Safba Breaks Through

Zee Shan Safba Breaks Through at Mr. Cue Billiards

By Alison M. Fischer, NYCgrind.com

(photo: L-R 1st Place ABCD Winner Zee Shan Safba, 3rd Place Charlie Lentini & 2nd Place Scott Murphy)

The Ozone Billiards Predator 9-ball Tour was hosted by Mr. Cue Billiards in Lindenhurst, NY on August 14-15th. This $1,000-added event was worth double points as this 12th stop of the season was a warm-up for the upcoming Seminole Tribe of Florida Empire State Championships.

A total field of 52 players came out to take a shot at the $1,000 first prize, including Scott Simonetti, Stewart Warnock, Michael Yednak, Charlie Lentini, Jerry Tarantola, John Alicea and Mike Panzarella. Four of the tour’s lady players, Gail Glazebrook, Linda Cheung, Borana Andoni, and Diana Rojas also came out to battle.  Diana would be the eventual highest-finishing female, placing tied for 9th.

The tournament bracket for this event was split up between the A/B players the C/D players. Rene Villalobos  was impressive in grinding out several tough wins over Taran Gunness 7-4, Anthony Zoccolillo 7-5, and Bob Schlott 7-6, before losing a nail-biter to Zee Shan Safba 7-6.

Zee Shan fought through the C/D bracket with wins over Linda Cheung 7-4, Pat Dibuono 7-6, Al Frances 7-3, and ultimately Rene. This run set up a hot seat match against Mr. Cue veteran house player, Charlie Lentini… which ended in Zee Shan’s favor at 7-4.

Several C/D players were also putting together impressive performances on the one-loss side, including Diana Rojas, Anthony Zoccolillo, Al Frances, and Bob Schlott.  After losing to Zee Shan Safba on the winner’s side, Rene squeaked out a close 7-6 win over Bob Schlott, lining up the quarterfinal match against Scott Murphy, who was grinding through the A/B west side of the bracket.

Scott Murphy is the owner of Mr. Cue Billiards, and proved that the house room advantage can definitely come into play. Scott, who is rated a B, lost his first round to one of the favorites, John Alicea (7-6), then began an impressive comeback. Scott battled through the one-loss side with wins over Chris Laz 7-6, Bob Mammarella 7-2, Michael Yednak 7-6, Ryan Klett 7-2, T.J. 7-3, Scott Simonetti 7-4, Stewart Warnock 7-5, Jerry Tarantola 7-3 and ultimately Rene Villalobos 7-3.

This long battle set Scott up for the semifinal match against house man Charlie Lentini, who had previously lost to Zee Shan Safba in the hot seat match.  Before losing to Zee Shan, Charlie has been the player to beat, having wins over Darren DeFilippis 7-3, Raphael Dabreo 7-0, T.J. 7-3, Stewart Warnock 7-0, and Jerry Tarantola 7-3.

In the semifinal match between the two house players, Scott Murphy emerged victorious with a dominant 7-3 score.  The final match was then set between Scott and Zee Shan Safba. When the dust settled, it was Bellerose, Queens player Zee Shan Safba who edged out a hill-hill 9-8 victory, breaking through for his first Predator Tour win.

This stop on the Predator Tour also featured a $300 added second day, single elimination event.  Ten players participated, and rising to the top of the bracket were Tony Sinacore & Scott Murphy, who split in the final, each taking $180. Coming in tied for 3rd/4th were Shawn Sookhai & Geoff Conway, winning $60.

The top finishing players in this event enjoyed earning double points, which boosted up their season ranking status as they prepare for the upcoming Seminole Tribe of Florida Empire State Championship. This banner event will take place at Raxx Pool Room over the weekend of September 4-5, and boasts an $8,000-added prize fund.  The added funds are made possible in part by the Seminole Tribe of Florida.

Final Results:
1st: Zee Shan Safba – $1,000
2nd: Scott Murphy – $600
3rd: Charlie Lentini – $450
4th: Rene Villalobos – $300
5th/6th: Bob Schlott, Jerry Tarantola – $225
7th/8th: Stewart Warnock, Anthony Zoccolillo -$150
9th-12th: Diana Rojas, Frankie Cologne, Scott Simonetti, Al Frances – $100

Raxx Hosts Predator Stop

By Jerry Tarantola, NYCgrind.com

(Photo: ABCD Amateur Event Winners L-R 3rd Place: Stewart Warnock, 4th Place: Borana Andoni, 2nd Place: Christian Smith & 1st Place winner John Hacsi)

On June 26-27, 2010, the 10th tour stop of the Predator Tour season was hosted by Raxx Pool Room, Bar & Grill in West Hempstead, NY, where 70 players came out to compete in the $1,000 added Amateur A/B/C/D event and the Open/Pro 10-ball event.

In the amateur event, strong performances were seen from Diana Rojas, Pam Ogarek, Stewart Warnock, Neslihan Gürel, Pete Ziemak, Christian Smith, Scott Murphy, John Hacsi, and Matthew Harricharan.

However, John Hacsi, one of the oldest players on the tour, would be the player to go through the winner’s bracket unscathed, grinding through several tough matches. John defeated Joe Morace 7-5, Gene Hartnell 7-1, Neslihan “Ness” Gürel 7-6, Meshak Daniel 7-2, and Christian Smith 7-4 to earn a spot in the hot seat.

