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Hulse goes undefeated to win his first Tri-State title

(l to r): Omar Hulse & Euryel Castillo

Omar Hulse navigated his way through a field of C/D competitors on-hand for the August 11 stop on the Tri-State Tour and went undefeated to claim his first Tri-State title. The $1,000-added, C/D event drew 30 entrants to Cue Bar Lounge & Billiards in Bayside (Queens), NY.
 
Following victories over Rick Rodriguez, Mike Strassberg, and Allison LaFleur, Hulse drew Ambi Estevez in one of the winners’ side semifinals. Euryel Castillo, in the meantime, drew Jowen Pichardo in the other one. With a series of 5-3 wins, Hulse claimed the hot seat. He and Pichardo got into the hot seat match on the heels of identical 5-3 victories over Estevez and Castillo, respectively. Hulse then claimed the hot seat by the same score over Pichardo and waited on what turned out to be the return of Castillo.
 
On the loss side, the 5-3 ‘party’ continued. Castillo picked up Suzzie Wong, who’d defeated Jack Zhong and Mitra Kanhai, both 5-3. Allison LaFleur broke things up a little, when she defeated Esteban Morrell, Jr. 5-2 and Jim Gutierrez 5-1, to pick up Estevez, but then righted the 5-3 ship by defeating Estevez 5-3. Castillo downed Wong 5-2 to join LaFleur in the quarterfinals.
 
Castillo and LaFleur battled to double hill in those quarterfinals, before Castillo ended it to earn a rematch against Pichardo in the semifinals. Castillo gave up only a single rack in those semifinals and got a shot at Hulse in the hot seat. He made good use of the chance he’d earned, but fell short. Castillo fought Hulse to a ninth deciding game in the finals, but it was Hulse who claimed the event title.
 
Tour representatives thanked the ownership and staff at Cue Bar for their hospitality, 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 Saturday, August 17, will be hosted by Steinway Billiards in Astoria (Queens), NY. 

Jeziorski wins his second Tri-State title, this time without the asterisk

Bryan Jeziorski and Rick Rodriguez

According to our records, the last time Bryan Jeziorski won a stop on the Tri-State Tour, he and Ricardo Mejia split the top two prizes. The 2013 event (part of the tour’s 2012-2013 season) drew 73 entrants to Castle Billiards in East Rutherford, NJ on Saturday, Feb. 2. The field had been restricted to 64 entrants, but when tour representatives saw the number of competitors still lined up to register when they reached that number, they expanded the field to accommodate them. At 4:30 a.m. on Sunday, February 3, they were probably questioning the wisdom of that decision. In any case, Jeziorski had sent Mejia to the loss side in the third round and Mejia had won six on the loss side to face him a second time in the finals . . . that didn’t happen.
 
On Saturday, April 20, Jeziorski signed on for a Tri-State Tour stop with 29 other entrants, and though, like his previous win, the event finished up early the next day (Easter Sunday morning), this time, Jeziorski played a final; against Rick Rodriguez, as it turned out, and won it to claim his second Tri-State title. The $1,000-added event was hosted by Clifton Billiards in Clifton, NJ.
 
Jeziorski and Rodriguez almost met in the hot seat match. Jeziorski had gotten by Frank Sieczka 7-5, Yomaylin Feliz-Foreman (AKA Smiley) 7-5 and Ilija Trajceski 7-4 to draw Luis Jimenez in a winners’ side semifinal. Rodriguez, in the meantime, after victories over Jowen Pichardo 6-2, Clint Pires 6-2 and Mac Jankov 6-4, drew Mark Joseph in the other winners’ side semifinal.
 
Jeziorski advanced to the hot seat match with a 7-5 win over Jimenez. Joseph, however, sent Rodriguez to the loss side 6-3 to join Jeziorski battling for the hot seat. Jeziorski downed Joseph 7-5 and waited in the hot seat for Rodriguez to complete a three-match trip on the loss side.
 
