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Ho Lem double dips five-time champion, Gollan, at 8th Annual Spokane Open

(l to r): Wayne Fenton, Will Wilson, Stephen Ho Lem, Brady Gollan & Brian Kvasnicka

Brady Gollan has won the annual Spokane Open five of the eight times the tournament has been held. With the exception of 2015, when John Schmidt defeated him, he’s won three of the last four. On Labor Day weekend, he came within a single game of claiming his sixth Spokane Open title. Derailing that sixth title was Stephen Ho Lem, who was defeated in a winners’ side quarterfinal, won five on the loss side for a shot at Gollan in the hot seat, and double dipped him (double hill in the deciding match) to claim it. The $3,100-added 8th Annual Spokane Open drew 97 entrants to The Black Diamond in Spokane Valley, WA.
Ho Lem was moved to the loss side in one of the winners’ side quarterfinals by Paul Potier, who advanced to meet Steve Smith in one of the winners’ side semifinals. Gollan, in the meantime, squared off against John Dougherty in the other one. Gollan defeated Dougherty 9-6 and in the hot seat match, faced Potier, who’d sent Smith to the loss side 9-7. Gollan claimed the hot seat 9-7 over Potier and waited for Ho Lem to get back to the finals.
On the loss side, Ho Lem opened his campaign against Josh Smith, defeating him 9-3 and then eliminated Cole Gibbons 9-5 to draw Dougherty. Smith picked up Eric Vargas, who’d eliminated Jack Haggie 9-2 and Wade Thompson 9-7.
Ho Lem and Vargas advanced to the quarterfinals; Ho Lem, 9-4 over Dougherty and Vargas, 9-7 over Thompson. Ho Lem, picking up speed, shut Vargas out in those quarterfinals, and then spoiled Potier’s bid for a re-match against Gollan with a 9-6 victory in the semifinals.
With the intangible advantage of momentum, Ho Lem took the opening set of the true double elimination final 9-3 over Gollan. Gollan fought back to force a 17th deciding game in the second set, but the title went to Ho Lem 9-8.
In addition to the list of 16 competitors who cashed in the event, Phyllis Fernandez and Adrianne Beach took home $100 each as the top female finishers.  
Tour directors Will Wilson and Brian Kvasnicka thanked The Black Diamond’s owner, Wayne Fenton and his staff for their hospitality, as well as sponsors Admen Banner & Sign and Pepsi.

Oscar Dominguez Wins Mezz West State Tour: Season 3: Stop #1

Oscar Dominguez

The Mezz West State Tour is back after a successful end to season 2 with some improvements for season 3. Traditionally, MWST were $2000 added, however, with the addition of several sponsors, we were able to push that added money to a standard of $2500 each event, with 18 events scheduled.
The first stop proved to be a successful one with 106 players from all over the west coast assembling at one of America's finest pool rooms, Hard Times Billiards. Room owners Mike and Karen Markulis are some of the biggest supporters of tournaments for decades and their love for their players continues. The MWST is proud to have three events this season at Hard Times and all the players have rave reviews on playing on their pristine equipment.
Leading the top half of the field was Stockton, CA young gun, Francis Ritarita. Francis, rated a 7 on our tour, has improved dramatically as his play is steadily becoming more consistent. With wins over Aaron Thompson, Bobby Yamasaki, Brendan Crockett, Cole Gibbons, Rudy Estoque, and Tommy "Too Good" Soria; Francis was able to play for the hot seat with solid play for two consecutive days.
The bottom half of the bracket was littered with professional players by the luck of the draw. Heavy hitters such as Mika Immonen, Rodney Morris, Ruben Bautista, Sal Butera, Amar Kang, and Oscar Dominguez all were placed in neighboring positions. However, it was Hungarian sharpshooter and former Junior World Champion, Vilmos Foldes who swam through a river of sharks. His victories included wins over Amar Kang, Jason Freeman, Jaynard Orque, Rodney Morris, Oscar Dominguez, and Jason Williams to set up the hot seat match between Francis Ritarita and himself. However, it was the seasoned pro who put a temporary halt to Ritarita's Cinderalla run to the finals with a dominating 9-4 scoreline.
While Vilmos Foldes dispatched top players to the B side of the chart, it set up marquee matches on who would face the Hungarian for the finals. World Champion Mika Immonen succumbed to San Francisco native, Rylan Hartnett who played excellent to defeat the Finnish champ to a 9-12 finish. The current points leader to the Mosconi Cup points race, Rodney Morris had a massive run through the one loss side with wins over Brendan Crockett, Ernesto Dominguez, Skip Nikakis, and Jason Williams. It wasnt until he faced Oscar Dominguez who himself had recorded several consecutive wins where Dominguez put a halt to the Rocket's quest for first prize. It was Dominguez who then faced Francis Ritarita in the finals of the one loss side and Francis led 8-6 in a race to 9. However, with some gritty safety shots and play, Oscar took the match to end Francis' vision of being the first 7 to win a MWST stop.
The single race finals to 11 between Vilmos Foldes and Oscar Dominguez was an epic battle to say the least These two players fought tooth and nail for every inning and after a quick 6-3 lead by Foldes, a slight hiccup gave all the opportunity Dominguez needed to come storming back. After the dust settled, it was Dominguez who emerged victorious with an 11-8 scoreline and earned himself the first win of season 3 on the Mezz West State Tour.
The staff at MWST would like to thank the Markulis Family and the staff at Hard Times Billiards in Sacramento for all their hard work and continued support. In addition, none of this would be possible without our loyal sponsors which include: Mezz Cues (, West State Billiards Supply (, Aramith Billiard Balls (, Andy Billiard Cloth (, Turtle Rack (, ZAN Tips (, Tony Rodriguez of RE/MAX Gold Coast Real Estate, Kurzweil's Country Meats (, James Hanshew Custom Cues (, Cue Sports International (, Fast and Loose Designs (, Contact Point Media, and On The Wire Creative Media (