Zvi downs The Iceman twice to go undefeated on 6th Annual Ginky Memorial
Skip Maloney - AzB Staff
Jun. 1, 2016
Alan Rolon, Zion Zvi and Mika Immonen
Alan Rolon, Zion Zvi and Mika Immonen
In what might be arguably described as his biggest tournament win ever, Zion Zvi worked his way undefeated through a field of 53 Open/Pro competitors, on-hand for the 6th Annual George "Ginky" Sansouci Memorial Tournament. Held over Memorial Day weekend, under the combined auspices of the Predator, Tri-State and Mezz Tours, the $2,000-added 10-Ball event, run concurrently with a $2,000-added Amateur event that drew 190 entrants (separate story), was hosted by Steinway Billiards in Astoria (Queens), NY.
 
It was the fifth time that Zvi had cashed in this annual memorial event, finishing 5th twice (2013, 2011), 4th once (2012) and last year, finishing in the tie for 13th. He'd won three stops on the Predator tour last year, but this year's Ginky Memorial proved to be his first 2016 victory on the tour. According to tour director Tony Robles, the win should elevate Zvi to an A++ rating, on the tour, which, he said, means that going forward "he'll have to win two more games to beat me."
 
In a post-match interview, Zvi was still a little stunned. Not only that had he won, but had done so by beating The Iceman, Mika Immonen, twice.
 
"I need to adjust to (the win),' he told Upstate Al from AZBTV, minutes after the final. "To beat Mika once is tough.
 
"When I played him in the hot seat match, I felt the heat," he added, "but I just kept grinding."
 
As every winner of this tournament has done since the tradition began in 2011, Zvi acknowledged the tournament's namesake - George "Ginky" Sansouci.
 
"I'd known Ginky since 2006," Zvi said, referring to the year he arrived here from Tel Aviv. "He always treated me like I'd grown up with him. I was blessed to know him and grinded every match because of him. He motivated me to win."
 
By Sunday afternoon, Zvi had advanced to a winners' side semifinal against Jonathan Smith, while Tony Robles squared off against The Iceman. It was already the first time that in six years, Robles was in line for prize money at the tournament he'd helped to create. Zvi downed Smith 9-4, as Immonen was sending Robles to the loss side 9-5. Zvi claimed the hot seat 9-5 over Immonen and waited on his return.
 
On the loss side, Robles and Smith ran into two juggernauts; one, a two-time former Ginky Memorial winner, Mike Dechaine, who'd eliminated Fernando Paulino 9-4 and Bucky Souvanthong 9-5 to draw Robles, and the other, Alan Rolon, from Puerto Rico, who was on a loss-side streak that would take him to the semifinals, who'd downed Sean King and John Morra, both 9-7 to pick up Smith. 
 
Though he'd jump out to an early 4-0 lead in a bid to reach the quarterfinals, Robles eventually succumbed to Dechaine 9-4. Rolon eliminated the veteran Smith 9-7. A thrilling double hill quarterfinal followed, which ended with Dechaine settling for fourth place.
 
Over his last four matches to reach the semifinals against Immonen, opponents had averaged seven racks against him in the races to 9. The Iceman allowed him only two and earned himself a second shot against Zvi, in the modified race to 11, meaning that if Immonen, from the loss side, reached 9 first, the match would extend to 11 games. If Zvi, in the hot seat, reached 9 first, it would be over.
 
The final match was delayed in order to have it play out on the AZBTV table, which, at the end of the Open/Pro semifinals, was featuring the Amateur finals between Tony Liang and Juan Guzman. Though hard to measure, the short delay seemed to benefit Immonen, who opened the finals with two straight racks. Zvi caught up quickly to create the first of five tie scores in the match.
 
Mika took game #5, but Zvi came back with two, the second of which entailed a 1-10 combination that Immonen had literally handed to Zvi by attempting the combination himself and missing it. Immonen, known to have a bit of a temper, was visibly unhappy. Over the course of games #8 and #9, they both started missing relatively easy shots, and at the end of game #10, Zvi was ahead by two (6-4).
 
Immonen used a 2-10 combo to pull within one, and then used a 6-10 combo that Zvi had given him to knot things at 6-6. They traded racks to 7-7, Zvi reached the hill first and The Iceman followed suit. Zvi completed his undefeated run in the case game to claim his first 2016 title, at the 6th Annual George "Ginky" Sansouci Memorial.
 
In addition to thanking everyone who came down to Steinway Billiards to honor George "Ginky" Sansouci, Tony Robles thanked both the Tri-State and Mezz Tours for their cooperation and assistance, along with Steinway Billiards' owner, Manny Stamatakis, and his staff. He also extended his thanks to sponsors Predator Cues, National Amateur Pool League, Ozone Billiards, Delta-13 racks, Gotham City Technologies, PoolOnTheNet.com, The DeVito Team, Billiards Press, AZ Billiards, Billiards Digest, and Pool & Billiard Magazine. He also thanked William Finnegan, Mandy Wu, and Irene Kim for their assistance with the tournament, as well as his wife, Gail Robles.