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Couvrette comes from the loss side, claims first regional tour title on the Garden State Pool Tour

Michel Couvrette and Robert Calton

As Yogi Berra was famous for saying about the game of baseball, a pool match “ain’t over ‘til it’s over” either. Just ask Michael Couvrette, who, this past weekend (April 2-3), not only had to win five on the loss side, but in a two-set final, was a single game away from defeat, twice; down by nine racks in a race to 10, with his opponent (Marc Lamberti) on the hill. He fought back to win them both, claiming his first recorded regional tour title and his first recorded cash payout since he was runner-up to Borana Andoni at a stop on the Mezz Pro Am Tour, eight years ago.

Overall, it was a strongly competitive weekend at the Garden State Pool Tour’s $450-added, B/C/D Class 9-ball event that drew 53 entrants to Rockaway Billiards in Rockaway, NJ. One-third of the event’s 105 matches went double hill, three of them in a row recorded by Couvrette, on the loss side of the double elimination bracket.

Couvrette started out with three winners’ side victories over Tony Robles (not the pro) and Gary Barnish, both 7-4, and downed Paul Raval 7-2, before running into Joe Valania in a winners’ side quarterfinal. Knotted at 5 in that match, Valania chalked up three in a row to send Couvrette to the loss-side portion of his title-winning run. Valania moved on to face Robert Calton in a winners’ side semifinal, as Lamberti and Rich Cardillo squared off in the other one. 

Lamberti and Cardillo recorded one of the event’s 35 double hill matches, which eventually advanced Lamberti to the hot seat match. He was joined by Calton, who’d defeated Valania 7-4. Lamberti claimed the hot seat 8-4, blissfully unaware of the “victory from the jaws of defeat” battle he’d be fighting before the night was over.

On the loss side, Couvrette worked his way through two straight double hill matches against Nelson Tran and C.J. Chey, before drawing a rematch against Valania. Cardillo, in the meantime, in his first loss-side match, drew Jay Pass.

Pass downed Cardillo to advance to the quarterfinals, as Couvrette chalked up his third straight double hill win in a successful rematch against Valania to join him. Couvrette took down Pass 8-4 in those quarterfinals and then, eliminated Calton 7-5 in the semifinals.

At the start of the two-set finals, needing to win them both, Couvrette began with ‘five on the wire’ in a race to 10. Lamberti took Couvrette’s handicap advantage out of the equation when he jumped out in front 6-1. In the now-race-to-4, Lamberti won the next three to reach the hill. Couvrette went on his first serious run of the opening set, chalking up the next eight matches. With both of them on the hill, Lamberti opted out of playing safe to go for a risky combination that failed. Couvrette stepped to the table and completed the rack to force a second set. 

In the second set, Lamberti once again got out in front by eight racks and was on the hill, one game from claiming the title. Couvrette came back again, knotting things at 9-9 and finished with a flourish; breaking and running the final rack to claim the event title.

Tour representatives thanked room owners, Paul and Gary, and their Rockaway Billiards staff for hosting the tour. The next stop on the Garden City Tour, scheduled for Sunday, April 10, will be and A through D-class 9-ball event, hosted by Clifton Billiards in Clifton, NJ.

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Valania wins his first in two years, going undefeated on the Garden State Tour

Robert Calton and Joe Valania

About 18 months ago (Sept. 2020), Joe Valania and Daniel Dagotdot split the top two prizes on the second stop of the Mac Attack Tour in Clifton, NJ. As the undefeated occupant of the hot seat at the time, Valania was declared the official winner and in effect, hadn’t been heard from since, at least on any recorded payout lists. That Mac Attack Tour victory was only Valania’s second recorded payout anywhere, since he’d finished 17th in a Windy City Open 9-Ball event, 17 years ago.

On Saturday, Feb. 12, not only did Valania chalk up his second recorded win anywhere (of three payouts in the money), this time on the Garden State Tour (Stop #3), but in so doing, he turned 2022 into his best recorded earnings year at the tables, picking up more cash in the one event than he earned in the previous two. The $600-added event drew 61 entrants to Rockaway Billiards in Rockaway, NJ.

