Round Rock’s own Justin Espinosa came close to achieving something only one other amateur division pool player in the history of the Lone Star Tour has ever achieved; winning both divisions at the same event. Espinosa emerged victorious in the amateur 9-ball division, closing out an overtime set against Jimmy Krone, 4-1, while Brian Sanders came from behind to defeat the young Espinosa two sets in the open 9-ball division final, 7-4, 5-4. These were first-time wins for both competitors at the Lone Star Tour 6th Annual 9-Ball Event and Texas Open Warm-Up, held at Skinny Bob’s Billiards, August 22nd-23rd, 2015, which drew more than 90 players, breaking the room’s own 2013-14 tour attendance records, and paying out close to $7,000 in prize money.
The hospitable and ever-so-gracious Skinny Bob’s Billiards, home of the prestigious and longest-running billiard event in Texas, the “Texas Open”, along with tour presenter Poison by Predator Cues www.poisonbilliards.com, and sponsors Delta-13 Rack www.delta-13.com, Ozone Billiards www.ozonebilliards.com, and the APA of North Harris County www.facebook.com/apanorthharriscounty, facilitated another monster event for Round Rock, Texas, whose pool community seems to be growing by leaps and bounds. Bob’s added a very generous $1,000 to the Lone Star Event and $435 to the Gulf Coast Women’s Regional Tour 9-Ball event, held on Sunday. Owners John and Sue Cielo couldn’t have been more pleased with the turnout, and the great Poison products they received in lieu of their generosity. This is the sixth year Skinny Bob’s has hosted the Lone Star Tour, and Mr. Cielo had this to say about the long-standing relationship. “It’s been a pleasure hosting the Lone Star and Gulf Coast Tours every year. Being in such close proximity to the historic Texas Open 9-Ball Championships has given those pool players the opportunity to test their latest skills on the very equipment they’ll be competing on again, come Labor Day Weekend. Coupled with Kim’s professionalism in managing the tournaments, this has proven to become a treasured partnership where we look forward to these events at Skinny Bob’s Billiards every single year.” As if being the premier pool spot for Round Rock, Austin, and surrounding areas, wasn’t enough, Skinny Bob’s has taken it a step further, opening “Skinny Bob’s II”, a smoke-free pool room next door, with video poker, a flat screen TV, and eight new Diamond bar tables. The addition is open for business, hosting weekly league and tournament play. The Lone Star Tour encourages everyone to “Stop in!”
There were 93 players in attendance and 128 division entries competing in the two-day event. In the amateur 9-ball division, Justin Espinosa fought his way through an elite, 59-player field, besting David Escobedo, 5-2, Troy Reed, 5-2, John Palmore, 5-4, and Mark Cardenas, 5-0, while sleeper Jimmy Krone took out Matt Bickers, 5-2, Jacob Pena, 5-3, John Wright, 5-1, and Chad Henson, 5-1. Action was abundant on the one-loss side, as Lufkin’s Ralph Foy eliminated Pena, 4-1, Steve Kilgore overcame Jose De La Rosa, 4-2, Gerald Holland forged past Escobedo, and Matt Verenski ousted Drew McCoy. Foy went on to defeat Matt Wong, 4-1, and Wright bested Kilgore, 4-2. John Eagle squeezed by Holland, 4-3, and Verenski blew past Palmore, 4-2. At this point, there was no clear front runner on the consolation side. Veteran player Wright was undoubtedly the contender to beat in the top bracket, plowing through Foy, 4-1, and besting Cardenas, 4-3, while Eagle sent Verenski packing, 4-1, only to succumb to Henson by the same score. On the winners’ side, Espinosa handily defeated Krone for the hot seat, 5-3, while Henson’s luck ran out on the one-loss side, losing to Wright, 4-2. Wright’s momentum was impressive, but it was no match for Krone’s determination. Krone ended his run, 4-2. The final match between Espinosa and Krone was a fight to the bitter end. Krone commanded the first set, slaughtering Espinosa, 5-1. Thereafter, a gloom lingered and it was uncertain if Espinosa would recover, but in true champion form, Espinosa came back to win the second set, 4-1. It was a hard-fought final by both competitors. Congratulations to Justin Espinosa on his first Lone Star Tour title!
