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Frost, Baraks & Tkach Take Big Tyme Classic

Kristina Tkach, April Larson, Sofia Mast and Ming Ng

The Ninth Annual $14,000 added Big Tyme Classic was held over the last few days in Spring, TX – a suburb of Houston. Players and fans were treated to topnotch one pocket in addition to the open nine ball and ladies nine ball events.

Hosted by owners Billy Sharp, Mark Avery and Jim Henry, the local sponsors were Star City Amusements and Jim Stinson of AM, Inc.

The festivities kicked off on Thursday with the One Pocket Championship. Thirty players put up a $250 entry fee to play in this double elimination event. The format was races to 4/3 with the finals to be one extended race to five.

After the players auction, a players meeting was held, the brackets were posted and the matches started. 

With only two byes, the field had some of the best one pocket players anywhere. Newly crowned US Open One Pocket champ Tony Chohan was joined by last year’s runner-up Josh Roberts in addition to Fedor Gorst, Chip Compton and Warren Kiamco. Local champs Alex Calderon, Charlie Bryant, Tommy Tokoph and Ernesto Bayaua were there as well as other notables including Robert Frost and James Baraks.

First round saw two of the heavyweights score knockouts! Robert Frost was defeated by Chip Compton while Alex Calderon fell victim to Fedor Gorst.

Tony Chohan and Josh Roberts met in the second round – Josh prevailed. Compton advanced after a battle with Charlie Bryant as did Gorst over Tommy Tokoph.

Compton then mowed down both Ernesto Bayaua and Roberts while Gorst continued his winning ways over Warren Kiamco and Ray Lopez.

Finally meeting in the hot seat match, Fedor locked up his seat in the finals and sent Chip west to await an opponent.

After losing their first round matches, Calderon and Frost were dismantling their opponents left and right! Alex defeated Bernard Walker, Kenny Price, Charlie Bryant, James Baraks, Warren Kiamco and Josh Roberts until he met up with Frost. In the lower portion of the chart, Robert defeated Darryl Amos, John Infante, Tommy Tokoph, Jake Weaver, Raed Shabib and Ray Lopez.

Locked in battle, Alex and Robert both fought hard but it was Frost who took it down leaving Calderon in fourth place. 

In dead punch and playing great, Robert’s next victim was Chip Compton. Chip finished with a third place finish.

As previously mentioned, the finals were one extended race to five. Robert won the first game and the second game went down to the case ball. Robert won that one and then the third game. Then the unexpected happened! Since both Fedor and Robert were still in the Nine Ball, they had to halt the finals and go play their matches! 

After several hours, play resumed and Fedor finally won a game – score 3-1. Gorst’s hopes to tighten up the match faded as Frost took the fifth game to make it 4-1. Not rolling over yet, Gorst clawed his way back to take the next two games! Score now 4-3! And then, 4-4! WOW! One game for it all!

Robert moved out to a 5-1 lead in the case game. Soon, the balls were all moved up table. Fedor banked a shot and left it deep in his hole. Robert gave him the ball making it 5-2. Two shots later, he made one for himself and then banked in another. Frost was on the hill – 7-2! With no reasonable safety options, Fedor was forced to bank towards his hole and left Robert a semi-tough shot at his pocket. Swish! Nothing but net! Robert Frost takes down his first major one pocket title leaving Fedor Gorst with a well-deserved runner-up finish!!! 

What a match!!! After losing his first match, Robert won nine in a row to win the tournament! Congratulations, Robert!

The Open Nine Ball had started on Friday night with 136 players paying an $80 entry fee. Using a Magic Rack with the nine racked on the spot, players broke from the box. Played on seven foot Diamonds, the format was double elimination, races to 10/8, alternate breaks, three foul rule in effect – the nine didn’t count in the bottom two pockets. 

In addition to the previously mentioned players, this event had some of the best rotation players around including Andy Jethwa, Victor Rojas, Justin Espinosa, Sergio Rivas, John Hennessee & Kristina Tkach. 

