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Davis comes from the loss side, and returns to NC State Open 9-Ball winners’ circle

Mike Davis, Jr.

Mike Davis, Jr. won the first three NC State Open 9-Ball championships from 2014 to 2016. After relinquishing the title for three years, to (in order) Shannon Fitch (‘17), Reymart Lim (’18) and Keith Bennett (’19), Davis returned to compete in the 7th Annual NC State Open 9-Ball tournament and in spite of having his path to victory re-routed through the loss side of the event’s bracket, returned to meet and defeat Justin Martin in the finals and reclaim the title. The $500-added event drew 43 entrants to Randolph’s Billiards in Hickory, NC.

Davis advanced through the field to draw Justin Martin in one of the winners’ side semifinals, as Barry Mashburn faced Brian Capps in the other one. Martin sent Davis to the loss side 7-4 and in the hot seat match, faced Mashburn, who’d defeated Capps 7-5. Martin claimed the hot seat 7-4 over Mashburn and waited on Davis’ return.

On the loss side, in the first money rounds, Davis picked up Josh Heeter, who’d shut out Kirk Overcash and eliminated Jeff Abernathy 7-3 to reach him. Capps drew Mackie Lowery, who’d eliminated Hank Powell, double hill, and Edwin Delacueva 7-3.

Capps sent Mackie Lowery home with some cash in a 7-5 win. He was joined in the quarterfinals by Davis, who’d survived a double hill battle versus Heeter. Davis then denied Capps a second shot at Mashburn by downing Capps in those quarterfinals 7-2.

Davis moved on to deny Mashburn a second shot at Martin with a 7-3 win in the semifinals. In the finals that followed, Davis was looking to regain a title he’d last held in 2016. His opponent, Justin Martin, was looking to break a three-year streak of being the NC State Open 9-Ball tournament’s runner-up.

Davis won his fourth NC State Open 9-Ball title and handEd Martin his 4th runner-up finish. Davis completed his run with a 9-4 win in the finals.

Tour directors Herman and Angela Parker thanked the ownership and staff at Randolph Billiards, as well as title sponsor Viking Cues, Bar Pool Tables, Delta 13 Racks, AZ Billiards and Tickler Pool Ball Washing Machine. The next stop on the tour, scheduled for March 7-8, will be a $500-added event ($1,000-added with 64+ entrants), hosted by Break & Run Billiards in Chesnee, SC.

Singleton downs Fitch in finals to capture Sunshine State Pro Am Bar Box Championship

(l to r): Andrew Pettenger, David Singleton & Shannon Fitch

David Singleton’s victory at the Sunshine State Pro Am’s Amateur Bar Box Championships on the weekend of November 16-17, was not only his first victory on the tour, it officially made 2019 his best earnings year to date. At two previous stops on the tour, back in January and July, he’d finished in both in the tie for 9th place. He and Brian McBride finished in the tie for 5th place in September at the tour’s 2nd Annual Big Dawg Scotch Doubles Tournament. According to available records, Singleton has only cashed in five events in the past three years; the extent of his known activity at the tables. Shannon Fitch, on the other hand, while also in the midst of his best earnings year to date, has cash-winning records dating back over 20 years, was also looking to chalk up his first victory on the Sunshine State Pro Am Tour. The $2,200-added event drew 84 players to Racks Billiards in Sandford, FL.
 
It was a five-match march to their first meeting in the hot seat. Singleton followed an opening round bye with victories over Randall McLuckie, Jose Guerro Baez, Christopher Anderson and Bobby Garza (double hill) to draw Jon Gore in one of the winners’ side semifinals. Fitch, also opening with a bye, advanced through Thomas White, Hector Ortiz, Robert Noon and the tour’s #1-ranked competitor going into this event, Nathan Rose, to arrive at a winners’ side semifinal matchup against David Jacobs.
 
Fitch downed Jacobs 9-5, as Singleton was busy sending Gore to the loss side 9-7. In their first of two, Fitch claimed the hot seat 9-3 and waited for Singleton’s return from the semifinals.
 
