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Watanabe goes undefeated to win Predator Tri-State at Clifton Billiards

Max Watanabe and Nishant Narang

Max Watanabe has joined a thankfully growing list of New York City’s tri-state competitors in returning to area tables, unofficially announcing that return with an undefeated run on the Predator Tri-State Tour this past weekend (Sat., Oct. 3). He stretched the geographic definition of New York’s “tri state area” a couple of weeks ago when he competed in the US Open Pool  Championships in Atlantic City, finishing out of the money. This most recent win was his first cash finish on the tour since February, 2020. The $500-added event drew 26 entrants to Clifton Billiards in Clifton, NJ.

Watanabe advanced through the field to arrive at a winners’ side semifinal against Julian Tierney, as the eventual runner-up, Nishant Narang, squared off against another recently-back-at-the-tables, Mike Strassberg. Watanabe and Tierney battled to double hill before Watanabe advanced to the hot seat match. Narang joined him for their first of two, after downing Strassberg 6-3. Watanabe claimed the hot seat 8-4.

On the loss side, in the first money round, Tierney and Strassberg ran right into their second straight loss. Tierney was defeated 7-2 by Joann Mason Parker, who’d eliminated Pashk Gjini 7-2 and Hoa Vu 7-1 to reach him. Strassberg fell to K.C. Clayton, who’d previously gotten by David Fitzpatrick 6-3 and survived a double hill fight against Steve Root.

Parker took the quarterfinal match 9-4 over Clayton but had her loss-side run ended by Narang in the semifinals. An 8-6 win sent Narang to the finals for Round Two of his bout with Watanabe.

The second round played out in much the same way as the first. Watanabe defeated Narang a second time 8-4 to claim the event title.

Tour representatives thanked the ownership and staff at Clifton Billiards, as well as title sponsor Predator Cues, Ozone Billiards, Sterling Gaming, Kamui Tips, Phil Cappelle, Blue Book Publishing, Human Kinetics, Pool & Billiards, Romer Trophies and Professor Q Ball. The next stop on the Predator Tri-State Tour, scheduled for the weekend of Oct. 23-24, will be hosted by New City in Woodside, NY.

Schreiber benefits from late forfeit to chalk up his first win on Predator Tri-State since 2019

Thomas Schreiber

You have to go back to the week between Christmas and New Year’s in late 2019 (his best recorded earnings year) to find the last time Thomas Schreiber won an event on what was then just the Tri-State Tour but is now the Predator Tri-State Tour. This past weekend, however (Saturday, Aug. 28), he recorded his first victory since that holiday weekend two years ago. He advanced to the hot seat match, where he was defeated by Solomon Brown. The final never happened. Brown forfeited the final match, citing a family emergency, and the event title was assigned to Schreiber. The $1,000-added event drew 28 entrants to Cue Bar Lounge & Billiards in Bayside (Queens), NY.

Schreiber and Brown advanced through the field to face opponents in the two winners’ side semifinals; Schreiber versus Kevin Shin, while Brown took on Jake Chiu. Brown shut Chiu out, as Schreiber sent Shin to the loss side 7-2. Though Schreiber would check in with some late racks to make the hot seat match a little closer than it appeared it was going to be when Brown had a 6-1 lead, Brown did persevere and claim the hot seat 7-5, in what would prove to be his last match.

On the loss side, Shin and Chiu walked right into their second straight losses. Shin drew Henry Cha, who’d defeated Thomas Hagan 7-5 and Josh Friedberg 7-4 to reach him and then, defeated him, double hill, to advance to the quarterfinals. Chiu picked up K.C. Clayton, who’d eliminated Jason Goberdhan 6-3 and Esteban Morell, Jr., double hill, before downing Chiu, double hill, as well.

Cha got out in front of Clayton in the quarterfinals that followed and won 9-5, for a shot at Schreiber in the final match of the event, the semifinals. The last match was another double hill affair, with Schreiber dropping the last ball, and thanks to Brown’s forfeiture of the finals, claiming his first event title in almost two years.

