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Gorst goes undefeated in delayed 14th Bob Stocks Memorial

Fedor Gorst and Shane Wolford (TTMD)

There were a lot of events going on this past Easter weekend, particularly on the East Coast and the multiplicity of them led to a few crossover competitors, reducing the numbers here, increasing them there. This past weekend’s 14th Bob Stocks Memorial (April 16), usually held on an annual basis, came two years after the last one in 2019. Formerly held under the auspices of the Action Pool Tour, ThinkTechMD picked up the reins for this year’s edition. Initially capping the field at 64, that number fell to 52 for a variety of different reasons, and when it began, there were only 30.

Fedor Gorst went undefeated through the field, advancing first on the winners’ side of a double elimination bracket and then, winning four matches in a single elimination bracket to claim the title. Gorst and junior competitor Shane Wolford advanced through the winners’ side of the double elimination bracket and were one of the eight chosen from that side of the bracket to compete in the single elimination phase of the event. Had the double elimination bracket continued, they would have faced off in a winners’ side quarterfinal. As it turned out, after the redraw to single elimination, they showed up at opposite ends of the single elimination bracket and met, for the first and last time, in the event final. The $1,500-added event drew its 30 entrants to First Break Sports Bar in Sterling, VA.

Gorst played two matches on the winners’ side of the double elimination bracket, downing Rafael Reyes (1) and Matt Krah (0) by an aggregate score of 14-1. Wolford advanced through Lenny Valley (4) and Thang Nguyen (3) to arrive at the same winners’ side spot. Joining the eventual finalists in the single elimination phase were, from the winners’ side, Chris Hansen and Nathan Childress, Derick Daya and Manny Chau, as well as Kristina Tkach and Scott Haas.

The last eight left standing on the losers’ side and advancing to single elimination were Thomas Haas, Eric Heiland, Dylan Spohr, Rafael Reyes, Matt Krah, Brandon Shuff, Bart Czapla and John Moody, Sr.

Heiland and Spohr advanced to the event’s final eight after defeating Daya and Childress, respectively. Gorst got by Reyes and was joined in the final eight by Chau, who’d defeated Thomas Haas. Moody, Sr. and Shuff advanced as well, eliminating Scott Haas and Kristina Tkach. Wolford downed Matt Krah, and was joined among the final eight by Chris Hansen, who’d defeated Czapla.

The winners in the four, quarterfinal matches advanced by an aggregate score of 48-16. Shuff and Wolford downed Moody, Sr. and Hansen by the same 11-5 score. Gorst eliminated Chau 11-4 and Spohr gave up only two racks versus Heiland.

The semifinal matches pitted Gorst against Spohr and Shuff against Wolford. Gorst eliminated Spohr 11-5. Shuff gave Wolford a run for his money, coming within a game of forcing a twenty-first deciding game, but in the end, Wolford pulled out in front, advancing to the final against Gorst 11-9.

The final match was an extended race-to-13. Though similar in age (early 20s), the combatants were quite different in how far each had come to this point in their pool careers; Wolford, more or less just starting out and Gorst, already a recognized world-class professional player. Though Wolford would chalk up twice as many racks against Gorst as any of his previous challengers (Reyes and Spohr had managed five against him in races to 11), Gorst got out ahead of Wolford and closed the 14th Bob Stocks Memorial with a 13-10 victory to claim the title. 

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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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Wilkie goes undefeated to claim inaugural B & L 2022 Open 10-Ball Championship

Brian Kilgore, Shaun Wilkie and Lai Li

Inaugural events in the pool world, can be fraught with any number of issues. It takes a clear idea of what needs to be done and an extraordinary amount of perseverance and assistance to assure that it does. It requires the patience of a saint and the temperament of a seasoned psychiatrist, especially when the inaugural event draws a long list of Atlantic coast pool veterans, as the inaugural $5,000-added B & L Open 10-Ball Championships did this past weekend (Feb. 19-20), drawing 106 entrants to Center Pocket Café and Billiards in Bowie, MD.

“I think they did a great job,” said the event’s winner, Shaun Wilkie, who went undefeated to claim the title, downing runner-up, Raphael DaBreo twice; in the fourth round and again, in the finals.

Wilkie noted that while the inaugural B & L Open 10-Ball Championships weren’t Kilgore and Li’s ‘first rodeo,’ from his perspective, their previous tournament experience tended towards smaller venues and decidedly smaller crowds. The Center Pocket Café and Billiards venue helped, too, in that with 29 tables, they were able to keep matches moving throughout the two-day event.

