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

(l to r): Reymart Lim, TD Tiger Baker & BJ Ussery

Taylor becomes only 4th woman since 2013 to win VA State Women’s 10-Ball title
It’s a little early to start making predictions or get too much of a ‘read’ on a tour’s point standings (at least those that run on a calendar year schedule), but the Action Pool Tour’s second stop provided some intriguing information. It wasn’t so much about who’s in the top spots at this point, but who, among last year’s top players are apparently starting out a little slow. Stop #2 on the Action Pool Tour – the 2020 VA State 10-Ball Open Championships – drew 73 entrants to Diamond Billiards in Midlothian, VA on the weekend of February 15-16. Six of last year’s top 10 players in the tour’s final standings competed in this event. Two finished out of the money, including the event’s defending champion, RJ Carmona. Three, including last year’s tour champion, Chris Bruner, finished in the first money round. Reymart Lim, who finished in 4th place overall last year and won this year’s season opener was this event’s runner-up. In his first appearance on the tour in seven years, BJ Ussery came from the loss side to earn a finals rematch against Lim, which he won to claim the event title.
Meanwhile, the 2020 VA State Women’s 10-Ball Championships drew 16 women to the same location. As they did last year, Liz Taylor and Janet Atwell battled twice to claim this title. The results of those two battles were a reverse of last year’s; Atwell, winning the first and Taylor, winning the final (more on this a bit later).
Ussery’s appearance on the Action Pool Tour is a reflection of his desire to play generally stronger opponents than those he tends to face on regional handicapped tours. The last time he’d appeared on the APT, he’d finished 7th in the inaugural (2013) VA State 10-Ball Championships.
“I’m hoping to play in more of these (APT events) this year,” said Ussery. “I want to play against better players and compete in the some of the bigger events, like the US Open or the Super Billiards Expo.”
Any time at table, ultimately, is good time at table, but playing in a handicap system, no matter which one it is, carries a downside. According to Ussery, it’s less about the game and more about human nature.
“I get so used to giving up a handicap,” Ussery explained, “that when I get into a non-handicap game, it’s hard for me to bear down.”
His opening matches tended to demonstrate this. Ussery opened with an 8-6 win over Reggie Jackson, had a strong 8-1 victory over Jonathan Syphanthavong, and then gave up five against Shorty Davis. He had to win a deciding, 15th game in his fourth match, against Justin Martin. Nathan Childress chalked up six against him next, but Ussery prevailed and advanced to his first meeting against Reymart Lim, in one of the winners’ side semifinals. Lim had downed Barry Mashburn, RJ Carmona, Larry Kressel and shut out Greg Sabins (last year’s #12 in the point standings) to reach Ussery. Shane Wolford and Eric Moore (the APT’s 2016 Tour Champion) squared off in the other one.
By identical 8-1 scores, Lim and Wolford advanced to the hot seat match over Ussery and Moore. Lim and Wolford then locked up in a double hill fight that eventually sent Wolford to the semifinals and left Lim in the hot seat.
Ussery opened up on the loss side against Mike Davis, who was working on a five-match winning streak that was about to end and had included recent wins over Kelly Farrar 7-3 and Justin Martin 7-2. Moore picked up Scott Roberts, who’d been shut out by Greg Sabins in the second round and was working on his own seven-match, loss-side streak that included a successful 7-5 rematch against Sabins and a 7-5 victory over Nathan Childress, which led to Moore.
Ussery ended Davis’ streak 7-3 and in the quarterfinals, faced Roberts, who’d defeated Moore 7-4. Ussery ended Roberts’ streak and Wolford’s short visit to the loss side in the semifinals, both 7-5.
Going into the final match, Ussery was mindful not only of the earlier matchup, in which Lim had allowed him only a single rack, but previous matchups, as well. They’d faced each other on a number of occasions over the years, and playing against him, Ussery knew what the difference was.
“I knew he was a good player when we’d met before,” said Ussery, “but I knew then, that part of the reason he was beating me was that he’d been putting in the time.”
“These days,” Ussery added, “I’m as prepared as anybody.”
Ussery spoiled Lim’s bid for a second straight win on the APT. He defeated him 10-8 to claim his first APT title.
Taylor spoils Atwell’s bid for a third straight, sixth overall VA State 10-Ball Woman’s title.
[photo id=51605|align=right]Since 2013, there have been four women who’ve claimed the VA State Women’s 10-Ball title. Tracie Majors won it in 2014 and Meredith Lynch captured the title in 2017. Janet Atwell has claimed the title five times; once in its inaugural year (2013) and then, back-to-back, twice (’15,’16, ’18, ’19). Last year, Atwell was defeated by Liz Taylor, double hill, in the hot seat match and came back to down Taylor 8-2 in the finals to claim her second straight and fifth overall title.  This year, at the event that drew 16 entrants (one more than last year), they reversed things. Taylor was defeated in the hot seat match and came back to defeat Atwell in the finals and claim the 2020 women’s title.
It took them each three matches to meet for the first time in the hot seat match. Atwell got by Nicole King, Tina Nash and, in a winners’ side semifinal, shut out Hayleigh Marion. Taylor defeated Soo Emmett, Christy Norris and, in her winners’ side semifinal, survived a double hill match against Lisa Cossette. Atwell claimed the hot seat 6-1.
Taylor’s return faced a stiff challenge from Deeqa Nur, who’d been defeated in the opening round of play by Cheryl Sporleder and came back through five opponents to draw Taylor in the semifinals. Nur battled to double hill against two of those opponents. She picked up Hayleigh Marion, coming over from the winners’ side semifinal and defeated her, just ahead of downing Lisa Cossette in a double hill quarterfinal. Taylor spoiled the strong, loss-side bid 5-3 in the semifinals.
And so it was, that for the second year in a row, Liz Taylor and Janet Atwell battled for the State of Virginia’s Women’s 10-Ball title. In a reversal of fortunes, Taylor gave up only one rack to Atwell in claiming the event title 8-1.
Tour directors Kris Wylie and Tiger Baker thanked the ownership and staff at Diamond Billiards for their hospitality, as well as sponsors Full Stroke Billiards Apparel and Haselman & Hunt, D.D.S., P.C. Family Dentistry. The next stop on the Action Pool Tour, scheduled for March 28-29, will be a Double Points event – The East Coast Landscaping Bar Box Bash – to be hosted by Peninsula Billiards in Newport News, 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.

