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Lee goes undefeated to take Predator Pro Am Amateur stop at Gotham City Billiards

(l to r): Andrew Lee, Zain Sundaram & John Morrison

Hernandez takes Open/Pro event
 
Andrew Lee got by John Morrison twice during the Predator Pro Am Tour’s visit to Gotham City Billiards on the weekend of May 18-19, and finished undefeated to claim the event title. According to tour director Tony Robles, the event was something of an experiment, designed to divide the normal crowds that show up for the tour’s A/B/C/D amateur events and lead to seriously late night/early morning finishes. Robles isolated the C/D players and invited them to the $1,800-added amateur event that drew 39 entrants to Gotham City Billiards.
 
Of arguably more ‘human interest’ in the amateur event was a match between husband and wife, Monika and Mike Callaghan. They ended up battling for the right to advance to the amateur event’s first money round. More on this when we get to the loss-side activities of the event.
 
On Sunday, May 19, a $700-added Open/Pro event drew 16 entrants and saw Frankie Hernandez claim that title, by winning the semifinals. More on this when we get to the Open/Pro event.
 
In the Amateur event, Andrew Lee and John Morrison met first in a winners’ side semifinal as Zain Sundaram and Juan Melendez squared off in the other one. Sundaram survived a double hill battle versus Melendez to earn his spot in the hot seat match. Lee joined him after sending Morrison to the loss side 7-3. Lee claimed the hot seat 7-1 and waited for Morrison to complete his three-match, loss-side winning streak.
 
The match between the married Callaghans would not normally appear in a report, because only one of them advanced beyond the 9/12 matches. They battled for the right to make it to the amateur event’s first money round. It was a double hill match, 6-5, won by Monika, at the end of which, according to Robles, she stuck her tongue out at husband, Mike, who was reportedly only partially amused. Her elation didn’t last because in the first money round, Mac Jankov, who’d eliminated Bob Toomey 6-3, defeated her double hill to advance and meet Melendez. Morrison picked up Joe Wilson Torres, who’d defeated Keith Jawahir 7-4 and survived a double hill fight against Tony Ignomirello to reach him.
 
Melendez advanced to the quarterfinals with a double hill win over Jankov. Morrison downEd Torres 7-4 to join him. Morrison took the quarterfinal match over Melendez 7-4 and then, defeated Sundaram 7-3 in the semifinals, to earn a shot at Lee in the hot seat.
 
Lee completed his undefeated run by allowing Morrison only a single rack in the finals. The 7-1 victory earned Lee the tour’s first-ever, strictly C/D amateur title.
 
Hernandez downs Sim in semifinals to claim Open/Pro title
 
The one time they did meet, in a winners’ side semifinal of the Open/Pro event, Jorge Rodriguez and Frankie Hernandez battled to double hill before Rodriguez prevailed to get into the hot seat match. He was joined by Del Sim, who had also survived a double hill match, against Alex Osipov. Rodriguez claimed the hot seat 7-4 over Sim, and unable to continue, forfeited the final match. This elevated the status of the event semifinals, allowing its winner, Hernandez, to claim the event title.
 
On the loss side, Frankie Hernandez picked up Pat Fleming, who’d shut out Jennifer Baretta and eliminated Mike Salerno 7-4. Osipov drew Mhet Vergara, who’d defeated Ashley Burrows 7-4 and survived a double hill fight against tour director Tony Robles.
 
Vergara downed Osipov 7-3, as Hernandez had his hands full surviving a double hill fight against Fleming. Hernandez moved on to defeat Vergara 7-3 in the quarterfinal match, and then, in what in effect was the event final, defeated Del Sim 7-4 to claim the event title.
 
Robles thanked Kevin and Isabel Buckley and their Gotham City Billiards staff for their continuing support as well as title sponsor Predator Cues, Ozone Billiards, PlayNAPL.com, The DeVito Team, PoolOnTheNet.com, Cappelle (Billiards Press), AZBilliards, Pool & Billiards Magazine, and Billiards Digest. Robles also thanked his always-supportive cast of assistants, to include his lovely wife, Gail.
 
The next stop on the Predator Tour, scheduled for this coming Memorial Day Weekend (May 25-27), will be the 9th Annual George “Ginky” Sansouci Memorial Tournament. As always, the $4,000-added event will be held under the combined auspices of the Predator Pro Am, Tri-State and Mezz Tours, and will be hosted by Steinway Billiards in Astoria (Queens), NY.

Sossei In The Joss Winner’s Circle Again

Frankie Hernandez and Jeremy Sossei

Jeremy Sossei made it “three in a row” with a win at the Joss NE 9-Ball Tour stop at Raxx Pool Room in West Hempstead, NY on May 4th. 
 