On the loss side, Gore drew Andrew Pettenger, who, after an opening round bye, had lost to Mike Delawder in the second round, and embarked on a seven-match, loss-side winning streak that would take him as far as the semifinals. He’d most recently defeated Nathan Rose 7-6 and Jai Smith 7-5. Jacobs drew Garza, who after his loss to Singleton had eliminated Racks’ owner Pedro Botta 7-2 and Jose Guerro Baez 7-5.
 
Garza and Jacobs locked up in a double hill fight that eventually sent Jacobs to the quarterfinals. Pettenger joined him after defeating Gore 7-5. Pettenger chalked up the last match of his loss-side streak 7-5 over Jacobs, before Singleton defeated him 6-2 in the semifinals.
 
For the finals, the race was extended to 11 games. Singleton won it 11-7 to claim the event title and move up significantly, to within the top 10, of the tour’s highest-ranked players.
 
Tour directors Janene Phillips and Bobby Garza thanked Pedro Botta and his Rack’s staff for their hospitality, as well as title sponsor Predator Cues, Cue Sports Studios (for streaming), Leah Nusbaum Photography, Stitch-It-To-Me Embroidery, Diamond Products, Cyclop Balls, Central Florida USA Pool League and AZBilliards. The next stop on the Sunshine State Pro Am Tour, scheduled for Saturday, December 7, will be hosted by Park Ave. Billiards in Orange Park, FL.

Rodriguez goes undefeated to win his first 2019 Sunshine State Pro Am title

Bill Bloom, Shannon Fitch and Ricardo Joel Rodriguez

Looking to better his 2018 earnings, the year in which he tallied a win on the Sunshine State Pro Am Tour in March and won the Florida 10-Ball Bar Box Championships in November, Ricardo Joel Rodriguez went undefeated through a field of 64 entrants to win the October 5-6 stop (#8) on the 2019 Sunshine State Pro Am Tour’s $1,500-added event ($1,000 by Brewlands and $500 from Predator Cues) at Brewlands Bar & Billiards in North Lakeland, FL . He stopped a seven-match, loss-side winning streak by Bill Bloom, defeating him in the finals to claim the title. Rodriguez’ $1,000 first-place prize doesn’t put his 2019 earnings over his 2018 threshold, but does put him a step closer with a full two months-plus to go.
 
In addition to the event itself, the Sunshine State Pro Am Tour held a mystery auction to raise money for junior competitors Kodi Allen and Trenton White (who was the main event’s top-finishing (9th place) junior) to help offset their expenses for an upcoming trip to Cypress in November, when they will represent the USA in the Jr. World Championships. In addition to the money raised by the auction ($600), the tour donated 5% of the player’s auction to the junior players ($215). An additional $215 was raised by a $50 challenge donation from Jen Radkte, bringing the total to $1,030. Each of the junior competitors will receive half of that total. In addition to the support provided by the tour itself, tour directors Janene Phillips and Bobby Garza gave a ‘shout out’ to the sponsors of this mystery auction event – Michael Zingale of Zingale’s Billiards, Carl Watt of Park Ave. Billiards, Pedro Botta of Racks Billiards, Larry Walthal of the host Brewlands, The Central Florida USA Pool League, Don and Jennifer Berzinski of the People’s Tournament, Stitch it to Me Embroidery, Cyclop Balls, Predator Products and Jeannette Lee with the Tampa APA.
 
Congratulations were extended to the Scarberry family as winners of the mystery auction. Some of the items in the bags included a Sneaky Pete rage cue, a signed-by-Jeanette Lee cue and cue ball, free entries to an event at Zingales and on the Sunshine State Pro Am Tour, gift cards (including Dunkin’), scratch-off lottery tickets, Predator glove and chalk, Cyclops cue ball, Tip tool, T-Shirts, Polos, UFC backpack with ‘extras,’ Tiger Chalk, and if that weren’t enough, two bottles of tequila.
 
The main event tournament saw Ricardo Joel Rodriguez start out with a ‘shutout’ bang over Michael McGuire and then settle into victories over Nataniel Acosta, George McLanahan and Jeremy Bell to arrive at a winners’ side semifinal match versus Jordan Burden. Shannon Fitch, in the meantime, downed Anthony Fisher, Thomas White, Francisco Diaz and Justin McNulty (who’d just sent Bill Bloom to the loss side) to face Robert Batson in the other winners’ side semifinal.
 