In the top portion of the bracket, Justin Espinosa and Alex Calderon met in the third round with Alex sending Justin packing. Tony Chohan and Andy Jethwa collided in the fourth round – Andy was defeated and headed west. Warren Kiamco tore through his first four opponents until Calderon cut him off at the pass. 

At the bottom of the bracket, Tommy Tokoph and Robert Frost defeated their first three opponents. They met in the fourth round with Frost notching the win. James Baraks and Kristina Tkach also won their first three matches – James put an end to Kristina’s march and sent her to the one loss side. Baraks and Frost duked it out in the next round – James prevailed. Meanwhile, Sergio Rivas and Charlie Bryant won their first four matches. Charlie beat Sergio when they also met in the fifth round.

Now down to four on the winners side, Calderon defeated Kiamco and Baraks took care of Bryant. Playing for the hot seat, James defeated Calderon and locked up his seat in the finals. Alex headed west to await an opponent.

Over on the one loss side, Rivas knocked Bryant out of the tournament leaving Charlie in fourth place. Next up for Sergio was the always tough Alex Calderon. Alex proved to be too tough for Sergio this time – Alex moved on to the finals leaving Sergio in third place.

Due to the very late hour, James & Alex decided to split with James claiming the title. Congratulations to both!

Last, but not least, was the Ladies Nine Ball Championship. This double elimination event had 44 ladies posting a $55 entry fee. Also played on seven foot Diamonds and using the Magic Rack, the format was alternate break with races to seven on both sides.

Well known names like Kristina Tkach, April Larson, Ming Ng and Veronica Perez as well as young gun Sofia Mast joined the fray.

After defeating the always tough Ming Ng in the first round, Sofia Mast won five matches in a row to meet Russian star Kristina Tkach for the hot seat match. Kristina won the match sending junior champ to the one loss side to await an opponent.

After losing her first match, Ming fought her way through until she met April Larson. April had also lost her second match to Sofia. Both players played hard for another shot at her and when the dust had settled, it was April who won the match. Ming finished in fourth place.

Looking to make it into the finals, it was another hard fought match. Sofia survived the match leaving April in third place.

Kristina had smoked Sofia in the hot seat match 7-0. Sofia remarked on her Facebook page after the finals that her only goal when she made it back to the finals was to at least win one game. She won four! What a great attitude!

And, congratulations to Kristina for claiming the title! Great tournament, Sofia!

Once again, PoolActionTV.com would like to thank the owners of Big Tyme and their staff for taking such good care of all the players and fans. We’d like to thank Tournament Director Teresa Garland for doing an exemplary job running three events at the same time!

We’d also like to thank Larry Schwartz, John Henderson, Mary Kenniston and Ray Hansen for their topnotch commentary. 

In addition, we’d like to thank our fans and sponsors for their support! Our sponsors include JB Cases, Hanshew Jump Cues, Lomax Custom Cues, StraightPoolEye, Durbin Custom Cues, Aramith, Diamond Billiard Products, Fort Worth Billiards Superstore of Fort Worth, TX and the Action Palace of Dayton, OH.  

Our next stop is the Seventh Annual Buffalo’s Pro Classic in Jefferson, LA (New Orleans). Featuring $1,000 added One Ball One Pocket, $5,000 added Open Nine Ball and the main event – the $20,000 Pro One Pocket! Dates are May 25th-29th! Hope to see you there!

Once again, PoolActionTV.com would like to thank the owners of Big Tyme and their staff for taking such good care of all the players and fans. We’d like to thank Tournament Director Teresa Garland for doing an exemplary job running three events at the same time!

We’d also like to thank Larry Schwartz, John Henderson, Mary Kenniston and Ray Hansen for their topnotch commentary. 

