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Cha double-dips Goberdhan to win 25th Predator Tri-State Invitational

John Leyman, Henry Cha, Dan Cintron, Jason Goberdhan and Todd Fleitman

Since he first began showing up on the tri-state New York area’s payout lists two years ago, Henry Cha has been making steady progress, earning a little more each year since then. He earned more in 2021 than he did in 2020 (which, full disclosure and thanks to Covid, pretty much everybody did) and now, midway through 2022, he’s already surpassed last year’s earnings. He won his first Predator Tri-State Tour stop in back in March and this past weekend, (June 25-26), he chalked up his second Predator Tri-State win, coming from the loss side to down Jason Goberdhan twice in the true double elimination final of the tour’s $3,800-added, 25th Invitational Tournament. The annual event, which signals the end of one tour season and the start of another (in this case, ‘20/’21 to ‘21/’22) drew 63 entrants to Steinway Billiards in Astoria (Queens), NY. 

Cha’s trip went through Lidio Ramirez, Raymond Lee and Julian Tierney to arrive at a winners’ side semifinal versus Mike Pruitt. Goberdhan, in the meantime, downed Nick Persaud, Jay Chiu, Nick Torraca and Anil Dhenraj to face Linda Cheung in the other winners’ side semifinal.

Cha got into the hot seat match with a 7-3 win over Pruitt and was joined by Goberdhan, who sent Cheung to the loss side, double hill. Goberdhan, looking for his first win on the tour since four days before Christmas last year, claimed the hot seat 7-5 in what would prove to be his last win of the weekend.

On the loss side, Jaydev Zaveri, who’d lost his second round, winners’ side match to Tierney and then got by Hunter Sullivan and Basdeo Sookhai in the first money round, got a second shot at Tierney. They battled to double hill before Zaveri advanced to defeat Frank Rodriguez, also double hill, and drew Mike Pruitt, just over from the winners’ side. Chueng arrived on the loss side to draw a rematch against KC Clayton, whom she’d defeated in a winners’ side quarterfinal and who’d gone on to defeat Marc Lamberti 6-4 and Anil Dhenraj 6-3.

Zaveri defeated Pruitt 7-4 and in the quarterfinals, faced Cheung, who’d eliminated Clayton, double hill. Zaveri ended Cheung’s run 9-7 in those quarterfinals. 

Zaveri’s run ended immediately thereafter. Cha defeated him 7-5 for a second and necessary third shot at Goberdhan in the hot seat. Cha took both sets of the true double elimination final 8-5 to claim the Predator Tri-State 25th Invitational Tournament. In addition to the prize money they earned, Cha took home a Predator Cue, while Goberdhan and Zaveri each were awarded a Poison Break Cue. 

Tour representatives thanked the ownership and staff at Steinway Billiards for their hospitality, as well as title sponsor Predator Cues, Ozone Billiards, Sterling-Gaming, Kamui Tips, Phil Capelle, Pool & Billiards, Professor Q Ball, Bender Cues, Paul Dayton Cues, Bloodworth Ball Cleaner, Joe Romer Trophies and Quick Slick. The next stop on the Predator Tri-State Tour scheduled for the Saturday, July 30, will be a $500-added, A-B-C-D 10-ball event, hosted by Clifton Billiards in Clifton, NJ. 

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Valania goes undefeated, splits top two prizes with Zaveri on Predator Tri-State Tour

Jaydev Zaveri and Joe Valania

Back in February, Joe Valania chalked up what was only his second recorded event victory anywhere at a stop on the Garden State Tour. His first victory, recorded two years previously, was awarded when, as occupant of the hot seat at the time, he and Daniel Dagotdot split the top two prizes at a stop on the Mac Attack Tour. In reporting on the Garden State Tour stop in February, we noted that the win made 2022 Valania’s best recorded earnings year. This past weekend (Saturday, May 7), he added to his best recorded earnings year with his third recorded victory, this time on the Predator Tri-State Tour, though like the 2020 win on the Mac Attack Tour, he and the runner-up (Jaydev Zaveri) split the top two prizes. The $500-added 10-Ball event drew 37 entrants to Shooter’s Family Billiards in Wayne, NJ.