“Those extra tables can get you more players, moving through the bracket,” said Wilkie. “Speeds it up.”

“Sometimes, too, you get pool rooms wanting their tables back (for use by the general public),” he added, “but the room made sure that all of the tables were available. We had tables available for the whole first day.”

Runner-up Raphael DaBreo, who has, as he put it, “dabbled’ in the experience of running tournaments himself, noted that the B & L organization was “very punctual and professional the way they ran it.”  

“From the player meetings right on through getting everyone playing by noon,” he said. “They were super transparent, too, and if they keep going in the direction of their inaugural event, they have a bright future ahead of them, in my opinion.”

DaBreo also noted that the ongoing proliferation of tournaments and operators is likely a reaction to what players in these tournaments perceive about them; that they’re not done well, and that they, personally, could do a better job.

“I’ve always felt that you wouldn’t have so many tournaments and operators, if someone was doing it right,” he said. “But sometimes you run into situations where it’s not being done well; funds are disappearing or there are discrepancies with skill levels or with local tournaments, maybe someone hasn’t paid. There always seems to be something that comes up.”

“They did it right,” he added of B & L’s inaugural efforts at a much larger event.

They join a wealth of tournament organizations, promoters and tournament directors who get it right, as well, more often than not. Once established, though, the good ones rarely get the credit they deserve. Their efforts can be taken for granted in tournament narratives that focus on the players, so here and now, at B & L’s inaugural ‘big’ event, credit where credit’s due. 

Wilkie and DaBreo ran through a gauntlet of the aforementioned Atlantic coast’s best to reach the finals. The five competitors Wilkie defeated on his journey to the hot seat match could have been the final five in any number of Atlantic coast tournaments over the past decade. Wilkie opened against Brian Dietzenbach and Joey Mastermaker, defeating them both 7-2, before running into DaBreo, whom he sent to the loss side 7-4. And as if that wasn’t enough, he drew BJ Ussery in a winners’ side quarterfinal. Ussery got to within a game of double hill, but Wilkie finished it at 7-5 to draw Thomas Haas in one of the winners’ side semifinals. 

Kang Lee, in the meantime, got off to a shaky start, with Josh Thiele battling him to double hill. Lee prevailed to send Coen Bell, Henry Cha and John Moody, Sr. to the loss side and face Thomas Zippler in the other winners’ side semifinal.

Wilkie downed Haas 7-4, as Lee dispatched Zippler 7-5. Wilkie gave up just a single rack in the battle for the hot seat and waited in it for DaBreo’s return.

On the loss side, the two Thomases (Haas and Zippler) ran right into their second straight loss. Haas had the relative misfortune of running into DaBreo, who was four matches into his loss-side streak, that had most recently included the elimination of John Moody, Sr. 6-2 and Derek Benavides. 6-3. Zippler picked up a re-match against Paul Krimes, who’d sent him to the loss side in a match that kept Krimes out of the winners’ side quarterfinals. Krimes won five straight to get to the rematch, including victories over Justin Muller 6-4 and to the surprise of many (likely, his opponent among them), BJ Ussery 6-4.

DaBreo downed Haas 6-1, while Krimes was wreaking his 6-1 vengeance on Zippler for the earlier defeat. Krimes’ satisfaction with the results of his rematch was short-lived, as DaBreo didn’t grant him a rack in the quarterfinals that followed.

The semifinals weren’t really the ‘pre-party’ to the finals that DaBreo was hoping for. Lee battled tooth and nail to double hill before DaBreo prevailed for his second shot against Wilkie, waiting for him in the hot seat. 

The finals weren’t too much of a ‘party’ for DaBreo, either. Wilkie completed his undefeated run with a 7- 2 win over DaBreo to claim the inaugural B + L 10-Ball Championship title.

It was Wilkie’s first win since he won the MD State Bar Table 10-Ball Championship this past November. A tumultuous couple of months followed that saw him place 25th in Turning Stone XXXIV last month (Jan. 6-9). On January 25, the man who’d started him playing pool, his grandfather, passed away. He’d been spending a lot of time, before and especially after, with his grandmother, and in a way, brought his grandfather with him to the tournament.

“I had him in my heart the whole time,” he said, “and I was really happy to pull it off, for me and him.”

Brian Kilgore and Lai Li thanked the ownership and staff at Center Pocket for their hospitality, as well as all of the players who signed on to make their inaugural B & L 10-Ball Championship a success. 