Rodriguez’ trip to the winners’ circle was almost rerouted as he and Burden went double hill before Rodriguez prevailed. Fitch joined him in the hot seat match with a 7-4 win over Batson. Rodriguez gave up only a single rack to Fitch and sat in the hot seat, waiting for Bloom to conclude his loss-side run.
 
It was Batson who picked up Bloom, four matches into his loss-side streak, that had included recent wins over Jeremy Bell, double hill and, Anthony Cruz. Burden drew Justin McNulty, who’d defeated Trenton White 5-3 and Jeff Brown 5-1 to reach him.
 
Bloom survived a double hill fight against Batson to advance to the quarterfinals, where he was joined by Burden, who’d spoiled any hopes of a Bloom/McNulty rematch by eliminating McNulty 5-1. Bloom and Burden battled to double hill in those quarterfinals, before Bloom advanced.
 
Bloom downed Shannon Fitch in the subsequent semifinals and got a shot at Rodriguez in the finals. With Bloom racing to 8 and Rodriguez to 9, the two battled to a double hill final game, won by Rodriguez, who claimed the title.
 
Tour directors Phillips and Garza thanked Larry Walthal of Brewlands for hosting the event as well as sponsors Predator Cues, Central Florida USA Pool League, Stitch it to me Embroidery, Cyclops, Kamui and AZBilliards. The next stop on the Sunshine State Pro Am Tour, scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 16, will be a $1,500-added event, hosted by Rack’s Billiards in Sanford, FL. 

Ussery dethrones defending champ Davis at 4th NC State 8-Ball Open

(l to r): Mike Davis & BJ Ussery

Mike Davis had won three straight North Carolina State 8-Ball Open titles and arrived in Hickory, NC on the weekend of September 14-15 to chalk up his fourth. His path to the event victory went off-course early as he was sent to the loss side in the event’s second round. He would win seven matches on the loss side, but in the end, it was BJ Ussery, completing an undefeated run, who would unseat him from his 8-Ball Open throne and wear the crown for the first time. The $500-added event drew 28 entrants to Randolph’s Billiards in Hickory.
 
Davis was defeated in the second round by Jason Evans, who followed him to the loss side later. In the meantime, Ussery and Shannon Fitch advanced to winners’ side semifinals versus Mike Bumgarner and Justin Martin, respectively.
 
Fitch and Martin locked up in a double hill fight that eventually sent Martin to the loss side. Ussery punctuated his advance to the hot seat match with a shutout over Bumgarner. He then downed Fitch 7-4 to claim the hot seat and wait for the event’s defending champion to finish his loss-side run.
 
After chalking up his first two loss-side wins, Davis eliminated Chuck Ritchie 6-4 and survived a double hill fight against Daniel Gambill to draw Martin in the first money round. Bumgarner picked up Jason Evans, who’d shut out Travis Worden and then, in spite of being down 5-0 to Hank Powell, came back to defeat him 6-5 and face Bumgarner.
 
Davis and Evans advanced to their quarterfinal rematch; Evans over Bumgarner 6-2 and Davis over Martin 6-4. As Ussery had punctuated his advance to the hot seat match, Davis punctuated his advance to the semifinals with a rematch shutout over Evans. He then earned the right to defend his 8-Ball Open title with a 6-3 over Fitch in those semifinals.
 
The final match was a straight race to 9. Ussery won it 9-7 to claim his first NC State 8-Ball Open title.
 
Tour directors Herman and Angela Parker thanked the ownership and staff at Randolph’s Billiards for their hospitality, as well as title sponsor Viking Cues, Bar Pool Tables, Delta 13 Racks, AZ Billiards and Professor Q-Ball. The next stop on the Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball Tour, scheduled for this weekend (September 21-22) will be a $500-added ($1,000-added with 64 entrants) event, hosted by Break & Run Billiards in Chesnee, SC.

Hall ‘catches a (loss-side) gear’ and wins Sunshine Pro Am stop with a shutout final

(l to r): Anthony Meglino, Jeremy Bell, Justin Hall & Brewlands’ owner, Larry Walthall

It seemed like such an unlikely scenario, to the point of being almost of unheard of, that we had to double check.
 
