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Valania goes undefeated, splits top two prizes with Zaveri on Predator Tri-State Tour

Jaydev Zaveri and Joe Valania

Back in February, Joe Valania chalked up what was only his second recorded event victory anywhere at a stop on the Garden State Tour. His first victory, recorded two years previously, was awarded when, as occupant of the hot seat at the time, he and Daniel Dagotdot split the top two prizes at a stop on the Mac Attack Tour. In reporting on the Garden State Tour stop in February, we noted that the win made 2022 Valania’s best recorded earnings year. This past weekend (Saturday, May 7), he added to his best recorded earnings year with his third recorded victory, this time on the Predator Tri-State Tour, though like the 2020 win on the Mac Attack Tour, he and the runner-up (Jaydev Zaveri) split the top two prizes. The $500-added 10-Ball event drew 37 entrants to Shooter’s Family Billiards in Wayne, NJ.

It is worthy of note that just below the headliners (Valania and Zaveri), third-place finisher, Sabrina Sherman, came in search of what might have been her second tour win. She had previously recorded only three cash finishes on the tour, including an undefeated run at a stop in February 2019, when she split the top two prizes with Mac Jankov (the ‘Mac’ in Mac Attack Tour). Sherman’s bid to record her second tour win was derailed when she forfeited out of the semifinals, allowing Zaveri to leapfrog from the quarterfinals, directly into the finals, which, as it happened, didn’t happen. 

Valania and Zaveri did meet in this most recent event, in a winners’ side semifinal. Valania had opened with a double hill win over Mac Jankov before sending Dave Fitzpatrick and Jason Goberdhan to the loss side and drawing Zaveri in that winners’ side semifinal. Sherman, in the meantime, had embarked on a bit of a roller coaster ride through her first three opponents, shutting out Donald Henriquez and then, surviving two straight double-hill matches against Tom Crane and Marc Lamberti before running into Jay Chiu in the other winners’ side semifinal.

In what was described by tour representatives as a “stunning upset,” Valania defeated Zaveri 6-1, while Sherman was busy sending Chiu to the loss side 5-3. In what would prove to be the last match for both of them, Valania claimed the hot seat over Sherman 5-1.

Zaveri and Chiu picked up rematches against the two competitors that they’d sent to the loss side in two of the winners’ side quarterfinals. On the loss side, Julian Tierney downed Luis Jimenez 6-2 and Mike Strassberg 6-4 to get to his rematch against Zaveri, while Nick Torraca defeated Rich Cardillo 5-2 and Shweta Zaveri (Jaydev’s wife) 6-4 to draw his rematch against Chiu.

Zaveri and Chiu defeated Tierney and Torraca a second time; Zaveri over Tierney 6-4 and Chiu over Torraca 5-3. In what would prove to be his final match, Zaveri defeated Chiu 6-3 in the quarterfinals.

At that point, with Sherman having already forfeited the semifinals, Zaveri and Valania opted out of a final match. The split of the top two prizes was negotiated and the two went their separate ways in plenty of time (sleep included) to enjoy their Mother’s Day celebrations. 

Tour representatives thanked the ownership and staff at Shooter’s Family Billiards for their hospitality, as well as title sponsor Predator Cues, Ozone Billiards, Sterling-Gaming, Kamui Tips, Phil Capelle, BlueBook Publishing, Human Kinetics, Pool & Billiards, Romer Trophies and Professor Q Ball. The next stop on the Tri-State Tour, scheduled for May 21-22, will be hosted by Cue Bar in Bayside (Queens), NY.     

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Emmitt goes undefeated to win his first regional tour title on the Predator Tri-State Tour

Sean Emmitt and KC Clayton

It was the second time, as far as we know, that Sean Emmitt had made it to the hot seat of a regional tour event. He did it the first time in September, 2018, at Clifton Billiards in Clifton, NJ,  downing Ralph Ramos, Jr. The competitor he’d sent to the loss side in that event, Neil Walmsley, downed Ramos in the semifinals and came back to deny Emmitt his first title, chalking up his own second.

Just over three and half years later, this past weekend (Saturday, April 16), at the same location, Emmitt made it to the hot seat again, having only cashed in two other events in between; 4th at another stop on the Tri-State back in 2018 and 4th again at a National Billiard League qualifying event, a little over a year ago. This time, though, Emmitt took the final step. After claiming the hot seat, he downed the same opponent, KC Clayton, in the finals to claim his first regional tour title. The $300-added 10-ball event drew 16 entrants to Clifton Billiards.

