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Wilkie double dips Ussery in finals of Delaware State 10-Ball Bar Box Championships

Shaun Wilkie, Tarek Elmalla and BJ Ussery

Shaun Wilkie and BJ Ussery entered the AZBilliards database for the first time at the turn of the century. Wilkie’s first recorded payout finish came when he finished 9th at a stop on the Planet Pool Tour in June, 2000. Ussery’s came in September that year, when he finished in a tie for 65th place in the 25th annual US Open 9-Ball Championships; won for the fifth and last time by Earl Strickland. 

Together, Wilkie and Ussery are part of a core group of Mid-Atlantic elite players whose names have appeared consistently, registering victories and cash payout finishes for over two decades. Together, along with a number of other well-known, consistent performers among the Mid-Atlantic pool community (Brett Stottlemeyer, Steve Fleming and Chris Wilburn, among others) and a few from the further-North-Atlantic community (Raphael Dabreo and Miguel LaBoy, among others), they signed on to compete in the 1st Annual Delaware State 10-Ball Bar Box Championships, held last weekend (May 7-8). Together, they advanced to the hot seat match and later, played in the finals. Ussery claimed the hot seat before, together, they appeared in the finals, treating spectators and viewers on a live stream to a pair of double elimination matches that eventually earned Wilkie the event title. The event drew 57 entrants to Milford Billiards in Dover, DE.

Ussery’s path to the hot seat match went through five opponents, who, combined, chalked up only 10 racks against him; Henry Taylor (2), Nelson Tull (1), Steve Fleming (3), Miguel Laboy (3) and, in a winners’ side semifinal, Vinny Cimarelli (1). Wilkie’s opponents on his way to the hot seat match chalked up 14; Mike Saleh (1), Zachary Paitsel (3), Dave Barnes (3), Marty Ciccia (2) and, in the other winners’ side semifinal, Lukas Fracasso-Verner (5). 

The opponent racks-against tipped even further in Ussery’s direction, as he claimed the hot seat 7-4. Ussery was in the hot seat with a 42-14 record (a 75% game-winning average), as Wilkie headed off to the semifinals at 39-20 (66%). 

Neither of them, as it turned out, would have to face the one competitor who’d recorded the most racks against either of them, Fracassso-Verner. He moved to the loss side and picked up Raphael Dabreo, who’d lost his second-round match to Rick Miller and embarked on an eight-match, loss-side winning streak, which would end in the semifinals against Wilkie. Dabreo had just recently eliminated Miguel Laboy 7-4 and Russ Redhead 7-3. Cimarelli drew a re-match against Kirill Rutman Kenny, whom he’d defeated in a winners’ side third round match and had gone on five-match winning streak that had recently included the elimination of two of the aforementioned Mid-Atlantic elites;  Brett Stottlemeyer 7-5 and Steve Fleming 7-1.

Dabreo eliminated Fracasso-Verner 7-5, as Kenny extended his loss-side streak to six matches with a 7-4 win over Cimarelli. Kenny didn’t give up his streak easily, as he and Dabreo fought to double hill in the quarterfinals; the first of four straight double hill matches at the very end of the championship event. The second came in the semifinals, as Dabreo battled Wilkie to a single deciding game before Wilkie earned his rematch against Ussery. 

One can’t ask much more of a regional event final than to have two of its strongest competitors battling to double hill. Twice. And they did. By winning the hot seat match, Ussery had, in effect, extended Wilkie’s match count by one. Wilkie made him pay for that extra match he’d had to play, defeating him twice in what was described as “a very wonderful two sets of pool” that closed out the 1st Annual Delaware State’s 10-Ball Bar Box Championships with Wilkie in possession of the title.

Tour director Tarek Elmalla extended thanks to Leo and Sherrie Weigand and their Milford Billiards staff for their hospitality and to all of the players who came from near and far (New York, Virginia, Maryland, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and more) to compete. He also thanked the folks at https://www.amateursportsstream.com, including Ray Netta and to everyone who joined him in the booth for the live streaming, which, for feature matches, utilized three camera angles that heightened the experience for all of its viewers. And in the ‘keeping everything smooth’ department, Elmalla also acknowledged the assistance of Travis Parker, Ran Ji, Jennifer Benton Boxwell and Eric Probst.

The next item on the Delaware State Championship agenda will entail a switch to 8-Ball, when the 1st Annual DE State 8-Ball Bar Box Championships, scheduled for the weekend of June 25-26, opens the doors, once again, at Milford Billiards in Dover, DE.

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The “Munchkin” breaks through, downs Stottlemeyer to claim MD State 8-Ball Championships

Brett Stottlemyer and Steve Johnson

“He’s short,” said Loye Bolyard, co-tour director of On the Hill Productions’ Maryland State Championship events, “and people were always busting on him about it.”

Over the years, Steve Johnson has good-naturedly absorbed an expected array of potential nicknames related to his height; “Shorty,” of course, being the most common. Until one day, he corrected someone by suggesting that they refer to him as the “Munchkin.” It’s stuck, if not before, certainly now, as the “Munchkin” just completed a successful run through a field of 50 entrants at this past weekend’s (March 12-13) MD State 8-Ball Championships. According to Bolyard, while Johnson’s been a regular competitor on the MD State series of events, as well as a cash winner at any number of small, venue-specific tournaments, it’s the first time that the “Munchkin” has recorded a major (recorded) tournament payout and it was a win. The event drew its 50 entrants to Brews & Cues on the Boulevard in Glen Burnie, MD.