Tour representatives thanked the Cue Bar owners and staff, as well as title sponsor Predator Cues, Ozone Billiards, Sterling Gaming, Kamui Tips, Phil Cappelle, Blue Book Publishing, Human Kinetics, Pool & Billiards, Romer Trophies and Professor Q Ball. The next stop on the Predator Tri-State Tour, scheduled for the weekend of Sept. 25-26, will be a $1,250-added, 10-ball event, hosted by The Spot in Nanuet, NY.

Calton goes undefeated, downs Cha twice on Predator Tri-State Tour

Robert Calton and Henry Cha

Last September, Robert Calton and Henry Cha squared off in the hot seat match of the inaugural tournament of the Mac Attack Tour. Launched by Mac Jankov to accommodate the hundreds of pool players who, in the absence of the Tri-State Tour and the Predator Pro Am Tour due to the pandemic, had been left high, dry and without competition in the tri-state New York City area. Cha sent Calton to the semifinals in that nine-months-ago hot seat match, but did not face him a second time. At the end of the quarterfinals in that event, Calton, Cha and Nishant Narang opted out of playing both a semifinal and a final match and split the top three prizes. 

Fast forward to this past weekend (May 22-23). Tony Robles had moved to Florida and the Predator Pro Am Tour came to a complete stop. The Tri-State Tour resurfaced last month, having sought and obtained sponsorship from Predator, and became the Predator Tri-State Tour.

And there, in the hot seat battle, and this time, in the finals, were Robert Calton and Henry Cha. Only this time, it was Calton who claimed the hot seat and then, defeated Cha a second time in the finals to claim his first event title. The $1,000-added event drew 63 entrants to Cue Bar in Bayside (Queens), NY.

Calton’s path to the winners’ circle went through Paolo Valaverde, Philip Pearce, Adrian Daniel and Tri Chau to arrive at a winners’ side semifinal matchup versus Todd Trent. Cha opened his campaign up against Basdeo Sookhai and then sent Eddie Kwok, Duc Lam and Jimmy Acosta to the loss side, picking up Hunter Sullivan in the other winners’ side semifinal.

Calton got by Trent 7-5, as Cha was busy sending Sullivan over 7-3. Calton claimed the hot seat 7-4 over Cha and waited on his return.

On the loss side, Sullivan picked up Doug Youmans, who’d recently defeated Jimmy Acosta 7-5 and Jimmy Gutierrez 10-5. Trent drew KC Clayton, who was working on a seven-match, loss-side winning streak that had just eliminated Diana Rojas 6-3 (#5) and Adrian Daniel 6-4 (#6).

Sullivan advanced to the quarterfinals 9-5 over Youmans. Clayton took one more step to join him, downing Trent 7-4. Sullivan stopped Clayton’s run 6-3 in those quarterfinals.

In what proved to be the only double hill match of the entire tournament, Cha defeated Sullivan in the semifinals, earning a second shot at Calton, waiting for him in the hot seat. Calton took the opening set of the potential two, 7-4, and claimed the event title.

Tour representatives thanked the ownership and staff Cue Bar for their hospitality, as well as title sponsor Predator Cues, Ozone Billiards, Sterling Billiards, Kamui, Quick Stik, Bloodworth Ball Cleaner, Joe Romer Trophies, Phil Cappelle Publications and Pool and Billiards. The next stop on the Predator Tri-State Tour, scheduled for the weekend of June 12-13, will be hosted by The Spot in Nanuet, NY.

 

Laboy wins seven on the loss side, downs Toolsee in finals to claim Predator Pro Am title

(l to r): Zain Sunderam, Bryan Toolsee, Kanami Chau & Miguel Laboy

Miguel Laboy, like a lot of players in the New York City tri-state area, splits his tournament time between the Predator Pro Am Tour and the Tri-State Tour. Over the past five years, including his best earnings year (2014), a majority of his event victories have come on the Tri-State Tour; a total of seven in those five years. Having chalked up his first victory on the Predator Pro Am Tour this past September, Laboy backed it up on the weekend of October 26-27, by recording his second Predator Pro Am win. The $1,000-added event drew 62 entrants to Steinway Billiards in Astoria (Queens), NY.
 
