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Joey Tate wins 18U Boys and ProAm divisions of JIC’s Stop #4 in Arizona

Bethany and Joey Tate (Corby Dayhoff)

Sister, Bethany Tate claims 18U girls title

All in all, it was a good weekend for the Tate family on the Junior International Championships, which held its fourth 2022 stop in the series at Bullshooters in Phoenix, AZ this past weekend (May 6-8). The family’s oldest son that plays on the JIC (among 12 in the family), Joey Tate, went undefeated in the 18U Boys division and came back from a winners’ side semifinal loss to arch-rival Landon Hollingsworth in the ProAm division to down him in the finals. Sister Bethany lost the hot seat match in the 18U Girls Division, but came back from the semifinals to down Savanna Wolford in the finals. Bethany ended up meeting and being defeated by brother Joey in a winners’ side semifinal in the ProAm division, while younger sister, Noelle, finished in the tie for 7th in the 18U Girls and 4th in the 13U Girls Division.

It was also a good day for the JIC’s most well-known rivalries with Tate and Hollingsworth squaring off in both the 18U Boys division and in the ProAm division, while Sofia Mast and Skylar Hess battled in the finals of the 13U Girls division; both won by Mast. They competed, but not against each other, in the 18U Girls division.

The event drew a total of 53 entrants (with some crossovers) to Bullshooter’s. The younger divisions drew very low numbers (three for the 13U Boys and four for the 13U Girls).

Tate’s undefeated win in the 17-entrant, 18U Boys division opened with a 7-4 victory over Landon Hollingsworth and then sent Ivo Lemon to the loss side 7-3, which set Tate up for a winners’ side semifinal against Rylan Yoder. Eddie Vonderau, in the meantime, defeated Deke Squier 7-3 and Payne McBride 7-5 to arrive at his winners’ side semifinal against Nathan Nunes. Two double hill matches ensued for advancement to the hot seat match, won by Tate and Vonderau. Tate claimed the hot seat 7-4.

On the loss side, Yoder picked up Payne McBride, who’d followed his loss to Vondereau by eliminating Hollingsworth 7-4 and Ben Kleinfelter 7-5. Nunes picked up Brent Worth, who’d defeated (among others) Jamison Gall 7-3 and Justin Maywin 7-5 to reach him.

McBride and Nunes advanced to the quarterfinals, where McBride won a double hill match versus Nunes, only to be downed himself in a double hill match by Vondereau in the semifinals. Tate completed his undefeated run with a second win over Vondereau in the finals 9-5.

The multi-gender, 20-entrant ProAm field (largest at this event) featured two matches between Joey Tate and Hollingsworth; hot seat and finals. Tate had sent Ben Kleinfelter and Jahnythan Craig to the loss side to meet up with his sister, Bethany. Hollingsworth, in the meantime, got by Rylan Yoder and Nathan Nunes to face Payne McBride in the other winners’ side semifinal.

Hollingsworth defeated McBride 7-4, as Joey was working at sending his own sister to the loss side 7-2. Hollingsworth claimed the hot seat over Tate 7-2. 

On the loss side, Bethany Tate picked up Brent Worth, who’d followed his winners’ side loss to Hollingsworth with a double hill win Justin Maywin and a 7-2 win over Nunes. McBride drew Jahnythan Craig, who’d recently eliminated Yoder and Gall, both 7-2.

McBride and Worth advanced to the quarterfinals, where McBride prevailed 7-3 and was then downed 7-4 by Tate in the semifinals. The tables were turned on Hollingsworth in the finals, who chalked up only two racks in the 9-2 win that gave Tate his second title of the event.

Bethany Tate wins 18U Girls, Mast wins 13U Girls as Vondereau takes 13U Boys

Bethany Tate’s path to the winners’ circle in the 18U Girls division went through her sister, Noelle, whom she defeated in the opening round in a somewhat predictable double hill fight. Tate then faced two ‘Savanna’s’ in a row; one with and one without an ‘h.’ She downed Savannah Easton 7-5 in a winners’ side semifinal to advance to the hot seat against Savanna Wolford, who’d defeated Sofia Mast 7-4 in their winners’ side semifinal. 

It was Wolford who grabbed the hot seat 7-3 over Tate. On the loss side, Precilia Kinsley backed up her winners’ side, first-round defeat of Skylar Hess with a 7-4 victory over Mast in her (Mast’s) first loss-side match. In the quarterfinals, Kinsley faced Kennedy Meyman, who’d survived a double hill match against Easton.

Kinsley advanced one more step, downing Meyman 7-2 in those quarterfinals, before she and Bethany Tate locked up in a double-hill semifinal that eventually sent Tate to a second shot against Wolford. Tate and Wolford battled to double hill, before Tate dropped the last ball to claim the 18U Girls title.

The two 13U-division events, with a combined eight entrants, were combined into a single event, which played out, in the beginning, as a round robin event, with each competitor playing seven matches. The top contenders were arranged into a male/female pair of single elimination matches that determined the winner in each division. 

Eddie Vondereau’s record in the round robin games earned him a bye in the single elimination phase of the 13U Boys division, as Deke Squier downed Brennan Fee 7-2. Vondereau downed Squier in the finals 9-2, with Fee finishing third. In the opening round of the single elimination phase of the 13U Girls division, Sofia Mast defeated Noelle Tate 7-2, as Skylar Hess downed Savannah Easton 7-4. In the event’s modified single-elimination format, Easton defeated Tate to finish third, with Tate, fourth. In the finals, Mast claimed the 13U Girls title with 9-5 win over Hess. 

Stop #4 of the Junior International Championships, sponsored by Viking Cues, signaled the end of the series’ first half of competition. With four events left, Joey Tate and Landon Hollingsworth are in possession of the top two spots in both the 18U Boys division and ProAm division. Tate, with this past weekend’s win and three previous runner-up finishes, is atop the ProAm division, with Hollingsworth in 2nd place, Brent Worth in 3rd and Lazaro Martinez, 4th. In the 18U division, the order is Tate, Hollingsworth, Ivo Lemon and Lazaro Martinez.

Bethany Tate, who’s won three of the first four events, is atop the 18U Girls division, with Kennedy Meyman in 2nd place. Noelle Tate sits in 3rd place and Skylar Hess is 4th. In the 13U Boys division, it’s D’Angelo Spain atop the standings. He’s been runner-up twice and 3rd twice, though he has yet to win a stop. Deke Squier is 2nd, with Eddie Vondereau, who’s won the two events in which he has competed, in 3rd place.

In an effort to assist in travel arrangements associated with the Junior International Championships and the BEF Junior Nationals, the next stop on the former has been scheduled in close time-and-location proximity to the latter. The JIC’s fifth stop, scheduled for the weekend of June 18-20, will be hosted by Griff’s in Las Vegas, while the BEF Junior Nationals will be held the following week (June 21-25) at the South Point Hotel & Convention Center in the same city.