It is worthy of note that just below the headliners (Valania and Zaveri), third-place finisher, Sabrina Sherman, came in search of what might have been her second tour win. She had previously recorded only three cash finishes on the tour, including an undefeated run at a stop in February 2019, when she split the top two prizes with Mac Jankov (the ‘Mac’ in Mac Attack Tour). Sherman’s bid to record her second tour win was derailed when she forfeited out of the semifinals, allowing Zaveri to leapfrog from the quarterfinals, directly into the finals, which, as it happened, didn’t happen. 

Valania and Zaveri did meet in this most recent event, in a winners’ side semifinal. Valania had opened with a double hill win over Mac Jankov before sending Dave Fitzpatrick and Jason Goberdhan to the loss side and drawing Zaveri in that winners’ side semifinal. Sherman, in the meantime, had embarked on a bit of a roller coaster ride through her first three opponents, shutting out Donald Henriquez and then, surviving two straight double-hill matches against Tom Crane and Marc Lamberti before running into Jay Chiu in the other winners’ side semifinal.

In what was described by tour representatives as a “stunning upset,” Valania defeated Zaveri 6-1, while Sherman was busy sending Chiu to the loss side 5-3. In what would prove to be the last match for both of them, Valania claimed the hot seat over Sherman 5-1.

Zaveri and Chiu picked up rematches against the two competitors that they’d sent to the loss side in two of the winners’ side quarterfinals. On the loss side, Julian Tierney downed Luis Jimenez 6-2 and Mike Strassberg 6-4 to get to his rematch against Zaveri, while Nick Torraca defeated Rich Cardillo 5-2 and Shweta Zaveri (Jaydev’s wife) 6-4 to draw his rematch against Chiu.

Zaveri and Chiu defeated Tierney and Torraca a second time; Zaveri over Tierney 6-4 and Chiu over Torraca 5-3. In what would prove to be his final match, Zaveri defeated Chiu 6-3 in the quarterfinals.

At that point, with Sherman having already forfeited the semifinals, Zaveri and Valania opted out of a final match. The split of the top two prizes was negotiated and the two went their separate ways in plenty of time (sleep included) to enjoy their Mother’s Day celebrations. 

Tour representatives thanked the ownership and staff at Shooter’s Family Billiards for their hospitality, as well as title sponsor Predator Cues, Ozone Billiards, Sterling-Gaming, Kamui Tips, Phil Capelle, BlueBook Publishing, Human Kinetics, Pool & Billiards, Romer Trophies and Professor Q Ball. The next stop on the Tri-State Tour, scheduled for May 21-22, will be hosted by Cue Bar in Bayside (Queens), NY.     

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Emmitt goes undefeated to win his first regional tour title on the Predator Tri-State Tour

Sean Emmitt and KC Clayton

It was the second time, as far as we know, that Sean Emmitt had made it to the hot seat of a regional tour event. He did it the first time in September, 2018, at Clifton Billiards in Clifton, NJ,  downing Ralph Ramos, Jr. The competitor he’d sent to the loss side in that event, Neil Walmsley, downed Ramos in the semifinals and came back to deny Emmitt his first title, chalking up his own second.

Just over three and half years later, this past weekend (Saturday, April 16), at the same location, Emmitt made it to the hot seat again, having only cashed in two other events in between; 4th at another stop on the Tri-State back in 2018 and 4th again at a National Billiard League qualifying event, a little over a year ago. This time, though, Emmitt took the final step. After claiming the hot seat, he downed the same opponent, KC Clayton, in the finals to claim his first regional tour title. The $300-added 10-ball event drew 16 entrants to Clifton Billiards.

Emmitt faced Mike Strassberg in the winners’ side semifinal of this one, as Clayton squared off against Ty Classan. Emmitt got into the hot seat match with a 7-2 win over Strassberg and was joined by Clayton, who’d sent Classan to the loss side 7-4. Emmitt downed Clayton 7-5 and sat, once again in the hot seat of a Clifton Billiards event, awaiting his second chance to grab a regional tour title.

On the loss side, Strassberg picked up Rick Rodriguez, who’d defeated John Velez 8-5 and Frank Rodriguez 7-5 to reach him. Classan picked up Julie Madlener, who’d recently eliminated Jay Chiu and Marc Lamberti, both 6-4.