Emmitt faced Mike Strassberg in the winners’ side semifinal of this one, as Clayton squared off against Ty Classan. Emmitt got into the hot seat match with a 7-2 win over Strassberg and was joined by Clayton, who’d sent Classan to the loss side 7-4. Emmitt downed Clayton 7-5 and sat, once again in the hot seat of a Clifton Billiards event, awaiting his second chance to grab a regional tour title.

On the loss side, Strassberg picked up Rick Rodriguez, who’d defeated John Velez 8-5 and Frank Rodriguez 7-5 to reach him. Classan picked up Julie Madlener, who’d recently eliminated Jay Chiu and Marc Lamberti, both 6-4.

Strassberg and Classan advanced to the quarterfinals; Strassberg 6-4 over Rodriguez and Classan 6-1 over Madlener. Strassberg took the quarterfinal match 6-3 over Classan, but Clayton shut him down by the same score in the semifinals.

As might have been predicted between two opponents who had both finished as runner-up at a stop on the Tri-State Tour (Clayton was runner-up at last month’s stop at Cue Bar in Queens, NY) and were in search of their first regional tour title, the finals went double hill. Emmitt dropped the last 10-ball to claim the title.

Tour representatives thanked the ownership and staff at Clifton Billiards for their hospitality, as well as title sponsor Predator Cues, Ozone Billiards, Sterling Billiards, Kamui, Quick Stick, Bloodworth Ball Cleaner, Joe Romer Trophies, Phil Capelle Publications and Pool and Billiards. The next stop on the Predator Tri-State Tour, scheduled for the Saturday, May 7, will be another 10-Ball event, $500-added, hosted by Shooter’s Family Billiards in Wayne, NJ. 

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Cha chalks up his first Predator Tri-State Tour win

Henry Cha

The first-place prize in this past weekend’s (March 12) stop on the Predator Tri-State Tour, combined with the cash he pocketed for finishing 17th at the B & L Open 10-Ball Championship in Maryland last month, put Henry Cha just over halfway toward a goal of surpassing his 2021 earnings at the tables; his best year of three in which he has recorded payouts. It was also his first win since he earned his first cash payout, taking the September, 2020 season opener of the Mac Attack Tour. The $1,000-added Predator Tri-State stop this past weekend drew 26 entrants to Cue Bar in Bayside (Queens), NY. 

Cha opened his campaign against Dave Callaghan, who gave him a double-hill run for his money, before Cha prevailed to advance. Cha then faced and defeated Robert Calton (6-3), who’d defeated him at a Predator Tri-State tour stop twice last May, at the same location, in the hot seat and finals. Cha then sent Mikhail Kim to the loss side 6-4 to draw Tommy Schreiber in one of the winners’ side semifinals. In the meantime, KC Clayton’s march to the hot seat match began with a bye, after which he downed Linda Cheung 5-2 and Carlos Duque 5-3 to arrive at his winners’ side semifinal against Jay Chiu.

Cha downed Schreiber 6-4, as Clayton got by Chiu 5-3. In his second recorded hot seat match since he’d lost to Calton, two years ago, Cha sent Clayton to the semifinals 8-4.

On the loss side, Schreiber drew Kim, who, following his defeat versus Cha in a winners’ side quarterfinal, had downed Julian Tierney, double hill and Kevin Shin 6-4. Chiu picked up Duque, who’d lost his winners’ side quarterfinal to Clayton and advanced to eliminate Suzzie Wong and Cheung, both double hill.

Chiu ran right into his second straight loss, which advanced Duque to the quarterfinals 5-3. Schreiber joined him after eliminating Kim 6-4.

Schreiber and Duque locked up in a quarterfinal, double hill fight (the fifth of the event’s final 14 matches) that sent Schreiber to the semifinals against Clayton. The sixth double hill fight among the final 14 eventually sent Clayton back for a rematch against Cha, waiting for him in the hot seat. 

The finals brought the total number of double hill fights to half of the final 14. Clayton was looking for his first recorded victory after his best recorded earnings year (2021), in which he’d finished either 4th or 5th (three each) at six stops on the Predator Tri-State Tour. He had to settle for his first runner-up finish on the tour because Cha dropped the last 9-ball to claim the event title.

