By NYC Grind Editor, Alison M. Fischer
Featuring both top men’s and women’s pro players, the Predator Pro/Am Tour’s Empire State Open 10-Ball Championships was definitely a treat for the spectators who got to take in the event at Raxx Pool Room in West Hempstead, NY on Sunday, February 17. Scroll to the bottom of the page to view our photo album from the event.
Earl Strickland, defending champion and regular to the Predator Tour, was among the top names taking a shot at the title, along with the winner of the season’s first stop Jeremy Sossei, Predator Tour finale champion Shaun Wilkie, two-time 2012 tour stop winner Jayson Shaw, top NYC player Sean ‘Alaska’ Morgan, and tour owner Tony Robles.
New York-based Jennifer Barretta was joined by fellow top WPBA pros Karen Corr and Julie Kelly to make up the female faction of the field. Interestingly enough, these three players ended up situated next to one another in the tournament bracket. In the first round, Jennifer Barretta defeated Julie Kelly in a close battle ending at 7-6. Barretta was then was sent to the one-loss side by Karen Corr in the next round, following Corr’s win against tour regular Lionel Rivera.
Karen Corr went on to defeat veteran New York player Frankie Hernandez 7-6, but was then dealt her first loss by Earl Strickland 7-1 in the final four of the winner’s bracket. Strickland was then in the running to defend his title, earning a spot in the hot seat match.
Also moving through the winner’s bracket of the event, Jayson Shaw (runner-up at the Predator Tour’s first event of 2013) steamrolled his way to the hot seat match, defeating Brian Tierney 7-0, Raphael Dabreo 7-1, Jerry Tarantola 7-1, and Holden Chin 7-2 along the way. Shaw would also not have too much trouble with Strickland in their match for the hot seat, as he won it at 7-4.
On the one-loss side, Jennifer Barretta would earn three more victories following her loss to Karen Corr, winning against Brian Tierney 7-0, Chris Laz 7-3, and Spanky Koba 7-2. Meeting Barretta in final four of the one-loss side was Sean “Alaska” Morgan, who after his loss to Jeremy Sossei had solid wins against Mhet Vergara 7-5, Gregg McAndrews 7-1, Jerry Tarantola 7-2. In his match against Barretta, Morgan went ahead with a 4-1 lead, but Barretta won the following three racks to tie at 4-4, and tie again 5-5. Morgan then got on the hill, and Barretta came up just short of tying 6-6, but Morgan took the win at 7-5. In the other final four match-up, Jeremy Sossei stopped Tony Robles’ run in the winner’s bracket, defeating the tour’s director for the second time in the event, both by a score of 7-4.
In the following round, Sean Morgan defeated Karen Corr 7-1 while Jeremy Sossei knocked out room owner Holden Chin 7-5, to make for the meeting in the quarterfinal between Morgan and Sossei. Morgan initially went up 3-1 in this match, but Sossei claimed the next four racks to go up 5-3. However, Morgan then kicked things into a higher gear, exhibiting impressive jump shots and shot making to go to the hill first at 6-5. But, the wind got knocked out of his sails after his next break turned out flat, and Sossei ran out to tie 6-6. In the final game, Morgan had two opportunities to win the match, but was unable to capitalize, and Sossei took the match at 7-6.
Jeremy Sossei then moved on to the semifinal, to take on a fired-up Earl Strickland at the late hour on Sunday night. Sossei and Strickland would go back and forth to tie at 3-3, but it was at this point that Strickland ran away with the match and went on a tear to win 7-3.
The final match was then set up with a rematch between Earl Strickland and Jayson Shaw, who awaited in the hot seat. As it was around 3am when the final began, only the diehard railbirds remained present for this final. But, those who stuck around got to witness a tremendous final match between these two great players. Shaw and Strickland furiously alternated running after rack, depending on who had a successful break. The show’s pace resembled a speed pool match, and kept everyone watching on the edge of their seats.
Tied up at 6-6, Shaw scratched on the break, giving Strickland the needed edge to get an advantage at 7-6. But, Strickland then broke dry and Shaw countered by running out tie 7-7. Shaw also broke dry in the next rack, and Strickland would go on to lead the match 9-7. In the extended race format, the match then became a race to eleven, as Strickland reached nine games first. Shaw won the next to get within one rack at 9-8, but Strickland then got to the hill at 10-8.
But, all was not lost for Shaw, who won the next two to go double-hill, 10-10. After Shaw broke the final rack, the two ball dropped, but he was left with no good shot on the one. He attempted to play safe, but the cue ball ended up sitting in the gap to leave a shot for Strickland. After pocketing the one ball, Strickland botched the three, but left the ball stuck behind the eight. As this was not an intentional safe, Shaw opted to give the shot back to Strickland, who kicked at the ball. Shaw then banked in the three, but was left having to jump at the four. He successfully made the four, but the cue ball followed into the pocket after it. With ball in hand, Strickland opted to go for a risky combination on the five/ten to win the match, but ended up missing it. Shaw then had an advantage and went on to win the final game and earn the title of 2013 Empire State Open 10-Ball Champion.
Tour owner Tony Robles would like to acknowledge Raxx Pool Room owner Holden Chin and staff for their support of the tour, along with tour sponsors Predator Cues, The National Amateur Pool League, Delta-13, NYCgrind, and PoolOnTheNet.com.
The next Predator Pro/Am Tour stop is slated to be held at Cue Bar in Bayside, NY on March 2-3. For more information visit www.PredatorProAmTour.com.
1st: Jayson Shaw – $1,250
2nd: Earl Strickland – $700
3rd: Jeremy Sossei – $500
4th: Sean Morgan – $300
5th/6th: Karen Corr, Holden Chin – $150