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The Iceman goes undefeated to win Predator Pro Am Open/Pro Championships

Robles wins 7 on the loss side and is runner-up for second straight year 

(l to r): Mike Salerno, Jorge Rodriguez, Mika Immonen & Tony Roble

Ten years ago, in what was reportedly his best earnings year ever, Finland’s Mika Immonen (aka The Iceman) cashed in a total of 29 events all over the world, 21 of which he finished as either the winner (13), the runner-up (4; to include his appearance on Europe’s Mosconi Cup team) or in third place (4). Six of his 13 victories that year were chalked up in the state of New York; he won a stop on the Tri-State Tour, two on the Joss NE 9-Ball Tour, and three on the Predator Pro Am Tour. Many of the cash winners in those three 2009 Predator events were present for the 2019 Tour Championships held on the weekend of December 14-15 at the event’s traditional location, Raxx Billiards in West Hempstead, NY. They included Jorge Rodriguez, Frankie Hernandez, Mhet Vergara and Tour Director Tony Robles, who, in the 2009 events won by Immonen, finished third in February, 5th in July and 9th in October. Notable, as always, in his absence from this year’s event was George “Ginky” Sansouci, who was 5th in that 2009 February event, 13th in July and tied with Robles for 9th in October.

The Predator Pro Am Tour’s defending Open/Pro Tour Champion and the 2018 runner-up met in this year’s semifinal; Jorge Rodriguez and Tony Robles, respectively. It was, though, Mika Immonen who became the 2019 champion, going undefeated through a field of 24 entrants, on-hand for the $1,000-added, 10-ball event at Raxx Billiards.

A concurrently-run, $9,930-added A/B/C/D Amateur event (separate story), which drew 93 entrants, was won by Pascal Dufresne, one of the tour’s 18 event winners this year. Sent to the loss side early, Dufresne won seven in a row before meeting and defeating hot seat occupant Ryan Dayrit in the finals.

For the second year in a row at the Open/Pro Championships, Rodriguez battled for the hot seat; last year, versus Robles, this year, against The Iceman. This year, Robles was sent to the loss side by Frankie Hernandez and like Dufresne in the Amateur event would win seven on that side of the bracket for the right to face Immonen in the finals.

Immonen advanced through the field to draw Joey Korsiak in one of the winners’ side semifinals. Rodriguez, in the meantime, faced Mike Salerno in the other one. Immonen gave up only a single rack to Korsiak and moved on to the hot seat match. He was joined by Rodriguez, who’d sent Salerono west 7-4. The Iceman and Rodriguez battled to a somewhat predictable double hill battle that eventually sent Rodriguez to the semifinals.

On the loss side, Robles chalked up wins #3 and #4 against John Francisco (7-2) and Mhet Vergara (double hill) to draw Korsiak. Salerno picked up Frankie Hernandez, who’d eliminated Jimmy Conn 7-2 and Jonathan Smith 7-3 to reach him. A potential rematch between Hernandez and Robles loomed in the shortly-distant quarterfinals.

Robles did what he could to affect that rematch with a 7-5 victory over Korsiak in the event’s first money round. Salerno, though, ended Hernandez’ weekend 7-4.

Robles downed Salerno 7-5 in the quarterfinals, setting up a repeat of the 2018 hot seat match and final; Robles versus Rodriguez. They split those two matches last year. Robles, winning the first one and Rodriguez, claiming the title in the finals. Robles earned his shot against The Iceman with a 7-2 win over Rodriguez in that semifinal matchup, guaranteeing himself at least a repeat, runner-up finish and a certainly possible finish as the Open/Pro Champion.

According to Robles, he lost that final matchup, early. He missed an early shot that he says he shouldn’t have missed and The Iceman used the resultant momentum to move on and win the match 7-4.

“I made one mistake in that final match,” said Robles later, “and it cost me.”

Robles thanked Holden Chin, Matthew Harricharan, Troy Deocharran, and Joshua Friedberg’s Raxx staff for their hospitality, his own Predator Pro Am staff (to include his lovely wife, Gail) and title sponsor Predator Cues, Ozone Billiards, PlayNAPL.com, The DeVito Team, PoolOnTheNet.com, Cappelle (BilliardsPress.com), AZBilliards, Pool & Billiard Magazine and Billiards Digest. The Predator Pro Am Tour will open its 2020 season at Amsterdam BIlliards with an event scheduled for the weekend of January 18-19, 2020

Lin Leads Chinese Taipei Contingent at Ocean State 9-Ball Championship

Mike Zuglan, Fu Che-Wei, Lin Ta-Li and Snookers owner Steve Goulding

The team of players from Chinese Taipei did not have a good trip to the United States for the International 9-Ball Open, with Ko Ping-Chung’s 5th place finish as the best performance by one of the group’s players. Their results at the Joss NE 9-Ball Tour’s Ocean State 9-Ball Championship on November 9th – 10th at Snookers in Providence RI, was much better. Five of the six Chinese Taipei players cashed in the Ocean State event, with four of them in the top six spots. 
 
