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Prather and Blair spilt top prizes on NE 9-Ball Series’ season opener

Adam Blair, David Melancon and Jim Prather

Jim Prather and Adam Blair have been competing on the New England 9-Ball Series (and to a lesser extent, the area’s Rack ‘Em Up Tour) for a combined total of 26 years; Prather since 2007 and Blair since 2011. As far as we know, though they’ve cashed in lots of events on the tour, they’ve never met in a final and neither of them has won a stop on either tour. Until this weekend, at the first stop on the NE 9-Ball Series’ 2022 season; a $600-added event that drew 24 entrants to Straight Shooters Family Billiards in Fall River, MA. Prather went undefeated to the hot seat in the event and though Blair returned from a victory in the semifinals to win the opening set of a true double elimination final, they opted out of a second set and negotiated a split of the top two prizes.

Prather came into the tournament’s Upper Bracket with what turned out to be the event’s highest Fargo Rate (624). Another competitor, Robert Lewis, with a higher Fargo Rate (635), forfeited out of his opening match, as well as his first scheduled match on the loss side. Prather started his trek to the winners’ circle with a double hill win over Steve Nelson and apparently not happy with that means of advancing, followed up with a shutout over Mike Cote. He then went back to the double hill route, surviving his match against Eric Burgess to draw David Melancon in a winners’ side semifinal. 

Blair, at work in the Lower Bracket, was awarded an opening round bye and also won his first match, double hill, over Ryan McCrum. He followed that with a 4-2 win over William Aley to pick up Sandra Kostant in the other winners’ side semifinal.

In a straight-up race to 5, Prather got into the hot seat match with a 5-3 win over Melancon. Blair joined him after shutting out Kostant. In their first of what would turn out to be two matches, Prather claimed the hot seat 6-2 (Blair racing to 4).

Moving to the loss side, Melancon drew Eric Burgess, who, after his winners’ side quarterfinal loss to Prather, had downed Roarke Dickson 4-2 and Van Sy, double hill. Kostant picked up a rematch against Steven Mantineo, who’d lost his winners’ side quarterfinal to her and then, defeated Ryan McCrum 5-2 and Kenneth Duclos 6-2.

Melancon and Mantineo advanced to the quarterfinals; Melancon 5-3 over Burgess and Mantineo 5-2 over Kostant. Melancon put a bit of a punctuation mark on his quarterfinal match by shutting Mantineo out.

Blair and Melancon battled to double hill in the semifinals that followed. Blair, with the lower Fargo Rate, began the match with a single bead on the wire in a race to 5, so when they were tied in total racks at 4-each, Blair was the winner.

Blair started the true double elimination finals against Prather with two beads on the wire in a race to 6. For the second straight time, Blair battled to double hill and won; this time, starting with two beads on the wire in a race to 6. It was at this point that they opted out of a second set and decided to split the top two prizes. Having not been defeated twice in the double elimination format, Prather was the event’s official winner.

Tour director Marc Dionne thanked the ownership and staff at Straight Shooters Family Billiards, 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. Stop # 2 on the NE 9-Ball Series, scheduled for the weekend of February 5-6, will be its Annual Winter Classic. The $2,000-added event, which will be limited to 128 players, will be hosted by Snooker’s Sports-Billiards Bar & Grill in Providence, RI. Players must pre-pay for this event by Thursday, Feb. 3 and can do so by registering on the tour Web site at http://www.newengland9ballseries.com.

D’Alfonso and Ruzzano split top prizes on New England 9-Ball Series stop in Fall River, MA

Adam Blair, Tom D’Alfonso & Mark Ruzzano

It’s rare on the New England 9-Ball Series, but splits of the top prizes do happen. Case in point:  Stop #7 (2019-2020), hosted by Straight Shooters’ Family Billiards in Fall River, MA on Saturday, November 23. Tom D’Alfonso and Mark Ruzzano battled in the hot seat and were scheduled to meet again in the finals. They allowed their hot seat result to stand as the definitive answer to ‘who won,’ split the top two prizes, and left the undefeated D’Alfonso as the official winner. The $500-added event drew 48 entrants to Straight Shooters.

