Story and Photos by NYC Grind Editor, Alison M. Fischer
On December 7-9, 2012, the 1st Annual Space City Open was held at Bogie’s Billiards in Houston, Texas, under the direction of WPBA Pro and Lone Star Billiards Tour director, Kim White-Newsome. Known as one of the area’s top player rooms and frequent host to the Lone Star Tour, Bogie’s provided the perfect space for this three-day event, which drew in a “who’s who” of top players from the region to compete in the three main events: One Pocket Open, 9-Ball Open, and Women’s 9-Ball Open.
The inaugural Space City Open boasted $5,000 in added money, and was a combined effort between Bogies Billiards, the Lone Star Billiards Tour, and the APA of North Harris County. Sponsorship was also provided by Inside Pool Magazine, Delta-13 Rack, OB Cues, KCPoolandPoker.com, and OnSitePool.com, which provided a free live video stream of feature matches throughout the weekend, while Michael Moon (michaelamoonphotography.com) was the official on-site photographer.
Some of the most notable names at the Space City Open included Corey Deuel, Charlie “Hillbilly” Bryant, Jeremy Jones, Sylver Ochoa, and Justin Hall, along with current and former WPBA pros Vivian Villarreal, Kim Pierce, and Ming Ng. To kick off the three-day event, Corey Deuel and Vivian Villarreal each presented a pool clinic on Friday afternoon, giving area players the opportunity to learn and sharpen their skills with two of the biggest names in professional pool. Ron Geyer Cue Repair, Joe Salazar Cues, Play the Game Clothing, and the APA were also on-site throughout the weekend.
Of the three events held throughout the weekend, the One Pocket event was the first to get underway, on Friday, Dec. 7, with a field of 28 players. Going into the second day of competition, matches in the one-pocket event were held alongside the 9-ball event, with some players switching between the two, at times. After working their way through the winner’s bracket, two players remained to fight for the hot seat: inaugural Southern Classic One Pocket Champion, Justin Hall, and former US Open 9-Ball Champion, Jeremy Jones. Both players had decisive winning routes leading to the hot seat match, with Hall defeating Mike Alonzo, Jeff Bramblet, Sylver Ochoa 4-2, and Raphael Martinez 4-2, while Jones defeated Raul Escabedo, Dave Henson, James Davis Jr. 4-2, and Charlie Bryant 4-0.
After proving they were the two players to beat in this event, Justin Hall and Jeremy Jones made it a tough battle for one another, going to double-hill at 3-3, before Jones finished off the final game to win 4-3. Hall would then be paired with the winner of the loser’s bracket…Charlie Bryant. After Bryant’s prior loss to Jeremy Jones, he earned two victories over Sylver Ochoa and Raphael Martinez, both 3-1. However, Bryant would fall short in the semifinal, which Hall would take at 3-1. This win gave Justin Hall a second chance at Jeremy Jones in the final, which would go into the early morning hours. As Bogie’s is open 24 hours, the match continued until its conclusion at 6am. As in their earlier meeting, Jeremy Jones and Justin Hall stayed in a heated battle, tying 1-1, then 2-2…but at this point, it was Jones who pulled away to take the next two racks and win the One Pocket title by a score of 4-2.
Open One Pocket Payout:
1st: Jeremy Jones – $1,215
2nd: Justin Hall – $891
3rd: Charlie Bryant – $567
4th: Rafael Martinez – $243
5th-6th: Joey Barnes, Sylver Ochoa – $162
In the Space City 9-Ball Open, the field of 59 players ranged from strong local talent to some of the most prominent name in pool, along with a couple of traveling international players. The matches in this event would be races to nine on the winner’s side, and races to seven on the one-loss side, in a winner-break format.
At the end of the first day of 9-Ball Open, eight players held strong to remain undefeated. The next round on day two featured wins by Corey Deuel over the Derek Sim of the UK (9-5), Sylver Ochoa over Justin Hall (9-6), Charlie Bryant over Adam Shaw of the UK (9-8), and Joey Barnes over the event’s lone female competitor, Vivian Villarreal (9-5).
In the final four of the winner’s bracket, Corey Deuel would win solidly over Sylver Ochoa 9-4, while Charlie Bryant would take a 9-6 win over Joey Barnes. This would make for a winner’s side final between Corey Deuel and Charlie Bryant, where spectators saw the two go toe-to-toe and alternate eight racks. But, Deuel would only go on to win one more rack before Bryant sealed the win at 9-5, locking down his spot in the final.
Meanwhile, the one-loss side saw Joey Barnes paired up against Raphael Martinez, who had comeback with six matches following his second-round loss to Justin Hall. Martinez’s final win would be in a redemption match against Hall, where he would win 7-5. However, Joey Barnes halted his run after he edged out the win at 7-6. Also on the one-loss side, after his winner’s side loss, Sylver Ochoa was tasked with taking on a still-hot Jeremy Jones, to then be eliminated with a 7-4 loss. Jones had previously knocked off four opponents on the one-loss side, including a 7-6 win over Adam Shaw, and a 7-4 win over Joey Torres.