He’d gone undefeated in his earlier win on the Predator Pro Am Tour, but on this weekend, he had to come from fairly deep on the loss side to secure the win. It was Brooke Meyer who sent him to the loss side and from where Laboy launched a seven-match, loss-side winning streak that brought him to the finals and the eventual win. Meyer, in the meantime, advanced to a winners’ side semifinal against Bryan Toolsee. Kanami Chau and Zain Sundaram squared off in the other one.
 
Meyer failed to arrive on time for his winners’ side semifinal match and forfeited to Toolsee. Chau sent Sundaram to the loss side 7-4 and joined Toolsee in the battle for the hot seat. They battled to double hill before Toolsee prevailed and Chau moved west to meet Laboy in the semifinals.
 
Laboy, after winning his third and fourth loss-side match against Ernesto Gomez 8-4 and George Poltorak 8-6, picked up a rematch against Meyer, who’d returned to the competition. Sundaram drew Mark Joseph, who’d recently picked up a forfeit win from Stephen Motilal and eliminated Debra Pritchett 7-4.
 
Laboy and Sundaram advanced to the quarterfinals; Laboy with a successful 7-2 rematch against Meyer and Sundaram downing Mark Joseph 7-5. Laboy then ended Sundaram’s weekend with a 9-4 win in the quarterfinals.
 
Laboy and Kanami Chau locked up in a semifinal bout that almost came to double hill. Laboy, though, edged out in front at the end and defeated her 11-9.
 
Coincidentally, both Laboy and hot seat occupant,  Bryan Toolsee were looking to record their second Predator Pro Am Tour victory. Toolsee’s first had come almost exactly a year ago (November 18), when he’d gone undefeated at a Cue Bar event to make 2018 his official best earnings year. Laboy completed his loss-side run and claimed the event title with a 9-3 victory in the finals.
 
A Second Chance event drew eight entrants. KC Clayton and Duc Lam fought to double hill in the finals, with Clayton prevailing to take home the $100 first-place prize. Lam took home $50 as the runner-up.
 
Tour director Tony Robles, who’s been making something of a living lately of thanking Manny Stamatakis and his Steinway Billiards staff for their hospitality, did so again. He also thanked title sponsor Predator Cues, Ozone Billiards, PlayNAPL.com, The DeVito Team, Poolonthenet.com, Capelle (BilliardsPress.com), 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, November 2-3, will be hosted by The Spot in Nanuet.

Ramirez stops strong loss-side bid by Klein to take home his first 2019 Predator Pro Am title

(l to r): Lidio Ramirez, Luis Carrasco, Hannah Fields, Matt Klein

They are two of the New York Tri-State area’s heavyweights, so to speak, and they clashed in the finals of the Predator Pro Am Tour’s September 21-22 stop at Steinway Billiards. Lidio Ramirez, the tour’s second-ranked A+ player (behind Miguel Laboy, who won the stop last weekend) was looking to chalk up his first 2019 victory, having finished as runner-up twice; once, on the Predator Tour (April) and once, on the Tri-State Tour (July). Matt Klein, the tour’s #1-ranked B+ competitor (ahead of Jaydev Zaveri) and in the midst of his best earnings year to date, by far, entered the tournament with three wins on the 2018-2019 Tri-State Tour, and two runner-up finishes on the Predator Pro Am, including the Empire State Championships. He’s been 1st, 2nd or 3rd in seven of the 11 tournaments in which he’s cashed in 2019.
 
They didn’t meet until the finals. Ramirez advanced to the hot seat, while Klein lost his opening round match and chalked up 10 loss-side wins to face Ramirez in the finals. Ramirez completed an undefeated run with a victory in the finals of the $1,000-added event that drew 71 entrants to Steinway in Astoria (Queens), NY.
 
With Klein at work on the loss side of the bracket, Ramirez advanced to a winners’ side semifinal against Ricky Geronimo. The other winners’ side semifinal matched Luis Carrasco against Hannah Fields, who was making only her second appearance on the Predator Pro Am Tour.
 