D’Alfonso was far and away the highest FargoRated player at the tables on this particular day. At 737, he was 102 points ahead of the next highest-ranked player in the field; Dennis Levesque at 635 and he didn’t play against him. In his six matches (to include Ruzzano twice), he faced an opponent-average FargoRate of 552.8. His highest-ranked opponent through six matches was Roarke Dickson (588) in a winners’ side quarterfinal, in which Dickson was awarded ‘four beads on the wire’ in a race to 8 and only added two, for an 8-2 actual score, or 8-6 handicap victory for D’Alfonso.

D’Alfonso advanced to face Antero Tavares (560) in one of the overall winners’ side semifinals (the tour keeps upper and lower rated players separated in the early matches). Mark Ruzzano, in the meantime, squared off against Adam Blair (505). D’Alfonso moved on to the hot seat (and what proved to be his final) match with his only double hill win of the day, 8-3, arriving at the hot seat match having given up only six racks through 39 games. Ruzzano, in a straight-up race to 5 sent Blair to the loss side 5-1. D’Alfonso claimed the hot seat 9-2.

On the loss side, two long loss-side streaks were about to come to an end. Tavares picked up Jim Prather, who, in the lower bracket, had been defeated in the opening round by Mark Ransom and was in the midst of a seven-match, loss-side winning streak that would take him as far as the overall quarterfinals. Along the way, he’d wreaked his vengeance on Ransom with a double hill win that left Ransom in the tie for 13th. Prather then downed Roarke Dickson and Matthew Rezendes, both 5-1, to meet Tavares.

Blair drew Mourad Idrais, who’d also been defeated in the event’s opening round (he was shut out by Mike Negrelli) and was on his own six-match, loss-side winning streak that was about to end. He’d recently defeated Souheil Muraby, double hill, and in a serious ‘vengeance is sweet’ scenario, returned the shut out ‘favor’ to Negrelli to meet Blair.

Prather downed Tavares, double hill (5-3) and in the quarterfinals, faced Blair, who’d ended Idrais’ loss-side streak 4-2. Blair then ended Prather’s run 4-2 (Prather racing to 6).

In a straight-up, race-to-5 semifinal, which proved to be the final match of the night, Ruzzano ended Blair’s short loss-side visit 5-3. He and D’Alfonso opted out of the final and as the undefeated occupant of the hot seat, D’Alfonso claimed the official event title.

Tour director Marc Dionne thanked the ownership and staff at Straight Shooters, as well as sponsors Predator Cues, 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, scheduled for Thanksgiving weekend (November 30 – December 1), will be a $1,000-added event, hosted by Legends Billiards in Auburn, ME.

No Real Upsets at Turning Stone Day One

Matt Tetreault (Erwin Dionisio)

Day one at the Turning Stone Classic XXXII went pretty much as expected, with no real upsets of note. All of the top players advanced into day two without a loss. 
 
The first rounds usually don’t offer many “marquee matches” but it looked like there would be one in the first round matchup between Joss Tour regular Matt Tetreault and Zion Zvi. Tetreault had other plans though, as he cruised to a dominating 9-1 win over Zvi. 
 
Bruce Carroll, who got into the tournament at the last minute because of a no-show, took an early 2-0 lead over former champion Billy Thorpe, but Thorpe quickly righted his ship to tie things at 4-4 and then go on to win the match 9-5. Jim Prather did what he could to give the fans an upset as he fought Johnny Archer to a 4-4 tie before Archer took control of the match and won 9-4. Brandon Shuff was on his way to a convincing win over Jesse Docalavich in the final round of the night when he held an early 6-0 lead. Docalavich wasn’t going to just hand Shuff the win though, as he came back to 6-4 down, to get Shuff’s attention. Shuff then regained control for the 9-5 win. 
 