In the brackets detailing the results of Stop #4 on the Sunshine State Pro Am Tour on the weekend of May 11-12, there was reportedly a shutout in the final match. Such designations, when they show up on a posted bracket, are often ‘code’ for a circumstance in which the two finalists agree to split the top prizes, and since there is no way to indicate this on a tournament bracket, tour representatives will often write in a shutout score or a double hill score.
 
Not this time.
 
According to tour directors Janene Phillips and Bobby Garza, Justin Hall ‘caught a gear’ during his first loss-side match and went, like the proverbial ‘hot knife through butter,’ through three loss-side matches and then shut out hot seat occupant, Jeremy Bell to capture the event title. The $1,350-added event drew 64 entrants to Brewlands in North Lakeland (Tampa), FL.
 
It was also reported in the same posted bracket that the top finishing female in the event was Jeanette Lee and as that, too, seemed a little unlikely, we double-checked, assuming we would discover that another woman who happened to have the same name as the well-known female pool champion had finished in the four-way tie for 13th place. But no, it was THE Jeanette Lee, who was sent to the loss side in the second round of play by Faheem Zia and after a single win on the loss side, ran into Tommy Kennedy, who defeated her in a double hill battle.
 
Though Hall may have ‘caught the gear’ that propelled him into the finals when he arrived on the loss side, he was showing evidence of a solid performance early. He won his first two matches, against Marvin Limas and Will Smith (not the actor) 7-1. Stephanie Mitchell gave him a run for his money, but fell 7-5. Hall then defeated Robert Batson 7-2 to draw Bell for the first time in a winners’ side semifinal. He arrived at the winners’ side semifinal with a 75.67% game-winning percentage (28-9); a touch better than winning three out of every four games he’d played.
 
Bell, in the meantime, arrived at that winners’ side semifinal with a 66% winning percentage (28-14). At the other end of the bracket, Anthony Meglino was making his way to the hot seat and arrived at his winners’ side semifinal with a 65% winning percentage (28-15). He got by Angel Alvardo and Bobby Garza, both 7-4 before running into Tommy Kennedy, who battled  him to double hill, before giving way. A 7-1 victory over Faheem Zia put Meglino in the other winners’ side semifinal against Shannon Fitch.
 
Bell sent Hall to the loss side 7-3, as Meglino and Fitch locked up in a double hill fight that eventually put Meglino in the hot seat match against Bell. Meglino ended up on the wrong side of this third double hill match and headed for the semifinals.
 
On the loss side, Fitch picked up Serrano Serafin, who’d defeated Robert Batson, double hill, and Mike Xiarhos, Sr. 5-1 to reach him. Xiarhos had previously eliminated Kennedy in a double hill match. Hall drew Faheem Zia, who’d survived a double hill fight against Nathan Rose and eliminated Che Mrvos 5-3.
 
Fitch shut Serafin out and advanced to the quarterfinals. Hall, in the meantime, was digging himself a hole with Zia on the hill at 4-0. Hall stopped digging and ‘caught the gear’ at that point. Over the next 27 games, Hall would give up only three racks. He chalked up five against Zia and moved into the quarterfinals against Fitch.
 
Hall gave up a single rack to Fitch in those quarterfinals and then downed Meglino 5-2 in the semifinals. In the interim between meeting Bell for the first time and his eventual victory over him in the finals, Hall’s winning percentage had dropped by about five points to 70% (55-23), but it was more than enough to claim the event title.
 
Tour directors Janene Phillips and Bobby Garza thanked the owner, Larry Walthall and his Brewlands staff for their hospitality, as well as sponsors Predator Cues, Cyclops Balls, Stitch It To Me Embroidery, USA Pool League and AZBilliards. The next stop on the Sunshine State Pro Am Tour, scheduled for June 22-23, will be hosted by Strokers in Palm Harbor, FL.

