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Fracasso-Verner comes from deep on the loss side to claim 8th Ginky Memorial Amateur title

Lukas Fracasso-Verner, Jacqueline Rivera, Chuck Allie and Pashk Gjini

No matter how confident you might be about your skills as a pool player, amateur or seasoned pro, losing your opening-round match in a tournament fielding 143 other competitors has got to be disheartening. By the same token, coming back from that initial loss to not only get into the money rounds, but to come all that way and actually win the event has got to be a terrific thrill, especially if you’ve yet to graduate from high school.
Lukas Fracasso-Verner, 16, of Wallingford, CT accomplished this unlikely feat to become the eighth different player to capture the Amateur division of the 8th Annual George “Ginky” Sansouci Memorial Tournament, held this past Memorial Day weekend under the combined auspices of the Predator Pro Am, Tri-State and Mezz Tours at Steinway Billiards in Astoria (Queens), NY. He lost his opening round match 7-3 to Dimos Markopoulos, won nine on the loss side to get to the final board where two brackets combined, won two more to get into the event final, and then downed hot seat occupant Chuck Allie, for a total of 12 on the loss side to claim the event title.
As Fracasso-Verner was busy, early, working on the loss side, his eventual opponent in the finals, Allie, worked his way through the winners’ side bracket to face Gary Bozigian in one winners’ side semifinal. Jacqueline Rivera faced Luis Lopez in the other one. Allie downed Bozigian, double hill, while Rivera became the first woman to reach the hot seat match in the Amateur division of this annual Ginky Memorial with a 6-4 victory over Lopez. Rivera almost became the first woman to occupy a Ginky Memorial hot seat. She battled Allie to a deciding game before being sent to the semifinals, leaving Allie in the hot seat, awaiting Fracasso-Verner’s return from his lengthy trip on the loss side.
With half of that loss-side journey accomplished, Fracasso-Verner defeated Koka Davladze double hill, and Alberto Estevez 7-2 to draw Bozigian, just over from the winners’ side semifinal. Lopez picked up Pashk Gjini, who’d defeated Jody Rubin double hill and Joe Wilson Torres 6-1.
Fracasso-Verner advanced to the quarterfinals with a 7-5 win over Bozigian. He was joined by Gjini, who eliminated Lopez.
Fracasso-Verner picked up his 10th loss-side win downing Gjini 9-4 in those quarterfinals, and then spoiled Rivera’s attempt to become the first female in a Ginky Memorial final with a 9-5 win in the semifinals. Rivera did end up with the highest finish by a female in the event’s eight-year history.
And there it was. The end of an extraordinarily long loss-side journey for Fracasso-Verner, but not, to the best our records indicate, the longest. In January of 2017, he won 13 on the loss side at a Predator Pro Am Tour event and then, with a win in the finals, became the second-youngest player to win a stop on that tour. Following a 9-7 win over Chuck Allie in the finals over this past Memorial Day weekend, he became the 8th different winner and definitely the youngest player to win the Amateur division of the George “Ginky” Sansouci Memorial Tournament.

