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Masciotti breaks through to win his first regional tour event, going undefeated on Tri-State Tour

Russell Masciotti & Matt Klein

It was the second time that Russell Masciotti and Matt Klein had met in the hot seat match on the Tri-State Tour. Last year, in April at Cue Bar in Queens, NY, Masciotti, looking for his first regional tour win anywhere, sent Klein to the loss side in that event’s hot seat match. Klein returned from a semifinal victory over Shane Torres to deny Masciotti that first regional tour win.

This year, on Sunday, March 8 at a $1000-added stop that drew 38 entrants to Steinway Billiards in Astoria (Queens), NY, things played out a little differently. The event last year was described (by me) as a “battle of the Bs,” both players at the time playing at a ‘B’ level on the tour. This year, Klein’s an ‘A’ player; second on the tour’s ‘A’ list, and was just coming off of a tour win a week ago. Masciotti is still a ‘B’ player; #15 on that list and still in the hunt for his first major win. They didn’t play in the hot seat match this year, because Klein was sent to the loss side early by Abel Barriento and had to win seven loss-side matches just to be in the finals. Masciotti stopped Klein’s run in the finals, finishing undefeated to claim the event title and his first regional tour win.

Masciotti’s path went through Basdeo Sookhai, David Grant and Julian Tierney before coming up against Thomas Schreiber in a winners’ side semifinal. In the meantime, Allison LaFleur and Ada Lio squared off in the other winners’ side semifinal.

Masciotti got into the hot seat match with a 7-3 win over Schreiber. LaFleur joined him after sending Lio to the loss side 6-3. Masciotti claimed his second-ever hot seat, downing LaFleur 7-5.

On the loss side, it was Schreiber who picked up Klein, four matches into his loss-side winning streak, that had recently included wins over Julian Tierney 7-5 and a double hill win over Sherwin Robinson. Lio drew Jason Goberdhan, who’d eliminated Qian Chen 6-2 and survived a double hill win over Brandonne Alli to reach him.

Klein defeated Schreiber 7-5, and in the quarterfinals, faced Goberdhan, who’d sent Lio home 6-2. Klein advanced into two straight double hill fights, winning the first 8-7 over Goberdhan in those quarterfinals and then, defeating LaFleur 9-8 in the semifinals.

And so it was, that just a month shy of a year later, Klein and Masciotti met again in the finals on the Tri-State Tour. They battled back and forth to a 5-5 tie, before Masciotti reached the hill (6) first. In the middle of what looked to be a relatively easy runout that would have extended the match for Klein, he missed his shot at the 8-ball. Masciotti stepped up and cleared the table to claim the event title and his first regional tour win.

Tour representatives thanked Manny Stamatakis and his staff at Steinway Billiards for their hospitality, as well as Ozone Billiards, Sterling-Gaming, Kamui Tips, Phil Capelle, Bloodworth Ball Cleaner, Pool & Billiards, Professor Q Ball, Bender Cues, Liquid Weighted Cues and Billiards Engineering. The next stop on the Tri-State Tour, scheduled for Sunday, March 15, will be hosted by Clifton Billiards in Clifton, NJ.

Guzman goes undefeated, splits Tri-State top prizes with LaFleur

Juan Guzman & Allison LaFleur

Juan Guzman returned to Steinway Billiards on Sunday, October 6 to chalk up his first 2019 Tri-State victory*. He’d recorded a win on the Predator Pro Am Tour at Steinway back in April and a month later, finished in the tie for 9th place at the 9th Annual Ginky Memorial, sponsored by both tours and hosted by Steinway, as well.  He and the tour’s #3-ranked female competitor, Allison LaFleur, allowed the result of their hot seat match to stand (a win for Guzman) and opted out of a final. The $1,000-added event drew 47 entrants to Steinway.

Guzman’s path to the winners’ circle went through some Tri-State heavy hitters; Joe Mazzeo, Philip Pearce, Matt Klein and Shivam Gupta to arrive at a winners’ side semifinal against Lidio Ramirez. LaFleur, in the meantime, challenged Jason Goberdhan in the other one.

Guzman advanced into the hot seat match with a 7-2 win over Ramirez and was joined by LaFleur, who’d survived a double hill battle against Goberdhan. Guzman claimed the hot seat and, as it turned out, the event title with a 10-6 victory over LaFleur.

On the loss side, Ramirez picked up David Grant, who’d defeated Matt Klein 7-4 and Shivam Gupta 7-5 to reach him. Goberdhan drew Mark Antonetti, who’d eliminated Ada Lio 6-4 and just did squeak by Adrian Daniel 6-5.

Ramirez and Goberdhan handed Grant and Antonetti their second loss; Ramirez, 7-5 over Grant and Goberdhan 6-2 over Antonetti. A double-hill quarterfinal followed, which ultimately advanced Ramirez to the semifinals against LaFleur.

In what proved to be the last match of the night, LaFleur and Ramirez made it entertaining, coming to within a game of double hill before LaFleur edged out in front near the end and won it 10-8. Guzman and LaFleur opted out of the final, they split the top two prizes and Guzman chalked up the official win.

