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Tate, Childress and Hollingsworth earn entry to International Open at their last JIC event

Landon Hollingsworth, Joey Tate and Nathan Childress

Childress and Cutting win 18 & Under divisions in prelude to Championships

Unlike the young men and women in the 13 & Under divisions of the Junior International Championships, who competed in their final events this past weekend (Sept. 17-19), the young men and women of the JIC’s 18 & Under and ProAm divisions began the weekend knowing that there was more to come. The 18 & Under divisions would be competing in their Championship events on the weekend of Oct. 28-30 at the International Open in Norfolk, VA, while two of the ProAm competitors could look forward to actually competing in the International 9-Ball Open. As it turned out, three ProAm competitors earned entry into the event because Nathan Childress and Landon Hollingsworth tied for second place in the ProAm’s final rankings.

Won by Nathan Childress for the fifth time, the 18 & Under Boys division drew the largest group of competitors (39) to the seven events that were hosted by Wolf’s Den in Roanoke, VA over the long weekend. The ProAm division, won by Landon Hollingsworth (his first, which propelled him into the tie for second place in the rankings) was next in the attendance department with 32 competitors. The 18 & Under girls event drew 14 and saw Tatum Cutting win her third.

The eight events held in the ProAm division since January were designed to accommodate players who had grown out of the two age-specific divisions. The eight events were won by seven different competitors, all of whom, with the exception of Lukas Fracasso-Verner, had not grown out of their age groups. Joey Tate was the only player to win the event twice; in April and August. Fracasso-Verner took the January opener, followed by, in order, Gabriel Martinez, Tate’s first win, Nathan Childress, Ivo Linkin, Cash Keeton, Tate’s second win, and Hollingsworth. 

Hollingsworth, who, through the Pro Am’s first five events, finished, on average, in eighth place, was runner-up in the 6th stop, third in the 7th and won this one to tie Nathan Childress in the division’s rankings and earn entry into the International Open. And he had to work his way through some of the division’s toughest competitors. 

Hollingsworth opened his campaign against the competitor who’d finished third in the 18 & Under rankings, Riley Adkins. He sent Adkins to the loss side 7-4, and then downed Jayce Little 7-2 and Ivo Linkin 7-4, to arrive at a winners’ side semifinal against Gabriel Martinez. Joey Tate, in the meantime, had gotten by Payne McBride and Ben Kleinfelter, both 7-3 and sent Trenton White over 7-4 to draw Quintin Scott in the other winners’ side semifinal. 

Hollingsworth and Tate locked up in a double hill fight that did eventually send Hollingsworth to the hot seat match. He was joined by Tate, who’d defeated Scott 7-4. Tate claimed the hot seat 7-3 and waited for Hollingsworth to come back from the semifinals, which he did.

In those semifinals, Hollingsworth faced Lazaro Martinez, who’d won three on the loss side, including a double hill win over his brother, Gabriel and a 7-3 win over Riley Adkins in the quarterfinals. Hollingsworth ended Lazaro’s loss-side streak 7-3 and then, downed Tate in the finals 9-5 to claim the ProAm’s 8th title (Editor’s note: The Hollingsworth/Tate rivalry has been going on for a long time and has played a significant role in Hollingsworth’s development and growth as a player. The rivalry will figure prominently in a profile of Hollingsworth to appear in the October issue of our monthly magazine, Billiards Buzz).

Childress cements his 18 & Under rankings with 5th win, while Cutting wins her third to tie Mast

The eight 18 & Under Boys division events have been won by four competitors; one each by Joey Tate, Lazaro Martinez and in his only appearance on the series, Cameron Lawhorne, who won the opener. Nathan Childress has won the other five, and though he opened the series by finishing in fifth place, he’s either won or been the runner-up in every one of the seven events that have followed, which, as you’d expect, has left him way ahead of the pack in the division’s rankings. 

As something of an unintended dramatic gesture, Childress had to start out on the loss side by losing his opening match to Trenton White 7-5. He, then embarked on an eight-match, loss-side winning streak just to face hot seat occupant, Gabriel Martinez. 