Four of the first five matches that Valania played went double hill; only his winners’ side quarterfinal match against Frank Kasetta, which he won 6-4, avoided that fate, though only by a game. In a final deciding game, he got by (in order), Ginny Lewis, Marc Lamberti, Steve Persaud, after which he downed Kasetta to meet newcomer Onexi Flores. 

Rob Calton, in the meantime, who’d battle Valania twice (hot seat and finals), had to survive two double hill fights in his run to the winners’ side semifinals. He sent Chris Schmidt 7-5, Paul Raval 7-3, Rafael Acosta (double hill) and Jaydev Zaveri (double hill) to the loss side and turned to face Kevin Scalzitti in the other winners’ side semifinal.

Flores and Valania battled to double hill, as well, for a seat at the hot seat match table. Valania won it to face Calton, who’d downed Scalzitti 7-5. With Valania prevailing in yet another double hill fight to claim the hot seat, half of the 12 matches the two combatants had played went double hill.

On the loss side, Flores and Scalzitti handed David Jusis and Christian Orque their second straight loss and turned against each other in the quarterfinals. Flores prevailed 7-5 over Scalzitti to join Robert Calton in the semifinals. They’d both been sent to the loss side by Valania, waiting for one of them in the hot seat.

It was Calton who got the second shot at him, punctuating the semifinal victory by shutting Flores out. In the extended-race-to-9 finals, Calton needed to reach seven racks first for a chance to extend the race to nine games. Didn’t happen. At 2-2, Valania chalked up the next five to complete his undefeated run and claim his second regional tour title.

Valania will likely be looking to chalk up his third regional tour victory when the Garden State Tour settles in for an event this weekend (Sat., Feb. 26), at the site where Valania picked up his first – Clifton Billiards in Clifton, NJ. 

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Uzdejczyk chalks up his third 2014 Tri-State title

Andrew Cleary, Bogie Uzdjeczyk and Mike Zimny

With 2013 being the only exception, Bogie Uzdejczyk has won two events on the Tri-State Tour,  three out of the last four years. His only event victory last year was on the Predator Tour. He has apparently decided to make up for lost time. On Saturday, May 10, he chalked up his third win on the 2014 Tri-State Tour, following his January win in Brooklyn and a February victory in Queens; all by going undefeated. The $1,000-added AB-CD event was hosted by Castle Billiards in East Rutherford, NJ, where 43 entrants came out to play.
 
Uzdejczyk's AB trail went through Paul Raval, Doug Youmans, and Borana "Queen B" Andoni, before drawing Vincent Ferri in a winners' side semifinal. Andrew Cleary, in the meantime,  playing on the CD side of things initially, went through Bernie Vogelsang, Eddie Perez, Pat Mareno and Jessica Lynn Greibeslad, to face Jan Mierzwa in the other semifinal. Uzdejczyk defeated Ferri 7-4 and turned to face Cleary, who'd defeated Mierzwa 6-4. Uzdejczyk claimed his third Tri-State hot seat with an 8-6 win over Cleary, and waited on what turned out to be Mike Zimny.
 
Zimny, who was among the final eight on the winners' side, had been denied a winners' side semifinal match by Ferri. He moved to the loss side and began his five-match march to the finals. He took out Youmans 7-2 and Andoni 7-4 to draw a re-match versus Ferri. Jan Mierzwa drew Dave Jusis, who'd eliminated Ed Huth and Eddie DaCosta, both 6-2.
 
Zimny took the re-match over Ferri 7-5, as Mierzwa defeated Jusis 6-3. Zimny completed his loss-side run with a 7-3 win over Mierzwa in the quarterfinals and a 7-2 victory over Cleary in the semifinals. 
 
Zimny got out to an early lead over Uzdejczyk in the finals, and was ahead by three when he reached seven games, forcing an extension to nine games. Uzdejczyk broke and ran the next rack, and then won four more to stop Zimny in his tracks and claim the event title.
 