In addition, we’d like to thank our fans and sponsors for their support! Our sponsors include JB Cases, Hanshew Jump Cues, Lomax Custom Cues, StraightPoolEye, Durbin Custom Cues, Aramith, Diamond Billiard Products, Fort Worth Billiards Superstore of Fort Worth, TX and the Action Palace of Dayton, OH.  

Our next stop is the Seventh Annual Buffalo’s Pro Classic in Jefferson, LA (New Orleans). Featuring $1,000 added One Ball One Pocket, $5,000 added Open Nine Ball and the main event – the $20,000 Pro One Pocket! Dates are May 25th-29th! Hope to see you there!

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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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“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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Mills and Meglino take turns as Winner/Runner-up at double tournament on Florida Pool Tour

Donny Mills

Two, two, two ‘ments in one.

For those too young to remember, Doublemint Gun used to run TV commercials with a jingle that described their product as having “two, two, two mints” in one. Thus, the reference above, describing this past weekend’s (March 19-20) activities on the Florida Pool Tour; the Stroker’s Spring Classic, featuring a $1,000-added 9-Ball ‘ment on Saturday and a $500-added 10-Ball ‘ment on Sunday, hosted by Stroker’s Billiards in Palm Harbor, FL. 

Donnie Mills went undefeated in the 64-entrant, Saturday 9-Ball event, downing Anthony Meglino in the finals. Meglino lost the hot seat match to Mills and came back to defeat him in the 16-entrant, Sunday 10-Ball event. Gerson Martinez Boza was third in the former and Scott Tollefson finished third in the latter.

Mills downed Ed Medina 8-1 in the opening round of Saturday action, went on to defeat Justin Jenkins, by the same score, and Jesse Fonda by shutout, before defeating Meglino for the first time in a winners’ side quarterfinal 7-2. Mills advanced to meet Stroker’s owner, Jose Del Rio in a winners’ side semifinal. Gerson Martinez Boza, in the meantime, had gotten by James Allen and Scott Tollefson, before shutting out Trevor Braymore in a winners’ side quarterfinal to meet up with Justin Hall in the other winners’ side semifinal.

Mills and Boza advanced by the same 8-1 score to the hot seat match, over Del Rio and Hall, respectively. Mills grabbed the hot seat, defeating Boza 7-5.

On the loss side, Hall and Del Rio ran right into their second loss, sending Meglino and Tony Crosby to the quarterfinals. Meglino then dropped Crosby into fourth place and got a second shot at Mills, waiting for him in the hot seat, by defeating Boza 5-3. Mills completed his undefeated run with a second victory over Meglino to claim the Stroker’s Spring Classic 9-Ball title.

Meglino loses hot seat match to Mills, comes back from semifinals to claim 10-Ball title

Mills downed Jason Richko 7-5 in the opening round of Sunday’s 10-ball action, and then sent Tommy Kennedy to the loss side, drawing Travis Croft in one of the winners’ side semifinals. Meglino, in the meantime, defeated Ray Linares in his opening round, and after sending Mike Lear to the loss side, picked up Tony Crosby in the other winners’ side semifinal.

Crosby fought Meglino to double hill before Meglino prevailed, advancing to the hot seat match. Mills joined him after defeating Croft 7-4. Mills took the first of the day’s two against Meglino 7-5 and sat in the hot seat, waiting for him to get back from the semifinals.

On the loss side, Crosby picked up a rematch against Scott Tollefson, whom he’d defeated in the opening winners’ side round and was working on a four-match, loss-side streak that would take him as far as the semifinals, He’d recently eliminated 14-year-old Sofia Mast 7-2 and Tommy Kennedy 7-3. Croft drew Justin Stock, who’d also been sent to the loss side by Crosby and defeated Marcos Yalan 7-3 and Jason Richko 7-5 to reach Croft.

Croft advanced to the quarterfinals 7-3 over Stock. Tollefson joined him after sending Crosby home 7-3. Tollefson then took the quarterfinals 7-5 over Croft, before Meglino finished his loss-side trip 7-2 in the semifinals. Meglino spoiled Mills’ chance of winning both events with a 9-3 win in the finals.

