Inoa and Flores split top prizes on the Tri-State Tour

Michael Inoa & Annie Flores
When players opt out of a final match to determine the outcome of a tournament, the “What if. .” question often hangs in the air. More often than not, the answer is insignificant. What if players X and Y had played the final match? Who’d have won and would that victory matter one way or another in either standings or the individual players’ record? Usually not. On Sunday, March 10, at a stop on the Tri-State Tour, Michael Inoa and Annie Flores opted out of a final match, and as a result, the occupant of the hot seat at the time (Inoa) became the event’s official winner.
There were are a lot of aspects to the “What if. .” question that remained when the decision to opt out of a final match came into play this time. Our records indicate that Michael Inoa has cashed in only one event, ever. He finished in the tie for 7th place at a Predator Pro Am Tour stop last year. Annie Flores has a long, and somewhat illustrious and recorded career, to include experience (and cash) at events outside of the tri-state New York area. But both of them entered the hot seat match at this event as B+ players. Their hot seat match was a straight-up race to 7 that went double hill and was won by Inoa. Flores came back from the semifinals with the opportunity for a Round Two, but they both chose not to play what would have been an extended race to 9 (had Flores reached 7 ahead of Inoa, the race would have extended to 9). This was only the second time that Flores has competed in the Tri-State’s 2018-2019 season, which has her at #16 on the tour’s list of female competitors and #28 on the tour’s overall list of B+ players. It was the first appearance on the Tri-State for Inoa.
So, what if . . .? Would Inoa have chalked up his first recorded win anywhere (without the ‘asterisk’ fact of no final match), or would Flores have recorded her first win since 2017, when she chalked one up on the Predator Pro Am Tour? Would the B+ guy have beaten the B+ gal a second time? Either way, it would have been an interesting match to watch and arguably, it will be one to watch for in the future. The $1,000-added event this past weekend drew 42 entrants to Steinway Billiards in Astoria (Queens), NY.
Flores got into the hot seat match after downing Russell Masciotti 7-4 in one of the winners’ side semifinals. Inoa downed Ron Bernardo 7-3 to join her. As noted, they battled back and forth to a deciding 13th game, which Inoa won.
On the loss side, Masciotti picked up Jimmy Acosta, who, after being defeated by Flores in a winners’ side quarterfinal, defeated Amir Rashad Uddin 7-4 and Patrick Meyers 8-4. Bernardo drew Noah Vogelman, who’d recently eliminated Paul Ewing 7-1 and Bianca Martinez 9-6.
Masciotti downEd Acosta 7-3, and in the quarterfinals, faced Vogelman, who’d defeated Bernardo 7-4. Masciotti took the quarterfinal 7-5 over Vogelman to earn himself a second shot against Flores in the semifinals.
Masciotti got a rack closer to Flores than he had in their winners’ side semifinal, but Flores downed him a second time 7-5. The decision to not play a final match was made, and left the “what if. .” question in place.
Tour representatives thanked Manny Stamatakis and his Steinway Billiards staff for their hospitality, as well as sponsors Ozone Billiards, Sterling-Gaming, Kamui Tips, Phil Capelle, BlueBook Publishing, Human Kinetics, Pool & Billiards, Professor Q Ball, Bender Cues, DIGICUE OB, and Hustlin USA. The next stop on the Tri-State Tour, scheduled for this Sunday, March 17, will be a $1,000-added A/B/C/D event, hosted by Clifton Billiards in Clifton, NJ.