Although Sossei ended up in the hot-seat, he didn’t get there without a challenge. Sossei started things off with a 9-4 win over Mike Salerno, but then things got a lot closer. Three of Sossei’s next four matches ended up within two racks with a hill-hill win over Mike Donnelly and 9-7 wins over Alex Osipov and then Jennifer Barretta for the hot-seat. 
 
Barretta took the trip to the one loss side, where she found a red-hot Frankie Hernandez waiting. Hernandez had dropped a 9-8 decision to Alvin Thomas in his first match of the day, but then won six straight matches on the left side of the board. He would stretch that streak to seven matches, with a hill-hill win over Barretta in the semi-final match. 
 
Hernandez was able to hand Sossei his first loss in the first set of the finals 9-6, but Sossei came back to win the second set 7-5 for his third straight Joss NE 9-Ball Tour stop win. 
 
The second chance tournament saw Elvis Rodriguez in the hot-seat after a 3-2 win over Donnelly, but it was Donnelly coming back with 3-1 and 3-0 wins over Rodriguez in the finals. 
 
 

Shuff slices through a field of 79 to claim inaugural MD State 10-Ball Championships

Brandon Shuff (Photo courtesy of Erwin Dionisio)

Aranas wins nine on the loss side to challenge him in the finals
 
Brandon Shuff chalked up his first 2018 major event victory at the On the Hill Productions’ 2018 Maryland State 10-Ball Championships, navigating his way through a field of 79 entrants at Champion Billiards in Frederick, MD on the weekend of Sept. 22-23. He went undefeated through that field.  In the end, he claimed the title by defeating, in his final two matches, Earl Strickland for the hot seat and in the finals, Philipines’ Zoren James Aranas, who'd won nine on the loss side to challenge him and was looking to earn his eighth 2018 title.
 
It was an extraordinarily robust field of entrants for an event with a total prize package of just under $6,000 ($5,925) and included a list of this and other country’s top players, beginning with Shuff, Aranas and Strickland. Also on hand were Shaun Wilkie, Zion Zvi, Alex Osipov, Matt Krah and Jorge Rodriguez. There were women competing, as well; among them, Karen Corr, Jennifer Barretta and Kia Sidbury.
 
It was, said Shuff, in a post-finals interview with Billiard Sports Network, the first time that he’d been able to leap the ‘Zoren James Aranas’ hurdle. They’d met, most recently, in April at the 2nd Annual Barry Behrman Memorial, where Shuff was defending the title he’d won in the inaugural event. Aranas sent Shuff to the loss side in a winners’ side quarterfinal match, and though he’d come back through five loss-side matches to challenge him in the finals, Aranas defeated him a second time to claim that title.
 
This time, it was Aranas coming from the loss side. It was Shaun Wilkie who sent Aranas over 7-5 in the second round, which launched the nine-match, loss-side streak that ended in the finals. Shuff in the meantime, was launching his own uninterrupted winners’ side streak with victories over Mark Nanashee 7-2, Kenny Rutman 7-1, Matt Krah in a double hill fight, and Jennifer Barretta 7-4. Shuff drew Eddie Abraham in one of the winners’ side semifinals.
 
Also in the meantime, Earl Strickland was working on the winners’ side toward a meetup with Shuff in the hot seat match. Strickland had downed Eric Gonzalez 7-3, shut out Corey Rausch, defeated Dylan Spohr 7-2, sent James Blackburn west 7-1 and got into a winners’ side semifinal match against Del Sim with a 7-3 win over Wilkie.
 
Strickland got into the hot seat match with a 7-1 win over Sim. Shuff joined him after a 7-5 victory over Abraham. In the battle for the hot seat, their respective Fargo Ratings – 775 for Strickland and 738 for Shuff – gave Strickland a 68.1% edge in their race to 7. In the first of two straight matches, Shuff defied the odds and claimed the hot seat with a 7-4 win.
 
Meanwhile, back at the loss-side ranch, Aranas was working his way through to a meetup with Abraham. Aranas had most recently defeated Joey Korsiak 7-4 (loss-side win #6) and eliminated Wilkie (#7) 7-5 to reach him. Sim drew Jennifer Barretta, originally sent to the loss side by Shuff in the fifth round, who’d most recently defeated Tom Matikainen 7-4 and survived a double hill fight against Adam Kielar.
 
Aranas advanced to the quarterfinals with a 7-3 victory over Abraham, and was joined by Sim, who’d eliminated Barretta 7-4. Barretta’s finish in the tie for 5th place made her the top finishing female at this event. Corr finished just out of the money in the eight-way tie for 25th.
 
