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Savoie, Zieminski and Cullen run out of time and split top prizes on NE 9-Ball Series

(l to r): Kevin Zieminski, Ben Savoie & Ryan Cullen

It’s not difficult enough that pool players have to battle each other, or their own interior mental processes as a tournament advances toward a conclusion. In many cases, involving a variety of factors – number of tables in a room, number of entrants and enforcement of legally established closing times – pool players are in a race against the clock, which sometimes, they lose. On Saturday, February 23, at a stop on the New England 9-Ball Series (#14), Ben Savoie, Kevin Zieminski and Ryan Cullen lost their clock race, opted out of the event’s final two matches (semifinals, finals) and split the top three prizes. It was likely most painful for Ryan Cullen, who, at decision time, was in the midst of an eight-match, loss-side winning streak that ended with his quarterfinal victory. Savoie, in the hot seat at the time, was awarded the official event title, with Zieminski, his vanquished hot seat opponent and Cullen’s potential semifinal opponent, in second place. Cullen had to settle for the official third place. The $500-added event drew 69 entrants to Yale Billiards in Wallingford, CT.
 
Savoie’s upper-bracket path to the hot seat went through Ray Buthe, Gene Hunt, Mario Argentino and Bart Rivezzi, before arriving at a winners’ side semifinal match against Tito Montalvo. Zieminski, in the meantime, worked his way through the lower bracket, defeating David Colbeth, Sr., Troy Fortin, Mike Felix and Joanne Corbett to arrive at his winners’ side semifinal matchup against Josh Christian. Cullen, following victories over Greg Madar and Sal Midolo, had been sent to the loss side by Montalvo, and would earn his right to a rematch, seven loss-side matches later.
 
In a straight-up race to 7, Savoie advanced to the hot seat match 7-3 over Montalvo. Ziemenski joined him after winning his straight-up race to 5 against Christian, double hill. Savoie claimed the hot seat, winning what proved to be his last match 6-1.
 
On the loss side, Cullen eliminated Frank Celedita, Darron Jevens and picked up a forfeit win over Mario Argentino, before downing Frank Porto and moving into the first money round, where he defeated Bobby Hilton 6-1 and Tom D’Alfonso, double hill (5-6; D’Alfonso racing to 7). This earned him his re-match against Montalvo. Christian drew Joanne Corbett, who’d eliminated Anthony Petruzelli 4-2 and in a straight-up race to 4, shut out John Kirwan to reach him.
 
Cullen downed Montalvo 7-3 and moved into his last match, the quarterfinals, against Christian, who’d given Corbett a taste of her own ‘shutout’ medicine, by eliminating her 4-0. Cullen gave up only a single rack to Christian in those quarterfinals, and for all concerned, the night was over. Savoie was the official winner, Zieminski was the runner-up and Cullen would never know whether he could have won the two more necessary to give him the title.
 
Tour director Marc Dionne thanked the ownership and staff at Yale Billiards, 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 (#15), scheduled for Saturday, March 9, will be the $500-added Joe Brown Memorial Tournament, hosted by Buster’s Billiards in Somersworth, NH.
 
Dionne has also notified potential competitors that following the event at Buster’s Billiards, the New England 9-Ball Series will host its $1,000-added Players Championships, scheduled for the week after the event at Buster’s Billiards, on the weekend of March 16-17. Pre-registration is recommended for the event, which will be hosted back at Yale Billiards, and restricted to 128 players. There will be an additional $250-added 10-Ball event, scheduled for Sunday, March 17 (maximum Fargo Rate of 675, races to 5), which will be limited to 32 players.

Burnham comes from the loss side, double dips Fracasso-Verner to win NE 9-Ball Series

Derrick Burnham, Lukas Fracasso-Verner & Steve Romann

As the upper and lower brackets, detailing the progress of Stop #23 on the NE 9-Ball Series, began to join near the end of the tour stop on Saturday, April 21, Derrick Burnham got edged out of the winners’ side of the upper bracket by Bobby Hilton. He moved to the loss side, won five straight to get into the finals against former junior champion Lukas Fracasso-Verner, and double-dipped him to claim the event title. The $500-added event drew 46 entrants to Yale Billiards in Wallingford, CT.