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Newcomer to Tour Director role, Casey Cork, organizes BEF qualifier in Winston-Salem

Casey Cork (File photo)

Tate siblings win 18U Boys and Girls events, Jas Makhani wins Coed 14 & Under

One day, 20-year-old Casey Cork, a veteran of the Junior International Championship series of events, who finished 9th in the overall standings of the 18U girls division in the JIC’s first year and has aged out of competition in all but the ProAm division this year, decided that she wanted to organize a pool tournament for juniors. Not content with the availability of junior tournaments in her Greensboro, NC area, she reached out to Sandeep (Sonny) Makhani, owner of Breaktime Billiards in Winston-Salem and got him to split the cost of such a tournament and then, reached out to the Billiards Education Foundation and got them to agree to its designation as a qualifier for the annual Junior Nationals.

Easy-peasy, right? Well, probably not.

“I had no clue what I was in for,” she said.

But she got it done and this past weekend, Saturday, April 30, Breaktime hosted a BEF qualifier in three divisions: 18 & Under Boys and Girls and a 14 & Under Coed division. It was arguably for the best that it didn’t draw as many entrants as she’d hoped for (35-40), as she discovered what it was actually all about. The 18U Boys drew 13 entrants, the 14U Coed event drew 11 (and was won by the room owner’s son, Jas Makhani) and there were only six 18U girls. Among this short field were a number of JIC veterans, like the Tate siblings, Joey and Bethany, who both went undefeated to claim the 18U Boys and the 18U Girls titles. Noelle Tate competed, as well, along with Skylar Hess, the Vaughan brothers, and Niko Konkel, to name just a few. 

Joey Tate got by Garrett Vaughn twice in the 18U Boys event; hot seat and finals. Tate gave up more than a single rack only once through the five matches that it took him to claim the title. The one who chalked up five against him was Garrett Vaughn’s brother, Grayson. Niko Konkel, who finished third played both brothers; Grayson in the quarterfinals (shutting him out) and Garrett in the semifinals, who defeated him in a double hill match. Tate downed Garrett Vaughn by the same 7-1 score in both the hot seat match and finals.

Grayson Vaughan also competed in the 14U Coed tourney, and was proceeding along nicely until he ran into the eventual winner, Jas Makhani, in a winners’ side semifinal. Makhani advanced to the hot seat match 7-5 over Vaughan and met up with Skylar Hess, who’d sent Max Moore to the loss side by the same 7-5 score. Makhani claimed the hot seat 7-1, sending Hess to the semifinals and a 5-2 win over Jayce Little, who’d previously defeated Vaughan in the quarterfinals. Hess managed one more rack against Makhani in the finals than she’d chalked up against him in their hot seat match, but Makhani claimed the title 7-2.

 Hess showed up in the finals of the 10-match 18U Girls event, too. Downed by Bethany Tate 7-3 in the opening round, Hess came back through half the field (three opponents) to challenge her in the finals. Bethany Tate (15) had downed her younger sister, Noelle (12) in a winners’ side semifinal 7-3, advancing to the hot seat against Alana Sanchez, who’d sent Taylor Perkins to the loss side 7-1. Bethany claimed the hot seat 7-4. Hess, after downing Perkins 7-4, Noelle Tate 5-3 in the quarterfinals and Sanchez, double hill, in the semifinals got a second shot against Bethany Tate. Tate won their title-claiming rematch 7-4.

“There were some bumps in the road, some conflicts,” said Cork of her first tournament-direction experience, as, she noted by example, the fact that the venue had to move some of the bar box tables toward the end of the evening to accommodate the arrival of a band, “but otherwise, it went well.”

Well enough, she went on to say, that she’s already setting her sights toward future junior tournaments and the possibility of launching a series of women’s tournaments, as well. Not everyone walks away from their first tournament-directing experience with as much enthusiasm and immediate plans for the next one. We suspect we’ll be hearing more from this young woman and her pool-tournament aspirations in the months and hopefully, years ahead. 

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Shaw and Kelly take Pro Championship titles on closing night of the SBE

Jayson Shaw and Kelly Fisher

Bruner and Malm capture Amateur titles

The Annual Super Billiards Expo (SBE), like other tournaments of similar size and length, has a way of building momentum and speed as the week of it goes by. This varies slightly, depending on whether you’re a spectator or a player. As an example, Kelly Fisher, who emerged from a 63-entrant field and went on to become the undefeated WPBA Women’s Pro Players Champion on Sunday, played a single match on Thursday (she’d been awarded an opening round bye) and didn’t play again until Saturday, when she played twice. On Sunday, already among the event’s 16 players to enter the single-elimination phase, she played three times in a row to claim the title. Jayson Shaw, who went on to become the undefeated, 73-entrant Diamond Open 9-Ball Pro event winner had the same experience. In both cases, the Thursday and Friday experience was a little slower. The Saturday and Sunday experience seemed to flash by like proverbial greased lighting.

The Amateur Players Championship, which featured four short of 1,000 entrants (by far, the most heavily attended event) began on Wednesday and like the Pro events, ended on Sunday. That single-elimination process began with a lot of layover time for the competitors; time which narrowed and eventually, went flying by. Its champion, Chris Bruner, though, was used to it. As a participant at the SBE for about 20 years, he’d finished third at the last one and over the years, had five or so finishes of 5th or better. But playing in the APA, he’d also been a veteran of similar, large-entrant fields, requiring days and days of non-stop pool, or in the early going of such competition, waiting for the non-stop pool to begin.

“It’s tough,” he said, “but with things like the APA Nationals in Vegas, you get used to those long days. You get accustomed to it; the mindset that you have to chill out, relax and go play your game.”

“I’ve been doing it for so long that in the last five or six years, I’ve learned what to do and what not to do,” he added. “Get as much rest as you can, get enough sleep, and just take it day by day.”

Bruner ended up winning 10 matches and only lost two sets. Only once did he compete against someone he knew; Brent Hensley, with whom he has been friends for a long time. To him, the reward had less to do with the $5,000 in cash that he received as the Amateur Champion, than it was about, after all of the years he’d been attending, finally winning it. 

“I’m still on Cloud Nine,” he said, about three hours after the event had ended, around 6:30 on Sunday night. “I’ve been so close for so many years.”

A field of 166 entrants competed in the Women’s Amateur Players Championship. Tina Malm went undefeated through that field to claim the title, downing Ashley Benoit in the finals.

By Saturday night, the WPBA’s 63-entrant Women’s 9-Ball Professional Championship had whittled down to its 16-entrant single elimination phase. The 16 women advancing (in fact, the entire field of the event) featured many of the most highly recognizable names in women’s pool and with the exception of two from the UK (the Fishers, Kelly and Allison), all were from the North American continent; two, being Canadians (Brittany Bryant and Veronique Menard). Among the 47 who did not make the cut were a few junior competitors – Skylar Hess, Savannah Easton and Hayleigh Marion – along with Jeri Engh, who, in her 80s, was the event’s oldest participant. Women of the J. Pechauer Northeast Women’s Tour were well-represented, along with the presence of, though not participation on the part of the tournament’s director, Linda Shea. Along with Kia Burwell and Caroline Pao, who did become two of the final 16, and C.C. Strain, who acted as the tournament director for all of the SBE’s Amateur events, tour members Ada Lio, Kathy Friend, Eugenia Gyftopoulos, Judie Wilson and Shanna Lewis competed.