Another strong showing was put on by “Queen B” Borana Andoni as she showed a lot of heart, with two big comebacks. Borana grinded back from trailing 6-3 in the first round against Sam Li, showing heart and grit in her game early on.  “Queen B” then went on to defeat Carlos Alvardo 7-5 and Pam Ogarek 7-3, before losing to Meshak Daniel 7-5.

L-R 1st Place Winner: Shaun "Get Some" Wilkie, 3rd Place: Tony Robles & 2nd Place winner: Zion Zvi

Borana then bounced back in her first one-loss side match from another 6-3 deficit, earning her a spot in the second day of the two-day event. On Sunday, Borana defeated Neslihan Gürel in a close hill-hill 7-6 nail biter. Ness had an opportunity to get out of the set to claim the win, but her display of focus, smart play, and willingness to bounce back only barely failed her.  As Neslihan continues on her journey as an aspiring pro in the US, her solid foundation shows a promising future.

Following up her win against Ness, Borana avenged her winner’s side loss in dominant fashion, defeating Meshak Daniel 7-3 before losing to Stewart Warnock 7-5. This 4th place finish makes “Queen B” the highest finishing female in the tour history.  This is also another very notable finish for Stewart Warnock, who currently holds the #1 position in the “A” Class on the Predator Tour.

After defeating Borana, Stewart Warnock moved onto the semifinal, where he would have to settle for third place after a 7-3 loss to Christian Smith.  In the final match, John Hacsi soundly beat Christian Smith 7-4 to claim the win, undefeated.  Had Christian made it to seven games first, the race would have been extended to nine games.

Congratulations to John Hacsi on his dominant win, taking home the $1,000 first prize, along with Christian Smith for a strong runner-up finish.  John, who only recently made a return to the game after a 40 year hiatus, has been proving on the Predator Tour that he still has what it takes… he currently holds the #2 position in the points standings for the “C” class.

Despite having to deal with some pain during this event, John Hacsi pushed through the tournament undeterred. Also, if you noticed a renewed spring in John Hacsi’s step, it is because he has found a new love in his life in his baby grandaughter, Brooke who visited him during the tournament!  And as John has mentioned, this joy has definitely been reflecting in his pool game!

Final Results:
1st: John Hacsi – $1,000
2nd:  Christian Smith – $650
3rd: Stewart Warnock – $450
4th: Borana “Queen B.” Andoni – $350
5th/6th: Tony Liang, Meshak Daniel – $250
7th/8th: Neslihan Gurel, Scott Murphy – $150
9th-12th: Chuck Giallorenzo, Thomas Wan, Matthew Harricharan, Pete Ziemak – $100

The Ozone Billiards Predator 9-Ball Tour also attracted top players from the NY area to participate in the Open/Pro event that ran along side the Amateur event. Top players such as Shaun “Get Some” Wilkie, George SanSouci, Zion Zvi, Tony Robles, Evan Broxmeyer, and reigning Empire State Amateur 9-Ball Champion Kevin Guimond filled up a strong field.

“Get Some” Shaun Wilkie, who just came off a great 2nd place finish at last weekend’s Maryland State 14.1 Championships, went through the winner’s bracket with wins over George “Ginky” SanSouci 8-4, Kevin Guimond 8-7, and Tony Robles 8-7, earning him a spot in the finals undefeated.
Ginky bounced back from his second-round loss to catch a major gear with a series of dominant wins. The top NY player rolled over Evan Broxmeyer 8-0, Raphael Dabreo 8-1, and Wali Muhammad 8-1 before losing to Zion Zvi 8-3. In the match between Ginky and Zion, Ginky jumped out to a 2-0 lead, and was in complete control… before an unlucky kiss led the cue ball to scratch. That would end up to be the turning point of the set, as Zion turned the tables and took control of the set to win 8-3.

Zion continued his hot hand to edge out a close win against Predator Tour founder Tony Robles 8-7, earning him a spot in the finals to play Shaun Wilkie. In the final match, Shaun Wilkie capped off an impressive tournament with a close 9-7 win over Zion Zvi, trumping his finish in Maryland, making this his first win for the 2010 Predator season.
Final Results:
1st: Shaun Wilkie – $800
2nd: Zion Zvi – $500
3rd: Tony Robles – $210
Tony Robles and the Predator Tour would like to thank their sponsors: Predator Cues, Poison Cues, Ozone Billiards, Delta-13 Racks, The Seminole Tribe of Florida, The Seminole Pro Tour, Poolonthenet.com, AZBilliards.com, Digital Ink Printing, Billiards Press, Cuetable.com, Master Chalk, RJH Custom Cues, Webb Custom Cues, Jim Murnak Cue Cases, Go4Pool.net, NYCgrind.com, Billiards Digest, Inside Pool Magazine, Pool & Billiards Magazine, Maxim Billiards & The Tournament Guide.
For more information on the Ozone Billiards Predator Tour, please log on to:  www.predator9balltour.com
The next stop on the tour’s schedule will be held at the Amsterdam Billiard Club on July 24-25th.