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Rodriguez comes back to down Langford in finals of Sunshine State Pro Am

(l to r): Robbie Langford, Ricardo Rodriguez & Joselito Martinez

Ricardo Joel Rodriguez came back from a hot seat loss against Robbie Langford and downed him in the finals of the next-to-last stop on the Sunshine State Pro Am Tour, the 10-Ball Bar Box Amateur Championships, held on the weekend of November 17-18. It was Rodriguez’ second win of the season, having defeated top-rated Sunshine State Pro Am veteran Dale Stanley in the finals of an event back in March. This most recent, $2,000-added event drew 84 entrants – 67 men and 17 women & juniors –  to Rack’s Sports Bar & Billiards in Sanford, FL.
Rodriguez and Langford trod similar, though not identical paths to the winners’ side semifinals, facing challengers who chalked up about five racks against them, on average. Rodriguez drew Moe Fattah in his winners’ side semifinal match. Langford faced Chris Gentile.
Rodriguez improved his game winning average by shutting Fattah out, as Langford advanced to face him in the hot seat match with a 9-6 win over Gentile. Langford claimed the hot seat 9-5 and waited for Langford to get back from the semifinals.
Gentile ran into Joselito Martinez on the loss side, who’d been sent over by Langford in the fourth round and was in the midst of a six-match, loss-side winning streak that would take him as far as the semifinals. He’d most recently defeated Jason Sheerman 7-2 and Bobby Conner, Jr. 7-1. Fattah picked up Donny Branson, making his own five-match, loss-side mark that included recent wins over Eric Roberts 7-1 and Mike Griffin 7-4.
Fattah downed Branson, double hill, and in the quarterfinals, facEd Martinez, who’d eliminated Gentile 7-4. Martinez then defeated Fattah 7-4 and was a single match away from a re-match against Langford. Rodriguez spoiled his bid for that re-match, defeating him 10-6 in the semifinals to earn his own re-match.
Happy with his score in the semifinals, Rodriguez opted to repeat it in the finals. He defeated Langford 10-6 to earn his second 2018 Sunshine State Pro Am title and become the 2018 10-Ball Bar Box champion.
Eric Roberts took home some cash as the event’s top finishing junior. Nikki Cuellar and Jessica Barnes did, as well, as they shared rewards in a tie for top finishing female.
Tour directors Janene Phillips and Bobby Garza thanked Rack’s owners Pedro Botta and Anthony Digiacomo and their staff, as well as Seminole Harley Davidson, Cyclop Balls, Diamond, Kamui, Jacksonville Roofing, Inc., Play the Game Clothing Co., Bill Katchusky Photography, Alvin Nelson and Inside Pool. The next stop on the Sunshine State Pro Am Tour, scheduled for December 1-2, will be the tour’s season finale, hosted by Park Ave. Billiards in Orange Park, FL.

Walmsley comes back from winners’ side final defeat to down Emmitt in Tri-State final

Sean Emmitt & Neil Walmsley

Neil Walmsley, to the best of our ‘records’ knowledge, has cashed three times on the Tri-State Tour in the past nine years. He has won two of those three events. He was runner-up to Raj Vannala at an event in January, 2009. Four years later, he stopped an eight-match, loss-side bid by Yomaylin “Smiley” Feliz to capture his first Tri-State title. On Sunday, September 16, Walmsley was defeated in a winners’ side semifinal match against Seam Emmitt, who was looking for his first Tri-State title, and came back to defeat him in the finals to claim his second title. The $1000-added event drew 26 entrants to Clifton Billiards (site of Walmsley’s previous win) in Clifton, NJ.
Following victories over Ilija Trajeski, Joe Mazzeo and David Schaffer, Walmsley advanced to a winners’ side semifinal against Emmitt. Ralph Ramos, Jr., in the meantime, who’d defeated Joshua Joseph, and his own father, Ralph Ramos, Sr., squared off against Dax Druminski in the other winners’ side semifinal.
Emmitt handed Walmsley what could easily been a confidence-shattering defeat 7-1 and advanced to the hot seat match. He was joined by Ramos, Jr., who sent Druminski west 7-4. Emmitt defeatEd Ramos, Jr. 8-5 and sat in the hot seat, waiting on Walmsley.
On the loss side, Walmsley opened his loss-side campaign against Tri Chau, who’d defeated Schaffer 7-3 and survived a double hill match against Joseph, to reach him. Druminski picked up Ramos, Sr., who followed his son’s victory over him with victories of his own over Bob Toomey and Mac Jankov, both 6-2.
Walmsley downed Chau 7-2, as Ramos, Sr. was busy eliminating Druminski 6-2. At this point, two intriguing possibilities existed for the finals, two matches away. There was either going to be a father/son semifinal, or Walmsley was going to have to defeat father and then son to get to Emmitt in the hot seat.
It was the second of those two which played out. Walmsely downed Dad 8-5 and then, defeated Junior in a double hill match, which gave him a second shot at Emmitt. Reversing the fortunes of their winners’ side final match, Walmsley claimed his second Tri-State title with a 9-3 win.
Tour representatives thanked the ownership and staff at Clifton Billiards for their hospitality, as well as sponsors Ozone Billiards, Sterling-Gaming, Kamui Tips, Phil Cappelle, Blue Book Publishing, Human Kinetics, Pool & Billiards, Professor Q Ball, Bender Cues and DIGICUE OB. The next stop on the Tri-State Tour, scheduled for Sunday, Sept. 23 will be an 8-Ball event, hosted by Shooters Family Billiards in Wayne, NJ.

