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Hollingsworth, Mast win five of seven at final 2022 JIC regular season and championship events

Sofia Mast

Ernst and Vondereau complete winners list on final regular season weekend

It was, for all five divisions of the Junior International Championships (JIC), sponsored by Viking Cues, the last stop of the 2022 regular season, which had begun in January and will conclude in early November for two of the five divisions. The 18U girls and boys divisions will compete in respective championship events as part of Pat Fleming’s International Open, the two tournaments scheduled towards the end (Nov. 3-5) of the week-long Open in Norfolk, VA.

This past weekend (Sept. 23-25), the ProAm division played its final event. The 13U boys and girls division did as well, but as had been done in the inaugural season, this entailed two separate events during the single weekend; the final event of the season and the division championships.

Competitors in the ProAm division were competing for the top two spots in the division standings at the end of the season, occupied at the end of the weekend by Joey Tate and Landon Hollingsworth. Hollingsworth won the final ProAm event of the season and Tate finished in the tie for 9th place. Tate, though, had won three of the division’s eight stops and been runner-up three times to finish at the top of the standings. Hollingsworth had won three, as well, but had only two runner-up finishes and three events at which he’d finished third or lower. The prize for the top two spots in the standings was an entry fee to a Pro event of the players’ choice. Tate will compete in the International Open at the end of the month and Hollingsworth opted for entry into the Puerto Rico 10-Ball Open in mid-November.   

We’ll be reporting separately on the JIC’s last regular season events in the two 18U divisions and the final event of the ProAm division (look for that report elsewhere in our News section). For now, though, we will focus our attention on the four events that comprised the official end of the 13U girls and boys divisions. The two events in each division ran concurrently and in fact, the championship was over before the regular season came to an official end on Sunday afternoon. 

The two younger divisions may be comprised of small human beings, but they sport some of the biggest hearts and are among the JIC’s most fierce competitors. Many of them compete in JIC (and regional) events outside of their age range and compete against the opposite sex in the JIC’s ProAm division. 

Three of the younger division’s fiercest female competitors – Sofia Mast, Skylar Hess and Noelle Tate – would bring the last event of the 13U girls division to a three-way, three-match conclusion that would see them finish 1, 2 & 3 in both the final event and the standings. Though Mast won five of the eight regular events, including the final one this past weekend, she had not competed in one of them. Hess won three, including the one in which Mast did not compete, chalked up four runner-up finishes to Mast’s one and just did stay atop of the division standings with a third-place finish ahead of Mast and Noelle Tate in the last regular season event.

That last event, which drew 10 entrants got underway just after noon on Friday, Sept. 23 and by 5:30, the hot seat opponents had been determined. Mast had met and defeated Hess in a winners’ side semifinal, while Noelle Tate had sent Franki Spain to the loss side to join Mast in the hot seat match, scheduled for Saturday morning. Hess moved to the loss side and moving from Friday night to Saturday morning, shut out both Gia Fiore and in the quarterfinals, Franki Spain. On Saturday morning, as Hess was shutting out Franki Spain, Mast was battling and eventually defeating Tate to claim the hot seat. Hess and Tate each wanted a shot at Mast in the hot seat and a predictable double-hill, semifinal fight got underway to see which of them it would be. Tate prevailed. Mast claimed the event title with a second victory over Tate, 9-5.

The 13U Girls Championship, with its eight entrants, got underway on Saturday morning, while the division’s top three were still battling in the season’s last stop. Mast and Hess, from opposite ends of the bracket, came together in the only two places possible, hot seat and finals. Noelle Tate had the misfortune of drawing Mast in the opening round of play and was sent to the loss side immediately 7-3. Mast and Hess advanced, sending Taylor Perkins and Arianna Houston to the loss side, respectively, by the same 7-2 score and squared off for their first meeting, battling for the hot seat. Mast gave up a single rack to claim it.

On the loss side, Tate had survived a double hill match versus Houston, only to be stopped by Perkins in the quarterfinals 7-4. Perkins battled Hess in the semifinals to a game away from double hill before Hess edged ahead to earn yet another shot at Mast. Mast claimed the division’s championship with a 9-6 victory over Hess in the finals.

Ernst wins second 13U title, as Vonderau, thanks to Makhani, loses his first

Like the girls event, the 13U Boys division’s final regular season event and the division Championships happened more or less simultaneously. Entering the regular season final with its 13 entrants, Eddie Vondereau had yet to lose any of the four events in which he had competed. Jas Makhani had not won any of the events in which he had competed, but having competed in all but two of the eight, and emerging as the runner-up in this latest one, he amassed enough standings points to finish second in the standings. It was Hayden Ernst, however, who’d won the event once before, in March, who emerged from the field to send Vondereau to the loss side in a winners’ side semifinal and then down Makhani in the finals to claim his second title. Ernst finished fourth in the division standings.

