Champions Shine at Space City Open VIII

Woodward, Gomez, Aranas, Ng, and Martinez, III Earn Titles

Sky Woodward swept the Space City Open VIII, 128-player 9-ball division, taking down Roberto “Superman” Gomez in the final set, 9-2. The two-time Mosconi Cup MVP finished second in the one pocket and 5th-6th in the 9-ball banks, to become the newest, Space City Open “All-Around” Champion. Gomez took home his first title in the one pocket division, and although he took second in the 9-ball, he was unable to catch Woodward in the all-around points race. James “DD” Aranas showed off his skills in the 9-ball banks, holding all of his opponents to two or less games, and defeating Jalal Alsarisi in the final, 4-2.  In the ladies 9-ball division, Ming “The Empress” Ng defended her title against Ellen Robinson, and Lazaro “Little Laz” Martinez, III, defeated brother, Gabriel Martinez, capturing his second, consecutive, junior 9-ball title.

The largest pool tournament in Texas, the annual Space City Open, has a reputation of hosting some of the greatest players in the world. This year was exceptional, with the return of Sky Woodward.  The recently named, Mosconi Cup MVP, debuted at the 2012 Space City Open, winning the 9-ball banks division, and making his last appearance in 2014. Five years later, Woodward joined a star-studded line-up, including Roberto Gomez, James Aranas, Jalal Alsarisi, and Tommy Tokoph, along with defending 9-ball champion, James Davis, Jr., defending one pocket champion, Josh Roberts, and defending banks champion, Evan Lunda, to compete for a piece of the $56,770 payout, and $1,500 all-around bonus, sponsored by John Newsome and Johnny Gonzales of Eagle Plumbing.

The derby-like, Space City Open VIII, was held December 5th-8th, 2019, at Big Tyme Billiards in Spring, Texas, amassing 178 players, over five divisions, with four days of free live streaming provided by Southern Streaming. The 9-ball was played on twenty Diamond bar tables, and the one pocket and banks were played on six, nine foot tables. Cyclop “Zeus” ball sets and Accu-Racks by Outsville Billiards were provided for all divisions.

Sky Woodward, Roberto Gomez, James Aranas

The open 9-ball division presented a more than stellar field. Tommy Tokoph, formerly of Albuquerque, New Mexico, now residing in Houston, took the field by storm. Making his way to the final eight on the winners’ side, Tokoph defeated James Aranas, 9-8, J.C.Torres, 9-5, Roberto Gomez, 9-4, and Aaron Springs, 9-5. Josh Roberts ousted Neil Saidawi, 9-0, Mike Hefren, Jon Demet, 9-4, and Marvin Diaz, 9-1. Jalal Alsarisi ran through Glenn Mitchell, 9-6, Sylver Ochoa, 9-0, Barry Strickland, 9-2, and Marc Garza, 9-6. Oklahoma’s Joey Gray overwhelmed Victor Rojas, 9-2, Roberto Aguilar, 9-1, Louis Vickio, 9-1, and Josh Hillard, 9-4. Also from Oklahoma, Billy Dyke defeated David Chow, 9-3, Bobby Perez, 9-8, Tony Scott, 9-5, and Troy Woodard, 9-5. Kevin Guimond bested Alexander Mojica, 9-1, Ellen Robinson, 9-0, Colton Berzins, 9-2, and Tony Top, 9-3. Sky Woodward claimed victories over Chris Baggett, 9-4, Evan Lunda, 9-6, Manny Chau, 9-1, and Ernesto Bayaua, 9-3, while James Davis, Jr. disappointed David Williams, 9-3, Andrew Rodriguez, 9-1, Joey Bourgeois, Jr., 9-4, and Joey Torres, 9-7. Settling the winners’ side, final four, Tokoph sent Roberts west, 9-7, while Alasarisi demolished Gray, 9-3. Dyke overcame Guimond, 9-6, and Woodward wasted little time with Davis, Jr., sending him west, 9-1. Reaching the final eight on the one-loss side, Jesus Atencio amassed eight wins, including victories over John Gabriel, 7-1, and Roberts, 7-0. Gomez ended Bayaua, 7-5, and Gray, 7-4, while Derek Fontenot booked seven matches, with wins over Manny Chau, 7-2, and Guimond, 7-3. After losing his first match to Charlie Bryant, 9-4, Alex Calderone closed out seven sets, with triumphs over Marc Garza and Davis, Jr., by the same score, 7-1. Back on the east side, Tokoph forged ahead, beating Alsarisi, 9-7, while Woodward throttled Dyke, 9-1. For the first time, crowds witnessed a hot seat match-up with the indomitable Sky Woodward, and one of Houston’s best, Tommy Tokoph. With three of his four previous matches yielding 9-1 scores, Woodward maintained his momentum, dealing Tokoph his first loss, 9-1. With four remaining on the west side, Gomez thwarted Atencio, and hindered Dyke, by the same score, 7-2. Calderone secured an eighth win over Fontenot, 7-6, but came up short against Alsarisi, 7-6. After losing his third round match to Tokoph, Gomez took out nine players on the one-loss side, including Alsarisi, 7-1, and finally, Tokoph, 7-1, to meet Woodward. Gomez faced off with the unrivaled youth, in a first-time, Space City Open match-up. Sky played flawlessly, stringing multiple racks, offering Gomez only two chances at the table. In the end, Woodward overwhelmed Gomez the first set, 9-2, to earn his first, Space City Open 9-ball title. It was down to Woodward, Gomez, and Alsarisi in the all-around. With this win, Sky sewed up the bonus, and became the first player in Space City Open history to win both 9-ball and 9-ball banks titles.