Shuff double dips Deska to win Action Pool Tour stop

Brandon Shuff (File photo courtesy of Jeff Smith)

In every way but the final result, it was a virtual repeat of an earlier set of battles on the Action Pool Tour. In August, Brandon Shuff came from deep on the loss-side to challenge Brian Deska, sitting in the hot seat. Shuff took the opening set, but in a decisive, final match, double hill battle, Deska prevailed. At an Action Pool Tour stop on the weekend of December 10-11, Deska once again advanced to the hot seat, as Shuff worked his way through the loss-side toward a challenge in the finals. Shuff, once again, took the opening set (by an almost identical score), but this time, he prevailed in the second set to capture the event title. The event drew 56 entrants to Diamond Billiards in Midlothian, VA.

This time around, Shuff’s path to victory spent just a little less time on the loss-side. He was sent west in a winners’ side final eight battle versus Shorty Davis, who moved on to face Deska. Deska sent Davis over after Shuff with an 8-4 victory and in the battle for the hot seat, faced Danny Mastermaker, who’d defeated John Newton 8-6. Deska sent Mastermaker to the semifinals with an 8-5 victory, and once again, awaited the return of Shuff.

It was Newton who moved west to face Shuff, who’d given up only four racks in 16 games against Bobby Anderson (one) and tour director Ozzy Reynolds (three) to reach him. Davis drew Chris Bruner, who’d defeated Nil Bert 6-3, and Dave Hunt 6-2. Shuff dropped Newton 6-2, as Davis was defeating Bruner 6-3, and the quarterfinal re-match was on. 

Shuff, who ended up winning three out of every four games he played on the loss-side, ended Davis’ day with a 6-2 victory and then, gave up only a single rack to Mastermaker in the semifinals. The opening set of the finals against Deska differed from its August predecessor by a single rack. Shuff had won the first set in August 8-3. He took this first set 8-4, and then, in a shortened race-to-6 defeated Deska 6-4 to capture the event title.