Ernesto Domignuez Wins The Swanee Memorial

Ernesto Dominguez waded through a tough 128 player field to win his first Jay Swanson Memorial Tournament. The steady Dominguez, a regular performer on pro pool tours for many years, has been an infrequent visitor to San Diego, mostly due to the time constraints of his other job. He is the much sought after pool table mechanic for major pool rooms all over the West Coast. His signature work, tight perfectly cut pockets, can be seen on pool tables wherever big games are played.

Many people had forgotten Ernesto's dominance of tournament pool in Southern California during the 1980's, when he was the man to beat, along with the hallowed Swanee. Those two hooked it up in many tournament finals and it was always closely contested and marked by the good sportsmanship exhibited by both these men.

The last two years has seen Ernesto's re-emergence on the Southern California pool scene. This being his third victory in large field events, featuring many top players. And this event certainly had its share of top guns, with names like Stalev, Paez, Castro, Schmidt, Hemmah and Chavez to contend with. Pre event favorites Stalev and Paez got early exit passes thanks to some unsung heros. Stalev or "The Russian" as he is known in the pool world, fell victim first to Glenn Rosete 9-4 and then got sent packing by Dan Wallace 9-8. Paez lost to Don Westbrooks 9-5 and Diamond Billiards boss Greg Sullivan gave him a 9-6 sendoff.

Meanwhile Ernesto was quietly cruising along defeating Jerry Decker 9-1, Wallace 9-5, Rosete 9-2, Dave Sparks 9-7, John Bryant 9-6 and Sam Manaole 9-2 to reach the hot seat match with another old rival Arturo Rivera. Arturo hasn't been seen much in these parts since moving north to San Luis Obispo several years back, but he decided to have a little reunion with his pool buddies. It was a nice welcome home for Rivera as he swept by Louie Ulrich 9-5, John Troy 9-7, Hiroshi Kitamoto 9-3, Brian Parks 9-6, Rick Tobin 9-5 and Dave Hemmah 9-5 to reach the match with Ernesto.

On the losers side of the board Louie Ulrich was tearing things up, winning eight in a row until being upended by Bernardo Chavez 9-6. The beefy Glen Rosete, who resembles Rodney Morris in size and style, won six in a row before Dave Hemmah dropped a 9-5 bomb on him. Hemmah then knocked out Chavez 9-6 to reach the final three. It was Bernardo's second loss to Dave in the tournament, losing 9-7 earlier.

In the hot seat match Ernesto sent Arturo over to meet Hemmah with a 9-4 drubbing. The losers side final turned into a marathon with Arturo reverting to slowdown tactics to try to derail Dave. Two hours later Dave emerged on top of a 9-8 battle. The long final match was an exhibiton of top flite 9-Ball with both players showing great form. Dave Hemmah has stepped up his game and it is beginning to show results. He fought tooth and nail with Ernesto right down to the wire, finally succumbing by a 13-11 margin.

The tournament was held at two establishments owned by Mark Griffin. The first day was played at Gaslamp Billiards in downtown San Diego and the second day's play moved to College Billiards in the El Cajon neighborhood. Griffin and Jay Helfert teamed up to run the tournament. This event has become so popular that more than two dozen players arrived on Saturday morning at Gaslamp and were too late to get into the field, which had shut off at 128.

2. Dave Hemmah $1,400
3. Arturo Rivera $920
4. Bernardo Chavez $600
5-6 Glen Rosete & Sam Manaole $400
7-8 John Bryant & Louie Ulrich $300
9-12 Mike Defino, Toshi Akimoto, Rick Tobin & Jason Krisle $220
13-16 Lorry Deleon, Don Westbrooks, Dave Sparks & Sy Nakashima $160
17-24 Brian Parks, Eddie Uber, Scott White, John Troy, Corey Harper, Steve Eakins, Damian Alishan and Don McClelland $120
25-32 Dan Petralba, Chuck Evans, Pete Lhotka, Kousuke Fujita, Greg Sullivan, Ned Morris, Dan Wallace and Hiroshi Kitamoto $70
33-48 Jon Henson, Zay Smith, Carlo Cabarlo, Ron McCommish, Jack Ripple, Ernie Rivas, Anthony San Filippo, Scott Slayton, Morro Paez, John Pasquarella, Jay Helfert, Robert Morales, Dave Nakano, Clint Palaci, Tina Pawloski and Ray Lorenzo $40