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Prather and Blair spilt top prizes on NE 9-Ball Series’ season opener

Adam Blair, David Melancon and Jim Prather

Jim Prather and Adam Blair have been competing on the New England 9-Ball Series (and to a lesser extent, the area’s Rack ‘Em Up Tour) for a combined total of 26 years; Prather since 2007 and Blair since 2011. As far as we know, though they’ve cashed in lots of events on the tour, they’ve never met in a final and neither of them has won a stop on either tour. Until this weekend, at the first stop on the NE 9-Ball Series’ 2022 season; a $600-added event that drew 24 entrants to Straight Shooters Family Billiards in Fall River, MA. Prather went undefeated to the hot seat in the event and though Blair returned from a victory in the semifinals to win the opening set of a true double elimination final, they opted out of a second set and negotiated a split of the top two prizes.

Prather came into the tournament’s Upper Bracket with what turned out to be the event’s highest Fargo Rate (624). Another competitor, Robert Lewis, with a higher Fargo Rate (635), forfeited out of his opening match, as well as his first scheduled match on the loss side. Prather started his trek to the winners’ circle with a double hill win over Steve Nelson and apparently not happy with that means of advancing, followed up with a shutout over Mike Cote. He then went back to the double hill route, surviving his match against Eric Burgess to draw David Melancon in a winners’ side semifinal. 

Blair, at work in the Lower Bracket, was awarded an opening round bye and also won his first match, double hill, over Ryan McCrum. He followed that with a 4-2 win over William Aley to pick up Sandra Kostant in the other winners’ side semifinal.

In a straight-up race to 5, Prather got into the hot seat match with a 5-3 win over Melancon. Blair joined him after shutting out Kostant. In their first of what would turn out to be two matches, Prather claimed the hot seat 6-2 (Blair racing to 4).

Moving to the loss side, Melancon drew Eric Burgess, who, after his winners’ side quarterfinal loss to Prather, had downed Roarke Dickson 4-2 and Van Sy, double hill. Kostant picked up a rematch against Steven Mantineo, who’d lost his winners’ side quarterfinal to her and then, defeated Ryan McCrum 5-2 and Kenneth Duclos 6-2.

Melancon and Mantineo advanced to the quarterfinals; Melancon 5-3 over Burgess and Mantineo 5-2 over Kostant. Melancon put a bit of a punctuation mark on his quarterfinal match by shutting Mantineo out.

Blair and Melancon battled to double hill in the semifinals that followed. Blair, with the lower Fargo Rate, began the match with a single bead on the wire in a race to 5, so when they were tied in total racks at 4-each, Blair was the winner.

Blair started the true double elimination finals against Prather with two beads on the wire in a race to 6. For the second straight time, Blair battled to double hill and won; this time, starting with two beads on the wire in a race to 6. It was at this point that they opted out of a second set and decided to split the top two prizes. Having not been defeated twice in the double elimination format, Prather was the event’s official winner.

Tour director Marc Dionne thanked the ownership and staff at Straight Shooters Family Billiards, as well as sponsors Predator, Poison, Arcos II, BCAPL, USAPL New England, Fargo Rate, AZBilliards, Professor Q-ball’s National Pool and 3-Cushion News, MJS Construction, Master Billiards, OTLVISE, Outsville, Salotto and Just The Tip Cue Repair and Custom Accessories. Stop # 2 on the NE 9-Ball Series, scheduled for the weekend of February 5-6, will be its Annual Winter Classic. The $2,000-added event, which will be limited to 128 players, will be hosted by Snooker’s Sports-Billiards Bar & Grill in Providence, RI. Players must pre-pay for this event by Thursday, Feb. 3 and can do so by registering on the tour Web site at http://www.newengland9ballseries.com.

Fredette goes undefeated in tightly contested J. Pechauer Ride the 9 Tour stop

The final five matches of the May 27 stop on the J. Pechauer Ride the 9 Tour were double hill battles that eventually led to the crowning of Dave Fredette as the undefeated event titleist. The  $425-added event drew 38 entrants to Bo’s Billiards in Warwick, RI.

All three of the matches among the winners’ side final four were double hill affairs. Fredette defeated John Korpusik and moved into the hot seat match against Bill Roberge, who’d defeated Andy Maynard. In a straight-up race to five, Fredette gained the hot seat 5-4 over Roberge.

Maynard moved to the loss side to pick up Mike Demarco, who’d gotten by Jason D’Angelo 5-2, and Danny Pavao 4-3. Korpusik faced Zack Thweib, who was in the midst of a six-match, loss-side winning streak that would take him to the semifinals. He got by Ranulf Tamba 5-2 and Van Sy 5-1 to face Korpusik. Maynard got back to his winning ways with a double hill win over Demarco, but it was Thweib advancing to meet him in the quarterfinals with a 5-1 victory over Korpusik.

 Thweib completed his loss-side streak by shutting out Maynard in the quarterfinals. He battled to double hill in the semifinals against Roberge that followed, but Roberge prevailed for a second shot at Fredette. As they’d done in the hot seat match, Roberge and Fredette battled to double hill in the straight-up, race-to-five finals, before Fredette completed his undefeated day.

Tour representatives thanked the ownership and staff of Bo’s Billiards for hosting the event.

Sy goes undefeated on Rack ‘Em Up 9-Ball Tour; challenged twice by 12-year-old Jake Alpert

Van Sy went undefeated through a field of 45 entrants, who were on hand for an Open, A-C handicapped stop on the Rack ‘Em Up 9-Ball Tour, but not before he was brought to the brink of defeat twice by 12-year-old Jake Alpert, whose father, Alex, runs the USA Pool League out of Massachusetts and Rhode Island. The event was hosted by The Fan Club in Wareham, MA.

The two met first among the winners’ side final four. In most of the matches, the youngster had to win only three games against his opponents’ five or six. To advance among the winners’ side final four, Alpert gave up only a single rack defeating Todd Brocklehurst, who needed six to win. Alpert then fought Sy to double hill at 4-2 before Sy prevailed to get into the hot seat match. Sy faced Josh Gormly, who’d just sent Choneyi Tenzin west double hill (4-4; Tenzin needing five). In a straight-up race to four, Sy gained the hot seat 4-2, and awaited the return of Alpert.

The youngster moved to the loss-side, where, over the next three games that put him back into the finals, he gave up only five racks, total.  He first faced Kevin Picinnin, who’d defeated Bill Cole 4-2 and Joey Dupuis 6-4 to reach him. Tenzin, in the meantime, faced Ricky Matarazzo, who’d gotten by Danny Alonzo 6-2, and Brocklehurst, double hill. 

Alpert moved into the quarterfinals with a 3-2 victory over Picinnin (needing 5), and was joined by Tenzin, who’d survived a double hill battle versus Matarazzo. Tenzin needed to win six games in the quarterfinal match that followed, but managed only one, sending Alpert to the semifinals against Gormly. 

Gormly (needing five games to win) chalked up just one more game against Alpert than Tenzin did. The 3-2 win by Alpert gave him a second crack at Sy, sitting in the hot seat waiting for him. With Sy needing five, Alpert, for the second time, brought Sy to the brink at 4-2. Sy won the seventh and deciding game to capture the event title.

Two names were drawn for the event’s Break and Run raffle, and it was Joey Dupuis, both times. Having collected $75 for his 7th/8th place finish in the main event, he added $584 to that when he sunk eight balls off the break, and then added $20 more when his name was drawn a second time and he failed to make a ball.