At just 14, young Dakarai Turnquest is already one of the top pool shooters in the country, and certainly the best in his age group.
He has a number of top three finishes at local competitions this year, and recently climaxed his performances this year with a stellar performance at the West Coast Challenge Florida Pool Tournament in Kissimmee, Florida, taking on some of the best shooters in Florida and around the United States.
Taking on men and women of all ages, Dakarai finished 13th out of more than 200 participants in the nine-ball event, and was 33rd out of 60 in the eight-ball challenge. The mega pool tournament was held July 7-11 in Kissimmee.
Dakarai obtained the title of pool master after finishing third at the “Battle of the Titans” Tournament at Lloyd’s Sporting Lounge and Entertainment Center in Deans, Long Island, at the end of March. He is regarded as the youngest pool master in the country, having defeated a number of pool masters at the ‘Battle of the Titans’ event.
The young Long Island native, who excels academically as well, is passionate about the sport and looks to excel at the highest level. He is aiming to become the first professional pool shooter from The Bahamas.
“I feel happy for myself and I love what I’m doing. Watching the pros and beating them is a good feeling. I feel like I could win tournaments in the US now,” he said. “This is something that I just got into and I liked it right away. You need technique and precision and also have a mental game. You have to feel confident that you are going to win. It’s in the blood. My dad taught me well.”
Dakarai is a 10th grader at NGM Major High School in Buckley’s, Long Island. The third son of Dania and Dominic Turnquest Sr., he began playing pool at age 10 and hasn’t put down a pool stick since. In his first major tournament, in 2019, he placed 13th out of more than 30 shooters and determined at that point that he wanted to progressively get better and pursue his dreams in a sport that he is very passionate about.
“As a father, I’m very proud of what he is doing. It’s a joy to watch him play,” said Dominic Sr. “What he is doing is something I wish I could have done when I was younger. I didn’t even force it on him, he has always been making shots. In his spare time, he always watched YouTube and saw what the professionals were doing, and along with my training, he has come a long way in three short years. He is already one of the top pool shooters in The Bahamas. Right now, it’s just up to him to fine tune everything. With his skill and learning ability, I believe he could be the first pro shooter from The Bahamas. He certainly has the talent and the will power.”
In the West Coast Challenge in Kissimmee, young Dakarai lost his first game of the double elimination nine-ball event by default as a result of having to rush off to take a COVID-19 RT-PCR Test. Still, he was able to finish with a 8-2 win/loss record in the tournament, and ended up 13th overall, beating more established senior shooters, some of whom are regarded as the best in the eight- and nine-ball events in the state of Florida. Certainly, he would have finished even higher if he didn’t lose the first game by default.
“I want him to take this as far as he can,” said Dominic Sr. “If he could get in a juniors tournament in the US, we feel he will do well in that, so that is something we’re looking at for next year. I just hope the sport could receive more support at the national level. There are a lot of shooters who are doing well, and there are some college scholarship opportunities out there. Karai (Dakarai) sometimes practices up to six hours per week. I try to encourage him as much as I can and allow him to experience success.”
One of the end goals for the young Bahamian pool master is to one day compete in the Valley National 8-Ball League Association (VNEA) World Championships in Las Vegas, Nevada, and represent The Bahamas well.
Already this year, he won the Birthday Bash Pool Tournament in Long Island, and father Dominic Sr. was second, among 24 participants; he won a few mini tournaments in Long Island; he was second at the ‘Road to the Clash of the Titans’ among 20 shooters in Long Island; finished fourth in an eight-ball singles event in Long Island; and ended March with a third place finish at the ‘Battle of the Titans’, in which he took on some of the top pool shooters from New Providence, Grand Bahama and Long Island. Dakarai earned pool master status in that tournament. In the team competition, he and his team, the Lloyd’s Sharp Shooters, were fourth among 13 teams. The team consisted of Dakarai, Dominic Sr., Brian Gibson, Carl Hield Sr. and Dennis Wells. The competition was held at Lloyd’s Sporting Lounge, which is regarded as one of the top pool establishments in the country.
The excellent performance at the West Coast Challenge in Kissimmee, Florida, was the icing on the cake for young Dakarai in 2021. He is looking forward to greater results in the future.
Dakarai, who hails from Deadman’s Cay, Long Island, maintains a grade point average (GPA) of 3.00 or higher, and also excels in basketball, softball and sailing.
“I just want to thank my parents for all the support and my dad for training me and for always rooting for me, and also my friends and family,” said the young pool shark. “I also want to thank Mr. and Mrs. Major from Lloyd’s for sponsoring me to go to the US and compete, and for providing tables and the tools for Long Island and for the entire Bahamas and putting on tournaments. The support is appreciated and has gone a long way.”
Ingrid and Ellis Major are the proprietors of Lloyd’s Sporting Lounge and Entertainment Center in Deans, Long Island, and are avid supporters and contributors of the game of pool on that island and in The Bahamas. Dakarai said they have played an integral part in his development.
The sky is the limit for the young pool shark, the youngest pool master in The Bahamas.