Strassberg and Classan advanced to the quarterfinals; Strassberg 6-4 over Rodriguez and Classan 6-1 over Madlener. Strassberg took the quarterfinal match 6-3 over Classan, but Clayton shut him down by the same score in the semifinals.

As might have been predicted between two opponents who had both finished as runner-up at a stop on the Tri-State Tour (Clayton was runner-up at last month’s stop at Cue Bar in Queens, NY) and were in search of their first regional tour title, the finals went double hill. Emmitt dropped the last 10-ball to claim the title.

Tour representatives thanked the ownership and staff at Clifton Billiards for their hospitality, as well as title sponsor Predator Cues, Ozone Billiards, Sterling Billiards, Kamui, Quick Stick, Bloodworth Ball Cleaner, Joe Romer Trophies, Phil Capelle Publications and Pool and Billiards. The next stop on the Predator Tri-State Tour, scheduled for the Saturday, May 7, will be another 10-Ball event, $500-added, hosted by Shooter’s Family Billiards in Wayne, NJ. 

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Couvrette comes from the loss side, claims first regional tour title on the Garden State Pool Tour

Michel Couvrette and Robert Calton

As Yogi Berra was famous for saying about the game of baseball, a pool match “ain’t over ‘til it’s over” either. Just ask Michael Couvrette, who, this past weekend (April 2-3), not only had to win five on the loss side, but in a two-set final, was a single game away from defeat, twice; down by nine racks in a race to 10, with his opponent (Marc Lamberti) on the hill. He fought back to win them both, claiming his first recorded regional tour title and his first recorded cash payout since he was runner-up to Borana Andoni at a stop on the Mezz Pro Am Tour, eight years ago.

Overall, it was a strongly competitive weekend at the Garden State Pool Tour’s $450-added, B/C/D Class 9-ball event that drew 53 entrants to Rockaway Billiards in Rockaway, NJ. One-third of the event’s 105 matches went double hill, three of them in a row recorded by Couvrette, on the loss side of the double elimination bracket.

Couvrette started out with three winners’ side victories over Tony Robles (not the pro) and Gary Barnish, both 7-4, and downed Paul Raval 7-2, before running into Joe Valania in a winners’ side quarterfinal. Knotted at 5 in that match, Valania chalked up three in a row to send Couvrette to the loss-side portion of his title-winning run. Valania moved on to face Robert Calton in a winners’ side semifinal, as Lamberti and Rich Cardillo squared off in the other one. 

Lamberti and Cardillo recorded one of the event’s 35 double hill matches, which eventually advanced Lamberti to the hot seat match. He was joined by Calton, who’d defeated Valania 7-4. Lamberti claimed the hot seat 8-4, blissfully unaware of the “victory from the jaws of defeat” battle he’d be fighting before the night was over.

On the loss side, Couvrette worked his way through two straight double hill matches against Nelson Tran and C.J. Chey, before drawing a rematch against Valania. Cardillo, in the meantime, in his first loss-side match, drew Jay Pass.

Pass downed Cardillo to advance to the quarterfinals, as Couvrette chalked up his third straight double hill win in a successful rematch against Valania to join him. Couvrette took down Pass 8-4 in those quarterfinals and then, eliminated Calton 7-5 in the semifinals.

At the start of the two-set finals, needing to win them both, Couvrette began with ‘five on the wire’ in a race to 10. Lamberti took Couvrette’s handicap advantage out of the equation when he jumped out in front 6-1. In the now-race-to-4, Lamberti won the next three to reach the hill. Couvrette went on his first serious run of the opening set, chalking up the next eight matches. With both of them on the hill, Lamberti opted out of playing safe to go for a risky combination that failed. Couvrette stepped to the table and completed the rack to force a second set. 

In the second set, Lamberti once again got out in front by eight racks and was on the hill, one game from claiming the title. Couvrette came back again, knotting things at 9-9 and finished with a flourish; breaking and running the final rack to claim the event title.

Tour representatives thanked room owners, Paul and Gary, and their Rockaway Billiards staff for hosting the tour. The next stop on the Garden City Tour, scheduled for Sunday, April 10, will be and A through D-class 9-ball event, hosted by Clifton Billiards in Clifton, NJ.

