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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,, 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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Souvanthong Wins Third Joss NE 9-Ball Tour Stop of the Season

Room Owner Andrea Duvall, Bucky Souvanthong and Jamie Garrett

The Joss NE 9-Ball Tour returned from its mid-season “Turning Stone” break over the weekend of February 5th – 6th and things looked pretty similar at Utica Billiards on the Boulevard in Utica, NY as they did before the break. Once again, it was tour points leader Bucky Souvanthong turning in an undefeated performance to add another tour stop win to his impressive resume.

Souvanthong has a perfect record in the five Joss Tour Stops he has played in this season, competing in the finals of all five. This week, it was Jamie Garrett stepping up from the field of 41 players to try to stop Souvanthong. Garrett had Saturday wins over Jed Jecen, Dave Copperwheat, and Tyler Arnold. He came back on Sunday and won a tough 9-7 match with Damon Sobers to get to the hot-seat match.

Souvanthong had wins over Bob Merkert, Maury Cotter, Sam Marranca, and Jason Reese on Saturday, and then kicked off Sunday with a 9-3 win over Len Gianfrate. The hot-seat match was a well disputed one, with Souvanthong coming out on top 9-7.

Garrett wasn’t going to go down without a fight on this weekend, as he eliminated Gianfrate 7-6 to earn another shot at Souvanthong in the finals.

While Bucky was the story going into the finals, Garrett has had a great season on the tour himself. With two fourth-place finishes on tour already, combined with a seventh-place finish back in October, Garrett knew he already had his best career finish in the bag. That would have to be enough for him this time, as Souvanthong won the first set of the finals 9-4 for his third tour win this season.

Sunday’s Second Chance tournament saw Aaron Greenwood with an undefeated win of his own. Greenwood had a hill-hill scare against Mike Armstrong in his first match of the day but followed that win up with another four match wins by a combined score of 12-2. The hot-seat match was a 3-0 win over Glen Van Court and the finals were a 3-1 win over Bill Goodman for first place.

The Joss NE 9-Ball Tour will take this weekend off, but will be back in action on February 19th – 20th for the Northeast 9-Ball Open XXXIII at Sharpshooters Billiards & Sports Pub in Amsterdam, NY.

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Francisco Diaz Snags First Joss Tour Title

Francisco Diaz, Room Owner Andrea Duvall and Bucky Souvanthong

Last week’s stop on the Joss NE 9-Ball Tour (see report here) saw Francisco “Frankie” Diaz drop his first match of the event to Mike Donnelly. After that 9-6 loss, Diaz put away his cue and left, forfeiting his match on the one loss side. Apparently, one of the keys to winning a tour stop is winning that first match. That seemed to be the lesson this week when the tour visited Utica Billiards on the Boulevard in Utica, NY. 

Diaz won his first match this week (9-2 over Jason Hall), and that win helped springboard him to success. Diaz finished up Saturday play with a 9-3 win over Aaron Greenwood and an impressive 9-2 win over Qais Kolee. 

Diaz came back on Sunday and proved that Saturday play was no fluke, starting the day off with a 9-1 win over Tim Davis to get to the hot-seat match. It was that match that gave Diaz his biggest challenge of the event, going hill-hill before beating Dan Sharlow. 

On the one loss side, last week’s winner Bucky Souvanthong was making up for an early Saturday loss to Mike Rash. Souvanthong won three straight matches on the left side (Jason Reese, Seth Delvillano and Kolee) to qualify for Sunday play. 

Souvanthong started Sunday play with a tester, as he went hill-hill with Len Gianfrate before dispatching Hendrik Drost (7-2), Jamie Garrett (7-2) and then Sharlow (7-4) to qualify for his third straight appearance in the finals of a Joss Tour stop. 

The finals went one set with Diaz scoring a 9-6 win to remain undefeated and capture his first title on the Joss NE 9-Ball Tour. 

