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Zvi comes back from semifinals to defend his Empire State 10-Ball Championship title

(l to r): Mieszko Fortunski, Konrad Jusczyzszyn & Zion Zvi

Carandang goes undefeated to capture Amateur title
 
At the conclusion of the 2017 Empire State 10-Ball Championships (Open/Pro division), at which Zion Zvi had gone undefeated through a field of 25, he spoke of coming back from a break that he’d taken over the past few years.
 
“I’m going to be more active,” he said at the time, noting that he’d be “coming back one step at at a time.”
 
One week later, he’d claimed the 8th Annual New England Hall of Fame Tournament title, and before the year was out, he’d pocketed the best recorded earnings in his 15-year career. On Sunday February 25, he began 2018 the same way, by successfully defending his title at the 11th Annual Empire State 10-Ball Championships. He missed going undefeated by a single game, battling for the hot seat, but came back to defeat Mieszko Fortunski in the finals. For the second year in a row, the $1,000-added Open/Pro division of the Championships drew 25 entrants to the event’s traditional venue, Raxx Billiards in West Hempstead, NY.
 
Commencing on Saturday, February 24, Raxx Billiards also played host to the annual Amateur division of the Empire State Championships, competing in 9-Ball. This year’s $2,000-added event drew 111 entrants, three more than it had last year. Jason Carandang went undefeated through the field to claim his first major title.
 
Zvi’s trek to the winners’ circle advanced through to a winners’ side semifinal match against Michael Yednak. Fortunski, in the meantime, met up with Joey Korsiak in the other winners’ side semifinal. Zvi and Fortunksi got into the hot seat match with identical 7-4 wins over Yednak and Korsiak. Fortunski claimed the hot seat 7-2, and waited on Zvi’s return from the semifinals.
 
On the loss side, Yednak picked up Konrad Jusczyzszyn, who’d defeated Mike Panzarella 7-3 and survived a double hill match versus Jorge Rodriguez. Korsiak drew Greg McAndrews, who’d chalked up two straight double hill wins against Tony Robles Frankie Hernandez to reach him.
 
By identical 7-4 scores, McAndrews and Jusczyzszyn advanced to the quarterfinals over Korsiak and Yednak. Jusczyzszyn then downed McAndrew 7-3 in those quarterfinals. Zvi put a stop to Jusczyzszyn’s run 7-3 in the semifinals, and then, in a successful 11-7 re-match against Fortunski, claimed the event title.
 
[photo id=48723|align=right]Carandang and Romann battle twice for the Amateur title
 
They met early and late. Jason Carandang sent Steven Romann to the loss side in a double hill match early in the Amateur event. Caradang advanced to the hot seat, as Romann chalked up seven wins on the loss side to meet him a second time. The finals fell a game short of being a second double hill match (7-5), but the result was the same.
 
Caradang advanced through the field to a winners’ side semifinal against Ada Lio, the Predator Pro Am Tour’s top female at this early-in-the-season juncture. Shawn Jackson and Frank Cutrone met up in the other winners’ side semifinal. Carandang sent Lio to the loss side 7-2, as Jackson sent over Cutrone over 7-5. Carandang and Jackson locked up in a double hill fight that left Carandang in the hot seat, and Jackson on his way to the semifinals.
 
It was Lio, who picked up the eventual runner-up, Steve Romann on the loss side. He was four matches into the loss-side streak that was taking him to the finals. He’d most recently downed Adam Miller 7-5 and Jose Kuilan 7-4. Cutrone picked up teenager Lukas Fracassso-Verner, who’d eliminated Steinway Billiards’ owner, Manny Stamatakis in a double hill fight, and Paul Everton in an almost-double hill fight (7-5).
 
Romann defeated Lio 7-4 and advanced to the quarterfinals. He was joined by Cutrone, who’d put Fracasso-Verner on the wrong end of another double hill fight. Two more, apparently very popular 7-4 wins, in the quarterfinals against Cutrone and in the semifinals, against Jackson, gave Romann a second shot against Carandang. To no avail, as it turned out. Carandang completed his undefeated run with a 7-5 win in the finals.
 
A Second Chance event that drew 16 entrants was Mike Callaghan defeat George Poltorak 7-3 in the finals. Dan Faraguna finished third, with Debby Buyukdeniz in fourth place. Max Watanabe defeated Mike Salerno 7-2 in the finals of a Third Chance event that drew 8 entrants.
 
