Archive Page

Davis comes back from semifinals to defeat Hatch and claim Ginky Open title

You'd think that beating Shane Van Boening twice in a tournament would be sufficient grounds to claim an event title, right on the spot. Or taking two against Earl Strickland. Both of those things happened during the $2,500-added Open portion of the Third Annual George "Ginky" Sansouci tournament over Labor Day weekend, but neither of the players who beat Van Boening and Strickland twice made it to the finals. Instead, Mike Davis and Dennis Hatch battled it out, twice, with Davis claiming the title, as Monday night, Labor Day, turned into early Tuesday morning.
 
It was Earl Strickland who got by Van Boening twice, 9-6 both times, sending him to the loss side and then eliminating him from further competition in the matches to determine the tie for seventh place. It was Tom "Shorty" D'Alfonso who sent Strickland west and then downed him in the quarterfinals 9-6. Davis and Hatch, in the meantime, went on their merry way through the field of 61, moving into the winners' side semifinals; Hatch, to play D'Alfonso, and Davis, meeting up with Oscar Dominguez. Hatch sent D'Alfonso over 9-7, as Davis was getting by Dominguez 9-5. Hatch, looking invincible, as he strolled casually around the table in the battle for the hot seat, sent Davis to the semifinals 9-3, and settled in for what turned out to be a three-hour wait for the final match.
 
That wait, caused as much by the lengthy match between Hatch and D'Alfonso, as it was by any delays on the loss side, saw Zion Zvi, waiting on what turned out to be his rematch against D'Alfonso. Zvi had defeated Reggie Cutler 9-4 and Danny Mastermaker 9-5. Strickland, in the meantime, also sent west by D'Alfonso, got by Tony Robles 9-4 and chalked up his second against Van Boening. Once Davis had sent Dominguez west in the winners' side semifinal, Dominguez and Strickland got right underway. Zvi waited, and waited and waited.
 
Strickland waited, too. He eliminated Dominguez 9-7 and watched D'Alfonso take care of Zvi 9-3. The hot seat match took center stage on the InsidePool.tv/NYCGrind table, as Strickland and D'Alfonso met in the quarterfinals. D'Alfonso got by Strickland a second time 9-6, and turned to face Mike Davis in the semifinals.
 
It proved to be more of a struggle than anyone had expected. D'Alfonso came out gunning, and was ahead by four 7-3 in short order. Davis, though, wasn't done, and chalked up four in a row to tie things. They battled twice to reach double hill, but it was Davis, earning his second crack at Hatch.
 
It was a noticeably tall final. The table touched both men at the knees.
"Yeah," said Davis later, "someone said that we both looked like we were in the same weight class."
 
Both were tired, both were methodical and though Hatch would take an early 2-0 lead (assisted by Davis scratching on the opening rack), Davis came right back to tie it. Both men were committing an uncharacteristic number of unforced errors, and rarely broke and ran.
 
"It was a fatigue issue, for sure," said Davis of the match that went past 2 a.m.
 
Davis kept pulling out in front, but Hatch kept battling. About midway through the extended race to 15, Davis had a two-game lead (8-6), which Hatch couldn't close and by the end of the match, had doubled. Davis won it 15-11, to become the third champion of the George "Ginky" Sansouci Memorial Tournament.
 
Davis confirmed that he was taking a step away from the tables, but not, he said, completely. He is actively seeking a full-time job and was awaiting word about a job interview he'd been given in Myrtle Beach, SC.
 
"I'm not really retiring," he said, "just backing away from the touring a little bit."
 
Like many, Davis took note of the way in which the New York contingent of players competing in the Ginky Memorial felt about the tournament's namesake.
 
"I played him a couple of times," said Davis, "People liked him as a pool player, but people liked him as a person, too. He conducted himself in a better manner (than a lot of other players), and people are proud of him."
 
The event was a combined effort by the Predator, Tri-State and Mezz Pro Am Tours, who, for the third straight year, worked together seamlessly to keep both the Amateur and Open events moving; a tip of the hat to John Leyman as the de facto ringmaster. For the first time in event history, it was hosted by Steinway Billiards, which was the recipient of almost universal acclaim for its hospitality. When it was over, in the early hours of Tuesday, September 3, it also brought a few weeks of virtual non-stop broadcasting by the combined efforts of InsidePool.tv and NYCGrind to a close. Between the 14:1 Straight Pool Championships, the Steinway Classic and the Ginky Memorial, the producers, announcers, and to some extent, a regular crew of viewers, some of whom identified themselves via the chat room, had been on-air since August 19. The events played host to a continuing stream of the best players in the world, and a growing audience of its most ardent fans, tuning into the live stream. 
 
Prior to the start of the final match, a video produced and directed by NYCGrind's Jerry Tarantola, highlighted the career of George "Ginky" Sansouci, and for many on hand, refocused attention on his legacy (visit NYCGrind.com to see it). It is a legacy that Tony Robles, a close friend of Ginky's, said he will work at maintaining until the day he dies.