Saturday matches narrowed the field of seventy-three players down to just twelve. The winner’s side came down to Fu Che-Wei, Lin Ta-Li, Suad Kantaravic, and recent Junior Invitational 9-Ball Champion Lukas Fracasso-Verner. Both players from Chinese Taipei then advanced with Fu beating Verner 9-2 and Lin over Kantaravic 9-6. Lin then defeated Fu 9-3 for the hot-seat. 
 
Sunday matches on the one-loss side saw Hsu Kai-Lun eliminating Mike Giurleo and Frankie Hernandez before losing a 7-3 decision to Kantaravic. The other half of the one-loss side saw Chang Yu-Lung over Ron Casanzio and Chiang Chen-Yu before being eliminated in 5th place by Verner. Verner sent Kantaravic to the seats in 4th place with a hill-hill win but then dropped the semi-final match to Fu 7-2.
 
The all Chinese Taipei final match went one set with Lin repeating his hot-seat win over Fu 9-5 for first place. 
 
Sunday’s second chance tournament was won by Francisco Cabral, who went undefeated and didn’t allow an opponent more than one rack against him all day. Cabral defeated Mike Salerno 3-1 for the hot-seat and 3-1 again in the finals. 
 
The next Joss NE 9-Ball Tour stop will be the Turning Stone Classic XXXIII on January 9th – 12th. That event is now full. Any player who didn’t get their entry paid can contact Mike Zuglan to get on the waiting list. 

Lee goes undefeated to take Predator Pro Am Amateur stop at Gotham City Billiards

(l to r): Andrew Lee, Zain Sundaram & John Morrison

Hernandez takes Open/Pro event
 
Andrew Lee got by John Morrison twice during the Predator Pro Am Tour’s visit to Gotham City Billiards on the weekend of May 18-19, and finished undefeated to claim the event title. According to tour director Tony Robles, the event was something of an experiment, designed to divide the normal crowds that show up for the tour’s A/B/C/D amateur events and lead to seriously late night/early morning finishes. Robles isolated the C/D players and invited them to the $1,800-added amateur event that drew 39 entrants to Gotham City Billiards.
 
Of arguably more ‘human interest’ in the amateur event was a match between husband and wife, Monika and Mike Callaghan. They ended up battling for the right to advance to the amateur event’s first money round. More on this when we get to the loss-side activities of the event.
 
On Sunday, May 19, a $700-added Open/Pro event drew 16 entrants and saw Frankie Hernandez claim that title, by winning the semifinals. More on this when we get to the Open/Pro event.
 
In the Amateur event, Andrew Lee and John Morrison met first in a winners’ side semifinal as Zain Sundaram and Juan Melendez squared off in the other one. Sundaram survived a double hill battle versus Melendez to earn his spot in the hot seat match. Lee joined him after sending Morrison to the loss side 7-3. Lee claimed the hot seat 7-1 and waited for Morrison to complete his three-match, loss-side winning streak.
 
The match between the married Callaghans would not normally appear in a report, because only one of them advanced beyond the 9/12 matches. They battled for the right to make it to the amateur event’s first money round. It was a double hill match, 6-5, won by Monika, at the end of which, according to Robles, she stuck her tongue out at husband, Mike, who was reportedly only partially amused. Her elation didn’t last because in the first money round, Mac Jankov, who’d eliminated Bob Toomey 6-3, defeated her double hill to advance and meet Melendez. Morrison picked up Joe Wilson Torres, who’d defeated Keith Jawahir 7-4 and survived a double hill fight against Tony Ignomirello to reach him.
 
Melendez advanced to the quarterfinals with a double hill win over Jankov. Morrison downEd Torres 7-4 to join him. Morrison took the quarterfinal match over Melendez 7-4 and then, defeated Sundaram 7-3 in the semifinals, to earn a shot at Lee in the hot seat.
 
Lee completed his undefeated run by allowing Morrison only a single rack in the finals. The 7-1 victory earned Lee the tour’s first-ever, strictly C/D amateur title.
 
Hernandez downs Sim in semifinals to claim Open/Pro title
 
The one time they did meet, in a winners’ side semifinal of the Open/Pro event, Jorge Rodriguez and Frankie Hernandez battled to double hill before Rodriguez prevailed to get into the hot seat match. He was joined by Del Sim, who had also survived a double hill match, against Alex Osipov. Rodriguez claimed the hot seat 7-4 over Sim, and unable to continue, forfeited the final match. This elevated the status of the event semifinals, allowing its winner, Hernandez, to claim the event title.
 
On the loss side, Frankie Hernandez picked up Pat Fleming, who’d shut out Jennifer Baretta and eliminated Mike Salerno 7-4. Osipov drew Mhet Vergara, who’d defeated Ashley Burrows 7-4 and survived a double hill fight against tour director Tony Robles.
 
