Guzman wins nine from the west to take Predator Amateur stop

Zee Shan Safdar (3rd), Darwin Vergara (2nd), Juan Guzman (1st)


To be 'on your game' and romp undefeated through a field of competitors is one thing. In many ways, an early-round defeat, followed by a string of games with the sword of elimination hanging over your head is sweeter, not to mention more impressive. Juan Guzman took that route in the May 4-5 Amateur stop on the Predator Tour, winning nine on the loss side before meeting and defeating Darwin Vergara in the finals. The $500-added Amateur event drew 40 entrants to the Cue Bar in Bayside, NY.
With Guzman out of the way early, falling to Steve Kalloo in the second round, Vergara moved among the winners' side final four to meet Shawn Sookhai. Christian Smith met Zee Shan Safdar in the other winners' side semifinal. Vergara downed Sookhai 7-3, and was met in the battle for the hot seat by Safdar, who'd sent Smith west 7-4. Vergara won his last with a 7-3 win over Safdar that left him in the hot seat.
It was Sookhai who had the misfortune to run into Guzman, who was four matches into his nine-game, loss-side winning streak, including a win over Bogie Uzdejczyk 7-4 and a double hill victory over Raphael DaBreo. Smith drew Tommy Hagen, who'd gotten by co-tour director Bill Finnegan 7-4 and "The Warrior," Carl Yusuf Khan, double hill. Guzman and Hagen handed Sookhai and Smith their second straight losses - Guzman 7-5 over Sookhai, Hagen 7-3 versus Smith - and met in the quarterfinals.
Guzman eliminated Hagen 7-5 and then, gave up only a single rack in a semifinal victory over Safdar. Though Vergara would receive moral support from a proud father, Mhet Vergara, Guzman went on to take the final match 9-7 and claim the event title.