Aranas and Sim then locked up in a quarterfinal, double hill fight which eventually sent Aranas to a semifinal match against Strickland. Aranas got his shot at Shuff in the hot seat with a 7-3 win over Strickland.
 
Shuff and Aranas entered the finals with a 68-point differential in their respective Fargo Ratings; Aranas with the advantage, 806 to 738. The calculated ‘odds’ gave Aranas an 80.6% advantage in their race to 7.
 
Shuff didn’t get the Fargo memo. He downed Aranas 7-5 in those finals to win his first 2018 title and claim the first Maryland State 10-Ball Championships.
 
Tour directors Loye Bolyard and Rick Scarlato, Jr. thanked the ownership and staff at Champion Billiards for their hospitality, as well as sponsors McDermott Cues, Navigator Tips, Phillippe Cues, Lights Out Billiards Apparel, TAP Pool League (Chesapeake Bay), Billiards Sports Network, Aramith Balls, and Simonis Cloth. The next On the Hill Productions’ event, scheduled for the weekend of Nov. 3-4, will be the Maryland State 10-Ball Bar Table Championships, to be hosted by Bank Shot Bar & Grill in Laurel, MD.

Robles wins four to take short-field title in Pro Division on Predator stop

Matt Harricharan, Max Watanabe and Tony Robles

Rosario comes from the loss side to avenge early loss to Rodriguez and capture Amateur title
 
Most tour directors tend not to play in their own tournaments, for obvious reasons. With the weight of tournament direction on their shoulders, it can be hard to concentrate on a given game at hand. The variety of organizational and player-related issues that can crop up when you’re trying to take aim at a ball can be daunting. Tommy Kennedy does it down in Florida fairly regularly on his Southeast Open 9-Ball Tour. Mike Zuglan used to do it on the Joss Tour. The Texas Tornado (Vivian Villareal) does it in Texas.
 
Tony Robles plays regularly on his own Predator Pro Am Tour (when the stop includes an Open/Pro event), although until this past weekend (Sept. 15-16), he hadn’t (according to our records) won a stop on his own tour since 2014, when he won twice and was runner-up three times. His most recent effort was aided and abetted by a short field of eight entrants, as most of the would-have-been competitors were playing elsewhere in a qualifier for Accu-Stats’ International 9-Ball Open, which will be held in Norfolk, VA during the time slot which for over four decades was reserved for the US Open 9-Ball Championships, now run by Matchroom Sports and scheduled for April 2019 in Las Vegas.
 
Be that as it may, Tony Robles went through the short field in a series of four matches, hosted by Cue Bar in Bayside (Queens), NY and came out on top. In the meantime, the $750-added Amateur event drew one shy of the 64-player maximum-allowed. Abel Rosario won five on the loss side and came back to avenge an earlier loss to Elvis Rodriguez, defeating him in the finals to claim the Amateur title.
 
Robles’ trip to the winners’ circle started with a 7-0- defeat of Suzzie Wong in the opening round, which set him up to face Troy Deocharran in one of the winners’ side semifinals. Max Watanabe faced Alex Osipov in the other one. Robles got into the hot seat match with a 7-3 win over Deocharran. He was joined by Watanabe, who’d sent Osipov west 7-4. Robles claimed the hot seat 7-3 and waited on Watanabe’s return.
 
On the loss side, Deocharran picked up George Texiera, who’d defeated Eugene Ok 7-4 to reach him. Osipov drew Matthew Harricharan, who’d eliminated Wong 7-1.
 
Harricharan and Texiera handed Osipov and Deocharran their second straight loss; Harricharan 7-4 over Osipov and Texiera 7-5 over Deocharran. Harricharan shut Texiera out in the quarterfinals that followed, and then, had his short, loss-side streak ended 7-3 by Watanabe in the semifinals. Robles defeated Watanabe a second time, 7-3 in the finals to complete his undefeated run.
 
Rosario wins first 2018 Predator stop with a five-match, loss-side run
 
Though he’d won a Tri-State stop earlier this year and cashed in eight Predator stops last year, including a runner-up finish in a January Amateur event, won by Max Watanabe, Abel Rosario had not won a stop on the Predator Pro Am Tour since November, 2015. In this most recent event, a winners’ side quarterfinal defeat at the hands of Elvis Rodriguez sent him to the loss side and a five-match winning streak gave him what proved to be a successful second shot at Rodriguez in the finals.
 