Tour representatives thanked the ownership and staff at Cue Bar, as well as title sponsor Predator Cues, Ozone Billiards, Sterling Billiards, Kamui, Quick Stick, Bloodworth Ball Cleaner, Joe Romer Trophies, Phil Capelle Publications and Pool and Billiards. The Predator Tri-State Tour will return to Cue Bar, for a formerly cancelled stop, on the Sunday, April 3.

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Mierzwa and Zaveri split top prizes on Predator Tri-State Tour stop in Wayne, NJ

Jaydev Zaveri and Jan Mierzwa

According to our records, all of the money that Jan Mierzwa has won playing pool over the past nine years has been won on the Tri-State and Predator Tri-State Tour. Two years ago, he came as close as he’d ever come to the winners’ circle, finishing as runner-up to Frank Seiczka at a Tri-State stop in Clifton, NJ. He has now chalked up what would appear to be his first regional tour win anywhere on the Predator Tri-State Tour this past weekend (Sat. Feb. 5). His would-have-been opponent in the finals, Jaydev Zaveri, was looking for his first win on the tour in two weeks shy of two years (Jan. 18, 2020). But when the time came, dawn on Sunday was closer ahead of them than sunset on Saturday was behind them and they agreed mutually to a split of the top two prizes. The $500-added event drew 37 entrants to Shooter’s Family Billiards in Wayne, NJ.

The two met first in a winners’ side quarterfinal. Mierzwa had started his day with a double hill win over Julian Tierney, after which he got by Dave Callaghan, Tae Chang and then, drew Zaveri in a winners’ side quarterfinal. He sent Zaveri off to the loss side 7-5 and advanced to meet an up-and-coming junior player, Aiden Wagner, in one of the winners’ side semifinals. Kerven Francois, in the meantime, squared off against Mac Jankov in the other one.

Mierzwa downed Wagner 7-4 and advanced to the hot seat match. Francois joined him after surviving a double hill battle against Jankov. In what would prove to be his last match of the night, Mierzwa claimed the hot seat 7-4 over Francois.

On the loss side, Jankov picked up Ty Classen, who’d recently eliminated KC Clayton 6-4 and Jay Chiu 6-2 to reach him. Wagner drew Zaveri, who, after his loss to Mierzwa, had defeated Mikhail Kim 7-4 and Nick Torraca 7-3.

A 7-4 win by Zaveri over Wagner and a shutout by Classen over Jankov sent Zaveri and Classen to the quarterfinals, where a double hill fight ensued. Zaveri prevailed to face his last obstacle to a rematch against Mierzwa; Francois in the semifinals.

The final match of the night came to within a game of double hill, but in the end, Zaveri earned his shot at Mierzwa, downing Francois 8-6 in those semifinals. The decision to opt out of the final match was made, the split was negotiated and the competitors, what was left of them, headed out into the chilly, Sunday morning air. As occupant of the hot seat at the time, Mierzwa was the official winner of the event.

Tour representatives thanked the ownership and staff at Shooter’s Family Billiards, as well as title sponsor Predator Cues, Ozone Billiards, Sterling Billiards, Kamui, Quick Stick, Bloodworth Ball Cleaner, Joe Romer Trophies, Phil Capelle Publications and Pool and Billiards. The next stop on the Predator Tri-State Tour, scheduled for the weekend of Feb. 26-27, will be hosted by Cue Bar in Bayside (Queens), NY.

Lamberti comes back from semifinals to down Goberdhan in finals of Predator Tri-State Tour

Marc Lamberti and Jason Goberdhan, having returned recently from an all-too-familiar absence from the tables, signaled their return on the Predator Tri-State Tour with victories just over a month apart. A week before Christmas, Goberdhan chalked up his first tour win in two years at Steinway Billiards. On Saturday, Jan. 22, Lamberti followed suit, chalking up his first tour win in two years, with Goberdhan right on his heels. Goberdhan won the first of two against him, battling for the hot seat, but Lamberti returned from the semifinals to defeat him in the finals. The $500-added event drew 23 entrants to Clifton Billiards in Clifton, NJ.