Vergara downed Osipov 7-3, as Hernandez had his hands full surviving a double hill fight against Fleming. Hernandez moved on to defeat Vergara 7-3 in the quarterfinal match, and then, in what in effect was the event final, defeated Del Sim 7-4 to claim the event title.
 
Robles thanked Kevin and Isabel Buckley and their Gotham City Billiards staff for their continuing support as well as title sponsor Predator Cues, Ozone Billiards, PlayNAPL.com, The DeVito Team, PoolOnTheNet.com, Cappelle (Billiards Press), AZBilliards, Pool & Billiards Magazine, and Billiards Digest. Robles also thanked his always-supportive cast of assistants, to include his lovely wife, Gail.
 
The next stop on the Predator Tour, scheduled for this coming Memorial Day Weekend (May 25-27), will be the 9th Annual George “Ginky” Sansouci Memorial Tournament. As always, the $4,000-added event will be held under the combined auspices of the Predator Pro Am, Tri-State and Mezz Tours, and will be hosted by Steinway Billiards in Astoria (Queens), NY.

Sossei In The Joss Winner’s Circle Again

Frankie Hernandez and Jeremy Sossei

Jeremy Sossei made it “three in a row” with a win at the Joss NE 9-Ball Tour stop at Raxx Pool Room in West Hempstead, NY on May 4th. 
 
Although Sossei ended up in the hot-seat, he didn’t get there without a challenge. Sossei started things off with a 9-4 win over Mike Salerno, but then things got a lot closer. Three of Sossei’s next four matches ended up within two racks with a hill-hill win over Mike Donnelly and 9-7 wins over Alex Osipov and then Jennifer Barretta for the hot-seat. 
 
Barretta took the trip to the one loss side, where she found a red-hot Frankie Hernandez waiting. Hernandez had dropped a 9-8 decision to Alvin Thomas in his first match of the day, but then won six straight matches on the left side of the board. He would stretch that streak to seven matches, with a hill-hill win over Barretta in the semi-final match. 
 
Hernandez was able to hand Sossei his first loss in the first set of the finals 9-6, but Sossei came back to win the second set 7-5 for his third straight Joss NE 9-Ball Tour stop win. 
 
The second chance tournament saw Elvis Rodriguez in the hot-seat after a 3-2 win over Donnelly, but it was Donnelly coming back with 3-1 and 3-0 wins over Rodriguez in the finals. 
 
 

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.

Shaw comes back from hot seat loss to win 11th Annual Empire State Championships

Pnoto by Erwin Dionisio (l to r): Jorge Rodriguez, Jayson Shaw, Frankie Hernandez, Raphael Dabreo

Fracasso-Verner goes undefeated to capture Amateur title
 
When Frankie Hernandez first appeared in our database, finishing 25th in the US Open 9-Ball Championships, won by Tommy Kennedy in 1992, Jayson Shaw was four years old. A year later, in the same event, Hernandez would share a 17th place finish with such luminaries as Allen Hopkins, Jim Rempe, Richie Richeson and Cliff Joyner. In Frankie’s best earnings year, to date (2001), Shaw had just become a teenager, as Frankie was busy finishing 49th at the US Open, but cashing in 21 events, including eight stops on the Joss Tour, two Turning Stone events (II & III), and geographic victories all over the map; Florida, Las Vegas and New England, et al.
 
At the $1,000-added, 11th Annual Empire State Championships (Open/Pro division), which drew 28 entrants to Raxx Billiards in West Hempstead, NY on the weekend of February 23-24, Hernandez advanced to the hot seat match, where he met and defeated Jayson Shaw in an exciting, back and forth, double hill match. Shaw returned from the semifinals to down Hernandez in the finals.
 
When Shaw first appeared in our database in 2006, Lukas Fracasso-Verner was four years old. They didn’t meet to play in this 11th Annual Empire State Championships, although it would have been fun to watch. Fracasso-Verner went undefeated through the $2,000-added Amateur event’s field of 140 to capture the Amateur title.
 
Both defending champions of this event were on-hand at this year’s championships, but both would end up in the tie for 13th in their respective divisions; Zion Zvi, the two-time defending champion of the Open/Pro division, and Jason Carandang, last year’s amateur winner.
 
Fracasso-Verner is fresh off his best earnings year to date (2018) and recent winner of a stop on the NE 9-Ball Series. He was last year’s winner in the Amateur division of the 8th Annual George “Ginky” Sansouci Memorial, at which he lost his opening match and won 11 on the loss side before downing Chuck Allie to claim the title. That said, he’s proved to be a bit of puzzle. Though his various accomplishments on regional tours and national events has been impressive (last year’s Ginky Memorial and this event as just a couple of relevant examples), he has come into this broad field of top-notch competition without benefit of a Junior National Championship under his belt, although he’s competed several times. He is also not on anyone’s short list to become a member of the USA’s junior team at this year’s upcoming Atlantic Cup Challenge. According to Roy Pastor, who’s taught Fracasso-Verner in the Connecticut Youth Billiards program and is a part of the BEF’s junior and world championship programs, Fracasso-Verner’s absence from this year’s Atlantic Cup Challenge team says less about his individual skills and talent, than it does about the overall strength of the youth programs leading up to the BEF Junior Nationals every year.
 
