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Bennett takes two out of three over Wahdan to pick up win #7 on 2nd Annual Rack Race

Keith Bennett and Eddie Wahdan

Eddie Wahdan, who came from the loss side to finish as runner-up at Stop #7 of the 2nd Annual Rack Race on Saturday, April 20, began recording cash payouts on regional tours at about the time that Keith Bennett, who would go undefeated to the hot seat and eventually, claim the event title, began a five-year hiatus from the tables. Prior to this year, when he began the first of four cash-winning appearances on the Rack Race series, Keith Bennett had not recorded a win or cash payout with us here at AZBilliards since 2019, when he won the Q City 9-Ball’s NC 9-Ball Open in May and cashed in three other events (he reportedly was not totally absent from the tables, just not attending and earning cash at regionally reported tournaments). Wahdan began recording his income-earning exploits with us in May of 2021, finishing fourth at a stop on the Q City 9-Ball Tour, after which he finished in the same spot, twice, in 2022. Last year, Wahdan switched his income stream to embrace the Rack Race, finishing 4th last May (Stop #2) and at stop #15 in August, which was won by Roberts, Wahdan finished 9th.

At this most recent, $1,000-added stop on the Race, which drew 48 entrants to Rack & Grill III in Aiken, SC, Bennett and Wahdan faced each other three times; in a winners’ side quarterfinal and the two-set final. The two emerged from a field that featured (among others) Josh Roberts, who arrived on the scene having won five of the Race’s second-season events, and Mike Davis, Jr., who’d won an event and finished as runner-up in another in the first year of the Rack Race; not to mention winning eight other events that turned 2023 into his best recorded earnings year since 2011. Roberts lost to Davis in a double-hill, third-round match. They both lost loss-side matches to Wahdan; Davis in the battles for 7th/8th, Roberts in the quarterfinals.

Racing to 6, Bennett’s path went through Ruben Soto (2) and Doug Cogdell (0), before taking up a double-hill challenge from Todd Blackwell. He faced and won his second straight, double-hill challenge and his first match versus Wahdan in a winners’ side quarterfinal, before drawing Jimmy Lee in one of the winners’ side semifinals. Rocky Lester, in the meantime, bound for the hot seat match from the other end of the bracket, went through Mike Wise (2), Rocky (Palmer) Guell (double-hill), Chris Reeves (3) and Calvin Le (2) to pick up James Council in the other winners’ side semifinal.

Bennett and Lester got into the hot seat match with 6-4 victories over Lee and Council. Bennett sent Lester off to the semifinals by the same score, claiming the seat.

As Bennett and Lester engaged in their battle for the hot seat, Roberts, Davis and Eddie Wahdan were still very much involved on the loss side. Roberts followed his loss to Davis with four straight, chalking up an aggregate game score of 20-6 and eliminating Justin Clark 5-1 and Calvin Le 5-3 to draw Jimmy Lee. Davis followed his winners’ side quarterfinal loss to Jimmy Lee with a 5-3 victory over Mike Wise and ran into Wahdan, who’d followed his loss to Bennett with a double-hill win over Darrel Williams and then, eliminated Davis 5-3 to draw Council.

Roberts and Wahdan defeated Lee and Council, both 5-2 and squared off for a match in the quarterfinal. That match went double hill before Wahdan prevailed, advancing to eliminate Rocky Lester 5-2 in the semifinal.

Momentum may have well played a role in the opening set of the double-elimination final. Wahdan defeated Keith Bennett 6-3. The second set went double hill. Bennett won it to claim his first (recorded) regional title in five years.

Rack & Grill owner Mike Newsome thanked his own Rack & Grill staff, his wife Avery Newsome and sponsors Predator, Iwan Simonis cloth, Newsome Distributing, Digital Pool, JTs Automotive Group, CSRA Machine Fab, Salazar (Certified Public Accountant), National Billiard Academy, Filta Environmental Kitchen Solutions, digitalpool and No B-S Billiards.

Stop #8 on the Rack Race series, scheduled for Saturday, May 4 at Rack & Grill II in Augusta, GA.

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Perrino and Chase go undefeated to win Partners stop on the NE 9-Ball Series

