Costello chalks up first tournament win on the Tri-State

Emerson Verano, Marco Costello, Luis Lopez


The Tri-State Tour has always had something of a reputation for crowning new winners on a week-to-week basis. While certain names repeat - like Koka Davladze in A class, Gary Murgia in B+ class and Robert Veit in C+ class (to name just a few; current tour leaders), very few exhibit the rating class dominance that would be represented by back-to-back, or multiple victories on the tour. Every week, for years now, Tri-State events have been marked by new names, and January 26 was no exception. The new name this time was Marco Costello, who went undefeated through a field of 40 entrants to win his first tournament. His opponent in the finals, Emerson Verano, who'd won five on the loss side to reach him, would also have been a new name on the winners' list. The $750-added, A-D handicapped event was hosted by House of Billiards on Staten Island, NY.

Costello survived two straight double hill matches (against Rajesh Vannala and Michael Sprague) to begin his six-match trek to the winners' circle. He then got by Louise Petronica 7-4 to move among the winners' side final four and a match against Justin Muller, who'd just sent Verano to the loss side. Luis Lopez and Mike Strassberg squared off in the other winners' side semifinal. Costello got into the hot seat match with a 7-5 win over Muller, and was joined by Lopez, who'd sent Strassberg west 6-3. Costello won his fifth of six, 9-5 over Lopez, and waited in the hot seat for Verano.

Muller moved west and immediately drew a re-match versus Verano, who'd defeated Sharik Sayed 7-4, and survived a double hill challenge by Gary O'Callaghan (winner of the January 6 stop on the tour). Strassberg picked up Jud Parker, who'd defeated Tony Ignomirello, double hill, and Luis Jimenez 6-1. Verano got through a second straight, double hill match, exacting his revenge on Muller, and in the quarterfinals, faced Parker, who'd handed Strassberg his second straight loss 6-1.

Verano downed Parker 9-6 in those quarterfinals, and then defeated Lopez 10-6 in the semifinals. In the finals that followed, Costello got out in front by three, twice (at 4-1 and 6-3), but Verano fought back both times to eventually knot things at 6-6, and then, take his first lead at 7-6. Costello, though, won three straight at that point to secure the event title.

Tour representatives thanked their hosts at House of Billiards, as well as sponsors Sterling-Gaming, Ozone Billiards, Poison Cues, Ron Tarr Cues, Kamui Tips, Phil Capelle, BlueBook Publishing, and Human Kinetics. The next stop on the Tri-State Tour, scheduled for February 2, is a $1,000-added, A-D event to be held at Castle Billiards in East Rutherford, NJ.