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Valania wins his first in two years, going undefeated on the Garden State Tour

Robert Calton and Joe Valania

About 18 months ago (Sept. 2020), Joe Valania and Daniel Dagotdot split the top two prizes on the second stop of the Mac Attack Tour in Clifton, NJ. As the undefeated occupant of the hot seat at the time, Valania was declared the official winner and in effect, hadn’t been heard from since, at least on any recorded payout lists. That Mac Attack Tour victory was only Valania’s second recorded payout anywhere, since he’d finished 17th in a Windy City Open 9-Ball event, 17 years ago.

On Saturday, Feb. 12, not only did Valania chalk up his second recorded win anywhere (of three payouts in the money), this time on the Garden State Tour (Stop #3), but in so doing, he turned 2022 into his best recorded earnings year at the tables, picking up more cash in the one event than he earned in the previous two. The $600-added event drew 61 entrants to Rockaway Billiards in Rockaway, NJ.

Four of the first five matches that Valania played went double hill; only his winners’ side quarterfinal match against Frank Kasetta, which he won 6-4, avoided that fate, though only by a game. In a final deciding game, he got by (in order), Ginny Lewis, Marc Lamberti, Steve Persaud, after which he downed Kasetta to meet newcomer Onexi Flores. 

Rob Calton, in the meantime, who’d battle Valania twice (hot seat and finals), had to survive two double hill fights in his run to the winners’ side semifinals. He sent Chris Schmidt 7-5, Paul Raval 7-3, Rafael Acosta (double hill) and Jaydev Zaveri (double hill) to the loss side and turned to face Kevin Scalzitti in the other winners’ side semifinal.

Flores and Valania battled to double hill, as well, for a seat at the hot seat match table. Valania won it to face Calton, who’d downed Scalzitti 7-5. With Valania prevailing in yet another double hill fight to claim the hot seat, half of the 12 matches the two combatants had played went double hill.

On the loss side, Flores and Scalzitti handed David Jusis and Christian Orque their second straight loss and turned against each other in the quarterfinals. Flores prevailed 7-5 over Scalzitti to join Robert Calton in the semifinals. They’d both been sent to the loss side by Valania, waiting for one of them in the hot seat.

It was Calton who got the second shot at him, punctuating the semifinal victory by shutting Flores out. In the extended-race-to-9 finals, Calton needed to reach seven racks first for a chance to extend the race to nine games. Didn’t happen. At 2-2, Valania chalked up the next five to complete his undefeated run and claim his second regional tour title.

Valania will likely be looking to chalk up his third regional tour victory when the Garden State Tour settles in for an event this weekend (Sat., Feb. 26), at the site where Valania picked up his first – Clifton Billiards in Clifton, NJ. 

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Lamberti comes back from semifinals to down Goberdhan in finals of Predator Tri-State Tour

Marc Lamberti and Jason Goberdhan, having returned recently from an all-too-familiar absence from the tables, signaled their return on the Predator Tri-State Tour with victories just over a month apart. A week before Christmas, Goberdhan chalked up his first tour win in two years at Steinway Billiards. On Saturday, Jan. 22, Lamberti followed suit, chalking up his first tour win in two years, with Goberdhan right on his heels. Goberdhan won the first of two against him, battling for the hot seat, but Lamberti returned from the semifinals to defeat him in the finals. The $500-added event drew 23 entrants to Clifton Billiards in Clifton, NJ.

Goberdhan had survived a double hill, winners’ side quarterfinal match against Bryan Jeziorski to pick up Ray Marisette in one of the two winners’ side semifinals. Lamberti, in the meantime, drew Tom Crane in the other one. Goberdhan and Lamberti advanced to the hot seat match; Goberdhan 6-3 over Marisette, Lamberti 7-5 over Crane. Goberdhan edged out in front at the end of their first match to claim the hot seat 6-4.

Marisette next ran into Jeziorski, who’d followed his defeat at the hands of Goberdhan with loss-side victories over Jay Chiu 8-6 and Alfredo Altamirano, double hill. Crane drew Linda Cheung, who’d recently eliminated KC Clayton, double hill, and Mac Jankov 7-2.