On Sunday morning, the final eight paired up in four quarterfinal matches. The marquee pairing among them featured the Fishers, who’d last met in the finals of the WPBA’s Northern Lights Classic last month. Joann Mason-Parker took on Caroline Pao, Jennifer Baretta faced Kim Newsome and Canada’s Veronique Menard matched up with Teruko Cucculelli.

In races to 11, Kelly Fisher defeated Allison Fisher 11-8 and Joann Mason Parker downed Caroline Pao 11-2. “9mm” Baretta shot down Kim Newsome 11-6 and Cucculelli eliminated Menard 11-9. In the semifinals that followed, Kelly Fisher defeated Mason-Parker 11-4 and in the finals, met Baretta, who’d defeated Cucculelli 11-4.

Fisher and Baretta traded racks through the first five games, after which Kelly was ahead 3-2. She added a rack, off Baretta’s break for a two-rack lead before Baretta came back with two to tie things for the third time at 4-4. Fisher won seven of the next eight games to claim the title.

Look for a report on the Diamond Open NineBall Professional Players Championship and the top finishers from the eight Amateur events in a separate report on these pages. 

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Danny Mastermaker collects first Super Billiards Expo title in debut of 6-Ball

The competition is starting to heat up at the 2022 Super Billiards Expo being held at the Greater Philadelphia Convention Center in Oaks, PA. The doors opened on Monday (April 18) with TAP League’s National Championships and by Tuesday, the SBE had crowned its first champion. Emerging from a field of 204 entrants, initially spread out over four single-elimination brackets, Danny Mastermaker grabbed that first title in the game format of 6-Ball, downing Fred Goodman in the finals 6-2, 6-2.

Though not by any means a new format, it made its debut here as an SBE event, playing out on Diamond ‘bar box’ tables. Utilizing the same rules as 9-Ball, with, as one might imagine, the 6-ball as the game’s ‘money’ ball, it has some advantages and disadvantages over the more popular standards; 8-ball, 9-ball and 10-ball. It is, also as one might imagine, a much quicker game. Here, at the SBE, it played out in races to six, best two out of three sets for advancement. For some, it was a familiar game, while for others, like Daniel Dagotdot, who was one of the four competitors emerging from the four brackets, it was a new experience. His thoughts on the game itself highlighted aspects of the game, which are something of a good news, bad news situation.

“It is so hard to make a ball on the break,” he noted of his first experience, “and if you break and don’t drop a ball, 90% of the time, you lose.”

It also creates a ‘do or die’ scenario, where if you step to the table after your opponent has broken, you better be prepared to finish the game from that point. An alternate break format softens the ‘do or die’ consequences somewhat, though Dagotdot made note of the same cautionary note about the nature of the game.

“Unless there’s a pack somewhere,” he said, “if you miss, you’re done, too.”

“I do like the game,” he added, “and you can’t ever really say you don’t get a chance.”

The game format appears to be attracting its share of ‘side action’ matchups at the SBE. Apparently, Dagotdot noted, players on the amateur end of the player spectrum like the odds better in a game that’s “fast-paced, with very little safety play and (not much) strategy.

“It might develop as a format with that action angle to it,” said Dagotdot. “I saw a lot of players doing that in the first two days.”

Loye Bolyard, tour director of the Maryland State Championships series of events, played 6-ball growing up, but at this stage, doesn’t see it showing up on his event calendar any time soon. Like Dagotdot, he noted the most obvious difference that it makes in game play.

“It’s all about the break, but there’s really no downside to it,” he said. “The good thing is that anybody can play.”

Open Amateur tournaments are underway, as are the two Pro events

The SBE’s Open Amateur event, with 962 registered entrants got underway on Wednesday, sporting 16 double-elimination brackets. The TAP League National Championships concluded, while its Rally in the Valley event began. On Thursday, the two Pro events got underway; the Diamond Open 9-Ball Professional Players Championship and the WPBA 9-Ball Pro Players Championships. Today (Friday), as the Open Amateur Players championship entered its third day, the Seniors Amateur Players Championship and the Women’s Amateur Player Championships got underway. 

The 74-entrant Diamond Open 9-Ball Pro event finished two rounds of play on Thursday, with a list of the ‘usual suspects’ advancing. The only real (apparent) surprise in the early rounds, which included a lot of opening round byes, was Earl Strickland’s second round (after a bye), double-hill loss to Alan Rolon Rosado. Among those advancing to a third round today (Friday) were Darren Appleton, Mika Immonen (downing junior competitor Landon Hollingsworth), Thorsten Hohmann, Warren Kiamco, Ralf Souquet, BJ Ussery, Fedor Gorst, Jayson Shaw, Billy Thorpe, John Morra and Kristina Tkach, who was the only one who played two matches, albeit one, a forfeit win over Lukas Fracasso-Verner.

The 63-entrant WPBA 9-Ball Pro Players Championships had much fewer byes in its opening round and played a single round, followed by eight matches of a second round. Like the Open event, it featured its own set of ‘usual suspects’ advancing. Kelly Fisher was the only player to receive a bye and won her opener. Winning two and advancing to a third round were (among others) Kelly Fisher, Allison Fisher, Monica Webb and Kim Newsome. Playing their second round today (Friday) were (also among others) were Jennifer Baretta, Janet Atwell, Brittany Bryant, Carolyn Pao and Loree Jon Brown.

Junior players like Landon Hollingsworth, Payne McBride, Skylar Hess and Savannah Easton (among others) are competing in the Pro events and will be competing in two separate junior events (17 & Under, 12 & Under), beginning on Saturday. The winner of each division will win paid entry to Billiards Education Foundation’s Junior Nationals. The top 16 in each division will qualify for the event. Each division’s winner will be recognized by the BEF as the Pennsylvania Jrs. State 9-Ball Champion. 

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“Kwikfire” goes undefeated to win second straight WPBA title

Kelly Fisher

Fresh off her undefeated win two weeks ago at the WPBA’s Northern Lights Classic in Minnesota, where she faced Allison Fisher for the first time in a final match since 2016, Kelly Fisher came to the CSI/Predator US Pro Billiard Series’ Alfa Women’s Las Vegas Open, held this past weekend (March 31-April 3) and went undefeated a second time to capture her second straight WPBA title. Though Allison Fisher was, once again, ‘in the house,’ the two did not meet up at this latest event. Allison was eliminated in the opening round of the single-elimination final phase to which they’d both advanced. The event drew 64 entrants to the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas.

The event was divided into two phases; an opening, 64-entrant, double-elimination Phase 1, followed by a 16-entrant, single-elimination Phase 2 that eventually crowned Kelly as the champion. The format was best-two-out-of-three races to 4. If the competitors were tied after two matches, a “spot shootout’ followed to determine the winner.

Kelly, who was in a 16-player, Phase 1 bracket that included eventual runner-up, Brittany Bryant, advanced to be among the eight winners’ side entrants in Phase 2 without having to play a third match. She played a total of 27 games against three opponents in Phase 1 and gave up only three of them, downing Sarah Kapeller (4-0, 4-1), Ashley Burrows (4-0, 4-0) and Cathy Metzinger (4-1, 4-1). To join Kelly in advancement to Phase 2, Bryant, in the meantime, had to play 44 games and lost 18 of them. She got by Anna Riegler and junior competitor Savannah Easton, both 4-2, 4-2, before facing Jennifer Baretta, who won the opening set 2-4. Bryant came back to win the second set and the “spot shootout,” both double hill.