Upstate Al is providing a free stream of select matches on his Facebook page and the noon (Eastern Time) match looks like a great one between Shane Van Boening and Johnny Archer. We are providing complete coverage of the event with online brackets and real time scoring for the duration of the event. 

Fracasso-Verner wins nine on the loss side, double dips Matta to claim NE 9-Ball Series title

Rafael Ortiz Jr, Clyde Matta and Lukas Fracasso-Verner

It’s been a relatively good year for Lukas Fracasso-Verner. He started it off in January by winning a stop on the NE 9-Ball Series and a month later, won the Empire State Championships, which, combined, has so far accounted for just under 80% of his cash at the tables this year. He’s a little over halfway to his 2018 cash earnings, which were the best of his still-young career. He took a step in the right direction on the weekend of August 9-11 by winning nine on the loss side of a NE 9-Ball Series bracket (Stop #24) to double dip hot seat occupant Clyde Matta and win the event title. The event drew 60 entrants to Snooker’s in Providence, RI.

As the event wound down to its final 12 competitors, Fracasso-Verner had the remaining field’s highest Fargo Rate (648). He was sent to the loss side in a double hill, second-round battle versus Jason Platt, who was sent over to join him by Mike Demarco in the next round. DeMarco would join both of them, when defeated by Clyde Matta, who advanced to a winners’ side semifinal against Ran Tamba. Rafael Ortiz, Jr., in the meantime, squared off against Phillip Medeiros in the other one.
In a straight-up race to 6, Matta (with the final 12’s second-highest Fargo Rate; 615) downed Tamba 6-3, as Ortiz, Jr. was busy surviving a double hill straight-up race to 5 against Medeiros. Matta claimed the hot seat with an exclamation point, shutting Ortiz, Jr. out.
Over on the loss side, Fracasso-Verner was edging his way back. With four down and five to go, he navigated his way through two straight double hill matches, against Mike DeMarco and Jim Prather, to draw Tamba. Medeiros picked up Jose Concepcion, who’d also chalked up two straight double hill matches, against Angel Gonzalez and Ed Courtney, to reach him.
Fracasso-Verner won a third double hill match, eliminating Tamba and advancing to the quarterfinals, where he was joined by Concepcion, who’d defeated Medeiros 4-2. Apparently tired of facing elimination in double hill scenarios, Fracasso-Verner gave up only one rack to Concepcion in those quarterfinals.
In a straight-up race to 7, Fracasso-Verner defeated Ortiz, Jr. in the semifinals 7-3 and turned to Matta in a true double elimination final. Fracasso-Verner took the opening set in a straight-up race to 6, 6-2. Matta fought back fiercely in the second race-to-5 set, forcing a deciding 9th game. Fracasso-Verner won it to claim his second 2019 NE 9-Ball Series title.
Tour director Marc Dionne thanked the ownership and staff at Snooker’s, as well as sponsors Predator, 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 (#25) on the NE 9-Ball Series, scheduled for the weekend of August 24-25, will be a special added event, an All-Around Championship, featuring competition in 8-ball, 10-ball and straight pool, to be hosted by Crow’s Nest in Plaistow, NH.

Dechaine Wins Nelson Oliveira Memorial

Tom D’Alfonso, Mike Dechaine and Jim Prather

Mike Dechaine came through the one loss side, but still found the winner’s circle at the 1st Nelson Oliveira Memorial 10-Ball Tournament at Snookers Sports Bar & Grill on June 8th – 9th. 
 
Dechaine’s loss came in the third round, at the hands of Tom D’Alfonso. After that win, D’Alfonso went to defeat Jim Prather for the hot-seat. 
 
Dechaine had wins over Joey Dupuis and Prather on the one loss side, before double dipping D’Alfonso 7-5 and 6-5 in the finals for first place. 
 
