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Sebastian Kas goes undefeated to win Garden State Pool Tour’s Amateur 8-Ball Champion

Sebastian Kas

In his first win on the Garden State Pool Tour, and as far as we know, his first win anywhere, Sebastion Kas became the tour’s Amateur 8-Ball Champion last weekend (Sunday, May 1). Kas worked his way through the field of 47, downing Julie Madlener twice; hot seat and finals. It was Madlener’s second recorded victory on the tour, having finished in the tie for 9th at a stop in Rockaway, NJ this past February. The $400-added Amateur 8-Ball Championship was hosted by Shooter’s Family Billiards in Wayne, NJ.

Kas’ path to the winners’ circle went through Deo Alpojara, Jimmy (Silky) Acosta and Mikhail Kim to arrive at a winners’ side semifinal against Hunter Sullivan. Madlener, in the meantime, had bested Al Lewis, Kervens Francois, and Ginny Lewis to arrive at her winners’ side semifinal matchup versus Frank Kasetta.

Kas and Madlener advanced to their first (recorded) tournament hot seat match. Kas had sent Sullivan to the loss side 6-2, as Madlener was busy shutting Kasetta out to earn her spot in the winners’ side final. Sebastion claimed the hot seat 7-4 and waited on Madlener’s return.

On the loss side, Sullivan and Kasetta downed the first opponents they faced on that side of the bracket and squared off in the quarterfinals. The match went double hill before Sullivan prevailed. The two competitors who met in the semifinals were both battling for a second chance against Kas, waiting in the hot seat for one of them. After trading racks throughout the contest, Madlener advanced for a second shot at him.

Each of the finalists added a rack to their performance against each other in the hot seat match. Kas completed his undefeated run to claim his first Garden State Pool Tour title and its 8-Ball Championship.

Tour representatives thanked Kris Consolvo Kemp and her staff at Shooter’s Family Billiards, all the players who competed, and tour sponsors Kamui, Billiards Engineering, and John Bender Custom Cues. The Garden State Pool Tour will set up two separate events for its next stop. On Saturday, May 21, there will be an ABCD 9-Ball event and on Sunday, May 22, a CD 9-Ball event, both hosted by Players Billiards in Eatontown, NJ. 

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Ng goes undefeated, downs Velez in finals on Garden State Pool Tour

Richard Ng

Richard Ng returned to a winners’ circle on Sunday, April 10, when he went undefeated at a stop on the Garden State Pool Tour. The $350-added, ABCD 9-Ball event drew 29 entrants to Clifton Billiards in Clifton, NJ.  

Last seen in the winners’ circle as the undefeated winner of a 2015-2016 stop on the Tri-State Tour, before it became the Predator Tri-State Tour, Ng had to battle through his opening matches to get to the hot seat. He went double hill in his opener against Tri Chau, before winning two straight games that came within a game of double hill, versus Mikhail Kim and, in the winners’ side semifinal that punched his ticket to the hot seat match, Tae Chang. Facing him in that match was Sung Lee, who’d had his own struggles getting there, facing two straight double-hill matches, against Ron Litchenberger and Frank Kasseta, before downing Mike Strassberg, and in the other winners’ side semifinal, Kervin Santamaria. 

Ng and Lee fought back and forth to a 4-4 tie, before Lee surged ahead by two racks. Ng responded with four in a row to claim the hot seat.

On the loss side, Velez picked up Tae Chang, downing him in what was described by tour officials as a cliff-hanger win. Velez followed with victories over Satamaria in the quarterfinals and Lee in the semifinals, both 7-4.

Ng allowed Velez only a single rack and claimed the event title.

Tour representatives noted that while not among the top four finishers, Kathy Croom “battled her way to a stunning, 5th place finish.” Croom had failed to win a set in her previous five events and hadn’t won a game in her last outing. Congratulations were extended for her 3-2 showing and first cash winnings at this stop on the tour.

Tour representatives thanked Vincent Sauro and his Clifton Billiards staff, along with all of the event’s participating players. The next stop on the Garden State Pool Tour will be its 4th Annual NJ State Amateur Championships. The two-day event, scheduled for the weekend of April 30-May 1, will be hosted by Shooter’s Family Billiards in Wayne, NJ.