Angela Ticoalu got by Jeannie Seaver, Nicole Keeney and Woojin Lee with an aggregate score of 24-15 to qualify for Phase 2, as did Susan Williams from the same 16-entrant section of the opening bracket. Williams sent June Maiers, Vang Bui Xuan and Joanne Ashton to the loss side to join Ticoalu in the winners’ side advancement to Phase 2.

Allison Fisher chalked up an even more impressive Phase 1 than Kelly had. She, too, advanced to Phase 2 without having to play a third match against any of her three opponents, downing Susan Wilbur, Veronique Menard and Naomi Williams and giving up only two racks (to Menard, in their second race-to-4). Kyoko Sone joined Allison in advancement to Phase 2 from the same 16-entrant section of the opening bracket, downing Sandy Badger, 13-year-old junior competitor Sofia Mast and Amalia Matas Heredia.

Rounding out the field of eight winners’ side competitors to advance to Phase 2 were Jasmin Ouschan and Line Kjorsvik. Ouschan got by two of her opponents without having to play a “spot shootout” third match, downing Tamami Okuda 4-2, 4-1 and Beth Fondell 4-1, 4-2, before splitting her first two against Mary Tam 1-4, 4-3. Ouschan won the shootout 3-2 to advance. Kjorsvik did not play a third, tie-breaking “spot shootout” against any of her first three opponents either, joining Ouschan in advancement after defeating Gigi Callejas (4-1, 4-2), Camille Campbell (4-2, 4-0) and Melissa Helland (4-0, 4-1).

After five losers’ side rounds, Kaylee McIntosh, Woojin Lee, Angela Janic, Heather Cortez, Melissa Helland, Mary Tam, Amalia Matas Heredia and Ashley Burrows joined the eight winners’ side competitors in advancement to Phase 2, which in some ways, was notable for those left behind as much as for those who advanced. Among those who failed to make the cut were long-time WPBA veterans (in no particular order) Stephanie Mitchell, Teruko Cucculelli, Monica Webb, Jeannie Seaver, Liz Cole, Kim Newsome, Emily Duddy, Dawn Hopkins, Loree Jon Brown, Janet Atwell and Caroline Pao. It should also be noted that while both 13-year-old junior competitors, Sofia Mast and Skylar Hess, failed to advance, one (Mast) fell to an opponent (Angela Janic) who was among the final 16 and the other (Hess) was eliminated by someone (Cucculelli) who arguably should have been. It was the first appearance for these two extraordinarily talented and professionally-composed young women and WPBA competitors should be on notice that these two will be back and barring any unforeseen life changes, for many years to come.

The Final Four in this event competed in plenty of time for those so inclined to turn their attention to the NCAA Final Four, which got started well after the four ladies in Vegas got underway at about 2 p.m. on Saturday. It was an International Final Four, which was absent representation from the United States.  Kelly Fisher, representing the UK was matched up against Austria’s Jasmin Ouschan. Spain’s Amalia Matas Heredia, who, in February, chalked up her first win on the European Ladies’ Tour, faced Canada’s Brittany Bryant.

Kelly Fisher had kept her no-third-match streak going through the opening round against Heather Cortez, whom she defeated 4-1, 4-0 before drawing Angeline Ticoalu, who took the opening set against Fisher 4-2. Fisher came back to win the second set 4-1 and then, in something of a nail-biter, the “spot shootout” 6-5. Ouschan, who got by Kaylee McIntosh 4-0, 4-1 in the opening round of Phase 2 had her own nail-biter in the second round, where she won two straight double hill fights against Kyoko Sone to draw Kelly.

Advancing to the other semifinal, Bryant had played 24 games against two opponents, eliminating Woojin Lee 4-2, 4-1 and then Ashley Burrows 4-2, 4-3 to advance. Heredia proved to be Allison Fisher’s downfall in the opening round of Phase 2. Fisher took the opening set, double hill, but Heredia came back to win the second set and the “shootout,” double hill. Heredia went on to down Mary Tam 4-1, 4-3 to pick up Bryant.

Kelly Fisher downed Ouschan 4-2, 4-1 in their semifinal matchup. She was joined in the finals by Bryant, who’d defeated Heredia 4-2, 2-4 and 4-2 in the “shootout.” 

It’s not hard to imagine Fisher’s “I’ve got this,” and Bryant’s “Uh, oh, trouble right here in Sin City” when Fisher shut Bryant out in the opening set of the final. It’s also not hard to imagine the spectator’s rooting for Bryant in the second set when she and Kelly finished the 6th game, tied at 3 apiece. Fisher, though, completed her undefeated run by winning the second set to claim the event title.

Tour representatives thanked the ownership and staff at the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino, as well as sponsors and partners the WPBA, Alfa Coin, CueSports International, Predator Group, Kamui, Seybert’s, Medalla Light, Rums of Puerto Rico, BCA Pool League and the USA Pool League.

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Bethany Tate and Skylar Hess win second straight 18U/13U Girls titles on JIC Stop #3

Arianna Houston, Skyler Hess and Noelle Tate

Logan Whitaker, Hayden Ernst win 18U/13U Boys titles, Lazaro Martinez takes ProAm event

As of this past weekend (March 26-27), three of the five divisions of the Junior International Championships have had different winners through the series’ first three stops. Bethany Tate has won the last two 18 & Under Girls division titles, while Skylar Hess has captured the last two 13 & Under Girls titles. Kennedy Meyman won the first 18 & Under Girls title back in January, while Sofia Mast took the season-opening 13 & Under Girls’ title.

The continuing JIC series has sparked a number of notable rivalries in each of its five divisions, reflected in the ongoing battle for supremacy in the 13U Girls division, where, dating back to last  year’s series, Sylar Hess and Sofia Mast do regular battle. When Mast won the division’s 2022 season opener, Hess was runner-up. When Hess grabbed the title at Stop #2, Mast was runner-up. 

This past weekend, however, Mast was in Las Vegas for the BCA Pool League’s World Championships, where she lost a battle for the hot seat and was defeated in the semifinals of the Ladies’ 8-Ball Singles event. The absence of Mast did not grant Hess any automatic ticket to the 10-entrant, JIC 13 & Under winners’ circle, though. In fact, after downing Aubrey Whited 7-3 in her opening round, Hess was sent to the loss side by Arianna Houston 7-3 in a winners’ side semifinal. Joining Houston in the hot seat match was Noelle Tate, a regular threat in the division, who’d defeated Kayden Willis 7-2 in their winners’ side semifinal.

Tate grabbed the hot seat 7-2 over Houston, guaranteeing her (Tate) third place, minimum. She’d finished 4th in the opener and 7th in the second event. Noelle had finished 3rd in the opener of the 18 and Under Girls division and 5th, twice, in the next two).