With Rosario at work on the loss side, Rodriguez moved on to a winners’ side semifinal against Jaydev Zaveri, as Greg Matos squared off against Jody Rubin in the other one. Rodriguez and Zaveri locked up in a double hill fight that could have sent Rodriguez to an early re-match against Rosario, but didn’t. Matos downed Rubin 6-2 to join Rodriguez in the hot seat match. Rodriguez defeated Matos 10-8 and in the hot seat, waited on the return of Rosario.
 
On the loss side, Rosario survived a double hill battle against Chris Kelly, and then defeated Michael Luster 7-4, to draw Zaveri. Rubin picked up Paul Carpenter, who’d defeated Tony Ignomirello and Ambi Estevez, both 7-4, to reach him. 
 
Two double hill fights advanced Rubin and Rosario to the quarterfinals; Rubin over Carpenter (6-5) and Rosario over Zaveri (7-6). Rosario won the quarterfinal match 9-7 over Rubin, and then earned his second shot at Rodriguez with an 8-4 win over Matos in the semifinals. He completed his Amateur-title run with a strong 9-2 victory over Rodriguez in the finals.
 
An 11-entrant Second Chance event saw Sly Vanchiro down Esteban Morell 7-5 in the finals to claim his $130 top prize. Morell pocketed $90.
 
Tour director Tony Robles thanked the ownership and staff at Cue Bar for their hospitality, as well as title sponsor Predator Cues, PoolOnTheNet.com, NAPL, Cappelle (BilliardsPress.com), Ozone Billiards, the DeVito Team, and his Predator Pro Am staff. The next stop on the Predator Tour, scheduled for Oct. 13-14, will be an Amateur event, hosted by Steinway Billiards in Astoria (Queens), NY. 
 

Hernandez comes from the loss side to win Pro Division of Eastern States Championships

Open/Pro winners (l to r): Mike Dechaine, Annie Flores, Jorge Rodriguez & Frankie Hernandez

Osipov loses first match to Nau, wins 9 on the loss side to down him in finals of Amateur event
 
The names were all familiar ‘Eastern States’ competitors, recognizeable, for the most part, by their last names – Rodriguez, Hernandez, Dechaine in the Pro event, and Osipov, Nau and Ortiz in the Amateur event. It was Frankie Hernandez who emerged as the Pro event winner of the 2018 Eastern States Championships (Stop #12 on the Predator Pro Am Tour), while Alex Osipov took the Amateur title. Both came from the loss side to complete their title run and defeated the competitor who’d sent them there; Hernandez winning three on that side of the bracket, before meeting and defeating Jorge Rodriguez in the finals, while Osipov, who lost his opening match, won nine on the loss side before meeting and defeating the man who’d sent him there, Victor Nau. The $3,000-added event ($1,000 in the Pro event, $2,000 in the Amateur) drew 23 Pro competitors and 75 Amateurs to Steinway Billiards in Astoria (Queens), NY.
 
Hernandez, Rodriguez and the semi-retired Dechaine were three of the four players in the two winners’ side semifinals of the Pro event, with Rodriguez battling Hernandez and Dechaine squaring off against Rob Pole. Rodriguez got into the hot seat match with an 8-5 win that sent Hernandez to the loss side, where he was joined by Pole, who’d been defeated by Dechaine 8-3. Rodriguez claimed the hot seat 8-6 over Dechaine and waited on the return of Hernandez.
 
On the loss side, Hernandez picked up Pat Fleming, who’d eliminated Mike Salerno 8-2 and Predator Pro Am Tour Director Tony Robles 8-3. Pole drew Rhio Anne (Annie) Flores, making a strong showing in this Pro event, and winning two straight double hill matches, against Mike (Fingers) Badsteubener and wily Predator veteran, Mhet Vergara, to reach Pole.
 
Annie Flores moved into the first-money-round quarterfinal with an 8-3 win over Pole, where she was joined by Hernandez, who’d sent Fleming home 8-5. Flores’ bid for further advancement was halted abruptly by Hernandez, who shut her out. Hernandez then won five matches in a row on his way to an 8-2 victory over Dechaine in the semifinals. He completed his run with a successful rematch against Rodriguez 11-8.
 
Osipov spends all but one match on the loss side and in finals, downs the man who sent him over
 
Alex Osipov, who’s in the midst of his best earnings year, to date (since 2011), came to the 2018 Eastern States Championships with two Amateur victories and one Pro event victory on the Predator Tour this year. Two of those three victories – the single Pro and one of the Amateur events – were chalked up within the last month. So he came, as it were, prepared, though not for being sent to the loss side by Victor Nau in the opening round. Apparently not willing to settle for a short weekend, he worked his way through nine matches on the loss side (including one forfeit win) to eventually meet and defeat Nau in the finals.
 
