L-R Joey Dupuis and Zion Zvi
Zion Zvi backed up an undefeated victory at the 10th Annual Empire State Championships last week (Feb. 25-26), with a single-loss win at the 8th Annual New England Pool & Billiards Hall of Fame/Ray Desell Memorial Tournament on the weekend of March 4-5. Zvi faced a former champion of the event, Joe Dupuis, who won it in 2014, three times; once in the hot seat and twice in the double elimination finals. Zvi came back from a loss in the first meeting to double dip Dupuis in the last two. The $2,500-added event, held under the auspices of the Joss Northeast 9-Ball Tour, drew 86 entrants to Snooker’s in Providence, RI.
Dupuis got into the hot seat of this event after a dramatic comeback in a winners’ side semifinal against RYan Lineham. Down 6-0, and five racks behind when Lineham reached the hill, Dupuis came back to tie, before simultaneously taking his first lead of the match and winning it. Zvi joined him in the hot seat match following a 9-5 victory over Bruce Nagle. Dupuis has something of a reputation for thriving in fast-paced games. “When he’s on his game, racing around the table,” noted an AZ report from the 5th Annual Hall of Fame victory in 2014, “he’s a sight to behold.” He recreated that “sight to behold” phenomenon in the battle for the hot seat, as he allowed Zvi only three racks in the battle to win it.
On the loss side at the time, there were still a few potential winners of this event, including Jorge Rodriguez and Tom “Shorty” D’Alfonso. Rodriguez had been sent to the loss side by Dupuis (9-6) and was in the midst of a six-match, loss-side winning streak that would take him as far as Zvi and the semifinals. He and D’Alfonso met up in one of the four 9/12 matches, with Rodriguez winning it 7-1 (this was the first time that the Joss NE Tour arranged for loss-side matches to be races to 7). Rodriguez went on to defeat Rick Sleeper 7-3 to draw Lineham. Nagle picked up Dave Fernandez, who’d defeated Francisco Cabral 7-4 and Mike Minichello 7-3 to reach him.
Rodriguez and Fernandez handed Lineham and Nagle their second straight loss, both 7-4, before locking up in a double hill quarterfinal that eventually sent Rodriguez to face Zvi in the semifinals. Zvi ended Rodriguez’ loss-side run 7-5 in those semifinals, and got the shot he was looking for against Dupuis in the hot seat.
They fought tooth and nail to double hill in the opener, before Zvi finished it, forcing a second set. They came within a game of forcing a second double hill encounter. Zvi pulled ahead late to claim the title 9-7.
“How are you feeling about this second straight win?” asked Upstate AL, commentator on the AZBTv stream.
“Like Jayson Shaw,” said Zvi, referencing Shaw’s victory at this event in 2016. “It’s been a crazy week.
“I missed a lot of shots,” he acknowledged. “I was grinding it, because I wasn’t used to these tables. I couldn’t make a ball on the break, and (Dupuis) kept getting the momentum.”
A record-breaking number of entrants (33) signed on to a $500-added Second Chance tournament, available to “non-pros eliminated from the main event.” Like the main event, the Second Chance finals went two sets. With Al McGuane in the hot seat, John Francisco (who’d been sent to the loss side by McGuane in a winners’ side semifinal) took the opening set 3-2. By the same score, McGuane won the second set to claim the title. Dave Shlemperis, downed by McGuane in the hot seat match 3-1, finished third, when Francisco followed loss-side victories over Brent Boemmels (3-2) and Bob Madenjian 3-1, and defeated him 3-1.
Joss NE 9-Ball Tour director Mike Zuglan thanked Steve Goulding and his Snooker’s staff for their hospitality, as well as sponsors Joss Cues, Simonis, Aramith, PoolOnTheNet.com, Heidrich Custom Cues, AZBilliards, Billiards Press, and Turning Stone Resort and Casino. The next stop on the Joss Northeast 9-Ball Tour, scheduled for March 11-12, will be a $1,500-added event ($500-added to Second Chance) – The Northeast 9-Ball Open XXIX – hosted by Trick Shot Billiards and Sports Pub in Clifton Park, NY. Zuglan also reminded prospective players about the Turning Stone Finale, set for August 31-September 3, which at present is about two-thirds full. Interested players should communicate with Zuglan soon.
Main Event Payouts
1 ISR ZVI Zion 1,700
2 USA DUPUIS Joe 1,100
3 USA RODRIGUEZ Jorge 850
4 USA FERNANDEZ Dave 650
5 USA NAGLE Bruce 500
5 LINEHAM Ryan 500
7 USA SLEEPER Rick 350
7 USA MINICHELLO Mike 350
9 USA WIMBUSH Craig 225
9 USA CABRAL Francisco 225
9 USA LANNA Billy 225
9 USA D’ALFONSO Tom 225
13 USA MACK Steve 100
13 USA CLOWERY Jarrod 100
13 USA BERTRAND Tom 100
13 USA PEPIN Kyle 100