Ellerman withstands late run by Hundal to win Seminole Pro Tour Stop

Mitch Ellerman (Photo courtesy of Bob Beaulieu)

Mitch Ellerman parlayed a fierce break and a strong start in the finals to go undefeated and win the Seminole Pro Tour Stop on the weekend of April 29-May 1. The $12,000-added 10-ball event drew 107 entrants to the California Billiards Club in Mountain View, CA.

It was a roster loaded with name players, many of whom were eliminated early. Earl Strickland defeated Alex Pagalayun in the opening round and Pagalayun lasted only two rounds in the west bracket. Strickland then sent Rodney Morris west in a double hill battle, though Morris would come back to wreak his own brand of double hill vengeance in the battle for 5th place. Seminole tribe-sponsored Corey Deuel lasted for two rounds on the winners' side and three on the one-loss side, defeating Sylver Ochoa, before falling to Paul Juarez. Mike Dechaine, who'd come out of Frisco, TX, where he'd won the Ultimate 10-Ball Challenge a week ago, and then was knocked out early in the One-Pocket event that preceded the Seminole Pro Tour stop, got sent to the one-loss side by Strickland, from among the winners' side final eight. He won three before giving way to Morris in the quarterfinals.

Ellerman's road to the finals wasn't easy. As he moved among the winners' side final four, he'd allowed each of his previous five opponents an exact average of 6 racks per game. He gave up seven in the match versus Louis Ulrich that put him into the hot seat match. His hot seat and finals opponent, Raj Hundal, by comparison, had allowed his opponents, just over four racks per match to move among the winners' side final four and then gave up only three to Strickland to face Ellerman in the battle for the hot seat.

The hot seat match was a struggle from the start. Ellerman and Hundal were tied at 3-3, before Ellerman started to pull away, consistently sinking at least two balls on his breaks, and pulling ahead by three at 6-3. They traded racks to double hill before Ellerman prevailed.

Strickland moved over to face a steaming Rodney Morris, whom he'd sent over in the second round, and was in the midst of an 11-game winning streak that would propel him all the way to the semifinals. With nine in his rearview mirror, Morris survived a double hill battle versus Jesse Engel, and a 9-3 victory over Paul Juarez to get his second chance versus Strickland. Ulrich drew Dechaine, who after being sent west by Strickland fought back through Deo Alpajora, double hill, and Oscar Dominguez 9-6. Morris exacted his revenge on Strickland, as Dechaine moved past Ulrich 9-4. In a quarterfinal match that coincided with the Ellerman/Hundal hot seat match, Morris made short work of Dechaine, allowing him only a single rack, for the right to face off against Hundal in the semifinals.

Hundal got out to an early lead in the semifinals and never relinquished it. Morris pulled within two at 7-5, but Hundal came right back to win the next and final two, for a second crack at Ellerman in the hot seat.

Hundal used that momentum to get out to 2-0 lead in the race-to-11 finals that followed, but he promptly dropped five in a row. Hundal was coming up dry on breaks, but when Ellerman stepped to the table, he was routinely sinking two, and often, three balls, and running the table from there. Hundal took the eighth rack, but Ellerman came right back to win four in a row. At 7-3, Hundal made a request for a vanilla milk shake (reportedly excellent at the California Billiard Club), and though Ellerman would win the next two games (sinking three on the break in the last of these), by 9-3, that shake was apparently beginning to take some kind of effect. Hundal won the superstitiously pivotal 13th rack, and asked  the'room' if someone would break for him, because he wasn't sinking any balls. True to form, he came up dry. Ellerman took advantage and he was on the hill.

Hundal, the vanilla shake now starting to take effect apparently, strung four racks together to pull within two at 10-8. On the last of these four racks, he'd made two on the break. He wasn't so lucky on the 19th rack, as Ellerman took command of the table early. He ran nine balls, and with the cue ball lined up for a straight, one-foot shot in to a side pocket, Hundal conceded.