Archive Page

Wilkie double dips Ussery in finals of Delaware State 10-Ball Bar Box Championships

Shaun Wilkie, Tarek Elmalla and BJ Ussery

Shaun Wilkie and BJ Ussery entered the AZBilliards database for the first time at the turn of the century. Wilkie’s first recorded payout finish came when he finished 9th at a stop on the Planet Pool Tour in June, 2000. Ussery’s came in September that year, when he finished in a tie for 65th place in the 25th annual US Open 9-Ball Championships; won for the fifth and last time by Earl Strickland. 

Together, Wilkie and Ussery are part of a core group of Mid-Atlantic elite players whose names have appeared consistently, registering victories and cash payout finishes for over two decades. Together, along with a number of other well-known, consistent performers among the Mid-Atlantic pool community (Brett Stottlemeyer, Steve Fleming and Chris Wilburn, among others) and a few from the further-North-Atlantic community (Raphael Dabreo and Miguel LaBoy, among others), they signed on to compete in the 1st Annual Delaware State 10-Ball Bar Box Championships, held last weekend (May 7-8). Together, they advanced to the hot seat match and later, played in the finals. Ussery claimed the hot seat before, together, they appeared in the finals, treating spectators and viewers on a live stream to a pair of double elimination matches that eventually earned Wilkie the event title. The event drew 57 entrants to Milford Billiards in Dover, DE.

Ussery’s path to the hot seat match went through five opponents, who, combined, chalked up only 10 racks against him; Henry Taylor (2), Nelson Tull (1), Steve Fleming (3), Miguel Laboy (3) and, in a winners’ side semifinal, Vinny Cimarelli (1). Wilkie’s opponents on his way to the hot seat match chalked up 14; Mike Saleh (1), Zachary Paitsel (3), Dave Barnes (3), Marty Ciccia (2) and, in the other winners’ side semifinal, Lukas Fracasso-Verner (5). 

The opponent racks-against tipped even further in Ussery’s direction, as he claimed the hot seat 7-4. Ussery was in the hot seat with a 42-14 record (a 75% game-winning average), as Wilkie headed off to the semifinals at 39-20 (66%). 

Neither of them, as it turned out, would have to face the one competitor who’d recorded the most racks against either of them, Fracassso-Verner. He moved to the loss side and picked up Raphael Dabreo, who’d lost his second-round match to Rick Miller and embarked on an eight-match, loss-side winning streak, which would end in the semifinals against Wilkie. Dabreo had just recently eliminated Miguel Laboy 7-4 and Russ Redhead 7-3. Cimarelli drew a re-match against Kirill Rutman Kenny, whom he’d defeated in a winners’ side third round match and had gone on five-match winning streak that had recently included the elimination of two of the aforementioned Mid-Atlantic elites;  Brett Stottlemeyer 7-5 and Steve Fleming 7-1.

Dabreo eliminated Fracasso-Verner 7-5, as Kenny extended his loss-side streak to six matches with a 7-4 win over Cimarelli. Kenny didn’t give up his streak easily, as he and Dabreo fought to double hill in the quarterfinals; the first of four straight double hill matches at the very end of the championship event. The second came in the semifinals, as Dabreo battled Wilkie to a single deciding game before Wilkie earned his rematch against Ussery. 

One can’t ask much more of a regional event final than to have two of its strongest competitors battling to double hill. Twice. And they did. By winning the hot seat match, Ussery had, in effect, extended Wilkie’s match count by one. Wilkie made him pay for that extra match he’d had to play, defeating him twice in what was described as “a very wonderful two sets of pool” that closed out the 1st Annual Delaware State’s 10-Ball Bar Box Championships with Wilkie in possession of the title.

Tour director Tarek Elmalla extended thanks to Leo and Sherrie Weigand and their Milford Billiards staff for their hospitality and to all of the players who came from near and far (New York, Virginia, Maryland, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and more) to compete. He also thanked the folks at https://www.amateursportsstream.com, including Ray Netta and to everyone who joined him in the booth for the live streaming, which, for feature matches, utilized three camera angles that heightened the experience for all of its viewers. And in the ‘keeping everything smooth’ department, Elmalla also acknowledged the assistance of Travis Parker, Ran Ji, Jennifer Benton Boxwell and Eric Probst.

The next item on the Delaware State Championship agenda will entail a switch to 8-Ball, when the 1st Annual DE State 8-Ball Bar Box Championships, scheduled for the weekend of June 25-26, opens the doors, once again, at Milford Billiards in Dover, DE.

Go to discussion...

Castillo goes undefeated, downs Laboy twice to win 1st Predator Pro Am Tour title

(l to r): Euryel Castillo, Mike Callaghan & Miguel Laboy

The nature of pool lends itself to showdowns between long-time veterans and so-called ‘young guns,’ although not all of them are necessarily young. The finals of this past weekend’s (Feb. 15-16) stop on the Predator Pro Am Tour was a case in point, when newcomer Euryel Castillo, with only six cash finishes and one event victory (*) on his ‘resume,’ all recorded within the past year, faced off against Miguel Laboy, with cash finishes and multiple event victories, dating back 15 years, to his first appearance at the 2005 US Open 9-Ball Championships, at which he finished 33rd (along with Tony Robles, by the way). The ‘young gun’ Castillo came out on top in this one, going undefeated and taking Laboy down twice at the $1,000-added event that drew 84 entrants to Raxx Billiards in West Hempstead, NY.

