Raval Crowned Tri-State Tour’s Grand Champion
Tri-State Tour / East Rutherford, NJ
by John Leyman
The fourteenth annual Tri-State Tour Invitational Tournament took place July 9-10 and July 16 at Castle Billiards in East Rutherford, NJ. The two weekends were another huge success for the tour, with 12 A and A+ players, 32 B and B+ players, 32 C and C+ players, and 16 D and D+ players who earned their way in to compete in their respective classes and play for their chance to be named the Tri-State Tour Invitational Grand Champion, with that honor ultimately going to Paul Raval.
The action in the tournament got going with the B+-class and B-class players kicking off the event. Ed Culhane, winner of the Most Improved Player award, and Keith Adamik met in the hot seat match, with Adamik sending Culhane to the one-loss side 7-4. Raval, who had suffered an earlier loss to Adamik, relegated Culhane to third place to earn revenge on Adamik in the finals 9-5.
In the B class, Ricardo Mejia and Dave Shlemperis played consistently strong throughout the day to meet in the hot seat match, where Shlemperis won on the hill. Mejia moved to the one-loss side and met Richard Ng, who was looking for revenge for an earlier loss to Mejia. But Mejia was on a mission and dispatched Ng 7-2 to reach the finals. Once again Shlemperis and Mejia went hill-hill, but this time Mejia won the chance to move on.
The C+ and C players started things off Sunday, as Paul Spaaastra moved through the day undefeated. David Jusis and Chuck Giallorenzo played great all day and both tried to knock Spaanstra out of the event but failed. The C class was simply dominated by Female Player of the Year Sandie Patarino, who handily bested all of her opponents to reach the finals. But Mike Ettl, who had lost his second match of the day, was quietly making his move and arrived in the finals after winning five west-side matches. Ettl, who just kept taking every opportunity that came his way, stopped Patarino with an 8-6 win.
The following weekend saw the players in the A+ and A class and D+ and D class do battle, while the four winners from the previous weekend waited in the wings to play later on. Geoffrey Bauer, who had went undefeated the year before in the B+ class, for the second year in a row was in the hot seat in his division. The previous year’s A+/A class winner, Daniel Cintron, lost his first match of the day and went through six left-side matches to arrive in the finals for the third year in a row. Cintron started off strong and overpowered Bauer, who, for the second year in a row, was ousted from the event after being in the hot seat.
John Flynn, who came, as he said, “just to have some fun,” enjoyed his way all the way to the D+/D-class hot seat. One opponent he met along the way and sent to the one-loss side was Dave Fitzpatrick, who fought his way back to meet Flynn in the finals. Fitzpatrick played some of his best pool and won the match 7-4.
This left the six class champions to do battle for the Grand Champion title. Raval and Mejia played a tough match, with Raval winning 7-3. Spaanstra just could not handle Ettl, who was peaking at the right time, and Ettl won 6-2. Ettl continued to play well and best Fitzpatrick on the hill to get to the overall final. Cintron, after an exhausting day, played Raval and just could not catch a break, so Raval moved on to the finals. In the finals, the match went back and forth with both players trying to stay on top. Raval got ahead toward the end with some strong play and won the match 8-6 to be named 2010-2011 Tri-State Tour Grand Champion.