Jimenez opened his loss-side campaign against Clint Pires, who’d defeated Sabrina Sherman 6-4 and Feliz-Forman 7-3 to reach him. Rodriguez picked up one of the tour’s top female competitors, Michelle Brotons, who’d eliminated Jeffrey Rosen 7-5 and Mac Jankov 6-2.
 
Rodriguez and Jimenez advanced to the quarterfinals; Rodriguez, surviving a double hill fight against Brotons and Jimenez, downing Spires 7-2. Rodriguez then defeated Jimenez 7-5 in those quarterfinals.
 
Rodriguez earned his spot in the finals with a strong 6-1 victory over Joseph in the semifinals. Jeziorski earned his first non-asterisk Tri-State title with a 7-4 win over Rodriguez in the finals.
 
Tour representatives thanked the ownership and staff at Clifton Billiards, as well as sponsors Ozone Billiards, Sterling-Gaming, Kamui Tips, Phil Capelle, BlueBook Publishing, Human Kinetics, Pool & Billiards, Professor Q Ball, Bender Cues, DIGICUE OB and Hustlin USA. The next stop on the Tri-State Tour, scheduled for Sunday, April 28, will be hosted by Steinway Billiards in Astoria (Queens), NY. 

Lamberti comes from the loss side to win his first Tri-State Tour stop

(l to r): Marc Lamberti & Luis Jimenez

As it came down to the end, you had a player competing in his first Tri-State Tour event, against a player looking for his first win on the tour, who ultimately defeated a hot seat occupant, whose first and last win on the tour happened five years ago. The last man standing in that trio of competitors was Marc Lamberti, looking and acquiring that first Tri-State Tour win. He earned it by coming from the loss side to meet and defeat hot seat occupant Luis Jimenez, who was looking for that first win since 2014. The man in the middle, so to speak – Daniel Alaimo – was the newcomer, and though he got by Lamberti once, he couldn’t do it a second time. The $1,000-added, 10-Ball event drew 37 entrants to Clifton Billiards in Clifton, NJ on Sunday, March 17.
 
After an opening round victory that almost put an immediate stop to Lamberti’s winners’ side ambitions – a double hill win over Veronica Perez – Lamberti moved on to another double hill challenge that he survived, over Jowen Pichardo. Michelle Brotons came within a game of being Lamberti’s third straight double hill challenge of the day, but Lamberti got out in front by two at the end and won it 5-3 to face Alaimo for the first time in a winners’ side semifinal. Alaimo arrived at that match following victories over Charlie Beam 5-3, John DeVito 5-2 and Allison LaFleur 5-3. Jimenez, in the meantime, had gotten by Mike Mele 6-4, Jonathan McConnell, double hill, and Llija Trajceski 6-4 to face the tour’s #1-ranked B+ player, Jaydev Zaveri in the other winners’ side semifinal.
 
Alaimo sent Lamberti off to the loss side 5-2 and in the hot seat match, faced Jimenez, who’d defeated Zaveri 6-3. Jimenez downed Alaimo in the hot seat match and waited on what turned out to be the return of Lamberti.
 
Lamberti opened his loss-side trip against Jowen Pichardo, whom he’d defeated earlier in the day. Pichardo had recently eliminated two women in a row, Brotons 5-2 and LaFleur, who put up a double hill fight before Pichardo finished it. Zaveri faced Desi DeRado, who’d defeated Kevin Scalzitti 6-4 and Mike Mele 7-4.
 
Lamberti leap-frogged into the quarterfinals when Pichardo forfeited out of their match. Lamberti was joined by Zaveri who’d knocked DeRado out of the running 6-4. Lamberti took the quarterfinal match 7-4 over Zaveri to get a second shot against Alaimo in the semifinals.
 
Lamberti took advantage of his second chance. He downed Alaimo 6-3 and turned to see if he could lock up his first Tri-State win by knocking Jimenez out of his hot seat perch. He did, defeating Jimenez 8-4 in the finals to claim the event title.
 