With Osipov at work on the loss side, Nau advanced to a winners’ side semifinal against Miguel Laboy. Raphael Ortiz, in the meantime, squared off against Luis Carrasco in the other one. Nau sent Laboy to a match against Osipov with a 7-4 win, and in the hot seat match, faced Ortiz, who’d sent Carrasco over 7-2. Nau claimed the hot seat with a forfeit by Ortiz, which meant that the winner of the quarterfinals would be leap-frogging over the semifinals and move directly into the finals.
 
On the loss side, Osipov chalked up loss-side wins #5 and #6 against Paul Everton 8-3 and Mario Lozano 9-7 to pick up Laboy. Carrasco drew Paul Lyons, who’d recently eliminated Ray Feliciano 7-2 and Suzzie Wong (the #2-ranked female on the Predator Pro Am Tour) 7-3. Osipov and Lyons handed Laboy and Carrasco their second straight loss; Osipov 7-4 over Laboy and Lyons 7-2 over Carrasco.
 
Knowing that winning the quarterfinal match would propel them directly into the finals, Osipov and Lyons both put up a fight. With Osipov, who came into the event as the tour’s #1-ranked A+ player and Lyons at #14 among the tour’s C+ players, Lyons began the quarterfinal race to 10 with five ‘on the wire’ already. He won his four to reach the hill, but Osipov won his nine to be there as well. Osipov closed it out and turned for his re-match against Nau.
 
In the straight-up-extended race to 9 final (Nau came into the event at #7 among the tour’s A+ players), Osipov, coming from the loss side, had to be the first to win seven racks to extend the race. He did so and went on to claim the Eastern States Championship’s Amateur title with a 9-4 win.
 
In a full field, 16-entrant, single elimination Second Chance event, Ambi Estevez picked up the first place, $150 prize, after winning a double hill final against Akiko Taniyama, who went home with a $100, runner up prize. Ron Bernardo and Freity DeLaRosa finished in the tie for third place and pocketed $30 each.
 
Tour director Tony Robles thanked Manny Stamatakis and his Steinway Billiards staff for their hospitality, along with title sponsor Predator Cues, PoolOnTheNet.com, NAPL, Cappelle (BilliardsPress.com), Ozone Billiards and the DeVito Team. The next stop on the Predator Tour (#13), scheduled for Sept. 15-16, will feature a $750-added, Double Points Amateur event and a $250-added Pro event, to be hosted by Cue Bar in Bayside (Queens), NY.

Osipov finishes 5th in Amateur event, goes undefeated to take Open/Pro division of Predator Pro Am

John Francisco, Ehmunrao Toocaram, Ron Bernardo, and Han Park

Francisco comes from the loss side to win Amateur division event
 
Alex Osipov had quite a weekend on the Predator Pro Am Tour. He made it to a winners’ side semifinal in the $1,000-added, 80-entrant Amateur event of the July 7-8 stop on the tour, before being sent to the loss side. He lost his first match on that side of the bracket and finished in the tie for 5th place. He moved on to compete in the $500-added Open/Pro event, with 18 presumably tougher opponents, and proceeded to go undefeated through the field to claim that event title. Both events were hosted by the Amsterdam Billiard Club in Manhattan.
 
Osipov advanced through the Open/Pro field to arrive at a winners’ side semifinal match against Matthew Harricharan. Raphael Dabreo, in the meantime, squared off against Jonathan Smith in the other winners’ side semifinal. Osipov defeated Harricharan 7-5 and in the hot seat match, faced DaBreo, who’d sent Smith to the loss side 7-2. Osipov claimed the hot seat 7-4 over DaBreo and waited on his return from the semifinals.
On the loss side, Smith picked up one of the New York Tri-State area’s hottest players at the moment, Joey Korsiak, who’d defeated Duc Lam and Michael Yednak, both 7-5 to reach him. Harricharan drew Hunter Lombardo, who’d recently eliminated Troy Deocharran 7-4 and Zion Zvi 7-5.
 
Korsiak and Lombardo advanced to the quarterfinals; Korsiak 7-5 over Smith and Lombardo 7-3 over Harricharan. Lombardo took the quarterfinal fight 7-4, but by the same score, had his loss-side streak ended by DaBreo in the semifinals. In their re-match DaBreo managed one rack more than he scored against Osipov in the hot seat match, but it wasn’t enough. Osipov completed his undefeated run 7-5 to claim the title.
 
Francisco wins five on the loss side to meet and defeat Toocaram in Amateur finals
 
Sent to the loss side by the eventual occupant of the hot seat, Ehmunrao Toocaram, John Francisco defeated five opponents on the loss side, including Alex Osipov, before meeting Toocaram a second time, in the finals. He defeated him to claim the Amateur event title.
 