White at least had the courtesy to provide evidence that his opening round win was not just an accident and advanced to a winners’ side semifinal against Landon Hollingsworth. Gabriel Martinez and Ivo Linkin squared off in the other one. Martinez got into the hot seat match 7-1 over Linkin. Hollingsworth survived a double hill fight versus White to enter his second hot seat match of the weekend. Martinez, though, sent him to the semifinals 7-5.

In those semifinals, Hollingsworth had the misfortune of running into Childress, who was only one step away from a spot in the finals and in his eight loss-side matches had been giving up an average of a little over two racks per match. Childress gave up two more in his battle with Hollingsworth and then let up a little on Martinez in the finals, allowing him three racks in their race to 9 to claim the 18 & Under title.

Casey Cork, Tatum Cutting and Skylar Hess

Tatum Cutting came into the 18 & Under Girls division event, one win behind the division’s rankings leader, Sofia Mast, who was ahead in division victories 3-2. Cutting came into the final event, behind in the division’s rankings by 4,500 points, so unless Mast had failed to show up, she was uncatchable in the division’s rankings. Mast did show up and finished in the tie for 5th/6th. Cutting went on to win the event, coming from the loss side, and in the process, made something of a definitive statement in her single match against Mast.

Mast lost her opening match to Courtney Hairfield 7-5, who followed her over when Cutting downed her in the second round by the same score. Cutting advanced to a winners’ side semifinal against Casey Cork, as Skylar Hess and Hayleigh Marion squared off in the other one. 

Hess got into the hot seat match with a 7-4 win over Marion. Cork joined her with a 7-3 win over Cutting. Cork claimed the hot seat 7-3 and waited on what turned out to be Cutting’s return.

On the loss side, Cutting ran right into Mast, who was in the midst of a brief, three-match loss-side winning streak. Marion drew Taylor Perkins, who’d won two in a row on the loss side to reach her. Perkins and Marion locked into a double hill that did, eventually, send Perkins to the quarterfinals. Cutting made her ‘statement’ by shutting Mast out, advancing to meet Perkins.

Cutting chalked up a second straight shutout, over Perkins in the quarterfinals and then downed Hess in the semifinals 7-4. 

There was not really a lot at stake for Casey Cork in the finals of the 18 & Under Girls division. The event would determine which eight would advance to the 18 & Under Girls Championship next month in Norfolk. Sitting in the hot seat, it was already Cork’s best finish among the six events she was able to attend, but she came into the event below the 8-player threshold for the Championship and though it’s unlikely she’d have been calculating this prior to the finals, she had zero chance of catching any of the opponents ahead of her and the best she could do would be runner-up, in which case she’d finish 9th in the rankings.

That’s exactly what happened, but not before Cork had first, downed Cutting in a winners’ side semifinal and then, in their finals rematch, put up a double hill fight versus one of the top two players in the division to record her best showing of the entire series. Cutting completed her third division victory of the series with the 9-8 win.

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

Martinez and Cutting win Junior 9-Ball Open 19 & Under Boys & Girls events in Sacramento

Tatum Cutting

A measure of how much junior competition has grown in just the past year is name recognition. In the early part of this year, even if you were a regular reader here at AZ, you might never have heard of Tatum Cutting, Sofia Mast, Gabriel Martinez or Landon Hollingsworth. Now, with fall just around the corner and some major junior championship events on the horizon, you’re probably recognizing those names. Their current relevance is that the first two (Cutting and Mast) finished as winner & runner-up in the $5,000-added Junior 9-Ball Open for 19 & Under Girls event held at Hard Times Billiards in Sacramento, CA this past weekend (Aug. 14-15). The second two (Martinez & Hollingsworth) finished as winner and runner-up in the $5,000-added boys’ equivalent at the same location. 

In a very small field of young women (seven), the finalists in the 19 & Under Girls event were two of the best junior competitors in the country, Tatum Cutting and Sofia Mast. Each has won two of the six events on the Junior International Championship (JIC) circuit. Cutting was runner-up to Mast twice in those events, while Mast placed 3rd and 4th in Cutting’s two wins. Having attended all six of the JIC events, Mast is currently ranked as #1 in the JIC 18 & Under Girls division. Cutting is third. This time out, it was Cutting who took home the top prize. They faced each other twice; in a double hill opening match and again, in the finals.