Sunday’s second chance tournament saw Redgie Cutler on a tear. Cutler took the hot-seat with five match wins by a combined record of 15-3, beating Joe Wysocki 3-1 in the hot-seat match. One of Cutler’s wins on his way to the hot-seat was a 3-0 match over Aaron Greenwood, and it was Greenwood coming from the one loss side to challenge Cutler in the finals. Greenwood would take Cutler to hill-hill but would not be able to stop him, losing in the first set of the finals 3-2 for the Cutler win. 

The Joss NE 9-Ball Tour will be in action again this weekend with a $1500 added main event and $500 added second chance tournament at Diamond Billiards Bar & Grill in Rochester, NY.

Souvanthong Cruises at Joss NE 9-Ball Tour Stop 2

Bucky Souvanthong, Brickhouse Billiards Owner Brian Holmes and Len Gianfrate

At the first stop on the Joss NE 9-Ball Tour back on October 2nd and 3rd, Ron Casanzio came through the one loss side to steal first place from Bucky Souvanthong. On the second stop of the season, at Brick House Billiards in Syracuse, Casanzio was no where in sight and no one could stop Souvanthong. 

Souvanthong was one of the few players to miss an opening round bye in the field of 38 players, and he kicked things off with a 9-5 win over Tim Davis. He followed that up with another 9-5 win over Ray Ortiz, and he pretty much cruised from there. A 9-0 win over Mike Houppert and a 9-4 win over Nick Coppola finished off Saturday play for Souvanthong.

Sunday dawned with Souvanthong facing Jamie Garrett on one side of the brackets, and Len Gianfrate taking on Nick Brucato on the other. Gianfrate won a tight 9-7 match over Brucato and Souvanthong scored a much more comfortable 9-4 win over Garrett. Souvanthong then went on and took the hot-seat with a 9-3 win over Gianfrate.

On the one loss side, Rohit Aggarwal was a “man on a mission”. He had dropped his first round match to Tim Feathers hill-hill, but fought back with five straight wins on the left side of the board, three of those wins being hill-hill affairs. Aggarwal came back on Sunday for a forfeit win over Bryan McDaniel and then another hill-hill win, this time over Brucato. Aggarwal then defeated Garrett 7-4 to earn his shot against Gianfrate in the semi-finals.

Any momentum that Aggarwal had gained with his run of nine straight match wins was stifled immediately, with Gianfrate ending Aggarwal’s run with a 7-0 whitewash. 

The final match, a rematch between Souvanthong and Gianfrate, looked a lot like their first meeting with Souvanthong winning it by a comfortable 9-4 margin. 

Sundays second chance tournament saw Aaron Greenwood take the hot-seat with wins over Jason Reese, Doug Wells, Nick Coppola and Nate Marshall. Marshall earned a hill-hill win over Coppola in the semi-finals to earn another shot at Greenwood in the finals. Marshall handed Greenwood his first loss of the day in the first set of the finals with a 3-1 scoreline, but Greenwood bounced back to take the second set 3-2, for first place. 

The Joss NE 9-Ball Tour is back in action this weekend with another $1500/$500 added event at Utica Billiards on the Boulevard in Utica, NY. 

Souvanthong Starts Joss Tour Winning Streak

Bucky Souvanthong, Brickhouse Billiards Co Owner Brad Rees and Ron Casanzio

The talk on the Joss NE 9-Ball Tour this season has been the six tournament winning streak put together by Jeremy Sossei. Over the October 26th – 27th weekend at Brick House Billiards in Syracuse NY, Bucky Souvanthong started building a winning streak of his own. 
Souvanthong had three lopsided Saturday wins over Gary Hinkley (9-3), Eric Hamel (9-4) and Hendrik Drost (9-5). Things got tougher on Sunday morning though, as Souvanthong went to hill-hill before sending Ron Casanzio to the one loss side. Next up for Souvanthong was Jay Goyer in the hot-seat match. That match went to Souvanthong 9-6. 
After wins over Tony Antone, Dave Ricci and Goyer, Ron Casanzio would be the one to come out of the one loss side to challenge Souvanthong in the finals. Looking back on Souvanthong and Casanzio’s hill-hill match earlier, it was no surprise that the rematch would be another close one. The players were tied at 7-7 when Souvanthong took the hill at 8-7 and then proceeded to make the 9-ball on the break in rack sixteen, for the 9-7 win. 
Sunday’s second chance tournament had a lot less suspense as Bruce Carroll beat Nick Brucato, Rick Manzi, Jamie Garrett and then Brucato again, for first place. 
The Joss NE 9-Ball Tour will be at Diamond Billiards Bar & Grill in Rochester, NY on November 2nd and 3rd for their next stop. Players who are interested in playing in January’s Turning Stone Classic XXXIII are urged to contact Mike Zuglan and get their entry fees in.

