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Santoro wins nine on the loss side and double dips Adamik to win Predator Tri-State stop

Sean Santoro and Keith Adamik

Back in the proverbial day, it was possible to step into a pool room and get your equally-proverbial clock cleaned by a perfect stranger. Then came the Internet, cell phones and AZBilliards, somewhat in that order and it became increasingly difficult to sneak up on somebody. Sean Santoro, a C- rated player playing in only his second Predator Tri-State Tour event last weekend (June 12-13) at The Spot in Nanuet, won his first match, lost his second (double hill to Latanya Taylor) and proceeded to win nine matches on the loss side for entry into the finals against Keith Adamik, with a history that goes back at least 10 years on both the Predator Tri-State and former Predator Pro Am Tour. Santoro double-dipped Adamik, offered proof of the ‘any given Sunday’ rule in pool tournaments and claimed his first Predator Tri-State title. The $1,250-added event drew 55 entrants to The Spot.

With his eventual finals opponent at work on the loss side, Adamik advanced to a winners’ side semifinal against Adrian Daniel. With her husband, Jaydev, at work on the loss side, Shweta Zaveri advanced to a winners’ side semifinal versus Tae Chang.

Adamik got into the hot seat match 8-4 over Daniel. Zaveri and Chang locked up in a double hill fight that did eventually send Zaveri into the hot seat match versus Adamik. Adamik claimed the hot seat 10-7 and waited for Santoro to finish his loss-side run.

On the loss side, where a husband/wife match loomed as possible in the semifinals, Tae Chang ran into the streaking-to-the-finals Santoro, six matches into his loss-side streak and having recently eliminated Nishant Narang 6-4 and Ashima Butler 7-5. Daniel drew the ‘husband’ in the potential semifinal scenario, Jaydev, who’d just concluded two straight double hill wins, over Stewart Warnock and Aurelio Romero.

It was Zaveri and Santoro advancing to the quarterfinals; Zaveri 7-5 over Daniel and Santoro 6-4 over Chang. Santoro then spoiled the husband/wife match party, downing Jaydev 8-3 in the quarterfinals and Shweta 6-5 in the semifinals.

His nine-match, loss-side trek completed, Santoro kept dropping the balls as he moved into the true double elimination final. He took the opening set 9-5 and though Adamik put up a double hill fight in the second set, Santoro won it to claim his first event title and we assume, a raise in his handicap rating.

Tour representatives thanked the ownership and staff at The Spot for their hospitality, as well as title sponsor Predator Cues, Ozone Billiards, Sterling Billiards, Kamui, Quick Stik, Bloodworth Ball Cleaner, Joe Romer Trophies, Phil Cappelle Publications and Pool and Billiards. The next stop on the Predator Tri-State Tour, scheduled for Saturday, June 26, will be hosted by Clifton Billiards in Clifton, NJ. 

Jeziorski and Klein split top prizes on the Tri-State Tour

(l to r) Bryan Jeziorski & Matt Klein

It was to have been an ‘A’ team battle. As Bryan Jeziorski sat in the hot seat and Matt Klein was working his way through the loss side of the March 1 stop on the Tri-State Tour, the prospect of a final match between two of the Tri-State’s premiere A players seemed like a distinct possibility. And it almost came to pass. Klein, #2 on the tour’s list of A+/A players, completed a five-match, loss-side streak, prepared for a rematch against Jeziorski, #7 on that A+/A list of players. With a late hour and the prospect of work looming, mere hours away, the two opted out of a final match, leaving the undefeated Jeziorski as the official winner of the $1,000-added event that had drawn 57 entrants to The Spot in Nanuet, NY.
 
They met first in a winners’ side quarterfinal, won 7-2 by Jeziorski, who advanced to a winners’ side semifinal against Marco Daniele, a C player. In the other winners’ side semifinal, Mike Strassberg, the tour’s #1 C+ player, squared off against Joe Rubino (B).
 
Jeziorski and Daniele battled to double hill before Jeziorski prevailed, advancing to the hot seat match. Strassberg and Rubino checked in with a double hill fight, as well. One that sent Strassberg to the hot seat match against Jezioski. Jeziorski downed Strassberg 8-4 in what would prove to be his last match.
 