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Wilkie goes undefeated to claim MD State 10-Ball Barbox title

Loye Bolyard, BJ Ussery, Shaun Wilkie and Rick Scarlato, Jr.

The top four finishers, and a sizeable handful of others from the 2020 MD State Bar Table 10-Ball championships returned to compete in the 2021 event, held this past weekend (Nov. 28-29). Among those returning were defending champion Brandon Shuff, 2020 runner-up BJ Ussery, Rick Molineiro (who finished 3rd in 2020) and Shaun Wilkie (who finished 4th last year). Wilkie went undefeated to claim the 2021 title, downing BJ Ussery, who repeated as runner-up. Rick Molineiro finished in the first money round this year (13-16th), while Brandon Shuff had the misfortune of going two-and-out. The event drew 56 entrants to Brews & Cues on the Boulevard in Glen Burnie, MD.

Wilkie’s opponents were gaining on him, almost from the start. He opened with a 7-1 victory over Kevin Ping, but Joshua Mccauley scored three against him, while Kevin West and Joonick Jun, in succession, chalked up four each. This brought Wilkie into a winners’ side semifinal matchup against BJ Ussery, who, though he arrived at the match having allowed opponents two less racks than Wilkie (12-10), had numbers moving in the opposite direction. From a 7-5 start versus Russ Redhead, Ussery went on to give up three versus Kamrin Kohr, none at all against Tina Malm, and two against Joseph Wright, Jr., which brought him to the match versus Wilkie.

Thomas Haas worked his way through four opponents for a 28-15 aggregate score when he arrived at his winners’ side semifinal matchup against Steve Fleming. Fleming showed up to meet him, having allowed 17 racks to be chalked up against him.

Haas and Wilkie advanced to the hot seat match. In their first of two, Wilkie sent Ussery to the loss side 7-5, while Haas dispatched Fleming 7-3. Already assured a better finish than last year, Wilkie claimed the hot seat 7-3 over Haas and assured himself a position of either winner or runner-up.

On the loss side, Ussery drew Tommy Zippler, who’d been defeated by Haas in a winners’ side quarterfinal and gone on to defeat Kevin West 7-4 and Dylan Spohr 7-5. Fleming picked up Matt Krah, who’d been the first to defeat Brandon Shuff in the winners’ side second round and then, followed him over when Zippler defeated him 7-1. Krah was working on a four-match, loss-side streak that had recently eliminated Joonick Jun 7-5 and Joseph Wright, Jr. 7-3.

Ussery ended Zippler’s brief loss-side trip 7-3 and was joined in the quarterfinals by Krah, who limited Fleming’s loss-side matches to one, downing him by the same 7-3 score. Ussery then put a stop to Krah’s loss-side campaign 7-5 in those quarterfinals.

Ussery went on to limit Thomas Haas’ loss-side campaign to a single match as well, downing him in the semifinals 7-5. And then, in something of a stunning finish, Wilkie claimed the event title without giving up a single rack to Ussery in the finals.

Tour directors Loye Bolyard and Rick Scarlato, Jr. thanked the Mannings (Anthony and Stephanie) and their Brews & Cues staff 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. 

On The Hill Productions will hold the Maryland State 10-Ball Championships, scheduled for the weekend of Dec. 11-12, at 7 Billiards Shady Grove in Gaithersburg, MD.

Rasmechai takes two out of three over Shuff to win MD State 10-Ball Bar Table Championship

(l to r): Brandon Shuff & Grai (Pooky) Rasmechai

In most double elimination pool tournaments, the winner usually ends up taking down the runner-up, twice; again, usually in the hot seat match and finals. It’s what happened at the 2018 MD State 10-Ball Bar Table Championships, when Johann Chua defeated Jesus Atencio twice to claim the title. This year, on the weekend of November 30-December 1, a veteran of the mid-Atlantic pool scene returned to the tables after something of a protracted absence and a few appearances on the Action Pool Tour over the past few years. Formerly known as Pooky Rasmeloungon, he has returned to the scene as Grai Rasmechai, maintaining the "Pooky" as a nickname. Pooky had to defeat an opponent, Brandon Shuff, twice this past weekend, but had to face him three times to claim the 2019 MD State 10-Ball Bar Table Championships. They and a number of competitors in this event have been familiar opponents over the years on (among other tours/events) the Falcon Cue 9-Ball Tour. To get a sense of just how familiar the winner and runner-up in this event have been as been as opponents over the years, it should be noted that they tied for 5th place in the Pennsylvania State 9-Ball Championships, 15 years ago. The $2,000-added event this past weekend drew 103 entrants to Brews & Cues on the Blvd. in Glen Burnie, MD.
 
