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Two tour veterans, each seeking first Joss NE 9-Ball title, battle it out in finals of season finale

Pete Bowman, Mike Zuglan, Snookers manager Paul Troxell and Ray McNamara

Oldest player to win on tour,’ Bob Darigis, wins Second Chance event

He’d be the first to tell you that it’d been a long time coming. But it did show up. This past weekend (June 4-5), after 20 years of attempts, Ray McNamara (generally known on the tour as ‘Ray Mac’) claimed his first Joss NE 9-Ball Tour title, using the last regular season event of the tour’s 2021-2022 season to do so. In an effort that began (as far as we know) with a 7th place finish at a stop in Bristol, CT in October of 2002, McNamara went on to compete regularly on the Joss and other tours, and more recently, won the 364-entrant Amateur Senior event of the Super Billiards Expo this past April. The $1,500-added, 15th stop on the 2021-2022 Joss Northeast 9-Ball Tour drew 53 entrants to Snooker’s in Providence, RI.

In addition to crowning a first-time champion, the event played host to another event champion, whom tour director Mike Zuglan described as “the oldest person (he could) think of who won any of (their) events.”  A $500-added Second Chance tournament that drew 14 entrants was won by 71-year-old Bob Darigis.

“Ray Mac and Bob were both around in the days when me, Larry Lisciotti and Joe Tucker were still playing around,” said Zuglan.

Ray Mac’s trip to the winners’ circle had to go through another Joss NE 9-Ball veteran, also looking for his first (recorded with us) win on the tour, Pete Bowman. They met twice; hot seat match and finals. Mac had gotten by Nick Coppola, Lida Mullendore, Clyde Matta and Ryan Cullen to arrive at a winners’ side semifinal match against Bob Madenjian, who, it should be noted, finished in the four-way tie for 5th place behind McNamara in the SBE’s Amateur Senior tournament in April and would end up in the same position at this event. Peter Bowman sent Aro Majumber and Brandon Coley to the loss side before encountering the later-to-be winner of the Second Chance event, Bob Darigis, who battled him tooth and nail to double hill before he sent him over, as well. Bowman then downed Darren Jevons to pick up Kerry McAuliffe in the other winners’ side semifinal.

Mac sent Madenjian west 9-2, while Bowman was defeating McAuliffe 9-3. McNamara claimed the hot seat 9-5, which was, as far as we know, his first.

On the loss side, McAuliffe picked up Steve Mack, who’d lost a winners’ side quarterfinal to Madenjian and jumped onto the loss-side wagon with victories over Rich Kravetz 7-5 and Dan Sharlow 7-3. Madenjian picked up Francisco Salas, who’d also lost to Madenjian on the winners’ side (3rd round) and was working on a seven-match, loss-side streak that would take him as far as the semifinals and include the double-hill elimination of Jeremy Sossei, followed by wins over Darren Jevons 7-2 and Frankie Hernandez 7-3.

Mack did his part to secure a rematch versus Madenjian with a 7-4 win over McAuliffe, but Salas took Madenjian out 7-5 and then eliminated Mack 7-3 in the quarterfinals. 

Bowman closed out Salas’ run with a 7-3 win in the semifinals to earn his second shot at Ray Mac, waiting for him in the hot seat. Though Salas would chalk up three more racks against Ray Mac in the finals than he had in the hot seat, Ray Mac prevailed 9-5 to claim his first Joss Northeast 9-Ball title, closing the ‘long time coming’ door behind him.

The final standings in tour points were headed up by Bucky Souvanthong, who appeared in nine of the season’s 15 events, winning five of them. Ron Casanzio finished in 2nd place, based on 10 appearances, with a single win. Jeremy Sossei was in 3rd place, having won three of his five appearances. Len Gianfrate placed fourth, just ahead of Aaron Greenwood. Rounding out the top 10 on the 2021-2022 tour were Jamie Garrett, Dan Sharlow, Frank Hernandez, Mhet Vergara and Bruce Carroll. 

