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Vollhardt claims official Stop #3 NE 9-Ball Series title, as Gravel gets by Fracasso-Verner twice

Lukas Fracasso-Verner, Jim Gravel and Jim Vollhardt

When you’re the top-FargoRated competitor at a given tournament, by 73 points, you might be forgiven for stepping up to the tables fairly confident of your ability to get to the finish line ahead of any opponent on the entrant list. But like the “Any Given Sunday” rule in professional football, dictating that on any given Sunday, one professional football team can beat any other professional football team, regardless of how low one of those teams might be rated, pool is subject to the same vagaries of fortune and the accumulated rolls of a differently-shaped ball. Or two.

So it was, that on Saturday, March 12, Lukas Fracasso-Verner (706) was downed twice by Jim Gravel (562) and never got a shot at Jim Vollhardt, who, after the semifinals had eliminated Fracasso-Verner, negotiated a split of the top two cash prizes with Gravel (passing on the opportunity to face him a second time) and became the official winner of Stop #3 on the 2022 New England 9-Ball Series. The $500-added event drew 24 entrants to Branford Cue & Brew in Branford, CT.

Gravel and Fracasso-Verner both emerged from the same upper bracket, working their way through the field from different ends to arrive at the hot seat match of the upper bracket, which is one of the winners’ side semifinal matches of the combined bracket(s). Gravel had opened with a double hill win over Daniel Cecchetto and came within a game of double hill in sending Dennis Brewer to the loss side. This set up his first meeting with Fracasso-Verner in the upper bracket’s entries into the winners’ side semifinals. From the lower bracket, Jim Vollhardt and William Aley (dead even in FargoRate at 515, squared off in the other winners’ side semifinal.

Fracasso-Verner and Gravel fought to double hill in their first meeting, with Gravel prevailing 4-7 (Fracasso-Verner racing to 8) and turning to a hot seat match against Vollhardt, who’d sent Aley to the loss side 5-1. In a straight-up race to 6, Vollhardt claimed the hot seat over Gravel 6-3.

On the loss side, Fracasso-Verner and Aley got right back into the swing of things, meeting up with competitors who’d been sent to the loss side of their respective brackets by the eventual hot seat occupants. Fracasso-Verner drew Dennis Brewer, who’d been defeated by Gravel in a winners’ side quarterfinal and gone on to defeat Ramon Vazquez 5-2 and Pedro Oquendo, double hill. Aley picked up Anthony Petruzzelli, who’d lost to Vollhardt in a winners’ side quarterfinal and then, eliminated Mike Zingarella 4-2 and Stephen Rowe, double hill.

Fracasso-Verner had to contend with a double hill fight against Brewer before moving on to the quarterfinals. Aley downed Petruzzelli 4-1. Fracasso-Verner gave up just one rack to Aley in those quarterfinals and drew his rematch against Gravel.

With Gravel racing to 4, he was the one who was stingy in the racks-given-up department. He allowed Fracasso-Verner (racing to 7) only one in advancing to the finals-that-didn’t happen  against Vollhardt.

Tour director Marc Dionne thanked the ownership and staff at Branford Cue & Brew, as well as sponsors Predator, Poison, Arcos II, BCAPL, USAPL New England, Fargo Rate, AZBilliards, Professor Q-ball’s National Pool and 3-Cushion News, MJS Construction, Master Billiards, OTLVISE, Outsville, Salotto and Just The Tip Cue Repair and Custom Accessories. The next stop on the New England 9-Ball Series, will be the Annual Robert & Catherine Dionne Memorial, a partners tournament, scheduled for this Saturday, March 19, 

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2021 Ocean State 9-Ball Championship – Joe Dupuis vs Jim Gravel


Lewis and Staples split top prizes on NE 9-Ball Series Stop #10 at Yale Billiards

Stop #11 to offer chance to win two all-expenses paid trips to BCAPL World Championships

(l to r): Ken Stopa, Bob Lewis & Josh Staples

Last January, Bob Lewis chalked up his first and most recent cash finish on the New England 9-Ball Series. It was also, according to our records, his first cash finish in anything since 2011, when he finished 5th on a Joss Tour stop and 17th at Turning Stone XVII. He was runner-up to Lukas Fracasso-Verner in the event last January and it appears as though it whetted his appetite for more competition, because this past weekend (Saturday, Jan. 4), he competed again on the New England 9-Ball Series and won*. As the undefeated occupant of the hot seat at the end, he became the official winner when he and Josh Staples opted out of playing a final match. The $500-added event drew 23 entrants to Yale Billiards in Wallingford, CT.

Lewis’ five-match march to the winners’ circle in the event’s upper bracket (FargoRate of 643) went through Ben Archer 6-3, Paul Soucy 7-2 and Tim Lavigne 7-1, to arrive at a winners’ side semifinal matchup against Ryan Cullen. In the lower bracket, Ken Stopa (525), in the meantime, on his way to a hot seat match against Lewis, had defeated David Longo 5-1 and survived a double hill fight versus Anthony Petruzelli. Stopa now faced Mike Zingarella, who’d just sent Josh Staples (495) to the loss side 5-3, in the other winners’ side semifinal.

In a straight-up race to 6, Lewis downed Cullen 6-4. In a straight-up race to 5, Stopa defeated Zingarella, double hill, sending him to the loss side and an immediate rematch against Staples.  Lewis and Stopa battled to double hill before Lewis prevailed 7-3 (Stopa racing to 4) to claim the hot seat.

On the loss side, Zingarella ran right into his rematch against Josh Staples, who’d defeated Ryan McCrum 4-2 and Anthony Petruzelli 4-1 to reach him. Cullen picked up a rematch, as well, against Jim Gravel. They’d met in a winners’ side quarterfinal, won, double hill, by Cullen. Gravel then eliminated Lukas Fracasso-Verner (no small feat) 4-4 (Fracasso-Verner racing to 6) and Tim Lavigne 5-2.

Staples and Gravel handed Zingarella and Cullen their second straight loss; Staples executing a successful rematch, downing Zingarella, double hill, and Gravel eliminating Cullen 4-3 (Cullen racing to 6). In a 4-5 race, Staples won the quarterfinal match over Gravel 4-1.

Staples and Stopa then faced each other in a straight-up race to 4 semifinal that was the final match of the event. Staples prevailed 4-2. Staples and Lewis agree to the split and the day was done.

Tour director Marc Dionne thanked the ownership and staff at Yale Billiards, as well as sponsors Predator, BCAPL, USAPL New England, Fargo Rate, Bert Kinister, AZBilliards, Inside English, Professor Q-ball’s National Pool and 3-Cushion News, Delta 13 Racks, MJS Construction, Bob Campbell with Lease Fundings, Master Billiards and OTLVISE Billiard Mechanics of America.

The next stop on the New England 9-Ball Series (#11), scheduled for January 11, will feature two separate events; one for FargoRates of 525 and above and another for FargoRates of 524 and below (players must qualify to compete). The winner of each event will win an all-expenses paid trip to the BCAPL World Championships in Las Vegas in March.