Vergara survives one-loss side challenge to take storm-ridden Tri-State stop

Tony Eglesias, Mhet Vergara and Mike Wong

Mhet Vergara survived a strong, one-loss side challenge by Mike Wong to win the second set of a true double elimination final and take first place in a Tri-State Open event held on the weekend of March 13-14. The $500-added event, held in the midst of a major Northeaster that brought two inches of rain and wind gusts that neared hurricane force to the New York metropolitan area, drew only 19 entrants to Master Billiards in Queens. 

After victories over Christopher Lazarovitch, Ed Culhane, and Jorge Rodriguez, Vergara was among the winners' side final four where he faced Trevor Heal. In the meantime, Tony Eglesias, who had moved into the final four with a double hill win that had sent Wong to the one-loss side, faced Kwa Nguyen. Vergara got by Heal 9-5 to face Eglesias, who'd sent Nguyen west 9-6. Vergara gained the hot seat by winning the first of three straight double hill battles, two of which he would win to earn him the event victory. 

Wong had his hands full in his opening match on the one-loss side, battling Jorge Rodriguez to double hill before moving on to meet Dave Ascolese. A 9-6 win against Ascolese set Wong up to meet Nguyen, coming off the winners' side final four. Trevor Heal, in the meantime, faced Gary Murgia, who'd defeated Mike Harrington 9-2 and ChristIan Smith, double hill, to meet him.  Wong advanced to the quarterfinals with a 9-5 win over Nguyen. Murgia defeated Heal  9-6 to join him.  

With a 9-6 win over Murgia in those quarterfinals, Wong earned a second shot at Eglesias, who'd sent him to the one-loss side four matches previously.  Wong made it five wins in a row with a 9-4 victory over Eglesias, who'd elevated his game to finish third in this Open event.  

Vergara took a two-game lead in the opening set of the true double elimination final, but Wong came roaring back with a six-pack. They traded racks to 7-4, before Vergara chalked up two in a row to pull within one at 7-6. They traded racks again to 8-7 before Vergara tied it at hill-hill. Vergara scratched on the final break, allowing Wong to run out and post the opening set win. 

In the second set, it was Wong taking the early two-game lead, but when Vergara came back to win two in a row, it began a series of trades that resulted in seven tie scores that brought them to their second straight double hill juncture. With three balls left on the table, Wong played safe, leaving Vergara a full-table, rail to rail bank shot on the 6-ball.  Vergara made the bank shot, and finished with the 8- and 9-ball to complete the event win.  

Tournament staff offered thanks to Sterling Gaming, Ozone Billiards and Ronn Tarr for sponsorship of the event.