Tour representatives thanked Jose Del Rio and his Stroker’s staff for their hospitality, as well as sponsors Aramith, Outsville, Simonis Cloth, salottopro, DigitalPool, FargoRate, Crosby’s Billiards and Darts Supply, Straight Shooter Gear, patchlab.com, Sniper, and XL Express Co. The next stop on the Florida Pool Tour, scheduled for the weekend of May 21-22, will be the $1,500-added Capone’s Super 32 10-Ball Championship, hosted by Capone’s in Spring Hill, FL.  

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Vetrono Steps Up on The Ladies’ ‘Win’ Ladder, Wins Tiger Florida Tour Stop #2

Carrie Vetrono, Jeannie Seaver and Stephanie Mitchell

Prior to this past weekend, Sat. Feb. 26, Carrie Vetrono had won only one major event, and it happened to be one that wasn’t reported to us here at AZ; The 2019 West Coast Challenge, Women’s 9-Ball Division in Kissimmee, FL. Vetrono got her second career win this past weekend at the second stop on the Tiger Florida Tour. With a modified double elimination format (double elimination to the winners’ side quarterfinals and then, single elimination to the finals), the $1,500-added event drew 42 entrants to Stixx Billiards in Oldsmar, FL.

In addition to her remote work with a NY law firm, running tournaments at Capone’s in Spring Hill, FL, being the owner/operator (with her Dad) of Capone’s BCA Pool League, and her arguably most important position as head wrangler of a four-year-old son, Vetrono can now (in her spare time, of course) add ‘Up-and-Coming Contender’ at future events on the Women’s pool circuit. Asked how long it might be now before she became the #1-ranked player on the WPBA, she laughed.

“If only,” she said. “As much as I would really love it, (given the multi-tasking noted above), I don’t see it in the cards.”

“I’ve been playing a lot more at Capone’s,” she added of this recent win, “and I’ve been playing with a lot of the guys over there (who’ve) helped me. My game has vastly improved, at least a ball or two over the past 6-8 months. I’m taking smarter shots and playing safeties when I need to.”

“I feel more confident of going for shots, too,” she went on to say, “and, of course, when they go in, that boosts the confidence even more.”

In addition to Vetrono’s (somewhat) ‘break out’ win, Florida Tiger Tour’s second stop had a few ‘headline’ matchups, including a first-round-of single-elimination rematch between the winner and runner-up of the tour’s first stop in late January (14-year-old Sofia Mast and Stephanie Mitchell), a Vetrono/Mitchell match and a final match between Verono and Jeannie Seaver.

It was initially a two-match race to the winners’ side quarterfinal; three for Mitchell and Mast, who were among the 20 entrants that played in a preliminary round. Vetrono got by Krystalann Williams and Nicolle Cuellar to arrive at her winners’ side quarterfinal versus Mast. Mitchell sent Erica Yeager-Lombard, Tracy Mullen and Abigail Schrader to the loss side to meet up with Kimberly Housman. Jeannie Seaver defeated Kim Caso and Dawn Logan to take on Helene Caukin. Kaylee McIntosh, who’d downed Christina Maher and Shanelle Loraine squared off against Michel Monk.

Mast advanced to the first round of single elimination with a double hill win over Vetrono. Mitchell and Housman battled to double hill, as well, with Mitchell ending up on the loss side. McIntosh downed Human 6-4 and Seaver got by Caukin 6-2.

Vetrono won her loss-side match against Jeannie Seaver’s sister, Vanessa, double hill. Mitchell ousted Miranda Orange 5-2. Danielle Marie Fee, who’d lost her opening match to Tiffany Stanaland, won four on the loss side, including a 5-2 win over tour director Mimi McAndrews, to meet and defeat Caukin in a double hill fight. Jessica Human was the fourth loss-side competitor to earn a slot in the single-elimination round of eight, with her 5-1 victory over Michel Monk.

