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Gupta goes undefeated to win his first 2019 Tri-State event title, downing Trajceski twice

(l to r): Ilija Trajceski & Shivam Gupta

They’d been down this road before. Specifically, in January of this year, when they faced off in the finals of a Tri-State Tour stop at Shooter’s Family Billiards in Wayne, NJ. It was noted at the time, that it was Ilija Trajceski’s third victory on the Tri-State Tour since 2017 and only the fourth time that he had cashed in a Tri-State event. He’d sent Shivam Gupta to the loss side in the winners’ side quarterfinals, but Gupta won five on the loss side to face him in the finals. Trajceski downed Gupta a second time, by the same 7-5 score, to claim that event title.
On Sunday, May 5, at the last 10-ball match of the Tri-State’s season, they squared off twice again; this time in the hot seat match and finals and although the score was the same in both matches (6-3), the end result was that Gupta claimed his first 2019 Tri-State title (his second of the 2018/2019 season). Gupta is the #2-ranked B+ player in the Tri-State’s current Player of the Year standings (9 appearances), behind Jaydev Zaveri (Gupta’s traveling partner), whose 21 appearances on the 2018/2019 tour give him a substantial lead among the B+ players. Trajceski, with 10 appearances is at #14 on the list of B players. The $1,000-added event drew 31 entrants to Clifton Billiards in Clifton, NJ.
Gupta began his trek to the event title with a double hill win over his traveling partner and fellow B+ competitor for the division’s top slot, Jaydev Zaveri. He then downed Scott Bannon 6-4 and Pashk Gjini 6-1, to draw Tri Chau in one of the winners’ side semifinals. Trajceski, in the meantime, after defeating Rick Rodriguez 6-4, Paul Madonia 6-5 and Andrew Ciccoria 6 -3, would draw Marc Lamberti in the other winners’ side semifinal.
Gupta and Chau locked up in a double hill fight that eventually (6-5) sent Gupta to the hot seat match. He was joined by Trajceski, who’d defeated Lamberti 6-4. Gupta claimed the hot seat with his first of what proved to be two 6-3 wins over Trajceski.
On the loss side, Chau and Lamberti got back on track with double hill victories over their first loss-side opponents. Chau faced and defeated Eddie Medina, who’d defeated Mike Strassberg 6-3 and Scott Bannon 6-4 to reach him. Lamberti defeated Andrew Ciccoria, who’d defeated Bob Toomey and Rick Brothers, both 5-3, before falling to Lamberti.
Lamberti gave up only a single rack to Chau in the quarterfinals (6-1) to earn his rematch against Trajceski in the semifinals. In his second of three straight 6-3 matches, and the only one in which he recorded a win, Trajceski defeated Lamberti a second time. Gupta completed his undefeated run with a second 6-3 win over Trajceski in the finals.
Tour representatives thanked the ownership and staff at Clifton Billiards, as well as sponsors Ozone Billiards, Sterling Gaming, Kamui Tips, Phil Capelle, BlueBook Publishing, Human Kinetics, Pool & Billiards, Professor Q Ball, Bender Cues, and DIGICUE OB. The next stop on the Tri-State Tour, scheduled for Saturday, May 11, will be hosted by Steinway Billiards in Astoria (Queens), NY.