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Toomey and Mazzeo split top prizes on Tri-State Tour’s 2019/2020 season opener

(l to r): Bob Toomey & Joe Mazzeo

Negotiations for opting out of a tournament’s final match are often, though not always, conducted, if not secretly, at least away from the person who is sometimes holding the cash for its eventual distribution. And sometimes, hearing or reading about it afterwards, can make you wonder whose idea it was. A person who was defeated in the hot seat match, as a random example, is generally motivated to take a second shot against the opponent who sent him/her to the semifinals. Reasons for the cash split at the end of a long day can range from the practical (a long drive home, a work shift that begins late at night, or even early the next morning) to the personal (the opponents drove to the tournament together and agreed upon arrival that if faced with a final match, they’d split).
On Sunday, July 14, the Tri-State Tour opened its 2019/2020 season with a $1,000-added 8-Ball event that drew 29 entrants to Clifton Billiards in Clifton, NJ, where the 2018/2019 season had ended almost exactly a month ago. At the end of the tournament, Bob Toomey, the tour’s 2018/2019 Sportsman of the Year, was sitting in the hot seat, waiting to see whether the opponent he’d defeated in the hot seat match, Jason Blanchard, was going to make it back from the semifinals. He didn’t. Instead, Joe Mazzeo, who’d lost in the event’s second round and then embarked on a seven-match, loss-side winning streak, downed Blanchard and was presented with the opportunity to face Toomey in the final. Mazzeo, according to tour representatives, “decided to take second and end the day,” leaving the undefeated hot seat occupant (Toomey) as the event’s official winner.
Toomey’s path to the hot seat featured five matches, three of which went double hill. He downed Amanda Andries 5-2 and ran into his first double hill match against Rick Rodriguez. He then defeated Allison LaFleur 5-3 to draw Artur Trzeciak in one of the winners’ side semifinals. Blanchard, in the meantime, got by Chris Schmidt, Sam Hoffman, and Raphael Castillo, who’d sent Mazzeo to the loss side in the second round, to pick up Joe Ganguzza in the other winners’ side semifinal.
Toomey chalked up his second double hill win of the day, over Trzeciak, as Blanchard defeated Ganguzza 6-2 to join him in the hot seat match. In what would prove to be the event’s ‘title match,’ battling for the hot seat, Toomey won his third double hill battle and sent Blanchard to the semifinals.
On the loss side, Mazzeo was working on his seven-match, loss-side winning streak. He’d gotten by Chris Schmidt 6-3, John Durr, double hill, Nick Serino 6-2 and Teddy Lapadula 6-4 to draw Ganguzza. Trzeciak picked up Manny Gomez, who’d recently shut out Allison LaFleur and defeated Mike Strassberg 5-2.
Mazzeo advanced to the quarterfinals with a 6-3 win over Ganguzza. He was joined by Trzeciak, who’d eliminated Gomez 5-3. Mazzeo took the quarterfinal match over Trzeciak 6-3 and completed his loss-side run (and the tournament) with a 6-2 victory over Blanchard in the semifinals. He opted out of a final match, leaving Toomey as official winner of the Tri-State Tour’s season opener. 
Tour representatives thanked the ownership and staff at Clifton Billiards, as well as sponsors Ozone Billiards, Sterling Billiards, Kamui, DIGICUE OB, John Bender Custom Cues, Billiards Digest, Human Kinetics, Blue Book Publishing, Joe Romer Trophies and Phil Cappelle Publications. The next stop on the Tri-State Tour, scheduled for Sunday, June 21, will be a $1,000-added 9-ball event, hosted by Steinway Billiards in Astoria (Queens), NY.

Sookhai goes undefeated to take first of last three 2018/2019 Tri-State events

(l to r): Basdeo Sookhai & John Durr

With the end of the Tri-State Tour’s 2018/2019 season a mere two weeks/events away, the end-of-season invitational picture is becoming clearer. At the conclusion of an event at Clifton Billiards in Clifton, NJ on Saturday, June 15th, the Tri-State Tour will assess each of six different ranking categories to determine the top 16 players in each of those categories to determine who’ll be in attendance at the season-ending  Invitational Tournament, scheduled for the weekend of June 29-30 at Steinway Billiards. Typically, in these last weeks before the Invitational Tournament every year, players in all six divisions look to solidify their spot among the final 16, which has a way of creating a few ‘bubble’ matches between players at or near the cutoff point. In some cases, players among a particular division’s top 16 are unable to attend the season-ending Invitational, opening the door to players in the 17-20 range of a given division.
On the weekend of June 1-2, at a $1,500-added event that drew 32 entrants to Steinway Billiards in Astoria (Queens), NY, Basdeo “Shawn” Sookhai solidified his place among the tour’s A/A+ players by going undefeated through the field and taking home the event title. Sookhai came into the event in 8th place among the tour’s A/A+ players and barring any catastrophic circumstances, will be invited to attend the Invitational. Geovanni Hosang, who did not compete in this most recent event, is close enough in points to overtake him for the 8th slot on the A/A+ list if he competes in one or both of the remaining two events, but Sookhai is pretty much a lock to be invited.
Not so with Sookhai’s opponent in the hot seat match and efinals, one John Durr, who entered the tournament right at the #16 spot on the tour’s list of B players. Just below him in the 17th spot was Pashk Gjini, whom he met in a winners’ side quarterfinal. Durr sent Gjini to the loss side 7-5 and advanced to face Kunami Chau in one of the winners’ side semifinals. Sookhai, in the meantime, who’d gotten by Lidio Ramirez (double hill), Raphael Castillo and Amir Rashad Uddin, squared off against Liran Rabin in the other winners’ side semifinal.
Sookhai moved into the hot seat match on the heels of an 8-3 victory over Rabin. Durr joined him after downing Chau 7-3. Sookhai and Durr battled to double hill before Sookhai prevailed 7-6 to claim the hot seat.
Over on the loss side, Rabin picked up Raphael Castillo, who’d defeated Amir Rashad Uddin 7-5 and Bob Toomey 6-2. Chau drew Michael Fedak, who’d defeated Debra Pritchett 5-2 and Luis Lopez 6-2 to reach him. Lopez had previously eliminated Pashk Gjini, who finished in the four-way tie for 9th place, which might be enough to allow him to hold on to his 17th spot among the tour’s B players and possibly, if someone among the top 16 is unable to compete in the Invitational, give him the chance to compete.
Castillo and Fedak handed Rabin and Chau their second straight loss; Castillo 6-3 over Rabin and Fedak 6-1 over Chau. Castillo and Fedak fought to double hill in the quarterfinals that followed before Castillo advanced to meet Durr in the semifinals.
Durr ended Castillo’s day 7-5 in those semifinals and then, fell to Sookhai a second time, 7-5 in the finals. In the absence of any of his fellow B players, above him on the list, Durr’s runner-up finish should notch him up a step or two on that list, certainly above Frank Sieczka, who was tied in ranking points with Durr going into the event, and did not compete.
Tour representatives thanked Manny Stamatakis and his Steinway Billiards staff, along with sponsors Ozone Billiards, Sterling-Gaming, Kamui Tips, Phil Capelle, BlueBook Publishing, Human Kinetics, Pool & Billiards, Professor Q Ball, Bender Cues, DIGICUE OB, and Hustlin’ USA. The next stop on the Tri-State Tour, the second-to-last in the season, is scheduled for Sunday, June 9 at Cue Bar in Bayside (Queens), NY.