Tour representatives thanked the ownership and staff at Castle Billiards, as well as sponsors Sterling-Gaming, Ozone Billiards, Qpod, Cues, Kamui Tips, Phil Capelle, BlueBook Publishing, and Human Kinetics. The next stop on the Tri-State Tour, scheduled for Saturday, May 17, will be hosted by House of Billiards on Staten Island. The following weekend – May 24-26 – the 4th Annual George "Ginky" Sansouci Memorial Tournament, with Amateur and Pro events and sponsored by the Tri-State, Predator and Mezz Tours, will be held at Steinway Billiards in Astoria, NY.

Jusis and Simonetti split top prize on Tri-State Tour stop

Scott Simonetti, Dave

Coming through the C-D side of a 59-player field, Dave Jusis met and defeated A-B player Scott Simonetti twice to claim the Tri-State Tour stop title, his first, on Saturday, February 8. The $1,000-added event was hosted by Castle Billiards in East Rutherford, NJ.
 
Divided early, into A-B and C-D brackets, Jusis got by Gil Costello, Tony Ignomirello, Paul Wilkens, and Mike Farley, before meeting up with Mike Strassburg in the C-D final. Simonetti, in the meantime, defeated Geoff Bauer, Bob Labelestein, and Paul Raval before squaring off against Stewart Warnock in the A-B final. Jusis downed Strassburg double hill, to be met in the battle for the hot seat by Simonetti, who'd sent Warnock to the losers' bracket 7-3. Jusis sent Simonetti to the semifinals 9-7 and sat in the hot seat to await his return.
 
Strassburg moved over to pick up Paul Wilkens, who, after being defeated by Jusis in the third round, went on a six-match, loss-side winning streak that would take him as far as the semifinals. He defeated Quinn Chen, Mike Figueroa, Eddie Perez and Mike Farley to face Strassburg. Warnock drew Bogie Uzdejczyk, who was on a six-match, loss-side streak of his own, having eliminated Chuck Giallorenzo, Roger Hanos, Mike Zimny, Geoff Bauer, Paul Raval and Max Watanabe.
 
Wilkens survived a double hill match against Strassburg and in the quarterfinals, faced Warnock, who'd ended Uzdejczyk's winning streak 7-1. Wilkens and Warnock locked horns in a double hill fight that eventually advanced Wilkens to meet Simonetti in the semifinals.
 
Simonetti, in what proved to be the final match of the evening, defeated Wilkens 9-7. He and Jusis opted out of playing a final match, allowing the undefeated Jusis to lay claim to the event title.
 
Tour representatives thanked the ownership and staff at Castle Billiards for their hospitality and continuing support of the tour, as well as sponsors Sterling-Gaming, Ozone Billiards, Qpod, Cues, Kamui Tips, Phil Capelle, BlueBook Publishing, and Human Kinetics. The next stop on the Tri-State Tour, scheduled for Sunday, February 16, will be hosted by Rockaway Billiards in Rockaway, NJ.

Hosang goes undefeated on Tri-State Tour

Paul Wilkins, Geovanni Hosang and Mike Figueroa

Facing separate opponents in the battle for the hot seat and finals, Geovanni Hosang downed them both to go undefeated on the Saturday, November 16 stop on the Tri-State Tour. The $1,000-added event drew 28 entrants to Clifton Billiards, in Clifton, NJ.
 
Following victories over Brett Fenstermacher, Mike Zimny, and Paul Raval, Hosang faced Max Wantanabe among the winners' side final four. Mike Figueroa, in the meantime, met up with Paul Wilkens. Hosang got into the battle for the hot seat with a 7-2 over Wantanabe, and was joined by Figueroa, who'd sent Wilkens to the loss side 6-3. Hosang hung on to win the hot seat battle, double hill, and waited on what turned out to be the return of Wilkens.
 