It’s rare to the point of being remarkable that a player with almost no known history of success at the tables can break through at a tournament featuring a number of better-known and presumably, better players. Not completely unheard of, but certainly rare enough to gain ‘remarkable’ status. And while the game was 8-ball, known to offer players more kinds of opportunities to frustrate opponent plans, and he wasn’t up against the likes of Jayson Shaw, Shane Van Boening or Fedor Gorst, the “Munchkin” didn’t get a lot of luck from the bracket draws. He had to get by (among others) the likes of Matt Krah, Jimmy Rivera, Scott Haas and eventually, had to double dip Brett Stottlemeyer in the finals to claim his first event title.

“We don’t know what happened,” said Bolyard. “He’d won one of those weekly tournaments the Friday before and he just kept his nerves under control. He was really calm all the way through.”

“He kept his composure together and everything just clicked for him,” he added. “He was able (in the finals) to put Brett in some lockdowns; good ones that stopped runouts. He had him 4-0 in that first set.”

It started well for the “Munchkin.” He opened with a shutout over Tim Metter and then got by Christie Hurdel and Joseph Wright, Jr. before encountering Matt Krah in a winners’ side quarterfinal. They fought the proverbial ‘tooth and nail’ to 5-5 before Johnson picked up ‘6,’ advancing to a winners’ side semifinal against Jimmy Rivera. Like Johnson, Stottlemeyer opened with a shutout (over Bruce Brunnell) before facing his own ‘rogue’s gallery’ of familiar combatants, any one of whom could have derailed his trip to the hot seat; Rick Miller, Steve Fleming and, in a winners’ side quarterfinal, Scott Haas. Going into the winners’ side quarterfinals, there was a potential father/son battle for the hot seat looming on the event horizon. But while Thomas did his part, downing Thomas Zippler 6-3, Stottlemeyer sent his Dad to the loss side in a double hill fight and picked up son Thomas in the other winners’ side semifinal. This shifted the potential father/son battle to the loss side, where they eventually met in the quarterfinals.

Stottlemeyer made short work of son Thomas Haas 6-1, as Johnson was dispatching Rivera to the loss side 6-4. In the first of their three matches, Stottlemeyer dominated, for the second time in a row giving up only a single rack. He sat in the hot seat, one would assume, fairly confident that he’d be chalking up the one win he needed to claim the title.  

On the loss side, the Haas family was at work, looking to match up in the quarterfinals. Dad had followed his loss to Stottlemeyer with victories over Bryan Jones 6-2 and Zippler 6-1 to draw Rivera. Son Thomas picked up Eric Lyons, who was working on a modest four-match, loss-side streak that had recently eliminated Matt Krah 6-4 and co-tour director Rick Scarlato, Jr. 6-1.

Father and son downed their respective opponents, Rivera and Lyons, by the same 6-3 score and the quarterfinal family fight was on. Oddly enough, it was won by the same 6-3 score that had made the match happen. It was Dad Scott who advanced to the semifinals against the “Munchkin.” 

The reportedly “calm” and “composed” Johnson kept the ‘cool’ going in the face of a double hill challenge from the last Haas standing. He weathered that storm, eliminating Haas to put an even more daunting challenge on his ‘dance card;’ the necessary two-step tango to pry Brett Stottlemeyer from his perch in the hot seat.

The “Munchkin” grabbed the first set 6-3, which almost certainly had a way of boosting his confidence, while on the other side of the table, the pressure was suddenly on. Johnson won the second set 6-4 to claim MD State’s 8-Ball Championships and earn his first payout entry into AZBilliards’ database.

On the Hill Productions’ Bolyard and Rick Scarlato, Jr. thanked the ownership and staff at Brews & Cues on the Boulevard, as well as sponsors AlleyKat Cue Sports, AZBilliards.com, Aramith Balls, Bull Carbon, Simonis Cloth, TAP Chesapeake Bay Region, Safe Harbor Retirement Planners, Whyte Carbon Fiber Cue Shafts, OB Cues and MB Cues.

On the Hill Productions will be back at Brews & Cues on the Boulevard for its next three events. Its first, a 10-Ball Scotch Doubles event for teams with a combined FargoRate of 1200 or under, scheduled for the weekend of March 26-27, will be #3 in its Bar Box Bonanza series. April will bring two events, blending into May. The MD State Bar Table 9-Ball Championships (April 9-10) and #4 in the Bar Box Bonanza Series, a FargoRate 8-Ball tournament (April 30-May 1). 

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Beltrami-Nester goes undefeated to claim MD State Open Amateur Women’s Championship title

Loye Bolyard, Nicole Beltrami-Nester, Tina Malm and Rick Scarlato, Jr.

Varias goes undefeated to win concurrently-run Open Drop-In Tournament

As it turned out, the ‘undercard’ in Maryland this past weekend (Feb. 12-13) drew more entrants than the main event. On the Hill productions held the Maryland State Open Amateur Women’s Championships 9-Ball event, for competitors with a Fargo Rate of 625 and under, at Brews and Cues on the Boulevard in Glen Burnie, MD and as something of a bonus event, decided to run an Open ‘Drop-in’ Tournament at the same time. The Open Drop-in tournament drew 33 entrants, which required a single preliminary match, while the Ladies Championship, which drew 30, awarded a bye to two of its first-round competitors.