Rasmechai got by Heath Willard, Joey Scarlato, James Aranas, Clint Clayton and Brandon Sluzalis to face Shuff for the first time in a winners’ side semifinal. Shuff had defeated Joe Chester, Rick Miller, Alvin Thomas, Shane Wolford, and Shaun Wilkie to reach Rasmechai. In the meantime, Dylan Spohr and Chuck Sampson squared off in the other one. By identical 7-5 scores, Sampson and Rasmechai sent Spohr and Shuff to the loss side. Rasmechai followed his victory over Shuff with a 7-3 victory over Sampson to claim the hot seat.
 
On the loss side, Shuff picked up Thomas Haas, who’d defeated Rick Molineiro 7-1 and survived a double hill fight against Rob Cord to reach him. Spohr drew Shaun Wilkie, who, following his defeat at the hands of Shuff in a winners’ side quarterfinal, had eliminated Scott Haas 7-2 and Bob Pacheco 7-5.
 
Anyone familiar with the mid-Atlantic region pool scene who happened to be in attendance or possibly watching the live stream of the event (courtesy of Billiard Sports Network) could see a potential rematch between Shuff and Wilkie looming. Shuff did his part, downing Haas 7-4. Spohr, though, spoiled the reunion by defeating Wilkie 7-1.
 
Shuff defeated Spohr 7-2 in those quarterfinals and then found himself locked up in a double hill fight versus Sampson in the semifinals. Shuff eventually prevailed to earn himself a spot in the finals.
 
Shuff walked into a second straight double hill fight in the opening set of the true double elimination final and won it to force a second set. Rasmechai got out in front in the second set, winning it eventually 7-4 to claim his first event title since (according to our records) he won the opening stop of the Seminole Tour's 2005 season.
 
On The Hill Productions will return to Brews & Cues in Glen Burnie on the weekend of February 8-9 for the Maryland State 8-Ball Bar Table Championships.
 
Event directors Loye Bolyard and Rick Scarlato, Jr. thanked Anthony and Stefanie Manning and their Brews & Cues staff for their hospitality, as well as sponsors McDermott Cues, Lights Out Billiards Apparel, TAP Pool League-Chesapeake Bay Region, Billiards Sports Network, AZBilliards, Aramith Balls and Simonis Cloth.

Tkach follows WPBA win with an undefeated run on the mixed gender Action Pool Tour

Kristina Tkach

Kristina Tkach has been a busy young woman. Since March, she’s chalked up three major titles, commencing with her win at the 2019 Super Billiards Expo’s Women’s 9-Ball Championship, followed by a May victory in a European tour event and just last week (Aug. 8-11), a WPBA victory at the Sondheim Diamond Invitational in Iowa. She had no sooner made it back home to Virginia (Roy’s Basement), when she signed on to the August 17-18 stop on the Action Pool Tour, where she went undefeated to claim that event title. The event drew 41 entrants to Champion Billiards Sports Bar in Frederick, MD.
 
Not only did Tkach work through a field dominated by men (36 of the 41), she defeated the top-ranked player in the Action Pool Tour’s standings and winner of the last two stops on the tour, Chris Bruner. Twice.
 
Tkach embarked on her trip to the winners’ circle with an 8-1 victory over Skylar Hess and then, defeated the 2018 runner-up in the tour’s rankings, Jason Trigo 8-3 (this was only Trigo’s third appearance on the 2019 tour). Tkach then defeated Elva Abernathy 8-4 to draw Brian Bryant in one of the winners’ side semifinals.
 
Bruner, in the meantime, downed Thomas Haas 8-4, Bill Duggan 8-2, Jerry Gruber 8-1 and Daniel Jarquin 8-3 to draw the always-threat of Shaun Wilkie in the other winners’ side semifinal.
 
Bruner got into the hot seat match with an 8-2 victory over Wilkie. Tkach joined him after defeating Bryant 8-4. Tkach then claimed her first of two over Bruner 8-6 and waited in the hot seat for him to get back from the semifinals.
 
On the loss side, Wilkie picked up Scott Roberts, who’d been sent to the loss side by Brian Bryant (8-5) and then defeated Scott Haas, double hill, and then, Thomas Haas 7-1. Bryant drew Matt Krah, who’d been sent to the loss side by Wilkie, shut out Chuck Sampson and defeated Chris Funk 7-5.
 