Dechaine pocketed $1400 in cash and side pot money, while D’Alfonso settled for $1050. Prather collected a total of $750 for this third place finish. 

Sossei over Fleming for Joss Tour Fourpeat

Jeremy Sossei, Pat Fleming and Snookers Owner Steve Goulding

While Jeremy Sossei has won the last three Joss NE 9-Ball Tour stops, he has had to win the last two with one loss. That was what he did again at Snookers Billiards in Providence, RI on June 1st – 2nd for the final regular season stop on the tour. 
 
Sossei cruised through Saturday’s matches undefeated with wins over Lida Mullendore, Jim Prather, Ranulf Tamba and Dev Bhattacharya. The closest any opponent got to Sossei on Saturday was Tamba at 9-4. Sossei’s undefeated run came to an end on Sunday morning, as he dropped his first match of the day to Pat Fleming 9-6. After that match, Fleming went on to defeat Tom D’Alfonso 9-5 for the hot-seat. 
 
Sossei got by Francisco Cabral 7-4 and Jared Demalia 7-2, to earn the match against D’Alfonso in the semi-finals. That match would go hill-hill before Sossei pocketed the final nine ball. The time in the hot-seat might have proved to be a negative for Fleming, as Sossei proceeded to win the first set of the finals 9-4 and then the second set 7-3. The win was Sossei’s 6th of the season and his 4th in a row. 
 
Sunday’s “Second Chance” tournament saw Bob Madenjian with a 3-1 win over Ray Buthe for the hot-seat and then facing Nick Coppola in the finals. Coppola won the first set of the finals 3-2, but Madenjian came back to take the second set 3-2 for the win. 
 
The stop at Snookers was the final regular season tour stop and players will now prepare for the Turning Stone Classic XXXII on August 22nd – 25th at the Turning Stone Casino in Verona, NY. That event is full, but fans are invited to watch the action in person with free admission on all four days of the event. 

Rezendes and Hemingway split top prizes on NE 9-Ball Series

(l to r): Mike Negrelli, Matt Rezendes & Ryan Hemingway

The last time Matt Rezendes and Ryan Hemingway cashed in stops on the New England 9-Ball Series, they both finished in third place; Hemingway in August and Rezendes, a month later. On Saturday, November 24, at a $500-added event (Stop #7), that drew 46 entrants to Stix & Stones in Abington, MA, they moved up a notch. Matt Rezendes claimed the official title by going undefeated, although he and Hemingway opted out of a final match, choosing to let the double hill hot seat match stand as the defining contest between them.
 
Coming out of the upper bracket, Rezendes (FargoRate – 543) advanced through George Morgan, Ryan Stevens, Jim Prather and Bill Gallagher, to arrive at a winners’ side semifinal match against Andy Maynard (513). Hemingway (484), working initially in the lower bracket with an opening round bye, defeated Kyle Downey, Cameo Moy and Mark Pulsifer to face Mike Nigrelli (438) in the other winners’ side semifinal.
 
In a straight-up race to 5, Rezendes shut Maynard out to get into the hot seat match. Hemingway joined him with a double hill (4-2) victory over Nigrelli. With Hemingway starting with a single game ‘on the wire,’ the hot seat match went double hill before Rezendes won what proved to be his last match 5-3.
 
On the loss side, Maynard picked up Ben Savoie, who’d gotten by Jim Prather 4-1 (Prather racing to 6), and, in a straight-up race to 5, Bill Gallagher 5-2. Nigrelli drew Mark Pulsifer, who’d eliminated Dave Morrison, double hill, in a straight-up race to 4 and Bob Lucas 4-2 in another straight-up race to 4. Savoie downed Maynard 5-3, as Nigrelli and Pulsifer locked up in a double hill fight that eventually sent Nigrelli to join Savoie in the quarterfinals (3-3).
 
