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Caesar double dips Fracasso-Verner to capture NE 9-Ball Series’ 2020 Winter Classic

(l to r): Lukas Fracasso-Verner, TD Marc Dionne, Josh Caesar & Ryan Lineham

Until this past weekend (Jan. 25-26), Josh Caesar had cashed in exactly five events on the New England 9-Ball Series. His name started cropping on our database (generally indicative of cash winnings) in January of 2018, when he finished 9th in that year’s Winter Classic. He cashed in only one other event that year (that we know about), the 2018 Tour Championship in September. Last year, he cashed in three of the tour’s events, winning one of them in February and tripling his recorded cash earnings from the year before.
 
In the finals of this year’s Winter Classic, held this past weekend, Caesar faced an opponent who’d cashed in three times as many events as he (Caesar) did last year and earned nearly six times as much money. Lukas Fracasso-Verner had won two stops on last year’s tour, was runner-up in the Player’s Championship and overall, had cashed in seven tour events. He’d also won the Predator Pro Am Tour’s Empire State Championship and was third at the Ocean State 9-Ball Championship, held under the auspices of the Joss NE 9-Ball Tour. All in all a prodigious resume for a player with somewhat limited experience to be facing in the finals of an event.
 
Caesar faced Fracasso-Verner three times in this event; battling for the hot seat and twice in the finals. He took the last two of those three to claim the 2020 Winter Classic title. The $2,000-added Winter Classic drew 127 entrants (15 more than it did last year) to Snooker’s in Providence, RI.
 
Working initially from the lower (FargoRate) bracket, Caesar opened his trek to the hot seat match with three, straight-up races to 5 in which he defeated Matt Caissie 5-2, shut out Mike Zingarella and sent Dennis Boucher to the loss side 5-3. He then downed three straight opponents, double hill, to get into that hot seat match – Kyle King, Phil Walton, and in the winners’ side semifinal, Bob Campbell. Fracasso-Verner, in the meantime, got by Billy Lanna 6-3, Jay Duffin 8-2, Beau Powers 6-2 and then, like Caesar, won two straight double hill matches against Kerry McAuliffe and Roarke Dickson to get into his winners’ side semifinal against Derrick Cunningham. Unlike Caesar, though, Fracasso-Verner shut Cunningham out in his winners’ side semifinal, and then, claimed the hot seat 8-2 over Caesar, who was racing to 4.
 
On the loss side, which was still featuring separated upper and lower bracket matches, Cunningham drew RYan Lineham, who’d eliminated Roarke Dickson 5-2 and Chad Avallone 6-1 to reach him. Campbell picked up Scott Reynolds, who’d recently defeated Ed Cortney, double hill and Philip Walton 4-2. Lineham and Reynolds advanced to the quarterfinals, after handing Cunningham and Campbell their second straight loss; Lineham 5-1 over Cunningham and Reynolds, shutting out Campbell.
 
Lineham, who battled and defeated Fracasso-Verner in the finals of a Second Chance 10-Ball event at last year’s Classic, was in the midst of a six-match, loss-side winning streak that he no doubt assumed would give him a shot at Fracasso-Verner in the hot seat and potentially, the 2020 Winter Classic title. He won his sixth loss-side match in the quarterfinals, surviving a double hill battle against Reynolds, but the much-lower-handicapped Caesar ended the streak 4-2 in the semifinals (Reynolds racing to 8).
 
Caesar started and would play the true double elimination final with four ‘beads on the wire’ in a race to 8. He chalked up his first four racks while holding Fracasso-Verner to two and claimed the opening set. Fracasso-Verner put up a hell of a fight in the second set, forcing an 11th and deciding game. Caesar won it to claim his second NE 9-Ball Series title and his first Winter Classic.
 
Tour director Marc Dionne thanked the ownership and staff at Snooker’s, as well as title sponsor Predator Cues, BCAPL, USAPL New England, Fargo Rate, Bert Kinister, AZBilliards, Inside English, Professor Q-ball’s National Pool and 3-Cushion News, Delta 13 Racks, MJS Construction, Bob Campbell with Lease Fundings, Master Billiards, OTLVISE Billiard Mechanics of America and Piku Tips. The next stop on the New England 9-Ball Series (#13), scheduled for Feb. 15-16, will be the $1,000-added Mark Young Memorial, hosted by Straight Shooters in Fall River, MA.