Tour director Mike Zuglan thanked Regina and Steve Goulding and their Snookers’ staff for their hospitality, as well as title sponsor Joss Cues, Turning Stone Resort Casino, Simonis Cloth, Poolonthenet.com, AZBilliards, Aramith, Billiards Press and World Class Cue Care. The next event, the tour’s season finale, scheduled for Sept. 1-4, will be the $25,000-added Turning Stone Classic XXXV 9-Ball Open, hosted by the Turning Stone Resort Casino in Verona, NY

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NEWPA holds ‘Break the Cycle’ domestic violence awareness event at Crow’s Nest in NH

Samantha Barrett, Erica Testa and Lida Mullendore

Testa and Barrett split top two prizes in 16-entrant 9-ball tournament

The ‘cycle’ that the New England Women’s Pool Alliance (NEWPA) set out to raise awareness of on Sunday, August 15 is a pattern of behavior recognized by professional domestic violence counselors, support personnel and the victims of such violence. It begins in a relationship where tensions build and an abuser demonstrates more and more anger and violent behavior. An ‘explosion’ occurs, which results in some form of violence. The victim is in pain, fearful, desperate and humiliated, all at once. The abuser minimizes what’s been done or denies it completely, while the victim will often blame herself. A ‘honeymoon’ period occurs, during which the abuser apologizes, declares love and assures the victim that it won’t happen again. Hopeful and loved, life goes on until the tension starts to rebuild toward yet another ‘explosion’ occurs and the cycle is renewed.

Women in such situations are sometimes unable to identify the pattern, understand its significance or break the cycle in a way that frees them to live more productive and certainly less high-anxiety lives. Events like this recent one, hosted by the NEWPA, are not necessarily designed to address victims or abusers directly (although that might happen), but more as a means of raising awareness so that those in attendance, while perhaps neither victim nor abuser, can be made aware of the ‘cycle’ and potentially recognize it in the lives and behavior of people with whom they are close and be in a better position to help. Victims and abusers are often reluctant to seek professional help in these hyper-personal situations, but might take some measure of comfort or advice in speaking to a family member or personal friend.

And the more people who understand the ‘cycle’ of domestic violence, the more likely it will be that victims and abusers will find avenues, through close personal support, potentially leading to professional help to ‘break that cycle.’

So the NEWPA, with its roots in the world of competitive pool, organized a 9-ball tournament and in addition to running that tournament, offered professional information and advice to all of those in attendance.

“Ann Mason was the main sponsor of this event, adding $200,” said NEWPA representative Katie Fiorilla. “She also arranged for a representative of Haven (NH’s largest violence prevention and support services agency) to speak to the players about resources in the area and distribute pamphlets with further, more detailed information about the agency and its efforts to ‘Break the Cycle.”

“Master Billiards also added $100,” said Fiorilla. “We also wanted to thank Marc Dionne and Jenn Berghelli from the New England 9-Ball Series for all their support. They handled all the registrations and payments, allowed us to use their CompuSport bracket and Jenn even made flyers and posted the player list for us.”

Originally scheduled to be hosted by House of Billiards in Hampton Falls, NH, a change in ownership, seven days prior to the event, led to something of a scramble to find a new venue.

“We were very fortunate that at the last minute, Cochise Kasabian-Judd (Crow’s Nest, Plaistow, NH) agreed to host the event,” said Fiorilla. “She also put out a very nice coffee service, with juice, muffins and bagels and we can’t thank her staff enough.”

So, after some early morning refreshment and a presentation on ‘breaking the cycle’ of domestic violence from the folks at Haven, it was time to play some pool. The $300-added event drew a planned 16 entrants to Crow’s Nest.

It was won, technically by Erica Testa, who went undefeated into the hot seat. The woman she’d defeated to gain that seat (Samantha Barrett) came back from the semifinals and they decided to split the top two prizes.

Testa’s path to the winners’ circle went through Melissa Curtin and Stacy Hamel to arrive at a winners’ side semifinal versus Michelle Haddock. Barrett, in the meantime, got by Jessie Wilmott and Ann Ngeth to pick up Lida Mullendore in the other winners’ side semifinal.

Barrett and Testa apparently really wanted to play against each other in the hot seat match and proceeded to shut out both of their opponents to make sure that happened. Testa then claimed the hot seat 5-2 over Barrett, in what proved to be the winner-determining match of the event.

On the loss side, Mullendore drew Hamel, who’d defeated Wilmott and Linda George, both 4-2 to reach her. Haddock picked up Kim Chappelle, who’d recently eliminated Danielle Walker 4-1 and Ngeth 4-2.

Haddock and Mullendore got right back to work, handing Chappelle and Hamel, respectively, their second loss. Mullendore then downed Haddock 4-2 in the quarterfinals, before losing to Barrett in the semifinals by the same score.

Testa and Barrett agreed to the split. The final four standing went home a little richer and everybody presumably went home a little wiser about the ways and means of breaking the cycle of domestic violence.