Tour representatives thanked Manny Stamatakis and his Steinway Billiards staff 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, Dayton Cues, Liquid Weight Cues, Billiards Engineering, and Bloodworth Ball Cleaner. The next stop on the Tri-State Tour, scheduled for Sunday, Oct. 13, will be hosted by The Spot in Nanuet, NY.

Dany Recinos crowned the 2016-2017 Tri-State Tour Invitational Champion

Dany Recinos

The twentieth annual Tri-State Tour Invitational Tournament took place June 24 & 25, 2017, at Steinway Café and Billiards in Astoria, NY. The weekend was another huge success for the tour with 14 A & A+ Players, 30 B & B+ Players, 32 C & C+ Players and 16 D & D+ Players who earned their way in to compete in their respective classes and play for their chance to be named the Tri-State Tour Invitational Grand Champion. Steinway Café and Billiards hosted the event for the third year and once again provided a great atmosphere and playing environment for the players. Steinway Café and Billiards owner Manny Stamatakis and the staff including Anna and George were as always very professional, helpful and gracious. Manny donated the room and all the table time. Their generosity and support to the players and the event as always were exemplary. The staff and everyone at the room assured the events success. Steinway Café and Billiards, home of the World Pool Series, is an excellent venue for any event, it has professionally maintained tables, a clean fresh atmosphere and some of the most scrumptious food in NYC.  
As each day began, organizers John Leyman, Todd Fleitman, Rick Shellhouse & Daniel Cintron congratulated the players on reaching the top of their classes for the season and handed out awards to the top players of the year in each class. The Tri-State Tour added $4000 in cash prizes and the sponsors John Bender Custom Cues, Ozone Billiards, Kamui Tips, Sterling Gaming, Capelle’s Pool Books, OB Cues and the DIGICUE, Pool & Billiards, Professor-Q-Ball’s News, Blue Book Publications, Steinway Café and Billiards, Amsterdam Billiards, and Romer’s Trophies went out of their way to provide the event with excellent equipment and prizes. The sponsors as the Tri-State has always maintained are owed a debt a gratitude for their dedication to the game and the players, their efforts and generosity are what always make the event so special and such a great success and without their continued support of the sport and the players this event could not happen. 
Awards were presented to the top 3 players in each class, the Most Improved Player of the Year, and Sportsman of the Year. The most improved player went to Max Watanabe. Max has been a good B level player for years but his game leveled out and he appeared to have reached the top of his game but over the last year Max shattered the ceiling on his game making great strides in his consistency and abilities to become a very strong A class player. His game is still improving at an accelerated pace and it would not surprise the tour if he was back again next year as the most improved again.   Each year the tour awards one player the “Sportsperson of the Year” award. It is awarded to someone the tour believes exemplifies what a player should be and how they should act and this year’s award went to Mike Strassberg. This is Mikes second time winning the award which goes a long way in proving just how much of a true sportsman he is. His exemplary attitude at events no matter what is happening, from players with bad attitudes, to rooms with AC problems, to whatever comes up, proves time and time again what other players should strive to emulate. 
The top players of the year in their respective classes were Atif Khan in the A+/A class, Carl Yusuf Khan B+ player, last year’s Grand Champion Jaydev Zaveri winning the B class, the last 3 classes the C+, C and D+/D classes were all won by players who won for the second year in a row. Those players were Tony Ignomirello winning the  C+, Bob Toomey in the C player and Jim Gutierrez in the D+/D class. This year saw some new ladies rise to the top of the leader board with the Ladies Player of the Year being Allison LaFleur. For a full list of winners for all the classes and events, please see the web site
The action in the tournament got going around ten on Saturday morning, June 24 with the B+ and B class players along with the D+/D players kicking off the event.  The B+ class was won by some very strong play from Basdeo Sookhai, a former Grand Champion of the event. Basdeo got to the hot seat match against Kirill Safromov and lost to Kirill 7-2. On the one loss side, Basdeo played an exhausted Carl Yusuf Khan who had lost his first match of the day to Basdeo and then fought his way up the one loss side to once again challenge Basdeo. In the semi-final match Carl just could not keep up the pace and Basdeo beat him 7-4. This set up another rematch for Basdeo in the finals against Kirill where Basdeo played above his game and won the match 7-4. 
In the B-Class Kevin Scalzitti played extremely well all day and bested all comers to win the B-Class undefeated. In the hot seat match, Kevin Scalzitti beat Kevin Shin on the hill to send him to the one loss side where he met up with Thomas Schreiber, whom he had beaten in the first match of the day 7-5. Thomas played 5 matches on the one loss side to get back to the semi-finals and another shot at Kevin Shin. In the semi-finals Thomas won 7-5 and proceeded to the finals but Kevin Scalzitti was on a roll and beat Thomas 7-4 in the finals.
Kevin and Basdeo squared off in the B+ – B Class playoff and Basdeo continued to play well and sent Kevin home by beating him 7-5.
The D+/D class saw Carlos Serrano play well all day and he cruised to the finals. Carlos played Nancy Chung in the hot seat match and won impressively 6-2. Allison LaFleur, the Ladies player of the year, played her first two matches well but in the third match she came up against Carlos who got a good roll and won the set 5-4. Allison moved to the one loss side and won her next 3 matches to get to the finals and a rematch against Carlos. The rematch was a lot like the first match with each player trading games but ultimately Carlos came out on top for the win.
On Sunday, play resumed at 10 AM with the A+/A players and the C+ class and C class arriving to do battle. In the A+/A class, Jimmy Acosta dominated all day never letting his opponents get more than 3 wins against him and he arrived in the finals undefeated. In the hot seat match he crushed his opponent Elvis Rodriquez 7-1. Mike Panzarella who had lost his second match of the day to Atif Khan 7-3 fought his way up the one loss side getting stronger as the day went on. In the semi-final match he faced a tough opponent in Elvis and won a tight battle on the hill. Mike continued to get stronger and faced off against the dominating Jimmy and Mike fought hard and won the match 9-5.
In the C+ class Nathaniel Raimondo sent Dany Recinos to the one loss side in the hot seat match with a score of 6-1. Dany then battled back for a rematch with Nathaniel beating Kevin Chong on the hill. In the finals, Dany continued to play well and handed the undefeated Nathanial a loss and second place by beating him 8-6.
The C Class was taken over by Qian Chen who kept all opponents to 4 wins or less to win the division undefeated. In the how seat match Qian beat Pashk Gjini 6-3, Pashk went to the one loss side where he lost to David Grant 6-4. David arrived in the finals with his only loss of to the day to Qian 6-4 but Qian was just as good the second time and won 6-3
This left 2 winners from Saturday and 3 winners from Sunday to do battle for the Grand Champion title. The C+ versus C class final saw Dany Recinos continue to win as he bested Qian Chen 6-3. That set up the 2 overall semi-final matches. The first to be played was the A class versus the B class and both players played very well but Mike Panzarella was not going to be beaten no matter how well Basdeo Soohai was playing and Mike won the match 7-4. The C class versus the D class was almost a mirror image of the other semi-final match with the higher level player, Dany Recinos, playing stronger and the lower level player, Carlos Serrano just not able to keep up and he lost 7-5. This setup the finals of the event between A class Mike Panzarella and C+ Dany Recinos. Both players played well but the long day and tough matches obviously took its toll on both players as they traded games. As the set went on both players made some crucial mistakes by over rolling some positions and not making some game wining shots but then would come back and do exemplary runs to win games. In the end Dany Recinos would be the one to sink the final 9 and win the event to be crowned the 2016-2017 Tri-State Tour Invitational Grand Champion.