Applebee and Griffin split top prizes on Sunshine State Pro Am season finale

(l to r): Nick Applebee, Tommy Kennedy & Mike Griffin

White and Grossman split top prizes in Amateur event
 
The season finale of the Sunshine State Pro Am tour, held on the weekend of Dec. 1-2, saw both the Open/Pro and Amateur finalists opt out of a final match. In the $500-added Open/Pro event on Saturday (the tour’s Open 9-Ball Championships), which drew 31 entrants, hot seat occupant Nick Applebee and Mike Griffin (at approximately 4 a.m.) let their first meeting in the battle for the hot seat stand as the determining title match. In the $300-added, Amateur event on Sunday, which drew 22 entrants, it was hot seat occupant Thomas White and challenger David Grossman, who did the same thing. Both events were hosted by Park Ave. Billiards in Orange Park, FL.
 
In the Open/Pro event, Applebee got by Michell Monk, Jay Stock and Jeannie Seaver to draw Bobby Garza in one of the winners’ side semifinals. Mike Griffin, in the meantime, opened his campaign against the tour’s top junior of the year, Trenton White. After defeating him, Griffin moved on to send Thomas White (official winner of the Amateur event) and Asia Cy to the loss side, to face David Grossman in the other winners’ side semifinal.
 
Griffin got into the hot seat match with a 7-4 win over Grossman. Applebee and Garza locked up in a double hill fight that eventually sent Applebee to the hot seat match and Garza to the loss side. Applebee claimed the hot seat 7-5 over Griffin.
 
On the loss side, Grossman and Garza had the misfortune of running into two competitors who’d lost their opening round matches and were in the midst of a five-match, loss-side winning streak. Garza drew Tommy Kennedy, who’d lost his opening match, double hill to Jordan Burden and most recently had defeated Asia Cy 7-5 and Cody Booth 7-1 to draw Garza. Grossman picked up Anthony Meglino, who’d lost his opening round match to Adam Saaidi, and had most recently eliminated Jeannie Seaver 7-2 and just did survive a double hill fight against Shannon Fitch.
 
Kennedy downed Garza 7-2 and in the quarterfinals, faced Meglino, who’d survived his second straight double hill match, versus Grossman. Meglino ended up on the wrong end of his third straight double hill match and was defeated by Kennedy in those quarterfinals. Looking for his eighth straight loss-side win and a shot at Applebee in the hot seat, Kennedy fell to Griffin 7-5. Griffin and Applebee opted out of the final and the Open/Pro weekend was over.
 
White and Grossman let hot seat result stand
 
Thomas White, who ended up in the tie for 13th place in the Open/Pro event, won the hot seat match in the Amateur event over David Grossman, who had finished in the tie for 5th place in the Open/Pro event. Though Grossman won his semifinal match, he and White opted out of an Amateur final, which allowed White, as the undefeated occupant of the hot seat, to claim the official event title.
 
White advanced through the 22-entrant field to arrive at a winner’ side semifinal against Aaron Sikes. Grossman drew Scott Rohleder in the other one. Grossman advanced to the hot seat match 7-4 over Rohleder, while White downed Sikes 7-1 to join him. White and Grossman battled to double hill to claim the hot seat, which White eventually did, in what proved to be his last match.
 
On the loss side, Rohleder picked up Open/Pro winner, Nick Applebee, while Sikes drew Bobby Garza (5th/6th in the Open/Pro). Rohleder advanced to the quarterfinals with a double hill win over Applebee. He was joined by Garza, who’d benefited from a forfeit by Sikes.
 
Garza then eliminated Rohleder 5-1 before falling to Grossman in the semifinals 6-2. White and Grossman opted out of the final and the Sunshine State Pro Am Tour’s season finale was in the books.
 
In addition to the two tournaments, the tour announced its three award winners – Anthony Meglino as Player of the Year, Kelly Cavanaugh as Lady of the Year and Trenton White as the year’s top junior player.
 
Tour directors Janene Phillips and Bobby Garza thanked the ownership and staff at Park Avenue Billiards for their hospitality, as well as sponsors Kamui, Cyclop Balls, Diamond, Play The Game clothing, AZ Billiards, Jacksonville Roofing USA, Inc. and Inside Pool TV. The next stop on the Sunshine State Pro Am Tour will be its season opener, scheduled for January 5-6, 2019 at Stroker’s Billiards in Palm Harbor, FL. It will include a 9-ball Amateur event and the tour’s 10-ball Invitational Tournament for its top 16 players.

Davis comes from the loss side to recapture NC State 10-Ball title

Mike Davis, Jr.