Lewis and Staples split top prizes on NE 9-Ball Series Stop #10 at Yale Billiards

Stop #11 to offer chance to win two all-expenses paid trips to BCAPL World Championships

(l to r): Ken Stopa, Bob Lewis & Josh Staples

Last January, Bob Lewis chalked up his first and most recent cash finish on the New England 9-Ball Series. It was also, according to our records, his first cash finish in anything since 2011, when he finished 5th on a Joss Tour stop and 17th at Turning Stone XVII. He was runner-up to Lukas Fracasso-Verner in the event last January and it appears as though it whetted his appetite for more competition, because this past weekend (Saturday, Jan. 4), he competed again on the New England 9-Ball Series and won*. As the undefeated occupant of the hot seat at the end, he became the official winner when he and Josh Staples opted out of playing a final match. The $500-added event drew 23 entrants to Yale Billiards in Wallingford, CT.

Lewis’ five-match march to the winners’ circle in the event’s upper bracket (FargoRate of 643) went through Ben Archer 6-3, Paul Soucy 7-2 and Tim Lavigne 7-1, to arrive at a winners’ side semifinal matchup against Ryan Cullen. In the lower bracket, Ken Stopa (525), in the meantime, on his way to a hot seat match against Lewis, had defeated David Longo 5-1 and survived a double hill fight versus Anthony Petruzelli. Stopa now faced Mike Zingarella, who’d just sent Josh Staples (495) to the loss side 5-3, in the other winners’ side semifinal.

In a straight-up race to 6, Lewis downed Cullen 6-4. In a straight-up race to 5, Stopa defeated Zingarella, double hill, sending him to the loss side and an immediate rematch against Staples.  Lewis and Stopa battled to double hill before Lewis prevailed 7-3 (Stopa racing to 4) to claim the hot seat.

On the loss side, Zingarella ran right into his rematch against Josh Staples, who’d defeated Ryan McCrum 4-2 and Anthony Petruzelli 4-1 to reach him. Cullen picked up a rematch, as well, against Jim Gravel. They’d met in a winners’ side quarterfinal, won, double hill, by Cullen. Gravel then eliminated Lukas Fracasso-Verner (no small feat) 4-4 (Fracasso-Verner racing to 6) and Tim Lavigne 5-2.

Staples and Gravel handed Zingarella and Cullen their second straight loss; Staples executing a successful rematch, downing Zingarella, double hill, and Gravel eliminating Cullen 4-3 (Cullen racing to 6). In a 4-5 race, Staples won the quarterfinal match over Gravel 4-1.

Staples and Stopa then faced each other in a straight-up race to 4 semifinal that was the final match of the event. Staples prevailed 4-2. Staples and Lewis agree to the split and the day was done.

Tour director Marc Dionne thanked the ownership and staff at Yale Billiards, as well as sponsors Predator, BCAPL, USAPL New England, Fargo Rate, Bert Kinister, AZBilliards, Inside English, Professor Q-ball’s National Pool and 3-Cushion News, Delta 13 Racks, MJS Construction, Bob Campbell with Lease Fundings, Master Billiards and OTLVISE Billiard Mechanics of America.

The next stop on the New England 9-Ball Series (#11), scheduled for January 11, will feature two separate events; one for FargoRates of 525 and above and another for FargoRates of 524 and below (players must qualify to compete). The winner of each event will win an all-expenses paid trip to the BCAPL World Championships in Las Vegas in March.

Ahmed goes undefeated to capture first regional title on NE 9-Ball Series

(l to r): Phil Walton, Brian Tierney & Shiekh Ahmed

Three of the four matches that Shiekh Ahmed played to arrive at a winners’ side semifinal during the 4th stop on the New England 9-Ball Series on the weekend of October 19-20, went double hill. Working from the event’s lower (Fargo Rate) bracket, in straight-up races to 5, he gave up four racks to all but one opponent. He was sent to the loss side in the winners’ side semifinal match, won three on that side of the bracket and then, double-dipped hot seat occupant Brian Tierney to claim his first recorded event title. The $500-added event drew 42 entrants to Yale Billiards in Wallingford, CT.
 
