Tate and Mast come out on top of BEF qualifier; CA State Junior Championships in Sacramento

Joey Tate (Photo courtesy Cris Constantin)

Currently riding atop the 18U Boys division of the ongoing second season of the Junior International Championship series, having won three of its six stops in 2022, North Carolina’s Joey Tate made his way to the West Coast last weekend (August 6-7) and with a hot seat ‘hiccup’ and a subsequent rematch against Adrian Prasad in the finals, claimed the BEF’s Junior National-qualifying spot at the CA State Junior Championships. The $5,000-added boys’ division drew 17 entrants to Hard Times Billiards in Sacramento, CA.

On the opposite end of the gender spectrum, two of the best-known, not to mention youngest female competitors in the sport – Sofia Mast (14) and Savannah Easton (12) – battled in the hot seat and finals of the $5,000-added, 18U Girls division of the event, which drew 7 entrants to the same location. Easton claimed the hot seat, but Mast came back from defeating her long-time (well, two-year) rival, Skylar Hess, in the semifinals and returned to defeat Easton in the finals to claim the event title.

The California event was just one of many tournaments that have occurred in this calendar year which are manifestations of the Junior International Championships (JIC), founded by Ra Hanna and his On the Wire Creative Media company in 2021. At the conclusion of the first season and just prior to the second, Hanna made note of the fact that the first season was “just practice” and that “practice was (now) over.” His intent, at the start of the second season, was to encourage his junior competitors to step away from tournaments restricted to their peers and get themselves out in the ‘real world’ of tough competition against older opponents. And the top JIC competitors have been doing just that. While not leaping to the top of ranked players, they’ve been cashing in a lot of tournaments and impressing veteran players on a lot of the tours, as, by way of just a couple of examples, the Viking Cues Q City 9-Ball Tour on which the Tate family (Joey, Bethany and Noelle) has been competing regularly and a number of Florida tours and independent events, on which Tampa-based Sophia Mast has been playing.

Though the California event drew a number of the JIC competitors back among their peers, it also had a way of demonstrating the impact of the JIC throughout the country. Ten of the 17 California event competitors in the 18U Boys division were JIC veterans and all but one of the seven girls in the 18U Girls division were regulars on the JIC series. The top four finishers in both divisions of the California State Junior Championships came from the ranks of the JIC.

Joey Tate has proved to be the JIC’s top competitor this year, not only winning the three of the series’ six events thus far in the 18U division, but two of the series’ six in the ProAm division. With the exception of Adrian Prasad, who made somewhat of a surprise showing in California, finishing third, the top four finishers among the boys in California were the top-ranked competitors in the JIC 18U division.

Tate got by his first two opponents in California, Nathan Nunes and Cody Hill, giving up just a single rack to Nunes. Cameron Hollingsworth, brother to Landon (#2 among JIC 18U Boys), chalked up three against him in their winners’ side semifinal. Adrian Prasad, in the meantime, got by Cash Lance and Gabe Martinez (who’d previously sent Landon Hollingsworth to the loss side) before defeating Carlos Jinez to join Tate in the hot seat match. Tate and Prasad locked up in a double hill fight that did, eventually, leave Prasad in the hot seat.

On the loss side, the Hollingsworth brothers were looking at the possibility of meeting in the event quarterfinals. Landon did his part, defeating Carlos Jinez 7-2, but Lazaro Martinez, #3 among the JIC 18U Boys, battled Cameron to double hill before eventually defeating him. Martinez made it two brothers in a row, defeating Landon in the quarterfinals 7-4, but Tate stopped Martinez 7-5 in the semifinals for a second shot at Prasad in the hot seat.

Tate completed his title run with a 9-6 rematch victory over Prasad in the finals.

Sofia Mast (Photo courtesy Cris Constantin)

The “Pink Dagger” and “Roadrunner” square off in CA 18U Girls hot seat and finals

You can almost imagine these two young women facing each other before a match. The “Pink Dagger,” (Sofia Mast) pretending, with a quiet smile, that she has a dagger and pretending to thrust it, while the “Roadrunner” (Savannah Easton) takes a step back and with a twinkle in her eye, says, “Beep! Beep.”

The Pink Dagger found its target this past weekend. While the Roadrunner “beep-beeped’ her way into the hot seat, the Dagger came back and downed her in the finals.

The short field made for a short run to their first match. Mast got by the only competitor not drawn from the JIC ranks, Emars Selgado, in the opening round 7-2 and walked into the JIC’s #1-ranked competitor in the 18U Girls division, Bethany Tate, in a winners’ side semifinal (Mast is 4th and Easton 9th in the JIC 18U Girls division). Easton, in the meantime, opened with a 7-4 win over Kennedy Meyman and drew Skylar Hess in the other winners’ side semifinal.

Mast defeated Tate 7-2, as Easton was downing Hess 7-4. Easton then defeated Mast 7-2 and claimed the hot seat.

To absolutely no one’s surprise, it was Hess and Tate who squared off in the event’s quarterfinals, once Hess had eliminated Hayleigh Marion and Tate had defeated Meyman, both 7-3. Hess (5th among the JIC 18U Girls) defeated Tate in those quarterfinals 7-3, but fell to Mast in the semifinals 7-5. The “Pink Dagger” flashed the sharp blade of her precision shooting and cool-as-the-proverbial-cucumber demeanor in the finals, giving up only a single rack to Easton and claiming the CA State Junior Championship title. 

After this BEF Junior National qualification gig, the girls and boys of the JIC will be back at it  later this month (Aug. 19-21), when they visit Big Dog Billiards in Des Moines, IA. 

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1 comment

  1. Oscar & Desiree Dominguez and their establishment Hard Times billiards are doing so much for young and upcoming youth players and everything pool and this is the best you can come up with?? That’s weak dude !! I heard you got a serious bad attitude if it ain’t your deal. Guess this proves it.
    What exactly are you talking about here? Who has a bad attitude?

    Mike

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