Both winners – Nicole Beltrami-Nester in the Ladies event and Jimmy Varias in the ‘Drop-in’ – became occupants of their respective hot seats and had to contend with strong and long loss-side bids by competitors who challenged them in the finals. Tina Malm lost her second winners’ side match and won seven on the loss side to meet Beltrami-Nester in the Ladies final. Branden Williams lost his opening match and won eight on the loss side to meet up with Varias in the ‘Drop-in’ event.

Eugenia Gyftopoulos

Nicole Nester entered the MD State Ladies 9-Ball Championship after a strong previous year. Her recorded earnings in 2021 were her second-best since she started showing up on the payout lists of the J. Pechauer Northeast Women’s Tour in 2011. She cashed in a single event that year, finishing 5th at a stop in November. Her best year was 2013, when she cashed in six JPNEWT events and was 5th in that year’s MD State Women’s Championship. Safe to say, she’s off to a real good start in 2022.

She won three out of every four games she played through her first three matches, downing Dawn Stickler (1), Judie Wilson (3) and June Prescop (2) to arrive at a winners’ side semifinal against Kelly Daniel. Eugenia Gyftopoulos, in the meantime, got by Rachel Walters (4), Debra Pavan Peterman (2) and Jane Im (2) to arrive at her winners’ side semifinal versus KanKan Yu.

Beltrami-Nester downed Daniel 6-1, while Gyftopoulos sent Yu to the loss side 6-2. Beltrami-Nester claimed the hot seat 6-1 (upping her game-winning percentage by three points) and waited for Malm to finish her long haul on the loss side.

On that loss side, Yu picked up a rematch against Colleen Knauff-Shoop, whom she’d sent to the loss side, double hill, in the winners’ side second round. Knauff-Shoop was working on a five-match, loss-side winning streak that had recently eliminated June Prescop 6-4 and Christina Madrigale 5-2. It was Daniel who drew Malm, four matches into her loss-side winning streak with wins #3 and #4 against Jane Im, by forfeit, and Theresa Tascarella 7-4.

Colleen Knauff-Shoop

Knauff-Shoop won her rematch against Yu 6-3 and in the quarterfinals, faced Malm, who’d defeated Daniel 7-3. Malm stopped Knauff-Shoop’s loss-side run at five, with a 7-3 win in those quarterfinals and then gave up just a single rack to Gyftopoulos in the semifinals. Beltrami-Nester completed her undefeated run with a shutout over Malm in the finals and claimed the event title.

Varias opens 2022 campaign with an undefeated run

Like Beltrami-Nester, Jimmy Varias was coming off a strong year; his best-ever since he started recording cash payouts in 2013. Two 2021 runner-up finishes, in the Dynaspheres Cup 10-Ball event in August (losing to Jayson Shaw in the finals) and the MD State Bar Table 8-Ball Championships in September (losing to Dylan Spohr in the finals), led the pack of cash finishes last year. Also like Beltrami-Nester, it’s safe to say that he’s off to a real good start in 2022.

His path to the winners’ circle started with a shutout over Clint Clayton, an 8-2 win over Justin Pelech and an 8-6 win over Joseph Wright, Jr., which brought him to a winners’ side semifinal against Bryan Jones. Steve Fleming, a strong, veteran Mid-Atlantic competitor, got by Andres Kinones 7-2, Paul Krimes 7-5 and shutout Greg Schuler to arrive at his winners’ side semifinal against Rick Winpigler. 

Fleming advanced to the hot seat match 7-2 over Winpigler and was joined by Varias, who’d defeated Jones 8-2. Varias claimed the hot seat 8-3 over Fleming and like Beltrami-Nester, waited for an opponent (Branden Williams, in his case) to complete a lengthy trip on the loss side of the bracket.

Five matches into his loss-side trip, including another shutout over Schuler and a 7-2 win over John Moody, Sr. brought Williams to Jones. Winpigler picked up Glenn Loveland, who’d lost a winners’ side quarterfinal to Jones and then, defeated Paul Krimes 6-6 (Krimes racing to 7) and Joseph Wright, Jr. by shutout.

Winpigler downed Loveland 7-4, and in the quarterfinals, faced a rematch versus Williams, who’d eliminated Jones 7-1. In those quarterfinals, Williams redeemed his earlier double hill loss to Winpigler and defeated him 7-4.

Williams completed his loss-side-of-the-bracket trip with a 7-5 victory over Fleming. Varias handed Williams his second loss in the finals 8-3 to claim the ‘Drop-in’ portion of the weekend events.

Tour directors Loye Bolyard and Rick Scarlato, Jr. thanked the ownership and staff at Brews & Cues for their hospitality, as well as sponsors AlleyKat Cue Sports, AZBilliards, Aramith Balls, Simonis Cloth, TAP Chesapeake Bay Region, Safe Harbor Retirement Planners, Whyte Carbon Fiber Cue Shafts and MB Cues.