Seaver moved into the event’s second quarterfinal, 6-3 over Fee, while McIntosh was busy eliminating Human 6-4. Vetrono got back in the mix with a 6-2 win over Housman and faced Mitchell, who’d avenged her loss against the teenager Mast in the first stop on the tour by eliminating her 6-3 in the quarterfinals of the second.

“I was up 5-1,” Mitchell recalled of her match against Mast, “when I missed a 9-ball. Then she won a few and I thought, ‘Well, we don’t want to go there,’ so I got back into it.”

“(Sofia) hangs out with all the adults,” she noted of her opponent. “She’s a professional and has better manners than people I know who are older than me.”

So, it was Vetrono against Mitchell and McIntosh versus Seaver in the semifinals.

Seaver advanced to the finals 6-2 over McIntosh and faced Vetrono, who prevailed over Mitchell by the same score. Vetrono completed her second major win 4-2 over Seaver and claimed the Tiger Florida Tour’s second event title.

Tour director Mimi McAndrews thanked Stixx owner Tom George and Kathy King, as well as manager Josh Maville and his staff for hosting the event and their continued support of the TFT. She also thanked title sponsor Tony Kalamdaryan and Tiger Products, Brutal Game Gear, Stitch It To Me, Boynton Billiards, Great Lakes Billiards, AZ Billiards and new sponsors Eastern Billiards and Andy Cloth. 

McAndrews sent a special shout out to Jerry Sotelo and Stephanie Mitchell for what she called “their invaluable help in running the event and fending off shot clock grumbles.” The size of the room, the number of tables (10) and attendees (42), led to a reduction of match lengths from 7/5 (winners’ side/losers’ side) to 6/5 in order to complete the event in the single day of Tiger Florida tour stops. The final match was also reduced to its race to 4.

The next stop on the Tiger Florida Tour, scheduled for May 7, will be hosted by Brewlands Bar & Billiards in Lakeland, FL.

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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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Sofia Mast comes from the loss side, meets and beats Mitchell in Tiger Florida Tour finals

Sofia Mast

“I WON!!!” she declared on her Facebook page, with all three exclamation points. “Now, I pass out.”

Thirteen-year-old Sofia Mast of Land ‘o Lakes, FL, fresh off her victory in the 13 & Under division of the Junior International Championships’ 2nd season opener, less than two weeks ago (Jan. 14-16), competed on the ladies’ Tiger Florida Tour this past weekend (Jan. 22-23). Not only did she come from the loss side to qualify for the eight-player, single elimination phase of the event, advance to the finals and then defeat WPBA veteran competitor Stephanie Mitchell, but in her first loss-side match, she defeated another WPBA tour veteran and the Florida Tiger Tour’s 2021 Tour Champion Jeannie Seaver. The $500-added, 2022 season opener of the Florida Tiger Tour drew 32 entrants to Brewlands South in Lakeland, FL.

Asked if there was anything about Mast’s performance that stood out in her mind, Eastern Billiards and Andy Cloth-sponsored runner-up, Stephanie Mitchell had to laugh.

“Mostly,” she said, “that if I missed, she didn’t.”

It was, of course, not Sofia Mast’s ‘first rodeo.’

“I went to my first Tiger Florida Tour (stop) when I was 11, back in October, 2019,” she wrote. “My Dad thought I could get better if I played competitively rather than playing in leagues.”

“My mom,” she added, “thought he was crazy to have a kid play against grown ladies and think I could win. I dreamt about one day winning the whole thing (and) my dream started to feel more real as I kept playing in many of their events and placing closer and closer to first.”

“My dream,” she went on to say, “is now a reality, (so) never give up on your dream!”