“The field (of junior competitors) is getting stronger every year,” said Pastor, “and there are a lot of Lukas Fracasso-Verners out there.”
 
Joey Tate, the teenager, from Raleigh, NC, for example, is younger than Fracasso-Verner and has already attained a 681 Fargo Rate. By comparison, Fracasso-Verner is currently at 645. And there are others, some of whom, over the years, have defeated Fracasso-Verner in Junior National competition.
 
“Lukas is a terrific player, though,” said Pastor, “and has the potential to be one of the greatest.”  
 
This time around, Fracasso-Verner opted out of the loss side route for this event, going undefeated through the Amateur field. He defeated Chris Ganley in the hot seat match and Matt Klein in the finals.
 
[photo id=50742|align=right]
Fracasso-Verner and Klein met first in a winners’ side semifinal, while Ganley and Paul Carpenter squared off in the other one. Fracasso-Verner got into the hot seat match with an 8-4 victory over Klein and was joined by Ganley, who’d sent Carpenter west 7-5. Fracasso-Verner downed Ganley, who started the match with 5 on the wire, 10-7 to claim the hot seat.
 
On the loss side, Klein picked up Xavier Romero and Carpenter drew Jim Gutierrez. Klein and Carpenter got right back to work, downing Romero and Gutierrez, both 7-3, to meet in the quarterfinals. Klein then eliminated Carpenter 7-5 and got a second shot at Fracasso-Verner with a 7-4 victory over Ganley in the semifinals. Fracasso-Verner claimed the Empire State title with an 8-5 victory over Klein.
 
Shaw comes back from hot seat loss to claim 10-Ball Open/Pro title
 
There had to be an inescapable air of inevitability about the 10-Ball Open/Pro event. With Jayson Shaw in the relatively short field, as the winners’ side whittled down further and further, who wouldn’t be bracket watching to see if they were next on the world-class player’s hit list. Frankie Hernandez, though, was one of the 28, who, having competed against his share of top-notch champions, would be unlikely to be intimidated. Cautious, maybe, respectful of Shaw’s obvious talent, but up to the challenge, which reached him in the hot seat match.
 
Shaw had faced and defeated another unlikely-to-be-intimidated competitor, Jorge Rodriguez 7-3 in a winners’ side semifinal (Rodriguez won this event in 2015). Hernandez, in the meantime, squared off against and eventually sent Rob Pole to the loss side 7-2. In a thrilling, double hill hot seat match, Hernandez sent Shaw off to the semifinals.
 
On the loss side, in the first money round, Rodriguez picked up Tenzin Jorden, who’d been the first of two to defeat defending champion, Zion Zvi, and a week earlier, had chalked up his first Predator Pro Am Amateur title. He’d defeated Jimmy Rivera 7-3 and survived a double hill match against Joey Korsiak to reach Rodriguez. Pole drew Raphael Dabreo, who’d most recently eliminated Jonathan Smith 7-4 and Mike Salerno (Smith, in the previous round, had knocked out Zion Zvi).
 
Rodriguez and DaBreo advanced to the quarterfinals, both 7-2, over Jorden and Pole. DaBreo took the quarterfinal 7-5 over Rodriguez. It was getting late, already into early Monday morning, when Shaw, seemingly impatient, gave up only a single rack to DaBreo in those semifinals to earn a second shot against Hernandez in the hot seat.
 
Things broke pretty evenly in the early going of the finals, which didn’t get underway until nearly 2 a.m. Shaw and Hernandez fought back and forth early, with no clear winner in sight. Near the middle of those finals, though, Shaw broke through to claim the title 9-4.
 
A Second Chance event drew a full field of 16 entrants. Julie Ha ($160) won four straight in the single elimination bracket to down Monika Callaghan ($100) 8-6 in the finals. Chulo Castro and Mark Antonetti finished in the tie for 3rd place ($30 each). A Third Chance event drew another full field of 16 and was won by Brian Tierney ($160), who downed Dave Callaghan ($100) 7-5 in the finals. Mike Callaghan and Shashi Hajaree each took home $39 for their third place tie.
 
Tony Robles thanked the ownership and staff at Raxx Billiards for their continuing support and hospitality at these annual Empire State Championships, 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 March 2-3 will be an Amateur event, hosted by The Spot in Nanuet, NY.