On the loss side, following victories over Jaydev Zaveri 7-5 and Demain Patrick 8-6, Matt Klein leap-frogged into the quarterfinals when Daniele forfeited. He was joined by Emmanuel Arelzga, who, after defeating Jay Choi 7-4 and Syed Alli 8-5, eliminated Joe Rubino 7-3.
 
Klein and Arelzga locked up in a double hill battle, eventually won by Klein, who went on to eliminate Strassberg 8-5 in the semifinals. The decision was made to not play a final match, the money was split and everybody went home.
 
Tour representatives thanked the ownership and staff at The Spot for their hospitality, as well as sponsors Ozone Billiards, Sterling-Gaming, Kamui Tips, Phil Capelle, Pool & Billiards, Professor Q Ball, Bender Cues, Liquid Weighted Cues , Billiards Engineering and Bloodworth Ball Cleaner. The next stop on the Tri-State Tour, scheduled for Sunday, March 8, will be hosted by Steinway Billiards in Astoria (Queens), NY.  

Castillo goes undefeated, downs Laboy twice to win 1st Predator Pro Am Tour title

(l to r): Euryel Castillo, Mike Callaghan & Miguel Laboy

The nature of pool lends itself to showdowns between long-time veterans and so-called ‘young guns,’ although not all of them are necessarily young. The finals of this past weekend’s (Feb. 15-16) stop on the Predator Pro Am Tour was a case in point, when newcomer Euryel Castillo, with only six cash finishes and one event victory (*) on his ‘resume,’ all recorded within the past year, faced off against Miguel Laboy, with cash finishes and multiple event victories, dating back 15 years, to his first appearance at the 2005 US Open 9-Ball Championships, at which he finished 33rd (along with Tony Robles, by the way). The ‘young gun’ Castillo came out on top in this one, going undefeated and taking Laboy down twice at the $1,000-added event that drew 84 entrants to Raxx Billiards in West Hempstead, NY.

Their first get-together was in the battle for the hot seat. Castillo had defeated Monika Callaghan (whose husband was already toiling away on the loss side) 7-3, while Laboy was involved dispatching George Poltorak to the loss side 9-5. In their first of two, they battled to double hill before Castillo prevailed to claim the hot seat.

On the loss side, George Poltorak picked up Eli Trajceski, who’d recently defeated Jaydev Zaveri 7-3 and survived a double hill battle against Troy Deocharran. Monika Callaghan drew her husband, Michael, which is always the kind of match that draws speculation about how their relationship will proceed immediately after one of them wins; the standard speculation which follows a husband victory is usually about the husband spending at least one night sleeping on a couch. Michael had defeated Katie Baker 6-3 and Mikhail Kim 7-3 to reach his wife.

Poltorak and Trajceski locked up in a double hill fight that eventually sent Poltorak to the quarterfinals. He was joined by Michael Callaghan, who’d sent his wife home (figuratively) 6-3, his assumed night on the couch possibly avoided by the eventual $1,000 in cash they managed to bring home as a team.

Michael advanced a step further, downing Poltorak in the quarterfinals 7-4. His loss-side run was stopped by Laboy who downed him 11-9 in the semifinals, to earn a second shot at Castillo in the hot seat.

The odds in the final match were likely on Laboy’s side. Castillo, though, did not apparently get that memo, as he defeated Laboy 10-4 to capture his first non-asterisk (meaning, played a final match) title.

A Second Chance event which drew 16 entrants was won John Francisco, who pocketed $160 for the win. Sean DaCosta was runner-up ($100), with Debbie Buyukdeniz and Erick Toledo finishing in the tie for 3rd ($30 each).

Tour director Tony Robles thanked Josh and Holden Chin and their Raxx Billiards staff for their hospitality, as well as title sponsor Predator Cues, Ozone Billiards, PlayNAPL.com, The DeVito Team, PoolOnTheNet.com, Cappelle (BilliardsPress.com), AZBilliards, Pool & Billiard Magazine and Billiards Digest. He also thanked his own Predator Pro Am staff to include his lovely wife, Gail. The next stop on the Predator Pro Am Tour, scheduled for March 14-15, will be hosted by Steinway Billiards in Astoria (Queens), NY.

