Minichello wins Rack ‘Em Up season finale, passes Tenzin in tour rankings

In addition to the single event, $1,450 prize purse, what was at stake in the final Rack 'Em Up tournament of the 2010-2011 season on May 15th was $7,400 worth of added money that would be disbursed among the top four point-standing finishers in each of four categories of play (A,B, C, & Women). Three of the four point leaders going into the tournament that drew 50 entrants to Snookers in Providence, RI, emerged as the overall winners of their division – Roarke Dickson (B division; finished in a tie for 9th in the tournament), Bill Roberge (C; finished in a tie for 5th), and Stacie Bourbeau (Women; who was in Vegas for a BCA tournament, and a lock for the top ranking.)

In winning the finale of the 15-event season, Rich Minichello passed previous points leader, Choneyi Tenzin, and took home both the event's top prize of $475 and an added $1,000 for finishing at the top of the tour's A players. Tenzin, who failed to win a match in the season finale, finished second in the tour rankings ($500), with Joe Dupuis ($250) and D.J. Hopkins ($100) behind him.  In the B division (same money), Dickson finished ahead of Kevin Bauccio, Josh Gormly, and Todd Nevins. Roberge, Joe Matarazzo, Jason Manos, and Eric Caron were the winners in the C Division. Among the women, Bourbeau finished ahead of Debra Nicoll, Liz Taylor, and Amanda Parhiala.

Going into the tournament, both Minichello and Dupuis were exactly 100 points behind the "A" leader, Tenzin, who lost his opening two matches in the tournament. Had he won two, he could not have been caught in the rankings. As it was, the only way that Tenzin could be unseated from his rankings throne was if either Minichello or Dupuis won the finale. Dupuis finished in a tie for 13th place, so it was up to Minichello, who had to come from the one-loss side to do it, when Nelson Oliviera bested him in the hot seat match. Minichello had defeated Dev Bhattacharya 5-3 to get into the hot seat match. Oliveira had downed William "Billy the Kid" Lanna 6-2. Oliviera, who earned more ranking points in this tournament (100) than he'd earned in his previous four attempts combined, sent Minichello to the semifinals with a 6-2 victory.

Bhattacharya moved over to face Bill Roberge, front runner in the tour's C rankings, who, at this point in the tournament, could not be overtaken. "Billy the Kid" faced Joe Matarazzo, who, had Roberge stumbled prior to reaching the 5/6 matches, might have caught him. Roberge had defeated Dave Wright 3-3 and Bauccio 4-4 to reach Bhattacharya. Matarazzo had advanced past Roarke Dickson (atop the B player pile) 4-2 and Dave Norton 4-3. Matarazzo got by "The Kid" 3-4, and moved into the quarterfinals against Bhattacharya, who'd ended Roberge's day with a shutout.

It had been Bhattacharya who'd sent Matarazzo to the one-loss side among the winners' side final eight, so the quarterfinals proved to be a rematch; with a vengeance, as it turned out. Bhattacharya chalked up his second straight shutout, ending Matarazzo's bid, and turned for yet another re-match, this time against Minichello, who'd sent him over from the winners' side final four. Minichello 's allowed Bhattacharya only two racks and advanced to the true double elimination finals against Oliveira.

For Minichello, the financial difference between finishing first or second in this tournament amounted to $625 ($125 for the tournament, $500 for the ranking prize). Oliveira, though, was not going to go down easy. Oliveira, who had to reach 6 games before Minichello reached 5, got to four games in the opening set, before Minichello won. He forced a tournament-and-ranking-position final game by reaching five racks, to Minichello's four. Minichello prevailed, though, and won both the tournament, and the tour's top A ranking.

"Billy the Kid" rose to the event's Break and Run challenge, pocketing $49, in addition to the $125 he earned in the tie for fifth place in the tournament. The Rack 'Em Up New England 9-Ball Tour will return for its fourth season on September 18 at Bo's Billiard Club in Warwick, RI.