Jim Prather and Adam Blair have been competing in the New England 9-Ball Series (and to a lesser extent, the Rack ‘Em Up Tour in the area) for 26 years; Prather since 2007 and Blair since 2011. As far as we know, although they cashed in on many events during the tour, they have never met in a final and neither has won a stop on either tour. See you this weekend, at the first stop of the 2022 NE 9-Ball Series season; a $600 value-added event that drew 24 participants for Straight Shooters Family Billiards in Fall River, MA. Prather went undefeated to the hot seat in the event and although Blair returned from a semi-final victory to win the opening set of a true double-elimination final, they opted for a second set and negotiated a split of the first two prizes.
Prather entered the Upper Bracket of the tournament with what turned out to be the event’s highest Fargo Rate (624). Another competitor, Robert Lewis, with a higher Fargo Rate (635), forfeited from his opening match, as well as his first scheduled match on the losing side. Prather started his journey into the winner’s circle with a double hill win over Steve Nelson and apparently not happy with that kind of progress, followed by a shutout over Mike Cote. He then went back to the double hill route and survived his match against Eric Burgess to draw David Melancon in a semi-final for the winners.
Blair, working in the Lower Bracket, got a bye on the opening round and also won his first match, double hill, over Ryan McCrum. He followed that up with a 4-2 win over William Aley to pick up Sandra Kostant in the semi-finals over the other winners.
In a straight race to 5, Prather came into the hot seat match with a 5-3 win over Melancon. Blair joined him after taking out Kostant. In their first of what turned out to be two games, Prather claimed the hot seat 6-2 (Blair races to 4).
Melancon went to the losing side, drawing Eric Burgess, who, after losing his winners in the quarterfinals to Prather, had defeated Roarke Dickson 4-2 and Van Sy, double hill. Kostant picked up a rematch against Steven Mantineo, who had lost to her in the quarterfinals to his winners, then defeated Ryan McCrum 5-2 and Kenneth Duclos 6-2.
Melancon and Mantineo advanced to the quarterfinals; Melancon 5-3 on Burgess and Mantineo 5-2 on Kostant. Melancon put a punctuation mark on his quarterfinal by excluding Mantineo.
Blair and Melancon battled for double the mound in the semifinals that followed. Blair, with the slower Fargo speed, started the match with a single bead on the wire in a race to 5, so when they lined up a total of 4, Blair was the winner.
Blair started the true double-elimination final against Prather with two beads on the wire in a race to 6. For the second time in a row, Blair battled to double the mound and won; this time they started with two beads on the wire in a race to 6. It was at this point that they opted out of a second set and decided to split the first two prizes. After failing to be defeated twice in the double elimination format, Prather was the official winner of the event.
Tour Director Marc Dionne thanked the ownership and staff of Straight Shooters Family Billiards, as well as sponsors Predator, Poison, Arcos II, BCAPL, USAPL New England, Fargo Rate, AZBilliards, Professor Q-ball’s National Pool and 3-Cushion News, MJS Construction, Master Billiards, OTLVISE, Outsville, Salotto and Just The Tip Cue Repair and Custom Accessories. Stop #2 of the NE 9-Ball Series, scheduled for the weekend of February 5-6, is the annual winter classic. The $2,000-value event, which is limited to 128 players, will be hosted by Snooker’s Sports-Billiards Bar & Grill in Providence, RI. Players must pay for this event by Thursday February 3rd and can do so by registering on the tour website at http://www.newengland9ballseries.com.