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Fracasso-Verner goes undefeated to capture MD State 10-Ball title

Loye Bolyard, David Nangle, Lukas Fracasso-Verner, Kevin West, Rick Scarlato Jr. and room owner Giogio Wu

Former junior champion, Lukas Fracasso-Verner chalked up his first major win in almost two years, going undefeated to claim Maryland State’s 10-Ball Championships, held this past weekend (Dec. 11-12) at 7 Billiards Shady Grove in Gaithersburg. MD. Though he had finished atop a short field of Second Chance competitors at a Joss Northeast 9-Ball Tour stop this past July, it was a far, pandemic-interrupted cry away from his undefeated run through a field of 140 in the Predator Pro Am Tour’s 2019 Empire State Championships’ Amateur division, in what remains (according to our records) his best earnings year to date. The MD State 10-Ball Championships drew 46 entrants to 7 Billiards Shady Grove. 

Fracasso-Verner was challenged in the finals of this 10-ball event by Kevin West, who’d lost his opening match to Brian Tierney and embarked on a nine-match, loss-side winning streak in which he gave up, on average, only two racks per match. He didn’t give up more than three until his seventh loss-side match.

Fracasso-Verner was stingy in his opening round matches, as well. After an opening round bye, he got by Mike McNiff, Scott Haas and Justin Pelech by an aggregate score of 21-2, arriving at a winners’ side semifinal match against Jimmy Rivera, who was about to add substantially to Fracasso-Verner’s opponent racks. Caleb Koury, in the meantime, advanced through Thang Nguyen (3), Dave Nangle (double hill), and Shawn Jackson (4) to arrive at his winners’ side semifinal match against Andy Lincoln.

Both matches for advancement to the hot seat match went double hill; Rivera chalking up three times as many matches against Fracasso-Verner as all of his previous opponents combined, while Koury was being challenged by Lincoln. Fracasso-Verner and Koury ended up squaring off in the hot seat match and though Koury chalked up as many racks against Fracasso-Verner as his first three opponents did (2), they weren’t nearly enough. Fracasso-Verner sat in the hot seat, waiting and no doubt watching, as Kevin West continued his loss-side winning streak.

Lincoln arrived on the loss side to face West, who was six matches into his winning streak, with an aggregate score of 42-7 and most recent victories over Justin Pelech 7-2 and Matt Krah 7-1. Rivera picked up Steve Fleming, who, like West, had lost his opening winners’ side match and was in the midst of his own seven-match, loss-side winning streak that had recently included the elimination of Shawn Jackson 7-4 and Andy Huang 7-3.

Fleming downed Rivera 7-2, as West was busy eliminating Lincoln 7-5. West defeated Fleming 7-4 in the subsequent quarterfinal. West made short work of Koury in the semifinals that followed, downing him 7-1, for a shot at Fracasso-Verner, waiting for him in the hot seat. 

When they squared off in the finals, Fracasso-Verner had won, on average, three out of every four games he’d played throughout the event to that point; 78% (35-10). West, on average, had fallen just short of that at 73% (68-25). Fracasso-Verner had played five matches and 45 games. West had played twice as many matches and games (10 and 93). 

In one of those oddities of statistics, the finals didn’t affect Fracasso-Verner’s overall game-winning percentage at all. It stayed right where it had been at 78%. It did, however, have a significant effect on West’s percentage. Having given up so few during most of his loss-side run, his two overall losses added 14 games to his opponents’ side of that ledger, knocking his overall winning percentage down eight points, from 73% going into the finals, to 68% afterwards. Fracasso-Verner claimed the MD State 10-Ball title with a 7-2 victory in those finals.

Tour directors Loye Bolyard and Rick Scarlato, Jr. thanked the ownership and staff of 7 Billiards Shady Grove for their hospitality, as well as Mezz Cues, Turtle Racks, AlleyKat Cue Sports, AZBilliards.com, Aramith Balls, Lucid Ballsports (Predator Arena Light), Simonis Cloth, TAP Chesapeake Bay Region & Safe Harbor Retirement Planners. The next On The Hill Productions event, scheduled for January 22-23, 2022, at the Choptank Bowling & Billiards in Cambridge, MD will be the premier, skill-level event of a new Bar Box Bonanza Series, which will continue through the new year through November, culminating in a $4,000-added finale, scheduled for Nov. 12-13, 2022 at Choptank Bowling and Billiards.

Korsiak comes from the loss side to win Dynaspheres Cup Series 8-Ball Championships

Joey Korsiak

Joe Korsiak chalked up his second major event victory in the state of Maryland in 2021 last weekend (June 5-6) with a come-from-the-loss-side win at the $3,000-added Dynaspheres Cup 8-Ball Championships ($1,500 from Billiard Sports Network and $1,500 from Championship Fabric, LLC) that drew 108 entrants to Center Pocket in Bowie, MD. Last month (May), he chalked up a win at the MD State 9-Ball Championships and earlier in the month had finished 3rd in the Dynaspheres Cup 10-Ball Championships, behind Shane Van Boening and Raphael Dabreo. He’s won more events midway through this year than he won all year in his best recorded earnings year at the tables (2005), when he cashed in 10 events, including the US Open 9-Ball Championships (33rd), the SBE Players Championship (5th), the 16th Ocean State 9-Ball Championship (17th) and five stops on the Joss NE 9-Ball Tour, at which he finished as runner-up, twice, to Mike Davis and Dennis Hatch.

