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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.

Laboy goes undefeated for second straight win on the Tri-State Tour

(l to r): Miguel Laboy & Raymond Lee

In the report on Miguel Laboy’s December 10 victory on the Tri-State Tour, it was noted that he’d been keeping a ‘top 10 finisher’ pace on the Tri-State Tour for about four years. On Sunday, December 17, Laboy chalked up a second straight win on the Tri-State Tour (his first back-to-back victories on the tour), this time going undefeated through a field of 52 entrants. The $1,000-added event was hosted by Steinway Billiards in Astoria (Queens), NY.
Following victories over Gus Iliopoulos, Thomas Schreiber, and Shivam Gupta, Laboy moved into a winners’ side semifinal match against Tony Liang. Michelle Brotons, in the meantime, faced Raymond Lee in the other winners’ side semifinal. Laboy downed Liang 7-5, as Brotons was sending Lee over 8-6. Laboy claimed the hot seat 12-10 over Brotons and waited on what turned out to be the return of Lee.
On the loss side, Lee picked up Kevin Chong, who’d reached him after victories over Erick Carrasco Pashk Gjini, both 6-4. Liang drew Jaydev Zaveri, who’d eliminated Duc Lam 8-2 and Gupta 7-4.
Lee advanced to the quarterfinals 6-4 over Chong. Liang did not, falling to Zaveri 7-5. Lee then dropped Zaveri 7-3 into fourth place, before completing his brief, loss-side visit with a double hill, re-match win over Brotons in the semifinals.
Lee took an early 4-0 lead in the finals against Laboy, but Laboy responded by winning six of the next eight games to knot things at 6-6. He then won three of the next four to close out his second straight Tri-State win 9-7.
Tour representatives thanked the ownership and staff at Steinway Billiards, as well as sponsors Ozone Billiards, Sterling-Gaming, Kamui Tips, Phil Capelle, BlueBook Publishing, Human Kinetics, Pool & Billiards, Professor Q Ball, Bender Cues, Joe Romer Trophies and DIGICUE OB. This most recent event was the last 2017 stop on the Tri-State Tour, which will reconvene in 2018 on Sunday, January 7 for a $1,000-added event, to be hosted by Clifton Billiards in Clifton, NJ.

Ellahi goes undefeated to chalk up his first win on the Tri-State Tour

(l to r) Jim Gutierrez & Zouraiz Ellahi

Until Sunday, July 30, Zouraiz Ellahi had cashed in only two events on the Tri-State Tour, finishing fourth at a stop in early May and 17th at the 7th Annual Ginky Memorial on Memorial Day weekend; both stops in the Tri-State's 2016-2017 season. On Sunday, early in the Tri-State's 2017-2018 season, Ellahi went undefeated to take his first title. Arguably as significant was Jim Gutierrez' seven-match, loss-side winning streak that put him into the finals against Ellahi. The $625-added, Double Points event drew 30 entrants to Cue Bar Lounge and Billiards in Bayside (Queens), NY.
Following victories over Carmine Andujar, Jonathan Castillo and Tony Ignomirello, Ellahi moved into a winners' side semifinal against Mac Jankob, who'd been responsible for sending Gutierrez to the loss side, double hill, in the second round. Jonathan Gavrielof, in the meantime, squared off against Pashk Gjini. Ellahi got locked up in a double hill fight that eventually sent Jankob to the loss side. Gavrielof downed Gjini 6-2 to join Ellahi in the hot seat match, won by Ellahi 6-4.
Jankob's move to the loss side put him in an immediate re-match against Gutierrez, who, by that time, had downed four of his seven loss-side opponents, including, most recently, Allison LaFleur 5-1, and Juan Melendez 5-3. Gjini drew Tony "Iggie," who, following his defeat at the hands of Ellahi, had downed Esteban Morrell, Jr., double hill, and Kevin Chong 6-3.
Identical 6-3 results sent Gutierrez and Ignomirello to the quarterfinals over Jankob and Gjini. As befitted their respective rankings on the tour, last season's top D/D+ player (Gutierrez) and top C+ player (Ignomirello) battled to double hill in those quarterfinals, with the D/D+ player advancing to the semifinals against Gavrielof.
The D/D+ competitor (Gutierrez) downed the "C" player (Gavrielof) 6-3 in those semifinals for a shot at the "C+" player (Ellahi) in the hot seat. Gutierrez came up just a little short in his quest for the title, chalking up seven racks to nine against Ellahi, who claimed that title.
Tour representatives thanked the ownership and staff at Cue Bar for their hospitality. The next stop on the Tri-State Tour, scheduled for Sunday, August 6, will be hosted by Clifton Billiards in Clifton, NJ.