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Cha chalks up his first Predator Tri-State Tour win

Henry Cha

The first-place prize in this past weekend’s (March 12) stop on the Predator Tri-State Tour, combined with the cash he pocketed for finishing 17th at the B & L Open 10-Ball Championship in Maryland last month, put Henry Cha just over halfway toward a goal of surpassing his 2021 earnings at the tables; his best year of three in which he has recorded payouts. It was also his first win since he earned his first cash payout, taking the September, 2020 season opener of the Mac Attack Tour. The $1,000-added Predator Tri-State stop this past weekend drew 26 entrants to Cue Bar in Bayside (Queens), NY. 

Cha opened his campaign against Dave Callaghan, who gave him a double-hill run for his money, before Cha prevailed to advance. Cha then faced and defeated Robert Calton (6-3), who’d defeated him at a Predator Tri-State tour stop twice last May, at the same location, in the hot seat and finals. Cha then sent Mikhail Kim to the loss side 6-4 to draw Tommy Schreiber in one of the winners’ side semifinals. In the meantime, KC Clayton’s march to the hot seat match began with a bye, after which he downed Linda Cheung 5-2 and Carlos Duque 5-3 to arrive at his winners’ side semifinal against Jay Chiu.

Cha downed Schreiber 6-4, as Clayton got by Chiu 5-3. In his second recorded hot seat match since he’d lost to Calton, two years ago, Cha sent Clayton to the semifinals 8-4.

On the loss side, Schreiber drew Kim, who, following his defeat versus Cha in a winners’ side quarterfinal, had downed Julian Tierney, double hill and Kevin Shin 6-4. Chiu picked up Duque, who’d lost his winners’ side quarterfinal to Clayton and advanced to eliminate Suzzie Wong and Cheung, both double hill.

Chiu ran right into his second straight loss, which advanced Duque to the quarterfinals 5-3. Schreiber joined him after eliminating Kim 6-4.

Schreiber and Duque locked up in a quarterfinal, double hill fight (the fifth of the event’s final 14 matches) that sent Schreiber to the semifinals against Clayton. The sixth double hill fight among the final 14 eventually sent Clayton back for a rematch against Cha, waiting for him in the hot seat. 

The finals brought the total number of double hill fights to half of the final 14. Clayton was looking for his first recorded victory after his best recorded earnings year (2021), in which he’d finished either 4th or 5th (three each) at six stops on the Predator Tri-State Tour. He had to settle for his first runner-up finish on the tour because Cha dropped the last 9-ball to claim the event title.

Tour representatives thanked the ownership and staff at Cue Bar, as well as title sponsor Predator Cues, Ozone Billiards, Sterling Billiards, Kamui, Quick Stick, Bloodworth Ball Cleaner, Joe Romer Trophies, Phil Capelle Publications and Pool and Billiards. The Predator Tri-State Tour will return to Cue Bar, for a formerly cancelled stop, on the Sunday, April 3.

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Mierzwa and Zaveri split top prizes on Predator Tri-State Tour stop in Wayne, NJ

Jaydev Zaveri and Jan Mierzwa

According to our records, all of the money that Jan Mierzwa has won playing pool over the past nine years has been won on the Tri-State and Predator Tri-State Tour. Two years ago, he came as close as he’d ever come to the winners’ circle, finishing as runner-up to Frank Seiczka at a Tri-State stop in Clifton, NJ. He has now chalked up what would appear to be his first regional tour win anywhere on the Predator Tri-State Tour this past weekend (Sat. Feb. 5). His would-have-been opponent in the finals, Jaydev Zaveri, was looking for his first win on the tour in two weeks shy of two years (Jan. 18, 2020). But when the time came, dawn on Sunday was closer ahead of them than sunset on Saturday was behind them and they agreed mutually to a split of the top two prizes. The $500-added event drew 37 entrants to Shooter’s Family Billiards in Wayne, NJ.

The two met first in a winners’ side quarterfinal. Mierzwa had started his day with a double hill win over Julian Tierney, after which he got by Dave Callaghan, Tae Chang and then, drew Zaveri in a winners’ side quarterfinal. He sent Zaveri off to the loss side 7-5 and advanced to meet an up-and-coming junior player, Aiden Wagner, in one of the winners’ side semifinals. Kerven Francois, in the meantime, squared off against Mac Jankov in the other one.

Mierzwa downed Wagner 7-4 and advanced to the hot seat match. Francois joined him after surviving a double hill battle against Jankov. In what would prove to be his last match of the night, Mierzwa claimed the hot seat 7-4 over Francois.