Rosario comes from the loss side to win Tri-State stop at Steinway

(l to r): Abel Rosario & Pashk Gjini

On Saturday, March 31, for the second time in a little over a month, Abel Rosario advanced to a winners’ side quarterfinal before being sent to the loss side, and then, returned to challenge the hot seat occupant.  On February 3, he and Dimos Markopoulos opted out of a final match, and split the top two prizes, with Markopoulos, in the hot seat, going into the books as the official winner. This past weekend, Rosario was sent to the loss side by the eventual hot seat occupant and runner-up, Pashk Gjini. This time, though, Rosario came back from that initial loss to face Gjini in a re-match in the finals and was able to claim the event title. The $1,000-added event drew 50 entrants to Steinway Billiards in Astoria (Queens), NY.
Rosario, who competes in both the Tri-State and Predator Pro Am Tours, had his best recorded earnings year to date last year. He cashed in eight stops on the Predator Tour and one on the Tri-State, and though he failed to chalk up a win on either tour, he did finish among the top 10 in eight of the nine events in which he cashed, including seven in which he finished among an event’s top five. A ‘B’ player on the Tri-State Tour, Rosario was under pressure a lot in this past weekend’s event. Six of his 10 total matches went double hill.
He opened the day’s proceedings with a double hill win over Ambi Estevez, downed Ada Lio 7-4, and then, in his second double hill battle, downed Amy Yu. It was at that point, in a winners’ side quarterfinal, that Rosario ran into Pashk Gjini, who sent him to the loss side 7-4. Gjini advanced to meet Lidio Ramirez in one of the winners’ side semifinals, as Suzzie Wong (currently third among the Tri-State’s best female players) faced Kevin Shin in the other one.
Gjini and Ramirez battled to double hill, before Gjini punched his ticket into the hot seat match. He was joined by Wong, who’d sent Shin to the loss side 8-4. Gjini claimed the hot seat 6-4 over Wong and waited on his re-match against Rosario.
Rosario, in the meantime, had added two double hill wins on the loss side to his credit (7-6 over Mac Jankov and Amir Rashad Uddin), to draw Ramirez. Shin picked up Allison LaFleur (currently the Tri-State’s best female player), who’d won two straight double hill matches over Bianca Martinez and Ray Feliciano to reach him.
The struggle for advancement to the quarterfinals entailed two matches that came within a game of going double hill. Rosario downed Ramirez 8-6, while Shin eliminated LaFleur 7-5.
In what surely must have seemed like a break for him, Rosario downed Shin 7-4 in those quarterfinals and then, got right back into tension territory with a double hill fight against Wong in the semifinals. Rosario won it to earn his re-match against Gjini. He took full advantage, winning the final match by the widest margin of his entire tournament run 9-4.
Tour representatives thanked Manny Stamatakis and his Steinway Billiards’ staff, as well as sponsors Ozone Billiards, Sterling-Gaming, Kamui Tips, Phil Capelle, BlueBook Publishing, Human Kinetics, Pool & Billiards, Professor Q Ball, Bender Cues, and DIGICUE OB. The next stop on the Tri-State Tour, scheduled for Sunday, April 8, will be an 8-Ball event, hosted by Shooters Family Billiards in Wayne, NJ.

Markopoulos and Rosario split top prizes on the Tri-State Tour

(l to r): Abel Rosario and Dimos Markopoulos

For the second week in a row, the two finalists scheduled to face each other in a last match on the Tri-State Tour opted out of what would have been a very late-night match and split the top two prizes. As the undefeated occupant of the hot seat at the time, Dimos Markopoulos claimed the official event title of the $1,000-added event, held on Saturday, February 3, which drew 47 entrants to Steinway Billiards in Astoria (Queens), NY. As had happened the week before, the loss-side opponent in what would have been the final match (in this case, Abel Rosario) had come from relatively deep on the loss side for the right to challenge Markopoulos in the finals; last week, Matt Klein won seven on the loss side for the right to face Llija Trajceski in finals that never happened.
Unlike the previous week, the two finalists in this one (Markopoulos and Rosario) had met before; in a winners’ side quarterfinal, won 7-4 by Markopoulos, who advanced to a winners’ side semifinal against Carlos Serrano. Max Jankov (responsible for sending last week’s runner-up, Klein, to the loss side) faced Max Watanabe in the other winners’ side semifinal.
Markopoulos and Serrano battled to double hill before Markopoulos finished it to advance to the hot seat match. Watanabe downed Janko 9-7 to join him. Markopoulos defeated Watanabe 7-3 in the hot seat match that proved to be his last.
On the loss side, Rosario opened his five-match trip back to the finals with two straight double hill wins, over Vinny Crescimanno and Shweta Zaveri, and drew Serrano. Jankov picked up Alex Osipov, who’d defeated Victor Dabu, double hill and Daniel Feliciano 11-7 to reach him.
Osipov and Rosario advanced to the quarterfinals; Osipov with a double hill win over Jankov and Rosario 8-3 over Serrano. In the seventh double hill match of eight among the event’s final 12 competitors, Rosario defeated Osipov in those quarterfinals.
In the final double hill match among the event’s final 12, Rosario downed Watanabe in the semifinals. Rosario and Markopoulos opted out of the final match, with Markopoulos entering the record books as the event’s official winner.
Tour representatives thanked Manny Stamatakis and his staff at Steinway Billiards 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, and DIGICUE OB. The next stop on the Tri-State Tour, scheduled for Sunday, February 18, will be a double-points, 10-ball event, hosted by Cue Bar in Bayside (Queens), NY.