Kuilan goes undefeated at record-breaking season opener of the Predator Pro Am Tour

(l to r): Ron Bernardo, Jose Kuilan, Emit Yolcu & Jaydez Zaveri

Tour director Tony Robles thinks this past weekend’s (Jan. 25-26) stop on the Predator Pro Am Tour at Steinway Billiards broke a tour record for attendance – “more than we ever got,” said Robles, with just the hint of a question mark at the end. Difficult to verify this because there are a lot of records to look through, and very few, including individual memories, have recorded specific entrant information. We mention it, routinely, in event reports, but it’s not actually a statistic that’s searchable, and if nobody remembers if there’ve ever been more than 114 entrants at a regular stop on the Predator Pro Am Tour, then, for all intents and purposes, it was a record-breaking season opener this past weekend, and a hundred years from now, when people will be wanting to know whether that Predator Pro Am Tour stop back in January of ’20 broke a tour record or not, you can tell them that it did.
 
And that it was won by Jose Kuilan, who battled Jaydev Zaveri twice to claim the title. Kuilan was looking for his first Predator Pro Am title and went undefeated to claim it. Jaydev Zaveri was clearly looking to chalk up his second win in as many weeks, having won a stop on the Tri-State Tour just last week (Jan. 18) at Shooter’s Family Billiards in Wayne, NJ. Zaveri and Kuilan advanced themselves into two double-hill winners’ side semifinals. Kuilan battled Ron Bernardo, while Zaveri took on Dave Shlemperis, with whom he had split the top two prizes at the Wayne, NJ tournament the week before. Zaveri had sent Shlemperis to the loss side in that event’s second round and Shlemperis won six on the loss side to earn the right to a finals rematch. They reckoned without the weather and in light of the distance needed to travel and worsening conditions, they opted out of a final and split the money.
 
Zaveri sent Shlemperis to the loss side this week, too, though he had to win a deciding 13th game to do it. Kuilan fought a double hill battle that eventually sent Bernardo over. Kuilan and Zaveri fought to a predictable double hill standstill, before Kuilan prevailed and grabbed the hot seat.
 
On the loss side, Shlemperis picked up Emit Yolcu, who’d defeated Raiju Dasrath 7-2 and Bryan Jeziorski, double hill, to reach him. Bernardo drew Katie Baker, who’d eliminated Gordon McDaniel 6-3 and JC Iglesias 8-5.
 
Bernardo got caught up in his second straight double hill fight, but he won this one against Baker. Yolcu joined him in the quarterfinals after downing Shlemperis 7-5. Bernardo then allowed Yolcu only a single rack in those quarterfinals and advanced to meet Zaveri in the semifinals.
 
Zaveri got by Bernardo easily enough (if it can ever be described as ‘easy’) 7-4, but couldn’t catch Kuilan in the finals. Kuilan completed his undefeated run and his first win on the tour with an 8-5 victory in the finals.
 
A Second Chance event drew 16 entrants and saw Russell Masciotti down Paul Carpenter 7-2 in the finals to win it and take home $160. Carpenter pocketed $100. Marc Lamberti and George Poltorak each took home $30 for their third place finish. A second Second Chance event (sometimes known as a third chance) drew 10 entrants and was won Lidio Ramirez after a double hill win over Brooke Meyer. Ramirez took home $120, while Meyer went home with $80.
 
Tour director Tony Robles thanked Manny Stamatakis and his staff at Steinway Billiards for their ongoing hospitality and support of the tour, along with title sponsor Predator Cues, Ozone Billiards, PlayNAPL.com, The DeVito Team, PoolOnTheNet.com, Cappelle (BilliardsPress.com), AZBilliards, Pool & Billiard Magazine and Billiards Digest. He also thanked his own Predator Pro Am staff to include his lovely wife, Gail, who, as it turned out, filled in for him at this event (to include information dissemination to us here at AZ), when he was not well enough to attend on Sunday. The Predator Pro Am Tour will return to Steinway Billiards on the weekend of February 8-9 for a $1,000-added “Shake It Up” event.