Their first get-together was in the battle for the hot seat. Castillo had defeated Monika Callaghan (whose husband was already toiling away on the loss side) 7-3, while Laboy was involved dispatching George Poltorak to the loss side 9-5. In their first of two, they battled to double hill before Castillo prevailed to claim the hot seat.

On the loss side, George Poltorak picked up Eli Trajceski, who’d recently defeated Jaydev Zaveri 7-3 and survived a double hill battle against Troy Deocharran. Monika Callaghan drew her husband, Michael, which is always the kind of match that draws speculation about how their relationship will proceed immediately after one of them wins; the standard speculation which follows a husband victory is usually about the husband spending at least one night sleeping on a couch. Michael had defeated Katie Baker 6-3 and Mikhail Kim 7-3 to reach his wife.

Poltorak and Trajceski locked up in a double hill fight that eventually sent Poltorak to the quarterfinals. He was joined by Michael Callaghan, who’d sent his wife home (figuratively) 6-3, his assumed night on the couch possibly avoided by the eventual $1,000 in cash they managed to bring home as a team.

Michael advanced a step further, downing Poltorak in the quarterfinals 7-4. His loss-side run was stopped by Laboy who downed him 11-9 in the semifinals, to earn a second shot at Castillo in the hot seat.

The odds in the final match were likely on Laboy’s side. Castillo, though, did not apparently get that memo, as he defeated Laboy 10-4 to capture his first non-asterisk (meaning, played a final match) title.

A Second Chance event which drew 16 entrants was won John Francisco, who pocketed $160 for the win. Sean DaCosta was runner-up ($100), with Debbie Buyukdeniz and Erick Toledo finishing in the tie for 3rd ($30 each).

Tour director Tony Robles thanked Josh and Holden Chin and their Raxx Billiards staff for their hospitality, as well as 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. The next stop on the Predator Pro Am Tour, scheduled for March 14-15, will be hosted by Steinway Billiards in Astoria (Queens), NY.

Laboy wins seven on the loss side, downs Toolsee in finals to claim Predator Pro Am title

(l to r): Zain Sunderam, Bryan Toolsee, Kanami Chau & Miguel Laboy

Miguel Laboy, like a lot of players in the New York City tri-state area, splits his tournament time between the Predator Pro Am Tour and the Tri-State Tour. Over the past five years, including his best earnings year (2014), a majority of his event victories have come on the Tri-State Tour; a total of seven in those five years. Having chalked up his first victory on the Predator Pro Am Tour this past September, Laboy backed it up on the weekend of October 26-27, by recording his second Predator Pro Am win. The $1,000-added event drew 62 entrants to Steinway Billiards in Astoria (Queens), NY.
 
He’d gone undefeated in his earlier win on the Predator Pro Am Tour, but on this weekend, he had to come from fairly deep on the loss side to secure the win. It was Brooke Meyer who sent him to the loss side and from where Laboy launched a seven-match, loss-side winning streak that brought him to the finals and the eventual win. Meyer, in the meantime, advanced to a winners’ side semifinal against Bryan Toolsee. Kanami Chau and Zain Sundaram squared off in the other one.
 
Meyer failed to arrive on time for his winners’ side semifinal match and forfeited to Toolsee. Chau sent Sundaram to the loss side 7-4 and joined Toolsee in the battle for the hot seat. They battled to double hill before Toolsee prevailed and Chau moved west to meet Laboy in the semifinals.
 
Laboy, after winning his third and fourth loss-side match against Ernesto Gomez 8-4 and George Poltorak 8-6, picked up a rematch against Meyer, who’d returned to the competition. Sundaram drew Mark Joseph, who’d recently picked up a forfeit win from Stephen Motilal and eliminated Debra Pritchett 7-4.
 
Laboy and Sundaram advanced to the quarterfinals; Laboy with a successful 7-2 rematch against Meyer and Sundaram downing Mark Joseph 7-5. Laboy then ended Sundaram’s weekend with a 9-4 win in the quarterfinals.
 
Laboy and Kanami Chau locked up in a semifinal bout that almost came to double hill. Laboy, though, edged out in front at the end and defeated her 11-9.
 
Coincidentally, both Laboy and hot seat occupant,  Bryan Toolsee were looking to record their second Predator Pro Am Tour victory. Toolsee’s first had come almost exactly a year ago (November 18), when he’d gone undefeated at a Cue Bar event to make 2018 his official best earnings year. Laboy completed his loss-side run and claimed the event title with a 9-3 victory in the finals.
 
A Second Chance event drew eight entrants. KC Clayton and Duc Lam fought to double hill in the finals, with Clayton prevailing to take home the $100 first-place prize. Lam took home $50 as the runner-up.
 