The event was as notable for the competitors who weren’t around as it neared the end as it was for those who figured into its final matches. Some of the more prominent competitors who were on-hand included Shaun Wilkie, Bucky Souvanthong, “Pooky” Rasmechai, Brian Dietzenbach, Brandon Shuff, Matt Krah and the Mastermaker brothers, Joey and Danny, to name just a few. The event also featured a contingent of junior players, fresh off their competition in the series of On the Wire Creative Media’s Junior International Championships (JIC), the most recent of which was held in the same location as this event at the end of May.

Nathan Childress, 18, who, after four JIC events, is ranked at #1 in the “18 and under Boys” division, #2 in the ProAm division and has won the last two “18 and Under” tournaments opened his Dynaspheres Cup 8-Ball campaign with a shutout and won three more before being sent to the loss side by Mid-Atlantic veteran Steve Fleming. He was defeated by “Pooky” Rasmechai in his first loss-side match. Skylar Hess, 12, who is ranked #3 in the “13 and Under Girls” division and won the last JIC stop in that division was welcomed to the world of ‘big folk’ pool with two straight losses. D’Angelo “Jaws” Spain, 9, who is ranked at #5 in his own “13 and Under Boys” division, #17 in the “18 and Under Boys” and #45 in the ProAm division went two and out, but congratulations are certainly in order, for “Jaws” and all of the juniors, for getting out onto the tables and competing. They’ll continue to do so on the JIC tour and will get a second chance on the Dynaspheres Cup circuit at the second Junior Championship event (the first was in February), set for the weekend of September 25-26.

Korsiak’s path to the winners’ circle in this Dynaspheres Cup 8-Ball Championships opened smoothly enough with a 6-1 victory over David Stanley and was followed by four straight 6-4 wins over Redgie Cutler, Joey Mastermaker, Kevin West and Robert Pole, Jr. He arrived at his winners’ side semifinal match against Scott Haas with a 64% game-winning percentage. Del Sim got by Kamrin Kohr 6-3 in his opener, before downing William Miller 6-1, Richard Winpigler 6-2, Thomas Haas 6-4, and Jake Lebon 6-3 to arrive at his winners’ side semifinal match with a slightly better game-winning average than Korsiak (70%) as he prepared to face off against Dennis Spears.

Korsiak got into the hot seat match with a 6-3 win over Haas. Sim, in the meantime, was struggling with Spears in a double hill match that eventually did send Sim into the hot seat match against Korsiak. Sim prevailed 6-3 to claim the hot seat.

On the loss side, Haas picked up “Pooky” Rasmechai, who’d lost his opening match to Dennis Spears and was in the midst of a nine-match, loss-side winning streak that featured two double hill wins, had most recently eliminated junior competitor Nathan Childress 5-3 and Shaun Wilkie 5-1 and was about to come to an end. Dennis Spears drew Steve Fleming, who’d been defeated by Childress in the 4th winners’ side round and on the loss side, had defeated Matthew Rezendes 5-2, both Tony Long and Mike Saleh 5-3 and Thomas Haas 5-2.

Fleming leapfrogged into the quarterfinals when Spears forfeited. He was joined by Scott Haas, who’d survived a double hill fight versus Rasmechai. Haas was not as fortunate in what proved to be his second straight double hill match. Fleming defeated him, only to be eliminated 5-3 by Korsiak in the semifinals.

Among any number of scenarios that one might have predicted for the true double elimination final that followed, what happened would not likely have been one of them. In the initial, race-to-6 opening set, Korsiak gave up only a single rack. In the race-to-5 second set, he didn’t give up any at all and claimed the event title.

Held under the auspices of the Billiard Sports Network, The Dynaspheres Cup 8-Ball Championships were streamed live throughout the weekend. Tournament director Tina Malm and Billiard Sports Network’s Jake Lawson and Josh Setterfield extended thanks to the ownership and staff at Center Pocket for their ongoing hospitality throughout the Dynaspheres series of events, as well as title sponsor Dynaspheres Balls, Lucid Ballsports (Predator Arena Light), Gina Cunningham (Keller Williams Integrity), East Coast Prime Meats, Courtyard by Marriott (Bowie, MD), Hampton Inn by Hilton (Bowie, MD), Luke Thompson Photography, MB Cues/Mike Burton, Integrity Cues, Break Out Billiards Apparel, AZBilliards, Premier Billiards, CueScore.com, The League Room, Championship Fabric, LLC, S&T Billiards, DFE Billiards Cue Repair, American Billiard Covering  and JB Cases.

The next stop on the Dynaspheres Cup series, scheduled for the weekend of July 31-August 1will be a Double 8-Ball Championship, once again to be hosted by Center Pocket in Bowie, MD. The event will be followed by a second Junior Championship on the weekend of Sept. 25-26 and the series finale, scheduled for Nov. 6-7, the Dynaspheres Cup 9-Ball Championships.

Wilkie goes undefeated to capture his third Maryland State title in eight years

Shaun Wilkie

Shaun Wilkie has chalked up his fair share of tournament victories over the years, dating back to our first recorded awareness of his presence 20 years ago, when he finished 9th at a stop on the Planet Pool Tour in Pikesville, MD. His first recorded victory in an event came two years later on that same tour. Since that time, he’s gone on to win events on the Action Pool Tour (APT; lots of them), the Blaze Tour, the Mezz Pro Am Tour, the Predator Pro Am Tour, the Joss Northeast 9-Ball Tour and various State of Virginia championships. With two exceptions, however, he’s had a difficult time securing a victory at a tournament with “Maryland” in its official title. He came close four times last year, finishing as runner-up in the MD State 10-Ball, 9-Ball Bar Table, and 9-Ball Championships and third in the MD State 8-Ball Championships. The two exceptions in this ‘drought’ was a victory in the Maryland State 8-Ball, two years ago and a victory in the Maryland Open, eight years ago.
 