On the loss side, Jankov picked up Ty Classen, who’d recently eliminated KC Clayton 6-4 and Jay Chiu 6-2 to reach him. Wagner drew Zaveri, who, after his loss to Mierzwa, had defeated Mikhail Kim 7-4 and Nick Torraca 7-3.

A 7-4 win by Zaveri over Wagner and a shutout by Classen over Jankov sent Zaveri and Classen to the quarterfinals, where a double hill fight ensued. Zaveri prevailed to face his last obstacle to a rematch against Mierzwa; Francois in the semifinals.

The final match of the night came to within a game of double hill, but in the end, Zaveri earned his shot at Mierzwa, downing Francois 8-6 in those semifinals. The decision to opt out of the final match was made, the split was negotiated and the competitors, what was left of them, headed out into the chilly, Sunday morning air. As occupant of the hot seat at the time, Mierzwa was the official winner of the event.

Tour representatives thanked the ownership and staff at Shooter’s Family Billiards, as well as title sponsor Predator Cues, Ozone Billiards, Sterling Billiards, Kamui, Quick Stick, Bloodworth Ball Cleaner, Joe Romer Trophies, Phil Capelle Publications and Pool and Billiards. The next stop on the Predator Tri-State Tour, scheduled for the weekend of Feb. 26-27, will be hosted by Cue Bar in Bayside (Queens), NY.

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.

Robinson comes from the loss side, wins first regional tour event on the Predator Pro Am Tour

(l to r): Nick Croce, Sherwin Robinson, Eric Toledo & Ron Bernardo

Between them, the winner, runner-up and third-place finisher in this past weekend’s (Feb. 8-9) stop on the Predator Pro Am Tour at Steinway Billiards, had only 10 recorded cash finishes in any regional tour events anywhere. Nick Croce, who finished third, had half of those. Eventual hot seat occupant and runner-up Erick Toledo had four, one per year, all on the Predator Tour dating back to 2008 (’19, ’10, ’09 & ’08). His best, before this past weekend, was his third-place finish in ’08. The eventual winner, Sherwin Robinson, had only one recorded cash finish anywhere, that occurred two years ago on the Predator Pro Am, when he made it as far as a winners’ side semifinal, before forfeiting out of that match and finishing in the tie for 5th place.

Robinson, Toledo and Croce earned their top cash finishes by navigating through a relatively large field that included some of the tour’s more recognizable competitors. Robinson, for example, in his first loss-side match, eliminated B+ player Pascal Dufresne, who’s fresh off his best recorded earnings year (2019), in which he won two stops each on the Predator Pro Am and Tri-State tours and whose recorded cash finishes last year alone were three short of the total for Robinson, Toledo and Croce over the last 10 years. The $1,000-added event drew 87 entrants to Steinway Billiards in Astoria (Queens), NY.

Toledo and Robinson met first in a winners’ side semifinal, as Croce and Ray Feliciano squared off in the other one. Toledo got into the hot seat match with a 7-4 win over Robinson. Croce joined him after defeating Feliciano 7-1. Toledo moved into his first (recorded) hot seat match and won it 9-5 over Croce, assuring himself his best (recorded) finish ever, regardless of what happened in the finals.

On the loss side, Robinson launched his three-match, loss-side journey against Dufresne, who was in the midst of an eight-match, loss-side winning streak that had recently included a double hill win over Arturo Reyes and a 7-1 victory over Duc Lam. Feliciano picked up Ron Bernardo, fresh off of two straight, double hill matches versus DeMain Patrick and Kanami Chau.

Identical 7-4 scores sent Robinson and Bernardo to the quarterfinals, over Dufresne and Feliciano. Robinson went on to defeat Bernardo in those quarterfinals 8-6 and Croce, in the semifinals 8-5.

It was going to be either Robinson or Toledo walking away with his first (recorded) regional tour win. It was Robinson, edging out in front of Toledo at the end and winning the match 9-7, who chalked up the event title.

A Second Chance, single-elimination event that drew 15 entrants saw Jason Goberdhan down Mikhail Kim 7-3 in the finals to claim the $160 first-place prize. Kim pocketed $100 as runner-up, while Dave Callaghan, who’d been defeated by Kim, and Julian Tierney, who’d been defeated by Goberdhan, each took home $30. An 11-entrant, single elimination Third Chance event was won by Jose Mendes, who downed Juan Guzman, double hill, in the finals. Mendes pocketed $130. Guzman took home $90.

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 & 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 this coming weekend (Feb. 15-16), will be hosted by Raxx Billiards in West Hempstead, NY.