Hernandez comes from the loss side to win Pro Division of Eastern States Championships

Open/Pro winners (l to r): Mike Dechaine, Annie Flores, Jorge Rodriguez & Frankie Hernandez

Osipov loses first match to Nau, wins 9 on the loss side to down him in finals of Amateur event
 
The names were all familiar ‘Eastern States’ competitors, recognizeable, for the most part, by their last names – Rodriguez, Hernandez, Dechaine in the Pro event, and Osipov, Nau and Ortiz in the Amateur event. It was Frankie Hernandez who emerged as the Pro event winner of the 2018 Eastern States Championships (Stop #12 on the Predator Pro Am Tour), while Alex Osipov took the Amateur title. Both came from the loss side to complete their title run and defeated the competitor who’d sent them there; Hernandez winning three on that side of the bracket, before meeting and defeating Jorge Rodriguez in the finals, while Osipov, who lost his opening match, won nine on the loss side before meeting and defeating the man who’d sent him there, Victor Nau. The $3,000-added event ($1,000 in the Pro event, $2,000 in the Amateur) drew 23 Pro competitors and 75 Amateurs to Steinway Billiards in Astoria (Queens), NY.
 
Hernandez, Rodriguez and the semi-retired Dechaine were three of the four players in the two winners’ side semifinals of the Pro event, with Rodriguez battling Hernandez and Dechaine squaring off against Rob Pole. Rodriguez got into the hot seat match with an 8-5 win that sent Hernandez to the loss side, where he was joined by Pole, who’d been defeated by Dechaine 8-3. Rodriguez claimed the hot seat 8-6 over Dechaine and waited on the return of Hernandez.
 
On the loss side, Hernandez picked up Pat Fleming, who’d eliminated Mike Salerno 8-2 and Predator Pro Am Tour Director Tony Robles 8-3. Pole drew Rhio Anne (Annie) Flores, making a strong showing in this Pro event, and winning two straight double hill matches, against Mike (Fingers) Badsteubener and wily Predator veteran, Mhet Vergara, to reach Pole.
 
Annie Flores moved into the first-money-round quarterfinal with an 8-3 win over Pole, where she was joined by Hernandez, who’d sent Fleming home 8-5. Flores’ bid for further advancement was halted abruptly by Hernandez, who shut her out. Hernandez then won five matches in a row on his way to an 8-2 victory over Dechaine in the semifinals. He completed his run with a successful rematch against Rodriguez 11-8.
 
Osipov spends all but one match on the loss side and in finals, downs the man who sent him over
 
Alex Osipov, who’s in the midst of his best earnings year, to date (since 2011), came to the 2018 Eastern States Championships with two Amateur victories and one Pro event victory on the Predator Tour this year. Two of those three victories – the single Pro and one of the Amateur events – were chalked up within the last month. So he came, as it were, prepared, though not for being sent to the loss side by Victor Nau in the opening round. Apparently not willing to settle for a short weekend, he worked his way through nine matches on the loss side (including one forfeit win) to eventually meet and defeat Nau in the finals.
 
With Osipov at work on the loss side, Nau advanced to a winners’ side semifinal against Miguel Laboy. Raphael Ortiz, in the meantime, squared off against Luis Carrasco in the other one. Nau sent Laboy to a match against Osipov with a 7-4 win, and in the hot seat match, faced Ortiz, who’d sent Carrasco over 7-2. Nau claimed the hot seat with a forfeit by Ortiz, which meant that the winner of the quarterfinals would be leap-frogging over the semifinals and move directly into the finals.
 
On the loss side, Osipov chalked up loss-side wins #5 and #6 against Paul Everton 8-3 and Mario Lozano 9-7 to pick up Laboy. Carrasco drew Paul Lyons, who’d recently eliminated Ray Feliciano 7-2 and Suzzie Wong (the #2-ranked female on the Predator Pro Am Tour) 7-3. Osipov and Lyons handed Laboy and Carrasco their second straight loss; Osipov 7-4 over Laboy and Lyons 7-2 over Carrasco.
 
Knowing that winning the quarterfinal match would propel them directly into the finals, Osipov and Lyons both put up a fight. With Osipov, who came into the event as the tour’s #1-ranked A+ player and Lyons at #14 among the tour’s C+ players, Lyons began the quarterfinal race to 10 with five ‘on the wire’ already. He won his four to reach the hill, but Osipov won his nine to be there as well. Osipov closed it out and turned for his re-match against Nau.
 
In the straight-up-extended race to 9 final (Nau came into the event at #7 among the tour’s A+ players), Osipov, coming from the loss side, had to be the first to win seven racks to extend the race. He did so and went on to claim the Eastern States Championship’s Amateur title with a 9-4 win.
 
In a full field, 16-entrant, single elimination Second Chance event, Ambi Estevez picked up the first place, $150 prize, after winning a double hill final against Akiko Taniyama, who went home with a $100, runner up prize. Ron Bernardo and Freity DeLaRosa finished in the tie for third place and pocketed $30 each.
 
Tour director Tony Robles thanked Manny Stamatakis and his Steinway Billiards staff for their hospitality, along with title sponsor Predator Cues, PoolOnTheNet.com, NAPL, Cappelle (BilliardsPress.com), Ozone Billiards and the DeVito Team. The next stop on the Predator Tour (#13), scheduled for Sept. 15-16, will feature a $750-added, Double Points Amateur event and a $250-added Pro event, to be hosted by Cue Bar in Bayside (Queens), NY.