Ramirez and Geronimo fought to double hill before Ramirez prevailed and moved on to the hot seat match. He was joined by Fields, who’d defeated Carrasco 8-6 in what she described (via Facebook) as “the most challenging and exhausting match (she’d) ever had.
 
“It was fun, we both played smart and neither of us backed down,” she went on to say. “He made me work for every ball but eventually I capitalized and won by a hair.”
 
She described the subsequent hot seat match versus Ramirez as “humbling.” She watched Ramirez (as she put it) “run her (posterior) over,” as he claimed the hot seat 11-8 (she started the match with seven on the wire).
 
Over on the loss side, Klein chalked up wins # 6 and #7 against John Stiles (7-4) and Bryan Toolsee (7-3) to draw Geronimo. Carrasco picked up his second straight female opponent, Debra Pritchett, who’d defeated KC Clayton 6-1 and Jason Goberdhan (the tour’s #2-ranked C+ player, just behind Tony Ignomirello) 7-5.
 
Carrasco downed Pritchett 7-4, as Geronimo ended up on the wrong side of his second straight double hill fight, losing to Klein 7-6. Klein then ended Carrasco’s short, loss-side run 7-4 in the quarterfinals.
 
Hannah Fields would describe her semifinal meetup with Klein as “an amazingly fun match.” She noted in her FB report that his “personality” made the beating she received at his hands feel like “less of an ass-kicking” than it was. Klein’s 10-7 victory (Fields started with five on the wire, racing to the 10), gave him the chance to chalk up his first 2019 Predator Pro Am Tour title.
 
Ramirez had other ideas, like chalking up his first 2019 victory, period. And he did it. He downed Klein 7-5 to claim the event title.
 
A full-field, 16-entrant Second Chance event saw Ray Feliciano and Gary Bozigian battle to double hill in the finals, before Feliciano prevailed to take home the $160 first-place prize. Bozigian was the $100 runner-up. Tenzin Jorden and Suzzie Wong each won $30 for their 3rd place tie.
 
Tour director Tony Robles thanked Manny Stamatakis and his staff at Steinway Billiards for their hospitality, as well as title sponsor Predator Cues, Ozone Billiards, PlayNAPL.com, The DeVito Team, Poolonthenet.com, Capelle (BilliardsPress.com), AZBilliards, Pool & Billiard Magazine, Billiards Digest and his own Predator Pro Am team, to include his lovely wife, Gail. The Predator Pro Am Tour will return to Steinway Billiards in a little less than a month, when they host the $7,000-added Steinway Classic from October 15-17. Two days later, on the weekend of October 19-20, Robles’ Silent Assassin Productions, with the sponsorship of Dr. Michael Fedak, will bring the 6th Annual NYC 8-Ball Championships to Steinway Billiards.

Ragoonanan comes from the loss side to win Predator Pro Am Amateur title

(l to r): Joe Morace, Carlos Duque, Matt Klein & Rikki Ragoonanan

Hernandez downs Korsiak twice to claim Predator Pro Am Open title
 
Rikki Ragoonanan arrived at the Predator Pro Am Tour’s stop on the weekend of March 16-17, looking for his first win on the tour since last June. That victory was Ragoonanan’s first on the Predator Pro Am Tour and came eight years after winning his first major at a stop on the Tri-State Tour in 2010. Apparently looking to reduce the gaps between his winning efforts, Ragoonanan had to come from the loss side in this one and down Matt Klein twice to claim the title. The $750-added Amateur event drew 91 entrants to Cue Bar in Bayside (Queens), NY.
 
In a concurrently-run event, the tour played host to a short, 12-entrant field in a $250-added Open-Pro event that saw Frankie Hernandez defeat Joey Korsiak twice to claim that title.
 
