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Prather and Blair spilt top prizes on NE 9-Ball Series’ season opener

Adam Blair, David Melancon and Jim Prather

Jim Prather and Adam Blair have been competing on the New England 9-Ball Series (and to a lesser extent, the area’s Rack ‘Em Up Tour) for a combined total of 26 years; Prather since 2007 and Blair since 2011. As far as we know, though they’ve cashed in lots of events on the tour, they’ve never met in a final and neither of them has won a stop on either tour. Until this weekend, at the first stop on the NE 9-Ball Series’ 2022 season; a $600-added event that drew 24 entrants to Straight Shooters Family Billiards in Fall River, MA. Prather went undefeated to the hot seat in the event and though Blair returned from a victory in the semifinals to win the opening set of a true double elimination final, they opted out of a second set and negotiated a split of the top two prizes.

Prather came into the tournament’s Upper Bracket with what turned out to be the event’s highest Fargo Rate (624). Another competitor, Robert Lewis, with a higher Fargo Rate (635), forfeited out of his opening match, as well as his first scheduled match on the loss side. Prather started his trek to the winners’ circle with a double hill win over Steve Nelson and apparently not happy with that means of advancing, followed up with a shutout over Mike Cote. He then went back to the double hill route, surviving his match against Eric Burgess to draw David Melancon in a winners’ side semifinal. 

Blair, at work in the Lower Bracket, was awarded an opening round bye and also won his first match, double hill, over Ryan McCrum. He followed that with a 4-2 win over William Aley to pick up Sandra Kostant in the other winners’ side semifinal.

In a straight-up race to 5, Prather got into the hot seat match with a 5-3 win over Melancon. Blair joined him after shutting out Kostant. In their first of what would turn out to be two matches, Prather claimed the hot seat 6-2 (Blair racing to 4).

Moving to the loss side, Melancon drew Eric Burgess, who, after his winners’ side quarterfinal loss to Prather, had downed Roarke Dickson 4-2 and Van Sy, double hill. Kostant picked up a rematch against Steven Mantineo, who’d lost his winners’ side quarterfinal to her and then, defeated Ryan McCrum 5-2 and Kenneth Duclos 6-2.

Melancon and Mantineo advanced to the quarterfinals; Melancon 5-3 over Burgess and Mantineo 5-2 over Kostant. Melancon put a bit of a punctuation mark on his quarterfinal match by shutting Mantineo out.

Blair and Melancon battled to double hill in the semifinals that followed. Blair, with the lower Fargo Rate, began the match with a single bead on the wire in a race to 5, so when they were tied in total racks at 4-each, Blair was the winner.

Blair started the true double elimination finals against Prather with two beads on the wire in a race to 6. For the second straight time, Blair battled to double hill and won; this time, starting with two beads on the wire in a race to 6. It was at this point that they opted out of a second set and decided to split the top two prizes. Having not been defeated twice in the double elimination format, Prather was the event’s official winner.

Tour director Marc Dionne thanked the ownership and staff at Straight Shooters Family Billiards, as well as sponsors Predator, Poison, Arcos II, BCAPL, USAPL New England, Fargo Rate, AZBilliards, Professor Q-ball’s National Pool and 3-Cushion News, MJS Construction, Master Billiards, OTLVISE, Outsville, Salotto and Just The Tip Cue Repair and Custom Accessories. Stop # 2 on the NE 9-Ball Series, scheduled for the weekend of February 5-6, will be its Annual Winter Classic. The $2,000-added event, which will be limited to 128 players, will be hosted by Snooker’s Sports-Billiards Bar & Grill in Providence, RI. Players must pre-pay for this event by Thursday, Feb. 3 and can do so by registering on the tour Web site at

Levesque goes undefeated in unhandicapped stop on the NE 9-Ball Series

(l to r): Charlie Matarazzo, Dennis Levesque & Lukas Fracasso-Verner

For stop #21 on the New England 9-Ball Series, the ‘training wheels,’ known as handicaps, were removed. The 24 entrants who signed on for the Saturday, March 31 event, hosted by Straight Shooters in Fall River, MA, were, as usual, split into upper and lower brackets at the start; B or higher players in an upper bracket, racing to 6, and C+ or lower players, in a lower bracket, racing to 5. The brackets came together in the hot seat match and quarterfinals. Dennis Levesque, working in the upper bracket, went undefeated through the field to claim the event title.
Levesque faced separate opponents in the hot seat and finals of this event. He won three straight 6-4 victories to advance to a winners’ side semifinal against Mike Cote, as Charlie Matarazzo and Derek Oliveira squared off in the other winners’ side semifinal. Levesque downed Cote 6-3, and in the hot seat match, faced Matarazzo, who’d sent Oliveira to the loss side 5-3. Levesque gave up only a single rack to Matarazzo in the race-to-5 battle for the hot seat.
On the loss side, Levesque’s opponent in the finals, Lukas Fracasso-Verner, was working on a seven-match, loss-side winning streak that started when John Ferreira sent him to the loss side 6-4 in the event’s opening round. Fracasso-Verner was awarded a bye in his first loss-side round, and after his first two loss-side wins, he ran into Ferreira for a re-match. He eliminated Ferreira 6-4, and survived a double hill battle against Rich Senna to draw Cote, coming over from the winners’ side semifinal. Oliveira drew David Melancon, who’d defeated Anthony Petruzelli 5-2 and Buddy Oldham 5-3 to reach him.
Fracasso-Verner and Melancon handed Cote and Oliveira their second straight losses, both by shutout. In the now-joined brackets in the quarterfinals, Fracasso-Verner downed Melancon 5-2, and then, defeated Matarazzo 5-1 in the semifinals. In what would have been a straight-up race to 5 in any event, the two A players, Fracasso-Verner and Levesque squared off in the finals. Levesque won the first, and only set necessary 5-2 to claim the event title.
Tour director Marc Dionne thanked the ownership and staff at Straight Shooters, 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 (#22), scheduled for April 8, will be a Partners Tournament, hosted by Snookers in Providence, RI.