Goberdhan had survived a double hill, winners’ side quarterfinal match against Bryan Jeziorski to pick up Ray Marisette in one of the two winners’ side semifinals. Lamberti, in the meantime, drew Tom Crane in the other one. Goberdhan and Lamberti advanced to the hot seat match; Goberdhan 6-3 over Marisette, Lamberti 7-5 over Crane. Goberdhan edged out in front at the end of their first match to claim the hot seat 6-4.

Marisette next ran into Jeziorski, who’d followed his defeat at the hands of Goberdhan with loss-side victories over Jay Chiu 8-6 and Alfredo Altamirano, double hill. Crane drew Linda Cheung, who’d recently eliminated KC Clayton, double hill, and Mac Jankov 7-2.

Jeziorski downed Marisette 8-6 and in the quarterfinals, faced Cheung, who added another double hill win to her event tally with the elimination of Crane. Cheung and Jeziorski embarked on an epic, 18-game quarterfinal battle that Cheung eventually won 10-8 to face Lamberti in the semifinals.

Lamberti gave up just one rack to Cheung in those semifinals to win it 6-1 and then brought that momentum with him to the finals. He gave up only two racks to Goberdhan to claim the event title.

Tour representatives thanked the ownership and staff at Clifton Billiards for their hospitality, as well as title sponsor Predator Cues, Ozone Billiards, Sterling Billiards, Kamui, Quic Stick, Bloodworth Ball Cleaner, Joe Romer Trophies, Phil Capelle Publications and Pool and Billiards. The next stop on the Tri-State Tour, which was scheduled to begin today (Sat. Jan. 29) at Cue Bar in Bayside (Queens), NY has been postponed due to weather.

Jay Chiu double dips Ray Lee to claim Predator Tri-State title

Jay Chiu and Ray Lee

It’s been a good year for Jay Chiu. Coming into this past weekend’s (Oct. 23-24) Predator Tri-State Tour stop, it was already his best earnings year of four that have been recorded. He’s earned over twice as much on the tour this year than he has in the previous four recorded years combined (’21, ’14, ’13 & ’09). And he added to his 2021 earnings, in style, so to speak. He came from the loss side to double dip hot seat occupant, Ray Lee, who’d won the first event of the newly-named Predator Tri-State Tour, when it returned from its COVID hiatus last April. This past weekend’s $1,000-added event drew 33 entrants to Cue Bar in Bayside (Queens), NY, in a last minute switch from an event originally scheduled for New City Billiards in Sunnyside (Queens).

Chiu and Lee had met previously in the semifinals of a July 21 stop in New City, NY. Both had advanced to separate winners’ side semifinals, with Lee advancing to the hot seat match, and being defeated by Brandonne Alli. Chiu won two on the loss side to face and defeat Lee in those semifinals, only to be defeated by Alli, double hill, in the finals. Chiu and Lee met at the Cue Bar for the first time in the winners’ side semifinals, while Nishant Narang and Roberto Rodriguez squared off in the other one.

Narang advanced to the hot seat match 7-5 over Rodriguez, while Lee and Chiu were battling to double hill. Once again, as he’d done back in July, Lee advanced to the hot seat match, where this time, he defeated Nishant Narang to claim it. 

On the loss side, Chiu picked up Kevin Shin, recent winner over Abel Rosario and Erland Lami, both 7-2. Rodriguez drew Mac Jankov, who’d eliminated Esteban Morrell, Jr., double hill, and Linda Cheung 7-5.

Chiu and Jankov advanced to the quarterfinals; Chiu 8-6 over Shin and Jankov downing Rodriguez 7-4. Chiu then defeated Jankov 6-3 in those quarterfinals.

By the same 6-3 score, Chiu eliminated Narang in the semifinals and earned his spot in the finals. Chiu downed Lee twice in the true double elimination final, both times 8-6, to claim the event title.

Tour representatives thanked the ownership and staff for their hospitality, which included stepping in to fill the void when the event couldn’t be held in its original location. They also thanked title sponsor Predator Cues, Ozone Billiards, Sterling Gaming, Kamui Tips, Phil Cappelle, Blue Book Publishing, Human Kinetics, Pool & Billiards, Romer Trophies and Professor Q Ball. The next stop on the Predator Tri-State Tour, scheduled for the weekend of Nov. 13-14, will be hosted by The Spot in Nanuet, NY.