Vondereau and Makhani met first in the opening round, with Vondereau sending Makhani to the loss side 7-3. Vondereau advanced to the winners’ side semifinal, where Ernst, in a double hill fight, sent him to the loss side for a rematch against Makhani. Ernst won a second double hill battle, against Jayce Little, to claim the hot seat.

On the loss side, Makhani was working on a six-match, loss-side streak that would take him all the way to the finals. Along the way, he was offered a chance at redemption when he became the first competitor Vonderau faced on the loss side. He earned that redemption with a 7-4 rematch win, downed D’Angelo Spain 7-4 in the quarterfinals and survived a double hill match against Little in the semifinals. His quest for a first 13U Boys title was derailed by Ernst 9-3 in the finals.

In the 10-entrant division Championship, Vondereau went undefeated. He downed Makhani 7-3 in a winners’ side semifinal and claimed the hot seat over Timmy Cossey, appearing in his 6th event, 7-3.

On the loss side, Makhani lost his first match 7-5 to Landen Dunlap, as Grayson Vaughan was busy downing D’Angelo “Jawz” Spain by the same score. Vaughan shut Dunlap out in the quarterfinals and Cossey in the semifinals. He came within a game of forcing a 17th deciding match in the finals against Vondereau, who edged out in front to win 9-7 and claim the 13U Boys Championship title. 

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Shea goes undefeated to chalk up her first 2022 win on the JPNEWT

Linda Shea, Melissa Jenkins, Kelly Wyatt, Kia Burwell, Anna Marks, Kari Anderson

Tour director Linda Shea and Kia Burwell have been the J. Pechauer Northeast Women’s Tour Champion and runner-up for three of the last six years. They have met countless times at various stages of any given stop on the tour over those years and this past weekend (Saturday, May 21), they met once again in the hot seat and finals of 2022’s Stop #4, an event which drew 12 entrants to On Cue Sports Bar and Grill in Port Royal, VA. Shea won both matches to claim the event title.

“She’s been nipping at my heels over the past few years,” said Shea. “Sometimes, it may seem like it takes forever to get into the next level, but she has, and her game continues to increase along with her devotion to the sport.”

“I look forward to battling with her in the coming events,” she added.

The nature of the bracket (upper and lower matches) set them on a course to the hot seat match, right from the get-go. Shea opened her campaign with a shutout over Taylor Perkins, before moving into a winners’ side quarterfinal versus Alyssa Solt. Solt battled Shea to double hill before Shea prevailed, moving into a winners’ side semifinal against Kari Anderson, who’d also faced a double hill challenge in her winners’ side quarterfinal against Melissa Mason. Burwell, in the meantime, got by Kelly Wyatt 7-4 and Ashley Kaas 7-2 to arrive at her winners’ side semifinal against Melissa Jenkins.

Burwell sent Jenkins to the loss side 7-2 and was joined in the hot seat match by Shea, who’d defeated Anderson 7-3. In their first of two, Shea claimed the hot seat 7-3.

On the loss side, Jenkins and Anderson ran into competitors who’d both won all (2) of the matches they’d played on that side of the bracket. Kelly Wyatt had eliminated Melissa Mason 7-4 and Alyssa Solt 7-5 to draw Jenkins, while Marks was working on the elimination of Ashley Kaas 7-4 and Carol V. Clark 7-2 to pick up Anderson.

Anderson and Marks fought to double hill before Anderson prevailed, advancing to the quarterfinals. Wyatt joined her after winning a match that came within a game of double hill at 7-5. Wyatt downed Anderson in those quarterfinals 7-4, before having her brief loss-side journey ended by Burwell, who gave up only a single rack in the semifinals that followed.

It was the sixth time that Shea and Burwell had met in the finals of a JPNEWT stop since June of last year. Burwell had won four of the five. Shea’s win in their fourth 2021 final occurred in the same location (On Cue Sports Bar & Grill in Port Royal, VA) where she won their sixth final this past weekend. Shea completed her undefeated run with a 7-2 victory over Burwell.

“I can’t say enough about this room,” said Shea of On Cue. “Great room, great equipment and their staff is the best.”

In the absence of Brianna Miller, who won the first two events of this year’s tour, Shea moved into the top slot in the tour standings. Burwell’s runner-up finish put her in third place, just behind Miller, at the ‘quarter-pole’ of the 11-stop 2022 tour.  