Mike Davis, Jr. won the first North Carolina State 10-Ball Open in 2015, going undefeated to claim that first NC State 10-Ball title. The following year, though he made it to the hot seat, he was defeated in the finals by Shannon Fitch. Last year, Davis won four on the loss side before he was met and defeated in the semifinals by Reymart Lim, who went on to capture the title. This year, on the weekend of July 13-14, Davis once again came from the loss side, and in a re-match against Lim in the finals, he re-captured the NC State title. Held under the auspices of the Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball Tour, the $500-added event drew 30 entrants to Brass Tap in Raleigh, NC.
 
The four competitors who squared off against each other in the two winners’ side semifinals ended up as the event’s top four finishers. Two of them, of course (the hot seat competitors), were guaranteed to be among the top three. The other two spots, especially given the competition on the loss side of this event, were up for grabs. Davis and defending champion Lim were two of the winners’ side semifinalists, while Justin Martin and the Q City 9-Ball Tour’s top winner over the past five years (JT Ringgold with 12 tour victories, including his latest, one week ago) squared off in the other one.
 
Lim sent Davis to the loss side 7-4, as Justin Martin gave up only a single rack to Ringgold. Lim claimed the hot seat 7-3 over Martin and waited on Davis’ return.
 
There were some familiar Southeast faces lurking on the loss side. Davis moved over and picked up one of them; BJ Ussery, who’d defeated Scott Roberts 7-2 and (another familiar competitor) BJ Hucks 7-5. Ringgold drew Jason Evans, who’d just eliminated Mark Ransom 7-1 and Kelly Farrar 7-2.
 
Davis and Ringgold advanced to the quarterfinals; Davis, 7-1 over Ussery and Ringgold, 7-3 over Evans. Ringgold’s effort to chalk up win #13 on this year’s Q City 9-Ball Tour was stopped by Davis, who defeated him 7-4. Davis then defeatEd Martin in the semifinals 7-2.
 
With one NC State 10-Ball title each to their credit, Davis and Lim met for a second time in the finals. The single race to 9 was characterized by some back and forth play that led to a number of tied scores, before Davis edged out in front to eventually win it 9-6.
 
Tour directors Herman and Angela Parker thanked the ownership and staff at Brass Tap for their hospitality, as well as title sponsor Viking Cues, Delta 13 Racks, AZBilliards and Professor Q Ball. The next stop on the Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball Tour, scheduled for this weekend (July 20), will be hosted by the Clubhouse in Lynchburg, VA.

Kazakis comes back from hot seat loss, downs Pagulayan in Beasley Custom Cues 9-Ball Open

(l to r): Brass Tap Billiards owner Rich Kuntz, Alex Kazakis & Alex Pagulayan (Upstate Al)

In its language of origin (Greek), the name ‘Alex’ means ‘warrior.’ Two of them battled twice in the first Beasley Custom Cues 9-Ball Open (formerly the Don Coates Memorial), held on the long weekend of June 13-17. The annual event, sponsored by and with $10,000-added by Doug Beasley, has traditionally drawn the country’s (and increasingly, the world’s) best players, and this year, was no exception. Included in the roster of 85 entrants (among many others) were last year’s winner and runner-up, Sky Woodward and Zoren James Aranas; the 2016 winner, Rodney Morris, Johnny Archer, Neils Feijen, Ronnie Alcano, and the two Alex ‘warriors’ who fought twice to claim the title – Alex Kazakis and Alex Pagulayan. Kazakis lost their hot seat match but returned from the semifinals to defeat The Lion in the finals. The event, as always, was hosted by Brass Tap & Billiards in Raleigh, NC, whose history is longer than the event itself.
 
“Back in the 80s & 90s, they’d hold Wednesday night tournaments,” said Doug Beasley, on-site throughout the weekend at his table/booth, displaying his custom-made cues. “These weren’t money-added, or anything like that. They were just weekly tournaments, and you’d see Earl (Strickland), who used to live down here, Johnny Archer, Kim Davenport and Efren Reyes (among others).
 
“The former owner of the place (Tony Coates) was good friends with Johnny,” he added, “and he’d call him up and let him know he was getting an event together. They were all traveling around (more or less) together at the time, and they’d come in here, just for the weekly tournaments, so there’s a lot of history (related) to this room.”
 