Zaveri and Shlemperis split top prizes on snowstorm-interrupted Tri-State stop in Wayne, NJ

Jaydev Zaveri & Dave Shlemperis

As an indoor sport, pool play is not generally affected by the weather. Getting to and back from the venues, however, is another story altogether. On Saturday, January 18, snow and sleet visited the Tri-State New York area, to include Wayne, NJ, about 25 miles northwest of midtown Manhattan, where 23 intrepid competitors gathered to shoot some 10-ball on the Tri-State Tour. Jaydev Zaveri went undefeated to the hot seat and would, in the finals, have faced Dave Shlemperis, whom he’d sent to the loss side in the event’s second round. But with dangerous driving conditions getting worse by the minute, Zaveri and Shlemperis agreed to a split. As the undefeated hot seat occupant, Zaveri claimed the event title. The $1,000-added event drew its 23 entrants to Shooter’s Family Billiards in Wayne

Zaveri opened his stormy campaign against Luis Jimenez and after defeating him, double hill (5-4), he faced Shlemperis and sent him over 6-2. He would then defeat A+ player Atif Khan in a winners’ side quarterfinal to face Joe Mazzeo in a winners’ side semifinal. Juan Melendez, in the meantime, squared off against Hunter Sullivan in the other winners’ side semifinal.

Zaveri downed Mazzeo 6-3 and in the hot seat, faced Melendez, who’d defeated Sullivan 5-2. Zaveri, in what proved to be his last match, claimed the hot seat 7-4 over Melendez.

On the loss side, Shlemperis was working on his six-match, loss-side winning streak that would take him all the way back for a rematch against Zaveri, which, of course, didn’t happen. Shlemperis got by Chris Schmidt 6-3, Kevin Scalzitti, double hill (6-5) and Paul Madonia 6-2 to draw Mazzeo, coming over from his winners’ side semifinal loss to Zaveri. Sullivan picked up a rematch versus Bob Toomey, whom he’d defeated in the second round (Toomey’s 1st round; he’d been awarded a bye). Toomey’s four-match, loss-side winning streak included recent wins over Brian Schell, double hill (5-4) and then, he spoiled the possibility of a husband/wife final by defeating Jaydev Zaveri’s wife, Shweta, also double hill (6-5).

Shlemperis defeated Mazzeo 6-3, as Sullivan eliminated Toomey 5-2. Shlemperis then took the quarterfinal match versus Sullivan 7-4.

In the final match of the evening, Shlemperis downed Juan Melendez 7-5. He and Zaveri agreed to the split – Zaveri, the official winner and Shlemperis, runner-up – and those who were left headed for the exits and a difficult ride home.

Tour representatives thanked the ownership and staff at Shooter’s Family Billiards, as well as sponsors Ozone Billiards, Sterling-Gaming, Kamui Tips, Liquid Weighted Cues, Bloodworth Ball Cleaner, Quick Stik, Phil Capelle,  Pool & Billiards,  Bender Cues, Dayton Cues, and  Romer Trophies. The next stop on the Tri-State Tour, scheduled for Sunday, January 26, will be a $1,000-added, Double Point event, hosted by Cue Bar in Bayside (Queens), NY.

Sieczka and Mierzwa split top prizes and share ‘Polska duma’ on first 2019 Tri-State Tour stop

(l to r): Frank Sieczka & Jan Mierzwa

It was, as one Tri-State Tour rep called it, a day of Polska duma, which translates into Polish pride. League teammates and friends Frank Sieczka, Jan Mierzwa and Grzegorz Kasica were among 36 entrants, who signed on to the first 2019 stop on the tour on Sunday, January 5, and ended the day at Clifton Billiards in Clifton, NJ as the $1,000-added, 8-ball event’s final three. As the undefeated occupant of the hot seat, Sieczka claimed the title when he and Mierzwa opted to split the final two cash prizes.
 
All three advanced to a winners’ side quarterfinal, but in one of those quarterfinal matches, Sieczka and Mierzwa met for what turned out to be the one and only time. Sieczka had started his day with a shutout over Sebastian Karwas. He then downed Jaydev Zaveri, double hill and  Emit Yolcu 6-2, before running into Mierzwa and sending him to the loss side 6-4. Sieczka moved on to face DeMain Patrick in one of the winners’ side semifinals. In the meantime, Kasica, who’d sent Qian Chen, Hunter Sullivan, and Michael Graf to the loss side, squared off against Allison LaFleur in the other winners’ side semifinal.
 