(l to r): TJ Perrino, Brian Chase, Charlie Matarazzo & Rick Gatta

Partners tournaments are not a main item on anyone’s pool calendar menu, although as the industry has begun to notice the increased-interest advantages of team competitions, they may be a harbinger of things to come. The New England 9-Ball Series hosts them fairly regularly, and while they present something of a narrative challenge, as descriptions of the event require lengthy and repetitive use of the double names, which defy any shorthand means of reducing the overall words-per-report average. Its most recent partners tournament (Stop #9 on the tour), held on Sunday, December 9 at Crow’s Nest in Plaistow, NH, drew 64 sets of partners, which, if nothing else, managed to increase the tour’s entrants-per-event average.
The teams of two play with an average FargoRate, which, in the case of the eventual winners – TJ Perrino and Brian Chase – happened to be the highest FargoRate (600) among the event’s final and money-earning 12 teams. The range of competition, as defined by the combined FargoRate, amounted to 150 points, with the lowest team (450; Ben Come and Nelson Perron) being eliminated in the matches that determined the four-way tie for 9th place. As with their singles tournaments, the event was initially broken up into separate upper and lower (ranked) brackets.
Perrino/Chase advanced through the upper bracket to arrive at a winners’ side semifinal match against John Ferreira and Kevin Rodriguez (594). Charlie Matarazzo and Rick Gatta (530), in the meantime, emerging from the lower bracket, squared off against Jason Parker and Jose Concepcion (493). Perrino/Chase survived a double hill match against Ferreira/Rodriguez and advanced to the hot seat match. Matarazzo/Gatta had a slightly easier battle, defeating Parker/Concepcion 4-1. Perrino/Chase downed Matarazzo/Gatta 5-1 (Matarazzo/Gata racing to 4) and waited in the hot seat for their return.
On the loss side, Ferreira/Rodriguez met up with Al McGuane and Michael Mathieu (575), who, most recently in the event’s first money round, had defeated Kerry McAuliffe and Adam Blair 4-1, and then, by the same score, Jeff Provencher and Andrew Burns. Parker/Concepion faced John Collier and Ruben Soto (537), who’d recently shut out Eli Davenport and Bill Phillips, and then got into a double hill fight, which they won 3-2, against Justin Fournier and Matt Lopes.
Ferreira/Rodriguez, no doubt eager to avenge their double hill loss versus Perrino/Chase in the winners’ side semifinals, got right back to work, giving up only two racks over their next 11 games. They first downed McGuane/Mathieu 4-2, as Collier/Soto were busy eliminating Parker/Concepcion 3-1. Ferreira/Rodriguez then shut out Collier/Soto in the quarterfinals and turned to the one obstacle in the way of their hoped-for rematch; Matarazzo and Gatta.
Both teams chalked up four racks in the semifinals. Matarazzo/Gata, however, with the lower FargoRate, were racing to four, and the Ferreira/Rodriguez bid for a shot in the finals came to an end, one game shy. Matarazzo/Gata had managed only a single rack in the hot seat match, but they mounted a more vigorous campaign in the finals. They forced Perrino/Chase (racing to 5) into an eighth deciding game. Perrino/Chase, though, won the deciding game to claim the partners title 5-3.
Tour director Marc Dionne thanked the ownership and staff at Crow’s Nest, along with sponsors Predator Cues, USAPL New England, FargoRate, Bert Kinister, AZBilliards, Inside English, Professor Q-Ball’s National Pool and 3-Cushion News, Delta 13 Racks, MJS Construction, Bob Campbell, Bourgeois Farms and OTLVISE Billiard Mechanics of America. The New England 9-Ball Series will move into the 2019 portion of its current season with a $500-added event (Stop #10), scheduled for Saturday, January 5, and hosted by Legends Sports Bar in Auburn, ME.

Aguilar and Dunbar split top prizes in NE 9-Ball Series’ opener

(L to r): Matt Rezendes, Carlos Aguilar & Tyler Dunbar

Carlos Aguilar and Tyler Dunbar opted out of a final match at the end of the New England 9-Ball Series’ 2018-2019 opener, held on Sunday, September 23. As the undefeated competitor, Aguilar claimed the event title. To secure his runner-up position, Dunbar, who’d been defeated in the second round of play, won nine on the loss side to earn a spot in the finals that didn’t happen. The event drew 57 entrants to Crow’s Nest in Plaistow, NH.
Tour director Marc Dionne announced at the start of this new season for the New England 9-Ball Series that the tour would no longer be using letter ratings (A, B, C, etc.) to determine handicaps and match races. They have switched to the FargoRate system for this purpose and with certain competitors and matches, we’ll be providing current FargoRates, in parentheses, as a reference.
The tour continues to separate the players into lower and upper (rank) brackets at the start of events, combining them towards the end. Playing in the lower bracket, Aguilar (503) chalked up victories over Peter Rizzo, Sr., Lida Mullendore and Tyler Boudreau, who’d just sent Dunbar (461) to the loss side.  Aguilar then defeated Dorie Oakes, advancing to an overall winners’ side semifinal against Josh Edmonds (479). From the upper bracket, Matt Rezendes (539) and Jose Concepcion (585) squared off in the other winners’ side semifinal.
In a straight-up race to 5, Aguilar and Edmonds battled to double hill before Aguilar prevailed, advancing to the hot seat match. He was joined by Rezendes, who’d sent Concepian to the loss side 5-2 (Concepcian racing to 6). With Rezendes racing to 6, Aguilar claimed the hot seat 5-2 in what proved to be his final match.
On the loss side, it was Edmonds who picked up Dunbar, seven matches into his loss-side winning streak that had included recent victories over Dorie Oakes and Ben Come, both 5-1. Concepcian drew Mike Gagne, who’d chalked up two straight double hill wins against Gabriel Kirshnitz and Ruben Soto to reach him.
In what was Gagne’s third straight, straight-up race to 5, Concepian allowed him only one rack and advanced to the quarterfinals. Dunbar joined him following a 4-1 victory over Edmonds.
Dunbar started the quarterfinal match with three on the wire in a race to 6, and though he and Concepcian chalked up three racks each, the handicap advantage gave Dunbar the win and advancement to his last match of the night.
Dunbar and Rezendes battled to double hill before Dunbar finished it to earn a shot at Aguilar in the hot seat. The two opted out of the final match and split the top two cash prizes.
Tour director Marc Dionne thanked the ownership and staff at Crow’s Nest, as well as sponsors Predator Cues, USAPL New England, FargoRate, Bert Kinister, AZBilliards, Inside English, Professor Q-Ball’s National Pool and 3-Cushion News, Delta 13 Racks, MJS Construction, Bob Campbell, Bourgeois Farms and OTLVISE Billiard Mechanics of America. The next stop on the New England 9-Ball Series, scheduled for October 6, will be the $500-added Dave Marcus Memorial Tournament, hosted by Buster’s Billiards in Somersworth, NH.