Tour director Tony Robles, who’s been making something of a living lately of thanking Manny Stamatakis and his Steinway Billiards staff for their hospitality, did so again. He also thanked title sponsor Predator Cues, Ozone Billiards, PlayNAPL.com, The DeVito Team, Poolonthenet.com, Capelle (BilliardsPress.com), AZBilliards, Pool & Billiard Magazine, Billiards Digest and his own Predator Pro Am team, to include his lovely wife, Gail. The next stop on the Predator Pro Am Tour, scheduled for this weekend, November 2-3, will be hosted by The Spot in Nanuet.

Hohmann backs up Steinway Classic title with NYC Singles 8-Ball Championship title

Tony Robles, Thorsten Hohmann and Tournament Director John Leyman (Erwin Dionisio)

Soto, Rosario, Sugiyama, Musser and Karwas win other division 8-ball titles
 
Three days after winning the 7th Steinway Classic in a thrilling, double hill final match against Fedor Gorst (Oct. 17), Thorsten Hohmann, at the same location, won the Grand Master Division of the NYC 8-Ball Championships (Oct. 20) with a slightly less dramatic 6-1 finals victory over Ruslan Chinakhov. The Grand Master division of the annual event, which drew 22 entrants to Steinway, was one of six division 8-ball tournaments held on the weekend of October 19-20. In all, under the sponsorship of Michael Fedak, the NYC Singles 8-Ball Championships added $15,000, divided among the six divisions, which drew 151 unique entrants.
 
It was Jose Soto who won in the 16-entrant Mixed Master’s Division, Abel Rosario in the 32-entrant Mixed Advanced Division, Akiko Sugiyama in the 32-entrant Women’s Leisure Division, and Maxwell Musser in the 32-entrant Men’s Leisure Division. The largest field, 48 entrants, was the Mixed Open Division, won by Sebastian Karwas.
 
Hohmann’s path to the winners’ circle in the Grand Masters event went through Chinakhov twice. He opened with a double hill win over Joey Korsiak and then, sent Chinakhov to the loss side 6-4. Hohmann then defeated Del Sim 6-4, to draw Damianos Giallourakis in one of the winners’ side semifinals. Nick Ekonomopoulos in the meantime, after being awarded an opening round bye, downed the Steinway Classic’s runner-up, Fedor Gorst 6-2 and Jalal Yousef 6-4 to draw Jimmy Rivera in the other winners’ side semifinal.
 
Hohmann defeated Giallourakis 6-3 and in the hot seat match, faced Ekonomopoulos, who’d sent Rivera west 6-1. Hohmann claimed the hot seat 6-3 and waited on the return of Chinakhov.
 
On the loss side, Chinakhov was working on a seven-match, loss-side winning streak that would give him a second chance against Hohmann. He got by Raphael Dabreo 6-2, Ryan Hsu 6-4, Tony Robles 6-2 and survived a double fight versus Burgos to draw Giallourakis, coming over from the winners’ side semifinal. Rivera picked up Roland Garcia, who after being defeated by Giallourakis ended Gorst’s run 6-1 and  by the same score, Del Sim’s.
 
Chinakhov and Giallourakis battled to double hill before Chinakhov advanced to the quarterfinals. He was joined by Garcia, who’d eliminated Rivera 6-2. Chinakhov took the quarterfinal match 6-2.
 
He completed his loss-side run with a double hill win over Ekonomopoulos in the semifinals. Hohmann, though, shut Chinakhov down early in the finals and completed his undefeated run with a 6-1 victory over Chinakhov.
 
Soto is the only competitor to come from the loss side to win Mixed Masters Division
 
Five of the six divisions of the NYC Singles 8-Ball Championships featured winners who went undefeated through their respective fields. Jose Soto, in the smallest field (16), competing in the Mixed Masters division, was the only competitor to win a division by coming from the loss side to defeat the hot seat occupant. And he did so, by losing in his first round and winning six loss-side matches to down Cesar Turcios in the finals.
 
Soto lost 5-1 to Tim Edmonds in the opening round of play. Edmonds was subsequently defeated by Brooke Meyers, who advanced to face Turcios in the hot seat match. Turcios claimed the hot seat in a double hill win over Meyers. On the loss side, three of the six matches Soto played, forced him to play a single deciding game to advance; matches against Eddie Kunz, Matthew Harricharan and his quarterfinal match against Miguel Laboy. Soto downed Meyers 6-3 in the semifinals and then, claimed the title with an 8-4 win over Turcios.
 
The largest field of 48, in the Mixed Open division, was won by Sebastian Karwas, who went undefeated. It took Karwas as many matches on the winners’ side of the Mixed Open bracket to claim the title, as it took Soto on both sides of the Mixed Masters bracket to win his. Karwas got by Jim Gutierrez, Keith Stefanowitz, Omar Chavez, Alex Kent and Marco Daniele to face Paul Lyons in the hot seat match. He claimed the hot seat 6-1 over Lyons, who moved to the loss side and downed Daniele in the semifinals 5-3. Karwas took their second match 6-4 to claim the title.
 
Rosario and Schreiber battle it out for Mixed Advanced title
 
Two of the New York area’s better competitors in their respective ranking divisions battled twice to claim the 32-entrant Mixed Advanced title. Abel Rosario and Thomas Schreiber hold top positions in the standings of both the Tri-State and Predator Pro Am Tours. Rosario is #10 on the Tri-State’s A+/A standings list and the #3 B+ player on the Predator Pro Am Tour. Schreiber is #5 on the Tri-State’s list of B players and # 2 on the Predator Pro Am Tour’s list of B players.
 