On the loss side, Hess picked up Skylnn Elliott, while Willis drew Gianna “Mini Banks” Fiore. Hess and Fiore advanced to the quarterfinals; Hess over Elliott and Fiore over Willis, both 7-1. Hess then eliminated Fiore 7-4 and downed Houston in the semifinals 7-3. Hess and Tate battled to double hill in the finals, before Hess claimed her second 13 & Under title.

Kennedy Meyman, Bethany Tate and Skyler Hess

Noelle’s older sister, Bethany, grabbed her second straight title in the 14-entrant, 18 & Under Girls division, having defeated both Sofia Mast in the finals of the 2nd event in Florida and Hess in this most recent event, also in the finals. Bethany went undefeated in this one, while Hess, who’d been defeated by Bethany in the opening round of play, won six on the loss side to meet her in the finals. Both Bethany and Hess had to get by Noelle Tate to earn their spot in the finals; Bethany had downed her sister in a winners’ side semifinal, while Hess was Noelle’s first, loss-side opponent. 

It was Bethany and Kennedy Meyman (winner of the 18 & Under Girls’ division in the season opener) who squared off in the hot seat match, won by Bethany 7-4. On the loss side, Hess eliminated Noelle 7-4, advancing to the quarterfinals against Taylor Perkins, who’d defeated Courtney Hairfield, double hill. Hess defeated Perkins 7-1 and then, downed Meyman 7-4 for a second shot at Bethany, waiting for her in the hot seat. Bethany completed her undefeated run 9-2 in the finals to chalk up her second straight 18 & Under Girls’ title.

Boys’ events and Pro Am crown their third season champions

In the ProAm division, while there have been three different winners (in order, Landon Hollingsworth, Trenton White, and this past weekend, Lazaro Martinez), Joey Tate has been runner-up in all three. There are a lot of crossover competitors in the age-and-gender-separated divisions, as well as, in particular, the ProAm and 18 & Under Boys divisions. Lazaro Martinez, as a random example, almost won two divisions on the same weekend, and did win the 36-entrant Pro Am, although not before Joey Tate defeated him in the hot seat match 7-5 and he had to eliminate Landon Hollingsworth 7-1 in the semifinals for a second shot at Tate. It was a successful second shot, as it turned out, with Martinez downing Tate in the finals 9-4. 

Lazaro Martinez, Logan Whitaker and Ivo Lemon

The winner of the 33-entrant, 18 & Under Boys division, Logan Whitaker, it should be noted, was sent to the loss side by Joey Tate in the ProAm and eliminated in his first, loss-side match by another regular threat in the boys’ and ProAm divisions, Nathan Childress.  He had to come from the loss side to capture the 18 & Under Boys title, as well.

After downing Hollingsworth in a winners’ side quarterfinal 7-4, Whitaker was sent to the loss side by Ivo Lemon in a winners’ side semifinal. In the hot seat match, Lemon faced Lazaro Martinez, who’d just defeated Tate, double hill in their winners’ side semifinal. Martinez claimed the hot seat 7-1 over Lemon and was a single step away from securing a second title on the weekend. 

Whitaker opened his loss-side campaign against RJ Mills, as Hollingsworth and Joey Tate were squaring off in a double hill fight that eventually sent Hollingsworth to the quarterfinals. Whitaker joined him after downing Mills 7-5. In their second match, Whitaker downed Hollingsworth a second time, 7-3 and eliminated Lemon 7-3 in the semifinals.

With one competitor looking for his first win on the JIC and the other looking to chalk up his second at just this one stop on the series, a double hill fight was not a surprise. Whitaker prevailed to claim his first JIC title.

Hayden Ernst

Hayden Ernst, appearing in his first JIC event, finished in the tie for 7th place in the ProAm division, but went undefeated to claim the 13-entrant, 13 & Under Boys division. He faced Jayce Little in the hot seat match, downing him 7-4 to claim his first JIC hot seat. 

D’Angelo “Jaws” Spain, in the meantime, who’d been sent to the loss side in a double hill battle versus Jas Makhani, worked his way through five, loss-side opponents (including a successful rematch against Makhani; 7-5 in the quarterfinals). “Jaws” dropped Jayce Little 7-5 in the semifinals and got a shot at Ernst, waiting for him in the hot seat.

Ernst claimed his first title, to go along with his 7th place finish in the ProAm. He defeated “Jaws” in the 13 & Under Boys finals 9-2.

The JIC series heads for the desert in a little over a month. Stop #4 on the Junior International Championships, scheduled for the weekend of May 6-8, will be hosted by Bullshooters in Phoenix, AZ. 

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Hollingsworth and Tate win their divisions in BSN Dynaspheres Cup Jr. 9-Ball Championships

It’s not that junior competitions, sprouting up everywhere, are more compelling or of more general interest than the Pro or Regional Tour activity that goes on. It’s more like a booster shot to accompany the good-vibe ‘vaccines’ of increased participation and growing interest in the sport that has evolved over the past four or five years. While not much essential has changed in that time, there does appear to be a renewed spirit in the air, suggesting that as dour and cynical as we can all get about the sport sometimes, there are some encouraging signs; junior competitions being only one of them, but one that makes us at least think of a future and not the arguably dismal past or the often-confusing present. 

These kids are GOOD, right??! For all of us.

The most recent entry in the junior competition roster of opportunities was this past weekend’s (March 12-13) Billiard Sports Network’s Dynaspheres’ Cup Junior 9-Ball Championships, hosted by Bank Shot Bar & Grill in Laurel, MD. Tournaments were held in two divisions; 20 & Under and 16 & Under. Not surprisingly, given the history of the current crop of junior competitors, players eligible for the younger division competed in both. Also not surprising (same current crop), was seeing Landon Hollingsworth and Joey Tate (both eligible for the two divisions) come out on top. Hollingsworth won the 18-entrant, 20 & Under division with Nathan Childress as runner-up and Tate, finishing third. Tate won the 13-entrant, 16 & Under division with Hollingsworth as runner-up and Garrett Vaughan, finishing third.

Also very much indicative of this current crop of juniors, was the fact that competition was not separated by gender. Precilia Kinsley, Skylar Hess and Courtney Hairfield, eligible for both divisions, played in both divisions. Sabrina Long competed in the 16 & Under, only. Kinsley finished 7th in the younger division, but 5th among the 20 and under crowd, and won the top Female Junior award and $40 in both divisions. As it turned out, she and Hess (7th in 16 & Under, 13th in 20 & Under) tied for the award in the 16 & Under division and decided to ‘duke it out’ on the tables, engaging in a best-of-three match, which went predictably double hill and earned Kinsley $40 for was won by Kinsley. 

 BSN also handed out two Sportsmanship awards, intended to be for the separate divisions, but with Tate and Hollingsworth as the recipients, while each went to the winner of their division, it was effectively a toss-up as to who won which. Best Shot on the TV Table awards went to Hollingsworth and Tanner Elliot.