Cutting’s initial victory put her into a winners’ side semifinal match against Kennedy Meyman, whom Cutting had faced and defeated in the semifinals of the 3rd JIC event back in April. Savannah Easton and Asia Gillespie squared off in the other one.

Cutting sent Meyman to the loss side 7-3 and in the hot seat match, faced Easton, who’d defeated Gillespie 7-4. Tatum gave up just a single rack to Easton and claimed the hot seat. 

On the loss side, Mast downed Hayleigh Marion 7-2 to pick up Asia Gillespie. Meyman drew Sophia Lua, who’d lost her opening round match to Easton and drawn a loss-side bye to reach Meyman.

Mast downed Gillespie 7-4 and in the quarterfinals, faced Meyman, who’d shut out Lua. Meyman, who won the JIC’s opening event in the 18 & Under Girls division is currently ranked #2 (behind Mast). Mast and Meyman came within a game of double hill, but it was Mast who edged out in front by two to win the quarterfinal 7-5.

Mast then downed Easton 7-4 in the semifinals for a shot at one of her familiar opponents, Cutting, waiting for her in the hot seat. Cutting downed Mast a second time, this time 7-4, to claim the event title. 

Gabriel Martinez

Boys’ field of 17 features top names from BEF Junior Nationals and JIC

The top finishers in the 19 & Under Boys division of this event have figured prominently in both the BEF Junior Nationals and the JIC series. The winner of this event, Gabriel Martinez, finished 4th in the Junior Nationals (16 & Under), is 5th in JIC rankings for 13 & Under Boys (having won two of the six events) and 18th in 18 & Under boys. This event’s runner-up, Landon Hollingsworth, was the winner in two divisions of the Junior National competition (18 & Under and 16 & Under), though he hasn’t performed as well in the JIC series, where, in the 18 & Under division, though he’s competed in all six events, he hasn’t finished better than 5th.  

Adrian Prasad currently leads the pack of 13 & under boys on the JIC ranking list, having won three events in that division and finished in the tie for 7th at this event. Nathan Childress, who finished 4th is the leader on the JIC’s 18 & Under Boys list, having won four of the six events.

In Sacramento, Martinez’ path to the winners’ circle went through Nathan Nunez and Adrian Prasad to arrive at a winners’ side semifinal meetup with Spencer Ladin. Hollingsworth, in the meantime, got by Cody Hill, Payne McBride and his own brother, Cameron Hollingsworth to arrive at his winners’ side semifinal matchup versus Nathan Childress.

Hollingsworth got into the hot seat match with a 7-3 win over Childress. Martinez joined him after surviving a double hill battle versus Ladin. Martinez claimed the hot seat 7-4.

On the loss side, Ladin picked up Andrew Hutchins, who’d just eliminated Cameron Hollingsworth in a double hill fight. Childress drew Lazaro Martinez (whose brother was in the hot seat), who’d recently defeated Adrian Prasad 7-3.

Martinez and Childress battled to double hill before Childress prevailed and advanced to the quarterfinals. He was joined by Ladin, who’d defeated Hutchins 7-3.

Ladin took the quarterfinal match, double hill, to draw Hollingsworth in the semifinals. Hollingsworth won 7-4, earning himself a second shot at Martinez in the hot seat, waiting for him. Martinez completed his undefeated run with a 9-6 win in the finals. 

Tournament director Desiree Dominguez thanked sponsors Predator, Simonis Cloth, Jam Up Apparel, Dunkel Custom Cues, Sacramento Internet Marketing Agency, Molina Mike, Phil Prentice, Aaron’s Pool Parlor (for providing live streaming throughout the event) and Omega Billiards.

New kid on the block, Cash Keeton, wins Pro Am event at Junior International Championships

Cash Keeton

Childress and Cutting win 18 & Under Boys & Girls event, respectively

Nathan Childress and Joey Tate did not get to renew their battle for supremacy in either the Junior National Championships’ Pro Am or 18 & Under Boys division this past weekend (July 16-18) because Joey Tate was unable to compete. Both, however, did retain their positions at the top of the Pro Am division (Childress #1, Tate #2), in spite of the fact that a literal “new kid on the block,” Cash Keeton entered and won his first and only event of these JIC, losing the hot seat to Landon Hollingsworth (#3 in Pro Am division), but returning from the semifinals to defeat him. The victory put Keeton in the 30th slot on the tour rankings. The Pro Am event drew 27 entrants to The League Room in Parkersburg, WV.

