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Kuilan goes undefeated at record-breaking season opener of the Predator Pro Am Tour

(l to r): Ron Bernardo, Jose Kuilan, Emit Yolcu & Jaydez Zaveri

Tour director Tony Robles thinks this past weekend’s (Jan. 25-26) stop on the Predator Pro Am Tour at Steinway Billiards broke a tour record for attendance – “more than we ever got,” said Robles, with just the hint of a question mark at the end. Difficult to verify this because there are a lot of records to look through, and very few, including individual memories, have recorded specific entrant information. We mention it, routinely, in event reports, but it’s not actually a statistic that’s searchable, and if nobody remembers if there’ve ever been more than 114 entrants at a regular stop on the Predator Pro Am Tour, then, for all intents and purposes, it was a record-breaking season opener this past weekend, and a hundred years from now, when people will be wanting to know whether that Predator Pro Am Tour stop back in January of ’20 broke a tour record or not, you can tell them that it did.
And that it was won by Jose Kuilan, who battled Jaydev Zaveri twice to claim the title. Kuilan was looking for his first Predator Pro Am title and went undefeated to claim it. Jaydev Zaveri was clearly looking to chalk up his second win in as many weeks, having won a stop on the Tri-State Tour just last week (Jan. 18) at Shooter’s Family Billiards in Wayne, NJ. Zaveri and Kuilan advanced themselves into two double-hill winners’ side semifinals. Kuilan battled Ron Bernardo, while Zaveri took on Dave Shlemperis, with whom he had split the top two prizes at the Wayne, NJ tournament the week before. Zaveri had sent Shlemperis to the loss side in that event’s second round and Shlemperis won six on the loss side to earn the right to a finals rematch. They reckoned without the weather and in light of the distance needed to travel and worsening conditions, they opted out of a final and split the money.
Zaveri sent Shlemperis to the loss side this week, too, though he had to win a deciding 13th game to do it. Kuilan fought a double hill battle that eventually sent Bernardo over. Kuilan and Zaveri fought to a predictable double hill standstill, before Kuilan prevailed and grabbed the hot seat.
On the loss side, Shlemperis picked up Emit Yolcu, who’d defeated Raiju Dasrath 7-2 and Bryan Jeziorski, double hill, to reach him. Bernardo drew Katie Baker, who’d eliminated Gordon McDaniel 6-3 and JC Iglesias 8-5.
Bernardo got caught up in his second straight double hill fight, but he won this one against Baker. Yolcu joined him in the quarterfinals after downing Shlemperis 7-5. Bernardo then allowed Yolcu only a single rack in those quarterfinals and advanced to meet Zaveri in the semifinals.
Zaveri got by Bernardo easily enough (if it can ever be described as ‘easy’) 7-4, but couldn’t catch Kuilan in the finals. Kuilan completed his undefeated run and his first win on the tour with an 8-5 victory in the finals.
A Second Chance event drew 16 entrants and saw Russell Masciotti down Paul Carpenter 7-2 in the finals to win it and take home $160. Carpenter pocketed $100. Marc Lamberti and George Poltorak each took home $30 for their third place finish. A second Second Chance event (sometimes known as a third chance) drew 10 entrants and was won Lidio Ramirez after a double hill win over Brooke Meyer. Ramirez took home $120, while Meyer went home with $80.
Tour director Tony Robles thanked Manny Stamatakis and his staff at Steinway Billiards for their ongoing hospitality and support of the tour, along with title sponsor Predator Cues, Ozone Billiards,, The DeVito Team,, Cappelle (, AZBilliards, Pool & Billiard Magazine and Billiards Digest. He also thanked his own Predator Pro Am staff to include his lovely wife, Gail, who, as it turned out, filled in for him at this event (to include information dissemination to us here at AZ), when he was not well enough to attend on Sunday. The Predator Pro Am Tour will return to Steinway Billiards on the weekend of February 8-9 for a $1,000-added “Shake It Up” event.