Wilkie ended his extended Maryland State drought with a victory at the 2020 Mezz Cues Maryland State Bar Table 8-Ball Championships on the weekend of February 8-9. He went undefeated through the field of 105 entrants, at the event, hosted by Brews & Cues on the Blvd. in Glen Burnie, MD.
 
Wilkie and long-time opponent Rick Molineiro battled twice for this title. Molineiro’s career, while not as illustrious or as successful as Wilkie’s, began, in our records, with a 5th place finish on the Planet Pool Tour in 2001. Like Wilkie, Molineiro’s a regular competitor on the Action  Pool Tour and also like Wilkie, has found limited success in Maryland, although he did finish third at this event last year.
 
They met first in the hot seat, once Wilkie had disposed of his winners’ side semifinal opponent, Tom D’Alfonso 6-2 and Molineiro had defeated another APT veteran, Steve Fleming, 6-4 in the other one. In their first of two, they battle to double hill before Wilkie prevailed to claim the hot seat.
 
On the loss side, Fleming ran right into Kristina Tkach, the young Russian woman, who’s a strong competitor in the ‘stable’ of Roy’s Basement. Tkach had lost her third-round match to Wilkie and was in the midst of an eight-match, loss-side winning streak that would take her as far as the semifinals. She had recently eliminated Del Sim, double hill, and Roger Haldar 6-4 to draw Fleming. D’Alfonso drew Eddie Abraham, who’d recently defeated Tom Zippler and Shane Wolford, both 6-4.
 
Tkach eliminated the Action Pool Tour’s 2018 Tour Champion and last year’s runner-up, Steve Fleming 6-1. She was joined in the quarterfinals by Abraham, who’d defeated D’Alfonso 6-3. In a double hill quarterfinal, Tkach prevailed and advanced to meet Molineiro in the semifinals.
 
Molineiro was arguably playing ‘above his weight’ in the semifinals; up against an opponent with four event victories last year alone, to include a win on the APT, downing Chris Bruner, the tour’s #1 competitor at the time, in the hot seat and finals. Had Chris not won the semifinals, Tkach would have faced Wilkie in the finals of that event. Molineiro pulled it off, though, downing Tkach in this event’s semifinals 6-4 to earn himself a second shot at Wilkie in the hot seat.
 
Momentum may have been on Molineiro’s side, but Wilkie wasn’t interested. He took command of the only set that proved necessary, downing Molineiro 6-2 to complete his first Maryland State title run in two years.
 
Event directors at On the Hill Productions, Loye Bolyard and Rick Scarlato, Jr. thanked the ownership and staff at Brews & Cues on the Blvd., as well as title sponsor Mezz Cues, Lights Out Billiards Apparel, TAP Pool League (Chesapeake Bay Region), Billiard Sports Network for their stream of the event throughout the weekend, AZBilliards, Aramith Balls, Simonis Cloth, and Turtle Racks. On the Hill Productions will return to Brews & Cues on the Blvd. for their next scheduled event, the MD State Bar Table 9-Ball Championships, to be held on the weekend of April 4-5.

Turning Stone Classic XXXIII – Steve Fleming vs Earl Strickland

Bruner goes undefeated to win Action Pool Tour season finale and finish as Tour Champion

Chris Bruner 2019 Action Pool Tour Champion

Chris Bruner competed in all but one of the 12 Action Pool Tour stops in 2019. He won four of them – June, July, October (VA State 8-Ball Championship) and the tour’s season finale this past weekend (December 7-8). He was runner-up in two others; to Mike Davis in May and Kristina Tkach in August. He tripled the number of appearances he made on the tour this year, which, factored into tournament results as the APT’s season concluded, gave Bruner the 2019 Tour Champion title. Last year’s champion, Steve Fleming competed in all but two of this year’s tour stops and finished as runner-up.
 
Bruner went undefeated through a field of 19 pre-qualified entrants, who signed on for the season finale – The Pineapple Morris Memorial Shootout on Saturday, December 7 at Q Master Billiards in Virginia Beach, VA. Named after Craig “Pineapple” Morris, a fixture as a teacher at Q Master Billiards and doorman at the annual US Open 9-Ball Championships for many years, the event was limited to the Top 16 men and three women in the tour’s point standings. Thanks to primary tour sponsors Predator Cues, Aramith and Simonis, every player who competed was paid.
 
Fleming was on-hand as well, with the opportunity to defend his tour championship title there for the taking. Fleming was one of six entrants who played a preliminary round for entrance into the event’s official 16-player, double elimination bracket. He and Larry Kressel locked up in a double hill fight that advanced Kressel and sent Fleming to the loss side, where he lasted three rounds.
 
Bruner’s path to the winners’ circle climbed a straight-up ladder that went through #12 Greg Sabins and #8 Bill Duggan, to arrive at a winners’ side semifinal against #4 Reymart Lim. Scott Roberts (#6), working in a pressure cooker of his own making, won two straight double hill matches against David Hunt (#5) and Jimmy Byrd (#18) to draw his winners’ side semifinal opponent, none other than the aforementioned Larry Kressel (#11).
 