Childress did go undefeated in the 18 & Under Boys division to win his 4th straight title in the division. Ivo Linkin was runner-up in this event and moved up to the #5 spot in the division’s rankings. The 18 & Under Boys event drew 36 entrants (same location). In the 18 & Under Girls division, Tatum Cutting won her second title (she won the first in which she competed in March) and edged into third place in the division’s rankings behind Sofia Mast (also with two wins) and Kennedy Meyman (with one). April Gonzales was runner-up in the girls’ event which drew 13 entrants. Mast finished fourth this time out. Meyman finished 9th. 

Keeton’s path to victory in the Pro Am event began against the competitor who was runner-up in the 18 & Under Boys division, Ivo Linkin. Keeton advanced to down Tanner Elliott and Zaiden Leary to draw Kodi Allen in one of the winners’ side semifinals. Allen had sent Nathan Childress to the loss side in the opening round of play. Landon Hollingsworth, in the meantime, after being awarded an opening round bye, defeated Jayce Little and Riley Adkins to draw AJ Weaver in the other winners’ side semifinal. 

Keeton downed Allen 7-5 and in the hot seat match, faced Hollingsworth, who’d sent Weaver west 7-3. Hollingsworth might have been forgiven for thinking “piece of cake” when he gave up only a single rack to Keeton to claim the hot seat. The ‘cake’d come back fresh to challenge him in the finals.

On the loss side, Kodi Allen survived a double hill fight versus Payne McBride, only to be eliminated 7-4 in the quarterfinals by Zaiden Leary, who’d previously defeated Weaver 7-1. Keeton gave up only a single rack to Leary in the semifinals and then downed Hollingsworth in their finals rematch 9-6.

Childress and Cutting go undefeated to claim their respective Boys and Girls titles

The Boys 18 & Under division was the largest of the weekend’s events, drawing 36 entrants. Nathan Childress, after a bye, gave up only five racks in 18 games, versus Jayce Little (0), Dylan Waugh (4) and Eddie Vondereau (1), to arrive at his winners’ side semifinal match against Riley Adkins. Ivo Linkin, in the meantime, had to do some battling to get to the same match. He got by James Kuntz, D’Angelo “Jaws” Spain, Brent Worth and Ben Kleinfelter (aggregate score, including one double hill win, of 28-17) to meet his winners’ side semifinal opponent, Owen Chapple.

Childress marched right into the hot seat match with a shutout over Adkins (#2 to Childress’ #1 in the 18 & Under rankings). He was joined by Linkin, who continued his battles with a double hill win over Chapple. Childress claimed the hot seat 7-2 over Linkin.

On the loss side, Trenton White, who’d lost to Riley Adkins in a winners’ side quarterfinal, defeated Zaiden Leary, Eddie Vondreau and, fresh from the winners’ side, Owen Chapple. He defeated Kodi Allen 7-4 in the quarterfinals, but fell to Linkin 7-5 in the semifinals. Linkin fought Childress to double hill in the finals, but Childress had the last word to claim the 18 & Under Boys title.

Tatum Cutting won four straight matches to claim the 18 & Under Girls title. After a bye, she downed Casey Cork 7-4 to face the division’s top-ranked competitor, Sofia Mast, in the event’s winners’ side semifinal. After a bye, April Gonzales survived an opening round, double hill match versus Kennedy Meyman to arrive at her winners’ side semifinal match against Precilia Kinsley.

Gonzales got into the hot seat match with a 7-3 win over Kinsley. Cutting joined her after sending Mast to the loss side 7-5. Cutting took the first of two against Gonzales 7-2 to claim the hot seat,

On the loss side, Kinsley and Mast both survived double hill matches (versus Hayleigh Marion and Skylar Hess, respectively) to face each other in the quarterfinals. Kinsley advanced 7-5 over Mast, only to be eliminated, in another double hill match, by Gonzales in the semifinals. Cutting downed Gonzales a second time 9-7 in the finals to claim the 18 & Under Girls title. 