Korsiak wins seven on the loss side, downs Zvi in finals of Predator Pro Am

Joey Korsiak and Zion Zvi

Ragoonanan goes undefeated to claim Amateur title
 
Joey Korsiak, back in the Tri-State New York area, following his tie-for-13th finish in the first Doug Beasley Custom Cues 9-Ball Open in Raleigh, NC last weekend (June 13-17), came from the loss side to down Zion Zvi in the finals of the Pro event, at a stop on the Predator Pro Am Tour on the weekend of June 23-24. The $500-added event drew 16 entrants to Raxx Billiards in West Hempstead, NY. In a concurrently-run, $1,000-added Amateur tournament at the same location, Rikki Ragoonanan went undefeated through a field of 68 entrants to claim the Amateur title.
 
Sent to the loss side in a double hill fight against Raphael Dabreo, Korsiak won seven in a row to earn his spot in the finals. Like the match that sent him over, his final two matches on the loss side went double hill.
 
DaBreo, in the meantime, advanced to a winners’ side semifinal against tour director Tony Robles. Zvi faced Holden Chin in the other winners’ side semifinal. Robles downed DaBreo 7-4. Zvi joined him in the battle for the hot seat with a double hill win over Chin. Zion claimed the hot seat by ‘effectively defeating’ Robles (not the words that Robles used) 7-3.
 
On the loss side, it was Chin who ran into Korsiak, three matches into his loss-side streak to the finals. Korsiak had defeated Troy Deocharran 7-5, Steve Kalloo 7-2, and Roberto Mendoza 7-4 to reach him. DaBreo drew Frankie Hernandez, who’d defeated Shawn Sookhai 7-1 and Mike Fingers 7-5. Korsiak advanced himself into a potential re-match against DaBreo with a 7-4 win over Mendoza. Hernandez, though, spoiled the re-match with a double hill win over DaBreo.
 
Korsiak the successfully navigated his way through two straight double hill matches to reach the finals, defeating Hernandez in the quarterfinals, and Robles in the semifinals. He then defeated Zvi 7-4 in the finals to claim the Pro event title.
 
Ragoonanan goes undefeated to claim his first major title since 2010
 
The money that Rikki Ragoonanan took home for his undefeated run in the Amateur event of the weekend was just $20 less than the combined total of all of his reported earnings made on a combination of the Predator Pro Am and Tri-State Tours since 2010. It was Ragoonan’s first win on the Predator Pro Am and his first win since he won a stop on the Tri-State in 2010, defeating Raphael DaBreo to complete an undefeated run through a field of 26.
 
The Amateur event this past weekend was 10 shy of triple the size of the field he faced eight years ago, and again, he went undefeated. He advanced through the field to face Michael Mathieu in a winners’ side semifinal, as Jim Gutierrez and Keith Jawahir squared off in the other one. Ragoonanan advanced to the hot seat match 7-5 over Mathieu and was joined by Gutierrez, who’d sent Jawahir west 7-2. Ragoonanan claimed the hot seat 9-5 over Gutierrez and waited on what turned out to be the return of Dave Shlemperis, who was working on a seven-match, loss-side winning streak that would bring him to the finals.
 
It was Mathieu who picked Shlemperis up on the loss side, four matches into his seven-match winning streak. Shlemperis had most recently eliminated the player who’d sent him to the loss side, Chulo Castro, double hill, and Paul Everton 7-4. Jawahir drew Jason Goberdhan, who’d gotten by Adrian Daniel 7-5 and Ryan Dayrit 6-3 to reach him.
 
Shlemperis and Goberdhan handed Mathieu and Jawahir their second straight loss; Shlemperis 7-2 over Mathieu and Goberdhan, 7-0 over Jawahir. Shlemperis then defeated Goberdhan 8-3 in the quarterfinals, and Gutierrez 9-6 in the semifinals. Ragoonanan, though, stopped Shlemperis’ winning streak 9-7 in the finals to claim his first major title in eight years.
 
A Second Chance event that drew 16 entrants, saw two semifinal matches in the single elimination format go double hill, before resulting in a final matchup between Elvis Rodriguez and Mike Salerno. In one of the semifinals, Max Watanabe was on the hill at 6-1, when Salerno won six straight to advance to the finals. In the other semifinal, Chulo Castro was one game shy of shutting out Elvis Rodriguez, when Rodriguez went on a tear to win seven straight. The final went double hill, as well, with Rodriguez coming out on top to win the Second Chance title.
 
The next stop on the Predator Pro Am will also feature both an Amateur and Pro event. Scheduled for the weekend of July 7-8, the $1,500-added events ($1,000 for Amateur, $500 for Pro) will be hosted by Amsterdam Billiards in Manhattan.