Wilkie and Krah advanced to the quarterfinals, both 7-4, over Roberts and Bryant. Wilkie gave up only a single rack to Krah in those quarterfinals to earn his rematch against Bruner.
 
Bruner and Wilkie battled to within a game of double hill, but Bruner edged out in front near the end to win it 7-5. With the intangible of momentum presumably on his side, Bruner turned his attention to the young woman waiting for him in the hot seat (and how many times, one wonders, has that happened?)
 
Tkach and Bruner did battle it out to a 19th and deciding game in the finals. Tkach, though, had the last ‘word,’ as it were, and dropped the final 9-Ball to claim the event title.
 
A Second Chance event drew eight entrants. Don Steele and Alavaro Valle battled twice (hot seat and finals) for it. Steele took them both, taking home $100 after a 5-2 win in the hot seat and shutting Valle out in the finals. Valle took home the $75 second-place prize.
 
Tour directors Kris Wylie and Tiger Baker thanked the ownership and staff at Champion Billiards Sports Bar, as well as sponsors CSI, Viking Cues, Predator Cues, Diamond Billiard Products, Ozone Billiards, Simonis Cloth, Aramith Balls, Kamui, Chix Cabinets, and George Hammerbacher (Advanced Pool Instructor). The next stop on the Action Pool Tour (#9), scheduled for the weekend of Sept. 14-15, will be a Double Points event, hosted by Breakers Sky Lounge in Herndon, VA.

Brandon Sluzalis sweeps the field at the first Maryland State Bar Table 9-Ball Championship

It was another successful weekend of pool for “On The Hill” Productions. Tour owners Rick Scarlato Jr. and Loye Bolyard decided to have the first event of 2019 at Brews & Cues on The Blvd in Glen Burnie, Maryland. Due to minor size constraints the field was decreased from 128 players to 104, but that did not prevent the world-class players from showing up to steal the show.
 
The event consisted of such top-flight players as James Aranas (PHI), Kristina Tkach (RUS), Del Sim (SCO) and local champions Shaun Wilkie and Brett Stottlemyer to name a few. Little did they know that Brandon Sluzalis, a top-regional player from Bethlehem, PA would be waiting for them. There was also a generous helping of young talent, which is always encouraging for the future of the game. Hailing from Lancaster, PA and Hazleton PA respectively, seventeen-year-old Thomas Haas has been lighting up the tables in almost every event. Eighteen-year-old Dylan Spohr has proven to be a constant threat. Coen Bell from Cambridge, MD is only fourteen, but his game has been improving steadily for the past two years. Not to be outdone, Skylar Hess has been making her opponents nervous at the ripe old age of ten!
 
As with any major event, there was no shortage of surprises. Russian sensation Kristina Tkach finished out of the top 24 places. Delaware champion Kevin West only won his first match before falling first to Shaun Wilkie and then Derick Daya. The usually reliable Tim Tanana went 0-2, which was very unusual for him, and tour director Rick Scarlato Jr. had a surprising finish out of the money. Other top players who did not cash were Rick Molineiro, Scott Haas, John Moody Sr. and Matt Krah. Young Travis Manning, for whom pool is his second passion (bowling is his first) surprised everyone by finishing in the top 24! Travis held his composure and shot well all weekend. Despite having to face the world-class talent of James Aranas (PHI) in the first round (on the Stream Table no less!), Travis bore down and mowed through the field to get in the money.
 
The story of the day, however, belonged to Brandon Sluzalis. A well-known tour grinder, Brandon smoothly played his way into the Hot Seat, defeating Shaun Wilkie, Brett Stottlemyer and James Aranas on the way. The first-round bye had no effect on his demeanor or his momentum, and he calmly dismantled everyone who crossed his path. It was as though he knew the championship was his from the start, and everyone else was simply in his way.
 
Congratulations to all who finished in the top 24 places this weekend. The Maryland State Events have been consistently providing extremely tough competition for modest entry fees with excellent payouts.
 
Many thanks to Anthony Manning and the staff at Brews & Cues for outstanding accommodations, which included the installation of an extra table for the live stream. Thanks as well to the owners of Billiard Sports Network, Jake Lawson and Josh Setterfield for the free high-quality streaming all weekend, with commentary.
 
This event would not have been possible without the work and contributions of the following sponsors:
McDermott Cues
Billiard Sports Network
Lights Out Billiard Apparel
Phillippi Custom Cues
TAP Pool League – Chesapeake Region
 
Tour owners Rick Scarlato Jr. and Loye Bolyard, along with Theresa Scarlato and Beverlee Longstreet-Dillow, worked tirelessly to ensure a smooth, efficient event, with little to no hiccups. The Maryland State Events have cemented their place on the East Coast as one of the premier events to enjoy.