On the Wire Creative Media’s Ra Hanna awarded Eddie Vondereau (winner of the 13 & Under Boys event) the Brendan Crockett Sportsmanship Award, while Grayson Vaughn (3rd place in 13 & Under Boys event) the Jeanette Lee “Black Widow” Comeback Award for being down 1-6 in his opening match against 10-year old Hayden Ernst and coming back to beat him ‘on the hill.’ Hanna thanked Chris Wilson (owner of The League Room in Parkersburg, WV), Chris Reinhold (photography), the Wolfords (Kory and Treena, for their help), Mike Littman of Littman Lights, his (Hanna’s) streaming crew and Dee Adkins, for orchestrating a clinic for the girl competitors at this most recent event. Hanna once again gave a shout out to all of the families of the junior players, whose camaraderie has made these events “truly, one big traveling family.” 

The next stop on the JIC series of events, scheduled for August 27-20, will be hosted by Michael’s in Fairfield, OH. The final event for the 13 & Under Boys and Girls, scheduled for September 17-19, will be hosted by Wolf’s Den in Roanoke, VA. The finals for 18 & Under Boys and Girls, as well as the Pro Am division will coincide with the International Open in Norfolk, VA in October. 

Martinez brothers win two out of five divisions of Junior International Championships

Lazaro and Gabriel Martinez
(Photo courtesy Chris Robinson)

In the second of eight Junior International Championships (JIC), held under the auspices of On the Wire Creative Media at Racks Billiards and Sports Bar in Sanford, FL this past weekend (March 12-14), two brothers – Gabriel and Lazaro Martinez – won two of the five events. The younger Martinez, Gabriel (13), won the Pro/Am event that drew 28 entrants, while the older brother, Lazaro (14) won the 18 & Under Boys event that drew the largest field of entrants (36). Gabriel competed against the 18 & Under Boys, as well, although he was sent to the loss side by his brother in a winners’ side semifinal and eliminated by the eventual runner-up, Nathan Childress, in the event semifinals. Gabriel won the first JIC event in the 13 & Under Boys division and competed in that event this time, as well, although he was sent to the loss side in a winners’ side semifinal match by the eventual winner, Adrian Prasad (who was runner-up to Martinez last time), and later eliminated in his first loss-side match by D’Angelo (Jaws) Spain.

In the female divisions, Ohio’s Tatum Cutting won the 18 & Under event that drew 12 entrants and North Carolina’s Bethany Tate won the 13 & Under division that drew 9 entrants.

There were, in all, 77 entrants and 99 entries, indicative of the fact that more than just the Martinez brothers competed in a number of events at this most recent JIC. The junior competitors are collecting tour points that will be used for seeding in the tour finale, scheduled to coincide with the International Open at the Sheraton Norfolk Waterside in Norfolk, VA in October. 

At present, Gabriel Martinez leads the two-event point totals with 10,000 for his two victories. Adrian Prasad is in second place with 9,250 and D’Angelo Spain is in 3rd place with 3,500 points.

As originally designed, the events were broken down into their separate age divisions so that younger players would not have to enter events and face the possibility of competing against older, more experienced opponents and potentially, getting discouraged when they lost, early and often. The reaction to this division by ages surprised On the Wire Creative Media’s Ra Hanna.

“I didn’t want the 13-year-olds to get disappointed,” he said, “but I didn’t realize how much interest the younger kids would have in competing against the older players. They want to play with the big boys.”

“That,” he added, thinking of case-in-point, Gabriel Martinez, “has been fantastic.”

As always, ladies first. The increased opportunities for competition among younger females has not begun to affect the numbers that these junior events are seeing in the female divisions. Neither of the female events which drew 9 and 12 entrants this past weekend, drew as many as the Boys 13 & under (14) and combined, the girls’ events didn’t draw as many as either the Pro Am (28; which included some female competitors) or the Boys 18 & Under (36). That, as players and their parents, begin to become aware of these events, is likely to change.