After four victories each, they met first in the hot seat match. Rosario claimed the hot seat 6-3. Schreiber moved to the loss side and downed Matthew Rezendes 5-1. He and Rosario fought to an appropriate double hill game 11 before Rosario finished it to claim the title.
 
In the 32-entrant Women’s Leisure division, Akiko Sugiyama won five straight to claim that title. She faced Melissa Schleifer twice and gave up only a single rack over the two matches; that one, coming in Sugiyama’s victory in the hot seat match. Schleifer shut Debra Pritchett out in the semifinals, but punctuating her undefeated run through the field, Sugiyama shut Schleifer out in the finals.
 
Completing the six-tournament event, it was Maxwell Musser, who went undefeated through the 32-entrant Men’s Leisure field. Musser faced separate opponents in the hot seat and finals, defeating Brian Schell to claim the hot seat, and after Henry Chan had downed Schell double hill in the semifinals, Musser shut him out to take the title.
 
As always, event director Tony Robles thanked Manny Stamatakis and his Steinway Billiards staff for their hospitality, as well as Dr. Michael Fedak for his continuing financial support for this event (Fedak finished in the tie for 13th place in the Mixed Open tournament). Robles also noted sponsorship support from Predator Cues, and Blatt Billiards. According to Robles, the 2020 NYC 8-Ball Championships are going to be even better. It’s being planned as a three-day event on Columbus Day weekend and Dr. Fedak will be adding $20,000.
 
“This event wouldn’t be possible without the support of Michael and Marilyn Fedak,” said Robles.

Ramirez stops strong loss-side bid by Klein to take home his first 2019 Predator Pro Am title

(l to r): Lidio Ramirez, Luis Carrasco, Hannah Fields, Matt Klein

They are two of the New York Tri-State area’s heavyweights, so to speak, and they clashed in the finals of the Predator Pro Am Tour’s September 21-22 stop at Steinway Billiards. Lidio Ramirez, the tour’s second-ranked A+ player (behind Miguel Laboy, who won the stop last weekend) was looking to chalk up his first 2019 victory, having finished as runner-up twice; once, on the Predator Tour (April) and once, on the Tri-State Tour (July). Matt Klein, the tour’s #1-ranked B+ competitor (ahead of Jaydev Zaveri) and in the midst of his best earnings year to date, by far, entered the tournament with three wins on the 2018-2019 Tri-State Tour, and two runner-up finishes on the Predator Pro Am, including the Empire State Championships. He’s been 1st, 2nd or 3rd in seven of the 11 tournaments in which he’s cashed in 2019.
 
They didn’t meet until the finals. Ramirez advanced to the hot seat, while Klein lost his opening round match and chalked up 10 loss-side wins to face Ramirez in the finals. Ramirez completed an undefeated run with a victory in the finals of the $1,000-added event that drew 71 entrants to Steinway in Astoria (Queens), NY.
 
With Klein at work on the loss side of the bracket, Ramirez advanced to a winners’ side semifinal against Ricky Geronimo. The other winners’ side semifinal matched Luis Carrasco against Hannah Fields, who was making only her second appearance on the Predator Pro Am Tour.
 
Ramirez and Geronimo fought to double hill before Ramirez prevailed and moved on to the hot seat match. He was joined by Fields, who’d defeated Carrasco 8-6 in what she described (via Facebook) as “the most challenging and exhausting match (she’d) ever had.
 
“It was fun, we both played smart and neither of us backed down,” she went on to say. “He made me work for every ball but eventually I capitalized and won by a hair.”
 
She described the subsequent hot seat match versus Ramirez as “humbling.” She watched Ramirez (as she put it) “run her (posterior) over,” as he claimed the hot seat 11-8 (she started the match with seven on the wire).
 
Over on the loss side, Klein chalked up wins # 6 and #7 against John Stiles (7-4) and Bryan Toolsee (7-3) to draw Geronimo. Carrasco picked up his second straight female opponent, Debra Pritchett, who’d defeated KC Clayton 6-1 and Jason Goberdhan (the tour’s #2-ranked C+ player, just behind Tony Ignomirello) 7-5.
 
Carrasco downed Pritchett 7-4, as Geronimo ended up on the wrong side of his second straight double hill fight, losing to Klein 7-6. Klein then ended Carrasco’s short, loss-side run 7-4 in the quarterfinals.
 
Hannah Fields would describe her semifinal meetup with Klein as “an amazingly fun match.” She noted in her FB report that his “personality” made the beating she received at his hands feel like “less of an ass-kicking” than it was. Klein’s 10-7 victory (Fields started with five on the wire, racing to the 10), gave him the chance to chalk up his first 2019 Predator Pro Am Tour title.
 
Ramirez had other ideas, like chalking up his first 2019 victory, period. And he did it. He downed Klein 7-5 to claim the event title.
 