Sieczka got into the hot seat match with a 6-3 win over Patrick and was joined by Kasica, who’d shut LaFleur out. Sieczka claimed the hot seat with a 6-4 win in what turned out to be his last match.
 
It was Patrick who drew Mierzwa, three matches into his loss-side streak that would end with the cash split. Mierzwa had downed Joe Mazzeo 6-4 and picked up a forfeit win over Liran Rabin to reach Patrick. LaFleur picked up (relative) newcomer Brandone Alli, who’d defeated Shweta Zaveri 6-3 and Artur Trzeciak (another representative of Polish pride) 6-4.
 
Mierzwa and Alli advanced to the quarterfinals; Mierzwa, 6-3 over Patrick and Alli, 6-2 over LaFleur. Mierzwa took the quarterfinal match over Alli 6-4, marking the 6th time in the event’s final 14 matches that members of the ‘Polska duma’ group had won a match by that score.
 
The semifinal and last match of the evening between Mierzwa and Kasica made it seven 6-4 scores out of the last 14 matches, as Mierzwa left Kasica in third place. Sieczka and Mierzwa opted out of the final and the first 2019 stop of the Tri-State Tour’s 2019-2020 season went into the books with a dash of Polish duma.
 
Tour representatives thanked the ownership and staff at Clifton Billiards, as well as sponsors Ozone Billiards, Sterling-Gaming, Kamui Tips, Liquid Weighted Cues, Bloodworth Ball Cleaner, Quick Stik, Phil Capelle,  Pool & Billiards,  Bender Cues, Dayton Cues, and Romer Trophies. The next stop on the Tri-State Tour, scheduled for Sunday, January 12, will be hosted by Steinway Billiards in Astoria (Queens), NY.

Hsu Kai-Lun goes undefeated to take Open/Pro division of Predator Pro Am Tour stop

Ko Ping-Han, Fu Che-Wei, Tony Robles and Hsu Kai-Lun

Dayrit wins Amateur event
 
Four of the final five players competing in the Open/Pro event of the November 2-3 stop on the Predator Pro Am Tour had drifted north from participating in the International 9-Ball Open in Norfolk, VA. Can you guess which four, among Hsu Kai-Lun, Fu Che-Wei, Liu Cheng-Chieh, Ko Ping-Han and Tony Robles?
 
Hsu Kai-Lun and about half a dozen fellow Taiwanese players signed on to the $500-added event, with Kai-Lun going undefeated through the field of 19, hosted by The Spot in Nanuet, NY. Kai-Lun defeated separate opponents in the hot seat (Robles) and finals (Fu Che-Wei) to claim the title.
 
Kai-Lun had to defeat Fu Che-Wei twice; the first time in a winners’ side semifinal, as Tony Robles squared off against Liu Cheng-Chieh in the other one. Kai-Lun downed Che-Wei 7-4 and was joined in the hot seat match by Robles, who’d sent Cheng-Chieh to the loss side 7-3. Kai-Lun claimed the hot seat 7-3 over Robles.
 
On the loss side, Che-Wei picked up Lin Ta-Li, who’d defeated Mike “Fingers” Badsteubner 7-2, and Max Watanabe 7-4. Liu Cheng-Chieh drew Ko Ping-Han, who’d eliminated Chang Yu-Lung 7-4 and Joey Korsiak 7-3.
 
Ping-Han downed Cheng-Chieh 7-2, and in the quarterfinals, faced Che-Wei, who’d eliminated Ta-Li 7-4. Che-Wei then defeated Ping-Han to face Robles in the semifinals.
 
Che-Wei got a second shot at Kai-Lun in the hot seat, with a 7-4 win over Robles in the semifinals. The second meeting between Kai-Lun and Che-Wei was a double hill battle for the event title. Kai-Lun won it 7-6 to claim that title.
 
Dayrit goes undefeated through field of 62
 
Ryan Dayrit and Keith Guenzel battled twice to claim the $1,000-added Amateur event title that drew 62 entrants. They met twice, hot seat and finals, to claim the title.
 