Hollingsworth and Tate met twice in the 20 & Under division, though it was Hollingsworth and Childress who met twice in the hot seat and finals. After downing Brandon Buckmaster, double hill, and Garrett Vaughn 7-2, Hollingsworth faced Tate for the first time in a winners’ side semifinal. Childress, in the meantime, shut out Chase Longfield, for starters, and then defeated Payne McBride, double hill, to face Brent Worth in his winners’ side semifinal. In 17 winners’ side matches, double elimination finals included, the combatants chalked up six double hill fights and recorded six shutouts. 

In their first of two, Hollingsworth battled back and forth to double hill with Tate before Hollingsworth prevailed, advancing to the hot seat match. Childress joined him after downing Worth 7-3. Childress ‘caught a gear’ in the hot seat match, denying Hollingsworth, literally, zero traction.

On the loss side, Tate picked up Precilia Kinsley, who’d lost her second round, winners’ side match to Kamrin Kohr and was working on a three-match, loss-side streak that had eliminated Skylar Hess, Richard Burch and Jackson Hurst. Worth picked up Kohr, also on a three-match, loss-side streak that sent Chase Longfield, Garrett Vaughan and Jacob Kohl to the figurative showers.

Kohr and Tate defeated Worth and Kinsley, both 5-3, before Tate downed Kohr 5-2 in the quarterfinals. Hollingsworth eliminated Tate 5-2 in the semifinals and then, took the opening set of the finals against Childress 7-4. They battled to double hill in the second set before Hollingsworth finished to claim the 20 & Under title.

The action of the two divisions occurred more or less simultaneously, so when Tate was finished in the 20 & Under division, he’d already won the semifinals of the 16 & Under and moved on to the finals at the conclusion of the Hollingsworth/Childress battles. Tate’s path to the winners’ circle in the younger division went through Payne McBride before falling short against Garrett Vaughn 7-3 in a winners’ side semifinal. Hollingsworth, in the meantime, sent Tanner Elliott to the loss side in the other winners’ side semifinal and then, sent Vaughan to the semifinals 7-1.

On the loss side, Tate went through three straight loss-side opponents by the same 5-1 score; Brandon Buckmaster, Elliott in the quarterfinals and Vaughan in the semifinals, setting up a double elimination contest versus Hollingsworth in the finals. Tate took the opening set 7-5 and in a reduced-race second set survived a double hill challenge that eventually earned him the 16 & Under title.

Jake Lawson from BSN thanked the ownership and staff at Bank Shot Bar & Grill for their hospitality, as well as title sponsor Dynaspheres, Championship Fabric, Lucid Ballsports (Predator Arena Light), JB Cases, Gina Cunningham (Keller Williams Integrity), East Coast Prime Meats, Courtyard by Marriott (Fort Meade, MD), Integrity Cues, Break Out Apparel Co., AZBilliards, Premier Billiards, CueScore.com, The League Room, American Billiards Covering, B & R Productions (Rich France and Bruce Carder), DFE Billiards/XLR8. 

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White and Joey Tate go undefeated to win Pro Am/18 & Under Boys division at Stop #2 of JIC

Joey Tate, Trenton White and Nathan Childress

Bethany Tate, Hess and Leinen take 18 & Under Girls, 13 & Under Girls and Boys titles

“And they’re off!!” says a voice emanating from some mythical PA system, followed, seconds later, by “Rounding the first turn, it’s ‘GoGetEm’ in the lead . . .”

If you think of competition in each of the five divisions comprising the Junior International Championships (JIC), sponsored by Viking Cues, as a series of eight horse races, Stop #2 in the 2022 series is like a snapshot of the junior competitors, just after they’ve broken out of the gate and are headed into the first turn of a mile-long race. Not a lot of useful information in that snapshot in terms of how it will all play out as they round the final turn and head for home in the fall, but it’s compelling to watch as they jockey for position. 

The five divisional events drew a total of 112 entrants to Diamond Billiards in Cape Coral, FL, with a great deal of crossover, including in the ProAm division, which saw nine girls from both age groups make up just over 22% of the 40-entrant Pro Am field. As intended by JIC tournament director and On the Wire Creative Media’s Ra Hanna, this group of young competitors do not flinch at playing above their normal ‘pay grade,’ whether that be defined by age or gender. The ferocity of competition, even as viewed in the snapshot of the series’ ‘first turn,’ is fierce. None of the five winners from Stop #1 repeated as winners in Stop #2. Some of the Stop #2 winners had not chalked up a win in the first season.

Sofia Mast, Skylar Hess and Gianna Fiore

Some of the ‘ponies’ in their separate divisional races are hot on each other’s trail. In the 13 & Under Girls race, Sophia Mast and Skylar Hess are running neck and neck. They met twice in the season opener; in their opening match, won by Hess, and again, in the finals, won by Mast. They met twice last weekend, too, and once again, in their opening matches of the 10-entrant event. They fought to double hill before Mast prevailed, moving on to a winners’ side semifinal against Asia Gillespie, and from there, to the hot seat match, which she won, downing Gianna “Mini Banks” Fiore 7-5. Hess came back through five matches on the loss side, including a 7-5 win over Savannah Easton in the quarterfinals and a 7-1 victory over Fiore in the semifinals. In the finals, this time Hess prevailed 9-5. Hess was also the top finishing young woman (9-12) in the 40-entrant ProAm division (the largest field at Stop #2).

The winner and runner-up in Stop #1 of Season Two in the ProAm division (Landon Hollingsworth and Joey Tate, who were also winner and runner-up in Season 1’s 18 & Under Boys division championship) become runner-up (Tate) and among the eight competitors who tied for 17th (Hollingsworth). Trenton White, who had yet to win an event in the series (either season) went undefeated to claim the Stop #2 ProAm title. He got by five opponents, including a double hill win over Justin Toye and a winners’ side semifinal, 7-5 win over Kashton Keeton to give Joey Tate a shot at him in the hot seat match. White won their first of two ‘rounds’ 7-5.

On the loss side, two veterans of the JIC series, Riley Adkins and Nathan Childress, faced each other in the quarterfinals. Childress, who’d entered last season’s 18 & Under Championships as the #1-ranked player in the division, downed Adkins 7-4 and then fell to Tate by the same score in the semifinals. White took Tate down a second time, in the finals 9-6, to claim Stop #2’s Pro Am title.

White fared well in the 18 & Under Boys division, as well, finishing in the tie for 5th/6th, but Tate went undefeated in that event and never faced White, which, from Tate’s perspective, was probably just as well. Tate advanced through to the hot seat match, where he defeated Ivo Lemon 7-5. White was eliminated in the 5th/6th matches by Hollingsworth 7-5, who went on to defeat Dustin Muir 7-3 in the quarterfinals. He was eliminated 7-4 by Lemon in the semifinals, which, again from Tate’s perspective, worked out just fine. Tate claimed the 18 & Under Boys title, downing Lemon a second time, 9-5.

Sofia Mast, Bethany Tate and April Gonzaez

‘Favorites’ in the 18 & Under Girls race fall to a (medium) ‘longshot’

With Sofia Mast, Skylar Hess and Kennedy Meyman (winner of this division last month) in the 16-entrant, 18 & Under Girls division, they’d have shown up on a ‘toteboard’ as a group of three ‘favorites’ in Stop #2’s race. And at the end of four rounds of match play (around the final turn and headed for home), Sophia Mast was in the lead. . uhh, hot seat. She’d not faced Hess, which, from her perspective, was probably just as well, but she had sent Meyman to the loss side in the opening round, survived a winners’ side semifinal, double hill fight against Bethany Tate, and shut out April Gonzalez in the hot seat match.