Tour representatives thanked the ownership and staff at Clifton Billiards for their hospitality, as well as sponsors Ozone Billiards, Sterling-Gaming, Kamui Tips, Phil Capelle, BlueBook Publishing, Human Kinetics, Pool & Billiards, Professor Q Ball, Bender Cues, and DIGICUE OB. The next stop on the Tri-State Tour, an 8-ball tournament, scheduled for Sunday, March 24, will be hosted by Cue Bar in Bayside (Queens), NY.
 

Klein and Shweta Zaveri split top prizes on Tri-State Tour stop

Matt Klein & Shweta Zaveri

Both were looking for their first 2019 win on the Tri-State Tour. For Shweta Zaveri, it would have been her first victory on the tour, ever. For Matt Klein, it proved to be his first since last June, near the end of the Tri-State’s 2017-2018 season. They played a single match, a winners’ side semifinal. They would have played a second, in the finals, but they opted out and split the top two prizes. Zaveri came into the event as the tour’s 2018/2019 points leader among its female competitors and among its D+ players. Klein, at present, is the tour’s fifth-ranked points leader in the B division. The $1,000-added event that led to their division of the top two prizes drew 46 entrants on Saturday, February 2 to Steinway Billiards in Astoria (Queens), NY.
 
Klein’s tournament trail went through Bob Toomey, Ilija Tracjeski, Terry Mohabir, and Jowen Pichardo to arrive at his winners’ side semifinal against Zaveri. Shivam Gupta, in the meantime, faced Ryan Dayrit. Klein sent Zaveri on her three-match, loss-side trip with an 8-4 victory. He was joined in the hot seat match Gupta, who’d sent Dayrit over 8-6. In what proved to be his final match, Klein claimed the hot seat 7-4 over Gupta.
 
On the loss side, Zaveri picked up Andrew Cicoria, who’d recently survived a double hill win battle against Sean Emmitt and shut out Pichardo. Dayrit drew Ricky Motilal, who’d defeated Brian Jeziorski 7-4 and Suzzie Wong 8-4 to reach him.
 
Dayrit downed Motilal 8-6 and in the quarterfinals, faced Zaveri, who’d eliminated Cicoria 6-2. Zaveri chalked up two straight double hill wins that provided her with an opportunity to face Klein a second time. She downed Dayrit 6-5 in the quarterfinals and Gupta 9-8 in the semifinals.
 
It was late Sunday night at this stage of the game(s), or early Monday morning, depending on your perspective. While Zaveri may have been motivated to chalk up her first Tri-State win with a re-match against Klein, they both agreed to the split.
 
Tour representatives thanked Manny Stamatakis and his Steinway Billiards staff for their hospitality, as well as sponsors Ozone Billiards, Sterling-Gaming, Kamui Tips, Phil Capelle, BlueBook Publishing, Human Kinetics, Pool & Billiards, Professor Q Ball, Bender Cues, DIGICUE OB, and Hustlin USA. The next stop on the Tri-State Tour, scheduled for Sunday, February 10, will be hosted by Shooter’s Family Billiards in Wayne, NJ.

Joseph goes undefeated to claim his first Tri-State title

Mark Joseph and Clint Pires

When Mark Joseph and Clint Pires met in the hot seat match and finals of the November 25 stop on the Tri-State Tour, it guaranteed them their second appearance in the AZ database; Pires had finished 4th on a Tri-State stop in August at Clifton Billiards, Joseph finished 5th a month later at Shooter’s Billiards in Wayne, NJ. Joseph won both matches to claim his first regional tour title. The $1,000-added event drew 25 entrants to Clifton Billiards in Clifton, NJ.
 
Following and opening round bye and victories over Richard Brother and Allison LaFleur, Joseph moved into a winners’ side semifinal against Teddy Lapadula. Pires, in the meantime, got by Mike Strassberg, Artur Trzeciak and Gil McGrath to face Alfredo Altamirano in the other winners’ side semifinal.
 
