Guzman goes undefeated, downing Pichardo twice, to win his first 2018 Tri-State Tour event
Skip Maloney
Jun. 21, 2018
Juan Guzman and Jowen Pichardo
Juan Guzman and Jowen Pichardo
Going into the season finale of the Tri-State Tour’s 2017-2018 season, there were  32 players among the Tri-State Tour’s A/A+ division, the highest division below the Pro (11 players) and Open (10 players) divisions of the tour’s ranking system. The top 16 in each of six divisions (with a minimum of participation in four events) will or have already been informed of their eligibility for the tour’s season finale, the annual Tri-State Invitational, scheduled for June 30-July 1 at Steinway Billiards in Astoria (Queens), NY. Among those who will not receive an invitation will be Juan Guzman, who, on Saturday, June 16, chalked up his first win in only his third appearance on the 2017-2018 tour. He went undefeated at the $1,000-added event that drew 30 entrants to Clifton Billiards in Clifton, NJ. Guzman’s opponent, in both the hot seat match and finals – Jowen Pichardo – will receive an invitation as one of the top 16 players in the tour’s C-class (40 players in the division).
 
For reasons unknown, Guzman’s participation in both of the area’s major pool tours (the Tri-State and Predator Pro Am) has dropped precipitously since 2016; a year in which he won two events on both tours and was runner-up to Tony Liang in the George “Ginky” Sansouci Memorial Tournament, run by both tours. On the basis of this most recent appearance on the Tri-State Tour, it does not appear as if his skill level has been affected by the absence.
 
Guzman and Pichardo advanced through the field on Saturday into a winners’ side semifinal; Guzman, facing Sabrina Sherman and Pichardo, squaring off against Matt Klein. Guzman downed Sherman 10-6, as Pichardo was sending Klein to the loss side 6-4. Guzman claimed the hot seat 10-8 and waited for Pichardo to get back from the semifinals.
 
On the loss side, Sherman picked up Amy Yu (the tour’s #5-ranked female player; a C+), who’d survived a double hill battle against Rick Rodriguez and eliminated Nes Jakanovic 8-6. Klein drew a re-match against Michelle Brotons (the #2-ranked female; a D+), whom he’d defeated in a winners’ side quarterfinal. Brotons downed Teddy Lapadula 6-2 and shut out Tony Ignomirello to earn the re-match.
 
Two of the three ladies in those first money-round battles advanced to the quarterfinals. Sherman (the #9-ranked female; a C) defeated Yu 6-1, and in those quarterfinals, met Brotons, who’d eliminated Klein 7-3. Brotons took the quarterfinal match 6-3, only, by the same score, to have her loss-side run ended by Pichardo in the semifinals. Guzman completed his undefeated run with a 10-6 victory and claimed his first 2018 Tri-State title.
 
Tour representatives thanked the ownership and staff at Clifton Billiards, as well as sponsors John Bender Custom Cues, Ozone Billiards, Sterling Billiards, Kamui, DigiCue, Billiards Digest, Human Kinetics, Blue Book Publishing, Phil Cappelle Publications, and Joe Romer Trophies. The next stop on the Tri-State Tour, as noted at the outset, will be the annual Tri-State Invitational, scheduled for June 30-July 1 at Steinway Billiards.