Bethany Tate (15) had entered her winners’ side semifinal match against Mast, looking at the distinct possibility that she could face her 11-year-old sister, Noelle, in the hot seat match. It failed to materialize when Mast sent Bethany to the loss side and April Gonalez sent Noelle over. The sisters arrived on the loss side of the bracket at the same time, again looking at the distinct possibility of facing each other, this time in the quarterfinals. Bethany did her part, eliminating Courtney Hairfield 7-5. Noelle was eliminated by Precilia Kinsley, though not before she’d forced a 13th single game, for all of the proverbial marbles.

In the quarterfinals that followed, Bethany and Kinsley also battled to double hill, before Bethany prevailed, advancing to eliminate the competitor who’d sent her sister to the loss side, April Gonzalez (7-5) in the semifinals. It doesn’t take much of an imagination to see Noelle rooting for her sister to cross the finish line first, as Bethany and Sofia Mast stepped to the table for the finals. And it worked. Bethany and Mast came to within a game of double hill, but Bethany chalked up her first JIC win 9-7.

D’ Angelo Spain, Hank Leinen and Roman Boone

Absent last month’s winner and runner-up in the 13 & Under Boys division, Hank Leinen stepped up to go undefeated and become yet another junior competitor to win a first division-event title. D’Angelo “Jaws” Spain finished as runner-up. They met first in a winners’ side semifinal, won by Leinen 7-3.

Meeting up with Leinen in the hot seat match was Roman Boone, who’d sent Gaige Wells to the loss side 7-4 in the other winners’ side semifinal. Leinen claimed the hot seat 7-2 and waited on Spain’s return from the semifinals.

On the loss side, Spain, after eliminating Landon Dunlap 7-2, advanced to a quarterfinal versus Jayce Little, who’d defeated Wells 7-1. Spain and Little locked up in a double hill fight that eventually advanced Spain to a semifinal win over Boone 7-3. The 13 & Under Boys final pitting Spain against Leinen came within a game of double hill, but in the end, Leinen edged out in front to claim the division title 9-7

Ra Hanna and all of his support ‘crew’ thanked the owners and staff at Diamond Billiards, as well as title sponsor Viking Cues. The next stop on the Junior International Championships (#3), which will see the competitors stretch their ‘legs’ through the long straightaway on the far side of the track (stops #3 through #7), is scheduled for March 25-27 and will be hosted by The Rack and Grill III in Aiken, SC.

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Hollingsworth, Martinez and Meyman win their divisions at JIC Season 2, Stop #1

Courtney Hairfield, Kennedy Meyman and Noelle Tate

Vonderau and Mast capture 13 & Under titles

“Last year was practice,” said Ra Hanna of On The Wire Creative Media and tour director of the Junior International Championships, sponsored by Viking Cues, which began its second season last weekend (Jan. 14-16). In a snowstorm.

“Practice is over now.”

The weather had an impact that forced Hanna to cut it short. His concern for the safety of his junior competitors, as well as the family members who’d helped get them to Roanoke, VA, led to squeezing play in all five of the JIC divisions into two days, instead of three. That same weather led to flight cancellations that pinned Hanna in Roanoke until Wednesday.

“The safety of the players and their families was what was most important,” he said, noting that a cycle of soft snow and freezing temperatures had made the roads “like an ice-skating rink.”

The event, now officially known as the Junior International Championships, sponsored by Viking Cues, drew a total of just over 100 entrants, across its five divisions (with some cross-over between divisions), to Wolf’s Den in Roanoke, VA. Hanna had expected more and was convinced that in the absence of the weather, there would have been more.

Niko Konkel, Lazaro Martinez and Garrett Vaughan

Returning to compete in the JIC’s second season were the winner and runner-up of 2021’s 18 & Under Championship finals, Landon Hollingsworth and Joey Tate, who finished 1st and 2nd in Season 2/Stop #1’s 31-entrant Pro Am Division. They did not fare as well in the 18 & Under division, finishing 4th (Hollingsworth) and in the tie for 17th place (Tate).  The 18 & Under Boys division was won by Lazaro Martinez, who went undefeated, downing Niko Konkel, who’d lost to him in the hot seat match and returned from a victory over Garrett Vaughan in the semifinals, to be defeated a second time.

In the absence of 2021’s 18 and Under Girls’ Champion, Tatum Cutting (who has turned 19), the young woman she shut out in the championship finals of that division in October, Kennedy Meyman, got ‘right back on the horse,’ so to speak. Meyman lost her opening match in the 11-entrant, 2022 division opener, but rallied to win six in a row and then, down Courtney Hairfield in the finals.

The 13 & Under divisions, which drew 17 boys and 9 girls, saw the emergence of a new(er) rivalry and the renewal of an old one. Eddie Vondereau and Grayson Vaughan battled twice for the boys’ title; hot seat and finals. Vonderau downed Vaughan both times to claim that title.

Grayson Vaughan, Eddie Vonderau and D’Angelo Spain

And in the 13 & Under Girls’ division, it was storied JIC rivals, Sofia Mast and Skylar Hess, who, like Vonderau and Vaughan, battled twice for the event’s division title. After each was awarded a bye in the opening round of play, they met in what was the first match for both of them. They came within a game of double hill, but it was Hess who edged out in front to send Mast to the loss side 7-5. Mast breezed through her first three rounds on the loss side by an aggregate score of 21-4. In the quarterfinals that followed, Noelle Tate (sister to Joey) put up a fight that earned her more racks against Mast than her first three loss-side opponents, combined. Mast advanced 7-5 to the semifinals, where she defeated Savannah Easton, appearing in her first JIC event, 7-4.

“That was one of the surprises of the event,” said Hannah. “(Easton) beat out some of the top girls in that division (Franki Spain, Raygen Wilson & Skylynn Elliott) to finish third in her first event.”

So, once again, it was Mast and Hess squaring off against each other; a matchup that occurred in the quarterfinals of the 18 & Under Girls Championship last October. Mast dominated the extended race-to-9, winning it 9-2 to claim her first, and likely, not her last 2022 JIC title. 

If it ain’t broke . . .

There are differences in this second JIC season, but they’re about some minor additions and an expectation level being fostered by Hanna and the crew of folks who helped him last year and continue to do so this year. Kory and Trena Wolford, owners of Wolf’s Den, are among them.

Skylar Hess, Sofia Mast and Savannah Easton

Viking Cues has joined as a sponsor, and as such, will contribute to prizes, a scholarship to be awarded to the player who receives the tour’s Brendan Crockett Sportsmanship Award, aspects of the tour’s day-to-day operations, and when appropriate, unspecified equipment. Hanna noted that Dynaspheres “stepped up,” as did Mike Littman with Littman Lights. The tour is working with DigitalPool this year, which will feature what Hanna described as a “custom environment” with the expected brackets, updated division rankings, player profiles and live scoring.

