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Couvrette comes from the loss side, claims first regional tour title on the Garden State Pool Tour

Michel Couvrette and Robert Calton

As Yogi Berra was famous for saying about the game of baseball, a pool match “ain’t over ‘til it’s over” either. Just ask Michael Couvrette, who, this past weekend (April 2-3), not only had to win five on the loss side, but in a two-set final, was a single game away from defeat, twice; down by nine racks in a race to 10, with his opponent (Marc Lamberti) on the hill. He fought back to win them both, claiming his first recorded regional tour title and his first recorded cash payout since he was runner-up to Borana Andoni at a stop on the Mezz Pro Am Tour, eight years ago.

Overall, it was a strongly competitive weekend at the Garden State Pool Tour’s $450-added, B/C/D Class 9-ball event that drew 53 entrants to Rockaway Billiards in Rockaway, NJ. One-third of the event’s 105 matches went double hill, three of them in a row recorded by Couvrette, on the loss side of the double elimination bracket.

Couvrette started out with three winners’ side victories over Tony Robles (not the pro) and Gary Barnish, both 7-4, and downed Paul Raval 7-2, before running into Joe Valania in a winners’ side quarterfinal. Knotted at 5 in that match, Valania chalked up three in a row to send Couvrette to the loss-side portion of his title-winning run. Valania moved on to face Robert Calton in a winners’ side semifinal, as Lamberti and Rich Cardillo squared off in the other one. 

Lamberti and Cardillo recorded one of the event’s 35 double hill matches, which eventually advanced Lamberti to the hot seat match. He was joined by Calton, who’d defeated Valania 7-4. Lamberti claimed the hot seat 8-4, blissfully unaware of the “victory from the jaws of defeat” battle he’d be fighting before the night was over.

On the loss side, Couvrette worked his way through two straight double hill matches against Nelson Tran and C.J. Chey, before drawing a rematch against Valania. Cardillo, in the meantime, in his first loss-side match, drew Jay Pass.

Pass downed Cardillo to advance to the quarterfinals, as Couvrette chalked up his third straight double hill win in a successful rematch against Valania to join him. Couvrette took down Pass 8-4 in those quarterfinals and then, eliminated Calton 7-5 in the semifinals.

At the start of the two-set finals, needing to win them both, Couvrette began with ‘five on the wire’ in a race to 10. Lamberti took Couvrette’s handicap advantage out of the equation when he jumped out in front 6-1. In the now-race-to-4, Lamberti won the next three to reach the hill. Couvrette went on his first serious run of the opening set, chalking up the next eight matches. With both of them on the hill, Lamberti opted out of playing safe to go for a risky combination that failed. Couvrette stepped to the table and completed the rack to force a second set. 

In the second set, Lamberti once again got out in front by eight racks and was on the hill, one game from claiming the title. Couvrette came back again, knotting things at 9-9 and finished with a flourish; breaking and running the final rack to claim the event title.

Tour representatives thanked room owners, Paul and Gary, and their Rockaway Billiards staff for hosting the tour. The next stop on the Garden City Tour, scheduled for Sunday, April 10, will be and A through D-class 9-ball event, hosted by Clifton Billiards in Clifton, NJ.

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Scalzitti goes undefeated to win NJ Garden State Pool Tour’s 4th Annual Fall Brawl

Kevin Scalzitti, Patrick Langley and Jay Pass

Kevin Scalzitti kept getting tougher and tougher to beat as he and 20 New Jersey area players competed in the Garden State Pool Tour’s 4th Annual Fall Brawl on the weekend of September 12-13. And then, came the finals and Patrick Langley, who’d won seven on the loss side for the right to face him. The two fought to double hill before Scalzitti could chalk up the win. The event drew 21 entrants to Players Billiards in Eatontown, NJ.

As it happened, Scalzitti, who was the Tri-State Tour’s best B player in their 2015-2016 season, started and ended the tournament with a double hill win. He opened with one against Mike Johnson before he began tightening up against oncoming competition, downing Chris Schmidt 7-4 and running into Justin Pelech in a winners’ side semifinal. It was Pelech who’d sent Patrick Langley to the loss side in a double hill fight.

Scalzitti downed Pelech 7-3 and then, 7-2, defeated Jay Pass to claim the hot seat. He waited on what turned out to be the return of Langley.

Langley opened his loss-side campaign with a 5-2 victory over TJ Casper. He followed up with victories over Ed Wolley 5-1, Chris Schmidt 5-2 and Tony Ignomirello 5-1 to move into the first money rounds and draw a re-match against Pelech. Langley returned the double-hill-defeat favor and then downed Alex Vangelov 5-1 in the quarterfinals. Langley won his seventh loss-side match defeating Pass in the semifinals by the same 5-1 score.

Scalzitti and Langley fought to double hill, and it was Langley who was at the table with only the 8-ball and 9-ball left in the final rack. Langley dropped the 8-ball, but his attempt at position on the 9-ball failed. Scalzitti came back to the table, finished his undefeated run and claimed the event title.

The next stop on the Garden State Pool Tour, scheduled for Sunday, Sept. 27, will be a B/C/D Class 9-Ball event, hosted by Side Pocket Billiards in Howell, NJ.