Rodriguez downs Robles in finals to win Open/Pro Predator Pro Am Tour Championships
Skip Maloney
Dec. 11, 2018
Jorge Rodriguez, Mike Badstuebner, Tony Robles and Zion Zvi
Jorge Rodriguez, Mike Badstuebner, Tony Robles and Zion Zvi
The Predator Pro Am Tour’s top 16 Open/Pro players got together on the weekend of November 11-12 (as they do every year at about this time) to compete in the annual Tour Championships. As it turned out, the last four players standing at the end of the $1,000-added, 10-Ball event, hosted by Raxx Billiards in West Hempstead, NY, ended the season ranked #1 (Tony Robles), #2 (Zion Zvi), #7 (Jorge Rodriguez) and #13 (Mike Badstuebner) on the tour’s list of 25 Open/Pro players. The last player to be eliminated before it became ‘the final four’ was #6-ranked Jimmy Rivera, who ended up in the tie for 5th/6th place when he fell in a double hill fight to Badstuebner. All in all, a good representation of the tour’s top Open/Pro players, who battled to the bitter end.
 
That two-part bitter end was about Jorge Rodriguez and Tony Robles battling twice for the Tour Champion title. They split those two meetings, but Rodriguez won the all-important final meetup to claim the event title.
 
Rodriguez met up with Jimmy Rivera in one winners’ side semifinal, while Robles squared off against Zvi in the other one. Rodriguez and Robles chalked up identical 7-4 victories over Rivera and Zvi and met in the hot seat. Robles claimed it 7-2 and waited on Rodriguez’ return.
 
On the loss side, Rivera picked up Badstuebner, who’d defeated Steven Motilal 7-2 and Chris Derewonski 7-4 to reach him. Zvi drew Frankie Hernandez (#5 on the tour’s Open/Pro list), who’d eliminated John Francisco 7-4 and Max Watanabe 7-1.
 
Zvi moved on to the quarterfinals with a 7-4 victory over Hernandez. Rivera did not, falling to Badstuebner, double hill. In the first-money-round quarterfinals, Zvi got by Badstuebner 7-4, only to be himself eliminated, by Rodriguez 7-3 in the semifinals.
 
It’s something of a surprise any time Robles gets into a semifinal or final of his own tour (as he last did back in September, when he defeated Max Watanabe in the finals of the tour’s 13th stop). Not because he’s incapable of winning a match against any of his fellow Open/Pro competitors, but because, as tour director, he’s contending with so many other issues, unrelated to his own ‘time at table.’ Everything from watching ‘hits’ to determine whether a foul’s been committed, to unexpected issues with players, the room, or something at home. Robles settled for runner-up in this Tour Championship, as Rodriguez came back to defeat him 9-4 in the finals.
 
In addition to the Open/Pro Division, Raxx Billiards also hosted the Amateur Tour Championships (see separate story) and three ‘Further Chance’ events; two Second Chance events, for the upper and lower brackets of the A,B,C,D tournament and a Third Chance event. The $250-added Upper Bracket Second Chance event, which drew 15 entrants, was won by Troy Deocharran ($300), who defeated Thomas Schreiber ($200) 7-5 in the finals. Miguel Laboy and Shawn Sookhai finished in the $85/each tie for 3rd place. The $250-added Lower Bracket Second Chance event, which drew 12 entrants, was won by Irene Kim ($270), who defeated Feng Chau ($150), double hill, in the finals. Suzzie Wong and Ambi Estevez finished in the $75/each tie for 3rd place. The Third Chance event, with no money added, drew the largest field – 16 – and was won by Ray Feliciano ($150), who defeated Duc Lam ($100) 7-5 in the finals. Steve Kalloo and George Poltorak finished in the $45/each tie for third place.
 
Robles thanked Holden Chin and his Raxx staff for their hospitality, his own Predator Pro Am staff and title sponsor Predator Cues, Ozone Billiards, PlayNAPL.com, The DeVito Team, PoolOnTheNet.com, Cappelle (BilliardsPress.com), AZBilliards, Pool & Billiard Magazine and Billiards Digest. The next stop on the Predator Pro Am Tour will be the 2019 season opener, scheduled for the weekend of January 26-27 and hosted by Steinway Billiards in Astoria (Queens), NY.