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

Casey Cork (File photo)

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

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

Easy-peasy, right? Well, probably not.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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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Sofia Mast continues domination of JIC Girls’ divisions

Sofia Mast

Gabriel Martinez wins 13 & Under Boys division, Prasad stays on top of the division rankings

Sofia Mast, 12, has won two of the five 18 & Under Girls events of the Junior International Championships (JIC), being held under the auspices of On the Wire Creative Media. This past weekend (June 24-26), at a JIC stop at Stixx & Stones in Lewisville, TX, which drew 11 entrants, she went undefeated to chalk up her second win in a row, having won the previous event, held in May in Bowie, MD. She was third in this division event in March and finished in 5th place twice. She has been the winner in three of the five 13 & Under Girls events, as well, including this most recent event last weekend (in a round robin format for four entrants), and was runner-up in the other two. As a result, she is at the top of the rankings in both of the girls’ divisions of these JIC.

Gabriel Martinez won his second JIC in the 13 & Under Boys Division (10 entrants), this past weekend, having also won the event in March. Adrian Prasad, who did not compete at this event, leads the 13 and Under Boys division in the rankings, having won the event the other three times it’s been held and was runner-up to Martinez in the other event in which he competed.

A preliminary round set up three matches in the 18 & Under Girls event, which advanced Savanna Wolford, Tatum Cutting and Casey Cork, while awarding April Gonzales a bye. Sofia Mast’s path to the winners’ circle in the 18 & Under Girls Division began with a match against Tatum Cutting, which she won 7-4 to enter a winners’ side semifinal match versus Precilia Kinsley. Wolford faced Gonzales in the other one.

Wolford got into the hot seat match 7-4 over Gonzales and was joined by Mast, who defeated Kinsley 7-2. Mast claimed the hot seat 7-4 over Wolford and waited on what turned out to be the return of Tatum Cutting from the loss side.

On the loss side, Gonzales picked up Cutting, as Kinsley drew Kennedy Meyman. Cutting advanced to the quarterfinals 7-1 and was joined by Meyman, who defeated Kinsley 7-3. Cutting downed Meyman 7-4 in those quarterfinals and then, by the same score, eliminated Wolford in the semifinals. Mast completed her undefeated run with a 9-7 win over Cutting in the finals.

Mast defeated all three of her opponents in the four-entrant, round robin event for the 13 & Under Girls. She downed Taylor Perkins 7-2, April Gonzales 7-3 and Asia Gillespie 7-1 to claim the event title. April Gonzales finished in 2nd place, having won two of her three matches; double hill (7-6) over Asia Gillespie and 7-1 over Taylor Perkins.

Harry Leinen, Gabriel Martinez and Treyshawn Bia

A preliminary round in the 13 & Under Boys event advanced Treyshawn Bia, Hank Leinen, and, with byes, Jayse Alton and eventual winner Gabriel Martinez to a first winners’ side round. Martinez shut out his first opponent, Lucah Gianino and picked up Treyshawn Bia in the winners’ side semifinal. Hank Leinen shut out Tyler Smith in the preliminary round and gave up only a single rack against Landon Dunlop to draw Jayse Alton in the other winners’ side semifinal.

Martinez gave up only one rack to Bia and advanced to the hot seat match. Leinen shut out Alton to join him. It took a 13th deciding game to claim the hot seat and it was Leinen who did so.

On the loss side, Bia picked up Bryson Moore, who’d previously eliminated Landon Dunlap 7-4. Alton picked up Tyler Smith, who’d defeated Lucah Gianino 7-4. Bia defeated Moore 7-1 and was joined in the quarterfinals by Smith, who eliminated Alton 7-5. Bia won the quarterfinal match 7-2 over Smith, but had his loss-side streak ended 7-3 by Martinez in the semifinals. Martinez finished his run with a 9-6 victory over Leinen in the finals.

On the Wire Creative Media’s Ra Hanna awarded Precilia Kinsley the event’s regular Sportperson Award, while Joey Tate picked up the Jeanette Lee Comeback Award. He also thanked Anju and John Bergman and their Stixx & Stones staff for their hospitality, as well as his assistants, Chris Reinhold (handling photography), the Wolfords (Kory and Treena, for their help), Chris Wilson (owner of The League Room in Parkersburg, WV), Mike Littman of Littman Lights and Hanna’s streaming crew. 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 July 16-18, will be hosted by The League Room in Parkersburg, WV. Detailed accounts of the Pro Am & 18 & Under Boys Division can be found elsewhere in our News reports.