Virgin Islander Mahkeal Parris, 16 years-old, is the winner of the 2018 World Junior 9-Ball Championships held recently in Moscow, Russia. He was honored during a Proclamation Ceremony at Government House on St. Croix this week.
Master of ceremonies Emile A. Henderson III, chief legal counsel to Gov. Kenneth E. Mapp, commended the youngster for the discipline and dedication he had applied not only to his sport of choice but also to his academic pursuits.
Describing the final match of the championship tournament, Carlos McGregor, principal of St. Croix Central High School, said “Mahkeal, you operated on that table like how a skilled doctor would operate in surgery. You analyzed, you focused and you executed. You demonstrated great discipline and poise.”
Parris was introduced to the sport of billiards at an early age and is the first Virgin Islander to become a member of the prestigious Colorado-based Billiard Education Foundation, which is committed to promoting a lifelong love of pool and building the next generation of players through youth programs and academic scholarships.
In extending congratulations to the young man, the governor paid respect not only to Claude Petersen, one of Parris’ early mentors and coaches, but also to the wider Virgin Islands community, “Your discipline to play billiards and to achieve such excellence… speaks volumes to the family that you come from… your parents… and the values in the Virgin Islands community.”
Mapp encouraged Parris to maintain his commitment and diligence towards his academic studies. “Continue to take your academics seriously. It’s very, very important,” he said.
In 2011, Parris won the Best Youth 9-Ball Tournament on Tortola, British Virgin Islands, and competed in the Junior National 9-Ball tournament in DeKalb, Illinois, at the University of Illinois.
On Nov. 3, 2018, his hard work and skill paid off when he became the first American to win the world champion title in the under-17 division.