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Securing top spot in tour rankings, Herring goes back-to-back on Cuetec DFW 9-Ball Tour

Sharik Sayed, Daniel Herring and Don Baker

Previously on the Cuetec DFW 9 Ball Tour: In securing the top spot on the Cuetec DFW 9-Ball Tour’s rankings, Donald Weathersby went undefeated on the tour’s season opener in January, thwarting an 11-match, loss-side run by Tony Top in the finals. Daniel Herring, who’d sent Top on his loss-side run in the second round, joined him after falling to Weathersby in a winners’ side semifinal and then, running into Top a second time on the loss side, had his loss-side run stopped before it even got started to finish in the tie for 5th place. On the tour’s second stop last month, Tony Top became the designated, randomly bracket-chosen competitor to derail the efforts of one Aloysius Yapp (runner-up in the 2021 US Open 9-Ball Championships) which he did, twice, downing him in a winners’ side semifinal and later, the semifinals. Herring, however, downed Top twice (hot seat and finals) to claim his first 2022 Cuetec DFW 9-Ball Tour title. Top’s two runner-up finishes kept him atop the early-going of the tour rankings, ahead of Herring by 40, Weathersby (who did not compete in Stop #2) by 120, Clint Palaci by 165 and Yapp (who did not compete in the season opener) by 195 points. 

After a short commercial break for Cuetec cues and the Fort Worth Billiards Superstore, our story shifts to this past weekend (March 19-20), where last month’s top three finishers were once again prepared to do battle on Stop #3. Thanks, in part, to some handicap-matchup assistance provided to his opponents, Yapp only played twice, losing his opening match (to Paul Sifuentes, who would go on to finish 4th) and then, double hill, his first match on the loss side, to Doug Winnett. Palaci played six times, losing his third winners’ side match before being ousted by Miguel Hernandez in his third, loss-side matchup. With Weathersby, once again, absent from competition, Herring and Top were in position to battle for the top spot in the tournament and the tour rankings at the $1,750-added event that drew 79 entrants to Snookered Billiards in Frisco, TX.

Odds-makers, looking for a final matchup between Herring and Top, were disappointed early (as they no doubt were with the US Open 9-Ball runner-up finishing 25th). Top lost his opening match to Neil Saidawi 6-5 (Top racing to 8) and five on the loss side (including a forfeit) before finishing in the tie for 13th place. Herring, on the other hand, went on an undefeated, seven-match run to claim the title and, for now, the top spot in the tour’s rankings.

Herring got by Matt Dickson, Robbie Cleland, Brandon Clark (double hill) and Matt Devance (shutout) to arrive at a winners’ side semifinal against Joel Nabia. In the meantime, Don Baker, who, prior to this past weekend, had only recorded one previous payout to the AZBilliards’ database, five years ago (9th at a stop on the Omega Tour), went on a six-match tear to the hot seat match, getting by Eric Hammond, Chance Willis, Joshua Paredes, Pedro Mungia and in a winners’ side quarterfinal, Sharik Sayed. With Sayed racing to 10, Baker downed him 4-7 (Sayed racing to 10) and advanced to his winners’ side semifinal against Paul Sifuentes.

Baker got into his first (known) hot seat match with a 6-3 win over Sifuentes and was joined by Herring, who’d defeated Nabia 8-4. Baker got three of the five he needed to claim his first hot seat, but Herring got all nine he needed first to claim it.

On the loss side, Nabia ran into Sayed, who’d followed his loss to Baker with victories over Samuel Escalona 10-3 (Escalona had previously eliminated Top), and Jesus Sorto 9-5. Sifuentes picked up Matt Devance, who’d moved on from his loss to Herring to eliminate Doug Winnett, double hill, and Nando Benavides 8-3.

Sifuentes advanced to the quarterfinals 6-4 over Devance. With Nabia racing to 5, Sayed narrowly defeated him 9-4.

Apparently, impatient with all of this. . . back and forth, Sayed went on a rampage to the finals. He shut out both Sifuentes in the quarterfinals and Baker in their semifinal rematch. Herring didn’t get the ‘rampage’ memo and downed Sayed 6-3 in the finals to claim his second straight Cuetec DFW 9-Ball Tour title in a row and the top spot in the tour rankings.

Tour representatives thanked the ownership and staff at Snookered Billiards, as well as title sponsor Cuetec and the Fort Worth Billiards Superstore. Next time on the Cuetec DFW 9-Ball Tour: A $1,750-added event, scheduled for April 23-24, to be hosted by Rusty’s Billiards in Arlington, TX.