On the loss side, Wantanabe drew Mike Zimny, who'd defeated Paul Raval 7-1 and Kyle Bubet 7-4. Wilkens drew Shivam Gupta, who'd eliminated Jaydev Zaveri 6-1 and Mike Strassberg 6-4. Wantanabe and Wilkens ended Zimny and Gupta's loss-side exercises; Wantanabe, double hill over Zimny, and Wilkens, 6-2 over Gupta.
 
Wilkens earned himself a second shot against Figueroa with a 7-3 victory over Wantanabe in the quarterfinals. He then took full advantage, earning himself a shot at Hosang in the hot seat, with a double hill victory over Figueroa in the semifinals. 
 
Early in the finals, Wilkens took two, two-point leads. He got out in front 2-0, and after Hosang tied things up, he jumped ahead 4-2. Hosang tied things up a second time, and then won three more to finish things and claim the event title.
 
Tour representatives thanked the ownership and staff at Clifton Billiards, as well as sponsors Sterling-Gaming, Ozone Billiards, Qpod, Heptig Cues, Kamui Tips, Phil Capelle, BlueBook Publishing, and Human Kinetics. The next Tri-State stop, scheduled for November 23-24, will be hosted by Steinway Billiards in Astoria (Queens), NY. 

DaBreo goes undefeated on Tri-State; splits cash with Nunez

Will Nunez, Raphael DaBreo and Chris DeCaprio

Must be something about the combination of month and location because for the second year in a row, Raphael Dabreo has chalked up a victory on the Tri-State tour in August at Castle Billiards in East Rutherford, NJ. This most recent event was a $1,000-added A-D handicapped event, held on the weekend of August 3-4, that drew 48 entrants, including Will Nunez, with whom DaBreo eventually split the top two prizes.
 
Those two met first among the winners' side final four, while Chris DeCaprio and Eddie Perez were going head to head in the other winners' side semifinal.  DaBreo took the first of his two against Nunez 7-5, and in the hot seat contest, faced DeCaprio, who'd sent Perez over 6-4. DaBreo, an A-ranked player, was challenged by the C player, DeCaprio; forced to play a deciding 15th game, which he won.
 
Meanwhile, Nunez was working his way back from the loss bracket. He picked up Keith Adamik, who'd gotten by Carl Yusuf Khan 7-4 and survived a double hill match against Paul Raval. Perez drew Dennis Quinn, who'd defeated Sam Hoffman, double hill, and Mike Strassberg 6-3. Nunez and Perez moved on to the quarterfinals; Nunez 7-4 over Adamik, Perez 6-4 over Quinn.
 
Nunez took the quarterfinal match against Perez 7-4, and downed DeCaprio in the semifinals 6-4. DaBreo and Nunez opted out of a final match, leaving the undefeated DaBreo in possession of the official event title holder.
 
Tour representatives, including new addition to the crew, Rick Shellhouse, thanked the ownership and staff at Castle Billiards, as well as sponsors Sterling-Gaming, Ozone Billiards, Qpod Cues, Kamui Tips, Phil Capelle, BlueBook Publishing, and Human Kinetics.

Ng goes undefeated on Tri-State Tour stop

Mike Harrington, Richard Ng and room owner Isabel Buckley

Richard Ng, a B-Class player on the Tri-State Tour, hadn’t chalked up an event victory since last June, at the tail end of the 2010/2011 season. In spite of that, he entered the weekend of June 9-10, ranked at #10 in the B-class standings for the 2011/2012 season, 80 points behind Dave Shlemperis and 45 points ahead of Borana Andoni.  He assured himself a strong move up the ladder with an undefeated weekend in a $2,500-added, B-D handicapped Tri-State event that drew 64 entrants to Gotham City Billiards, in Brooklyn, NY.

Following victories over Edward Ng (not related), Raul Reyes (a fellow B player, ranked # 6), Paul Raval (a shutout) and Alex Osipov, Ng moved among the winners’ side final four, where he faced his toughest challenges; two straight double hill matches that left him in the hot seat. He defeated Scott Bannon, and was joined in the battle for the hot seat by Mike Harrington, who’d sent Mike Strassberg west, also double hill. In their first of two, Ng defeated Harrington and waited on his return.

