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Two tour veterans, each seeking first Joss NE 9-Ball title, battle it out in finals of season finale

Pete Bowman, Mike Zuglan, Snookers manager Paul Troxell and Ray McNamara

Oldest player to win on tour,’ Bob Darigis, wins Second Chance event

He’d be the first to tell you that it’d been a long time coming. But it did show up. This past weekend (June 4-5), after 20 years of attempts, Ray McNamara (generally known on the tour as ‘Ray Mac’) claimed his first Joss NE 9-Ball Tour title, using the last regular season event of the tour’s 2021-2022 season to do so. In an effort that began (as far as we know) with a 7th place finish at a stop in Bristol, CT in October of 2002, McNamara went on to compete regularly on the Joss and other tours, and more recently, won the 364-entrant Amateur Senior event of the Super Billiards Expo this past April. The $1,500-added, 15th stop on the 2021-2022 Joss Northeast 9-Ball Tour drew 53 entrants to Snooker’s in Providence, RI.

In addition to crowning a first-time champion, the event played host to another event champion, whom tour director Mike Zuglan described as “the oldest person (he could) think of who won any of (their) events.”  A $500-added Second Chance tournament that drew 14 entrants was won by 71-year-old Bob Darigis.

“Ray Mac and Bob were both around in the days when me, Larry Lisciotti and Joe Tucker were still playing around,” said Zuglan.

Ray Mac’s trip to the winners’ circle had to go through another Joss NE 9-Ball veteran, also looking for his first (recorded with us) win on the tour, Pete Bowman. They met twice; hot seat match and finals. Mac had gotten by Nick Coppola, Lida Mullendore, Clyde Matta and Ryan Cullen to arrive at a winners’ side semifinal match against Bob Madenjian, who, it should be noted, finished in the four-way tie for 5th place behind McNamara in the SBE’s Amateur Senior tournament in April and would end up in the same position at this event. Peter Bowman sent Aro Majumber and Brandon Coley to the loss side before encountering the later-to-be winner of the Second Chance event, Bob Darigis, who battled him tooth and nail to double hill before he sent him over, as well. Bowman then downed Darren Jevons to pick up Kerry McAuliffe in the other winners’ side semifinal.

Mac sent Madenjian west 9-2, while Bowman was defeating McAuliffe 9-3. McNamara claimed the hot seat 9-5, which was, as far as we know, his first.

On the loss side, McAuliffe picked up Steve Mack, who’d lost a winners’ side quarterfinal to Madenjian and jumped onto the loss-side wagon with victories over Rich Kravetz 7-5 and Dan Sharlow 7-3. Madenjian picked up Francisco Salas, who’d also lost to Madenjian on the winners’ side (3rd round) and was working on a seven-match, loss-side streak that would take him as far as the semifinals and include the double-hill elimination of Jeremy Sossei, followed by wins over Darren Jevons 7-2 and Frankie Hernandez 7-3.

Mack did his part to secure a rematch versus Madenjian with a 7-4 win over McAuliffe, but Salas took Madenjian out 7-5 and then eliminated Mack 7-3 in the quarterfinals. 

Bowman closed out Salas’ run with a 7-3 win in the semifinals to earn his second shot at Ray Mac, waiting for him in the hot seat. Though Salas would chalk up three more racks against Ray Mac in the finals than he had in the hot seat, Ray Mac prevailed 9-5 to claim his first Joss Northeast 9-Ball title, closing the ‘long time coming’ door behind him.

The final standings in tour points were headed up by Bucky Souvanthong, who appeared in nine of the season’s 15 events, winning five of them. Ron Casanzio finished in 2nd place, based on 10 appearances, with a single win. Jeremy Sossei was in 3rd place, having won three of his five appearances. Len Gianfrate placed fourth, just ahead of Aaron Greenwood. Rounding out the top 10 on the 2021-2022 tour were Jamie Garrett, Dan Sharlow, Frank Hernandez, Mhet Vergara and Bruce Carroll. 

Tour director Mike Zuglan thanked Regina and Steve Goulding and their Snookers’ staff for their hospitality, as well as title sponsor Joss Cues, Turning Stone Resort Casino, Simonis Cloth, Poolonthenet.com, AZBilliards, Aramith, Billiards Press and World Class Cue Care. The next event, the tour’s season finale, scheduled for Sept. 1-4, will be the $25,000-added Turning Stone Classic XXXV 9-Ball Open, hosted by the Turning Stone Resort Casino in Verona, NY

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Dechaine Crowned Blufelt Champion

Mike Dechaine, Ryan Cullen and Darren Jevons

Sixty-four players attended the April 24th & 25th Blufelt (Handicapped) tournament at Shooter’s Billiards and Arcade in Southington, CT. Many eager amateur players tracked in from neighboring states, ready to wage friendly war against other table felt junkies, to satisfy their innate competitive drive. Sixty men and four women converged on a clear sunny day, battling it out to be crowned champion of the literal blue felt.

Day 1:

Many fast matches with big upset, 6-1 by Jerry Barton over Stephen Rowe, Frank Celadita made fast work of Brandon Coley 7-1, Mike Serencko over Phil Inacio 6-2, Steve Romann defeating Oscar DeLeon 6-1. Other close matches: Darren Jevons 8 over Ty Speedwell 7, Chris Blanchard 6 over Alex Bausch 6, and Nick Bousquet squeaked by Jim Gravel by a score of 7-6.

Day 2:

We brought back 12 players for Sunday action – 4 from winner’s side and 8 from loser’s.

Local player Darren Jevons made a big splash in tournament by taking down Nick Bousquet 8-4, Pete Genovese  8-7, Lukas Fracasso-Verner 8-8, losing 9-0 to Mike Dechaine for the hot seat, and eventually outed by Ryan Cullen 8-4. He earned a respected 3rd place for his strong finish.

Cullen was firing back after his initial lost to Alvin Lam 5-5. With strong determination, he bested Jason Noble 8-3, Kenny Hoke 8-3, Pete Genovese 8-5, Kerry McAuliffe 8-5, Alvin Lam 8-5, Lukas Fracasso-Verner 8-5, Darren Jevons, 8-4, and finally succumbed to Dechaine in a one race final, placing 2nd for his impeccable performance.

As expected, Mike Dechaine, a well-oiled machine, mowed down competition up and down the field, giving no one player a chance to win more than 4 game beads on the string. He plowed through Miuller Jaramillo 9-0, Mark Morgan 9-4, Mike Serencko 9-1, Dan Uccello 9-1, Alvin Lam 9-2, Darren Jevons 9-0, and the finals against Ryan Cullen 9-4, crowning him Blufelt champion.