Eklent Kaci and Jim Hayden win Joss Tour Stop at Union Station Billiards

Nelson Oliviera, Union Station Owner Phil Harju, Guy Bouthot and Eklent Kaci

Albanian youngster Eklent Kaci added another win to his American resume with an undefeated run through the field of 36 players at the Joss NE 9-Ball Tour stop at Union Station Billiards in Portland, Maine on April 29th – 30th. 


Fresh off his win at the World Pool Series' Aramith Masters in early April, the 18 year old sensation swept through the winner's side on Saturday with four straight dominating wins. Kaci beat Dave Fernandez, Mike Bourque, Bruce Nagle and Jim Hayden by a combined score of 36-13. Matching Kaci on the right side of the board was American Guy Bouthot. Bouthot took advantage of a first round bye, but then scored wins over Sarah Preston, Paul Cormier and Mark Stewart


Kaci started his Sunday with a 9-6 win over Nelson Oliveira (the closest he had allowed an opponent to get to beating him all weekend), while Bouthot scored a 9-2 win over Samoth Sam. From there, Kaci scored a 9-2 win over Bouthot to take the hot-seat. 


After defeating Oliveira 9-6, Bouthot was right back looking for another shot at Kaci in the finals. In the first set of the finals, Bouthot was able to double his number of games won against Kaci the first time they played. Unfortunately, the was still just four games. Kaci took that first set 9-4 for the undefeated win. 


In the second chance tournament, Jim Hayden bounced back from a 3-0 loss to Steve Lillis for the hot-seat, to eliminate Jamie Garrett 3-2 and then double dip Lillis 3-1 and 3-1 in the finals. 


The lucky winner of the $1500 custom engraved Joss Cue was Darrell Heroux.


The next stop on the Joss NE 9-Ball Tour will be another $1500/$500 added event, at Snookers in Providence, RI on June 3rd – 4th. That stop will be the last regular season stop before the Turning Stone Classic XXVIII on August 31st – September 3rd.

Jorge Teixeira Wins First Career Joss Tour Stop

Jorge Teixeira (Photograph by Erwin Dionisio)

They say that pool is a young man’s game, and they are right for the most part. On the other hand, after a 10-year break from the game to play online poker, Connecticut’s Jorge Teixeira says he is playing the best pool of his life and he backed that claim up with a win at the Joss NE 9-Ball Tour stop at Salt City Billiards on Jan 21st and 22nd. 
Teixeira, born in Portugal but now a resident of Connecticut, was just one of the 46 players to pony up their entry fees to compete in this event, but he cruised through the winner’s bracket with Saturday wins over Jason Hall, Tony Antone, Bruce Nagle and Geoff Montgomery. Teixeira came out strong in his Sunday morning match, scoring a 9-2 win over Jose Mendez. One 9-6 win over Jeremy Sossei later, and Teixeira was sitting in the hot-seat awaiting an opponent. 
On the one loss side, Sossei took on Spencer Auigbelle. Auigbell had dropped a match to Dave Grau late Saturday night but bounced back with four wins on the left side of the board on Sunday. Auigbelle would settle for third place, though after a quick 9-3 loss to Sossei. 
Sossei kept his strong play going and avenged his loss to Teixeira 9-5 in the first set of the finals. The second set was a different story, though with Teixeira scoring the 9-6 for his first career Joss NE 9-Ball Tour win. 
Fifty-four year old Teixeira credited his new table at home and his practice regimen for the win. “After I started back up, I learned how to practice better. Winning that tournament meant a lot to me only because of my age and the hard work paid off. It was the best pool day of my life.” said Teixeira. He continued “Right now I'm playing the best pool of my life because of my work ethic. I know I’m going to improve even at 54 because I believe I’m doing the right kind of practice. It's a challenge vs my self. That's the only reason I play pool.”
The second chance tournament brought back fifteen players on Sunday with Hendrick Drost taking the hot-seat with a 3-2 win over Jamie Garrett. Garrett then beat Brian Lipes 3-1 to earn another shot at Drost in the finals. Garrett would get his revenge with a 3-1 win over Drost in the first set of the finals, but it was Drost with an identical 3-1 win in the second set to earn first place. 
The Joss NE 9-Ball Tour will be at Sharpshooters Billiards in Amsterdam NY on February 18th – 19th for their next stop, another $1500/$500 added event. 

