At the conclusion of the 2017 Empire State
10-Ball Championships (Open/Pro division), at which
Zion Zvi had gone undefeated through a field of 25,
he spoke of coming back from a break that he’d
taken over the past few years.
“I’m going to be more active,” he
said at the time, noting that he’d be “coming
back one step at at a time.”
One week later, he’d claimed the 8th Annual New
England Hall of Fame Tournament title, and before the
year was out, he’d pocketed the best recorded
earnings in his 15-year career. On Sunday February 25,
he began 2018 the same way, by successfully defending
his title at the 11th Annual Empire State 10-Ball Championships.
He missed going undefeated by a single game, battling
for the hot seat, but came back to defeat Mieszko Fortunski
in the finals. For the second year in a row, the $1,000-added
Open/Pro division of the Championships drew 25 entrants
to the event’s traditional venue, Raxx Billiards
in West Hempstead, NY.
Commencing on Saturday, February 24, Raxx Billiards
also played host to the annual Amateur division of the
Empire State Championships, competing in 9-Ball. This
year’s $2,000-added event drew 111 entrants, three
more than it had last year. Jason Carandang went undefeated
through the field to claim his first major title.
Zvi’s trek to the winners’ circle advanced
through to a winners’ side semifinal match against
Michael Yednak. Fortunski, in the meantime, met up with
Joey Korsiak in the other winners’ side semifinal.
Zvi and Fortunksi got into the hot seat match with identical
7-4 wins over Yednak and Korsiak. Fortunski claimed
the hot seat 7-2, and waited on Zvi’s return from
On the loss side, Yednak picked up Konrad Jusczyzszyn,
who’d defeated Mike Panzarella 7-3 and survived
a double hill match versus Jorge Rodriguez. Korsiak
drew Greg McAndrews, who’d chalked up two straight
double hill wins against Tony Robles Frankie Hernandez
to reach him.
By identical 7-4 scores, McAndrews and Jusczyzszyn advanced
to the quarterfinals over Korsiak and Yednak. Jusczyzszyn
then downed McAndrew 7-3 in those quarterfinals. Zvi
put a stop to Jusczyzszyn’s run 7-3 in the semifinals,
and then, in a successful 11-7 re-match against Fortunski,
claimed the event title.
Carandang and Romann battle twice for the Amateur title
They met early and late. Jason Carandang sent Steven
Romann to the loss side in a double hill match early
in the Amateur event. Caradang advanced to the hot seat,
as Romann chalked up seven wins on the loss side to
meet him a second time. The finals fell a game short
of being a second double hill match (7-5), but the result
was the same.
Caradang advanced through the field to a winners’
side semifinal against Ada Lio, the Predator Pro Am
Tour’s top female at this early-in-the-season
juncture. Shawn Jackson and Frank Cutrone met up in
the other winners’ side semifinal. Carandang sent
Lio to the loss side 7-2, as Jackson sent over Cutrone
over 7-5. Carandang and Jackson locked up in a double
hill fight that left Carandang in the hot seat, and
Jackson on his way to the semifinals.
It was Lio, who picked up the eventual runner-up, Steve
Romann on the loss side. He was four matches into the
loss-side streak that was taking him to the finals.
He’d most recently downed Adam Miller 7-5 and
Jose Kuilan 7-4. Cutrone picked up teenager Lukas Fracassso-Verner,
who’d eliminated Steinway Billiards’ owner,
Manny Stamatakis in a double hill fight, and Paul Everton
in an almost-double hill fight (7-5).
Romann defeated Lio 7-4 and advanced to the quarterfinals.
He was joined by Cutrone, who’d put Fracasso-Verner
on the wrong end of another double hill fight. Two more,
apparently very popular 7-4 wins, in the quarterfinals
against Cutrone and in the semifinals, against Jackson,
gave Romann a second shot against Carandang. To no avail,
as it turned out. Carandang completed his undefeated
run with a 7-5 win in the finals.
A Second Chance event that drew 16 entrants was Mike
Callaghan defeat George Poltorak 7-3 in the finals.
Dan Faraguna finished third, with Debby Buyukdeniz in
fourth place. Max Watanabe defeated Mike Salerno 7-2
in the finals of a Third Chance event that drew 8 entrants.
Tour director Tony Robles thanked the ownership and
staff at Raxx Billiards for their hospitality, as well
as title sponsor Predator Cues, NAPL, Ozone Billiards,
The DeVito Team, PoolOnTheNet.com, BilliardsPress.com,
AZBilliards, Billiards Digest and PoolMag.com. Robles
also extended thanks to his entire Predator Staff, including
his wife, Gail Robles, Mandy Wu, William Finnegan, Irene
Kim, and Rob Omen. The next stop on the Predator Pro
Am Tour, scheduled for March 3-4, will be hosted by
The Spot in Nanuet, NY.
Story by Skip Maloney AZBilliards