Vannala comes from 0-5 deficit in finals to win Tri-State stop

George Poltorak, Rajesh Vannala and Arturo Reyes

Raj Vannala didn't exactly cruise to the finals of the Tri-State Tour stop on Saturday, May 22. And when he got there, his opponent, Arturo Reyes, took a commanding 5-0 lead. Vannala came back; twice, actually. From the one-loss side, and then, in the finals, to win the $1,000-added B/D handicapped, 9-Ball event that drew 28 entrants to BQE Billiards & Bar in Jackson Heights, NY.

Vannala began the day with a narrow, double hill victory over Brian Capp and then downed Kapriel Delimelkondglu and Jason Thigpen to move among the winners' side final four and a match versus George Poltorak. Joining him among the final four winners were Reyes and Chuck Giallorenzo. Vannala got into the hot seat match with a 7-4 victory over Poltorak, and was joined by Reyes, who'd defeated Giallorenzo 7-3. Reyes prevailed 7-3 to gain the hot seat.

Giallorenzo moved over to face Gary Murgia, who'd defeated Rick Shellhouse 8-6, and Mark Mallari 7-5 to reach him. Poltorak drew Christian Smith, who'd gotten by Bogie Uzdejczyk 7-5 and prevailed in a double hill struggle against Basdeo Sookhai. Murgia advanced to the quarterfinals with a 7-3 victory over Giallorenzo, as Poltorak moved to join him with a double hill win over Smith.

Murgia, who over the last few contests, was allowing fewer and fewer racks by his opponents (6, 5, & 3), appeared to be picking up speed in an attempt to get back to the finals. Poltorak stopped him in the quarterfinals with a 7-2 victory and turned to face Vannala.

Vannala then stopped Poltorak's bid 7-4 and got a second chance against Reyes. That second attempt began poorly with five straight racks by Reyes. Vannala, though, stopped that run right in its tracks, winning five straight to tie and then, four more to win the event.

Thanks were extended to the staff and management of BQE Billiards, as well as sponsors Sterling-Gaming, Ozone Billiards, Viking Cues, Ron Tarr Cues, Phil Capelle, BlueBook Publishing, Human Kinetics, and Dr. Dave's Billiards Instructional Products.