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Lang goes undefeated on Garden State Pool Tour to claim her second gender-mixed event

Rachel Lang and Alfredo Altamirano

She won a ladies’ event on the Garden State Pool Tour last July, in which she rebounded from an opening-round loss and went on to claim the title. Rachel Lang, runner-up in the APA’s US Amateur tournament in 2022, won her first (recorded) mixed-gender event six years ago on the Tri-State Tour (now, the Predator Tri-State Tour), and last weekend (Jan. 28-29), she chalked up her second ‘playin’ with the boys, too’ title, going undefeated through a field of 67 entrants that signed on to the $300-added event, hosted by Rockaway Billiards in Rockaway, NJ.

Split into separate, upper/lower Fargo Rate brackets, Rachel went at things from the upper bracket with her Fargo Rate of 560. She got by some of the ‘big boys,’ too, on her way to the title, downing Sean Emmitt (526), Jaydev Zaveri (607), Dinko Busanich (double hill; 637) and Julien Tierney (599) to arrive at her winners’ side semifinal match against Hunter Sullivan (600). In the meantime, Paul Madonia, Sr., having gotten by Donald Henriquez, Edwin Balcarcel, Kevin Serodio and Lysander Diaz, faced Aaron Wagner in the other winners’ side semifinal.

Lang defeated Sullivan 5-3, as Madonia sent Wagner to the loss side, double hill. And then, something very strange happened. Having won their winners’ side semifinal, Lang and Wagner did not move into the hot seat match. Instead, in order to advance to the finals, they had to play someone from their individual bracket’s loss side. But this didn’t happen right away. They had to wait until the first loss-side matches played by Sullivan and Wagner were completed, at which point, Lang would face whoever won Sullivan’s match and Madonia would meet up with the winner of Wagner’s match.

Sullivan and Wagner moved to the loss side and were met by Sylvain Anichini and Alfredo Altamirano, respectively. Anichini had defeated Dinko Busanich, double hill and Jaydev Zaveri 5-1 to draw Sullivan, while Altamirano was busy eliminating Kevin Serodio 5-3 and Paul Murphy 5-2 to pick up Wagner.

Two double hill matches ensued in pursuit of advancement in what amounted to a separated bracket for the event’s final four. Altamirano downed Wagner 6-3 (Wagner racing to 4), as, in a straight up race to 5, Anichini eliminated Sullivan 5-4.

Back come Lang and Madonia, still on the winner’s side, and in essence, skipping a hot seat match. Lang faced Anichini, as Madonia took on Altamirano. And just when you thought it was heading into normal bracket-advancement territory, those two matches were double sets, requiring the loss-side competitors to win twice. Lang lost the opening set to Anichini 6-4, but came back in the second set to defeat him 5-1, in what proved to be the de facto hot seat match, leaving Lang in the undefeated hot seat. 

Altamirano had to and did defeat Madonia twice, double hill in the first set 6-5 and 5-1 in the second set, advancing to the single set final against Lang. So, the two finalists were set before the final loss-side match between Madonia and Manichini was played to determine 3rd and 4th place.

Madonia grabbed 3rd place with a 5-4 win over Manichini (Manichini racing to 6). Lang claimed the event title with an 8-6 win in the single set final.

Tour director David Fitzpatrick thanked the ownership and staff at Rockaway Billiards for their hospitality, as well as Billiards Engineering, InTheBox, JFLowers Cues & Cases, John Bender Custom Cues, Off the Rail Apparel, Kamui and Jennifer Pedtum for her assistance in running the event. The next stop on the Garden State Pool Tour, scheduled for this weekend (Feb. 4-5), will be hosted by Breaker Billiards in Clifton, NJ.

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Chang and Parker win successive stops on the Garden State Pool Tour

Joe Mazzeo and Tae Chang

On Sunday, August 22, Sandcastle Billiards hosted a $200-added, A-D event on the Garden State Pool Tour that drew 27 entrants and was won by Tae Chang, who went undefeated. Just shy of a week later, the tour held another $200-added event; this one an A-B event (with C-D players allowed, but expected to compete from the beginning against A-B players). This second event was hosted by Breaker’s Billiards in Clifton, NJ, drew 23 entrants and saw Joann Mason Parker go undefeated to claim the event title.

At Sandcastle Billiards, Tae Chang was looking for his first major event victory and found it. A week earlier, he had been runner-up to James Conn at an event on the Predator Tri-State Tour. The two had opted out of a final match, leaving Conn, as the undefeated occupant of the hot seat, with the event title. In June, Chang had finished 5th at another stop on the Predator Tri-State. Those two events represented Chang’s only (recorded) cash winnings in the AZBilliards database. This time, Chang played through to the end and chalked up his first win.

In the event’s format, A-B and C-D players were competing in separate brackets and it was Chang (C-D) and Christian Orque (A-B) who worked their way through the field and met, for the first, and as it turned out, only time in the hot seat match. Chang claimed the hot seat 7-3 and waited on the return of one Joe Mazzeo. 

Mazzeo had lost to Christian Orque in one of the winners’ side semifinals and one the loss side, had chalked up two straight double hill wins – versus Jersey Mars and Rob Calton – to earn a rematch against Orque in the semifinals. That, too, went double hill, but it advanced Mazzeo to the finals. 

