Kazakis wins his first major US title, going undefeated at 29th Ocean State 9-Ball Championship
Skip Maloney
Nov. 14, 2017
Mike Zuglan, Jeremy Sossei, Alex Kazakis and Steve Goulding (room owner)
Mike Zuglan, Jeremy Sossei, Alex Kazakis and Steve Goulding (room owner)
For the first time in six years, the annual Ocean State 9-Ball Championship has been won by someone not named Shaw or Dechaine. On the weekend of November 11-12, the title went, for the third straight time, to a European – Alexandros (Alex) Kazakis. In the absence of the two-time defending champion (Shaw), and three-time champion Dechaine (’12, ’13 & ’14), Kazakis went undefeated through a field of 87 entrants at the $5,000-added, 29th Annual Ocean State Championship, held under the auspices of the Joss Northeast 9-Ball Tour, and hosted by Snooker's in Providence, RI.
 
Though well known in European circles, dating back to his days as a European Junior Champion in 2009, and subsequent appearances on the International Billiard Promotion Foundation (IBPF) and European Pocket Billiard Federation’s (EPBF) EuroTour, Kazakis entered the Ocean State Championship without a US title on his resumé. He’d come close, though. In January of this year (his best recorded earnings year, to date), he was runner-up to Jayson Shaw in the Derby City Bigfoot 10-Ball Challenge, and the week before the Ocean State ‘challenge,’ he’d been runner-up to Jorge Rodriguez in the Grand Masters division of the NYC 8-Ball Championships.
 
At the very start, it seemed as though Kazakis and Albanian teenager Eklent (Klenti) Kaci were destined to knock heads. Kaci, who, in the past year, had already won the Aramith Masters Division and Predator Grand Finale of the 8-Ball World Pool Series (April and November, respectively), two stops on the Joss Tour, one on the Predator Tour and was runner-up to Shaw in the US Open, was poised to add a sixth US title to his growing list. In back-to-back matches, Kazakis and Jeremy Sossei kept the youngster out of the Ocean State Championship winners’ circle.
 
Kazakis and Kaci met first, predictably, in the hot seat match. Kazakis had sent Sossei to the loss side 9-7 in one winners’ side semifinal, as Kaci was busy shutting out Tom D’Alfonso (winner of the Ocean State title in 2011). Kazakis prevailed in the hot seat match 9-7, sending Kaci to the semifinals from which he would not return.
 
On the loss side, a number of potential ‘threats’ lay in wait. Sossei picked up one of them; Jorge Rodriguez, who’d been sent to the loss side by Kaci in a winners’ side quarterfinal, and defeated Stevie Mack 7-4 and Zion Zvi 7-3. In a battle of Joss Tour veterans, D’Alfonso drew Ron Casanzio (recent winner of the Al Conte Memorial earlier this month), who’d most recently defeated Rich Kravetz 7-5 and Paul Dryden, double hill.
 
Sossei gave up only one rack to Rodriguez and advanced to the quarterfinals. He was joined by D’Alfonso, who’d eliminated Casanzio 7-5. Sossei moved on to defeat D’Alfonso 7-4, and then, in what had to have come as a surprise to many (except Sossei), Sossei dashed Kaci’s hopes for a sixth US title with a 7-5 win in the semifinals.
 
In the finals that followed, Kazakis, in pursuit of his first US title, was facing an opponent, Sossei, who was vying for his 39th US title in 10 years. The two came within a game of having to play a single, deciding game, but in the end, Kazakis pulled out in front 9-7 to win the 29th Annual Ocean State 9-Ball Championship.
 
Tour director Mike Zuglan thanked Steve Goulding and his Snooker’s staff for their hospitality, as well as regular tour sponsors Joss Cues, Turning Stone Resort & Casino, Simonis Cloth, Poolonthenet.com, AZBilliards, Aramith, Billiards Press and World Class Cue Care. Stop #6 on the Joss Northeast 9-Ball Tour, scheduled for November 18-19, will be a $1,500-added main event with a $500 added second chance event on Sunday, hosted by Union Station Billiards in Portland, ME. That event will be the last reguilar season event before the Turning Stone Classic XXIX at the Turning Stone Casino in Verona, Ny on January 4th - 7th.