DaBreo and Fracasso-Verner win Open/Pro, Amateur events on Predator Pro Am Tour

Joey Korsiak, Zion Zvi, Raphael DaBreo & Jimmy Rivera

It is a significant rite of passage; moving from the top ranks of Amateur status to the loftier competitive environment where the Open/Pro players do battle. On the weekend of March 3-4, at a $250-added Open/Pro event on the Predator Pro Am Tour, Raphael Dabreo took that step, winning his first-ever Open/Pro event, and according to tour director Tony Robles, was “super happy about it.”
 
“Like a kid in a candy store,” said Robles.
 
DaBreo, working as a B player, first showed up on the AZBilliards’ radar 10 years ago, when he won his first stop on the Tri-State Tour. A year later (2009), he won two more on that tour. He won his first stop on the Predator Pro Am in 2010. Over the next eight years, he chalked up a baker’s dozen (13) more on the two tours, as he climbed the rankings ladder. On average, we reported here last October, he’d won an average of one event per year on both tours, dating back to those initial victories.
 
In a concurrently-run, $750-added Amateur event over the weekend, Lukas Fracasso-Verner went undefeated through a field of 53 entrants to claim that title (more on this a little later in this report). Both events were hosted by The Spot in Nanuet, NY.
 
DaBreo had a crack at a Predator Open/Pro event about three weeks ago, (Feb. 10-11), when he made it to the semifinals (downing Robles on the loss side along the way), before being eliminated by the event’s winner, Kudlik Marek. His first Open/Pro victory followed the same script, with the significant difference of coming back from the loss side to win it. He advanced to a winners’ side semifinal versus Jimmy Rivera in this most recent event, while Joey Korsiak and Zion Zvi squared off in the other one.
 
Korsiak got by Zvi 7-4. DaBreo battled Rivera to a deciding game, before Rivera sent him to the loss side. Korsiak claimed the hot seat 7-4 over Rivera and waited on DaBreo’s return.
 
On the loss side, DaBreo picked up Robles (whom he’d met in the quarterfinals of the Feb. 10-11 event), who’d defeated Victor Nau 7-3 and Mike Salerno 7-2 to reach him this time. Zvi drew Jorge Teixeira, who’d gotten by Yesid Garibello 7-3 and Dave Shlemperis 7-1. DaBreo got by Robles again; this time, 7-4, as Zvi eliminated Teixeira 7-2.
 
DaBreo, apparently very motivated to collect his first Open/Pro title, chalked up two straight double hill wins to get a shot at Korsiak in the hot seat. He downed Zvi in the quarterfinals, and then, Rivera in the semifinals. A 9-5 win over Korsiak in those finals secured DaBreo’s first Open/Pro win.
 
[photo id=48780|align=right]Fracasso-Verner goes undefeated to take Amateur division
 
Last February, at the age of 15, Lukas Fracasso-Verner became the second-youngest player to ever win a stop on the Predator Pro Am Tour; the first, being Thomas Rice, who, at 14 won a stop on the tour in 2013. What was particularly significant about Fracasso-Verner’s victory at the time was that he’d won 13 loss-side matches to meet and defeat the hot seat occupant, Atif Khan.
 
At this most recent stop on the Predator Pro Am Tour, Fracasso-Verner, now 16, chalked up another victory, this time going undefeated through a field of 53. He advanced through the field to a winners’ side semifinal against Rhio Anne “Annie” Flores, while Adam Miller met up with Feng Zhao in the other winners’ side semifinal. Miller downed Zhao 7-3, while Fracasso-Verner and Flores locked up in a double hill battle that did eventually send Flores to the loss side. Fracasso-Verner then downed Miller 9-5 to claim the hot seat.
 
On the loss side, Zhao picked up Suzzie Wong, who’d gotten by Greg Matos 6-3 and won a double hill match against Matthias Gutzmann. Flores drew Mark Zamora, recent double hill winner over Ocheign Carlos and Max Watanabe 7-5. The ladies advanced to the quarterfinals; Wong, over Zhao 7-2, and Flores over Zamora 7-4.
 
The ladies then locked up in a double hill fight, won by Wong. Miller took the semifinal 6-3 over Wong. Fracasso-Verner completed his undefeated run with a double hill 9-8 win over Miller in the finals.
 
A Second Chance event drew eight entrants. It was won by Wax Watanabe, who defeated Rich Hourihan in a double hill final. Watanabe pocketed  $100, while Hourihan took home $50.
 
Tour director Tony Robles thanked the ownership and staff at The Spot for their hospitality, as well as special thanks to title sponsor Predator Cues, NAPL, Ozone Billiards, The DeVito Team, PoolOnTheNet.com, BilliardsPress.com, AZBilliards, Billiards Digest and PoolMag.com. Robles also extended thanks to his entire Predator Staff, including his wife, Gail Robles, Mandy Wu, William Finnegan, Irene Kim, and Rob Omen. The next stop on the Predator Pro Am Tour, scheduled for the weekend of March 17-18, will be an A/B/C/D event hosted by Cue Bar in Bayside (Queens), NY.