Looking for your first regional title, getting locked up in two straight double hill fights right out of the gate can’t be encouraging. Ahmed survived his opener against Mark Menillo and his second match against John Porto, before he caught a bit of break and was able to down Sarah Archer 5-2. He was right back in the soup for the winners’ side quarterfinal, where once again, he had to play a single, deciding game. He won that game versus Mike Zingarella and advanced to a winners’ side semifinal against Phil Walton.
 
Meanwhile, in the upper bracket neighborhood, Brian Tierney, following a bye, was working his way toward the hot seat with victories over Dennis Brewer 6-4, Ryan Cullen 4-4 (Cullen racing to 7) and Tom D’Alfonso 4-5 (D’Alfonso racing to 8) to arrive at his winners’ side semifinal against Brett Cavazos.
 
Tierney sent Cavazos to the loss side, double hill (6-5) and in the hot seat match faced Walton, who’d sent Ahmed over 4-3 (Ahmed racing to 5). Tierney claimed the hot seat 7-1 over Walton and waited on the return of Ahmed.
 
Ahmed moved over and picked up Kevin Brule, who was in the midst of a roller-coaster, five-match, loss-side winning streak, in which he’d shut out two opponents (Liana Pitre and Mike Zingarella), gave up a single rack to two more (Aundria Reynolds and Mark Menillo) and survived a double hill match against a fifth (Justin Bertrand). Brett Cavazos picked up Lukas Fracasso-Verner, who was working on a six-match, loss-side streak that had most recently eliminated Frank Porto 6-1 and shut out Tom D’Alfonso.
 
Ahmed advanced to the quarterfinals by recording his fourth double hill win, over Brule. He was joined by Fracasso-Verner, who won his seventh loss-side match 6-2 over Cavazos (racing to 4).
 
With Fracasso-Verner racing to 7, Ahmed advanced 4-7 to his semifinal rematch against Walton. With Walton racing to 4, Ahmed earned his shot at Tierney in the hot seat with a 5-2 semifinal victory.
 
With Tierney racing to 6 in the first set, Ahmed won it 5-4. The second set, technically a loss-side match, featured a different dynamic, as the two squared off in a straight-up race to 5. Ahmed took that match 5-2 to claim his first event title.
 
Tour director Marc Dionne thanked the ownership and staff at Yale Billiards, as well as sponsors Predator Cues, BCAPL, USAPL New England, Fargo Rate, Bert Kinister, AZBilliards, Inside English, Professor Q-ball’s National Pool and 3-Cushion News, Delta 13 Racks, MJS Construction, Bob Campbell with Lease Fundings, Master Billiards and OTLVISE Billiard Mechanics of America. The next stop on the New England 9-Ball Series (#5), scheduled for Saturday, October 26, will be a $500-added event, hosted by Legends Billiards in Lewiston, ME.

Jeremy Sossei wins 2nd straight Larry Lisciotti Memorial

On the weekend of February 11-12, 2012 the East Coast Pool Tour hosted the 7th annual Larry Lisciotti Memorial at Branford Cue and brew in Branford CT. The $500 added event drew 46 players to the even race to 7 two day tournament.

On the A/B side of the bracket saw Jeremy Sossei cruising to the finals after a close first round hill hill match with Chuck Altomare. After that, Jeremy beat Tommy Seminaro Jr. 7-2, Brent Boemmels 7-0 and then Clint Thompson 7-1 to secure his spot in the hot seat match.

The C/D side of the Bracket saw a battle of hill hill matches. It was Eric Graven (C+) that fought his way to the hot seat match against Jeremy. Eric had wins over Dave Corley, Mike Zingarella, and Jeff Geremia

The hot seat match saw Jeremy Sossei take complete control from the start winning 7-1 against Eric Graven.

On the loser side of the bracket it was Steve Mack (A) coming back after losing his first match to Brent Boemmels 7-6, winning 9 matches in a row to play Jeremy in the finals. On his way back to the finals he beat Tom Torres, Rob Persia, John Ortiz, Phil Davis, Brent Boemmels, Lance Lisciotti 7-5, Clint Thompson 7-4, Dave Corley 7-5 Eric Graven 7-3.

Throughout the tournament Jeremy Sossei seemed to be the player to beat who looked to be playing perfect pool. He proved his point in the finals cruising to a 7-0 victory break and running 4 racks in the set. Jeremy pocketed $650 for first place while Mack settled with $440 for second place.

The break contest saw Damien Provost winning the $800 Greg Kucharski custom cue that was generously donated to the tournament.