Roberts won his third straight double hill match, downing Kressel to earn a spot in the hot seat match. Bruner joined him with a double hill win over Lim. Roberts recorded his first double hill loss, as Bruner chalked up his second straight double hill win to claim the hot seat.
 
On the loss side, Kressel picked up #3 RJ Carmona, who’d lost to #7 Scott Haas in the event’s first full opening round and was working on a four-match, loss-side winning streak that was about to end. He’d recently eliminated Bill Duggan 9-6 and David Hunt 9-5. Lim picked up Haas, who’d been sent over by Kressel in a winners’ side quarterfinal and then defeated Greg Sabins 9-5 and Jimmy Bird, double hill.
 
The possible Carmona/Haas rematch didn’t happen, as Kressel moved into the quarterfinals 9-7 over Carmona. Haas downed Lim 9-3, but in those quarterfinals, fell to Kressel 9-2.
 
The Roberts/Kressel semifinal came within a game of being the 5th double hill match among the event’s final 13 matches. Roberts prevailed 9-7 for a second shot at Bruner in the hot seat.
 
Bruner got out in front and claimed the event title and title of tour champion with an 11-7 victory over Roberts.
 
Tour directors Kris Wylie and Tiger Baker thanked the ownership and staff at Q Master Billiards, as well as sponsors Predator Cues, Aramith Balls, Simonis Cloth. Viking Cues, Brown’s Mechanical LLC, Kamui, Diamond Billiard Products, Ozone Billiards, CSI, Grant Wylie Photography and George Hammerbacher, Advanced Pool Instructor.

Bruner still on top of Action Pool Tour standings, claims VA State 8-Ball Championships

(l to r): Chris Bruner & RJ Carmona

Liz Taylor goes undefeated through Ladies field
 
Chris Bruner came into the October 12-13 VA State 8-Ball Championships as the Action Pool Tour’s top player. He went undefeated through a field of 37 at Q Master Billiards in Virginia Beach, VA to claim the event title and maintain his position as #1 on the tour’s player standings list. Eight of the players on the tour’s Top Ten list competed in this year’s event, but so did, among others, Shaun Wilkie (#14) and last year’s runner-up, Mike Davis (#30). Defending champion, Warren Kiamco, did not compete this year. Bruner sent #2, Steve Fleming, to the loss side, and faced #3, RJ Carmona, twice to claim the title.
 
The Ladies event drew a short field of 13 and was won by Liz Taylor, who, along with Jacki Duggan, who finished in 4th place, are the only women among the tour’s Top 20 in player standings. Like Bruner, Taylor went undefeated through the field and had to face the same opponent (Cheryl Pritchard) in both the hot seat and finals.
 
Bruner’s seven-match march to the finish line went through Jose Vega-Hernandez, Travis Southard, Jamie Bess and Fleming to arrive at a winners’ side semifinal match against Eric Moore, who would normally be among the tour’s top players, but was making here only his second appearance on the 2019 tour. Bruner arrived at the winners’ side semifinal, having given up only five total racks (two to Southard and three to Fleming).
 
Carmona got by Kenny Miller (#11), Jason Trigo (#17) and survived a double hill bout versus JT Ringgold (#21) to arrive at his winners’ side semifinal match against Reymart Lim (#5). Three of the four competitors in the winners’ side semifinals had won previous stops on the 2019 tour; Bruner and Lim with two each and Carmona with one.
 
Moore chalked up more racks against Bruner than all of his previous opponents combined. They fought to double hill before Bruner prevailed and advanced to the hot seat match. He was joined by Carmona, who’d sent Lim west 7-3. In their first of two, Bruner claimed the hot seat 7-4 over Carmona.
 
On the loss side, Lim picked up Scott Haas, who’d been defeated by Eric Moore 7-5 in a winners’ side quarterfinal match and gone on to defeat Shaun Wilkie 6-4 and Steve Fleming 6-2. Moore drew Ringgold, who, following his double hill loss to Bruner in a winners’ side quarterfinal, had defeated Tony Montalvo 6-2 and Kenny Miller 6-1.
 
Ringgold downed Moore 6-3 and in the quarterfinals, faced Lim, who’d defeated Haas 6-2. Lim took the quarterfinal match 6-3 over Ringgold.
 
In the semifinals that followed, Carmona gave up only a single rack to Lim and earned himself a second shot against Bruner. In their second meeting, the Bruner and Carmona battled to double hill before Bruner prevailed to deny Carmona his second 2019 tour victory and chalk up his own third win.
 
Taylor downs Pritchard twice to capture Ladies 8-Ball Title
 
Last year’s Ladies’ winner – Bethany Sykes – was ‘in the house’ for this event, though she was sent to the loss side 6-4 in the second round by the eventual winner, Liz Taylor. Sykes then won four on the loss side, before falling to the event’s runner-up, Cheryl Pritchard, in the semifinals.
 
It took Liz Taylor five matches to claim the title. She got by Maria Beckner 6-1 before sending the event’s defending champion, Bethany Sykes to the loss side 6-4. This set Taylor up in a winners’ side semifinal versus Kim Whitman. Awarded a preliminary round bye, Pritchard defeated Kelly Cox 6-3 to arrive at a winners’ side semifinal match against Lisa Uilani Vita.
 