Virgin Island’s Mahkeal Parris Captures WPA World Junior 9-Ball Championship Title

Mahkeal Parris (Photo courtesy of Billiard Education Foundation)

Over 60 junior pool players representing 27 countries and 5 continents converged on Moscow, Russia from 10/30 to 11/3 to participate in the 2018 WPA World Junior 9-Ball Championships. North America was well represented in this prestigious battle for world junior cue sport supremacy. Thirteen athletes (11 from USA and 2 from Canada) qualified via respective BEF/CBSA qualifying events. In addition, 23 companions, parents, and coaches including team leaders, Tom Riccobene, Tom “Dr. Cue” Rossman, and Roy Pastor, made this historic trip to encourage and support the youthful competitors.
 
Players from the United States in the Girl’s division were April Larson, Aryana Lynch, Michelle Jiang, Tiana Jiang, and Vivian Liu. Players in the Boy’s Under 19 division were Jordan Burden and Thomas Haas from the US, plus Dean Cuillerier from Canada. USA players Austin Summers, Joey Tate, Matthew Wiseley, and Mahkeal Parris, plus Haydar Cappo from Canada, represented the Boy’s Under 17 division.
 
Arriving players registered on October 30th and attended a player’s meeting led by Tom Riccobene to go over event guidelines, rules, and much more. Tom and “Dr. Cue” also gave a short pep talk to all players to encourage them and calm any jitters they might have in such a prestigious event. In the evening a group leader
meeting was held by Gre Leenders, Secretary General of the WPA (World Pool Billiard Association) to cover event regulations and answer any questions.
 
On October 31st Leenders welcomed everyone at the player procession / opening ceremony and declared the event officially open. Players began scheduled practice sessions and competitive matches shortly after the ceremonies were over. In addition, group / individual photos of the players / coaches were taken.
 
[photo id=50503|align=right]Initial rounds of competition began on 8 beautiful Dynamic 9-foot tables made in Germany. Mahkeal Parris and Austin Summers posted first round wins, while Joey Tate, Matthew Wiseley, and Haydar Cappo battled brilliantly but came up short as Germany, Iran, and Norway players performed flawlessly. April Larson, Michelle Jiang, and Vivian Liu were victorious in the second round with Aryana Lynch and Tiana Jiang experiencing their first loss against Sweden and Ukraine players respectively. Jordan Burden and Dean Cuillerier were defeated in the third round by Hong Kong and Poland players, but showed tremendous passion and resolve for future matches. Parris and Summers continued their winning ways in round four with a nail-biting score of 7 – 6 for each player. Round five girls action revealed April Larson and Michelle Jiang winning, while Vivian Liu was bested by Sweden. A final round of the day showcased Thomas Haas experiencing his first loss to a strong Poland player. North America finished the day winning 9 out of 18 matches.
 
Closed practice sessions and arena competition continued the next day with Haas and Burden winning matches in the first round, while Cuillerier played with the heart of a champion against a victorious Russia player. The following six matches revealed disappointing defeats for Tate, Cappo, T.Jiang, Lynch, Wiseley and Parris despite determined drive and passion evident in each match. Summers and Liu raced to victory over Slovakia and Korea, with Burden besting Belarus and Bosnia / Herzegovina over Haas. North America finished the day with an excellent showing against the best junior players in the world with a 45.2% win-loss percentage.
 
The third day of competition started with Larson, M. Jiang, and Summers undefeated and Liu, Parris, and Burden with one loss each. Excitement filled the air as Liu made a valiant comeback but fell short on the final score against Korea. M. Jiang and Larson experienced hard fought losses to Taiwan and Sweden respectively. Parris stunned the top Iranian player with an impressive victory while Burden exhibited burning focus in an exciting seesaw battle against a determined player from Costa Rica. Larson handily defeated a Ukrainian star player to make the “final 4”! M. Jiang continued her brilliant play in a loss against a Korean champion player.
USA athletes Mahkeal Parris and Austin Summers played each other as a result of the redraw format for the “final 8” players. After an early lead, Summers encountered an awesome winning display of flawless position and shooting accuracy by Parris, moving him to the “final 4”!
 
April Larson finished in a third place tie after the eventual champion, Chia-Hua Chen from Taiwan, registered the match victory against her.
 