Dany Recinos crowned the 2016-2017 Tri-State Tour Invitational Champion

Dany Recinos

The twentieth annual Tri-State Tour Invitational Tournament took place June 24 & 25, 2017, at Steinway Café and Billiards in Astoria, NY. The weekend was another huge success for the tour with 14 A & A+ Players, 30 B & B+ Players, 32 C & C+ Players and 16 D & D+ Players who earned their way in to compete in their respective classes and play for their chance to be named the Tri-State Tour Invitational Grand Champion. Steinway Café and Billiards hosted the event for the third year and once again provided a great atmosphere and playing environment for the players. Steinway Café and Billiards owner Manny Stamatakis and the staff including Anna and George were as always very professional, helpful and gracious. Manny donated the room and all the table time. Their generosity and support to the players and the event as always were exemplary. The staff and everyone at the room assured the events success. Steinway Café and Billiards, home of the World Pool Series, is an excellent venue for any event, it has professionally maintained tables, a clean fresh atmosphere and some of the most scrumptious food in NYC.  
As each day began, organizers John Leyman, Todd Fleitman, Rick Shellhouse & Daniel Cintron congratulated the players on reaching the top of their classes for the season and handed out awards to the top players of the year in each class. The Tri-State Tour added $4000 in cash prizes and the sponsors John Bender Custom Cues, Ozone Billiards, Kamui Tips, Sterling Gaming, Capelle’s Pool Books, OB Cues and the DIGICUE, Pool & Billiards, Professor-Q-Ball’s News, Blue Book Publications, Steinway Café and Billiards, Amsterdam Billiards, and Romer’s Trophies went out of their way to provide the event with excellent equipment and prizes. The sponsors as the Tri-State has always maintained are owed a debt a gratitude for their dedication to the game and the players, their efforts and generosity are what always make the event so special and such a great success and without their continued support of the sport and the players this event could not happen. 
Awards were presented to the top 3 players in each class, the Most Improved Player of the Year, and Sportsman of the Year. The most improved player went to Max Watanabe. Max has been a good B level player for years but his game leveled out and he appeared to have reached the top of his game but over the last year Max shattered the ceiling on his game making great strides in his consistency and abilities to become a very strong A class player. His game is still improving at an accelerated pace and it would not surprise the tour if he was back again next year as the most improved again.   Each year the tour awards one player the “Sportsperson of the Year” award. It is awarded to someone the tour believes exemplifies what a player should be and how they should act and this year’s award went to Mike Strassberg. This is Mikes second time winning the award which goes a long way in proving just how much of a true sportsman he is. His exemplary attitude at events no matter what is happening, from players with bad attitudes, to rooms with AC problems, to whatever comes up, proves time and time again what other players should strive to emulate. 
The top players of the year in their respective classes were Atif Khan in the A+/A class, Carl Yusuf Khan B+ player, last year’s Grand Champion Jaydev Zaveri winning the B class, the last 3 classes the C+, C and D+/D classes were all won by players who won for the second year in a row. Those players were Tony Ignomirello winning the  C+, Bob Toomey in the C player and Jim Gutierrez in the D+/D class. This year saw some new ladies rise to the top of the leader board with the Ladies Player of the Year being Allison LaFleur. For a full list of winners for all the classes and events, please see the web site
