Fourth Time A Charm For Paul Grande

Paul Grande and DCT Tour Director Dennis Orender

In his Desert Classic Tour history, Paul "New York Paulie" Grande had been to the finals three times. And three times he had gone home settling for second place. The DCT big table eight ball event at Bullshooters over the weekend of July 9th and 10th would prove to be the lucky charm for Paul as he earned his first DCT tournament win.

The field of 23 players saw marquee names sent to the left side of the board as Chuck Evans beat Babe Thompson, Grande beat Gus Briseno and Mike Sandoval beat tour director Dennis Orender - all in the first round.

Of those three first round losers, it was Babe Thompson who went the furthest as he was the only player to make it to the final eight and qualify for Sunday play.

Sunday got underway with Babe eliminating Bobby Emmons 8-7, and Todd Rowitz upending Jim Galati 7-5 on the one loss side. Meanwhile, on the winners side, Chuck Evans defeated Susan Williams 8-4 and Grande beat Ray Robles 8-6.

The next round on the one loss side saw two comeback wins as Babe came back from a 7-6 deficit to defeat Ray Robles 8-7 and Susan Williams take advantage of Todd Rowitz's nerves to come back from a 2-4 scoreline to win five straight and a 7-4 win.

Susan faced Babe for fourth place in a see-saw match match. Susan led 2-0 and 3-1 before Babe came back to tie the score 3-3 and 4-4. From there, Babe appeared to run out of gas as Susan won the next three games for the 7-4 win.

Chuck Evans forged a great comeback in the hot-seat match where he trailed Grande 5-1, only to come back and tie the score at 6-6. From there, Grande won the next two matches and the hot-seat 8-6.

Evans made quick work of Williams in the semi-finals, as he won their match 8-3, and the rematch between Evans and Grande in the finals was on.

The finals was an extended race to 10 and it couldn't have been closer early on. The players traded games and neither could earn more than a one rack lead until the 5-5 mark. Grande had been running out at 5-4, when a touchy position shot left his cue ball in the side pocket and Evans knotted the score at 5-5. Grande was visibly frustrated after the errant shot, and took his break to clear his head. Whatever Paul told himself on the break, it worked. Grande took complete control of the match and won the next five games for the 10-5 victory.

Paul commented after the match, "I was tired. My back hurt. My neck hurt. But you have to play through that if you want to win."

Grande earned $700 for the win, while Evans settled for $400 in second place prize money.

The Desert Classic Tour's next stop will be 9-ball on the 9 foot tables at Pockets in Tucson on August 20-21.