Alli chalks up his first victory on the Predator Tri-State Tour

Brandonne Alli & Jay Chiu

Brandonne Alli was one of a handful of players who managed to stay very active during the pandemic-curtailed, New York tri-state 2020 pool year. It was, in fact, his best recorded earnings year of three, dating back to 2019, which included cash finishes on the former Predator Pro Am Tour, the former Tri-State Tour and the newly-created Mac Attack Tour, initiated by Mac Jankov to fill a void left by the pandemic. This past weekend (July 17-18), Alli signed on to the newly-sponsored (by) Predator Tri-State Tour and went undefeated to chalk up his first win in the area. The $1,000-added event drew 46 entrants to New City Billiards and Café in New City, NY.

Alli had to get by Jay Chiu twice to claim this title; once in a winners’ side semifinal and again, in the finals. As Alli squared off against Chiu the first time, Ray Lee faced Ada Lio in the other winners’ side semifinal. Lee had won the first official event of the Predator Tri-State Tour’s 2021 season back in April, at which Alli had finished in the tie for 7th place.

Lee downed Lio 7-4 and advanced to the hot seat match. Alli joined him after winning a double hill fight against Chiu. Alli claimed the hot seat over Lee 7-5.

On the loss side, Chiu picked up David Grant, who’d defeated Bob Toomey 7-5 and survived a double hill fight against Bianca Martinez to reach him. Lio drew Duc Lam, who’d eliminated John Francisco 7-5 and Mike Pruitt 8-6.

Chiu advanced to the quarterfinals on the heels of a 7-5 victory over Grant. Lam joined him after defeating Lio 9-7. Chiu and Lam battled to double hill in the subsequent quarterfinals, before Chiu finished it and faced Lee in the semifinals. Chiu dispatched Lee 8-3 for a second shot at Alli, waiting for him in the hot seat.

As it turned out, Alli and Chiu duplicated their effort in the earlier winners’ side quarterfinal match. For a second time, they battled to a 5-5, double hill tie and for the second time, Alli closed it out, this time, claiming the event title.

Tour representatives thanked the ownership and staff at New City Billiards & Café, as well as title sponsor Predator Cues, Ozone Billiards, Sterling-Gaming, Kamui Tips, Phil Capelle, BlueBook Publishing, Human Kinetics, Pool & Billiards, Romer Trophies and Professor Q Ball. The next stop on the Predator Tri-State Tour, scheduled for Saturday, August 21, will be hosted by Shooter’s Family Billiards in Wayne, NJ.

Zimny wins 4th Annual Paul Fanelli Memorial, held to benefit Lots of Love 4 Lindsay

Mike Zimny went undefeated through a field of 62 entrants, on hand for the 4th Annual Paul Fanelli Memorial Tournament on the weekend of April 5-6. For the second year in a row, the event was held to benefit Lots of Love 4 Lindsay, a fund created initially to raise money for a heart transplant for a two-year-old named Lindsay Loeb and now, a little short of a year after that transplant was performed successfully, continues to help the Loeb family with medical expenses. The event was hosted by Castle Billiards in East Rutherford, NJ, and though independent, ranking points for participating players were assigned to the Tri-State Tour. The event was live streamed via AZBTv.
 
Zimny advanced to a winners' side semifinal against Caroline Pao, as Scott Abramowitz squared off against Mike Strassberg. Zimny defeated Pao 7-3 and in the hot seat match, faced Abramowitz. who'd sent Strassberg to the losers' bracket 6-3. Zimny moved into the hot seat with a 7-4 win over Abramowitz and waited for what turned out to be the return of Pao.
 
Pao moved over and picked up Bogie Uzdejczyk, who'd defeated Vinnie Ferri 7-4 and Giovanni Husang 7-2 to reach her. Strassberg drew Gil Costello, who'd advanced past Ray Marisette 6-3 and survived a double hill match versus Jay Chiu. Pao returned to her winning ways with a 7-3 win over Uzdejczyk, while Strassberg's tournament came to an end at the hands of Costello 6-5.
 
Pao then defeated Costello 8-4 in the quarterfinals and then spoiled Abramowitz' bid for a re-match against Zimny with a 7-3 win in the semifinals. The re-match was hers. Zimny, though, completed his undefeated run with a 7-5 victory over Pao in the extended-race finals to claim the event title.