Gupta goes undefeated to win his first 2019 Tri-State event title, downing Trajceski twice

(l to r): Ilija Trajceski & Shivam Gupta

They’d been down this road before. Specifically, in January of this year, when they faced off in the finals of a Tri-State Tour stop at Shooter’s Family Billiards in Wayne, NJ. It was noted at the time, that it was Ilija Trajceski’s third victory on the Tri-State Tour since 2017 and only the fourth time that he had cashed in a Tri-State event. He’d sent Shivam Gupta to the loss side in the winners’ side quarterfinals, but Gupta won five on the loss side to face him in the finals. Trajceski downed Gupta a second time, by the same 7-5 score, to claim that event title.
On Sunday, May 5, at the last 10-ball match of the Tri-State’s season, they squared off twice again; this time in the hot seat match and finals and although the score was the same in both matches (6-3), the end result was that Gupta claimed his first 2019 Tri-State title (his second of the 2018/2019 season). Gupta is the #2-ranked B+ player in the Tri-State’s current Player of the Year standings (9 appearances), behind Jaydev Zaveri (Gupta’s traveling partner), whose 21 appearances on the 2018/2019 tour give him a substantial lead among the B+ players. Trajceski, with 10 appearances is at #14 on the list of B players. The $1,000-added event drew 31 entrants to Clifton Billiards in Clifton, NJ.
Gupta began his trek to the event title with a double hill win over his traveling partner and fellow B+ competitor for the division’s top slot, Jaydev Zaveri. He then downed Scott Bannon 6-4 and Pashk Gjini 6-1, to draw Tri Chau in one of the winners’ side semifinals. Trajceski, in the meantime, after defeating Rick Rodriguez 6-4, Paul Madonia 6-5 and Andrew Ciccoria 6 -3, would draw Marc Lamberti in the other winners’ side semifinal.
Gupta and Chau locked up in a double hill fight that eventually (6-5) sent Gupta to the hot seat match. He was joined by Trajceski, who’d defeated Lamberti 6-4. Gupta claimed the hot seat with his first of what proved to be two 6-3 wins over Trajceski.
On the loss side, Chau and Lamberti got back on track with double hill victories over their first loss-side opponents. Chau faced and defeated Eddie Medina, who’d defeated Mike Strassberg 6-3 and Scott Bannon 6-4 to reach him. Lamberti defeated Andrew Ciccoria, who’d defeated Bob Toomey and Rick Brothers, both 5-3, before falling to Lamberti.
Lamberti gave up only a single rack to Chau in the quarterfinals (6-1) to earn his rematch against Trajceski in the semifinals. In his second of three straight 6-3 matches, and the only one in which he recorded a win, Trajceski defeated Lamberti a second time. Gupta completed his undefeated run with a second 6-3 win over Trajceski in the finals.
Tour representatives thanked the ownership and staff at Clifton Billiards, 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 Saturday, May 11, will be hosted by Steinway Billiards in Astoria (Queens), NY. 

Lamberti comes from the loss side to win his first Tri-State Tour stop

(l to r): Marc Lamberti & Luis Jimenez

As it came down to the end, you had a player competing in his first Tri-State Tour event, against a player looking for his first win on the tour, who ultimately defeated a hot seat occupant, whose first and last win on the tour happened five years ago. The last man standing in that trio of competitors was Marc Lamberti, looking and acquiring that first Tri-State Tour win. He earned it by coming from the loss side to meet and defeat hot seat occupant Luis Jimenez, who was looking for that first win since 2014. The man in the middle, so to speak – Daniel Alaimo – was the newcomer, and though he got by Lamberti once, he couldn’t do it a second time. The $1,000-added, 10-Ball event drew 37 entrants to Clifton Billiards in Clifton, NJ on Sunday, March 17.
After an opening round victory that almost put an immediate stop to Lamberti’s winners’ side ambitions – a double hill win over Veronica Perez – Lamberti moved on to another double hill challenge that he survived, over Jowen Pichardo. Michelle Brotons came within a game of being Lamberti’s third straight double hill challenge of the day, but Lamberti got out in front by two at the end and won it 5-3 to face Alaimo for the first time in a winners’ side semifinal. Alaimo arrived at that match following victories over Charlie Beam 5-3, John DeVito 5-2 and Allison LaFleur 5-3. Jimenez, in the meantime, had gotten by Mike Mele 6-4, Jonathan McConnell, double hill, and Llija Trajceski 6-4 to face the tour’s #1-ranked B+ player, Jaydev Zaveri in the other winners’ side semifinal.
Alaimo sent Lamberti off to the loss side 5-2 and in the hot seat match, faced Jimenez, who’d defeated Zaveri 6-3. Jimenez downed Alaimo in the hot seat match and waited on what turned out to be the return of Lamberti.
Lamberti opened his loss-side trip against Jowen Pichardo, whom he’d defeated earlier in the day. Pichardo had recently eliminated two women in a row, Brotons 5-2 and LaFleur, who put up a double hill fight before Pichardo finished it. Zaveri faced Desi DeRado, who’d defeated Kevin Scalzitti 6-4 and Mike Mele 7-4.
Lamberti leap-frogged into the quarterfinals when Pichardo forfeited out of their match. Lamberti was joined by Zaveri who’d knocked DeRado out of the running 6-4. Lamberti took the quarterfinal match 7-4 over Zaveri to get a second shot against Alaimo in the semifinals.
Lamberti took advantage of his second chance. He downed Alaimo 6-3 and turned to see if he could lock up his first Tri-State win by knocking Jimenez out of his hot seat perch. He did, defeating Jimenez 8-4 in the finals to claim the event title.
Tour representatives thanked the ownership and staff at Clifton Billiards for their hospitality, 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, an 8-ball tournament, scheduled for Sunday, March 24, will be hosted by Cue Bar in Bayside (Queens), NY.