This past weekend, Michel Monk kind of rattled the cage of those dreams, briefly, when she earned the distinction of being the only competitor to defeat Mast in the second round of play 7-5. Undeterred by setbacks, large or small, Mast persevered to win two on the loss side; the 5-2 win over Jeannie Seaver and subsequent shutout of Erica Pennington, which put her (Mast) into the single elimination phase against, first, fellow junior competitor, Kaylee McIntosh. 

Mitchell, in the meantime, had worked her way through her first three opponents during the double-elimination phase (Deborah Gerken, Kimberly Housman & Sonya Chbeeb) to arrive at her first opponent among the final eight, Helen Caukin. In the remaining two, single-elimination matches, Vanessa Seaver (Jeannie Seaver’s older sister) squared off against Jessica Barnes, while newcomer Xare Qualis faced Tracy Mullen.

Mast advanced 7-5 over McIntosh, Mitchell got by Caukin 7-1, Seaver downed Barnes, double hill and Mullen eliminated Qualis 7-4. And then there were four; Mast and Vanessa Seaver, Mitchell and Mullen.

Mast shut the elder Seaver sister out and advanced to the finals. Mitchell joined her after dispatching Mullen 7-4.

Things did not go well for Mitchell in the early stages of the final race to 7, but she rallied in rack #9.

“She was (on the hill) at 6 and I was at 2,” said Mitchell, “and I won the next three.”

In her effort to force a double-hill, single-game showdown by winning the 12th rack, Mitchell made an unforced error in what proved to be the final rack and missed her shot at the 5-ball. Mast wasted little time stepping to the table and closing out her first victory on the Tiger Florida Tour.

“She had really good composure,” noted Mitchell of her opponent, adding that even in ‘safety play,’ Mast would “kick it and hit almost anything. She played a few safes back that worked for her and then she’d run out.”

“I played well,” said Mitchell of her own single-loss performance. “I made almost everything I shot at and I’m proud of my own performance.”

“At 1 a.m.,” she added, “I found a second gear, but it was a little too late.”

Mast posted her “I WON!!!” notice on Facebook at 1:52 a.m.

Tiger Florida Tour director, Mimi McAndrews, who’d noticed Mast’s “determination,” even back when she’d first begun to compete on the tour, had nothing but the highest praise for the junior competitors’ skills, as well as her general demeanor at the tables. 

“She had a lot of focus, even back then,” said McAndrews. “A lot of concentration and a decent stroke. We were just impressed that she was coming out to play. She kept coming back and has gotten progressively better. Nobody expected that she’d get so good; not just in making balls, but in shape (for the next shot).”

“If you took a video without showing the player,” she added, “you’d never know that it was a child.”

They call her the “Pink Dagger,” which, even on the face of it, is an image that’s hard to wrap your head around. But it encapsulates the skills, determination, focus and an even more astounding ability to perform like an adult, while maintaining a grip on her childhood. This is no grim-faced teenager, so dedicated to the application of specific skills, that any semblance of a child has been lost. Sofia Mast, who is sponsored by Predator Cues, Jam Up Apparel and Dunnski Dungeon, is still a kid and enjoying every minute of it. So are those who are watching her mature. She’ll be competing in the 2nd stop on the JIC series next month (Feb. 11-13) at Diamond Billiards in Cape Coral, FL. You might want to consider getting there early. 

Tiger Florida Tour director Mimi McAndrews thanked Larry Walthall, Mike Dauskart and their staff for hosting the event and their continued support of the tour. They also thanked the 32 players who came out to compete in the 2022 season opener and Jerry Sotelo and Josh Arnold for their invaluable help running the Florida Tiger Tour events. Thanks were also extended to Randi Allen, Director of Marketing and Events and to title sponsor Tony Kalamdaryan and Tiger Products, Brutal Game Gear, Stitch It To Me, Boynton Billiards, AZBilliards, and new sponsors Eastern Billiards and Andy Cloth for their support. Congratulations were extended to Jeannie Seaver for winning the tour championship for the third year in a row; the only player to have done so in the history of the tour since 2009.