Ragoonanan and Klein met first in a winners’ side semifinal, as Carlos Duque and Joey Morace squared off in the other one. Klein sent Ragoonanan to the loss side 7-4, as Duque gave up only a single rack to Morace and faced Klein in the hot seat match. Duque and Klein battled to double hill before Duque prevailed to claim the hot seat. It was one of nine double hill or near-double-hill (7-5) matches among the event’s final 12 players and 14 matches.
 
On the loss side, Ragoonanan picked up Pascal Dufresne, who’d recently defeated Tommy Schreiber 7-5 and Miguel Laboy 8-3 to reach him. Morace drew Greg Matos, who’d defeated Tony Ignomirello, double hill and Darrin Schmidt 7-5. In identical 7-5 wins, Morace and Ragoonanan advanced to the quarterfinals over Matos and Dufresne.
 
Ragoonan took that quarterfinal match 8-5 over Morace and then, in a semifinal rematch against Klein, defeated him double hill for a shot at Duque in the finals. Duque began that final match with four on the wire in an extended race-to-9. Ragoonanan punctuated his return from the loss side by not allowing Duque to chalk up a single rack. Ragoonanan reached his ‘9’ racks, added two and claimed the event title 11-4.
 
[photo id=50934|align=right]Hernandez follows up Empire State runner-up finish to Jayson Shaw with undefeated run
 
Three weeks ago, on the weekend of February 23-24, Frankie Hernandez was battling Jayson Shaw in the finals of the 11th Annual Empire State Championships. He’d already defeated him once, in an exciting double hill battle for the hot seat. At approximately 2 a.m. on Sunday morning, Shaw pulled out in front to claim that event title over Hernandez 9-4.
 
At this most recent stop on the Predator Pro Am Tour, Hernandez’ nemesis in the hot seat and finals was long-time Joss Tour (and many others) veteran, Joey Korsiak, who’s in the midst of his 20th year at cashing in on major tournaments, including the US Open, Derby City Classic and tour stops in (among other states) Florida, including the J. Pechauer Southeast 9-Ball Open and Sunshine State Pro Am tours.
 
The two of them chalked up identical scores in both the hot seat match and finals. Hernandez got into the hot seat match after downing Elvis Rodriguez 7-1. Korsiak joined him following a 7-2 victory over Tour Director Tony Robles. Hernandez claimed the hot seat 7-3.
 
On the loss side, Robles picked up Turkish competitor Sami Koylu, who’d defeated Raphael Dabreo 7-2 and Dominic Gauthier 7-1 to reach him. Rodriguez drew Mike Salerno, who’d shut out KC Clayton and eliminated Stephen Molital 7-2. Suzzie Wong (eliminated by Gauthier) and Dave Callaghan (eliminated by Motilal) rounded out the complete roster at this event).
 
Koylu and Robles battled to double hill before Koylu advanced to the quarterfinals. He was joined by Salerno, who’d defeated Rodriguez 7-2. Koylu then eliminated Salerno 7-2, before being eliminated himself 7-3 by Korsiak in the semifinals. Duplicating their hot seat match score, Hernandez downed Korsiak 7-3 in the finals.
 
A 16-entrant Second Chance event was won by Tommy Schreiber, who collected $160 for his 7-5 win over Brooke Meyer in the finals. Lidio Ramirez and Jimmy Acosta took home $30 each for their tie in third place. An 8-entrant Third Chance event was won Miguel Laboy, who took home $100, following his victory over Russell Masciotti in the finals.
 
Tour director Tony Robles thanked the ownership and staff at the Cue Bar, as well as title sponsor Predator Cues, Ozone Billiards, NAPL, The DeVito Team, PoolontheNet.com, Billiards Digest, AZBilliards, Pool & Billiards Magazine and his entire staff, including his lovely wife, Gail. The next stop on the Predator Pro Am Tour, scheduled for the weekend of April 6-7, will be hosted by Steinway Billiards in Astoria (Queens), NY.