Nick Quaglia Takes Down Garden State Tour’s First Event

Max Watanabe and Nick Quaglia

Weather in New Jersey was supposed to be bad on Saturday Afternoon, the 17th. Eleven players showed up for this first event, in a new pool room as well. Black Diamond Billiards located in Union, New Jersey.
Players such as Max Watanabe, Teddy "One Peace" Lapadula, John (JACK) Egeln, David Fitzpatrick to play in this amateur A-D event.
The format was 9-Ball races to 6, alternate breaks, and rack your own. Double elimination. Finals were, one race to 9. Even though there were only 11 players, $100 was still added.
The Top 4 players received trophies as well as QuicSlicks from Billiard Engineering . The bracket was split for a A-B side & a C-D side. Nick Quaglia was placed on the A-B side as well as David Fitzpatrick and Teddy Lapadula.  Max Watanabe and Marcelo Adinolfi were the A & B class players. On the lower side C-D Class players. John Egeln, Ralph  Ramos Sr. & Ralph Ramos Jr, Kevin Serodio , Mark Lamberti.
Max & Marcelo was the first match to be called. A battle however Max won a 6 to 4.  David & Teddy battled it out to a 6 to 5 win for Teddy.
On the C-D side of the chart Mark Lamberti was coming through with 3 hill hill wins, then sent Kevin Serodio to the one lose side.
Max and Nick traded games back and forth. At hill-hill, the 7 & 9 were stuck in an awkward position. Max attempted to play a safe. Nick took advantage and advanced to play Mark.
Mark couldn't hold on and Nick won 6 to 1, sending Nick into the Finals. 
On the one lose side John Egeln was showing what an old timer can do. After losing a first round hill hill match to Kevin Serodio, John won 6-2 , 6-0 , and 6-1 to get his rematch.
John took an early 3 to 1 lead, but after hanging a couple 9-Balls he lost his momentum and Kevin took advantage and won 6 to 4. On the one loss A-B side, Marcelo took care of business beating David Fitzpatrick 6 to 5 and Teddy Lapadula 6 to 2 which set up a rematch with Max. These two traded shot for shot, before Max was able to come through for a 6 to 5 win. 
Kevin Serodio then had to play Max and Max got on a roll to steamroll Kevin 6 to 1. Max's next match was against Mark Lamberti and the winner would advance to play Nick in the Finals.This was a real David vs. Goliath match. Whatever Max would do, Mark found a way to answer, kicking and banking balls in. The match was really closer than indicated by the final score of 6-4.
The finals started slow. One race to 9, but after the players fought to a 3-3 tie Nick started to pick up steam. When Nick led 7-4, Max came back with 2 more racks making it 7-6. They then traded racks for an 8-7 score  In the last game Max misplayed a crucial safety on the 7 ball. Nick played a nice 3 ball run and clinched the win for the tours first event. The final 4 players cashed, received beautiful trophies and QuicSlicks. 
David Fitzpatrick is the tournament director of The Garden State Pool Tour and he thanked the players who came out for the tournament, Kneil Shah – owner of Black Diamond Billiards – for hosting the event and Billiards Engineering for their donations of the QuicSlicks.  The Garden State Tour's next event is March 24,2018 again at Black Diamond Billiards. That event will be a Ladies 9-Ball Open event.
More information about the tour can be found out on the tour's Facebook page. FACEBOOK: Garden State Pool Tour NJ.