The next stop on the Florida Tiger Tour, scheduled for February 26, and likely to feature another appearance by the “Pink Dagger,” will be hosted by Brewlands North in Lakeland, FL. 

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.

Kaylee McIntosh Breaks Thru at The Tiger Florida Tour’s “Cues For The Cure!”

Debbie McIntosh, Kaylee McIntosh, Sofia Mast and Stephanie Mitchell

Kaylee McIntosh won her first event Saturday October 2nd  at the Tiger Florida Tour’s annual “Cues for the Cure” at The Corner Pocket in Largo, Florida. This $1700-added event drew forty women who came to have a good time, friendly competition and raise money for breast cancer awareness. All funds raised benefit Susan G. Komen Florida. McIntosh, who finished second last year in this even, was not about to let this one escape. Hot off an impressive finish in her first professional WPBA event, McIntosh confirmed that she belongs at the top! 

In this modified double-elimination format, the women played down to four on each side, and redrew onto a final single-elimination board.  The four finalists from the winner’s side included room owner Stephanie Mitchell, Shanelle Lorraine, Carrie Metz, and Sofia Mast. The one-loss side sent Michell Monk, Debbie McIntosh, Jessica Human and Kaylee McIntosh back to the Final Board.  The final match had Debbie McIntosh playing Kaylee McIntosh (yes, they are related) with Kaylee taking the win, title, money and trophy!

This event was a blast with a variety of other headlines that would have been appropriate in addition to Kaylee’s first win. For example, this was the first mother-daughter final on the TFT!  Yes, Debbie McIntosh is Kaylee’s mother and Debbie came in second place!

Another headliner was the fantastic finish by Sofia Mast.  Mast is not even old enough to get a learner’s permit.  She can’t drive at her age but wow, this girl’s got game!  Mast sent Kaylee to the one-loss side earlier in the day in a double-hill match, making it to the Final Board undefeated.  Finishing 3rd/4th was Mast’s best finish on the FTF.

John Hake, Chad Kosier, Josh Arnold and Rollie Dixon

And the other headline grabber was the outrageous men in pink – pink bras!  The participants – John Hake, Chad Kosier, Josh Arnold and Rollie Dixon – made fancy bras that the players and spectators stuffed with money throughout the day!  Josh Arnold raised the most money and won a bar tab at the room.  All of the guys were great sports and the bra contest added great fun to the day!

All players received Cues for the Cure T-shirts. The players also won prizes playing bingo and in the raffle. Jacob Mast had the winning number of Hershey Kisses in the apothecary jar, and Krystalann Williams guessed the closet number of M&Ms in the three glass buffet jars! All monies raised through the day benefitted Susan G. Komen Florida. 

We thank everyone enough for their support and contributions to this worthy event!  We want to thank and recognize Nicolle Cuellar (Stitch It To Me) who made the event T-shirts; thank you to Michell Monk and Rollie Dixon (Brutal Game Gear) for the gift certificates for the raffle! Thanks, always to good friend, player and supporter Janice Sessions (Florida Coastal Ladies Tour) for adding money to the prize fund. Thanks also to Dixie Sutton and Estates by Dixie and the Bay Area APA. A huge shout out to Deanna Laney for her amazing help with the bingo and raffle. Of course, we couldn’t run the tournament without Jerry Sotelo and Josh Arnold – the smoothest-run Cues for the Cure tournament! And most importantly, the event would not be the same without Stephanie Mitchell and The Corner Pocket and staff, and Stephanie’s support of the TFT and the Cues for the Cure! And last but not least, thanks to all of the players and spectators who came out to participate, posted your photos and contributed to the success of this event!

As ALWAYS we thank and appreciate our title sponsor, Tiger Products and Tony Kalamdaryran, Larry Wood with Boynton Billiards, Simonis Cloth and AZ Billiards. 

Some of the matches can be viewed on our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100007959257491.