Max Watanabe had his best earnings year
to date in 2018 and though he has a way to go to catch
up and make 2019 an even better year, he’s doing
what he needs to do to make that happen. Last week (August
4), he went undefeated at a stop on the Tri-State Tour,
downing Dave Shlemperis twice. This week, on Sunday,
August 11 at a $1,000-added Predator Pro Am Tour stop
at Steinway Billiards that drew 64 entrants, he got
sent to the loss side by Hector Torres in the battle
for the hot seat and came back to defeat Torres in the
finals. If you’re making a move to improve the
second half of any given year, there’s nothing
like back-to-back tour victories to signal that you’re
on the right track.
Watanabe’s trip was almost derailed at the outset,
as he opened his campaign with two double hill wins;
one against Vinko Rumora and a second against Jose Estevez.
He got a little traction with a 7-2 win over Miguel
Laboy and a 7-4 victory over Elvis Rodriguez, which
set him up in a winners’ side semifinal match
against Abel Rosario. Hector Torres, in the meantime,
got by Ron Bernardo, Paul Lyons, and Brandonne Alli
before having to survive a double hill win over Mike
Callaghan, which set him (Torres) up to face Ray Lee
in the other winners’ side semifinal.
Torres downed Lee 7-1, while Watanabe locked up in his
third double hill battle of the weekend against Rosario
and won it. He survived three double hill matches out
of five he played to get to the hot seat match, but
Watanabe didn’t have an ‘answer’ for
Torres, who defeated him 8-1 to claim the hot seat.
Over on the loss side, Ray Lee ran into an immediate
rematch against Kanami Chau, who’d been defeated
by him in a winners’ side quarterfinal and then
chalked up two straight double hill wins, over Ryan
Dayrit and Joe Morace, to face him a second time. Rosario
picked up Luis Jimenez, who was working on a four-match,
loss-side winning streak that had most recently included
a 7-3 win over Chris Kelly and a double hill victory
over Jaydev Zaveri.
Chau chalked up her third straight double hill win and
advanced to the quarterfinals over Lee. She was joined
by Rosario, who’d ended Jimenez’ loss-side
run, double hill, as well. Seven of the tour stop’s
final 14 matches required a single deciding game.
The quarterfinal match between Rosario and Chau came
within a game of double hill, but Rosario edged out
in front to take it 9-7. Watanabe, though, anxious apparently
for a second shot at Torres in the hot seat, gave up
only a single rack to Rosario in the semifinals that
Watanabe took full advantage of that second shot. He
downEd Torres 10-7 in the final to claim his second
straight event title in as many weeks.
A Second Chance event drew 14 entrants. Elvis Rodriguez
and Irene Kim advanced through the single elimination
bracket to meet each other in the finals. Rodriguez
had defeated Duc Lam to play in the finals. Kim had
eliminated Akiko Taniyama to join him. Rodriguez took
home the top $140 prize, after downing Kim 11-6 in the
finals. Kim took home the $100 second prize, while Lam
and Taniyama pocketed $20 each.
Tour director Tony Robles thanked Manny Stamatakis and
his Steinway Billiards staff for their hospitality,
as well as title sponsor Predator Cues, Ozone Billiards,
PlayNAPL.com, The DeVito Team, PoolontheNet.com, Cappelle
(BilliardsPress.com), AZBilliards, Pool & Billiards
Magazine and Billiards Digest. The Predator Pro Am Tour
will return to Steinway Billiards on Labor Day weekend
(Aug. 31 – Sept. 2) for the $3,000-added ($1,500
Amateur, $1,500 Pro) Eastern States Championships.
Story by Skip Maloney AZBilliards