By NYC Grind founder & contributor, Jerry Tarantola
The Predator Pro Am Tour’s eighth stop of the season was hosted by Raxx Pool Room in West Hempstead, NY on June 1-2, 2013. Room owner Holden Chin and the friendly Raxx staff rolled out the red carpet for the two-day event. A 52-player field of top New York-area amateurs came out to compete in the $1,500 added event.
At the end of Saturday’s play there were six players who would move forward to battle on the second day of the event.
Sunday’s Match-Ups – Final Rounds of Action
Winners Side Final Four:
Bogie Uzdejczyk (A) vs. Tom Hagan (A)
Bogie defeated Tom 7-3
Romeo Singh (B) vs. Carl Yusuf Khan (B+)
Carl defeated Romeo 7-3
Hot Seat Match:
Bogie Uzdejczyk (A) vs. Carl Yusuf Khan (B+)
Carl defeated Bogie in a strong 7-4 performance, earning a spot in the finals, undefeated.
One-Loss Side Final Four:
Adrian Daniel (C+) vs. Roberto Mendoza (A+)
Roberto defeated Adrian 9-7
Shawn Sookhai (B+) vs. Dave Shlemperis (B)
Dave defeated Shawn 7-5
Roberto and Dave then moved on to go up against the two players who lost in the final four of the winner’s bracket.
Roberto Mendoza defeated Tom Hagan 7-5
Dave Shlemperis defeated Romeo Singh 7-1
Dave Shlemperis defeated Roberto Mendoza 8-4
Roberto Mendoza overpowered Bogie Uzdejczyk in the semifinal match with a dominant 7-3 performance. This win lined up a final match between himself and Carl Yusuf Khan. Roberto, who is a former Predator Tour winner, had been knocked into the one-loss side on the first day of the event after having lost his first-round match to Gail Glazebrook. But, Roberto then went on to win an impressive total of nine straight matches on the one-loss side to get to the final.
Final Match: Carl Yusuf Khan B+ vs. Roberto Mendoza A+
In the finals, it was a match-up between two top veteran players and competitors. Carl played a strong, gritty match against one of the favorites in the event, Roberto Mendoza. Carl took more time than his usual pace in the finals, as he mentioned later he bared down and focus on grinding out the set one game at a time.
Through a combination of tactical safety play and aggressive shot making, Carl Yusuf Khan came away with the win, ending with a 7-4 final score, making few errors. When I complimented him on his play, he was quick to say that he takes his hat off to Roberto, and knew coming into the finals that he had to play smart to defeat him. His strategy paid off, and Carl Yusuf Khan earned the win in the Predator Tour’s eight stop of the season. Coming into the event, Carl was ranked 4th in the B+ division, and has been stepping up his game of late.
I spent a little time after the event to sit down with Carl Yusuf Khan “The Warrior” to speak about his unique background in another sport…badminton.
Carl Yusuf Khan is a former Badminton World Champion in singles, having won a remarkable eight consecutive world titles. He retired from the sport in 1988. Carl has also won every open in the sport of badminton, including the Malaysian Open, China Open, All-England Championships, Danish Open, and the Swede Open.
Carl is also a World Champion in men’s doubles and mixed doubles. His mindset of a top-level competitor has also clearly crossed over into his pool game, as he has been a steady force and favorite in the amateur pool world in the Northeast.
While Carl retired from competing in 1988, he joined a friend to play in the US National Championships in 1996, and was invited to play on the US Olympic Team. Although Carl went to Colorado Springs to train for the Olympics for two months, he did some soul searching and decided that his body didn’t quite have what it would take for the US to win, so he respectfully bowed out and decided to stay retired.
Regarding Carl’s pool game… he has had both individual and team success, and displays leadership skills as he enjoys captaining several teams on different leagues, with the same name ‘Dementors’ (a nod to the Harry Potter series and a name which Carl said represents grinding out wins). He is the captain of a NAPL team which won the playoffs two seasons ago, and last season they finished in fourth place. His team has also had success in Amsterdam’s 9-ball league.
A few of Carl’s notable accomplishments are being ranked #2 on the Tri-State Tour and winning several tour stops. He is also very proud of how he is climbing the ranks in the Predator Tour’s season, and is currently training hard to go to Las Vegas. The very strong 8-ball team ‘Foreign Policy’ has invited him to play, which Carl mentioned was an achievement for hi. He joined their team once three years ago, and they placed 3rd in Vegas at the BCAPL National Championships. Carl is looking to help the team earn the “W” this year.
Carl also spoke about the importance of seasoning to his game, which helps him to stay sharp and never get rattled. He loves competition and emphatically says pool is his favorite sport. Carl gets a high from competition and uses the artform to release stress and have fun. Always having new challenges and opportunities to learn more about the game are some of the key reasons why Carl finds pool to be
Carl Yusuf Khan would like to thank his sponsors Jacoby Custom Cues, Kamui Tips, In Stroke, and his home pool room Gotham Billiard Club located in Brooklyn, NY, owned by Isabel and Kevin Buckley.
The Predator Pro-Am Tour would like to acknowledge their sponsors for their ongoing support: Predator Cues, The National Amateur Pool League, Delta-13, NYCgrind, PoolOnTheNet.com, and host room Raxx Pool Room.
Coming up next on the Predator Pro/Am Tour will be Stop #9 at Amsterdam Billiard Club on July 13-14.
A/B/C/D 9-Ball event will begin at noon on Saturday.
Open/Pro 10-Ball event will begin at noon on Sunday.
Visit PredatorProAmTour.com for more information and the complete tour schedule.
Predator Tour Amateur 9-Ball Final Results
1st: Carl Yusuf Khan – $1,000
2nd: Roberto Mendoza – $750
3rd: Bogie Uzdejczyk – $500
4th: Dave Shlemperis – $350
5th/6th: Tom Hagan, Romeo Singh – $200
7th/8th: Shawn Sookhai, Adrian Daniel – $150
9th-12: Rhys Chen, Jr. Sanchez, Thomas Rice, Chris Laz – $100