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Sieczka and Mierzwa split top prizes and share ‘Polska duma’ on first 2019 Tri-State Tour stop

(l to r): Frank Sieczka & Jan Mierzwa

It was, as one Tri-State Tour rep called it, a day of Polska duma, which translates into Polish pride. League teammates and friends Frank Sieczka, Jan Mierzwa and Grzegorz Kasica were among 36 entrants, who signed on to the first 2019 stop on the tour on Sunday, January 5, and ended the day at Clifton Billiards in Clifton, NJ as the $1,000-added, 8-ball event’s final three. As the undefeated occupant of the hot seat, Sieczka claimed the title when he and Mierzwa opted to split the final two cash prizes.
All three advanced to a winners’ side quarterfinal, but in one of those quarterfinal matches, Sieczka and Mierzwa met for what turned out to be the one and only time. Sieczka had started his day with a shutout over Sebastian Karwas. He then downed Jaydev Zaveri, double hill and  Emit Yolcu 6-2, before running into Mierzwa and sending him to the loss side 6-4. Sieczka moved on to face DeMain Patrick in one of the winners’ side semifinals. In the meantime, Kasica, who’d sent Qian Chen, Hunter Sullivan, and Michael Graf to the loss side, squared off against Allison LaFleur in the other winners’ side semifinal.
Sieczka got into the hot seat match with a 6-3 win over Patrick and was joined by Kasica, who’d shut LaFleur out. Sieczka claimed the hot seat with a 6-4 win in what turned out to be his last match.
It was Patrick who drew Mierzwa, three matches into his loss-side streak that would end with the cash split. Mierzwa had downed Joe Mazzeo 6-4 and picked up a forfeit win over Liran Rabin to reach Patrick. LaFleur picked up (relative) newcomer Brandone Alli, who’d defeated Shweta Zaveri 6-3 and Artur Trzeciak (another representative of Polish pride) 6-4.
Mierzwa and Alli advanced to the quarterfinals; Mierzwa, 6-3 over Patrick and Alli, 6-2 over LaFleur. Mierzwa took the quarterfinal match over Alli 6-4, marking the 6th time in the event’s final 14 matches that members of the ‘Polska duma’ group had won a match by that score.
The semifinal and last match of the evening between Mierzwa and Kasica made it seven 6-4 scores out of the last 14 matches, as Mierzwa left Kasica in third place. Sieczka and Mierzwa opted out of the final and the first 2019 stop of the Tri-State Tour’s 2019-2020 season went into the books with a dash of Polish duma.
Tour representatives thanked the ownership and staff at Clifton Billiards, as well as sponsors Ozone Billiards, Sterling-Gaming, Kamui Tips, Liquid Weighted Cues, Bloodworth Ball Cleaner, Quick Stik, Phil Capelle,  Pool & Billiards,  Bender Cues, Dayton Cues, and Romer Trophies. The next stop on the Tri-State Tour, scheduled for Sunday, January 12, will be hosted by Steinway Billiards in Astoria (Queens), NY.

Sookhai goes undefeated to take first of last three 2018/2019 Tri-State events

(l to r): Basdeo Sookhai & John Durr

With the end of the Tri-State Tour’s 2018/2019 season a mere two weeks/events away, the end-of-season invitational picture is becoming clearer. At the conclusion of an event at Clifton Billiards in Clifton, NJ on Saturday, June 15th, the Tri-State Tour will assess each of six different ranking categories to determine the top 16 players in each of those categories to determine who’ll be in attendance at the season-ending  Invitational Tournament, scheduled for the weekend of June 29-30 at Steinway Billiards. Typically, in these last weeks before the Invitational Tournament every year, players in all six divisions look to solidify their spot among the final 16, which has a way of creating a few ‘bubble’ matches between players at or near the cutoff point. In some cases, players among a particular division’s top 16 are unable to attend the season-ending Invitational, opening the door to players in the 17-20 range of a given division.
On the weekend of June 1-2, at a $1,500-added event that drew 32 entrants to Steinway Billiards in Astoria (Queens), NY, Basdeo “Shawn” Sookhai solidified his place among the tour’s A/A+ players by going undefeated through the field and taking home the event title. Sookhai came into the event in 8th place among the tour’s A/A+ players and barring any catastrophic circumstances, will be invited to attend the Invitational. Geovanni Hosang, who did not compete in this most recent event, is close enough in points to overtake him for the 8th slot on the A/A+ list if he competes in one or both of the remaining two events, but Sookhai is pretty much a lock to be invited.
Not so with Sookhai’s opponent in the hot seat match and efinals, one John Durr, who entered the tournament right at the #16 spot on the tour’s list of B players. Just below him in the 17th spot was Pashk Gjini, whom he met in a winners’ side quarterfinal. Durr sent Gjini to the loss side 7-5 and advanced to face Kunami Chau in one of the winners’ side semifinals. Sookhai, in the meantime, who’d gotten by Lidio Ramirez (double hill), Raphael Castillo and Amir Rashad Uddin, squared off against Liran Rabin in the other winners’ side semifinal.
Sookhai moved into the hot seat match on the heels of an 8-3 victory over Rabin. Durr joined him after downing Chau 7-3. Sookhai and Durr battled to double hill before Sookhai prevailed 7-6 to claim the hot seat.
Over on the loss side, Rabin picked up Raphael Castillo, who’d defeated Amir Rashad Uddin 7-5 and Bob Toomey 6-2. Chau drew Michael Fedak, who’d defeated Debra Pritchett 5-2 and Luis Lopez 6-2 to reach him. Lopez had previously eliminated Pashk Gjini, who finished in the four-way tie for 9th place, which might be enough to allow him to hold on to his 17th spot among the tour’s B players and possibly, if someone among the top 16 is unable to compete in the Invitational, give him the chance to compete.
Castillo and Fedak handed Rabin and Chau their second straight loss; Castillo 6-3 over Rabin and Fedak 6-1 over Chau. Castillo and Fedak fought to double hill in the quarterfinals that followed before Castillo advanced to meet Durr in the semifinals.
Durr ended Castillo’s day 7-5 in those semifinals and then, fell to Sookhai a second time, 7-5 in the finals. In the absence of any of his fellow B players, above him on the list, Durr’s runner-up finish should notch him up a step or two on that list, certainly above Frank Sieczka, who was tied in ranking points with Durr going into the event, and did not compete.
Tour representatives thanked Manny Stamatakis and his Steinway Billiards staff, along with sponsors Ozone Billiards, Sterling-Gaming, Kamui Tips, Phil Capelle, BlueBook Publishing, Human Kinetics, Pool & Billiards, Professor Q Ball, Bender Cues, DIGICUE OB, and Hustlin’ USA. The next stop on the Tri-State Tour, the second-to-last in the season, is scheduled for Sunday, June 9 at Cue Bar in Bayside (Queens), NY.