Racing to 6 (Nigrelli starting with three ‘on the wire’), Nigrelli advanced to the semifinals 3-4. Nigrelli started the semifinals with a single rack ‘on the wire’ and battled Hemingway to double hill, before Hemingway concluded the event’s final match. Rezendes and Hemingway made the decision to forego a final match and opted to split the top two prizes, while the undefeated Rezendes claimed the official event title. 
Tour director Marc Dionne thanked the ownership and staff at Stix and Stones, as well as sponsors Predator Cues, 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, Bourgeois Farms and OTLVISE Billiard Mechanics of America. The next stop (#8) on the New England 9-Ball Series, scheduled for this weekend (Dec. 1-2), will be the $3,000-added Bangor Bash, hosted by Rack City in Bangor, ME.

Eline, Leandro and Hemingway split top three prizes on NE 9-Ball Series

(l to r): Jon Leandro & Matt Eline

A total of 68 players signed on to compete in the last regular season event of the New England 9-Ball Series (Stop #29), prior to the season-ending Tour Championships, scheduled for September 8-9. The numbers impacted the results in that when it came time for the semifinals, the three players left opted out of further play and split the top three prizes. As the hot seat occupant at the time, Matt Eline was awarded the official event title. Jon Leandro, who’d been sent to the semifinals by Eline in that hot seat match, took the official second place slot, while Ryan Hemingway, who’d won the last loss-side match that was played (the quarterfinals), took third. The event, which was held on Sunday, August 12, was hosted by Snooker’s in Providence, RI.
 
Coming out of the upper bracket, Leandro advanced to a winners’ side semifinal against Jim Prather. From the lower bracket, Eline and Hemingway battled in the other winners’ side semifinal. Leandro (a B player) sent Prather (an A) to the loss side 5-2 (Prather racing to 7), while Eline (C+) defeated Hemingway (C) 6-3. With Leandro racing to 6 for possession of the hot seat, Eline claimed it 5-2, in what proved to be the final match for both of them.
 
On the loss side, Prather picked up Lukas Fracasso-Verner, who’d defeated Keith Platt, double hill and Open player Joe Dupuis 6-4 to reach him (Dupuis racing to 8). Hemingway drew Bill Phillips, who’d recently eliminated Leo Chenard 5-2 and Gary Quaranta, double hill.
 
Fracasso-Verner (A+) and Prather (A) fought to double hill, but it was the lower-ranked Prather, racing to 6 who prevailed 6-6 to move in to what proved to be the last match of the night (or early morning, as it happened). Hemingway & Phillips, who, like Fracasso-Verner and Prather, may have seen the ‘end of the night’ writing on the wall, played seven games, with Hemingway prevailing 3-4 (Prather racing to 7).
 
The three-way split was negotiated and the NE 9-Ball Series began its preparations for the qualified-players-only Tour Championships next month. Tour director Marc Dionne thanked the ownership and staff at Snooker’s, as well as sponsors Ozone Billiards, Molinari, Bert Kinister, AZBilliards, Inside English, Professor Q-Ball’s National Pool and 3-Cushion News, Delta 13 Racks, MJS Construction, Bob Campbell, Championship Cloth and OTLVISE Billiard Mechanics of America.
 
As noted, the upcoming $10,000-added Tour Championships, scheduled for September 8-9 at Bo’s Billiards in Warwick, RI will be for previously qualified players only. Entrants must pre-pay.
 

Ruzzano gets by Lucas twice to take Stop #28 on the New England 9-Ball Series

(l to r): Bob Lucas, Mark Ruzzano & Joe Dupuis

 

Mark Ruzzano rather handily defeated Bob Lucas to claim the hot seat at stop #28 on the New England 9-Ball Series, and while Lucas came back to fight a double hill battle in the finals, Ruzzano prevailed to claim the title. The event, held on Sunday, July 29, drew 30 entrants to Stix and Stones in Abington, MA.
 