Following his victory over Burnham, Hilton drew Fracasso-Verner in one of the (overall) winners’ side semifinals, while Steve Romann and Kelly Hodder met up in the other one. Fracasso-Verner moved into the hot seat match with a 7-3 win over Hilton and was joined by Romann, who’d sent Hodder to the loss side 6-2. Fracasso-Verner claimed the hot seat 8-5 over Romann and waited for Burnham to complete his loss-side run.
Burnham opened his loss-side campaign with a double hill win over Sal Midolo, and followed it with a shutout over Ryan Urso, to draw a re-match against Hilton. Hodder picked up Shiek Ahmed, who’d won two straight double hill battles, against Phil Medeiros and Mike Marzik, to reach him.
Burnham allowed Hilton only a single rack in their re-match, as Hodder was busy downing Ahmed 5-4 (Ahmed racing to 6). Burnham then gave up only single racks to both Hodder in the quarterfinals (8-1) and Romann in the semifinals (7-1) to finish his loss side run with an aggregate score of 33-7 (his earlier three-match run on the winners’ side featured an aggregate score of 17-8).
In the double elimination final that followed, Burnham gave up more racks in two matches than he’d given up to either his winners’ side or loss-side opponents, combined, over eight matches. But with Fracasso-Verner racing to 7, Burnham won two straight matches, double hill (6-6) to claim the event title.
Tour director Marc Dionne thanked the ownership and staff at Yale Billiards, as well as sponsors Ozone Billiards, Molinari, Bert Kinister, AZBilliards, Inside English, Professor Q Ball’s National Pool and 3-Cushion News, Delta 13 racks, MJS Construction, Bob Campbell, Championship Cloth, and OTLVISE Billiard Mechanics of America. The next stop on the New England 9-Ball Series tour, (#24) scheduled for Saturday, April 28, will be hosted by Maxamillian’s Billiards in Tyngsboro, MA.

Dechaine, from the loss side, and Fracasso-Verner split NE 9-Ball Players’ Championships

(l to r): Anthony Petruzelli, Mike Dechaine & Lukas Fracasso-Verner

In the end, it was a battle of generations. Though Mike Dechaine hasn’t got enough years on his resume to be considered a member of any ‘older’ generation (in the vein of Earl Strickland, Nick Varner, or Shannon Daulton, as examples), he has certainly earned the title of veteran player. At 16, Lukas Fracasso-Verner is still young enough to be considered a ‘Junior,’ although he’s been competing against fellow juniors, veterans and the Pros for over three years now.
 
The two met in the finals of the $2,000-added New England 9-Ball Series Players’ Championships. Held on the weekend of March 17-18, the event drew 56 entrants to Yale Billiards in Wallingford, CT. To the surprise of many, although not, apparently, to Dechaine himself, Mike lost his opening match to Lance Lisciotti. This launched a 10-match, loss-side winning streak for Dechaine that allowed him to challenge Fracasso-Verner in the finals. Dechaine took the opening set of the true double elimination final, before he (with a three-hour drive ahead of him) and Fracasso-Verner (more or less in his own backyard), both at that stage with a single loss, opted out of a final match and split the top two prizes.
 
Dechaine’s opening round loss was a 5-6 victory for Lisciotti (as a Pro player, Dechaine was racing to 10). Asked if the loss came as a bit of surprise to him, Dechaine said that it hadn’t.
 
“No,” he said. “Lisciotti is capable of playing well, and he played well.”
 
Later in the tournament, Dechaine had the opportunity for a re-match, and the results were quite different. It should also be noted that in Dechaine’s 10-match, loss-side run, he won just over 89% of the games he played, with an aggregate score of 110-13.
 
As Dechaine began work on the loss side, Fracasso-Verner (an A player) and Anthony Petruzelli (C+) were advancing through their respective upper- and lower-bracket fields for a meetup in the hot seat match. Verner won four to meet Ryan Urso (a B Player) in one winners’ side semifinal, while Petruzelli won his four to face fellow C+ player, Jimmy Gonzalez in the other one. Fracasso-Verner and Petruzelli gave up only two racks between them (one each, to Urso and Gonzalez) to move into the hot seat match. Fracasso-Verner was even stingier in the winners’ side final, giving up none at all to sit in the hot seat.
 
