Diaz goes undefeated to win his first Tri-State event

Rajesh Vannala, Keith Diaz and Koka Davladze

Keith Diaz avoided a loss-side challenge from Rajesh Vannala to win his first Tri-State Tour stop on the weekend of April 14-15. The $1,000-added, A-D handicapped event drew 53 entrants to Eastside Billiards in Manhattan, NY. 

Diaz' path took him through Jim Ireland, Javier Colayco, Yomaylin Feliz, and Luis Lopez, before facing Pat Mareno, among the winners' side final four. Vannala, in the meantime, had been sent west early, 7-4, by Varum Janeja, and was working on a seven-match, loss-side streak that would advance him to the finals. Joining Diaz and Mareno among the winners' side final four were Ron Gabia and Koka Davladze. Diaz got into the hot seat match with a double hill win over Mareno, as Davladze was busy sending Gabia to the loss side 7-4. Diaz, playing what would prove to be his final match, got into the hot seat with a 7-3 victory over Davladze.

Mareno moved over to face Chris DeCaprio, who'd defeated Luis Lopez 6-4, and Luis Jimenez 6-3 to reach him. Gabia ran into the streaking Vannala, who'd already chalked up four on the loss side, including victories over Annie Flores 7-4 and a re-match, 7-4 victory over Janeja. It was Mareno and Vannala advancing to the quarterfinals; Vannala with a 7-5 victory over Gabia, and Mareno, 6-4 over DeCaprio.

Vannala downed Mareno 9-6, and then survived a double hill semifinal versus Davladze. The clock worked against the finalists, who were unable to play a final match. With Diaz in the hot seat, and Vannala coming from the loss side, Diaz was declared the winner, and the top two prizes were split between them.

Tour representatives thanked the ownership and staff at Eastside Billiards, as well as sponsors Sterling-Gaming, Ozone Billiards, Ron Tarr Cues, Kamui Tips, Phil Capelle, BlueBook Publishing, and Human Kinetics. Next stop on the Tri-State Tour is a $1,000-added, A-D handicapped event, scheduled for Sunday, April 22 at  Cue Bar  & Billiards  in Bayside, NY.