Both matches went double hill, sending Joseph and Pires into the hot seat match, while Lapadula and Altamirano moved to the loss side. They had both secured their highest finish on the tour, but neither of them was finished. Joseph gave up only a single rack to Pires in their hot seat matchup (5-1) and waited on his return.
 
On the loss side, Kevin Serodio, who’d lost his opening round to Jowen Pichardo, was in the midst of a six-match, loss-side winning streak that came within a game of derailing Pires’ bid for a rematch against Joseph. Victories over Luis Lopez and Shane Soto were followed by a 5-2 win over Bob Toomey, and a 5-1 victory over Greg Partlow, which set Serodio up to meet Lapadula. Altamirano, in the meantime, drew Carlos Serrano, who’d gotten by Gil McGrath 5-3 and Michelle Brotons 5-1 to reach him.
 
Identical 5-1 scores sent Altamirano (over Serrano) and Serodio (over Lapadula) to the quarterfinals, where Serodio chalked up loss-side win #5 over Altimarano 5-3.
 
Pires was already in a position to record his best finish on the tour when he arrived from the hot seat match to face Serodio in the semifinals. He secured a minimum runner-up finish with a double hill win that ended Serodio’s loss-side winning streak.
 
In some ways, for both Joseph and Pires, it didn’t matter who won the final match. Both were assured of their best finish, to date, on the tour. But in other ways, it mattered a lot, because they battle to double hill to decide it. In the extended race-to-7 final, if Pires reached five first, the match would extend to seven games. Pires forced that extension and was able to chalk up another rack to reach the hill, but Joseph hung on to win it and claim the event title.
 
Tour representatives thanked the ownership and staff at Clifton Billiards, as well as sponsors Ozone Billiards, Sterling-Gaming, Kamui Tips, Phil Capelle, BlueBook Publishing, Human Kinetics, Pool & Billiards, Professor Q Ball, Bender Cues, and DIGICUE OB. The next stop on the Tri-State Tour, scheduled for December 2, will be hosted by Cue Bar in Bayside (Queens), NY.

Guzman goes undefeated, downing Pichardo twice, to win his first 2018 Tri-State Tour event

Juan Guzman and Jowen Pichardo

Going into the season finale of the Tri-State Tour’s 2017-2018 season, there were  32 players among the Tri-State Tour’s A/A+ division, the highest division below the Pro (11 players) and Open (10 players) divisions of the tour’s ranking system. The top 16 in each of six divisions (with a minimum of participation in four events) will or have already been informed of their eligibility for the tour’s season finale, the annual Tri-State Invitational, scheduled for June 30-July 1 at Steinway Billiards in Astoria (Queens), NY. Among those who will not receive an invitation will be Juan Guzman, who, on Saturday, June 16, chalked up his first win in only his third appearance on the 2017-2018 tour. He went undefeated at the $1,000-added event that drew 30 entrants to Clifton Billiards in Clifton, NJ. Guzman’s opponent, in both the hot seat match and finals – Jowen Pichardo – will receive an invitation as one of the top 16 players in the tour’s C-class (40 players in the division).
 
For reasons unknown, Guzman’s participation in both of the area’s major pool tours (the Tri-State and Predator Pro Am) has dropped precipitously since 2016; a year in which he won two events on both tours and was runner-up to Tony Liang in the George “Ginky” Sansouci Memorial Tournament, run by both tours. On the basis of this most recent appearance on the Tri-State Tour, it does not appear as if his skill level has been affected by the absence.
 
Guzman and Pichardo advanced through the field on Saturday into a winners’ side semifinal; Guzman, facing Sabrina Sherman and Pichardo, squaring off against Matt Klein. Guzman downed Sherman 10-6, as Pichardo was sending Klein to the loss side 6-4. Guzman claimed the hot seat 10-8 and waited for Pichardo to get back from the semifinals.
 