Tour director Tony Robles thanked the ownership and staff at Raxx Billiards for their hospitality, as well as title sponsor Predator Cues, NAPL, Ozone Billiards, The DeVito Team, PoolOnTheNet.com, BilliardsPress.com, AZBilliards, Billiards Digest and PoolMag.com. Robles also extended thanks to his entire Predator Staff, including his wife, Gail Robles, Mandy Wu, William Finnegan, Irene Kim, and Rob Omen. The next stop on the Predator Pro Am Tour, scheduled for March 3-4, will be hosted by The Spot in Nanuet, NY.

Jackson goes undefeated to claim Tri-State title

 

Shawn Jackson cut through a 44-entrant field, on-hand for the August 19-20 stop on the Tri-State Tour, and went undefeated to claim the event title. The $1,000-added event was hosted by Amsterdam Billiards in Manhattan, NY.
 
Jackson battled Sal Neljkovic twice; once in the hot seat match and again, in the finals. Following victories over John Stiles, Kapriel Delimelkonoglu, and Bob Toomey, Jackson met up with Suzzie Wong in a winners' side semifinal. Neljkovic, in the meantime, having defeated Raymond Lee, Nancy Chung, Tony Ignomirello and Thomas Schreiber, faced Dave Shlemperis in the other winners' side semifinal. Jackson sent Wong to the loss side 10-6, as Neljkovic downed Shlemperis in a double hill fight. Jackson claimed the hot seat 7-3 over Neljkovic, and waited on his return.
 
Over on the loss side, Abel Rosario was working on a nine-match, loss-side winning streak that would take him as far as the semifinals. With five of those wins already chalked up, he shut out Bob Toomey, and downed Craig Rempfer 8-5 to draw Shlemperis. Wong, in the meantime, drew Dave Weinstein, who'd defeated Dany Recinos 7-2 and survived a double hill fight against Jaydev Zaveri to reach her.
 
Weinstein and Rosario advanced to the quarterfinals; Weinstein 9-6 over Wong and Rosario 7-5 over Shlemperis. Rosario then chalked up what would prove to be his last win, allowing Weinstein only a single rack in those quarterfinals. He came within a game of forcing a deciding game in the semifinals against Neljkovic that followed, but Neljkovic edged out in front to win it 7-5.
 
In spite of the wait, Jackson came out strong in the finals re-match. Neljkovic chalked up only two against Jackson's 7 in those finals, allowing Jackson to complete his undefeated run and claim the event title.
 
Tour representatives thanked the ownership and staff at Amsterdam Billiards, as well as sponsors John Bender Custom Cues, Ozone Billiards, Sterling Billiards, Kamui, Digicue, Billiards Digest, Human Kinetics, Blue Book Publishing, Joe Romer Trophies, and Phil Capelle Publications. The next stop on the Tri-State Tour, scheduled for August 27, will be hosted by Steinway Billiards, in Astoria (Queens), NY.
 

Miller goes undefeated on Definition of a Player (DOP) McDermott Cues Tour

(l to r): Shawn Jackson, Briana Miller, Rick Miller

In the first of a series of events, in preparation for the official launching of a tour in August, former Junior Nationals champion and frequent WPBA/J. Pechauer Northeast Women's Tour competitor Briana Miller went undefeated through a short field of 15 entrants to win the first Definition of a Player (DOP) Tour stop. She got by Rick Miller (no relation) twice – hot seat and finals – in the mixed-gender field that was hosted by the Royal Billiards' Players Club in Wilmington, DE.

 

The two Millers advanced to a winners' side semifinal, with Briana facing Scott Haas and Rick squaring off against Shawn Jackson. Briana gave up only a single rack to Haas (7-1), advancing to the hot seat match against Rick, who'd survived a double hill battle versus Jackson. Briana gave up only a single rack to Rick, as well, claiming the hot seat and waiting on his return from the semifinals.

 

On the loss side, Haas picked up Jeremy Mason, recent winner over Roger Gilpatrick 7-4 and another JPNEWT veteran, Kia Sidbury 7-5. Jackson drew Paul Troop, who'd picked up a forfeit win over Bruce Choyce and survived a double hill fight versus Tom McDonald to reach him. Haas and Jackson advanced to the quarterfinals; Haas 7-2 over Mason and Jackson 7-4 over Troop.

