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Sandifer takes two out of three over Staggs to win Cuetec DFW 9-Ball Tour season opener

Jeff Sullivan, Greg Sandifer & Randy Staggs

They certainly do things big in Texas. There are any number of pool tours throughout the country that would sell their souls to the devil to draw 50 entrants on any given weekend. And the ones that do draw that many on average would love to have at least an event per month with 80 entrants. The Cuetec DFW 9-Ball Tour opened its 2023 season with $2,000-added event at Rusty’s in Arlington, TX that drew 100 entrants. The event paid the eight competitors who finished in the tie for 17th place their entry fee and enough gas money to get some of them home, at least one way, possibly both ways dependent on distance traveled.

Greg Sandifer had to get through eight matches (six opponents) to claim the event title, one of which occurred on the loss side of the bracket. After a bye, Sandifer started strong, giving up only five racks to his first three opponents; Ricky Ferguson (2), Robin Barbour (2) and Anna Weems (1). He then downed Clint Freeman 9-4 and drew Johnny Garcia in one of the winners’ side semifinals. Randy Staggs, in the meantime, destined to face Sandifer three times, got by Steven Thorne (3), Jimmy Fujimori (2), Tony Matthew (4), Don Baker double hill (7-5), and Mark Lawson (5) to draw Telly Shackelford in the other winners’ side semifinal.

Staggs battled Shackelford to double hill before closing it out and advancing to the hot seat match. Sandifer joined him after sending Garcia to the loss side 8-5. Staggs took the first of his three against Sandifer 7-2 and claimed the hot seat.

On the loss side, Shackelford picked up Clint Freeman, who’d followed his loss to Sandifer with a 9-6 victory over Ryan Lane and a shutout versus Brandon Denman. Garcia drew Jeff Sullivan, who’d defeated Tony Top 8-3 and Mark Lawson 8-2 to reach him.

Sullivan advanced to the quarterfinals 8-2 over Garcia and was joined by Shackelford, who’d eliminated Freeman 8-4. In a straight-up race to 8, Shackelford and Sullivan battled to double hill in those quarterfinals before Sullivan advanced to meet Sandifer. Sandifer got a second and necessary third shot at Staggs with an 8-5 semifinal win over Sullivan.

With Sunday night moving into Monday morning, Sandifer took the opening set of the true double elimination final 8-4 over Staggs. He claimed the event title with an 8-2 victory in the second set.

Tour representatives thanked the ownership and staff at Rusty’s for their hospitality, as well as title sponsor Cuetec, Fort Worth Billiards Superstore and Rasson Billiards. The next stop (#2) on the Cuetec DFW 9-Ball Tour, scheduled for the weekend of February 18-19, will be hosted by Tailgaters (formerly Snookered) in Frisco, TX.

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Saidawi comes back from hot seat loss to win his first Cuetec DFW 9-Ball Tour stop

Neil Sadawi, Daniel Herring and Greg Sandifer

At the start of the Cuetec DFW 9-Ball Tour’s 2022 season, Neil Saidawi was headed in the wrong direction, so to speak. In the season opener, he finished in the tie for 13th place. In February, he slipped down to 17th and in March, he finished in the tie for 33rd place. In April though, he changed direction, finishing in the tie for 9th place, still a long way in tour standings from Daniel Herring, who sat atop the leaderboard. Last weekend (June 18-19), Saidawi went toe-to-toe against Herring three times, taking the last two in a double elimination final to claim his first (recorded) event title anywhere. The $1,750-added event drew 75 entrants to Rusty’s Billiards in Arlington, TX.

Until Herring reached the hot seat match to face Saidawi for the first time, none of his six previous opponents had chalked up more than four racks against him, and that, only once, in his winners’ side semifinal match against Telly Shackelford. He’d given up an average of just over a  single rack per match to Cameron Cummings (0), Monica Anderson (2), Jennifer Cayot (1), Tony Ignomirello (1), Surmin Overovic (1) and finally, Shackelford (4). 

Saidawi, in contrast, had to battle right from the start. After a bye, he played five matches to get to the hot seat match, three of which went to double hill, including his opening match versus Frank Granados. He followed that with wins over Joshua Paredes 6-4, Isaac Ruiz and Travis Arredondo (both double hill) and in his winners’ side semifinal, Greg Sandifer 6-5 (Sandifer racing to 8). As he came into the battle for the hot seat, he was four matches away from claiming the title and two of those would go to double hill, as well.

One of those two double hill matches was his first encounter with Herring. Herring won it 8-4 (Saidawi to 5) to claim the hot seat.

On the loss side, Shackelford picked up Arredondo, who’d followed up his loss to Saidawi with victories over Robin Barbour 7-4 and Jesse Moore 6-3. Sandifer drew Juan Parra, who was working on a modest, four-match, loss-side winning streak that had recently eliminated Tony Top (#2 in tour standings) 7-2 and Surmin Omerovic 8-0.

Shackelford downed Arredondo 7-4, as Sandifer was stopping Parra’s loss-side streak 7-3. Sandifer defeated Shackelford 7-3 in the subsequent quarterfinals and walked right into a semifinal rematch against Saidawi, who chalked up his fifth and final double hill match of the event to earn his spot in the finals. 

Saidawi started both of the final two matches with three ‘beads on the wire’ in races to 8 against Herring. He didn’t need them. Saidawi took the opening set 5-2 and claimed the event title by winning the second set 5-3.

Though both Herring and Top, at the . . . top of the tour standings, remained there, advancing further in points, Saidawi’s victory advanced him among the tour’s top 10. And arguably put his fellow competitors in the top 10 on notice that with the 2022 Cuetec DFW 9-Ball Tour now past its midway point, he’s only half done.   

Tour representatives thanked the ownership and staff at Rusty’s Billiards for their hospitality, as well as title sponsor Cuetec and Fort Worth Billiards Superstore. The next stop on the Cuetec DFW 9-Ball Tour, scheduled for the weekend of July 23-24, will be a $1,750-added event, hosted by Stixx & Stones in Lewisville, TX. 

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