A full-field, 16-entrant Second Chance event saw Ray Feliciano and Gary Bozigian battle to double hill in the finals, before Feliciano prevailed to take home the $160 first-place prize. Bozigian was the $100 runner-up. Tenzin Jorden and Suzzie Wong each won $30 for their 3rd place tie.
 
Tour director Tony Robles thanked Manny Stamatakis and his staff at Steinway Billiards for their hospitality, as well as title sponsor Predator Cues, Ozone Billiards, PlayNAPL.com, The DeVito Team, Poolonthenet.com, Capelle (BilliardsPress.com), AZBilliards, Pool & Billiard Magazine, Billiards Digest and his own Predator Pro Am team, to include his lovely wife, Gail. The Predator Pro Am Tour will return to Steinway Billiards in a little less than a month, when they host the $7,000-added Steinway Classic from October 15-17. Two days later, on the weekend of October 19-20, Robles’ Silent Assassin Productions, with the sponsorship of Dr. Michael Fedak, will bring the 6th Annual NYC 8-Ball Championships to Steinway Billiards.

Laboy goes undefeated to chalk up his first 2019 win on the Predator Pro Am Tour

(l to r): Bianca Martinez, Julien Tierney, Miguel Laboy, Amanda Andries (photo by Erwin Dionisio)

Miguel Laboy brought about 14 years of competitive pool experience and a lot of regional tour victories to the September 14-15 stop on the Predator Pro Am Tour. Before he earned the event title, however, he had to get by two particular competitors with a total of about three years of experience, both of them looking for their first regional tour event victory. Laboy would end up going undefeated at the $1,000-added event that drew 68 entrants to Cue Bar in Bayside (Queens), NY, but not before he’d dispatched one of the relative newcomers (Julien Tierney) twice (winners’ side semifinals and finals) and the other to the loss side (Bianca Martinez) in the battle for the hot seat.
 
As Laboy was busy sending Tierney to the loss side 8-5 in one of the winners’ side semifinals, Martinez was locked up in a double hill fight with Erick Carrasco that she eventually won. Martinez began the hot seat match against Laboy with ‘six beads on the wire’ in a race to 11. She’d fail to add another bead to that wire, as Laboy claimed the hot seat (officially) 11-6.
 
On the loss side, another relative newcomer was making some competitive noise. Amanda Andries had lost her opening match to Marisol Palacio and set out on a nine-match, loss-side winning streak that would take her as far as the quarterfinals where she’d run into Tierney. She chalked up wins #7 and #8 against Corey Avallone 6-3 and shut out Brandonne Alli to draw Carrasco. Tierney, in the meantime, picked up Yomaylin “Smiley” Feliz-Forman, who arrived on the heels of two straight double hill wins, over Chris Kelly and Abel Rosario.
 
Andries advanced to the quarterfinals when job obligations forced Carrasco to forfeit. Tierney joined her after downing “Smiley” 7-3. Tierney ended Andries’ loss-side run 8-5 (Andries started with ‘three on the wire’) and then defeatEd Martinez (who also started with ‘three on the wire’) 8-6 for a shot at Laboy, waiting for him in the hot seat.
 
The relative ‘youngsters’ were edged out of the day, with clear indications that they’ll be back and will need to be reckoned with. Laboy completed his undefeated run with an 8-3 victory over Tierney in the finals.
 
A Second Chance event that drew 16 entrants saw Dave Callaghan take home the $160 first-place prize, with Thomas Schreiber as runner-up ($100). Lidio Ramirez and Euryel Castillo each took home $30 in the tie for third.
 
Tour director Tony Robles thanked the ownership and staff at Cue Bar for their hospitality, as well as title sponsor Predator Cues, Ozone Billiards, PlayNAPL.com, The DeVito Team, Poolonthenet.com, Capelle (BilliardsPress.com), AZBilliards, Pool & Billiard Magazine, Billiards Digest and his own Predator Pro Am team, to include his lovely wife, Gail. The next stop on the Predator Pro Am Tour, scheduled for this weekend, Sept. 21-22, will be a $1,000-added event, hosted by Steinway Billiards in Astoria (Queens), NY.

Watanabe comes back from semifinals to down Torres in finals of Predator Pro Am stop

(l to r): Hector Torres, Max Watanabe, Kanami Chau & Abel Rosario

Max Watanabe had his best earnings year to date in 2018 and though he has a way to go to catch up and make 2019 an even better year, he’s doing what he needs to do to make that happen. Last week (August 4), he went undefeated at a stop on the Tri-State Tour, downing Dave Shlemperis twice. This week, on Sunday, August 11 at a $1,000-added Predator Pro Am Tour stop at Steinway Billiards that drew 64 entrants, he got sent to the loss side by Hector Torres in the battle for the hot seat and came back to defeat Torres in the finals. If you’re making a move to improve the second half of any given year, there’s nothing like back-to-back tour victories to signal that you’re on the right track.
 
Watanabe’s trip was almost derailed at the outset, as he opened his campaign with two double hill wins; one against Vinko Rumora and a second against Jose Estevez. He got a little traction with a 7-2 win over Miguel Laboy and a 7-4 victory over Elvis Rodriguez, which set him up in a winners’ side semifinal match against Abel Rosario. Hector Torres, in the meantime, got by Ron Bernardo, Paul Lyons, and Brandonne Alli before having to survive a double hill win over Mike Callaghan, which set him (Torres) up to face Ray Lee in the other winners’ side semifinal.
 