The action in the tournament got going around ten on Saturday morning, June 24 with the B+ and B class players along with the D+/D players kicking off the event.  The B+ class was won by some very strong play from Basdeo Sookhai, a former Grand Champion of the event. Basdeo got to the hot seat match against Kirill Safromov and lost to Kirill 7-2. On the one loss side, Basdeo played an exhausted Carl Yusuf Khan who had lost his first match of the day to Basdeo and then fought his way up the one loss side to once again challenge Basdeo. In the semi-final match Carl just could not keep up the pace and Basdeo beat him 7-4. This set up another rematch for Basdeo in the finals against Kirill where Basdeo played above his game and won the match 7-4. 
In the B-Class Kevin Scalzitti played extremely well all day and bested all comers to win the B-Class undefeated. In the hot seat match, Kevin Scalzitti beat Kevin Shin on the hill to send him to the one loss side where he met up with Thomas Schreiber, whom he had beaten in the first match of the day 7-5. Thomas played 5 matches on the one loss side to get back to the semi-finals and another shot at Kevin Shin. In the semi-finals Thomas won 7-5 and proceeded to the finals but Kevin Scalzitti was on a roll and beat Thomas 7-4 in the finals.
Kevin and Basdeo squared off in the B+ – B Class playoff and Basdeo continued to play well and sent Kevin home by beating him 7-5.
The D+/D class saw Carlos Serrano play well all day and he cruised to the finals. Carlos played Nancy Chung in the hot seat match and won impressively 6-2. Allison LaFleur, the Ladies player of the year, played her first two matches well but in the third match she came up against Carlos who got a good roll and won the set 5-4. Allison moved to the one loss side and won her next 3 matches to get to the finals and a rematch against Carlos. The rematch was a lot like the first match with each player trading games but ultimately Carlos came out on top for the win.
On Sunday, play resumed at 10 AM with the A+/A players and the C+ class and C class arriving to do battle. In the A+/A class, Jimmy Acosta dominated all day never letting his opponents get more than 3 wins against him and he arrived in the finals undefeated. In the hot seat match he crushed his opponent Elvis Rodriquez 7-1. Mike Panzarella who had lost his second match of the day to Atif Khan 7-3 fought his way up the one loss side getting stronger as the day went on. In the semi-final match he faced a tough opponent in Elvis and won a tight battle on the hill. Mike continued to get stronger and faced off against the dominating Jimmy and Mike fought hard and won the match 9-5.
In the C+ class Nathaniel Raimondo sent Dany Recinos to the one loss side in the hot seat match with a score of 6-1. Dany then battled back for a rematch with Nathaniel beating Kevin Chong on the hill. In the finals, Dany continued to play well and handed the undefeated Nathanial a loss and second place by beating him 8-6.
The C Class was taken over by Qian Chen who kept all opponents to 4 wins or less to win the division undefeated. In the how seat match Qian beat Pashk Gjini 6-3, Pashk went to the one loss side where he lost to David Grant 6-4. David arrived in the finals with his only loss of to the day to Qian 6-4 but Qian was just as good the second time and won 6-3
This left 2 winners from Saturday and 3 winners from Sunday to do battle for the Grand Champion title. The C+ versus C class final saw Dany Recinos continue to win as he bested Qian Chen 6-3. That set up the 2 overall semi-final matches. The first to be played was the A class versus the B class and both players played very well but Mike Panzarella was not going to be beaten no matter how well Basdeo Soohai was playing and Mike won the match 7-4. The C class versus the D class was almost a mirror image of the other semi-final match with the higher level player, Dany Recinos, playing stronger and the lower level player, Carlos Serrano just not able to keep up and he lost 7-5. This setup the finals of the event between A class Mike Panzarella and C+ Dany Recinos. Both players played well but the long day and tough matches obviously took its toll on both players as they traded games. As the set went on both players made some crucial mistakes by over rolling some positions and not making some game wining shots but then would come back and do exemplary runs to win games. In the end Dany Recinos would be the one to sink the final 9 and win the event to be crowned the 2016-2017 Tri-State Tour Invitational Grand Champion.

Chong goes undefeated on Tri-State stop

Kevin Chong and Esteban Morrell Jr.