On the loss side, Bannon picked up Carl Yusuf Khan, who’d defeated Annie Flores 7-2 and Osipov, 7-6. Strassberg drew Mesdhak Daniel, who’d gotten by Rick Shellhouse 6-2 and Lou Loria 6-3. Bannon and Strassberg got right back on track; Bannon downing Khan 7-2, and Strassberg defeating Daniel 7-3. 

It was Bannon advancing to meet Harrington in the semifinals with a 9-5 win over Strassberg in the quarterfinals. Bannon put up a fight to get a second crack at Ng, but Harrington prevailed, double hill, to earn the second chance. Harrington and Ng battled back and forth to a 3-3 tie in the finals, before Ng took command, winning four straight to secure the event title.

In addition to the regular Tri-State event, Gotham City Billiards, in conjunction with Bill Hoffman, conducted two Mid-Atlantic qualifiers for the Billiards Educational Foundation’s Junior National Championships, set for July 11-12 at Romine’s High Pockets in Greenfield WI. Thomas Price won the 14-and-under tournament, with a victory over Robert Buckley. In the 15-to-18 group, it was Brendon Hallock over Sam Hoffman. The winners will join over 150 young pool players in the national event, competing for prizes and the chance to represent the US in the World Pool-Billiard Association World Junior 9-Ball Championships.

Tour representatives thanked the ownership and staff at Gotham City Billiards for their hospitality, as well as sponsors Sterling-Gaming, Ozone Billiards, Ron Tarr Cues, Kamui Tips, Phil Capelle, BlueBook Publishing, and Human Kinetics. Next stop on the Tri-State Tour is a $1000-Added, A/D handicapped event, scheduled for June 16 at Carom Cafe & Billiards in  Flushing, NY.

Cintron goes undefeated for first Tri-State win since February

Rick Shellhouse and Dan Cintron

Dan Cintron began 2011 with two victories on the Tri-State Tour, and then slipped into something of a ‘bridesmaid’ role three times. He was defeated twice as the hot seat occupant (by Daniel Dagotdot in August, and Shi Wei Chang in September), and had an eight-match, loss-side winning streak come to an abrupt halt when he and two others opted out of continuing an October event that was greeting the dawn. On Saturday, December 10, at a $500-added, A-D handicapped event that drew 41 entrants to Castle Billiards in East Rutherford, NJ, Cintron advanced to the hot seat, following a victory over Rick Shellhouse, which, later, by mutual agreement, became the deciding match.

Cintron had a “fairly easy” ride to the hot seat, in spite of one double hill challenge from Paul Raval. From among the winners’ side final four, Cintron faced and defeated Scott Bannon 7-5, as Shellhouse was sending George Osipovich west 6-3. In what proved to be his final victory, he sent Shellhouse to the semifinals 10-7.

Bannon moved to the loss-side and ran right into the man he’d sent there earlier – Ed Culhane – who was in the midst of a six-match winning streak that would propel him into the semifinals. Culhane had defeated Scott Simonetti 7-4 and Mike Zimny 7-2 to set up the re-match. Osipovich picked up Greg Costanza, who’d gotten by Eddie Perez 7-5 and Kyle Bubet 7-3.

Culhane wreaked his vengeance with a 7-3 victory over Bannon, as Osipovich was busy surviving a double hill battle versus Costanza. Culhane concluded his six-match run with a 7-5 victory over Osipovich in the quarterfinals, and ran into a determined Shellhouse, who allowed him only a single rack in an 8-1 semifinal victory that proved to be the final match of the evening. Cintron and Shellhouse, good friends, opted out of a final match, declaring the undefeated Cintron as the winner.

Tour representatives thanked the staff and management of Castle Billiards for their hospitality, as well as sponsors Sterling-Gaming, Ozone Billiards, Ron Tarr Cues, Kamui Tips, Phil Capelle, BlueBook Publishing, and Human Kinetics. The Tri-State’s final stop of the year (not the tour’s season) is scheduled for Sunday, December 18, at The Cue Bar in Bayside, NY.