Tatum Cutting’s undefeated path to the winners’ circle in the Girls 18 & Under event went through Precilia Kinsley, Alana Sanchez and Bethany Tate, with an aggregate score of 21-5, which put her in the hot seat match against Sofia Mast, who’d been awarded an opening round bye and then defeated Kennedy Meyman 7-5 and Savanna Wolford 7-3 to join Cutting. Mast chalked up as many racks against Cutting in the hot seat match as all of her previous opponents, combined, but was sent to the semifinals 7-5. Mast and Bethany Tate fought a double hill battle in those semifinals, both looking for a rematch against Cutting. Tate prevailed, and then fell to Cutting in the finals 9-4.

In the 13 and Under girls’ event, it was the combatants in the 18 & Under semifinals (Bethany Tate and Sofia Mast) who battled twice before Tate claimed the younger girls’ title. Tate had gotten by Skylar Hess and her own sister, Noelle Tate and advanced to the hot seat match. Mast  joined her, following victories over Franki Spain and Gianna Fiore.

Tate claimed the hot seat after a double hill fight. Mast downed Hess 7-5 in the semifinals and returned for a rematch. A second double hill fight ensued and for the second time, Tate prevailed and was able to claim the event title.

One goes undefeated, the other with one loss to claim boys’ titles 

In the 18 & Under Boys division, Nathan Childress and Lazaro Martinez fought twice to claim the title. Martinez had gotten by Riley Adkins, Trenton White, Ivo Linkin and his own brother, Gabriel to arrive at the hot seat match. Childress’ path to the hot seat match went through Conner Scruggs, Hank Leinen, D’Angelo “Jaws” Spain, and, in a double hill fight, Nathan Nunes. 

Martinez downed Childress the first time 7-3. Childress’ semifinal was against Martinez’ younger brother, Gabriel and he just did survive it, double hill, for a second shot against Lazaro. Childress got much closer in the finals, but not close enough, as Martinez finished his undefeated run to claim the Boys’ 18 & Under title 9-7.

In the 13 & Under Boys’ division, it was Adrian Prasad and Harry Leinen battling twice. Leinen had gotten by Iann Nolen, Fred Hill, Jr., and Konnor McFayden to arrive at the hot seat match. Prasad had sent Caleb Chase, Andrew Johnson and Gabriel Martinez to the loss side to face Leinen.

Leinin took the first of their two, 7-4. Prasad returned from a 7-3 semifinal victory over D’Angelo “Jaws” Spain for a rematch. He won that rematch 9-7 to claim the 13 & Under Boys title.

In the mixed gender Pro Am event, 13-year-old Gabriel Martinez had his hands full. He seemed to be getting stronger as he got closer to the finish line. Following a bye, he advanced past Landon Hollingsworth, Brent Worth and Julio Estevez, demonstrating increased success – 7-5, 7-4, 7-2 – to arrive at the hot seat match. Joey Tate, in the meantime, seemed to be showing signs of getting weaker. He got by Cash Lance 7-3, Trenton White 7-2, Lazaro Martinez 7-4 and Kodi Allen 7-5. It was Tate, though, who claimed the hot seat 7-4. 

Gabriel moved west and in the semifinals, faced Justin Toye, who’d sent Gabriel’s brother, Lazaro, to the proverbial showers in the quarterfinals. Gabriel eliminated him 7-3 and got a second shot at Tate.

You could almost see it coming. Two of the most promising juniors in the game faced off in the finals of the mixed-gender, Pro Am finals and battled to double hill. Gabriel Martinez prevailed to earn his second title at the second event on the Junior International Championships calendar.

Ra Hanna thanked the ownership and staff at Racks Billiards and Sports Bar for hosting the event, as well as sponsors Mike Littman of Littman Lights, Dynaspheres and The League Room. He also extended thanks to his tournament director, Corey Wolford and Jay Helfert. The next stop on the Junior International Championships tour, scheduled for April 16-18, will be hosted by Racks on Rocks in Peoria, IL.

(Watch for an extended report on this second JIC event in the upcoming edition of the BUZZ, coming in April, which will include interviews with the participants and their parents about the growth of opportunities for junior players.)