 

Jackson and Haas then locked up in a double hill match that eventually advanced Jackson to the semifinals against Rick Miller. Miller ended Jackson's two-match, loss-side run 7-5 in the semifinals, advancing to a re-match against Briana in the hot seat. Briana completed her undefeated run with an 11-8 victory in the finals to claim the event title.

 

Tour director Andre Smith thanked the ownership and staff of Royal Billiards Players' Club, as well as sponsors McDermott Cues and Monarch Billiards. The first official stop on the DOP McDermott Cues Tour, scheduled for the weekend of August 26-27, will again be hosted by the Royal Billiards Players' Club in Wilmington, DE.

Zvi and Lam take Open/Pro, Amateur titles at 10th Annual Empire State Championships

Jorge Rodriguez, Zion Zvi, Jimmy Rivera and Kang Lee

Zion Zvi, winner of last spring's 6th Annual George "Ginky" Sansouci Memorial Tournament, chalked up not only his first win, but his first paying finish since then, with an undefeated run at the 10th Annual Empire State Championships, held on the weekend of February 25-26. The $1,000-added Open/Pro, 10-Ball division of the championships drew 25 entrants to the event's traditional home, Raxx Billiards in West Hempstead, NY. A concurrently-run, $2,000-added, 9-Ball Amateur event drew 108 entrants and saw Duc Lam return from a defeat in the hot seat match to down Tony Kuo in the finals.
 
"I took a break over the past few years," said Zvi, who's sponsored by Molinari Cues and Steinway Billiards, "but I'm going to be more active this year.
 
"I'm coming back, one step at a time," he added.
 
Zvi and Jimmy Rivera battled twice in this one; once, in the hot seat match and again, in the finals. Zvi had sent Frankie Hernandez to the loss side 7-4, as Rivera was downing Lee Kang by the same score. Zvi took the hot seat by that same 7-4 score as well, and waited on Rivera's return.
 
Over on the loss side, Jorge Rodriguez, following victories over Jim Conn 7-2, and Eugene Ok 7-4, was laying in wait for Hernandez. Waiting for Kang was veteran player Danny Basavich (better known as Kid Delicious), who'd defeated Chris Derewonski 7-3, and Holden Chin 7-2.
 
Rodriguez downed Hernandez 7-5 as Kang was busy eliminating Kid Delicious 7-4. Rodriguez then defeated Kang in the quarterfinals 7-2. In the semifinals, Rivera ended Rodriguez' loss-side run 7-5. 
 
Zvi, though, on something of a comeback trail that looks to be stepping up its pace in the weeks and months ahead, was too close to let this one slip away. He downed Rivera a second time, this time 7-2, to claim the title.
 
Lam comes back from hot seat defeat to down Kuo in Amateur finals
 
Duc Lam and Tony Kuo battled twice in the Amateur event, with the lower-handicapped Kuo getting '4 on the wire' (racing to 9) in the hot seat match, and '3 on the wire' (racing to 8, and then, to 10) in the finals. In the winners' side semifinals, Lam had sent the event's defending champion, Justin Muller, to the loss side 7-5, as Kuo was sending Ryan Dayrit over by the same score. Lam and Kuo played 10 games in the hot seat match, each winning five. Kuo's handicap advantage made it 9-5 for him, and he was in the hot seat.
 
On the loss side, Muller picked up Eddie Kuz, who'd gotten by Matthew Harricharan, double hill, and Juan Guzman 7-2. Dayrit drew Thomas Schreiber, who'd eliminated Troy Deocharran  and Nicole Monaco, both 7-4.
 
Kuz ended Muller's hopes of defending his title 7-5, and in the quarterfinals, faced Dayrit, who'd downed Schreiber 8-5. Dayrit took the quarterfinals 9-5, and then had his short loss-side streak ended by Lam in the semifinals 10-5.
 
As noted, Kuo opened the finals with '3 on the wire,' racing initially to 8. Lam reached 8 first, with Kuo at 6, having won 3. Lam went on to win it 10-8 to claim the event title.
 
A 16-entrant Second Chance, single-elimination event saw Shawn Jackson take home the top prize, with Dany Recinos as runner-up. Ramilo Tanglao and George Poltorak tied for third.