The size of the room, dominated by the tables, lent itself to a ‘small bar’ atmosphere, which, in light of the talent on display during the weekend had a way of transforming it into a ‘big bar’ event; something akin to seeing a popular musician perform in a small nightclub. Tour directors Herman and Angela Parker, who took the reins of this event for the first time last year and operate the Viking Cues’ Q-City 9-Ball Tour, run a tight ship and in spite of some common (and relatively insignificant) issues related to the room’s size, the increasing rise in temperature (as spectators grew toward the final day), and well-known personality issues, the event went off without a hitch. Herman took lead on the ‘issues’ as they arose, from navigating rule disputes, imagined and real personality clashes and the general melee of top-notch, and sometimes volatile professional pool players all in a room together, trying to win the $5,000 first prize.
 
By Saturday, June 16, the field had narrowed down to its final 12 players. Before the day was over, it would be down to six. The two Alexes advanced to a winners’ side semifinal; Kazakis squaring off against Josh Roberts (whom he’d meet and defeat twice), and Pagulayan, facing Ronnie Alcano. Kazakis got into the hot seat match with a 9-5 win over Roberts, and faced Pagulayan (the sport’s best comedian), who’d sent Alcano to the loss side 9-6. Pagulayan claimed the hot seat 9-6 over Kazakis and waited on his return from the semifinals against Roberts.
 
On the loss side, where, at this point, everyone was ‘in the money,’ there were a lot of dangerous competitors, any one of whom could have advanced to challenge Pagulayan’s occupation of the hot seat. New York’s Joey Korsiak, Brandon Shuff, Shannon Fitch (a Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball regular, who played well throughout the weekend) and Filipino Jeff DeLuna were the first to be eliminated in the event’s first money round (13th through 16th). Alcano, coming over from the winners’ side, picked up Zoren James Aranas, who’d eliminated Rodney Morris 9-6, and Tony Chohan 9-5. Roberts drew the increasingly dangerous, 19-year-old Albanian, Klenti Kaci, who’d defeated Justin Martin 9-2 and Fedor Gorst 9-7 to reach him.
 
Aranas got by Alcano 9-7, as Roberts chalked up two impressive wins in a row; defeating Kaci 9-5, and then, by the same score in the quarterfinals, Aranas. This set up the semifinal re-match between Kazakis and Roberts.
 
The room was getting a little ‘tighter,’ as humidity and a degree of oxygen deprivation was beginning to have an effect on the way the balls were rolling on the table. This, by way of an observation from UpstateAl, who along with Levi Combs, under the auspices of #LiveAction Media Streaming, was providing the broadcast for the event.
 
Roberts made the event’s semifinal match a little closer than their previous match in the winners’ side semifinals. It was a tight match, but Kazakis pulled ahead to win it 9-7 and earn (definitely earn) his re-match in the finals against Pagulayan.
 
Not surprisingly, the race-to-13, single match final shaped up early as something of an epic battle. Tied up at 2-2, Kazakis and Pagulayan moved into a repetitive (alternate) break and win sequence, that began when Pagulayan took two in a row to go ahead 4-2. Kazakis won rack #7 to narrow the gap to a single game. They repeated this win one, lose one sequence through the next seven games, until Kazakis broke through to win two in a row and create the match’s second tie at 7-7.
 
Pagulayan answered with two in a row of his own to get back in front by two (9-7), for the fourth time since rack #6. It was, with one exception, the last winning rack for Pagulayan. Kazakis went on a five-rack run that was eventually interrupted by Pagulayan’s 10th winning rack. Kazakis sealed the deal with rack #23 and at 13-10, claimed the title to the 1st Beasley Custom Cues 9-Ball Open.
 
Tour directors Herman and Angela Parker thanked Rich Kuntz and his Brass Tap staff for their hospitality, as well as title sponsor Doug Beasley Custom Cues, the Coastal Carolina TAP League, Omega, AZBilliards, #LiveAction Media Streaming (with Levi Combs, and Upstate Al commentating), and Outsville Great White Pro Chalk.   
 
The Parkers will be back at work with the Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball Tour next weekend, June 23-24, when they will hold a $500-added event at Speakeazy Billiards in Sanford, NC.
 