Toocaram had advanced through the field of 80 to meet up with Osipov in one of the winners’ side semifinals. Ron Bernardo faced Corey Avallone in the other one. Toocaram sent Osipov to the loss side in a double hill battle, and in the hot seat, faced Bernardo, who’d given up only a single rack to Avallone (6-1). Toocaram won his last match, downing Bernardo 8-5 to claim the hot seat.
 
On the loss side, Osipov picked up what proved to be his final opponent in the Amateur event; the eventual winner, Francisco, who, following his defeat at the hands of Toocaram, had eliminated Chickie Romero, double hill, and Robert Mendoza 9-5. Avallone drew Han Clark, who’d defeated the recently-crowned Tri-State Tour Invitational Champion, Erick Carrasco 7-5, and Kunami Chau 7-4.
 
The loss-side opponents in the battle for advancement both prevailed. Clark downed Chau 7-4, as Francisco sent Osipov to the Pro event with a 9-5 win. In two straight 7-4 victories, Francisco then eliminated Han Clark in the quarterfinals, and Ron Bernardo in the semifinals.
 
Toocaram had sent Francisco to the loss side 7-4 in a winners’ side quarterfinal. In their battle for the event title, they went double hill before Francisco dropped the final ball to claim it.
 
A Second Chance event that drew 16 entrants saw Greg Myer defeat Rene Villalobos, double hill, to claim the $160 first-place prize. Duc Lam finished in third place, with Jay Choi, in fourth. Ambi Estevez took the 10-entrant Third Chance event, claiming the $130 first-place prize after defeating Chickie Romero 7-2 in the finals.
 
Tour director Tony Robles thanked the ownership and staff at the Amsterdam Billiard Club, as well as sponsors Predator Cues, Ozone Billiards, PlayNAPL.com, The DeVito Team, PoolOnTheNet.com, Billiards Press.com, AZBilliards, Pool&Billiards Magazine, and Billiards  Digest. The next stop on the Predator Pro Am Tour, scheduled for the weekend of August 11-12, will be hosted by Boardwalk Billiards in Brooklyn, NY. Robles also reminded potential players that the 2nd Annual New York City 8-Ball Scotch Doubles Championships, to be held under the auspices of his Silent Assassin Productions company, will be hosted by Steinway Billiards in Astoria (Queens), NY on the weekend of August 4-5.
 

Klein comes back from hot seat loss to win his first Tri-State Tour stop

(l to r): Matt Klein & Pascal Dufresne

He hasn’t been around that long. We here at AZBilliards have (now) got 11 payout entries in the database for Matt Klein; nine of them for events on the Tri-State Tour and two on the Predator Pro Am, dating back only as far as a little less than a year ago in August of 2017. In that time frame, he has climbed to the #3 spot on the Tri-State Tour’s C-class Player of the Year standings for the 2017-2018 season. He’s got 24 appearances to his credit in the Tri-State’s current season, including two runner-up finishes in January. In his most recent appearance on the tour, on Sunday, June 10, he came back from a loss in the hot seat match to down Pascal Dufresne in the finals and claim his first title on either local tour. The $1,000-added event drew 47 entrants to Cue Bar in Bayside (Queens), NY.
 
And it’s not like he’s getting lucky draws. In this most recent event, following victories over Jason Goberdhan and Steven Molital, he got by Amy Yu, a C+ player and one of the top 10 women on the tour, and then, in one of the winners’ side semifinals, he drew Dave Shlemperis, the #2 B+ player on the tour. Pascal Dufresne, in the meantime, squared off against Joe Romeo in the other winners’ side semifinal.
 
Klein got into the hot seat match with a 7-5 win over Shlemperis, and met Dufresne, who’d sent Romeo west in a double hill battle. It was Dufresne who claimed the hot seat with a 7-5 win over Klein.
 
On the loss side, Shlemperis picked up Amy Yu, who, following her defeat at the hands of Klein had defeated Ambi Estevez 6-3 and Alex Osipov 9-5. Romeo drew Nathaniel Raimondo, who’d gotten by Ron Chau 7-4 and Jim Gutierrez 8-4 to reach him.
 
Yu and Romeo moved on to the quarterfinals; Yu, with a 7-3 win over Shlemperis and Romeo, double hill over Raimondo. Yu took the quarterfinal match over Romeo 7-2 to earn a re-match against Klein in the semifinals.
 
Klein had allowed Yu only one rack in their first meeting. Yu chalked up five in the semifinals to force a deciding game. Klein won it for a second shot at Dufresne in the hot seat. He took full advantage of the opportunity, downing Dufresne 9-7 to claim his first Tri-State title.
 