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Herring goes undefeated at Stop #2 on the Cuetec DFW 9-Ball Tour

Aloysius Yapp, Daniel Herring and Tony Top

As a competitor on a regional tour, when the runner-up of the 2021 US Open 9-Ball Championships, who also finished third at last year’s World 10-Ball Championships and won an event on the CSI Predator US Pro Billiards Series back in September, shows up on the tour’s entrant roster, you have a tendency to pay attention. Pool is all about being in the moment at the tables and avoiding distractions related to who you might or might not have to face somewhere down the line, but when such a competitor pops up on your radar, you do scan the brackets every once in a while. And when you discover that this formidable opponent has only given up five racks through his first 54 games (winning almost nine out of every 10), your focus on the tables may be all well and good, but you do start wondering whether you might be one of the players designated to stop him. 

That said, if you enter a tournament as one of three players at the top of a regional tour’s rankings, you might actually look forward to the challenge. It was Tony Top, who entered last weekend’s event as the number #2 competitor in the tour’s rankings, who met the challenge and stopped one Aloysius Yapp, from what might well have been an undefeated run to the title. Twice, in fact. It was, however, Daniel Herring, the tour’s 2021 Tour Champion, who entered the tournament ranked #5 (5th/6th in the season opener) and finished it in the #1 spot, ahead of Top by just two points. He did that by going undefeated through the field. He didn’t have to face Yapp, but he did down Top twice, in the hot seat and finals. The $1,750-added, Stop# 2 on the Cuetec DFW 9-Ball Tour drew 80 entrants to Stixx & Stones in Lewisville, TX.

Yapp’s ‘take no prisoners’ run through his first five opponents, as he was racing to 10, included two shutouts (Tina Soto and Miguel Hernandez), two matches in which he gave up two racks (his opening match vs. Jeffrey Cho and later, against Fahad Alrawi) and a single match that allowed Crispian Ng a single rack. All of which put him against Top for the first time, in a winners’ side semifinal. Top, with an opening round bye in his pocket, had gotten by his first four opponents – Jim Dixon, Robbie Cleland, Clint Palaci and Tony Loeper – by an aggregate score of 32-14 (70% game-winning average).

Herring, in the meantime, started his journey to the winners’ circle with wins over Chase Laferney (2), Darrell Smith (4), Matt Dixon (3), Sharik Sayed (5) and TJ Davis (4) and came to his winners’ side semifinal match against Juan Parra, sporting a game-winning average a single percentage point lower than Top’s at 69%. 

Top began his first match against Yapp with five ‘beads on the wire’ in a race to 9 and came within a single game of chalking up as many (actual) racks against him in the single match than all five of his previous opponents combined. He sent Yapp to the loss side 4-7. Herring joined him in the hot seat match after downing Parra 7-2. In a straight-up race to 7, Herring claimed the hot seat 7-5 over Top.

On the loss side, Yapp and Parra picked up Matt Wilson and Sharik Sayed, respectively. Wilson was likely not thinking a lot about Aloysius Yapp when he began his eight-match, loss-side winning streak, initiated by Tony Loeper in the second winners’ side round. Like most people who lose an opening round in a large, double-elimination bracket, he was more likely to be focused on surviving the matches right in front of him. If he was bracket-watching at all, he might have noted that the guy who’d sent him to the loss side, Loeper, was progressing as well, and there was a chance, the way the bracket was working out, that he could get an opportunity for a rematch in the quarterfinal. That didn’t happen, because Loeper fell into the 7/8 slot. Wilson chalked up wins #7 & #8 against TJ Davis, double hill, and Denny Sneed 5-6 (Sneed racing to 9) before falling to Yapp 10-2.

Sayed was working on a modest, five-match, loss-side winning streak that had recently eliminated Crispian Ng 8-4 and Loeper 9-3. He joined Yapp in the quarterfinals after eliminating Parra 8-4.

Yapp ended Sayed’s brief loss-side streak 8-4 in the quarterfinals to set up a rematch against Top in the semifinals. Top started this match, as well, with five ‘beads on the wire’ in a race to 9. He added four for a second time to end Yapp’s prior-to-him romp through the Cuetec DFW 9-Ball field.

Top now had to turn his attention to winning two matches in a row over Herring, waiting for him in the hot seat. He failed to chalk up two racks against him in what proved to be the only set necessary.  Herring completed his undefeated run 7-1 to claim the event title.

Tour director Monica Anderson thanked the ownership and staff at Stixx & Stones for their hospitality, as well as title sponsor Cuetec and associate sponsor Fort Worth Billiards Superstore. The next stop #3 on the Cuetec DFW 9-Ball Tour, scheduled for the weekend of March 19-20, will be hosted by Snookered in Frisco, TX. 

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