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Battle of ‘Juans’ highlights season opener of Garden State Pool Tour

Juan Pena and Juan Tavaras

One of the Juans won.

In the season opener of the Garden State Pool Tour, a $220-added event that drew 53 entrants to Shooter’s Family Billiards in Wayne, NJ this past weekend (January 7-8), the hot seat and finals featured two competitors named ‘Juan’ (Pena and Tavaras). As noted, one of them won (Pena), but not before the other Juan (Tavaras) battled the winning Juan to a double hill final game. As it happened, the last four matches featured five competitors whose names began with the letter ‘J.’

The event was initially split between two separate brackets; one for Fargo-rated players from 526 to 650 and a lower bracket for players rated at 525 and below. As happens with such split brackets, players compete against others in their Fargo-rated ‘ballpark,’ so to speak. The two brackets come together near the end and in some cases (this one, as a matter of fact), the two finalists have won their individual brackets. 

Juan Pena went through his upper bracket undefeated, past Aidan Downey, Dinko Busanich and Steve Persaud, to arrive at the finals of the upper bracket, against Jon Goncalves. This was the winners’ side semifinal of the overall tournament. In the lower bracket, Juan Tavaras got by Alejandro Azcarate, Shweta Zaveri (whose husband, Jaydev, was toiling away in the upper bracket) and Chris Weick to arrive at the other winners’ side semifinal (lower bracket final) against John Torp. And there they all were, five ‘J’s about to embark on the event’s last four matches; two Juans, a Jon and a John, and a Jaydev. 

In spite of being down 0-5 (Goncalves on the hill), Pena rallied to defeat him double hill (6-5), as Tavaras sent Torp to the loss side 7-2. Pena took the first of two against Tavaras 7-4 to claim the hot seat.

On the loss side, Goncalves drew a rematch against Jaydev Zaveri, who’d defeated him in a winners’ side quarterfinal and gone on to win matches over Dennis Feliciano, double hill, and Rick Rodriguez 7-3. Torp drew a rematch as well, versus Kris Manuel, whom he’d defeated in an overall winners’ side quarterfinal and come back through Chris Cheung 6-4 and Chris Weick 7-3 (the ‘Chris’ undercard to the five ‘J’s?).

Jaydev Zaveri chalked up a successful rematch against Goncalves, shutting him out. Torp stayed alive, following his successful second match versus Manuel 4-5 (Manuel racing to 9). 

J. Zaveri eliminated J. Torp in the quarterfinals 9-2. J. Tavaras earned his second shot at J. Pena with a 4-5 win over J. Zaveri in the semifinals (Zaveri racing to 7).

As had happened to him in the winners’ side semifinal versus Goncalves, Pena allowed his opponent in the finals (Tavaras) to get out in front early and reach the hill, ahead of him by four racks, Pena rallied a second time, rendering a second set unnecessary by dropping the 9-ball in the 13th game.

Tour director Dave Fitzpatrick thanked the ownership and staff at Shooter’s Family Billiards for their hospitality, as well as all of the 53 participating competitors. Thanks were also extended to tour sponsors, Billiard Engineering, In the Bx, Off the Rail Apparel, Kamui, JFlowers Cues and Cases, and John Bender Custom Cues. 

The tour opened its 2023 season by moving to the Fargo Rate system, as well as employing the services of for online brackets. Outsville 9-Ball racks were employed at the tables. The tour is setting up its pool Web site (, as well as offering tour information on its Facebook group: Garden State Pool Tour (8 & 9 Ball). The Garden State Pool Tour and Shooter’s Family Billiards will host a charity event this coming weekend (Jan. 14-15), in which the proceeds will go to Warriors Run, LLC to assist veterans in need. The next regularly scheduled event (Jan. 28-29 for 675 and lower Fargo rates) will be hosted by Rockaway Billiards in Rockaway, NJ.

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Cangialosi and Pross split top prizes on Predator Tri-State Tour

James Cangiosi and Christine Pross

There was a time, a number of years ago, when almost every stop on the Tri-State Tour (now, the Predator Tri-State Tour) featured a competitor who was recording his or her first cash payout and tour victory anywhere. With the onset of the COVID pandemic and the transfer of Predator sponsorship of Tony Robles’ Predator Pro Am Tour to the Tri-State Tour, it would appear that those days are back. This past weekend, Saturday, Dec. 3, a stop on the Predator Tri-State Tour featured a winner and runner-up who recorded their first cash payouts anywhere. Christine Pross went undefeated to the hot seat at a $500-added, ABCD 9-Ball event that drew 35 entrants to Shooter’s Family Billiards in Wayne, NJ, before agreeing, with James Cangialosi, to split the top two prizes.

Their first and only match occurred in their battle for the hot seat. Pross, who would become the event’s official winner, had advanced to a winners’ side semifinal against Steve Persaud, while Cangialosi battled Alfredo Altamarino. Pross won a double hill battle versus Persaud, as Cangialosi won a 7-3 contest against Altamarino. Pross claimed the hot seat 8-4 in what proved to be her final match.

On the loss side, Persaud picked up Dennis Feliciano, who’d lost his first match of the event against Bob Robideau and embarked on a six-match, loss-side winning streak that had recently included a successful rematch against Robideau 7-3 and the elimination of James Ehrig 7-5. Altamarino drew Frank Kasatta, who was also working on a six-match, loss-side streak that would end in the quarterfinals and had also included a recent successful rematch against Jennifer Pass (7-5) and the elimination of Dennis Feliciano III 8-5. 