Tour representatives thanked the ownership and staff at Cue Bar for their hospitality, as well as sponsors Ozone Billiards, Sterling-Gaming, Kamui Tips, Phil Capelle, BlueBook Publishing, Human Kinetics , Pool & Billiards, Professor Q Ball, Bender Cues, and DIGICUE OB. The next stop on the Tri-State Tour will be the season finale, the Annual Tri-State Invitational Tournament, open exclusively to the top 16 players in each of six ranking categories. In addition to prizes for each winner in the six separate tournaments, awards will also be handed out for Player of the Year, Sportsman of the Year, and what has been described by tour representatives as the “most prestigious award” – Improved Player of the Year. The event is scheduled for June 30-July 1 at Steinway Billiards in Astoria (Queens), NY.

Vann Corteza and Osipov win Open/Amateur stops on the Predator Pro Am Tour

Lee Vann Corteza & Jorge Rodriguez

As the Super Billiards Expo (SBE) draws closer (April 12-15), the ‘pool eagles’ have begun to gather, settling into the Northeast and deploying to a variety of locations for some pre-SBE competition. On the weekend of April 7-8, the Philippines’ Lee Vann Corteza, who finished 9th in the SBE’s Players Championship last year, showed up to compete in the Open division of a stop on the Predator Pro Am Tour. Vann Corteza went undefeated through the field of 16 that showed up for the $250-added event, hosted by Steinway Billiards in Astoria (Queens), NY.
 
A concurrently-run, $750-added (eagles in training) Amateur event drew 83 entrants and was won by Alex Osipov, who came back from a loss in a winners’ side semifinal to win three on the loss side, and down hot seat occupant, Abel Barriento.
 
Belying the type of battles one might expect in an Open event preceding the SBE, the last four standing in this one combined for an aggregate game score of 28-3 in the event’s final four matches. The hot seat match was a shutout by Vann Corteza, while the final three matches – quarterfinal, semifinal and final – yielded 7-1 match scores.
 
Vann Corteza and Jorge Rodriguez fought twice in this event; hot seat and finals. Vann Corteza survived a double hill fight against Zion Zvi in one winners’ side semifinal, while Rodriguez downed Sean “Alaska” Morgan in the other one. Vann Corteza got into the hot seat with a rare shutout over Rodriguez.
 
On the loss side, Zvi picked up Luke Rollison, who’d gotten by Eddie Kunz and Justin Muller, both 7-4. Morgan drew Hunter Lombardo, who’d eliminated Mhet Vergara, double hill and Gary O’Callaghan 7-5. Zvi advanced to the quarterfinals by coming out on top of his second straight double hill match, and was joined by Lombardo, who downed Vergara 7-4.
 
Hunter gave up a single rack to Zvi in the quarterfinals, before Rodriguez gave up only a single rack to him in the semifinals. Vann Corteza completed his undefeated run with a combined (hot seat and finals) match score of 14-1.
 
[photo id=49122|align=right]Osipov wins three on the loss side to meet and defeat Barriento in Amateur finals
 
In the Amateur event, Alex Osipov came back from an 8-6 loss to Abel Barriento in a winners’ side semifinal, to defeat him in the extended-race finals by the same score. Paul Carpenter, after surviving a double hill match against Luis Carrasco, faced Barriento in the hot seat match. Carpenter came out on the losing end of his second straight double hill fight, leaving Barriento in the hot seat.
 
Osipov and Carrasco got right back to work on the loss side. Osipov won an 8-6 match over Gary Bozigian, who’d eliminated Paul Everton 7-4 and Eugene Ok, double hill, to reach him. Carrasco, in a 7-4 win, downed Greg Matos, who’d previously defeated Ramilo Tanglao 7-5 and Corey Avallone 6-4.
 
Osipov took the quarterfinal match Carrasco 9-5, and earned himself a second shot at Barriento with a 9-6 win over Carpenter in the semifinals. Osipov reached his 8 racks first, ahead of Barrieto, in the extended-race finals, and added two to win it 10-6.
 
A Second Chance event that drew 14 entrants saw Max Watanabe down Erick Carrasco, double hill, in the finals to win it. Ray Feliciano and Paul Everton finished in the tie for 3rd place.