The one pocket division was single elimination, and kicked off Saturday morning at 10:00 a.m., with a 32-player field. Sky Woodward took charge, with victories over John Braud, 4-0, Jalal Alsarisi, 4-2, and Ernesto Bayaua, 4-3. Local talent, Marvin Diaz, eliminated J.C. Torres, 4-1, James Aranas, 4-3, and Jacob Pennison, 4-1. Rounding out the final four, Roberto Gomez bested John Gabriel, 4-2, Joey Gray, 4-3, and Shane McMinn, 4-3, while Josh Roberts defeated Aaron Springs, 4-0, Tommy Tokoph, 4-2, and Chip Compton, 4-1. In the next round, Woodward out-maneuvered Diaz, 4-2, and Gomez passed Roberts, 4-2. Woodward and Gomez remained, and at the close of the event, by the narrowest of margins, Roberto Gomez was crowned the newest, Space City Open, one pocket champion.

The single elimination, 32-player, 9-ball banks division, began Thursday at 7:00 p.m., and concluded on Friday evening. Chip Compton defeated Alex Calderone, 4-3, Shane Harvey, 4-2, and Justin Espinosa, 4-0, while James Aranas made his way to the final four with victories over Shane McMinn, 4-1, Jesse Davida, 4-1, and Sky Woodward, 4-1. Sylver Ochoa took out Tommy Tokoph, Florida’s David Uwate, 4-1, and Ernesto Bayaua, 4-3, while Jalal Alsarisi ended Roberto Gomez, 4-3, John Gabriel, 4-3, and former all-around champion, Josh Roberts, 4-3. Final four action witnessed Compton fall to Aranas, 4-2, and Alsarisi shut out Ochoa, 4-0. In the final match, Aranas overcame Alsarisi, 4-2, earning his first, Space City Open, 9-ball banks title.

Thirty-two women players converged on the Space City Open to compete for over $5,000 in the ladies 9-ball division. WPBA player, Kelly Isaac, took the lead with wins over junior player, April Gonzales, 7-2, Natalie Rocha, 7-2, and Janeen Lee, 7-3. Ellen Robinson beat Michelle Yim, 7-5, Sandra Melo, 7-3, and Courtney Peters, 7-5, while Kelly Jones of Mobile, Alabama, sent Teresa Garland west, 7-2, along with Calaia Jackson, 7-2, and Melissa Smith, 7-2. Local favorite Ming Ng began her trek, dominating Ruth Paine, 7-4, Christie Castro, 7-4, and Aryana Lynch, 7-1. Final four winners’ side action witnessed Robinson defeat Isaac, 7-3, and Ng overtake Jones, 7-2. In the hot seat match, Robinson played impeccably, breaking and running three racks to defeat Ng, 7-2. On the one-loss side, Lee eliminated Kim Pierce, 5-1, and Jones, 5-0, while Lynch took out Smith, 5-1, falling in turn to Isaac, 5-3. Lee crept past Isaac, 5-4, but faltered to Ng, 5-2. The finals rematch between Robinson and Ng was a long and fierce battle, with Ng securing the first set, 7-4. In overtime, tied with four games each, an unforced error by Robinson gave Ng the edge she needed to close out the set, 5-4, and earn her second, consecutive, Space City Open ladies 9-ball division title.