Gupta and Crescimanno split top prizes on the Tri-State Tour

(l to r): Vinnie Crescimanno & Shivam Gupta

It was Shivam Gupta’s second victory on the Tri-State Tour, although both of them have gone into the record books with an asterisk, labeled “No final match played.” In November of 2013, Gupta went undefeated through a field of 37, but he played his last match, against Chris Derewonski, battling for the hot seat. When Derewonski returned from the semifinals, they opted out of a final match, leaving the undefeated Gupta as the event’s official winner. On Sunday, February 18, at a $1,000-added, 10-ball event on the Tri-State Tour, which drew 54 entrants to Cue Bar in Bayside (Queens), NY, Gupta came back from a loss to Vinnie Crescimanno in the hot seat match and by mutual agreement, they split the top two prizes. Though Gupta was willing to play the final match, issues related to employment led to Crescimanno’s decision to opt out of that match. Also by mutual agreement, they split the cash, with Gupta receiving the larger share (and related tour ranking points) as the official winner.
Following victories over Duc Lam, Jose Estevez, Brian Cap and Mio Celaj, Gupta moved into a winners’ side semifinal match against John Francisco. Crescimanno, in the meantime, squared off against Ralph Ramos, Jr. Gupta advanced to the hot seat match 6-4 over Francisco, while Crescimanno was surviving a double hill match against Ramos. Crescimanno claimed the hot seat 6-2.
On the loss side, Dave Callaghan, who’d been defeated by Francisco in a winners’ side quarterfinal, downed Jaydev Zaveri 6-2 and Dave Shlemperis 6-4 to earn himself a re-match versus Francisco. Ramos, Jr. picked up his father, Ralph Ramos, Sr., who’d defeated Kevin Chong and Jose Baez, both 5-1, to reach him.
Callaghan wreaked re-match vengeance on Francisco 6-1 to advance to the quarterfinals, as Ramos, Sr. downed Ramos, Jr. 5-3 to join him. Callaghan then allowed father and son to go home at more or less the same time with a 5-2 win over Ramos, Sr. in the quarterfinals.
Gupta played what proved to be the final match of the event, the semifinals, defeating Callaghan 6-3. The mutual agreement to split the top prizes, and award Gupta the official event title was reached, and it was over.
Tour representatives thanked the ownership and staff at Cue Bar, 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, February 25, will be a C/D 9-Ball event, hosted by Steinway Billiards in Astoria (Queens), NY.