Markopoulos and Rosario split top prizes on the Tri-State Tour

(l to r): Abel Rosario and Dimos Markopoulos

For the second week in a row, the two finalists scheduled to face each other in a last match on the Tri-State Tour opted out of what would have been a very late-night match and split the top two prizes. As the undefeated occupant of the hot seat at the time, Dimos Markopoulos claimed the official event title of the $1,000-added event, held on Saturday, February 3, which drew 47 entrants to Steinway Billiards in Astoria (Queens), NY. As had happened the week before, the loss-side opponent in what would have been the final match (in this case, Abel Rosario) had come from relatively deep on the loss side for the right to challenge Markopoulos in the finals; last week, Matt Klein won seven on the loss side for the right to face Llija Trajceski in finals that never happened.
 
Unlike the previous week, the two finalists in this one (Markopoulos and Rosario) had met before; in a winners’ side quarterfinal, won 7-4 by Markopoulos, who advanced to a winners’ side semifinal against Carlos Serrano. Max Jankov (responsible for sending last week’s runner-up, Klein, to the loss side) faced Max Watanabe in the other winners’ side semifinal.
 
Markopoulos and Serrano battled to double hill before Markopoulos finished it to advance to the hot seat match. Watanabe downed Janko 9-7 to join him. Markopoulos defeated Watanabe 7-3 in the hot seat match that proved to be his last.
 
On the loss side, Rosario opened his five-match trip back to the finals with two straight double hill wins, over Vinny Crescimanno and Shweta Zaveri, and drew Serrano. Jankov picked up Alex Osipov, who’d defeated Victor Dabu, double hill and Daniel Feliciano 11-7 to reach him.
 
Osipov and Rosario advanced to the quarterfinals; Osipov with a double hill win over Jankov and Rosario 8-3 over Serrano. In the seventh double hill match of eight among the event’s final 12 competitors, Rosario defeated Osipov in those quarterfinals.
 
In the final double hill match among the event’s final 12, Rosario downed Watanabe in the semifinals. Rosario and Markopoulos opted out of the final match, with Markopoulos entering the record books as the event’s official winner.
 
Tour representatives thanked Manny Stamatakis and his staff at Steinway Billiards for their hospitality, as well as sponsors Ozone Billiards, Sterling-Gaming, Kamui Tips, Phil Capelle, BlueBook Publishing, Human Kinetics, Pool & Billiards, Professor Q Ball, Bender Cues, and DIGICUE OB. The next stop on the Tri-State Tour, scheduled for Sunday, February 18, will be a double-points, 10-ball event, hosted by Cue Bar in Bayside (Queens), NY.

Osipov stops a bid by O’Callaghan and goes undefeated on the Predator Tour

Abel Rosario, Chickie Romero, Gary O’Callaghan, Not pictured – Alex Osipov

Alex Osipov has spent most of his pool career alternating between stops on the New York-based Predator and Tri-State Tours. According to our records, he’s chalked up two wins on the Predator Tour and cashed in 32 events on both tours over the past six years. His last win was recorded in January, last year. He added a third win on the Predator Tour on the weekend of September 16-17, navigating his way through a field of 73, stopping a loss-side bid by Gary O’Callaghan, and going undefeated to claim the event title. The $1,000-added event was hosted by Cue Bar in Bayside (Queens), NY.
 
Advancing to a winners’ side semifinal, Osipov faced Brooke Meyer, who had just sent his eventual opponent in the finals, Callaghan, to the loss side. Chickie Romero, in the meantime, squared off against Kris Bisram. Osipov downed Meyer, double hill, and in the hot seat faced Romero, who’d sent Bisram west 7-3. Osipov sent Romero to a semifinal match against O’Callaghan 8-6, and waited in the hot seat for O’Callaghan to complete his loss-side run.
 
That five-match, loss-side run began with an 8-5 win over Omar Alli, and a double hill win over Mike Salerno, which set O’Callaghan up to face Meyer. Bisram drew Abel Rosario, who’d eliminated Xavier Romero 7-1 and Chris Kelly, double hill.
 
O’Callaghan and Rosario advanced to the quarterfinals; O’Callaghan, double hill over Meyer, and Rosario advancing by virtue of a forfeit by Bisram. O’Callaghan then downed Rosario 8-5 in those quarterfinals, before winning his third, loss-side, double hill fight, against Romero in the semifinals.
 
Osipov, though, stopped the run that would have given O’Callaghan his second September win on the Predator Tour (he won the September 2-3 stop at Steinway Billiards). Osipov claimed the event title with a 7-4 win in the finals.
 
The Predator Tour also hosted both a Second and Third Chance, single elimination tournament. The Second Chance drew 14 entrants and was won by Kevin Shin in a double hill final victory over Thomas Schreiber. Steven Molital and Eddie Kunz finished in the tie for third place. Mike Salerno picked up the win in the 12-entrant Third Chance tournament, downing Max Watanabe, double hill, in the finals. Erick Carrasco and Ambi Estevez finished in the tie for third place.