“The players themselves are going to be doing the live scoring from their smart phones,” said Hanna. “They’ll be uploading scores to that site in real time.”

“We’re looking at a shot clock on the big tables,” he added of one other embellishment they’ll be considering bringing, literally, to the tables. “Modeling the atmosphere to that of the professionals, so that (the players) won’t be ‘deer in the headlights’ out in the world.”

“We’re also going to be sponsoring some of the players going into Pro events throughout the year,” he added. “It’ll be up to the player to decide which Pro event they might want to attend, whether it be Turning Stone, or the Super Billiards Expo. (The tour) will be off in April and we’re going to send a nice little contingent. With four of the divisions, a representative from each division would be nice.”

The plan is to provide the junior players with more than just an opportunity to compete throughout the year, but to provide them, as well, with the tools necessary to compete against increasingly difficult competition in what could well be difficult venues.

“I don’t want them complacent,” said Hanna. “I want them to know that there’s always going to be someone coming for you and that things aren’t always going to be perfect; not the balls, not the tables, not the general environment.”

“I want to go to war with this group,” he added. “The make-up of this group is the right combo to succeed; we’ve got everything – gunslingers, mercenaries, the quiet types. We’re going to make some noise this year.” 

The Junior International Championships, sponsored by Viking Cues, will hold the second stop of its second season on the weekend of Feb. 11-13. It will be hosted by Diamond Billiards in Cape Coral, FL.

Martinez & Mast win 13 & Under Stop #8 on JIC and Championships at Wolf’s Den in Roanoke

Sofia Mast

It was made abundantly clear on the final weekend of competition for the Junior International Championships’ two 13 & Under divisions (boys and girls) that the competitors were reluctant to finish competing. The weekend, which began on Friday, Sept. 17 at Wolf’s Den in Roanoke, VA was to have been a Championship event for the 13 & Under divisions, for which its players had already qualified. The competitors decided that not only did they want to hold the scheduled Championship event, they also wanted, while they were there anyway, to compete in an 8th regular event. So they did both. On Friday and Sunday, the two divisions competed in the 8th event of the JIC series, and on Saturday, they held their Championship event.

Stop # 8 of the JIC series drew 14 boys and 10 girls to their respective 13 & Under divisions. The 13 & Under Championships drew 10 boys and 9 girls. And just to keep everybody busy, the weekend also included Stop # 8 for the 18 & Under Boys (39 entrants) and Girls (14 entrants) and the ProAm Division (32 entrants). The 18 & Under Boys and Girls will play their Championship event at the tail end of the 2021 International Open next month (October 28-30 at the Sheraton Norfolk Waterside Hotel in Norfolk, VA), while the top three competitors from the final rankings of the ProAm division, who were awarded entry fees, will be competing in the 9-ball Open. There were to have been only two ProAm competitors who qualified for entry to the International Open, but a tie for second place led to three who qualified – Joey Tate, Landon Hollingsworth and Nathan Childress. A report on the final stop for the two 18 & Under and ProAm divisions will appear separately.

Stop # 8 of the 13 & Under divisions were won by undefeated performances from Gabriel Martinez and Sofia Mast. It was Martinez’ third win of the series, having won in March and June. Before he finished the 8th stop, he would compete and go undefeated in the 13 & Under Boys Championship, as well (more on this later). It was Mast’s 5th win in the division, having finished as runner-up in Stops #2, #4 and #5.

Martinez went through Julian Scruggs and Eddie Vondereau to arrive at a winners’ side semifinal versus Jayce Little. Adrian Prasad squared off against Hank Leinen in the other one. Prasad and Martinez advanced to the hot seat; Prasad, 7-5 over Leinen and Martinez 7-2 over Little. Martinez sent Prasad to the semifinals and claimed the hot seat 7-2.

In those semifinals, Prasad drew Leinen, who’d defeated Vondereau and Jayse Alton, both 7-1, to reach him. Leinen earned a shot at Martinez in the hot seat with a 7-5 victory over Prssad. Martinez completed his undefeated run with a 9-5 win over Leinen in the finals.

Mast’s four-match path to the winners’ circle in the 13 & Under Girls division went through Carley Tomaszewski to arrive at a winners’ side semifinal matchup against Noelle Tate. Long-time JIC rival to Mast, Skylar Hess, faced Arianna Houston in the other one. Mast got into the hot seat match 7-4 over Tate. Hess joined her after downing Houston 7-1. Mast claimed the hot seat 7-4 over Hess.

On the loss side, Noelle Tate followed her winners’ side loss against Mast with a double hill victory over her sister, Bethany before downing Houston 7-4 in the quarterfinals and then, Hess 7-3 in the semifinals. She fell to Mast a second time in the finals 9-2.

Gabriel Martinez

Martinez wins his second undefeated event on Saturday; Mast, Hess and Tate are top 3 again

The Girls 13 & Under Championships, sandwiched between the two days of the 8th stop on the series finished in almost the same way as the 8th stop. Mast, Noelle Tate and Hess finished 1, 2 & 3 on Stop #8, while Mast, Hess and Tate finished 1, 2, & 3 in the Championships. 

Mast’s path in the Championships ran through Skylynn Elliot and Franki Spain to arrive at what (time-wise) was her first of two hot seat matches against Hess, who’d defeated Taylor Perkins and Noelle Tate. It was Hess claiming the hot seat 7-5 over Mast in the Championships. 

On the loss side, in the semifinals, Mast drew Noelle Tate, who, following her winners’ side loss to Hess, had defeated Elliott 7-3 and Spain 7-2 in the quarterfinals. Mast and Tate battled to double hill in the semifinals, before Mast prevailed for a second shot against Hess. Mast downed Hess 9-4 in the finals to claim the 13 & Under Girls’ championship title. 

Facing a couple of the same opponents, Gabriel Martinez went undefeated (time-wise, first) in the 18 & Under Boys Championship. He’d faced Hank Leinen in the finals of Stop #8 of the 18 & Under division and squared off against Leinen in a winners’ side semifinal in the Championships. Martinez won that match 7-2 and advanced to his first of two hot seat matches against Adrian Prasad. He shut Prasad out in the Championships’ hot seat match (and gave up only two racks in the hot seat match they played against each other the next day).

On the loss side, Prasad drew a rematch against Eddie Vondereau, who, after losing their first matchup 7-1, went on to defeat Timmy Cossey, Konnor McFayden in the quarterfinals and then, in the rematch, shut Prasad out in the semifinals. Martinez completed his undefeated run with a 9-4 victory in the finals to claim the 13 & Under Championship title.

JIC Tour Director Ra Hanna thanked all of his sponsors for their help in making this event possible, Mike Littman with Littman Lights, Matt Suite at American Billiard Covering, Dynaspheres, Chris Wilson at The League Room, Kory & Trena Wolford from Wolfs Den Billiards and Mike from Michael’s Billiards.

13 & Under Boys Championships

1st Gabriel Martinez $600 a CueTec Propel Jump cue
2nd Eddie Vondereau $400 2×4 leather case
3rd Adrian Prasad $200

13 & Under Girls Championship

1st Sofia Mast $500
2nd Skylar Hess $250
3rd Noelle Tate $125