Kevin Chong and Esteban Morrell, Jr. fought two double hill battles in pursuit of a Tri-State victory on Sunday March 26. Chong won them both to claim the $500-added event that drew 25 entrants to Cue Bar Billiards and Lounge in Bayside, Queens, NY.
Following victories over Suzie Wong, Raymond Lee, and Allison LaFleur, Chong advanced to a winners' side semifinal against Greg Matos. Morrell, in the meantime, faced Stewart Warnock, Sr., who's joined his son (Jr.) competing on the Tri-State Tour. Chong downed Matos 5-3, as Morell was sending Warnock, Sr. to the loss side 7-5. Chong claimed the hot seat with the first of two double hill wins over Morrell.
On the loss side, Matos drew Wong, who'd defeated Bob Toomey 6-1, and John DeNoia 5-1 to reach him. Warnock picked up Jim Guttierez, who'd eliminated Raymond Lee 6-1 and Erick Carrasco 6-2. 
Matos got by Wong 6-4, and in the quarterfinals, faced Guttierez, who'd defeated Warnock, Sr. 5-3. Matos advanced one more step, downing Guttierez 5-3, before himself being eliminated by Morrell in the semifinals 5-3.
A second double hill bout for the title was on. They went back and forth through eight games before Chong won it 5-4 to claim the event title.
Tour representatives thanked the ownership and staff at Cue Bar, as well as sponsors Ozone Billiards, Sterling-Gaming, Kamui Tips, Ron Vitello, Phil Capelle, BlueBook Publishing, Human Kinetics, and Bloodworth Ball Cleaners. The Tri-State Tour will take a small hiatus, as the Super Billiards Expo takes center-stage at the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center at Oaks, in Oaks, PA, which will begin this Thursday (March 30). The next stop on the Tri-State Tour, scheduled for April 9, will be hosted by Clifton Billiards in Clifton, NJ.

Uzdejczyk goes undefeated to win first 2014 Tri-State stop

Though he'd won stops on the tour in both 2011 and 2012, two in each year, the Tri-State Tour winners' circle had eluded Bogie Uzdejczyk in 2013. He had won a stop on the Predator Pro-Am Tour back in October. Uzdejczyk opened the 2014 proceedings on the Tri-State Tour with an undefeated run, during a two-day tour stop on the weekend of January 5-6. The $2,200-added event drew 64 entrants to Gotham City Billiards in Brooklyn, NY.
Uzdejczyk had to get by Ben Castaneros twice to complete the event victory. Castaneros' last victory on the Tri-State Tour was back in January, 2012 and on this weekend, he found himself in a winners' side final four battle against Mike Harrington, while Uzdejczyk faced Basdeo Sookhai. Uzdejczyk and Castaneros met first, once Uzdejczyk defeated Sookhai 7-3 and Castaneros had sent Harrington to the loss side 6-1. In their first of two, Uzdejczyk prevailed 8-5 to sit in the hot seat.
Meanwhile, on the loss side, Arturo Reyes, who'd been sent over by Uzdejczyk in a winners' side final eight battle, was working his way back. He survived a double hill battle against Chuck Giallorenzo and defeated Shivam Gupta 7-4, to pick up Sookhai. Harrington drew Kevin Chong, who'd gotten by Chris DeCaprio 7-2 and Keith Diaz 7-5, to reach him.
Reyes dropped Sookhai into the tie for fifth place 7-4, as Harrington was busy surviving a double hill struggle versus Chong. Reyes then eliminated Harrington 7-3 in the quarterfinals and faced Castaneros in the semifinals; one match away from a re-match against Uzdejczyk.
Castaneros denied Reyes that opportunity, stopping his four-match, loss-side winning streak 7-3 and turning for his own second shot against Uzdejczyk. Castaneros opened the final match with three straight. Uzdejczyk chalked up a single rack before Castaneros won the fifth rack. It proved to be his last, as Uzdejczyk went on a seven-rack run to secure the event title.
Tour representatives thanked Kevin and Isabel Buckley, owners of Gotham City Billiards, as well as sponsors Sterling-Gaming, Ozone Billiards, Qpod, Heptig Cues, Kamui Tips, Phil Capelle, BlueBook Publishing, and Human Kinetics. The next Tri-State Tour stop, at Castle Billiards in East Rutherford, NJ, is scheduled for January 11.