Jankov and Rosario split top prizes on Tri-State Tour stop in Queens

(l to r): Mac Jankov & Abel Rosario

Both of the finalists on the Tri-State Tour’s Sunday, February 17 stop came into 2019, having chalked up their best recorded earnings year in 2018. Mac Jankov, who went undefeated at the event, recorded his first victory on the tour, albeit with a “finals didn’t happen” asterisk. Abel Rosario, who won two stops on the Predator Pro Am tour and one on the Tri-State Tour last year, recorded his first cash finish (runner-up) of the Tri-State’s 2018/2019 season, which began last July (his victory on the Tri-State Tour last year came in March, during the 2017-2018 season). The $1,000-added event drew 49 entrants to Cue Bar in Bayside (Queens), NY.
 
Jankov’s path to the finish line went through Juan Melendez, Mike Strassberg, KC Clayton and Jason Goberdhan, before coming up to a winners’ side semifinal matchup against Suzzie Wong, the tour’s #4-ranked female competitor and #6-ranked ‘C’ player, overall. Abel Rosario, in the meantime, had worked his way through the field to a winners side semifinal against Paul Spaanstra.
 
Spaanstra sent Rosario on a three-match trip to the loss side 6-2. Jankov joined him in the hot seat match after a 5-3 victory over Wong. Jankov claimed the hot seat 8-3 over Spaanstra.
 
On the loss side, Rosario picked up Nathaniel Raimondo, who’d shut out Jimmy Acosta and defeated Matt Klein 6-3 to reach him. Wong drew Harry Singh, who’d picked up a forfeit win over Goberdhan and won a double hill fight against Stewart Warnock, Sr.
 
Rosario downed Raimondo 6-2, as Singh eliminated Wong 5-2. Rosario took the quarterfinal match that followed 6-3 over Singh and then shut out Spaanstra 6-0 in the semifinals. The decision to opt out of the final was reached, leaving the undefeated Jankov as the event’s official winner.
 
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 24, will be a C-D 9-Ball event, hosted by Steinway Billiards in Astoria (Queens), NY. 

Tenzin Jorden goes undefeated to win his first Predator Pro Am Tour stop

(l to r): Tony Robles, Dave Callaghan, Thomas Schreiber & Tenzin Jorden

12th Annual Empire State Championships at Raxx Billiards in West Hempstead, NY on tap next
 
Tenzin Jorden and Thomas Schreiber battled twice in the February 9-10 stop on the Predator Pro Am Tour. The first time, the match sent Schreiber on a three-match, loss-side trip. The second time earned Jorden his first title on the Predator Pro Am Tour. The $1,000-added event drew 73 entrants to Cue Bar in Bayside (Queens), NY.
 
Both matches between Jorden and Schreiber went double hill. The first, in a winners’ side semifinal, advanced Jorden to the hot seat match, where he was joined by Dave Callaghan, who’d defeated Mac Jankov in his winners’ side semifinal match. Jorden claimed his first hot seat 9-7 over Callaghan and waited on Schreiber’s return.
 
Long before Dave Callaghan had moved into the hot seat match, his brother, Michael Callaghan was busy trying to advance on the loss side. Michael made it past the first money round (13th through 16th) and moved into the matches that would determine the four-way tie for 9th place. And ran into his wife, Monika, whom his brother had sent to the loss side earlier. Displaying a level of fearlessness rarely seen on a pool table, Michael Callaghan defeated his wife, double hill (6-5), eliminating her from the tournament, albeit with $150 in her pocket . . . uhh, purse? Fortunately, they were able to stay and watch brother/brother-in-law, Dave, compete in the semifinals because Michael was subsequently defeated by Esteban Morrell 7-4. We don’t know whether they watched those semifinals together or not. We didn’t ask.
 
Esteban Morrell, who’d defeated Hector Torres 7-4 previously advanced to meet Jankov, coming over from the winners’ side semifinal. Schreiber drew Matthew Harricharan, who’d eliminated Brian Toolsee and Jaydev Zaveri (winner of the last Predator Pro Am stop), both 7-4.
 
Morrell won a double hill battle over Jankov and in the quarterfinals, faced Schreiber, who’d defeated Harricharan 7-2. Schreiber gave up only a single rack to Morrell in those quarterfinals, and then sent Dave Callaghan to sit and watch the finals with Michael and Monika Callaghan by defeating Dave 7-3 in the semifinals.
 