Zippler and Jackson split top prizes on March 29 Mezz Tour stop

Tom Zippler and Shawn Jackson having played one match to its conclusion, opted out of a second, splitting the top two prizes. The undefeated Zippler claimed the $1,000-added, A-D Mezz Tour event title, which had drawn 26 entrants to the Magic 8 Cue Club in Cockeysville, MD on Sunday, March 29. 
 
They met first in the hot seat match. Zippler had downEd Scott Hass 7-3, while Jackson was not-so-busy, giving up only a single rack to Edd Moody. Zippler played what proved to be the title match and sent Jackson to the semifinals 7-2.
 
On the loss side, Hass picked up Trevor Dentz, who'd defeated Garrett Waechter 7-5 and just did get by Jim O'Hara 7-6. Moody drew Dan McGinnis, who'd just given up one rack to Al Tonelli and eliminated Mark Nanashee 7-4. Moody and McGinnis locked up in a double hill fight that eventually sent Moody to the quarterfinals, where he faced Dentz, who'd defeated Hass 7-2.
 
Dentz advanced to the semifinals with a 7-4 victory over Moody in the quarters. By the same score, Jackson sent Dentz home and got a second shot at Zippler in the hot seat. It was a shot the two didn't take. They opted out of a final, split the top two prizes and allowed Zippler to claim the official victory.

Wilkie wins “unprecedented” fifth straight on the Action Pool Tour

Shaun Wilkie

Tour director Ozzy Reynolds noted that Shaun Wilkie's four straight wins on his Action Pool Tour would be a record that would be hard to break. Imagine his surprise when Wilkie upped the ante on the weekend of January 17-18 by going undefeated to win his fifth straight stop on the tour. The event drew 52 entrants to Magic 8 Cue Club in Cockeysville, MD.
 
It was not a random-draw easy path for Wilkie, either. After a bye, he had to contend with Brett Stottlemeyer, Paul Oh, and Karen Corr to move among the winners' side final four and a match against Dominic Noe. Alan Duty and Steve Fleming squared off in the other winners' side semifinal. Wilkie moved into the hot seat match 7-3 over Noe, and was joined by Duty, who'd survived a double hill battle versus Fleming. Wilkie claimed the hot seat 7-5 and waited on the return of what turned out to be Fleming.
 
Fleming's three-match, loss-side streak, started out the same way Wilkie's win-side streak had begun; against Brett Stottlemeyer, who, following his earlier defeat at the hands of Wilkie, won six in a row, including back-to-back shutouts over Tom Zippler and Shawn Jackson to draw Fleming. Noe picked up Garrett Waechter, who'd survived his first loss-side match (double hill win over David Stanley) and given up only four racks since, including one each to Will Stem and Allan Cannington, which set him (Waechter) up to face Noe.
 
Noe and Fleming advanced to the quarterfinal, defeating Waechter and Stottlemeyer, both matches ending in 5-1 scores. Duty put up a fight in the semifinals, but Fleming prevailed 5-4 for a second chance against Wilkie. For all the good it did him. Wilkie downed Fleming 9-5 to complete his "unprecedented" fifth straight win on the tour.

Krah goes undefeated on Mezz Pro Am Tour

Matt Krah held off a loss-side challenge from Ron Dileo to win the June 2 stop on the Mezz Pro Am Tour. The event was hosted by Mainline Billiards in Frazer, PA.

 
Krah would face Dileo twice to chalk up the win. He did so first among the winners' side final four, as Shawn Jackson met with Lou Patrikio. Both winners' side semifinals went to double hill, with Krah and Jackson prevailing to face each other in the hot seat match. Krah got into the hot seat 7-5 over Jackson and awaited his second match against Dileo.
 
On the loss side, Dileo advanced to meet up with Patrikio in the quarterfinals. He defeated Patrikio and then, Jackson in the semifinals to earn a second chance against Krah.
 
In the true double elimination final, Krah took the opening set over Dileo 7-5 to claim the event title. Tour director Jose Burgos thanked the ownership and staff at Mainline Billiards, as well as sponsors Mezz Cues, Kamui Chalk, Gamblin Clothing, Allen Hopkins' Super Billiards Expo, Jab Cues & Things, Billiard Life USA, Inside Pool Magazine, and Mike Ricciardella, RE/MAX Pros.