiards, Simonis Cloth, and George Hammerbacher Advanced Pool Instructor. The next stop on the 2019 Action Pool Tour, scheduled for March 23-24, will be the East Coast Landscaping Bar Box Bash and will be hosted by Peninsula Billiards in Newport News, VA.

Kressel comes from the loss side to win his first APT stop in four years

Larry Kressel (Photo courtesy of Action Pool Tour)

He's never really been out of the East Coast regional tour spotlight, since he first started showing up on AZBilliard payout lists 13 years ago. Larry Kressel was a regular on the Planet Pool, Great Southern Billiard,  Jacoby Custom Cues Carolina, and more recently on the Action Pool and Viking Cues' Q City 9-Ball Tours (among others), and even more recently, finished second in the Amateur event of the Super Billiards Expo last month. On the weekend of May 6-7, he chalked up his first win on the Action Pool Tour since 2013, coming from the loss side to meet and defeat hot seat occupant Alan Duty in the finals of an event that drew 32 entrants to Diamond Billiards in Midlothian, VA.
 
The challenges to his bid for the victory increased steadily through the opening rounds of play as he gave up 2, 3, and 7 racks to Jeff Fulcher, Frances Fernandez and Alvin Thomas, respectively, before facing Duty for the first time in a winners' side semifinal. Jimmy Harris and Alex Travino squared off in the other winners' side semifinal. The increasing number of racks being chalked up against him caught up with Kressel in his first match against Duty. They battled to double hill before Duty advanced to the hot seat match against Harris, who'd sent Travino to the loss side 9-6.
 
Kressel moved over and picked up Dave Hunt, who, in the midst of a five-match loss side streak, had survived a double hill match against Shane Buchanan and logged a 7-1 victory over Chris Trinidad to reach him. Travino drew Sonny Nassif, who was also in the midst of a five-match, loss-side winning streak, that had included wins over Christopher Wilburn (who would finish this tournament at the top of the tour rankings) and Scott Pulley, both 7-3.
 
Kressel and Nassif advanced to the quarterfinals; Kressel 7-4 over Hunt, and Nassif, double hill over Travino. Kressel gave up only a single rack in the subsequent quarterfinal match against Nassif, and then locked up in a double hill fight against Harris in the semifinals that eventually sent Kressel to the finals for a re-match versus Duty.
 
By the time it was over, Kressel's opponents had chalked up every single digit of racks against him, except 5 and 8 (in order; 2, 3, 7, 9, 4, 1 & 6). Duty managed six against him in the final match that ended 11-6 and gave Kressel his first 2017 APT win.