Taylor and Whitman fought to double hill before Taylor prevailed 6-5 and sent Whitman west. Pritchard gave up only a single rack to Vita and joined Taylor in what would be their first of two, battling for the hot seat. Taylor took that first of two 6-3 and waited in the hot seat for Pritchard’s return.
 
On the loss side, Whitman drew Jacki Duggan, who’d lost an earlier battle to Vita and on the loss side, had eliminated Soo Emmett 5-1 and Maria Beckner 5-3. Vita picked up Sykes, who, following her defeat at the hands of Taylor, had defeated Kelly Wyatt 5-3 and Kim McKenna 5-1.
 
Duggan and Sykes advanced to the quarterfinals with 5-3 victories over Whitman and Vita. Sykes followed that with another 5-3 victory, over Duggan, in the quarterfinals.
 
Pritchard ended Sykes’ bid for a second year in the 8-Ball Championship finals with a 5-2 win in the semifinals. Taylor then ended Pritchard’s bid for the event title by shutting her out in the finals.
 
A Second Chance tournament drew 12 entrants and saw Steve Fleming come from the loss side to down hot seat occupant Justin Clark 6-1 in the finals. James Blackburn finished third, with Jimmy Bird in fourth place.
 
Tour directors Kim Wylie and Tiger Baker thanked the ownership and staff at Q Master Billiards, as well as sponsors as well as sponsors Predator Cues, Viking Cues, Simonis Cloth, Aramith Balls, Brown’s Mechanical LLC, Kamui, Diamond Billiard Products, Ozone Billiards, CSI, Grant Wylie Photography and George Hammerbacher, Advanced Pool Instructor. The next stop on the Action Pool Tour, scheduled for the weekend of November 16-17, will be hosted by Diamond Billiards in Midlothian, VA.

Wilkie chalks up his first 2019 win on the Action Pool Tour

Shaun Wilkie

Though he’s in the midst of a fairly good year at the tables – runner-up in Maryland’s 9-Ball Bar Table and State 9-Ball Tournaments, 3rd in that state’s 8-Ball Championships and cash payouts in six other events, including Turning Stone XXXII (9th), the SBE Pro Players Championship (13th) and the US Open 9-Ball Championship (49th) – Shaun Wilkie had yet to record a 2019 win. Until this past weekend, when he went undefeated on the Action Pool Tour; according to our records, his first win on the tour in just over a year. Wilkie came back from a hot seat loss to RJ Carmona to meet and defeat him in the finals. The 10-ball event drew 44 entrants to Breakers Sky Lounge in Herndon, VA on the weekend of September 14-15.
 
It was Wilkie’s third appearance on APT’s 2019 tour; he finished third at a stop in August and just out of the money at a stop in June. On this weekend, he got by Jim Davis 7-2, shut out Carlton Pelzer, downed Scott Roberts 7-4 and defeated the tour’s #2-ranked competitor, Steve Fleming 7-1 to draw Scott Haas in one of the winners’ side semifinals. RJ Carmona, in the meantime, whose runner-up finish would propel him into third place among the tour’s players, defeated Reymart Lim 7-4, Alex Parker 7-2, Tuan Chau 7-1 and Dave Hunt 7-5 to arrive at his winners’ side semifinal match against Kenny Miller.
 
Carmona defeated Miller 7-2, while Wilkie was moving into the hot seat match with a shutout over Scott Haas. Carmona claimed the hot seat 7-4 over Wilkie and waited on his return.
 
Miller moved to the loss side and picked up Larry Kressel, who’d been defeated by Dave Hunt in the second round and was in the midst of a six-match, loss-side winning streak that had included recent wins over the tour’s #1 and #5 competitors, Chris Bruner and Reymart Lim, both 6-3. Haas drew Nilbert Lim, in the midst of a five-match, loss-side winning streak that was about to end.
 
Haas ended Lim’s streak 6-3, as Kressel extended his with a 6-2 win over Miller. In the quarterfinals that followed, Haas downed Kressel 6-2 for a second shot against Wilkie. It proved to be Kressel’s best finish on the 2019 APT. Wilkie ended Haas’ short loss-side trip 6-2 in the semifinals.
 
Wilkie completed his first 2019 win on the tour with a 9-7 victory over Carmona in the finals. The victory moved Wilkie up on the APT rankings ladder from outside the top 25 to #14. It elevated Carmona from just outside the top 10 to #3.
 
A Second Chance event drew 10 players and saw Steve Fleming down Greg Sabins twice 5-4, 6-2 (hot seat and finals) to claim the $100 first-place prize.
 
Tour directors Kris Wylie and Tiger Baker thanked the ownership and staff at Breakers Sky Lounge for their hospitality, as well as sponsors Predator Cues, Viking Cues, Simonis Cloth, Aramith Balls, Brown’s Mechanical LLC, Kamui, Diamond Billiard Products, Ozone Billiards, CSI, Grant Wylie Photography and George Hammerbacher, Advanced Pool Instructor. The next stop on the Action Pool Tour, scheduled for the weekend of October 12-13, will be the VA State 8-Ball Championships. A Double Point event, it will be hosted by Q Master Billiards in Virginia Beach, VA.