Persaud downed Feliciano 7-4 and in the quarterfinals, matched up against Kasatta, who’d defeated Altamarino 6-4. Persaud ended Kasatta’s loss-side streak 6-1 in those quarterfinals. 

Cangialosi earned himself a second shot at Pross, waiting for him in the hot seat, with a 7-5 victory over Persaud in the semifinals. Pross and Cangialosi allowed their one and only match, battling for the hot seat, to stand as the defining match. They opted to not play again and as occupant of the hot seat, Pross became the official winner.

Tour representatives thanked the ownership and staff at Shooter’s Family Billiards for their hospitality, along with title sponsor Predator Cues. This event was the last 2022 event of the Predator Tri-State Tour’s 2022-2023 season. A schedule for the 2023 portion of the season has yet to be released. Consult the tour’s listing under the “Tours/Events” tab on the front page of our Web site, which will post further information as it becomes available to us.

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Clint Pires chalks up second win in two months, goes undefeated on Predator Tri-State Tour

Hunter Sullivan and Clint Pires

Clint Pires is proving himself to be a force to be reckoned with in the New York City tri-state area. In September, he chalked up a win on the Garden State Pool Tour at a C-D 9-Ball event. This past weekend, Saturday, Nov. 26, he went undefeated at a $500-added, ABCD 9-ball event on the Predator Tri-State Tour, which drew 42 entrants to Clifton Billiards in Clifton, NJ. 

Pires had competed in another Garden State Pool Tour stop two weeks ago and finished 9th, which normally might not have been worthy of mention, were it not for the fact that the runner-up in that event, Hunter Sullivan, turned out to be the runner-up this past weekend as well. Pires and Sullivan faced each other twice, hot seat and finals.

The two worked their way forward from opposite ends of the bracket. Pires defeated Rob Rodriguez 6-2 in a winners’ side quarterfinal to draw Don Henriques in one of the winners’ side semifinals. Sullivan downed Christian Taeza 7-3 in another winners’ side quarterfinal and faced Raymund Paragus in the other semifinal.

Sullivan advanced to the hot seat match without giving up a rack to Paragus. Pires joined him after sending Henriques to the loss side 6-4. Pires claimed the hot seat 7-4 and waited on Sullivan’s return from the loss side.

On the loss side, Paragus drew Tri Chau, who’d defeated Taeza and Robert Calton, both 7-4. Henriques drew a rematch versus Rushard Patrick, whom he’d defeated 6-2 in a winners’ side quarterfinal. Patrick defeated Dennis Feliciano III 8-4 and Sung Lee 6-2 to draw the rematch.

Chau got by Paragus 7-5 and in the quarterfinals, faced Henriques, who’d defeated Patrick a second time, 6-3. Henriques took one more step, eliminating Chau 7-3 in those quarterfinals.

The semifinal was the only match among the event’s final 18 matches that went double hill. When it was over, Sullivan had earned himself a second shot at Pires in the hot seat.

The final match was a replay (by score, at least) of the hot seat match. Same 7-4 score, same result, as Pires completed his undefeated run and claimed the event title.

Tour representatives thanked the ownership and staff at Clifton Billiards, as well as title sponsor Predator Cues, Poison Cues, Arcos 2 Balls, Ozone Billiards, Sterling Billiards, Kamui, Hustlin’ USA Clothing, Bloodworth Ball Cleaner, Billiard Engineering, Joe Romer Trophies, Phil Cappelle Publications, Pool & Billiards and Billiards Digest. The next stop on The Predator Tri-State tour, scheduled for this weekend, Saturday, December 3, will be a $500-added event, hosted by Shooter’s Family Billiards in Wayne, NJ. 

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Smith survives loss-side challenge by Shellhouse to take Tri-State stop

In the finals of the Tri-State Tour stop on Saturday, June 2, Christian Smith stopped a five-match, loss-side streak by Rick Shellhouse to finish undefeated. The $500-added event drew 37 entrants to Castle Billiards in East Rutherford, NJ.

Smith was rolling along smoothly, until he got to the winners’ side semifinals, where he faced two straight double hill matches that eventually left him in the hot seat. He got by Dennis Feliciano first, as his hot seat opponent, Al Cacciola, was busy sending Antonio Navarro to the loss bracket 6-4. Smith sent Cacciola to the semifinals, and waited for what turned out to be the return of Shellhouse.

On the loss side, Shellhouse, after being sent over by Cacciola from among the final eight winners 6-4, worked his way by David Danchak 6-4 and Ted Lapadula 6-3 to reach Navarro. Feliciano picked up Scott Simonetti, who’d defeated Emily Duddy and John Trobiano, both 7-5. 

Shellhouse downed Navarro 6-5 and in the quarterfinals, faced Feliciano, who’d stopped Simonetti 8-2.

Shellhouse dropped Feliciano into fourth place 7-3, and turned for a rematch versus Cacciola in the semifinals. He won that 6-3 and with a bit of momentum on his side, moved on to an extended race-to-10 final against Smith.

Shellhouse forced the extension by winning the double hill match (for Smith) at 7-7. Smith, though, went on to win three straight to complete his undefeated day.

Tour representatives thanked the ownership and staff at Castle Billiards, as well as sponors  Sterling-Gaming, Ozone Billiards, Ron Tarr Cues, Kamui Tips, Phil Capelle, BlueBook Publishing, and Human Kinetics.