Jorden and Schreiber settle in to the their second straight, double hill match; this one for all of the proverbial marbles, all 1,250 of them. Jorden defeated Schreiber a second time to claim his first Predator Pro Am title.
 
A Second Chance event that drew 14 entrants, saw Russell Masciotti and KC Clayton battle to double hill in the final. Masciotti dropped the last ball to claim the Second Chance title and take home $140. Clayton added $100 to the $100 he’d earned finishing in the tie for 13th place in the main event. Vinnie Crescimanno and Justin Daniels (adding to his $100 for finishing in the tie for 13th place) each took home $20.
 
Tour director Tony Robles thanked the ownership and staff at Cue Bar for their hospitality, as well as title sponsor Predator Cues, Ozone Billiards, NAPL, The DeVito Team, PoolontheNet.com, Billiards Digest, AZBilliards, Pool & Billiards Magazine and his entire staff, including his lovely wife, Gail.
 
Zion Zvi will defend his two-time title at 12th Annual Empire State Championships
 
The next stop on the Predator Pro Am Tour, scheduled for the weekend of February 23-24, will be the 12th Annual Empire State Championships, as usual, hosted by Raxx Billiards in West Hempstead, NY. There will be a $2,000-added Amateur event, which last year, drew 111 entrants, and was won by Jason Carandang. There will also be a $1,000-added Open/Pro event. The two-time defending champion of this event, Zion Zvi, has indicated that he will be on-hand to defend his title.

Shlemperis returns to the Predator Tour stage, comes from the loss side to claim event title

Eugene Ok, Elvis Rodriguez and Dave Shlemperis

The last time we reported on Dave Shlemperis' appearance in the winners' circle of a tour event (in June 2016), we noted that he'd had something of a 'dry' year, which, to the point of the report on a Predator Tour stop, had failed to include a win. He only cashed twice in 2016; winning once and finishing (a month later) in a tie for 7th place, both on the Predator Tour. Well, he's back, and in a February 11-12 appearance on the Predator Tour, he won seven on the loss side and downed hot seat occupant, Elvis Rodriguez in the finals. The $1,000-added event drew 54 entrants to the Cue Bar in Bayside (Queen), NY.
 
Shlemperis was sent to the loss side, in a double hill battle, by Rhio "Annie" Flores, who advanced to a winners' side semifinal against Rodriguez, who was the winner, coming from the loss side, on the previous week's (Feb. 5) stop on the Tri-State Tour. Eugene Ok, in the meantime, squared off against KC Clayton. Rodriguez downed Flores 7-4, and in the hot seat match, faced Ok, who'd sent Clayton to the loss side 7-3. Rodriguez claimed the hot seat and his last match win of the weekend with an 8-6 victory over Ok.
 
On the loss side, Shlemperis was four matches into his seven-match, loss-side winning streak, having downed, most recently, Tim Fitzsimmons 7-5, and Tom Hagan, double hill, to earn himself a rematch against Flores. Clayton drew Paul Lyons, who'd defeated Amy Yu 7-4 and Darrin Schmidt 7-2 to reach him. 
 
In their second double hill fight of the event, Shlemperis downed Flores. He was met, in the quarterfinals, by Lyons, who'd eliminated Clayton 7-3. Shlemperis then downed Lyons 7-2, before locking up in another double hill match against Ok in the semifinals. Shlemperis advanced to the finals, where he defeated Rodriguez 9-4 to claim the event title.
 
Tour director Tony Robles thanked the ownership and staff at Cue Bar, as well as sponsors Predator Cues, Ozone Billiards, Poison Billiards, PlayNAPL.com, The Devito Team, PoolOnTheNet.com, Capelle (BilliardsPress.com), AZBilliards, Billiards Digest and Pool & Billiard Magazine.
 
The next stop on the Predator Tour, scheduled for February 25-26, will be a combination $2,000-added A/B/C/D event, and a $1,000-added Pro event. It will be hosted by Raxx Billiards in West Hempstead, NY.