Fitch goes undefeated to take Viking Cues’ Q-City 9-Ball title

Shannon Fitch

Shannon Fitch, probably best known as the competitor who thwarted Mike Davis’ hopes of defending his NC State 10-Ball Championship in 2016, was back at work on the Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball Tour on Saturday, May 26. He went undefeated through a field of 35 entrants to claim the event title. The event was hosted by Break Time Billiards in Cary, NC.
 
Fitch’s advancement through the field brought him to a winners’ side semifinal against Donnie Stewart. Teenager Peter Abatangelo, in the meantime, squared off against Q-City 9-Ball veteran JT Ringgold. Fitch got into the hot seat match with an 11-5 victory over Stewart, and was joined by Abatangelo, who’d sent Ringgold to the loss side 7-4. Fitch claimed his first of two over Abatangelo and sat in the hot seat to await his return.
 
On the loss side, Ringgold picked up Kelly Farrar, who’d defeated Graham Swinson and David Brown 6-4 to reach him. Stewart drew Scott Roberts, who’d gotten by Jeff Young 8-4 and Joey Tate 8-3. It was Stewart and Farrar who advanced to the quarterfinals; Farrar eliminating Ringgold 6-6, and Stewart eliminating Roberts 6-7.
 
Stewart took the quarterfinal match over Farrar 6-4, and had his loss-side run ended by Abatangelo 7-3 in the semifinals. Fitch, though, was not to be denied. He defeated Abatangelo a second time 11-4 to claim the event title.
 
Tour directors Herman and Angela Parker thanked the ownership and staff at Breaktime Billiards, as well as title sponsor Viking Cues, Viking Cues, Delta 13 Racks, AZBilliards and Professor Q Ball. The next stop on the Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball Tour, scheduled for this weekend (June 2-3), will be a $1,000-added event, hosted by The Steakhorse in Spartanburg, SC.

Davis successfully defends NC State 8-Ball title

Mike Davis

Though by any kind of figuring, Mike Davis was the odds-on favorite to win the 2nd Annual North Carolina State 8-Ball Championships, held on the weekend of November 5-6, and did, in fact, win it, successfully defending his title, it wasn’t without its moments of drama. He had to survive a double hill hot seat match, during which his opponent – Shannon Fitch, the current NC State 10-Ball champion – was able to take aim at the 8-ball in the deciding game. Later, Davis had to face a surging Chris Gentile, who’d won three on the loss side to face him in the finals. Davis weathered both storms to win the $400-added event on the Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball Tour that drew 28 entrants to Breaktime Billiards in Cary, NC.
 
 
In a winners’ side semifinal, Davis defeated Mike Gulyassy 9-5 to get into the hot seat match, while Fitch downed Gentile 9-6 to join him. A tight hot seat match led to the circumstance of Fitch taking aim at the 8-ball in the deciding double hill last game. Though reportedly not a particularly easy shot, it was high up in the probability percentages. Fitch missed it, and Davis was in the hot seat.
 
 
Meanwhile, on the loss side, Gentile had picked up James Blackburn, who’d gotten by Dan Heidrich 7-3 (ending a five-match, loss-side streak by Heidrich), and shut out Jake Spataro. Gulyassy drew George Crawford, who’d lost his opening match and was on his own five-match, loss-side streak, having eliminated Steve Page 7-1 and Michael Robertson, double hill, to reach Gulyassy.
 
 
Gentile advanced to the quarterfinals 7-4 over Blackburn, and was joined by Crawford, who benefited from a forfeit by Gulyassy. Gentile then chalked up two straight double hill matches; versus Crawford in the quarterfinals, and Fitch, in the semifinals. 
 
 
Given the double hill drama of the three matches that preceded the final, the final itself was a little anticlimactic. Davis defeated Gentile 11-5 to retain his NC State 8-Ball Championship title.
 
 
Tour director Herman Parker thanked the ownership and staff at Breaktime Billiards, as well as title sponsor Viking Cues, Delta-13 racks and Ruthless Billiards. The next stop on the Viking Cues' Q City 9-Ball Tour, scheduled for the weekend of November 12-13, will be hosted by Corner Pockets in Fayetteville, NC.