Tri State Tour / Parsippany, NJ
by Skip Maloney
Raj Vannala endured a red-eye finals contest that didn’t get underway until 3:30 a.m. January 25 to take first place in the Tri State Tour stop that got underway on January 24. The $500-added, B-D handicapped event drew 47 entrants to Comet Billiards in Parsippany, NJ.
Vannala started his final three-game drive to first place with a 7-4 victory over Gary Murgia, as his eventual opponent in the finals, Neil Walmsley, held on in a hill-hill battle that sent Ben Sadowski west. Walmsley fell behind 6-1 in the hot seat match that followed but clawed his way back to his second double-hill game in a row. There he faltered shooting at the 8 ball, leaving an easy out and possession of the hot seat to Vannala.
On the one-loss side, Randy Mackin and Dave Shlemperis emerged from among the tournament’s final 12 to meet Murgia and Sadowski, respectively. Sadowski got by Shlemperis 6-5, while Murgia advanced to the quarterfinals with a 7-5 victory over Mackin. Murgia turned in a commanding 7-2 performance against Sadowski to meet Walmsley in the semifinals. Murgia and Walmsley then fought back and forth in a match that was ultimately decided by the accidental drop of the 9 ball, which advanced Walmsley to the finals against Vannala.
The true double-elimination finals never made it to a second set. With dawn approaching, Vannala prevailed 7-5 to take top honors.
1st Raj Vannala $600
2nd Neil Walmsley $400
3rd Gary Murgia $200
4th Ben Sadowski $150
5th Randy Mackin $100
7th Ryan McCarthy $75
9th Rhio-Anne Flores $50