Torres downed Lee 7-1, while Watanabe locked up in his third double hill battle of the weekend against Rosario and won it. He survived three double hill matches out of five he played to get to the hot seat match, but Watanabe didn’t have an ‘answer’ for Torres, who defeated him 8-1 to claim the hot seat.
 
Over on the loss side, Ray Lee ran into an immediate rematch against Kanami Chau, who’d been defeated by him in a winners’ side quarterfinal and then chalked up two straight double hill wins, over Ryan Dayrit and Joe Morace, to face him a second time. Rosario picked up Luis Jimenez, who was working on a four-match, loss-side winning streak that had most recently included a 7-3 win over Chris Kelly and a double hill victory over Jaydev Zaveri.
 
Chau chalked up her third straight double hill win and advanced to the quarterfinals over Lee. She was joined by Rosario, who’d ended Jimenez’ loss-side run, double hill, as well. Seven of the tour stop’s final 14 matches required a single deciding game.
 
The quarterfinal match between Rosario and Chau came within a game of double hill, but Rosario edged out in front to take it 9-7. Watanabe, though, anxious apparently for a second shot at Torres in the hot seat, gave up only a single rack to Rosario in the semifinals that followed.
 
Watanabe took full advantage of that second shot. He downEd Torres 10-7 in the final to claim his second straight event title in as many weeks.
 
A Second Chance event drew 14 entrants. Elvis Rodriguez and Irene Kim advanced through the single elimination bracket to meet each other in the finals. Rodriguez had defeated Duc Lam to play in the finals. Kim had eliminated Akiko Taniyama to join him. Rodriguez took home the top $140 prize, after downing Kim 11-6 in the finals. Kim took home the $100 second prize, while Lam and Taniyama pocketed $20 each.
 
Tour director Tony Robles thanked Manny Stamatakis and his Steinway Billiards staff for their hospitality, as well as title sponsor Predator Cues, Ozone Billiards, PlayNAPL.com, The DeVito Team, PoolontheNet.com, Cappelle (BilliardsPress.com), AZBilliards, Pool & Billiards Magazine and Billiards Digest. The Predator Pro Am Tour will return to Steinway Billiards on Labor Day weekend (Aug. 31 – Sept. 2) for the $3,000-added ($1,500 Amateur, $1,500 Pro) Eastern States Championships.

Meyer survives strong, double-hill challenge to go undefeated on Predator Pro Am Tour

(l to r): Jose Kuilan, Max Watanabe, Brooke Meyer & Stephen Motilal

As James Aranas was busy working on an undefeated run to qualify for the upcoming 10-Ball Championships in Las Vegas (see separate story), Brooke Meyer was at work trying to secure (according to our records) his first victory on the Predator Pro Am Tour since April of 2016. Three years ago, in what would prove to be his best earnings year to-date, Meyer spoiled the party that might have celebrated a first-ever victory for New York’s Alison Fischer (not to be confused with English Pro Allison Fisher), downing her twice to take that title. On the weekend of June 22-23, Meyer, sitting in the #8 slot amongst the tour’s A players, went undefeated again, this time downing Jose Kuilan (#13 among C players) twice to capture the $1,000-added, A/B/C/D event that drew 80 entrants to Raxx Billiards in West Hempstead, NY.
 
Meyer and Kuilan met in the hot seat match, once Meyer had sent Jay Vapanta to the loss side 7-2 and Kuilan had dispatched Stephen Motilal to that side of the bracket 7-4. Meyer claimed the hot seat in a double hill fight and waited on what would prove to be another one in the finals.
 
On the loss side, Motilal picked up Bob Toomey, who’d defeated Michelle Brotons 6-3 and Debby Buyukveniz 7-5 to reach him. Vapanta drew Max Watanabe, who’d recently eliminated Miguel Laboy 7-1 and Chulo Castro 7-4.
 
Watanabe, who sits at #9, one spot below Meyer among the A players, defeated Vapanta 7-2, as Motilal ended Toomey’s weekend 7-5. Watanabe took the quarterfinal match that followed, 8-6 over Motilal, before he was eliminated, double hill, in the semifinals by Kuilan 9-8.
 
It looked, for a while, as though Kuilan was going to cash in on his semifinal momentum to snatch the event title out of Meyers’ hands. He was on the hill ahead of Meyer, but watched as Meyer, slowly, but surely closed the gap. At 10-9, Kuilan attempted a good-looking 6-9 combo that would have ended it, but instead, when it failed, allowed Meyer to tie it up and forced the deciding game. Meyer ‘pushed’ on the last break, and for a few minutes, both players benefited from sequential lucky rolls that put their opponent in tough shape. Meyer broke out of the pattern to finish the rack, winning the game, match and event.
 
Matt Klein took the Second Chance event, which drew 16 entrants, downing Ambi Estevez in the final. Abel Rosario and Marisol Palacio shared third place in the single-elimination event. The Third Chance drew 13 players and was won by Miguel Laboy, following a double hill final against Bob Toomey. Joe Wilson Torres and Shashi Hajaree shared third place honors in this one.
 
