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Valania goes undefeated, splits top two prizes with Zaveri on Predator Tri-State Tour

Jaydev Zaveri and Joe Valania

Back in February, Joe Valania chalked up what was only his second recorded event victory anywhere at a stop on the Garden State Tour. His first victory, recorded two years previously, was awarded when, as occupant of the hot seat at the time, he and Daniel Dagotdot split the top two prizes at a stop on the Mac Attack Tour. In reporting on the Garden State Tour stop in February, we noted that the win made 2022 Valania’s best recorded earnings year. This past weekend (Saturday, May 7), he added to his best recorded earnings year with his third recorded victory, this time on the Predator Tri-State Tour, though like the 2020 win on the Mac Attack Tour, he and the runner-up (Jaydev Zaveri) split the top two prizes. The $500-added 10-Ball event drew 37 entrants to Shooter’s Family Billiards in Wayne, NJ.

It is worthy of note that just below the headliners (Valania and Zaveri), third-place finisher, Sabrina Sherman, came in search of what might have been her second tour win. She had previously recorded only three cash finishes on the tour, including an undefeated run at a stop in February 2019, when she split the top two prizes with Mac Jankov (the ‘Mac’ in Mac Attack Tour). Sherman’s bid to record her second tour win was derailed when she forfeited out of the semifinals, allowing Zaveri to leapfrog from the quarterfinals, directly into the finals, which, as it happened, didn’t happen. 

Valania and Zaveri did meet in this most recent event, in a winners’ side semifinal. Valania had opened with a double hill win over Mac Jankov before sending Dave Fitzpatrick and Jason Goberdhan to the loss side and drawing Zaveri in that winners’ side semifinal. Sherman, in the meantime, had embarked on a bit of a roller coaster ride through her first three opponents, shutting out Donald Henriquez and then, surviving two straight double-hill matches against Tom Crane and Marc Lamberti before running into Jay Chiu in the other winners’ side semifinal.

In what was described by tour representatives as a “stunning upset,” Valania defeated Zaveri 6-1, while Sherman was busy sending Chiu to the loss side 5-3. In what would prove to be the last match for both of them, Valania claimed the hot seat over Sherman 5-1.

Zaveri and Chiu picked up rematches against the two competitors that they’d sent to the loss side in two of the winners’ side quarterfinals. On the loss side, Julian Tierney downed Luis Jimenez 6-2 and Mike Strassberg 6-4 to get to his rematch against Zaveri, while Nick Torraca defeated Rich Cardillo 5-2 and Shweta Zaveri (Jaydev’s wife) 6-4 to draw his rematch against Chiu.

Zaveri and Chiu defeated Tierney and Torraca a second time; Zaveri over Tierney 6-4 and Chiu over Torraca 5-3. In what would prove to be his final match, Zaveri defeated Chiu 6-3 in the quarterfinals.

At that point, with Sherman having already forfeited the semifinals, Zaveri and Valania opted out of a final match. The split of the top two prizes was negotiated and the two went their separate ways in plenty of time (sleep included) to enjoy their Mother’s Day celebrations. 

Tour representatives thanked the ownership and staff at Shooter’s Family Billiards for their hospitality, as well as title sponsor Predator Cues, Ozone Billiards, Sterling-Gaming, Kamui Tips, Phil Capelle, BlueBook Publishing, Human Kinetics, Pool & Billiards, Romer Trophies and Professor Q Ball. The next stop on the Tri-State Tour, scheduled for May 21-22, will be hosted by Cue Bar in Bayside (Queens), NY.     

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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.