Cullen comes back from loss side, downs Fracasso-Verner in NE 9-Ball Players Championship
Skip Maloney
Mar. 20, 2019
(l to r): Ryan Cullen & Lukas Fracasso-Verner
(l to r): Ryan Cullen & Lukas Fracasso-Verner
Lukas Fracasso-Verner got by the slightly higher-ranked Ryan Cullen once, but he couldn’t get it done a second or third time in the finals of the New England 9-Ball Series’ Players Championship (stop #16), held on the weekend of March 16-17. Cullen came back from the initial loss and double dipped Fracasso-Verner in the event finals to become the tour’s 2019 Players Champion. The $1,000-added event drew 50 entrants (27 in a lower bracket, 23 in an upper bracket) to Yale Billiards in Wallingford, CT.
 
The two met first in a winners’ side semifinal, which, in effect, was the final of the event’s initial upper bracket. So, too, did Tyler Boudreau and Jimmy Gonzalez meet in a winners’ side semifinal, which, in effect, was the final of the event’s initial lower bracket. Playing with a FargoRate that was six points below Cullen’s (650-644), Fracasso-Verner got by him the first time 7-4, which put him into the hot seat match against Boudreau, who’d defeatEd Gonzalez 4-3 (Gonzalez with the higher FargoRate – 500 to 400 – racing to 6). Fracasso-Verner gave up only a single rack against Boudreau (racing to 4) and claimed the hot seat 10-4.
 
Put another way, Fracasso Verner won the event’s upper bracket competition, while Boudreau picked up the win in the event’s lower bracket competition. Neither one of them would win the overall Players Championship title, won by Cullen.
 
On the loss side, with the brackets still divided, upper bracket competitors Cullen and Mike Hurley met, while in the lower bracket, Gonzalez and John Porto hooked up. Hurley had survived a double hill fight against Bart Rivezzi and eliminated Mario Argentino 7-3 to draw Cullen. Porto had downed Nicole Netherland 5-3 and shut out Tim Nieves to pick up Gonzalez.
 
Cullen downed Hurley, double hill (7-5) and in the quarterfinals, faced Gonzalez, who’d defeated Porto 5-3. In those quarterfinals, Cullen (from the upper bracket) eliminated Gonzalez (from the lower bracket) 9-2.
 
In the semifinals, Boudreau, separated from Cullen by 250 FargoRate points (600-450) put up a double hill fight (in essence, Boudreau began a race to 10, with 6 on the wire), but it wasn’t enough. Cullen chalked up the 10 he needed before Boudreau had won his necessary 4th rack.
 
In a straight-up race to 7, in the opening set of a true double elimination final, Cullen and Fracasso-Verner battled to double hill before Cullen finished it to force a second set. Fracasso-Verner weakened a little in the second set, and Cullen pulled ahead to win it by three 7-4 and claim the Players Championship title.
 
Tour director Marc Dionne thanked the ownership and staff at Yale Billiards for their hospitality, as well as sponsors Predator Cues, USAPL New England, Fargo Rate, Bert Kinister, AZBilliards, Inside English, Professor Q-ball’s National Pool and 3-Cushion News, Delta 13 Racks, MJS Construction, Bob Campbell, Bourgeois Farms and OTLVISE Billiard Mechanics of America. The next stop on the New England 9-Ball Series (#17), scheduled for Sunday, April 7, will be a Partners Tournament, hosted by Snookers, in Providence, RI. The event will be limited to the first 64 teams and pre-registration is recommended.