Groce chalks up his fifth title at Midwest Bar Table Classic in Indianapolis

(l to r): Brandon Thomas & Brian Groce

The hot seat match of the 37th Annual Midwest Bar Table Classic, held on the weekend of October 21-22, featured two former winners of the event; one, Brian Groce, from 14 years ago (2003) and the other, Steve Oaks, from 34 years ago (1983).
“It was the best match of the whole tournament,” said event director, John Klotz, of the double hill battle that eventually put Groce in the hot seat. “There were one or two mistakes in the first couple of games, but from there to the end, it was just beautiful pool.”
The quality of the hot seat match led to hopes for a re-match in the finals, which did not materialize. Instead, a relative upstart, Brandon Thomas, who finished fifth in the 2015 Classic, downed Oaks (who’d sent him to the loss side) in the semifinals. Groce survived a first-set loss in the double elimination finals to win the second set and capture his fifth Midwest Classic title; his previous four coming in 2003, 2002, 2001, & 1998.
Previously hosted by Brickyard Billiards in Indianapolis, the $2,000-added, 37th Annual Midwest Bar Table Classic drew a full field of 64 entrants to a new location – John Wayne’s Pub, also in Indianapolis. While a host of familiar names and faces appeared on the brackets, the two-time defending champion of the event, Billy Thorpe, was not among them. Thorpe was making plans for attendance at the US Open 9-Ball Championships and gearing up for his first-ever appearance as a member of the USA Mosconi Cup team this coming December.
Following victories over Korey Harris, Mike France, Jayme Goodwin, and Ronnie Solgot, Groce stepped into a winners’ side semifinal against Jeremy Edwards, in what would prove to be the first of two-straight double hill matches that would put Groce in the hot seat. Oaks, in the meantime, having gotten by Dathan Schmidt, Chuck Thurnall, Alan Pham and Trent Vaught, faced Brandon Thomas in the other winners’ side semifinal.
Groce chalked up his first double hill win in a row, over Edwards, as Oaks sent Thomas to the loss side 9-6. The ‘best match of the tournament’ was on. When the dust settled, Groce was in the hot seat, and Oaks was on his way to a fateful match against Thomas in the semifinals.
On the loss side, Thomas began his trek back to the finals against Clay Carmen, who’d moved into the money rounds with wins over Dave Grau, a double hill win over Brian Winters, and then, eliminated Molly Bontrager, double hill, as well. Edwards picked up Alex Olinger, who was in the midst of a seven-match, loss-side winning streak that was about to end and had included money-round victories over Louis Demarco 7-4, a double hill win over Martin Zayala, Jr. and another double hill win, over Trent Vaught.
Thomas defeated Carmen 7-2, and was joined in the quarterfinal match by Edwards, who’d eliminated Olinger 7-4. Thomas took the quarterfinal match over Edwards 7-5, and then spoiled any hopes for a Groce/Oaks re-match with a 7-5 victory over Oaks in the semifinals.
Thomas used his momentum to take the opening set of the true double elimination final against Groce 7-3. Groce, though, caught a literal second wind and defeated Thomas by the same 7-3 score in the second set to secure the title to his fifth Midwest Bar Table Classic.
Event director John Klotz thanked Chuck Thomas, owner of John Wayne’s Pub for his debut hospitality, hosting the event, as well as sponsors Accu-Rack and Diamond Billiard Tables.

Gibbs, Jr. wins second set of final to take Stop # 8 on the New England 9-Ball Series

Bobby Hilton, Paul LaVerdiere and William Gibbs Jr

At the eighth stop on the New England 9-Ball Series, held on Saturday, Sept. 26, Bobby Hilton won three on the loss side and the opening set of a true double elimination final to force a single, deciding match against hot seat occupant, William Gibbs, Jr. Gibbs won that second set to claim title to the $500-added event which had drawn 26 entrants to Town Billiards in Hamden, CT.
The winners' side semifinals in this event pitted two C+ and two B+ players against each other to determine the hot seat opponents. The C+ players, Gibbs, Jr. and Frank O'Malley faced off, while Hilton and Paul Laverdiere, representing the B+ class, met in the other winners' side semifinal. Gibbs, Jr. won his straight-up race to 5, 5-2, while Laverdiere sent Hilton to the loss side in their race to 6, 6-1. Gibbs, Jr. started the hot seat match with three on the wire, and won it 5-5 over Laverdiere, who was racing to 8.
Hilton started his trip back to the finals against Dave Gavrish, who'd gotten by Robert Piersa 6-4 and Chris Gloersen, double hill (8-4) to reach him. O'Malley picked  up Ed Murray, the only D+ player still at work among the event's final 12, who'd eliminated Kajone Ky, double hill (3-6) and Chris Masterson 3-1.
Hilton defeated Gavrish 5-3, and in the quarterfinals, faced Murray, who'd ended O'Malley's day 3-4 (O'Malley racing to 6). Murray took a six-game advantage into those quarterfinals, and almost made it happen. He chalked up two of the three racks he needed against Hilton, but Hilton chalked up the nine he needed to win it.
The semifinal matchup between Hilton and Laverdiere was more competitive than their earlier match in the winners' side semifinal. In their straight-up race to 6, Hilton prevailed 6-4 for a shot at Gibbs, Jr. in the hot seat. 
With Gibbs, Jr. racing to 5, Hilton took the double elimination opener 8-3. Gibbs, though, rallied in the second set, giving up only two racks to Hilton, and claiming the event title.
Tour representatives thanked the ownership and staff at Town Billiards, 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, Bob Campbell, Championship Cloth, and OTLVISE Billiard Mechanics of America. Stop # 9 on the New England 9-Ball Series, scheduled for December 3-4, will be a $1,500-added event, hosted by Stix and Stones in Abington, MA.