Chang, no doubt seeing his first major event victory on a nearby horizon, put pedal to the metal and jumped out to what proved to be an insurmountable lead of 5-0. Mazzeo was able to chalk up three racks right after that, but Chang came back with two of his own to claim the event title.

Julian Tierney, Joann Mason Parker and Levie Lampaan

Mason Parker returns to the tables

A week later, at Breaker’s Billiards, JoAnn Mason Parker, who, according to our records, hasn’t cashed in an event since she went undefeated at a season opening stop on Florida’s Flamingo Tour, 10 years ago (her third of three straight on that tour, dating back to the previous year). Her history dates back to what remains as her best earnings year at the tables (1999), when she cashed in an ESPN Ultimate Challenge event, behind, in order, Allison Fisher, Gerda Hofstatter, Helena Thornfeldt, Karen Corr and Jeanette Lee. In October of that year, she finished 4th in a Northeast Women’s Tour event won by Corr. 

Parker showed no signs of a 10-year absence away from the tables, unless you count the two double hill matches, versus newcomer Ahkil Ahjula and Julie Madlener, that opened her undefeated campaign. She went on to defeat Christian Teaza 7-5 to face Kyle Manuel in one of the winners’ side semifinals. Julian Tierney, in the meantime, squared off against Tony Ignomirello in the other winners’ side semifinal.

A 7-2 win by Parker over Manuel and a 7-4 win by Tierney over Ignomirello put them against each other in the hot seat match. It proved to be Parker’s third double hill battle, but she broke and ran rack #13 to claim the hot seat.

Tierney slid over to face Levie Lampaan in the semifinals. Lampaan had lost his second match on the winners’ side and went on to win six loss-side matches, including the quarterfinal against Raymund Paragas 7-3. Tierney stopped Lampaan’s run in the semifinals 7-4.

It looked as though the finals might go the ‘double hill’ distance, as Parker and Tierney fought back and forth to an opening 3-3 tie. Parker, though, chalked up the next three in a row to reach the hill. Tierney needed to reach 7, just to extend the race to 9 games. He won the next rack to make it 6-4, but Parker closed it out to claim the event title.

The Garden State Pool Tour thanked the ownership at both Sandcastle Billiards (Ed Liddawi) and Breaker’s Billiards (Lenny) and their staffs for their hospitality. The next stop on the Garden State Pool Tour, scheduled for Sept. 9 & 10, will be the 5th Annual Fall Brawl at Player’s Billiards in Eatontown, NJ. 

Laboy goes undefeated to chalk up his first 2019 win on the Predator Pro Am Tour

(l to r): Bianca Martinez, Julien Tierney, Miguel Laboy, Amanda Andries (photo by Erwin Dionisio)

Miguel Laboy brought about 14 years of competitive pool experience and a lot of regional tour victories to the September 14-15 stop on the Predator Pro Am Tour. Before he earned the event title, however, he had to get by two particular competitors with a total of about three years of experience, both of them looking for their first regional tour event victory. Laboy would end up going undefeated at the $1,000-added event that drew 68 entrants to Cue Bar in Bayside (Queens), NY, but not before he’d dispatched one of the relative newcomers (Julien Tierney) twice (winners’ side semifinals and finals) and the other to the loss side (Bianca Martinez) in the battle for the hot seat.
As Laboy was busy sending Tierney to the loss side 8-5 in one of the winners’ side semifinals, Martinez was locked up in a double hill fight with Erick Carrasco that she eventually won. Martinez began the hot seat match against Laboy with ‘six beads on the wire’ in a race to 11. She’d fail to add another bead to that wire, as Laboy claimed the hot seat (officially) 11-6.
On the loss side, another relative newcomer was making some competitive noise. Amanda Andries had lost her opening match to Marisol Palacio and set out on a nine-match, loss-side winning streak that would take her as far as the quarterfinals where she’d run into Tierney. She chalked up wins #7 and #8 against Corey Avallone 6-3 and shut out Brandonne Alli to draw Carrasco. Tierney, in the meantime, picked up Yomaylin “Smiley” Feliz-Forman, who arrived on the heels of two straight double hill wins, over Chris Kelly and Abel Rosario.
Andries advanced to the quarterfinals when job obligations forced Carrasco to forfeit. Tierney joined her after downing “Smiley” 7-3. Tierney ended Andries’ loss-side run 8-5 (Andries started with ‘three on the wire’) and then defeatEd Martinez (who also started with ‘three on the wire’) 8-6 for a shot at Laboy, waiting for him in the hot seat.
The relative ‘youngsters’ were edged out of the day, with clear indications that they’ll be back and will need to be reckoned with. Laboy completed his undefeated run with an 8-3 victory over Tierney in the finals.
A Second Chance event that drew 16 entrants saw Dave Callaghan take home the $160 first-place prize, with Thomas Schreiber as runner-up ($100). Lidio Ramirez and Euryel Castillo each took home $30 in the tie for third.
Tour director Tony Robles thanked the ownership and staff at Cue Bar for their hospitality, as well as title sponsor Predator Cues, Ozone Billiards,, The DeVito Team,, Capelle (, 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 this weekend, Sept. 21-22, will be a $1,000-added event, hosted by Steinway Billiards in Astoria (Queens), NY.