On the loss side, Sherman picked up Amy Yu (the tour’s #5-ranked female player; a C+), who’d survived a double hill battle against Rick Rodriguez and eliminated Nes Jakanovic 8-6. Klein drew a re-match against Michelle Brotons (the #2-ranked female; a D+), whom he’d defeated in a winners’ side quarterfinal. Brotons downed Teddy Lapadula 6-2 and shut out Tony Ignomirello to earn the re-match.
 
Two of the three ladies in those first money-round battles advanced to the quarterfinals. Sherman (the #9-ranked female; a C) defeated Yu 6-1, and in those quarterfinals, met Brotons, who’d eliminated Klein 7-3. Brotons took the quarterfinal match 6-3, only, by the same score, to have her loss-side run ended by Pichardo in the semifinals. Guzman completed his undefeated run with a 10-6 victory and claimed his first 2018 Tri-State title.
 
Tour representatives thanked the ownership and staff at Clifton Billiards, as well as sponsors John Bender Custom Cues, Ozone Billiards, Sterling Billiards, Kamui, DigiCue, Billiards Digest, Human Kinetics, Blue Book Publishing, Phil Cappelle Publications, and Joe Romer Trophies. The next stop on the Tri-State Tour, as noted at the outset, will be the annual Tri-State Invitational, scheduled for June 30-July 1 at Steinway Billiards.

Pichardo gets by Decker twice to go undefeated on Tri-State

(l to r): Jason Decker & Jowen Pichardo

Two relatively new Tri-State Tour competitors battled twice to claim the event title during a tour stop on Sunday, April 8. Jowen Pichardo won both of his encounters with Jason Decker, going undefeated to claim his first Tri-State title. He had previously placed 5th in two Tri-State events, two years apart (2105 & 2017). Decker’s runner-up finish put him in our AZBilliards database for the first time. The $1,000-added, 8-ball tournament drew 21 entrants to Shooter’s Billiards in Wayne, NJ.
 
The two advanced through the field to meet for the first time in the hot seat match. Pichardo had downed Jim Gutierrez 5-3 in one winners’ side semifinal, while Decker had defeated Mac Jankov, double hill, in the other one. Pichardo claimed his first hot seat with a 5-3 win over Decker.
 
On the loss side, Jankov picked up Matt D’Errico, who’d gotten by Paul Madonia and Qian Chen, both 6-3. Guttierez drew Michelle Brotons, who entered this event as the tour’s #2-ranked female, and eliminated Marc Lamberti 5-1 and Frank Sieczka 6-4 to reach Gutierrez.
 
Brotons and Jankov advanced to the quarterfinals; Brotons 4-2 over Gutierrez and Jankov 7-4 over D’Errico. Jankov and Brotons battled to double hill in the quarterfinals, before Jankov finished it. Decker then ended Jankov’s short, loss-side trip 5-2 in the semifinals.
 
Pichardo and Decker were, of course, both looking for their first Tri-State title in the finals that followed. With a 5-3 win, Pichardo was the one who earned it.
 
Tour representatives thanked the ownership and staff at Shooter’s Billiards, as well as sponsors Ozone Billiards, Sterling-Gaming, Kamui Tips, Phil Capelle, BlueBook Publishing, Human Kinetics, Pool & Billiards, Professor Q Ball, Bender Cues, and DIGICUE OB. The next stop on the Tri-State Tour, scheduled for Sunday, April 22 (one week after the Super Billiards Expo, April 12-15), will be hosted by Clifton Billiards, in Clifton, NJ.

Alicea goes undefeated to capture his first Tri-State Tour title at Clifton Billiards

(l to r): Frank Sieczka & Mark Alicea

The last time Mark Alicea cashed in a Tri-State Tour stop was his debut on the tour, seven years ago. He was runner-up to George Osipovitch in that debut. Now, seven years (and five months) later, Alicea has chalked up what according to our records indicates, is his first tour victory. Mark is the brother of the late John Alicea, known as a protégé of George “Ginky” Sansouci and winner of numerous stops on both the Tri-State and Predator Tours, before passing away in November of 2012. Brother Mark went undefeated at a $1,000-added event, held on Saturday, November 26. The event drew 35 entrants to Clifton Billiards in Clifton, NJ.
 