Khan goes undefeated to win his second 2016-2017 Tri-State stop

Atif Khan and Eric Carrasco

Atif Khan entered the last stop on the 2016 leg of the Tri-State Tour on Sunday, December 18, looking for his second win on the 2016-2017 schedule. Erick Carrasco showed up, looking for his first, ever. They met twice in the $1,000-added event that drew 42 entrants to Steinway Billiards, in Astoria (Queens), NY. Khan won them both to claim the event title, but not before Carrasco had won 13 of the 29 games they played against each other.
They met first in the hot seat match. Khan had arrived following victories over Juan Guzman, Kapriel Delimelkonoglu, Philip Pearce, and, in a winners' side semifinal, Akbar Karmoeddien 7-6. In the other winners' side semifinal, Carrasco downed David Grant 6-3. Khan stepped into the hot seat with a double hill win, leaving Carrasco to await his return.
On the loss side, Karmoeddien picked up Elvis Rodriguez, who'd defeated The Warrior (Carl Yusuf Khan) 7-1, and Philip Pearce 7-3, to reach him. Grant drew Ben Holcome, who'd eliminated Adrian Daniel 6-4 and Zouraiz Ellahi 6-4. 
Two double hill matches decided advancement to the quarterfinals; Grant over Holcome, and Rodriguez over Karmoeddien. Rodriguez downed Grant 9-5 in those quarterfinals, and then, had his loss-side streak stopped 8-3 by Carrasco in the semifinals.
Carrasco jumped out to a quick 3-0 lead in the finals against Khan, before Khan fought right back to tie. Carrasco took the lead through the rack trading that led to a 6-6 tie. Khan took his first lead of the match at 7-6, and backed it up with a second win to claim the title.
Tour representatives thanked Manny Stamatakis and his staff at Steinway Billiards, as well as sponsors Ozone Billiards, Sterling-Gaming, Kamui Tips, Ron Vitello, Phil Capelle, BlueBook Publishing, Human Kinetics, and Bloodworth Ball Cleaners. With best holiday wishes to everyone who made the 2016 leg of the Tri-State Tour possible, from players to tour staff to room owners and sponsors, the Tri-State announced it will open the 2017 portion of its schedule on January 7, at Shooter's Family Billiards in Wayne, NJ.