They advanced to their respective winners’ side semifinals; Dayrit, facing Carlos Duque and Guenzel, squaring off against Levie Lampaan. Dayrit moved into the hot seat match with a 7-4 victory over Duque. Guenzel joined him after downing Lampaan 7-2. Dayrit took the first of two against Guenzel 8-4 and waited in the hot seat for the second to happen.
 
Lampaan and Duque moved to the loss side where they picked up Jaydev Zaveri and Nick Croce, respectively. Zaveri had survived two straight double hill matches versus Bud Robideau and Ocheign Carlos to reach Lampaan.  Croce had eliminated Jay Choi 7-3 and Nicole Monaco 7-5.
 
Zaveri advanced to the quarterfinals 7-4 over Lampaan and was joined by Duque, who’d defeated Croce, double hill. Duque took the quarterfinal match that followed 8-4.
 
Duque started the semifinals against Keith Guenzel with ‘4 on the wire’ in a race to 9. He managed to chalk up the four he needed to force a single deciding game, which Guenzel won for a second shot at Dayrit in the hot seat.
 
Dayrit and Guenzel then locked up in a double hill final, which Dayrit finally won to claim the event title.
 
A Second Chance drew nine entrants and was won by Julie Ha. She took home $110 for her efforts, which included her final 7-5 victory over Mike Harrington ($70).
 
Tour director Tony Robles thanked Rhys Chen and his staff at The Spot for their hospitality, as well as title sponsor Predator Cues, Ozone Billiards, PlayNAPT.com, The DeVito Team, Poolonthenet.com, Capelle (BilliardsPress.com), AZBilliards, Pool & Billiard Magazine, Billiards Digest and his own Predator Pro Am team, to include his lovely wife, Gail. The next stop on the Predator Pro Am Tour, scheduled for the weekend of November 16-17, will be a Double Points, $1,000-added event, hosted by Cue Bar in Bayside (Queens), NY.

Jimenez breaks through to win his first Tri-State stop in five years

Greg Matos and Luis Jimenez

Luis Jimenez just made 2019 his best earnings year at the tables to date, according to our records. His previous best was in 2013 when he won two stops on the Tri-State Tour and cashed in seven more. The following year, he won only once at a Tri-State stop at Gotham City Billiards. He finished in the money on four Predator Pro Am stops that year and only one other on the Tri-State Tour. Some lean years at the table followed, including 2018, when he finished in the Tri-State Tour money only once. This year, he’s already cashed in 11 stops on the Tri-State Tour and three on the Predator Pro Am Tour, which have included three runner-up finishes on the Tri-State in March, July and last week (Sunday, Sept. 22). On Sunday, September 29, at a $1,000-added Tri-State 10-ball event that drew 25 entrants to Shooter’s Family Billiards in Wayne, NJ, Jimenez broke through and went undefeated to chalk up his first 2019 Tri-State victory. The first-place prize of $475 put Jimenez $25 over what he earned in all of 2013. And he’s still got three months to go.
 
Jimenez faced separate opponents in the hot seat and finals of this one. Following victories over Kevin Kemp, Jaydev Zaveri (double hill) and Ashley Burrows, Jimenez would face Paul Madonia in one of the winners’ side semifinals. In the meantime, his eventual opponent in the finals, Greg Matos, would square off against Mike Strassberg in the other one. Jimenez shut Madonia out, as Strassberg was sending Matos to the loss side 5-3. As he’d done last weekend, Jimenez claimed the hot seat, here downing Strassberg 6-2.
 
On the loss side, Madonia drew Joe Mazzeo, who’d defeated Jeff Martinez 6-4 and last week’s winner, Pascal Dufresne 6-2 to reach him. Matos picked up Dax Druminski, who’d recently eliminated Vinny Mistry 5-2 and Mac Jankov, double hill.
 
Matos earned himself a re-match against Strassberg with a 6-2 victory over Madonia in the quarterfinals. He followed that with a successful reverse-of-earlier score rematch 5-3 over Strassberg in the semifinals. 
 
No doubt with thoughts of the previous week’s tournament still very much alive, Jimenez once again prepared to chalk up his first 2019 Tri-State victory. Matos didn’t make it easy. They battled to double hill before Jimenez dropped the last 10-ball to claim the event title.
 