Tour director Tony Robles thanked Holden Chin and his Raxx Billiards staff, as well as title sponsor Predator Cues, Ozone Billiards, PlayNAPL.com, The DeVito Team, PoolontheNet.com, Cappelle (BilliardsPress.com), AZBilliards, Pool & Billiards Magazine and Billiards Digest. The next stop on the Predator Pro Am Tour (#11), scheduled for July 13-14, will be hosted by Amsterdam Billiards in Manhattan, NY. 

Ragoonanan comes from the loss side to win Predator Pro Am Amateur title

(l to r): Joe Morace, Carlos Duque, Matt Klein & Rikki Ragoonanan

Hernandez downs Korsiak twice to claim Predator Pro Am Open title
 
Rikki Ragoonanan arrived at the Predator Pro Am Tour’s stop on the weekend of March 16-17, looking for his first win on the tour since last June. That victory was Ragoonanan’s first on the Predator Pro Am Tour and came eight years after winning his first major at a stop on the Tri-State Tour in 2010. Apparently looking to reduce the gaps between his winning efforts, Ragoonanan had to come from the loss side in this one and down Matt Klein twice to claim the title. The $750-added Amateur event drew 91 entrants to Cue Bar in Bayside (Queens), NY.
 
In a concurrently-run event, the tour played host to a short, 12-entrant field in a $250-added Open-Pro event that saw Frankie Hernandez defeat Joey Korsiak twice to claim that title.
 
Ragoonanan and Klein met first in a winners’ side semifinal, as Carlos Duque and Joey Morace squared off in the other one. Klein sent Ragoonanan to the loss side 7-4, as Duque gave up only a single rack to Morace and faced Klein in the hot seat match. Duque and Klein battled to double hill before Duque prevailed to claim the hot seat. It was one of nine double hill or near-double-hill (7-5) matches among the event’s final 12 players and 14 matches.
 
On the loss side, Ragoonanan picked up Pascal Dufresne, who’d recently defeated Tommy Schreiber 7-5 and Miguel Laboy 8-3 to reach him. Morace drew Greg Matos, who’d defeated Tony Ignomirello, double hill and Darrin Schmidt 7-5. In identical 7-5 wins, Morace and Ragoonanan advanced to the quarterfinals over Matos and Dufresne.
 
Ragoonan took that quarterfinal match 8-5 over Morace and then, in a semifinal rematch against Klein, defeated him double hill for a shot at Duque in the finals. Duque began that final match with four on the wire in an extended race-to-9. Ragoonanan punctuated his return from the loss side by not allowing Duque to chalk up a single rack. Ragoonanan reached his ‘9’ racks, added two and claimed the event title 11-4.
 
[photo id=50934|align=right]Hernandez follows up Empire State runner-up finish to Jayson Shaw with undefeated run
 
Three weeks ago, on the weekend of February 23-24, Frankie Hernandez was battling Jayson Shaw in the finals of the 11th Annual Empire State Championships. He’d already defeated him once, in an exciting double hill battle for the hot seat. At approximately 2 a.m. on Sunday morning, Shaw pulled out in front to claim that event title over Hernandez 9-4.
 
At this most recent stop on the Predator Pro Am Tour, Hernandez’ nemesis in the hot seat and finals was long-time Joss Tour (and many others) veteran, Joey Korsiak, who’s in the midst of his 20th year at cashing in on major tournaments, including the US Open, Derby City Classic and tour stops in (among other states) Florida, including the J. Pechauer Southeast 9-Ball Open and Sunshine State Pro Am tours.
 
The two of them chalked up identical scores in both the hot seat match and finals. Hernandez got into the hot seat match after downing Elvis Rodriguez 7-1. Korsiak joined him following a 7-2 victory over Tour Director Tony Robles. Hernandez claimed the hot seat 7-3.
 
On the loss side, Robles picked up Turkish competitor Sami Koylu, who’d defeated Raphael Dabreo 7-2 and Dominic Gauthier 7-1 to reach him. Rodriguez drew Mike Salerno, who’d shut out KC Clayton and eliminated Stephen Molital 7-2. Suzzie Wong (eliminated by Gauthier) and Dave Callaghan (eliminated by Motilal) rounded out the complete roster at this event).
 
Koylu and Robles battled to double hill before Koylu advanced to the quarterfinals. He was joined by Salerno, who’d defeated Rodriguez 7-2. Koylu then eliminated Salerno 7-2, before being eliminated himself 7-3 by Korsiak in the semifinals. Duplicating their hot seat match score, Hernandez downed Korsiak 7-3 in the finals.
 
A 16-entrant Second Chance event was won by Tommy Schreiber, who collected $160 for his 7-5 win over Brooke Meyer in the finals. Lidio Ramirez and Jimmy Acosta took home $30 each for their tie in third place. An 8-entrant Third Chance event was won Miguel Laboy, who took home $100, following his victory over Russell Masciotti in the finals.
 