A special moment in billiard history continued as Parris registered an amazing six game wins in a row after being behind against Slovakia by a score of 5 games to 1. Parris played brilliantly with strategic safeties and crystal clear thinking for perfect position play…resulting in a magnetic victory score of 9 – 7, earning him a spot in the final match against Norway. After a rousing response from all in attendance, Parris was honored with photo requests with family, friends, and fellow players from many countries. North America completed the day with total match wins to date of 18 out of a possible 41 and a 43.9% win-loss percentage.
 
After preparing the arena for the 3 final championship matches, the stage was set for three of the greatest youth matches ever witnessed. Chen made a remarkable laser-focused comeback scoring a 9 – 5 win against a persistent Seoa Seo from Korea. A determined Parris from the Virgin Islands (USA) nearly duplicated his semi-final performance by registering an early match score deficit of 1 – 4 against the solid style of Emil Gangfløt from Norway; however, Parris caught a gear with brilliant strategy and precision shooting to take home the gold by a final score of 9 – 6. The arena went wild in full support of Parris’s incredible comeback victory.
 
The third match of the day pitted Kin Ling Yip against Robbie James Joaquin Capito, both from Hong Kong for the Boy’s under 19-division crown. After an early back and forth battle for table supremacy Yip pulled away to reach the hill with 10 games. Capito showed great poise and burning focus and tied the score at 10 – 10. Yip won the final game in a cool, calm, and collected manner to travel to the champion circle.
 
An awards ceremony was conducted shortly after the final match with huge gold trophy cups and medals presented to Taiwan’s Chen, USA’s Parris, and Hong Kong’s Yip. USA’s April Larson received a beautiful medal for her excellent performance and 3rd place tie. Austin Summers tied for 5th place with 3 other international players. Michelle Jiang and Vivian Liu finished in ties for 5th and 7th respectively, along with other international stars of our sport.
 

Wilkie goes undefeated to capture his third 2018 Action Pool Tour Stop

(l to r): Shaun Wilkie & Chris Wilburn

Since it opened its 2018 season at Q Master Billiards in January, the Action Pool Tour has had six different players win its nine tour stops (Reymart Lim, Roberto Gomez, Johnny Archer, Zoren James Aranas, Ruslan Chinakhov, and Shaun Wilkie). It’s had nine different runner-ups, which is a list as impressive as the winners; Scott Roberts, Karen Corr, Chris Bruner, Ronnie Alcano, Dennis Orcollo, Scott Haas, Warren Kiamco, RJ Carmona and Chris Wilburn. On the weekend of September 8-9, Wilkie picked up his third win on the current tour, going undefeated to maintain the ‘different winner’ count at six, while Wilburn added to the ‘different runner-up’ count by finishing second. The 10-ball event drew 31 entrants to Breakers Sky Lounge in Herndon, VA.
 
Wilkie had to get by Wilburn twice to complete his undefeated run. They met first in the hot seat match. Wilkie had chalked up an aggregate score of 21-6, while defeating his first opponent, Daniel Kerns 7-1, downing the tour’s #1-ranked player, Steve Fleming (7-5) and shutting out its #2-ranked player Jason Trigo. This set Wilkie up to face Tuan Chau, who came into the event as the tour’s #24 player, in a winners’ side semifinal. Wilburn, in the meantime, got by Cameron Lawhorne 7-3, Daniel Morrow 7-2 and Jimmy Coleman 7-3 to meet Will Moon in the other winners’ side semifinal.
 
By identical 7-2 scores, Wilkie and Wilburn advanced to the hot seat match over Chau and Moon. Wilkie dominated the hot seat battle, winning it 7-1 to wait on Wilburn’s return from the semifinals.
 
On the loss side, Chau picked up Jimmy Coleman, who, following his defeat at the hands of Wilburn, had eliminated Kevin Irons 6-4, and survived a double hill fight against Paul Helms. Moon drew Thomas Haas, who’d been defeated in the event’s opening round by Fleming, and was in the midst of a seven-match, loss-side winning streak that would take him to the semifinals. He’d most recently defeated Trigo 6-3 and his own father, Scott Haas 6-2.
 
Coleman advanced to the quarterfinal match with a 6-2 win over Chau. He was joined by Thomas Haas, who eliminated Moon 6-4.
 
Haas took one more step, downing Coleman in those quarterfinals 6-4, before having his loss-side streak ended by Wilburn 6-3 in the semifinals. Wilburn’s single-game, loss-side streak came to an end in the finals, when Wilkie defeated him 9-3 to capture his third APT title.
 