Casanzio wins ‘big table’ 9-Ball and ‘bar table’ 8-Ball events on Western New York Tour

It was a busy weekend, for Ron Casanzio in particular. The 15-year Joss Tour and Turning Stone veteran joined a crowd of players on the Western New York Tour on the weekend of July 9-10, at a renovated Diamond Billiards in Rochester, NY and beat them all. He went undefeated through a field of 22 in a big table 9-ball event on Saturday, and then, through a field of 34 in a bar table 8-ball tournament on Sunday. 
Though Jeff Bradshaw would come within a match of being Casanzio's opponent in both finals, it was Corey Welfare in 9-ball, and Bradshaw in 8-ball. Casanzio was awarded Master of the Table honors by tour director Nick Brucato, which, in addition to the $1,325 in cash for winning both events, earned Casanzio a Molinari by Predator Cues prize package. The top three finishers in the 9-ball event also earned a prize package from Kamui tips.
The weekend commenced with a warm-up, bar table 8-ball tournament on Friday night, which drew only six entrants. Three matches won it for tour director Nick Brucato.
They played the big table 9-ball event on Saturday. Casanzio advanced to the hot seat match, after defeating Nick Cappola 9-2. Corey Welfare joined him after sending Bradshaw to the loss side 9-4. Casanzio claimed his first hot seat of the weekend with a 9-4 win over Welfare and waited on his return.
On the loss side, Bradshaw picked up John Purdy, recent winner over Jeff Van Buren 9-5 and Chad Strong 9-6. Cappola drew John Reed, who'd eliminated Dave Giner 9-3 and Jamie Garrett 9-2. Bradshaw and Reed advanced to the quarterfinals, both 9-2, over Purdy and Cappola. Bradshaw took the quarterfinal match 9-5 over Reed, but was denied a shot at Casanzio in the finals with a 9-4 win by Welfare in the semifinals. Casanzio opted out of a second set in the true double elimination final by winning the first one 9-3 over Welfare to claim the 9-ball title.
In the bar table 8-ball event on Sunday, Casanzio and Bradshaw met twice; once in the hot seat and again, in the finals. Casanzio sent Luis Recio to the loss side 5-3 in one winners' side semifinal, as Bradshaw was busy surviving a double hill battle versus Alex Alavardo in the other one. Casanzio claimed his second hot seat 5-3 over Bradshaw and waited for him to get back.
Recio moved to the loss side and picked up Chad Strong, who'd finished in the tie for 9/12 in the 9-ball event and was moving toward finishing a step closer in the 8-ball event. He'd defeated Frank Rodriguez 5-3 and survived a double hill fight versus TD Nick Brucato to face Recio. Alavardo drew John Reed (4th in the 9-ball event), who'd defeated 9-ball runner-up Corey Welfare and shut out Western New York Tour vet Mark Creamer to reach him.
Reed and Recio advanced; Reed, 5-2 over Alavardo and Recio, double hill, over Strong. Reed took fourth place a second time, falling to Recio, double hill, in the quarterfinals. Bradshaw and Recio went double hill, as well, in the semifinals, with Bradshaw advancing for a second shot at Cosanzio in the hot seat. Casanzio claimed his second title with a 5-3 victory over Bradshaw in the finals.
Tour director Nick Brucato thanked Fran and Jeremiah Imburgia, owners of Diamond Billiards, for hosting the event in their newly-renovated (kitchen, all Diamond tables) facility. He also thanked sponsors Molinari Powered by Predator Cues, Kamui Tips, Ozone Billiards, Tetzlaff Billiards and BreakRack.

