“Team Hess” Wins Battle of the Junior Champions at Stix Billiards in Georgia

Team Hess

Eddie Altman was watching a podcast when he saw a young pool player who was asked what his dream was. “I want to play in the Mosconi Cup.” came the reply. And that got Eddie thinking. As  the founder of the Junior Billiard Scholarship Fund and a member of the billiard industry he knew a good number of folks who shared his interest in  developing Junior pool. A few  phone  calls later and he had successfully begun the network that would develop the Battle of The Junior Champions, a Mosconi Cup format for Junior players.  These folks needed no convincing. The list he wound up with is filled with companies who have reliably answered the call when the game needs them. They include Viking Cues, On The Wire Creative Media, Mako Tips, Stix Poolroom (with owner Monica Webb as our hostess), Outer Points Streaming, Cue and Case, Inside Pool, Clutch Shot Billiard Apparel,  American Heritage Tables, and the Junior Billiard Scholarship fund.

The event began at Monica Webb’s Stix Billiards in Villa Rica, Georgia with 24  Juniors from all over America on Friday March 24th. They were divided into four 6-player teams and they would be playing a mix of singles and doubles matches, all races to nine. Our competitors were:

Team Hollingsworth 

Dakota Rivera
Savannah Easton
Chaney White
Landon Lee Hollingsworth
Tanner Floore
Haydon Devers 

Team Kingsley 

Noelle Tate
Bethany Tate
Jax Seaboy
Tyler Smith
Precilia Kinsley
Kaden Hillman 

Team Hess

Skylar Hess
Lazaro Martinez
Landon Memberg
Eddie Vanderau
Jackson Schultz
John Barsamian

Team Tate aka The Emerald All Stars

Joey Tate
Blake Johnson
Gage Mouret
Sofia Mast
D’Angelo Spain
Franki Spain

After Franki Spain got a rousing round of applause for her wonderful rendition of the National Anthem, our play began. Both tournament tables were streamed, one by On the Wire Creative Media with Ra Hanna was shown on Facebook Live and the other, by Outer Points streaming, on YouTube Live with Brian Hollenbeck and his commentary team of Dale and Brian. Our Tournament Director was Scott Chandler, a man whose energies would be tested for three days and who came through it like a champ.

The initial competition featured Team Tate facing Team Hess and Team Kingsley challenging Team Hollingsworth. They would each race to nine and the winners would then qualify for the finals, a race to seven games. By Saturday afternoon  Team Hollingsworth had collected 7 points while their opponents on Team Kingsley had 3 points on their side of the wire. At the same time, Team Hess had gathered 5 points while Team Tate had earned 4 points. This initial round finished on Sunday morning and our winners were Team Hess over Team Tate and team Hollingsworth over Team Kingsley. The initial round really proved the strengths of these young players, some of whom were just barely teenagers, but they all played with confidence that many adults would envy and shooting skills that could embarrass most players. Nothing was too tall of a challenge for them. Bank shots rolled into center pocket time and again. Long shots were pocketed as if they were hangers and the safeties were simply stunning displays of cue ball control. All of the competitors were already champions in their own right and qualified to be here by having won big events in their areas.

Team’s Hess and Hollingsworth kicked off their final competition early in the afternoon on Sunday.  The twelve players kept dropping jaws in the crowd all day. That  young players can hold their nerves and play so solidly in the face of tough competition was truly amazing. No shaking arms, no looks of doubt, just rock-solid play. The quality was reflected in the time it took to complete the matches. These two teams settled three race to five matches in just 45 minutes. I have seen pros play much more slowly than these teenagers. 

The final battle began with Team Hess going out to a two point lead at 5-3 but Team Hollingsworth dug in and tied the match at five apiece in the race to seven points. Team Hess then found their highest gear and took the next two points for the victory and the $6,000 first prize to be divided equally among the players. Team Hollingsworth received $3,000 for their efforts. An interesting sidelight is that Eddie Altman had promised a $100 cash bonus to any player who made the nine on the break. Eddie smiled broadly three times Sunday as he dug into his pocket to pull out the C-notes. The large crowd cheered happily each time he did.

Our thanks go out to everyone who made this event happen and made it such a great success. Special thanks go out to the Junior Billiard Billiard Scholarship Fund, Clutch Shot Billiard Apparel, Inside Pool,  and to Stix poolroom for the preparation and the hard work it took to gather the players from around the country and make all of the necessary arrangements that a tournament entails. We hope that this initial event will blossom and continue to grow for many years. It is an excellent showcase to inspire young players and to ensure the continued progress of the game we all love.

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