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Watanabe gets by Shlemperis twice, goes undefeated to win Tri-State stop

(l to r): Max Watanabe & Dave Shlemperis

Though Max Watanabe has cashed in five 2019 events thus far (four Tri-State events and one Predator Pro Am) and Dave Shlemperis has cashed in only two (one each on the Tri-State and Predator Pro Am Tours; runner-up in both), they recorded almost mirror-like activity in 2018. For Watanabe, 2018 proved to be his best earnings year to date, and midway through the year, he finished as the Tri-State Tour’s top-ranked A/A+ competitor (the Tri-State Tour starts and ends its year-overlapping seasons in mid-summer). He cashed in 11 events, winning twice (once each on the Tri-State and Predator Pro Am Tour) and finished 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 7th, 9th and 13th in a combination of the two tour’s events. Shlemperis, the Tri-State’s #8-ranked B+ competitor in their 2018-2019 season, cashed in nine 2018 events. He won on the Tri-State Tour once and finished 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 7th, 9th and 13th in a combination of the two tour’s events (he tossed in a 17th place finish at Turning Stone XXX). On Sunday, August 4, at a Tri-State Tour stop, they battled twice to claim their first 2019 event title. Watanabe won both encounters at the $1000-added event that drew 33 entrants to Clifton Billiards in Clifton, NJ.
They met first in a winners’ side quarterfinal, with Watanabe prevailing 7-3 and advancing to a winners’ side semifinal against Eli Trajceski. Luis Jimenez, in the meantime, who finished as the runner-up in last week’s (July 27) stop on the Tri-State Tour, squared off against Mike Strassberg in the other winners’ side semifinal.
Watanabe sent Trajceski off 7-5 to an immediate encounter versus Shlemperis on the loss side. Jimenez and Strassberg battled to double hill before Jimenez prevailed. The battle for the hot seat was a double hill affair with Watanabe claiming the hot seat and waiting on the return of Shlemperis.
Shlemperis had opened his five-match, loss-side campaign with a double hill win over Jaydev Zaveri and followed it with a 7-3 win over Bob Toomey, which set him up versus Trajceski. Strassberg drew Mars Adinolfi, who’d defeated Rick Rodriguez 7-1 and Paul Madonia 7-3 to reach him.
Of the next five matches that would determine the event’s winner, four of them went double hill, beginning with the two matches that determined advancement to the quarterfinals; Shlemperis over Trajceski and Adinolfi over Strassberg. The quarterfinals came within a game of double hill, with Shlemperis winning it 7-5.
Shlemperis chalked up his third double hill win of the five matches he played on the loss side in the semifinals, downing Jimenez and earning himself a second shot at Watanabe in the hot seat. He battled Watanabe to double hill in the finals, but Watanabe dropped the last ball to claim the event title.
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, August 11, will be hosted by Cue Bar in Bayside (Queens), NY.