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Yednak wins 3rd Annual Ginky Memorial Amateur tournament

Michael Yednak

Having been mentored by George "Ginky" Sansouci, Michael Yednak had just a little more invested emotionally in the Ginkster's 3rd Annual Memorial Tournament than most. He'd signed on to the previous two. The first, he said, was just too emotional for him. He was unprepared to compete, and unable to advance to any of the money rounds. Last year, he finished in the tie for 25th place. This year, he went undefeated through a field of 128 to capture the title and finally bring it home.
"I wish he'd been here to see it," said Yednak. "He taught me so much, but it took a couple of years for me to put all the pieces together."
"There are a lot of important tournaments," he added, "but this one was personal; one that I felt like I had to win. I just wanted to make him proud of me."
The amateur side of the Memorial tournament (as well as the Open, which was ongoing when the amateur finished, early on Labor Day) was hosted by Steinway Billiards, with selected matches streamed live by and NYCGrind. Yednak's quest to make Ginky proud had to go through Koka Davladze, twice.
They met first in the hot seat match. Yednak had sent Phil Davis to the left bracket 7-2, as Davladze was busy surviving a double hill match against Ross Lacy. In the battle for the hot seat, it was Yednak surviving the double hill struggle, sending Davladze to the semifinals.
Davis moved to the loss side and ran into Juan Guzman, who'd gotten by Laszlo Kovack and Tony Liang, both 7-3. Lacy picked up Scott Simonetti, who'd defeated Rhio Anne Flores 7-4 and just did get by Kelly Wong 8-7. It was Davis and Simonetti advancing to the quarterfinals, once Davis had eliminated Guzman 7-3 and Simonetti had defeated Lacy 7-5.
Davis stopped Simonetti 7-5, but was then defeated by Davladze in the semifinals 7-3. Right from the start, the extended-race to 11 was tight; Yednak and Davladze trading racks back and forth to a 7-7 tie. Davladze edged out in front 8-7, sunk four balls on the subsequent break and ran out to force the extension to 11 games.  However, someone (no one noticed who) changed the score to 8-8, instead of 9-7. The players knew what was going on, because Davladze racked to shoot again (had Yednak reached nine, it would have been over). It took a moment for someone to notice the score, but it was corrected quickly. That 16th rack proved to be Davladze's last, as Yednak completed his undefeated run with four straight to finish 11-7 and bring home the top prize.
"I got pretty lucky," he said, afterwards. "When I played badly, other players didn't punish me,  and I played well at the right times."
"That's one of the things that Ginky taught me; about getting through the bad matches," he added. "He always used to say, 'Talent will get you only so far, and then you have to practice.' Practice is what made the difference with me this year. All I did was practice."