Zvi comes back from semifinals to defend his Empire State 10-Ball Championship title

(l to r): Mieszko Fortunski, Konrad Jusczyzszyn & Zion Zvi

Carandang goes undefeated to capture Amateur title
 
At the conclusion of the 2017 Empire State 10-Ball Championships (Open/Pro division), at which Zion Zvi had gone undefeated through a field of 25, he spoke of coming back from a break that he’d taken over the past few years.
 
“I’m going to be more active,” he said at the time, noting that he’d be “coming back one step at at a time.”
 
One week later, he’d claimed the 8th Annual New England Hall of Fame Tournament title, and before the year was out, he’d pocketed the best recorded earnings in his 15-year career. On Sunday February 25, he began 2018 the same way, by successfully defending his title at the 11th Annual Empire State 10-Ball Championships. He missed going undefeated by a single game, battling for the hot seat, but came back to defeat Mieszko Fortunski in the finals. For the second year in a row, the $1,000-added Open/Pro division of the Championships drew 25 entrants to the event’s traditional venue, Raxx Billiards in West Hempstead, NY.
 
Commencing on Saturday, February 24, Raxx Billiards also played host to the annual Amateur division of the Empire State Championships, competing in 9-Ball. This year’s $2,000-added event drew 111 entrants, three more than it had last year. Jason Carandang went undefeated through the field to claim his first major title.
 
Zvi’s trek to the winners’ circle advanced through to a winners’ side semifinal match against Michael Yednak. Fortunski, in the meantime, met up with Joey Korsiak in the other winners’ side semifinal. Zvi and Fortunksi got into the hot seat match with identical 7-4 wins over Yednak and Korsiak. Fortunski claimed the hot seat 7-2, and waited on Zvi’s return from the semifinals.
 
On the loss side, Yednak picked up Konrad Jusczyzszyn, who’d defeated Mike Panzarella 7-3 and survived a double hill match versus Jorge Rodriguez. Korsiak drew Greg McAndrews, who’d chalked up two straight double hill wins against Tony Robles Frankie Hernandez to reach him.
 
By identical 7-4 scores, McAndrews and Jusczyzszyn advanced to the quarterfinals over Korsiak and Yednak. Jusczyzszyn then downed McAndrew 7-3 in those quarterfinals. Zvi put a stop to Jusczyzszyn’s run 7-3 in the semifinals, and then, in a successful 11-7 re-match against Fortunski, claimed the event title.
 
[photo id=48723|align=right]Carandang and Romann battle twice for the Amateur title
 
They met early and late. Jason Carandang sent Steven Romann to the loss side in a double hill match early in the Amateur event. Caradang advanced to the hot seat, as Romann chalked up seven wins on the loss side to meet him a second time. The finals fell a game short of being a second double hill match (7-5), but the result was the same.
 
Caradang advanced through the field to a winners’ side semifinal against Ada Lio, the Predator Pro Am Tour’s top female at this early-in-the-season juncture. Shawn Jackson and Frank Cutrone met up in the other winners’ side semifinal. Carandang sent Lio to the loss side 7-2, as Jackson sent over Cutrone over 7-5. Carandang and Jackson locked up in a double hill fight that left Carandang in the hot seat, and Jackson on his way to the semifinals.
 
It was Lio, who picked up the eventual runner-up, Steve Romann on the loss side. He was four matches into the loss-side streak that was taking him to the finals. He’d most recently downed Adam Miller 7-5 and Jose Kuilan 7-4. Cutrone picked up teenager Lukas Fracassso-Verner, who’d eliminated Steinway Billiards’ owner, Manny Stamatakis in a double hill fight, and Paul Everton in an almost-double hill fight (7-5).
 
Romann defeated Lio 7-4 and advanced to the quarterfinals. He was joined by Cutrone, who’d put Fracasso-Verner on the wrong end of another double hill fight. Two more, apparently very popular 7-4 wins, in the quarterfinals against Cutrone and in the semifinals, against Jackson, gave Romann a second shot against Carandang. To no avail, as it turned out. Carandang completed his undefeated run with a 7-5 win in the finals.
 
A Second Chance event that drew 16 entrants was Mike Callaghan defeat George Poltorak 7-3 in the finals. Dan Faraguna finished third, with Debby Buyukdeniz in fourth place. Max Watanabe defeated Mike Salerno 7-2 in the finals of a Third Chance event that drew 8 entrants.
 
Tour director Tony Robles thanked the ownership and staff at Raxx Billiards for their hospitality, as well as title sponsor Predator Cues, NAPL, Ozone Billiards, The DeVito Team, PoolOnTheNet.com, BilliardsPress.com, AZBilliards, Billiards Digest and PoolMag.com. Robles also extended thanks to his entire Predator Staff, including his wife, Gail Robles, Mandy Wu, William Finnegan, Irene Kim, and Rob Omen. The next stop on the Predator Pro Am Tour, scheduled for March 3-4, will be hosted by The Spot in Nanuet, NY.