Souvanthong over Hewitt in Joss Tour Finals

Derrick Beckwith, room owner Frank Delconte, Danny Hewitt, Bucky Souvanthong and Jolie Delconte

It took him two sets, but Bucky Souvanthong held off Danny Hewitt to win his first Joss NE 9-Ball Tour stop of the season. 
Souvanthong raced through the winner's side on Saturday with impressive wins over Martin Daigle, Hendrik Drost and Geoff Montgomery. A sunday morning win over Spencer Auigbelle set Souvanthong up in the hot-seat match against Travis Salvetti. Salvetti had ended Saturday with a 9-6 win over Danny Hewitt, and then started Sunday with a tough 9-7 win over Aaron Greenwood. It would be another close match for the hot-seat, with Souvanthong winning 9-7.
After the loss to Salvetti, Hewitt eliminated Jamie Garrett 9-2 late on Saturday night. Sunday saw Hewitt defeat Ron Casanzio 9-5, Auigbelle 9-4, Daigle 9-7 and then Salvetti 9-7.
Hewitt rode his momentum into the double elimination finals, and scored a 9-4 win over Souvanthong in the first of two sets. The second set was a mirror of the first set though, with Souvanthong taking the match 9-4 for first place.
The second chance event on Sunday saw Jose Mendez defeat Dave Ricci twice in the finals to take first place. Mendez lost to Ricci 3-1 for the hot-seat, but came back to score a 3-1 and then a 3-0 win over Ricci in the finals. 
Derrick Beckwith was the lucky winner of the $1700 custom engraved Joss cue at this event. 
Players are reminded that the tournament scheduled on April 23rd and 24th at Raxx in West Hempstead had been postponed. The next Joss NE 9-Ball Tour stop will be June 4th – 5th at Snookers in Providence, RI.

Sossei comes back to win Syracuse Joss Tour Stop

Frank Delconte, Jennifer Delconte, Bucky Souvanthong, Jeremy Sossei and Mike Delconte

The adage is that the two hardest games to win in a set are the first and last. Bucky Souvanthong found that out the hard way at the Joss NE 9-Ball Tour stop at Salt City Billiards in Syracuse, NY on January 16th – 17th.


Fans in attendance would have been hard pressed to pick Souvanthong to be challenging for first place in the event, after a hill-hill loss to Jamie Garrett in his second match of the day on Saturday, but after nine straight wins he was ready to challenge for the win. 


Bucky would have to get by Jeremy Sossei, which no one had managed to do over two days. Sossei cruised to the hot-seat match, where he defeated Ron Casanzio 9-7.


After a 9-8 win over Casanzio in the semi-finals, Souvanthong took complete control of the first set of the finals with an 8-3 lead. Then Sossei turned the tide. Sossei came back from a five rack deficit to win six in a row and take first place by the narrowest of margins at 9-8.


The second chance tournament on Sunday drew fifteen players, and it was Dave Ricci beating Marco Kam two out of three sets for first place. Ricci won the hot-seat match over Kam 3-2, lost the first set of the finals 3-1 and then won the second set 3-0 for first place.


Karen Clark was the lucky winner of the $1700 custom engraved Joss pool cue raffle drawing at this event. 


Mike Zuglan is already taking sign-ups for the Turning Stone Classic XXVI on August 25th – 28th. This will be a Mosconi Cup point event and the field will be limited to 128 players. 


The Joss NE 9-Ball Tour will be at Sharpshooters Billiards in Amsterdam NY for their next event on February 20th – 21st.