The open 9-ball division boasted a 40-player, star-studded cast including the usual suspects, David “Lil D” Henson, Brian Sanders, James “Bastrop” Davis, Sr., and the 2014 defending champion, James “Junior” Davis, Jr. Due to the time constraints presented by three divisions playing simultaneously, the open division races were shortened on Sunday to 7 and 5. Open division action witnessed Espinosa and Sanders tear through their brackets. The young Espinosa took down Travis Phelps, 8-2, James Sanders, 8-5, James Dugger, 8-3, and Mickey Verenski, 7-5, while Sanders handily defeated Jeff Reamer, 8-4, Mauricio Chairez, 8-6, David Escobedo, 8-1, and David Henson, 7-4. After suffering an 8-3 loss to Henson in the winners’ side fourth round, Davis, Jr. ousted John Wright and Verenski by the same score, 5-3, while Davis, Sr. eliminated Victor Belmares, 5-4, and Henson, 5-1. In true, competitive spirit, father and son faced off, while Espinosa and Sanders kicked off the hot seat match. Sanders fell short, losing to Espinosa, 7-5, while Davis, Jr. overcame Davis, Sr., 5-3. Junior gave it his best shot, but Sanders was focused on an Espinosa rematch. He eliminated the defender, 5-1, and entered the final round. Espinosa appeared lackadaisical in the first set while Sanders seemed supercharged and read to annihilate. Playing strong and steady, Sanders took the first set, 7-4, but Justin wasn’t quite finished. After a short recess, the players came back and took it to the hill. Sanders closed out the final set, 5-4, to win his first open division title. Congratulations to Brian Sanders on his first Lone Star Tour title!
Many thanks to the entire staff at Skinny Bob’s for hosting another first-rate event, and Adam Cooper and Tangela Hunt for assisting with tournament duties. The Poison cue raffle was held on Saturday, and local event participants James Sanders and Matt Bickers took home Poison AR4 and VX playing cues, respectively, compliments of Poison Billiards.
The Tour would like to encourage everyone who loves to play pool and compete in a friendly atmosphere, to attend a Lone Star Tour event. The next stop is October 10th-11th, at Bogies Billiards & Sports Bar (3040 FM 1960) in Houston, Texas, and hosts a Gulf Coast Tour side-by-side event on Saturday, October 10th. On September 12th-13th, the Gulf Coast Tour will stage its first $1,000 added, stand-alone women’s 10-ball event and WPBA Masters Qualifier, also hosted by Bogies Billiards & Sports Bar, players’ meeting beginning at 11:00a.m. The famed Space City Open IV will be held December 3rd-6th, 2015, also hosted by Bogies. To download the event flyer and pre-register for open 9-ball, one-pocket, 9-ball banks, and ladies 9-ball, visit www.LoneStarBilliardsTour.com and pay via the PayPal box on the home page.
The WPBA sanctioned Gulf Coast Women’s Regional Tour and the Space City Open are sister companies of the Lone Star Billiards Tour (est. 2009). For information about event hosting and sponsorship, please contact Kimberly Newsome at 713.825.1411 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lone Star Staff
1 Brian Sanders $550/$620
2 Justin Espinosa $390/$410
3 James Davis, Jr. $210/$200
4 James Davis, Sr. $90/$90
5/6 Mickey Verenski, David Henson $45 ea
7/8 John Wright, Victor Belmares $35 ea
1 Justin Espinosa $620/$500
2 Jimmy Krone $450/$375
3 John Wright $260/$125
4 Chad Henson $140/$80
5/6 John Eagle, Mark Cardenas $60/$60 ea
7/8 Mickey Verenski, Ralph Foy $45 ea
9/12 John Palmore, Gerald Holland, Matt Wong, Steve Kilgore $25 ea