Jeremy Jones proceeded by running through the quarterfinal 7-1 over Joey Barnes…but could not get past Corey Deuel in the semifinal, falling 7-4. Deuel would then face Charlie “Hillbilly” Bryant for a second time, in the final match…a battle between two of the game’s masters. Deuel jumped out to an early 4-0 lead in this final race to nine. However, Bryant’s opportunities began to open up, and before long, the race was tied at four apiece. Bryant then went on to take the lead for the first time in the match, winning the next three racks to put the score at 7-4. Deuel responded by winning the next two to go 7-6, but after the following rack, Bryant would get to the hill at 8-6. Deuel would go on to win the next rack, but it would be his last stand, as Charlie Bryant walked away with the winning game at 9-7. Congratulations to Bryant on a hard-fought victory in the final, closing out an undefeated run to the title.
9-Ball Open Payout:
1st: Charlie Bryant – $2,112
2nd: Corey Deuel – $1,408
3rd: Jeremy Jones – $1,056
4th: Joey Barnes – $704
5th-6th: Rafael Martinez, Sylver Ochoa – $352
7th-8th: Justin Hall, Joey Torres – $246
9th-12th: Rick Moreno, Derek Sim, Adam Shaw, Vivian Villarreal – $141
Player Blog by Alison Fischer – Space City Women’s 9-Ball Open
After spending the week practicing and playing in local tournaments in Houston, I entered into the Women’s 9-Ball Open at the Space City Open. The format for the event would be races to seven on the winner’s side, and five on the one-loss side, played on 7′ Diamond Smart Tables. I was thrilled to get the chance to play alongside top players including WPBA pros Kim Pierce, Ming Ng, and no doubt the player to beat, Vivian Villarreal “The Texas Tornado”.
In my first match of the day, I was matched up against Ricky Casper, a talented and aggressive player. As per usual, the first match was a nerve-tester for me, and it took me a few games to loosen up. I had to fight back to tie 5-5, and after winning the following game to get to the hill, I broke and ran out to win 7-5.
Being that both she and I had first-round byes, I had some time to wait before my next match. In the meantime, I got to watch some of the action in the second round, where Vivian Villarreal ran out five racks to defeat Ming Ng 7-1, while Loretta Lindgren bested Teresa Garland 7-4, and Liz Mitchel sent Kim Pierce to the one-loss side at 7-5.
The next round was the final four of the winner’s side. Loretta Lindgren took on Vivian Villarreal, where Lindgren won the first three racks…but Villarreal turned on the heat to go on to win 7-4. In this round, I was matched up against Liz Mitchel, who had previously defeated Kim Pierce and Heather Bryant. Liz came out playing strong against and won the first two games against me, but I was able to take advantage of some opportunities and tie it 2-2.
I went on to win the match against Liz at 7-3, allowing me an opportunity that I was not expecting at the start of the day. I would be playing in the hot seat match against Vivian Villarreal, arguably one of the most dominant American players on the WPBA tour over the last two decades. For me, it was a dream come true to be able to play someone I had looked up to and watched on ESPN growing up.
Being that this was my first-ever time competing against a top female pro, it was also one of the most nerve-wracking moments of my pool playing career. With the added pressure of a very-knowledgeable crowd, it felt like all eyes were on me to perform. I won the flip for the first break, but came up dry, and Vivian ran out to win the first rack.
In the second game, I was given an unexpected shot at the table. As I ran the last few balls, I left myself a back cut on the eight, which also gave me a potential two-way carom into the 9. After making the 8, I left myself a touchy shot on the 9, and let the nerves get the better of me, scratching in the side. I managed to keep my composure after that, and came through with some good outs in the next few racks to put up three games on the wire and tie 3-3. But, I got outplayed by Vivian’s world-class game in the next four racks, and was given few opportunities at the table…leading to a 7-3 win for Vivian.
Ming Ng, known as a very accomplished top regional player and former WPBA pro, was to be my next opponent, in the semifinal match. Ming had lost earlier to Vivian, but bounced back with wins over Heather Bryant, Liz Mitchel, and Kim Pierce in the quarterfinal, 5-2. In the semifinal versus Ming, I seemed to have run out of steam, and wasn’t able to close out a rack.
Ming won with a 5-0 shutout, and moved on for another shot at Vivian in the final. It was a disappointing ending for me, but I walked away with some great experiences and tough lessons. In the final match, Vivian Villarreal put on another clinical performance, leading to a 7-1 win over Ming Ng. Congratulations to Vivian and Ming for taking top honors in the inaugural Space City Open!
Ladies Open 9-Ball Payouts:
1st: Vivian Villarreal – $500
2nd: Ming Ng – $300
3rd: Alison Fischer – $170
4th: Kim Pierce – $70
All in all, the Space City Open was a pleasure to both compete in and spectate. I also got to shoot a few photos, so check out the photo gallery below. The event ran smoothly throughout the weekend, and it was an impressive feat that Kim and John Newsome kept all three events going right on par. The great staff at Bogie’s also helped create a welcoming and fun atmosphere for all of the players.
And of course, the highlight of the event was the great turnout of many top names in the game. As event staff stated in their news story on AZbilliards: “Due to the caliber of players in attendance, the Space City Open has sparked the interest of new, potential, sponsors. Promoters are already calculating a minimum of $6,000+ added for 2013.”
Thanks to all of the staff, sponsors, and players for making the first Space City Open a great success!