Zvi and Lam take Open/Pro, Amateur titles at 10th Annual Empire State Championships
Skip Maloney - AzB Staff
Mar. 1, 2017
Jorge Rodriguez, Zion Zvi, Jimmy Rivera and Kang Lee
Jorge Rodriguez, Zion Zvi, Jimmy Rivera and Kang Lee
Zion Zvi, winner of last spring's 6th Annual George "Ginky" Sansouci Memorial Tournament, chalked up not only his first win, but his first paying finish since then, with an undefeated run at the 10th Annual Empire State Championships, held on the weekend of February 25-26. The $1,000-added Open/Pro, 10-Ball division of the championships drew 25 entrants to the event's traditional home, Raxx Billiards in West Hempstead, NY. A concurrently-run, $2,000-added, 9-Ball Amateur event drew 108 entrants and saw Duc Lam return from a defeat in the hot seat match to down Tony Kuo in the finals.
 
"I took a break over the past few years," said Zvi, who's sponsored by Molinari Cues and Steinway Billiards, "but I'm going to be more active this year.
 
"I'm coming back, one step at a time," he added.
 
Zvi and Jimmy Rivera battled twice in this one; once, in the hot seat match and again, in the finals. Zvi had sent Frankie Hernandez to the loss side 7-4, as Rivera was downing Lee Kang by the same score. Zvi took the hot seat by that same 7-4 score as well, and waited on Rivera's return.
 
Over on the loss side, Jorge Rodriguez, following victories over Jim Conn 7-2, and Eugene Ok 7-4, was laying in wait for Hernandez. Waiting for Kang was veteran player Danny Basavich (better known as Kid Delicious), who'd defeated Chris Derewonski 7-3, and Holden Chin 7-2.
 
Rodriguez downed Hernandez 7-5 as Kang was busy eliminating Kid Delicious 7-4. Rodriguez then defeated Kang in the quarterfinals 7-2. In the semifinals, Rivera ended Rodriguez' loss-side run 7-5. 
 
Zvi, though, on something of a comeback trail that looks to be stepping up its pace in the weeks and months ahead, was too close to let this one slip away. He downed Rivera a second time, this time 7-2, to claim the title.
 
Lam comes back from hot seat defeat to down Kuo in Amateur finals
 
Duc Lam and Tony Kuo battled twice in the Amateur event, with the lower-handicapped Kuo getting '4 on the wire' (racing to 9) in the hot seat match, and '3 on the wire' (racing to 8, and then, to 10) in the finals. In the winners' side semifinals, Lam had sent the event's defending champion, Justin Muller, to the loss side 7-5, as Kuo was sending Ryan Dayrit over by the same score. Lam and Kuo played 10 games in the hot seat match, each winning five. Kuo's handicap advantage made it 9-5 for him, and he was in the hot seat.
 
On the loss side, Muller picked up Eddie Kuz, who'd gotten by Matthew Harricharan, double hill, and Juan Guzman 7-2. Dayrit drew Thomas Schreiber, who'd eliminated Troy Deocharran  and Nicole Monaco, both 7-4.
 
Kuz ended Muller's hopes of defending his title 7-5, and in the quarterfinals, faced Dayrit, who'd downed Schreiber 8-5. Dayrit took the quarterfinals 9-5, and then had his short loss-side streak ended by Lam in the semifinals 10-5.
 
As noted, Kuo opened the finals with '3 on the wire,' racing initially to 8. Lam reached 8 first, with Kuo at 6, having won 3. Lam went on to win it 10-8 to claim the event title.
 
A 16-entrant Second Chance, single-elimination event saw Shawn Jackson take home the top prize, with Dany Recinos as runner-up. Ramilo Tanglao and George Poltorak tied for third.