Tour representatives thanked the ownership and staff at Shooter’s Family Billiards, as well as sponsors Ozone Billiards, Sterling-Gaming, Kamui Tips, Phil Capelle, Pool & Billiards, Professor Q Ball, Bender Cues, Paul Dayton Cues, Bludworth Ball Cleaner, Joe Romer Trophies and Quick Slick. The next stop on the Tri-State Tour, scheduled for Sunday, October 6, will be hosted by Steinway Billiards in Astoria (Queens), NY.
 

Ramirez stops strong loss-side bid by Klein to take home his first 2019 Predator Pro Am title

(l to r): Lidio Ramirez, Luis Carrasco, Hannah Fields, Matt Klein

They are two of the New York Tri-State area’s heavyweights, so to speak, and they clashed in the finals of the Predator Pro Am Tour’s September 21-22 stop at Steinway Billiards. Lidio Ramirez, the tour’s second-ranked A+ player (behind Miguel Laboy, who won the stop last weekend) was looking to chalk up his first 2019 victory, having finished as runner-up twice; once, on the Predator Tour (April) and once, on the Tri-State Tour (July). Matt Klein, the tour’s #1-ranked B+ competitor (ahead of Jaydev Zaveri) and in the midst of his best earnings year to date, by far, entered the tournament with three wins on the 2018-2019 Tri-State Tour, and two runner-up finishes on the Predator Pro Am, including the Empire State Championships. He’s been 1st, 2nd or 3rd in seven of the 11 tournaments in which he’s cashed in 2019.
 
They didn’t meet until the finals. Ramirez advanced to the hot seat, while Klein lost his opening round match and chalked up 10 loss-side wins to face Ramirez in the finals. Ramirez completed an undefeated run with a victory in the finals of the $1,000-added event that drew 71 entrants to Steinway in Astoria (Queens), NY.
 
With Klein at work on the loss side of the bracket, Ramirez advanced to a winners’ side semifinal against Ricky Geronimo. The other winners’ side semifinal matched Luis Carrasco against Hannah Fields, who was making only her second appearance on the Predator Pro Am Tour.
 
Ramirez and Geronimo fought to double hill before Ramirez prevailed and moved on to the hot seat match. He was joined by Fields, who’d defeated Carrasco 8-6 in what she described (via Facebook) as “the most challenging and exhausting match (she’d) ever had.
 
“It was fun, we both played smart and neither of us backed down,” she went on to say. “He made me work for every ball but eventually I capitalized and won by a hair.”
 
She described the subsequent hot seat match versus Ramirez as “humbling.” She watched Ramirez (as she put it) “run her (posterior) over,” as he claimed the hot seat 11-8 (she started the match with seven on the wire).
 
Over on the loss side, Klein chalked up wins # 6 and #7 against John Stiles (7-4) and Bryan Toolsee (7-3) to draw Geronimo. Carrasco picked up his second straight female opponent, Debra Pritchett, who’d defeated KC Clayton 6-1 and Jason Goberdhan (the tour’s #2-ranked C+ player, just behind Tony Ignomirello) 7-5.
 
Carrasco downed Pritchett 7-4, as Geronimo ended up on the wrong side of his second straight double hill fight, losing to Klein 7-6. Klein then ended Carrasco’s short, loss-side run 7-4 in the quarterfinals.
 
Hannah Fields would describe her semifinal meetup with Klein as “an amazingly fun match.” She noted in her FB report that his “personality” made the beating she received at his hands feel like “less of an ass-kicking” than it was. Klein’s 10-7 victory (Fields started with five on the wire, racing to the 10), gave him the chance to chalk up his first 2019 Predator Pro Am Tour title.
 
Ramirez had other ideas, like chalking up his first 2019 victory, period. And he did it. He downed Klein 7-5 to claim the event title.
 
A full-field, 16-entrant Second Chance event saw Ray Feliciano and Gary Bozigian battle to double hill in the finals, before Feliciano prevailed to take home the $160 first-place prize. Bozigian was the $100 runner-up. Tenzin Jorden and Suzzie Wong each won $30 for their 3rd place tie.
 