Tour director Tony Robles thanked the ownership and staff at the Cue Bar, as well as title sponsor Predator Cues, Ozone Billiards, NAPL, The DeVito Team, PoolontheNet.com, Billiards Digest, AZBilliards, Pool & Billiards Magazine and his entire staff, including his lovely wife, Gail. The next stop on the Predator Pro Am Tour, scheduled for the weekend of April 6-7, will be hosted by Steinway Billiards in Astoria (Queens), NY.

Watanabe, DaBreo come from the loss side to win Predator Pro Am Amateur, Pro events

(l to r): Raphael Dabreo & Joey Korsiak (Photo courtesy of Erwin Dionisio)

Three days after downing their share of Thanksgiving cheer in whatever form it took for them, Max Watanabe and Raphael Dabreo had cause to give further thanks for their respective victories on the Predator Pro Am Tour. During the tour’s annual Thanksgiving Day weekend get-together, Watanabe navigated his way through a 76-entrant field, in the $750-added Amateur event, winning five on the loss side to meet and defeat Jose Estevez in the finals. Raphael DaBreo in the 14-entrant, $250-added Open/Pro event, recovered from a double hill loss in the hot seat match and returned to defeat Joey Korsiak. Both events, as well as a Second and a Third Chance event were hosted, as they are every year, by Steinway Billiards in Astoria (Queens), NY.
 
In the Amateur division, Watanabe, who pretty much evenly splits his time between the Predator and Tri-State Tours, was looking for his first victory in five attempts on the 2018 Predator Pro Am Tour. He’d been defeated in the finals of an Open/Pro event by Tour Director Tony Robles in September and had chalked up a win on the Tri-State Tour back in June. In this event, he worked his way through to a winners’ side quarterfinal before running into Eddie Kunz, who sent him to the loss side 7-5. Kunz advanced to a winners’ side semifinal against Estevez. Jonathan Martinez, in the meantime, squared off against Joe Morace. Estevez sent Kunz to an immediate re-match against Watanabe with a 7-4 win, as Martinez downed Morace 7-4. Estevez claimed the hot seat 8-5 and waited on Watanabe’s return.
 
On the loss side, Watanabe had survived a double hill match against Marco Dy and one game shy of double hill, defeated Jaydev Zaveri 7-5 to earn his re-match against Kunz. Morace picked up Erick Carrasco, who’d eliminated Nick Croce 7-5 and Debra Pritchett, double hill, to reach him.
 
Carrasco got through a second straight double hill match, downing Morace, and advanced to the quarterfinals. Watanabe joined him after giving up only a single rack to Kunz in their re-match. Watanabe then leap-frogged over the quarterfinals when work-related commitments forced Carrasco to forfeit.
 
Watanabe had his hands full in the semifinals, as Martinez put up a double hill fight for a second shot against Estevez. Watanabe prevailed, and then, in the finals, won the extended race to 9 to claim the event title.
 
DaBreo and Korsiak replay March matchup with the same result
 
Squaring off in the finals of the Open/Pro event, Raphael DaBreo and Joey Korsiak replayed a scene that had played out for the both of them in March. In that event, DaBreo had to win three on the loss side, two of which went double hill, to face Korsiak in the finals. He did so to chalk up his first Open/Pro victory on the tour. This time, they battled in the hot seat and finals.
 
Korsiak had downed Tony Robles 7-4 to get in to the hot seat match, while DaBreo had sent Alfredo Albay over 7-3. They battled to double hill in the hot seat match, until Korsiak prevailed.
 
On the loss side, Robles picked up Gary O’Callaghan, who’d defeated Jud Parker 7-2 and benefited from a double hill, deciding-game miss at the 10-ball by Joe Torres to advance. Albay drew Frankie Hernandez, who’d eliminated Zion Zvi 7-3 and Stephen Motilal 7-4.
 
Robles had sent O’Callaghan to the loss side in an earlier double hill match, but it was O’Callaghan who came out on top 7-4 in their re-match. Hernandez shut Albay out to advance to the quarterfinals against O’Callaghan. Hernandez then eliminated O’Callaghan 7-4.
 
In the semifinals, Hernandez and DaBreo battled to double hill before DaBreo three-fouled Hernandez to earn his second shot against Korsiak. In another modified race-to-9 final, DaBreo claimed the event title over Korsiak 9-3.
 
A 15-entrant Second Chance event was won Abel Rosario, with Jose Kuilan as runner-up. Duc Lam and Nick Croce finished in the tie for 3rd place. An 8-entrant Third Chance event, saw Miguel Laboy take home the top prize with Julia Ha in second place.
 
Tour director Tony Robles thanked Manny Stamatakis and his Steinway staff for their Thanksgiving Day weekend hospitality, as well as his own Predator Pro Am staff and sponsors Predator Cues, Ozone Billiards, PlayNAPL.com, The DeVito Team, PoolontheNet.com, Cappelle (Billiards Press), AZBilliards, Pool & Billiard Magazine and Billiards Digest. The final stop of the Predator Pro Am Tour’s 2018 season will be its annual Tour Championships. Open to players who’ve participated in a minimum of five events during the year, the potentially $11,000-added, 2018 Predator Tour Championships will be hosted by Raxx Sports Bar & Grille in West Hempstead, NY.