Alicea advanced to the hot seat match after a 5-3 win over Mac Jankov in a winners’ side semifinal. He was joined by Pashk Gjini, who’d sent Frank Sieczka to the loss side 5-4. Alicea claimed the hot seat 5-2 over Gjini, and waited on the return of Sieczka.
 
On the loss side, Sieczka opened his three-match march back to the finals against Jowen Picardo, who’d defeated Daniel Feliciano 5-2 and Michelle Brotons 6-3 to reach him. Jankov drew Mike Mele, who was on a seven-match, loss-side run that would take him as far as the quarterfinals. He’d shut out Gil McGrath and survived a double hill fight against Matt Klein to face Jankov.
 
Mele advanced one more step with a 5-2 win over Jankov, and was joined in the quarterfinals by Sieczka, who’d eliminated Picardo 5-1. Sieczka brought an unceremonious end to Mele’s loss-side run with a shutout over him in the quarterfinals.
 
Sieczka and Gjini fought to double hill in the semifinals that followed, with Sieczka dropping the last ball and advancing for a shot against Alicea, waiting for him in the hot seat. Alicea completed his undefeated, first-tour-win run with a 5-2 victory over Sieczka in the finals.
 
Tri-State representatives thanked the ownership and staff at Clifton Billiards for their hospitality, as well as sponsors Ozone Billiards, Sterling-Gaming, Kamui Tips, Phil Capelle, BlueBook Publishing, Human Kinetics, Pool & Billiards, Professor Q Ball, Bender Cues, and DIGICUE OB. The next stop on the Tri-State Tour, scheduled for Sunday, December 10, will be a $1,000-added event, hosted by Cue Bar in Bayside (Queens), NY.
 

Panzarella and Dabu split top prizes on final Tri-State stop of the year

Victor Dabu, Mike Panzarella and Ralph Ramos Sr

They played against each other once, and let the result stand. Mike Panzarella and Victor Dabu split the top two prizes offered on the Sunday, December 27 stop on the Tri-State Tour. As the winner of their only meeting, Panzarella claimed title to the $1,000-added event that drew 39 entrants to Steinway Billiards in Astoria (Queens), NY.
 
They met for the first and only time in a winners' side quarterfinal, which sent Dabu to the loss side and Panzarella to a winners' side semifinal match against Lidio Ramirez. Ralph Ramos, Sr., in the meantime, squared off against Ambi Estevez in the other winners' side semifinal. Panzarella sent Ramirez to the loss side 7-3, and in the hot seat match, facEd Ramos, who'd defeated Estevez 6-4. Panzarella took the hot seat, double hill, and for all intents and purposes, could have gone home at the already-past-midnight hour.
 
On the loss side, Dabu downed Luis Jimenez 7-5 and Kevin Shin (event winner, a week earlier), double hill, to pick up Ramirez. Estevez drew Jowen Picardo, who'd eliminated Raul Calderon 7-4 and Tony Ignomirello 6-4. 
 
Dabu dropped Estevez into fourth place 8-5, and then, earned a second shot against Panzarella, with a 9-4 win over Ramos in the semifinals. The re-match was declined, and with Panzarella being the undefeated player, he claimed the title.
 
Tour representatives thanked the ownership and staff at Steinway Billiards for their hospitality, as well as sponsors Ozone Billiards, Sterling-Gaming, Kamui Tips, Ron Vitello, Phil Capelle, BlueBook Publishing, Human Kinetics, and Bloodworth Ball Cleaners. The next stop on the Tri-State Tour, the first of 2016, is a projected $1,500-added event scheduled for January 9-10. The double-point event will be hosted, once again, by Steinway Billiards in Astoria (Queens), NY.