Tour director Tony Robles thanked Manny Stamatakis and his staff at Steinway Billiards for their hospitality, as well as title sponsor Predator Cues, Ozone Billiards, PlayNAPL.com, The DeVito Team, Poolonthenet.com, Capelle (BilliardsPress.com), AZBilliards, Pool & Billiard Magazine, Billiards Digest and his own Predator Pro Am team, to include his lovely wife, Gail. The Predator Pro Am Tour will return to Steinway Billiards in a little less than a month, when they host the $7,000-added Steinway Classic from October 15-17. Two days later, on the weekend of October 19-20, Robles’ Silent Assassin Productions, with the sponsorship of Dr. Michael Fedak, will bring the 6th Annual NYC 8-Ball Championships to Steinway Billiards.

Watanabe comes back from semifinals to down Torres in finals of Predator Pro Am stop

(l to r): Hector Torres, Max Watanabe, Kanami Chau & Abel Rosario

Max Watanabe had his best earnings year to date in 2018 and though he has a way to go to catch up and make 2019 an even better year, he’s doing what he needs to do to make that happen. Last week (August 4), he went undefeated at a stop on the Tri-State Tour, downing Dave Shlemperis twice. This week, on Sunday, August 11 at a $1,000-added Predator Pro Am Tour stop at Steinway Billiards that drew 64 entrants, he got sent to the loss side by Hector Torres in the battle for the hot seat and came back to defeat Torres in the finals. If you’re making a move to improve the second half of any given year, there’s nothing like back-to-back tour victories to signal that you’re on the right track.
 
Watanabe’s trip was almost derailed at the outset, as he opened his campaign with two double hill wins; one against Vinko Rumora and a second against Jose Estevez. He got a little traction with a 7-2 win over Miguel Laboy and a 7-4 victory over Elvis Rodriguez, which set him up in a winners’ side semifinal match against Abel Rosario. Hector Torres, in the meantime, got by Ron Bernardo, Paul Lyons, and Brandonne Alli before having to survive a double hill win over Mike Callaghan, which set him (Torres) up to face Ray Lee in the other winners’ side semifinal.
 
Torres downed Lee 7-1, while Watanabe locked up in his third double hill battle of the weekend against Rosario and won it. He survived three double hill matches out of five he played to get to the hot seat match, but Watanabe didn’t have an ‘answer’ for Torres, who defeated him 8-1 to claim the hot seat.
 
Over on the loss side, Ray Lee ran into an immediate rematch against Kanami Chau, who’d been defeated by him in a winners’ side quarterfinal and then chalked up two straight double hill wins, over Ryan Dayrit and Joe Morace, to face him a second time. Rosario picked up Luis Jimenez, who was working on a four-match, loss-side winning streak that had most recently included a 7-3 win over Chris Kelly and a double hill victory over Jaydev Zaveri.
 
Chau chalked up her third straight double hill win and advanced to the quarterfinals over Lee. She was joined by Rosario, who’d ended Jimenez’ loss-side run, double hill, as well. Seven of the tour stop’s final 14 matches required a single deciding game.
 
The quarterfinal match between Rosario and Chau came within a game of double hill, but Rosario edged out in front to take it 9-7. Watanabe, though, anxious apparently for a second shot at Torres in the hot seat, gave up only a single rack to Rosario in the semifinals that followed.
 
Watanabe took full advantage of that second shot. He downEd Torres 10-7 in the final to claim his second straight event title in as many weeks.
 
A Second Chance event drew 14 entrants. Elvis Rodriguez and Irene Kim advanced through the single elimination bracket to meet each other in the finals. Rodriguez had defeated Duc Lam to play in the finals. Kim had eliminated Akiko Taniyama to join him. Rodriguez took home the top $140 prize, after downing Kim 11-6 in the finals. Kim took home the $100 second prize, while Lam and Taniyama pocketed $20 each.
 
Tour director Tony Robles thanked Manny Stamatakis and his Steinway Billiards staff for their hospitality, as well as title sponsor Predator Cues, Ozone Billiards, PlayNAPL.com, The DeVito Team, PoolontheNet.com, Cappelle (BilliardsPress.com), AZBilliards, Pool & Billiards Magazine and Billiards Digest. The Predator Pro Am Tour will return to Steinway Billiards on Labor Day weekend (Aug. 31 – Sept. 2) for the $3,000-added ($1,500 Amateur, $1,500 Pro) Eastern States Championships.