After an first round bye, Ruzzano opened his winning campaign with victories over Ken Botelh (6-1) and Kevin Rodriguez (6-2) to arrive at an upper-bracket, winners’ side semifinal against Henry Leighton. Lucas (a C player), in the meantime, after downing two straight C+ opponents, arrived at a winners’ side semifinal against a third, Eli Davenport.
 
Ruzzano (a B player) defeated Leighton 6-3, as Lucas was busy securing a double hill win over Davenport. With Lucas racing to 5, Ruzzano claimed the hot seat 7-2.
 
On the loss side, the only Open player in the stop, Joe Dupuis (playing in his own room, where he works) was in the midst of a seven-match, loss-side winning streak that began with an opening round loss to Kevin Rodriguez and would take him as far as the semifinals. With three loss-side notches on his belt, Dupuis drew Rodriguez for a second time, and defeated him 10-3. He went on to down Jim Prather 9-3 and draw Leighton, coming over from the winners’ side semifinal. Davenport picked up fellow C+ player Bill Phillips, who’d gotten by Rob Diehl 5-2 and Derrick Cunningham 5-1 to reach him.
 
Dupuis and Phillips advanced to the quarterfinals; Dupuis, double hill (9-4) over Leighton and Phillips 5-2 over Davenport. Dupuis chalked up what would prove to be his final win, defeating Phillips 10-2. With Dupuis racing to 11 and Lucas racing to 4 in the semifinals, Lucas prevailed 4-6.
 
In their second match, using that ever-illusive momentum factor, Lucas battled Ruzzano to an 11th deciding game, which with Ruzzano racing to 7 and Lucas to 5, came with Ruzzano ahead in actual games 6-4. Ruzzano completed his undefeated run and claimed his first New England 9-Ball Series title.
 
Tour director Marc Dionne thanked the ownership and staff at Stix and Stones, as well as sponsors Ozone Billiards, Molinari, Bert Kinister, AZBilliards, Inside English, Professor Q-Ball’s National Pool and 3-Cushion News, Delta 13 Racks, MJS Construction, Bob Campbell, Championship Cloth and OTLVISE Billiard Mechanics of America. Stop #29 on the New England 9-Ball Series, scheduled for Sunday, August 12, will be the last tour stop before the Tour Championship and will be hosted by Snookers in Providence, RI.

McAuliffe comes from loss side to defeat Platt in Amateur Eastern States Championships

Kerry McAuliffe came from the loss side in the finals of the Eastern States Championships on Labor Day weekend and fought through a double hill finals match against hot seat occupant, Jason Platt, to claim the event title. The $1,000-added Amateur event, run concurrently with an Open/Pro event (separate story) drew 98 entrants to Snooker's in Providence, RI.
 
McAuliffe's loss-side trip began with a 7-4 loss to Jim Prather in a winners' side semifinal, as Platt was at work, sending Adam Blaire west 7-3. Platt then took down Prather in the hot seat match 8-2, unaware that it was his last win of the weekend.
 
McAuliffe moved over and picked up Miguel Laboy, who'd survived a double hill battle versus Francisco Cabral and defeated Jaime Forcier 7-5. Blaire drew Steve Booth who'd eliminated Jessica Lynn 7-6 and Steve Sutton 7-4.
 
McAuliffe and Blaire got right back to work, defeating Laboy 7-5 and Booth 7-4. McAuliffe then defeated Blaire in the quarterfinals 7-4, and embarked on a semifinal match versus Prather that went on for over two hours. McAuliffe finally won it 7-4. In the extended-finals, McAuliffe reached eight racks ahead Platt to extend the game to 10 racks, and then, double hill, finished it to claim the event title.
 
Predator Tour Director Tony Robles thanked his fellow TDs from the New England 9-Ball Series (Marc Dionne) and Ride the 9 Tour (Gloria Magnano), as well as Snooker's owners, Stephen and Regina Goulding and sponsors, Predator Cues, Ozone Billiards, and Delta 13 racks.