Kazakis Wins Player Relief Open
AzB Staff
Nov. 9, 2018
Alex Kazakis (Photo courtesy of Erwin Dionisio)
Alex Kazakis (Photo courtesy of Erwin Dionisio)
With the last minute cancellation of the 2018 Tornado Open, a large number of top players who were in the states for the event found themselves with in search of a place to play and an event to play in. It would have been easy for anyone to just shake their head and think that it was another bad roll for the players. Sandcastle Billiards’ owner Ed Liddawi isn’t just anyone though. 
 
On short notice, Liddawi put together the Player Relief Open 9-Ball Tournament at Sandcastle on November 8th and drew a talented field of international players. “I felt real bad about the tragic situation with the cancellation of the Tornado Open not only for Vivian Villarreal but for all the struggling traveling players that spent so much money on flights and hotels just to get to New Jersey. Not only were they out money but they also had no competition to enjoy or try to make up for their losses.”, Liddawi said. “Being a premier pool room in NJ dedicated to the serious player, I just HAD to do something while all the top players from around the World were already in the same state.”
 
The field of players was a who’s who of top talent including such notables as Alex Kazakis, Casper Matikainen, James Aranas, Johann Chua, John Morra, Konrad Juszczyszyn, Kristina Tkach, Maksim Dudanets, Ruslan Chinakhov and Mieszko Fortunski
 
The two players who were able to navigate this field of tough players without a loss were James Aranas and Casper Matikainen. Aranas had wins over 14 year old Ivo Linkin, Juszczyszyn and Chinakhov, while Matikainen had wins over Chua, Morra, Eric Bayhon and Fortunski. Aranas then took the hot-seat with a 7-4 win over Matikainen. 
 
Alex Kazakis had lost his second match of the day to Fortunski 7-5, but was cruising through the left side of the board. To get to the semi-final match against Matikainen, Kazakis had wins over Tkach, Joey Korsiak, Chinakhov and Dudanets. He then scored a 7-4 win over Matikainen to earn his spot in the finals. 
 
With the momentum of his one loss side winning streak, Kazakis defeated Aranas 7-3 in the first set of the finals and then again hill-hill in the second set to earn first place and $1,200 in prize money. 
 
After the tournament, Liddawi expressed his gratitude to Iwan Simonis, Aramith Billiard Balls, Outsville Inc., Accu-Stats Video Productions, Erwin Dionisio, Ivan Lee, Roy's Basement Ariel Roy Francisco, Jerry Forsyth, Mike Howerton, Billiards Digest, Michael Panozzo, GoPlayPool.com, Ramin Bakhtiari, Patrick Fleming, Jim Fredericks,  Jose Burgos, Paul Lieb, Michael Sasso, Alyssa Solt, Saliba Liddawi, Nawal Liddawi, Alex Liddawi and Anastasia Beaverhausen. 
 
With all of those thanks, he forgot the most important thanks. That was a thanks to Liddawi himself for coming through for the players like he did. It’s room owners like Liddawi that keep this game alive.