Simonetti’s back on track on Tri-State Tour

After battling a serious staph infection that led to the amputation of his left hand and foot in March of this year, Scott Simonetti had some initial doubts as to whether he'd ever play pool again, let alone enter a tournament and win. Thanks to an indomitable will and the design of a ‘bridge' prosthetic by long-time friend, Paul Fanelli, Simonetti rejoined the Tri-State Tour in a matter of months, and on Saturday, November 14, he worked his way undefeated through a field of 53 competitors to win the $500-added, A-D handicapped event, hosted by Castle Billiards in East Rutherford, NJ.

From among the winners' side final four, Simonetti sent ChristIan Smith to the one-loss side 7-4, as Roger Hanos sent Sandie Paterino west 6-5. Simonetti prevailed against Hanos 7-4 in the hot seat match that followed, but it was Paterino who'd come back to face him in the finals.

Over on the one-loss side, Stu Warnock and Jonathan Castillo were waiting for Smith and Paterino. Warnock had defeated Brian Hunter 7-3 and Jason Hunt 7-4 to meet Smith. Castillo had advanced past Diana Rojas 6-3 and Duane Toney 6-5 to meet Paterino. Smith dropped Warnock into the tie for fifth place 7-2 and faced Paterino in the quarterfinals, who defeated Castillo 6-3 to join him.

Paterino got a second chance versus Hanos, who'd sent her west from the winners' side final four, with an 8-6 win over Smith in the quarterfinals. She followed it with a 6-4 ‘vengeance is sweet' win over Hanos that put her into the finals against Simonetti.

Identifying the ‘underdog' in this particular Tri-State match was hard to do. On the one hand, Sandie Paterino was up against the higher-ranked Simonetti. Simonetti, though, was in his home room and on the verge of completing his first tournament win in over a year, with all of the medical complications that had interfered in that year very much in evidence.

“They weren't rooting against (Sandie),” said Simonetti of a host of tour friends, like John Alicea and George ‘Ginky' Sansouci, who were on hand, “but they were there to root me on.”

Paterino put up a good fight, but Simonetti was not to be denied. The ‘long, strange trip' back to competitive pool was too close. He hung on to win a double hill opening set of the true double elimination final and bring home the first place prize, which carried with it a certain sense of relief that he had, as he'd hoped he would, returned to what he called, ‘runout' pool, after an ordeal that threatened that skill in his life.

“Oh yeah,” said Simonetti, “the relief was definitely there.”

“I knew over the past month or so that I was playing well enough to win,” he added, “and I was getting used to the (prosthetic bridge) more and more. My weak point was my break. I'd been losing a few matches with that and I'd been learning to control it a little more.

“If there's one thing that came out of this,” he continued, “it's letting people know that anything is possible.”