Jeziorski downed Marisette 8-6 and in the quarterfinals, faced Cheung, who added another double hill win to her event tally with the elimination of Crane. Cheung and Jeziorski embarked on an epic, 18-game quarterfinal battle that Cheung eventually won 10-8 to face Lamberti in the semifinals.

Lamberti gave up just one rack to Cheung in those semifinals to win it 6-1 and then brought that momentum with him to the finals. He gave up only two racks to Goberdhan to claim the event title.

Tour representatives thanked the ownership and staff at Clifton Billiards for their hospitality, as well as title sponsor Predator Cues, Ozone Billiards, Sterling Billiards, Kamui, Quic Stick, Bloodworth Ball Cleaner, Joe Romer Trophies, Phil Capelle Publications and Pool and Billiards. The next stop on the Tri-State Tour, which was scheduled to begin today (Sat. Jan. 29) at Cue Bar in Bayside (Queens), NY has been postponed due to weather.

Pelech goes undefeated to win NJ Garden State Pool Tour’s 2022 season opener

Clint Walker, Don Henriquez and Justin Pelech

There’s nothing like a handful of cash to inspire a pool player to move on to bigger and better things. Look, therefore, for the name of Justin Pelech, likely to appear at a regional tour stop near you, sometime in the near future. According to our records, prior to Saturday, January 8, Justin Pelech had cashed in only two events, finishing in the tie for 9th place at the MD State 10-Ball Championships about a month ago, and in 2020, finishing in the tie for 5th place at the NJ Garden State Pool Tour’s 4th Annual Fall Brawl. He nearly tripled the amount of cash he earned at both of those events by winning the Garden State Pool Tour’s 2022 season opener, going undefeated at the $350-added event that drew 38 entrants to Shooter’s Family Billiards in Wayne, NJ. The room was recently awarded the Tour Players’ Choice Host Room Award, voted on by tour players in the 2020/2021 season.

As Pelech was sitting in the hot seat, awaiting the results of the semifinals, he may have been counting cash chickens ahead of their hatching and thinking ahead to those bigger and better things. But he was also likely to have been watching the loss-side progress of a scenario that can spoil plans for big cash in the future; a competitor coming at him from that loss side of the bracket, chalking up twice as many match wins as he’d amassed getting to the hot seat. On that Saturday, in Wayne, NJ, it was Donald “Big Don” Henriquez, who’d lost his opening match and then won 10 straight for the right to challenge Pelech in the finals.

Rewind to the winners’ side semifinals. In the upper bracket (B & C+ players), Pelech, after downing Frank Rodriguez, Nick Torocca, and Rob Wetherhold, faced Sumit Bansal. From the lower bracket (C and lower), Clint Walker, who’d sent Fritz Innocent, Kris Manuel and Marc Lamberti to the loss side, squared off against Dakota Zbuchalski in the other one.

Pelech advanced to the hot seat match 7-2 over Bansal and was joined by Walker, who’d defeated Zbuchalski, 6-1. Pelech claimed the hot seat, double hill, and waited for Henriquez to complete his loss-side run.

Henriquez did. The last of his victories came in the semifinals, when he defeated Walker 6-1.

Henriquez began the finals with three beads on the wire in a race to 8. Pelech broke dry in the opening rack and Henriquez ran the rack. Henriquez broke and ran the second rack, too, which, with his three beads already in place, gave him a 5-0 lead. At which point, any dreams Pelech may have been harboring about gold at the end of this particular rainbow may have seemed to be in jeopardy.

But Pelech came back to win six straight. Confidence lit the rainbow back up, until Henriquez chalked up the 12th rack, tying the score at 6-6. Pelech reached the hill with rack 13, though, and when Henriquez missed, just barely, a shot at the 6-ball in the next rack, Pelech pounced and dropped the rack’s final four to claim the event title.

Tour representatives thanked Shooters Family Billiards owner, Kris Consolvo-Kemp for his hospitality and presented him with his room’s award as the Players’ Choice Host Room for 2020/2021. The next stop on the NJ Garden State Pool Tour, scheduled for Saturday, January 29, will be hosted by Players Billiards in Eatontown, NJ.   

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, PlayNAPL.com, The DeVito Team, PoolOnTheNet.com, Cappelle (BilliardsPress.com), 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.