A 13-entrant Second Chance tournament saw Scott Haas lose the hot seat match to Orlin Brizuela and then return from a semifinal, double hill win over Chris Hansen to defeat Brizuela 6-3 in the finals.
 
Tour director Raymond Walters thanked the ownership and staff at Breakers Sky Lounge, as well as sponsors Viking Cues, Predator Cues, Tiger Products, Diamond Billiard Products, Inc., Ozone Billiards, Simonis Cloth, Aramith Balls and George Hammerbacher Advanced Pool Instructor. The next stop on the Action Pool Tour, scheduled for the weekend of Oct. 13-14 will be a Bar Box Bash, hosted by Peninsula Billiards in Newport News, VA.
 

Aranas goes undefeated to capture APT title at 12th Annual Bob Stocks Memorial

(l to r): Assistant TD Raymond Walters & Zoren James Aranas

On the weekend of April 7-8, the Philippines’ Zoren James Aranas went undefeated to become the 12th different champion of the annual Bob Stocks Memorial Tournament held under the auspices of the Action Pool Tour. In the event’s 13-year history since 2006, only APT veteran Shaun Wilkie has won the event twice.
 
Wilkie was the only one of the event’s previous champions to compete in this year’s event, and though he was fresh from his win on the last APT stop (a “Bar Box Bash,” 8-Ball event in March), he would end up being sent to the loss side by the eventual runner-up (Dennis Orcollo) and be eliminated by the APT’s current #1-ranked player, Steve Fleming.
 
This 12th Annual Bob Stocks Memorial, the fourth stop on the APT, drew 49 entrants to First Break Café in Sterling, VA, and like some other Northeast tours that occurred on the same weekend (the Predator Pro Am Tour, as one example), it benefited from an influx of top players, warming up for the Super Billiards Expo, scheduled to begin on Thursday (April 12). Aranas and Orcollo, of course, were among them, and though they would advance to the hot seat match, and ultimately, the finals, their paths to those last two matches could not be characterized as the proverbial ‘walks in the park.’
 
Aranas opened what would prove to be his winning campaign with three straight 7-2 wins, against Tuan Chau, Mitch Deike and Bruce Choyce. Thomas Haas then chalked up four against him in a winners’ side quarterfinal that would advance Aranas to a winners’ side semifinal against the APT’s #1-ranked player, Steve Fleming. Nobody gave Orcollo a harder time than his first opponent, Coen Bell, who chalked up five against him in the opening round. That proved to be more racks than Orcollo’s next three opponents combined – Paul Helms (1), Shaun Wilkie (2), and Tom Zippler (1). This set Orcollo up in a winners’ side semifinal against Rick Glasscock.
 
Aranas and Orcollo defeated Fleming and Glasscock, both 7-3, to face each other in the hot seat match. Aranas won it 7-3 and waited on Orcollo’s return from the semifinals.
 
On the loss side, Fleming picked up Tom Zippler, who, following his defeat at the hands of Orcollo in a winners’ side quarterfinal, shut out Jason Trigo, and eliminated Doug Whiting 6-3. Glasscock drew Wilkie, four matches into his loss-side streak that, like Zipple’s, had begun with a loss to Orcollo. Wilkie had moved into the money rounds, with a 6-4 win over Rob Cord, and a shutout over Thomas Haas.
 
With a 6-2 win by Wilkie over Glasscock and a 6-3 win by Fleming over Zippler, the top two-ranked players on the APT squared off in this event’s quarterfinals. The #1-player (Fleming) downed #2 (Wilkie) 6-2. Fleming then fell to Orcollo in the semifinals 6-4.
 
Aranas’ final match proved to be his easiest of the tournament. He punctuated his undefeated run with a shutout over Orcollo in the finals.
 
A Second Chance tournament drew 13 entrants, and saw Scott Haas come from the loss side to avenge an earlier loss to Paul Oh by defeating him, double hill, in the finals. Dan Maruschak finished third and John Cianflone finished in fourth place.  
 
Tour director Ozzy Reynolds thanked the ownership and staff at First Break Café, as well as tour sponsors Kamui, Diamond Billiard Products, Viking Cues, Predator Cues, Tiger Products, Ozone Billiards, Aramith, and George Hammerbacher (Advanced Pool Instructor). Stop # 5 on the Action Pool Tour, scheduled for the weekend of May 12-13, will be the Bash at the Beach, hosted by Q-Master Billiards in Virginia Beach, VA.