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Savoie, Zieminski and Cullen run out of time and split top prizes on NE 9-Ball Series

(l to r): Kevin Zieminski, Ben Savoie & Ryan Cullen

It’s not difficult enough that pool players have to battle each other, or their own interior mental processes as a tournament advances toward a conclusion. In many cases, involving a variety of factors – number of tables in a room, number of entrants and enforcement of legally established closing times – pool players are in a race against the clock, which sometimes, they lose. On Saturday, February 23, at a stop on the New England 9-Ball Series (#14), Ben Savoie, Kevin Zieminski and Ryan Cullen lost their clock race, opted out of the event’s final two matches (semifinals, finals) and split the top three prizes. It was likely most painful for Ryan Cullen, who, at decision time, was in the midst of an eight-match, loss-side winning streak that ended with his quarterfinal victory. Savoie, in the hot seat at the time, was awarded the official event title, with Zieminski, his vanquished hot seat opponent and Cullen’s potential semifinal opponent, in second place. Cullen had to settle for the official third place. The $500-added event drew 69 entrants to Yale Billiards in Wallingford, CT.
Savoie’s upper-bracket path to the hot seat went through Ray Buthe, Gene Hunt, Mario Argentino and Bart Rivezzi, before arriving at a winners’ side semifinal match against Tito Montalvo. Zieminski, in the meantime, worked his way through the lower bracket, defeating David Colbeth, Sr., Troy Fortin, Mike Felix and Joanne Corbett to arrive at his winners’ side semifinal matchup against Josh Christian. Cullen, following victories over Greg Madar and Sal Midolo, had been sent to the loss side by Montalvo, and would earn his right to a rematch, seven loss-side matches later.
In a straight-up race to 7, Savoie advanced to the hot seat match 7-3 over Montalvo. Ziemenski joined him after winning his straight-up race to 5 against Christian, double hill. Savoie claimed the hot seat, winning what proved to be his last match 6-1.
On the loss side, Cullen eliminated Frank Celedita, Darron Jevens and picked up a forfeit win over Mario Argentino, before downing Frank Porto and moving into the first money round, where he defeated Bobby Hilton 6-1 and Tom D’Alfonso, double hill (5-6; D’Alfonso racing to 7). This earned him his re-match against Montalvo. Christian drew Joanne Corbett, who’d eliminated Anthony Petruzelli 4-2 and in a straight-up race to 4, shut out John Kirwan to reach him.
Cullen downed Montalvo 7-3 and moved into his last match, the quarterfinals, against Christian, who’d given Corbett a taste of her own ‘shutout’ medicine, by eliminating her 4-0. Cullen gave up only a single rack to Christian in those quarterfinals, and for all concerned, the night was over. Savoie was the official winner, Zieminski was the runner-up and Cullen would never know whether he could have won the two more necessary to give him the title.
Tour director Marc Dionne thanked the ownership and staff at Yale Billiards, as well as sponsors Predator Cues, USAPL New England, Fargo Rate, Bert Kinister, AZBilliards, Inside English, Professor Q-ball’s National Pool and 3-Cushion News, Delta 13 Racks, MJS Construction, Bob Campbell, Bourgeois Farms and OTLVISE Billiard Mechanics of America. The next stop on the New England 9-Ball Series (#15), scheduled for Saturday, March 9, will be the $500-added Joe Brown Memorial Tournament, hosted by Buster’s Billiards in Somersworth, NH.
Dionne has also notified potential competitors that following the event at Buster’s Billiards, the New England 9-Ball Series will host its $1,000-added Players Championships, scheduled for the week after the event at Buster’s Billiards, on the weekend of March 16-17. Pre-registration is recommended for the event, which will be hosted back at Yale Billiards, and restricted to 128 players. There will be an additional $250-added 10-Ball event, scheduled for Sunday, March 17 (maximum Fargo Rate of 675, races to 5), which will be limited to 32 players.