Meanwhile, back at the (loss-side) ranch, Dechaine was mowin’ ‘em down, one by one. Opening loss-side wins of 10-1, 11-1, and 11-3 brought him into the money rounds, where he defeated Bobby Hilton by shutting him out and then, in his re-match against Lisciotti, sent him home 10-2. This set him up to face Urso, coming over from the winners’ side semifinal. Gonzalez’ first opponent on the loss side was Jack Cooper, who’d shut out Ralph Caton in the first money round, and then survived a double hill fight against Darryl Helm (5-5; Helm, as a C+, racing to 6) to reach Gonzalez.
 
Dechaine and Cooper handed Urso and Gonzalez their second straight loss. With Urso racing to 4, Dechaine eliminated him 11-1. Cooper gave up only one to Gonzalez in a 5-1 victory (Gonzalez racing to 6). Dechaine took the quarterfinal match 13-1 over Cooper, and completed his loss-side run with a 12-2 victory over Petruzelli in the semifinals.
The final match actually dropped Dechaine’s winning-game percentage down a notch, from its 89.4% after the semifinals to 88% at the end of the first double-elimination set. Dechaine won it 10-2, and then, in consultation with Fracasso-Verner, opted out of trying to make it two in a row.
 
Tour director Marc Dionne thanked the ownership and staff at Yale Billiards, as well as sponsors Ozone Billiards, Molinari, Bert Kinister, AZBilliards, Inside English, Professor Q-Ball’s National and 3-Cushion News, Delta 13 Racks, MJS Construction, Bob Campbell, Championship Cloth, and OTLVISE Billiard Mechanics of America. The next stop on the New England 9-Ball Series (#20), scheduled for the weekend of March 24-25, will be a $500-added, 8-Ball event, to be hosted by Legends Billiards, in Auburn, ME.

Gibbs, Jr. wins second set of final to take Stop # 8 on the New England 9-Ball Series

Bobby Hilton, Paul LaVerdiere and William Gibbs Jr

At the eighth stop on the New England 9-Ball Series, held on Saturday, Sept. 26, Bobby Hilton won three on the loss side and the opening set of a true double elimination final to force a single, deciding match against hot seat occupant, William Gibbs, Jr. Gibbs won that second set to claim title to the $500-added event which had drawn 26 entrants to Town Billiards in Hamden, CT.
 
 
The winners' side semifinals in this event pitted two C+ and two B+ players against each other to determine the hot seat opponents. The C+ players, Gibbs, Jr. and Frank O'Malley faced off, while Hilton and Paul Laverdiere, representing the B+ class, met in the other winners' side semifinal. Gibbs, Jr. won his straight-up race to 5, 5-2, while Laverdiere sent Hilton to the loss side in their race to 6, 6-1. Gibbs, Jr. started the hot seat match with three on the wire, and won it 5-5 over Laverdiere, who was racing to 8.
 
 
Hilton started his trip back to the finals against Dave Gavrish, who'd gotten by Robert Piersa 6-4 and Chris Gloersen, double hill (8-4) to reach him. O'Malley picked  up Ed Murray, the only D+ player still at work among the event's final 12, who'd eliminated Kajone Ky, double hill (3-6) and Chris Masterson 3-1.
 
 
Hilton defeated Gavrish 5-3, and in the quarterfinals, faced Murray, who'd ended O'Malley's day 3-4 (O'Malley racing to 6). Murray took a six-game advantage into those quarterfinals, and almost made it happen. He chalked up two of the three racks he needed against Hilton, but Hilton chalked up the nine he needed to win it.
 
 
The semifinal matchup between Hilton and Laverdiere was more competitive than their earlier match in the winners' side semifinal. In their straight-up race to 6, Hilton prevailed 6-4 for a shot at Gibbs, Jr. in the hot seat. 
 
 
With Gibbs, Jr. racing to 5, Hilton took the double elimination opener 8-3. Gibbs, though, rallied in the second set, giving up only two racks to Hilton, and claiming the event title.
 
 
Tour representatives thanked the ownership and staff at Town Billiards, as well as sponsors Ozone Billiards, Molinari, Bert Kinister, AZBilliards, Inside English, Professor Q-Ball’s National Pool and 3 Cushion News, Delta 13 Racks, Bob Campbell, Championship Cloth, and OTLVISE Billiard Mechanics of America. Stop # 9 on the New England 9-Ball Series, scheduled for December 3-4, will be a $1,500-added event, hosted by Stix and Stones in Abington, MA.