Kuo goes undefeated, splits top prizes with Lam on Tri-State stop
Skip Maloney
Aug. 20, 2019
(l to r): Tony Kuo & Duc Lam
(l to r): Tony Kuo & Duc Lam
It was the same matchup that had occurred at the 2017 Empire State Championships on Long Island two years ago. At that tournament two years ago (February), Tony Kuo and Duc Lam met twice – hot seat and finals – to determine the event’s amateur champion. Kuo got into the hot seat, but Lam came back from the semifinals to win it. On Saturday, August 17, at a $1,000-added Tri-State Tour stop that drew 36 entrants to Steinway Billiards in Astoria (Queens), NY, Kuo and Lam battled it out for the hot seat again and again, Kuo prevailed. This time, though, Lam didn’t get a second chance. Although Lam did win the semifinal match for the right to challenge Kuo in the final, the late hour led to a mutual agreement to split the top two cash prizes. As the undefeated occupant of the hot seat, Kuo claimed the official event title.
 
Victories over Joe Wilson Torres (double hill), Juan Melendez and Shweta Zaveri set Kuo up for a winners’ side semifinal against Raymond Lee. Lam, in the meantime, squared off against Bianca Martinez. Lam and Martinez locked up in a double hill fight that eventually did send Lam to the hot seat match. Kuo joined him after 7-4 victory over Lee. In what proved to be the decisive match of the tournament, Kuo and Lam fought to double hill, as well, with Kuo prevailing in his last match of the evening.
 
Martinez arrived on the loss side of the bracket and ran into Dax Druminski, who’d been sent to the loss bracket by Lam in a winners’ side quarterfinal and then, defeated Max Watanabe, double hill and Luis Lopez 6-2. Lee picked up Luis Jimenez, who’d eliminated Shweta Zaveri 8-4 and Rick Rodriguez 7-4 to reach him.
 
Druminski chalked up his third straight loss-side win 6-1 over Martinez. Jimenez recorded his third straight on the loss side, as well, downing Lee 7-3.
 
Druminski took the quarterfinal match 7-5 over Jimenez to earn his rematch against Lam in the semifinals. Lam, though, closed out the event proceedings with a 9-4 win over Druminski, before agreeing to the split with Kuo in the hot seat.
 
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, Bludworth Ball Cleaner, Quick Slik, Pool & Billiards, Professor Q Ball, Bender Cues, and Paul Dayton Cues. The Tri-State Tour will return to Steinway Billiards this weekend (August 24-25) for a two-day, B/C/D event.