In the junior 9-ball division, twelve teens, seventeen and under, came together to compete for cash, and a coveted Space City Open plaque. John Benavides charged, with wins over Gabriel Garcia, 7-0, and Malachi Walker, 7-3, while April Gonzales subdued Cesar Garcia, 7-6, and brother, Jacob Gonzales, 7-4. Tyler Miller edged out Larissa Almendarez, 7-6, but fell to Lazaro “Little Laz” Martinez, III, 7-3. Kyle Yi bested Owen Chapple, 7-3, but was denied by Gabriel Martinez, 7-5. Benavides slid past A. Gonzales, 7-6, and Martinez, III out-moved G. Martinez, 7-2. With his meticulous play, defending champion, Martinez, III, shut out Benavides for the hot seat, 7-0. On the one-loss side, Yi was on a roll, eliminating Miller, 5-3, and A. Gonzales, 5-2. J. Gonzales beat Walker, 5-4, but lost to G. Martinez, 5-2. Down to the final four, G. Martinez terminated Yi, 5-3, and Benavides, 5-3, for a shot at his first, Space City Open title. The junior 9-ball final was a repeat of last year’s showdown, with “Little Laz”, and brother, Gabriel, battling it out for the championship. In the final, Lazaro proved too much for Gabriel, defeating him 7-0, defending his Space City Open, junior 9-ball title.

Sky Woodward, Kim Newsome, and Mother-To-Be, Ashlee De La Cruz

Space City Open would like to thank those who were instrumental in the production of this event; event staff, John Newsome, Kim Newsome, Ruth Paine, Mike Fabacher with Southern Streaming, Chris Lue with Chris Lue Photography, Big Tyme Billiards owners and staff; sponsors, Poison by Predator Cues, Cyclop Pool Balls, APA of North Harris County, Vapor Fiend, Outsville Billiards; and vendors, Jerry Olivier Cues and Cue Repair, Joe Salazar Connoisseur of Custom Cues, Champions Cues, Brutal Game Gear, and Action 24/7.

We want to congratulate all the winners, and thank the players and patrons for making this event the most successful Space City Open to date. Space City Open IX is scheduled for December 3rd-6th, 2020, so mark your calendars!” – Kim Newsome, Space City Open Founder.

The Space City Open is the largest pool tournament in Texas, and is held annually, the first week in December. For more information, visit

Written By: Kim Newsome

Action Photos By: Chris Lue Photography


All-Around Champion

Sky Woodward $1,500

Open 9-Ball – 128 players (Total $35,740)

1st Sky Woodward $3,300/$6,200/$1,580

2nd Roberto Gomez $2,000/$4,000/$1,185

3rd Tommy Tokoph $1,300/$3,000/$790

4th Jalal Alsarisi $900/$2,100/$395

5th-6th Billy Dyke, Alex Calderone $500/$1,200 ea.

7th-8th Jesus Atencio, Derek Fontenot $300/$655 ea.

9th-12th James Davis, Jr., Kevin Guimond, Joey Gray, Josh Roberts $170/$400 ea.

13th-16th Ernesto Bayaua, Manny Chau, John Gabriel, Marc Garza $110 ea.

17th-24th Michael Alonzo, Josh Hillard, Joey Torres, Marvin Diaz, Troy Woodard, Jerry Alvarez, Aaron Springs, Tony Top $70 ea.

25th-32nd Jacob Pennison, J.C. Torres, Charlie Bryant, Cesar Garcia, Johnny Griffin, James Aranas, Jon Demet, Will Felder $50 ea.

One Pocket – 32 players (Total $7,060)

1st Roberto Gomez $1,300/$1,800

2nd Sky Woodward $900/$1,000

3rd-4th Josh Roberts, Marvin Diaz $440/$350 ea.

5th-8th Ernesto Bayaua, Jacob Pennison, Chip Compton, Shane McMinn $120 ea.

9-Ball Banks – 32 players (Total $7,160)

1st James Aranas $1,300/$1,800

2nd Jalal Alsarisi $900/$1,000

3rd-4th Chip Compton, Sylver Ochoa $440/$400

5th-8th Ernesto Bayaua, Sky Woodward, Josh Roberts, Justin Espinosa $120 ea.

Ladies 9-Ball – 32 players (Total $5,010)

1st Ming Ng $570/$1,360

2nd Ellen Robinson $400/$950

3rd Janeen Lee $250/$660

4th Kelly Isaac $160/$400

5th-6th Kelly Jones, Aryana Lynch $80/$200 ea.

7th-8th Kim Pierce, Melissa Smith $40 ea.

Junior 9-Ball – 12 players (Total $300)

1st Lazaro Martinez, III $150

2nd Gabriel Martinez $100

3rd John Benavides $50