Dennis Orcollo and Roberto Gomez repeated their performance at the 28th Houston Open by finishing as winner and runner-up at the 29th Houston Open, held this past weekend (Sept. 7-8). Gomez decided to spice things up this year. Instead of advancing to a winners’ side semifinal, being sent to the loss side (by Francisco Bustamante), winning three there and challenging Orcollo in the finals as he did last year, Gomez lost his second match to Orcollo 9-2 and then proceeded to win 11 on the loss side to meet Orcollo in the finals. That part of their 2018 meeting stayed the same, albeit with Gomez chalking up a few less racks (9-6 in 2018, 9-2 in 2019). The $7,500-added event drew 93 entrants to Legends Billiards in League City, TX.
Orcollo was awarded an opening round bye and sent Gomez on his loss-side journey in the second round, before navigating his way through two straight double hill wins over Sajal Ghimire and Josh Roberts. He then defeated John Morra 9-3 to arrive at a winners’ side semifinal against what Legends Billiards co-owner and tournament director Mindy Cohen called a “blast from the past,” an older Filippino player, Edgar Acaba.
Robb Saez, in the meantime, who’d finished in the tie for 7th place last year, when defeated by Warren Kiamco, followed an opening round bye with victories over Ray Hansen, Manny Chau, Jerry Alvarez and Leon Contreras, before squaring off in the other winners’ side semifinal against Alex Calderon.
Orcollo downed fellow countryman Acaba 9-5 and in the hot seat match faced Saez, who’d sent Calderon west 9-6. Orcollo then sent Saez off to the semifinals 9-4 and waited in the hot seat for Gomez to finish his somewhat epic loss-side journey.
With six notches on his loss-side belt, Gomez defeated Leon Contreras 7-1 and chalked up a surprising strong victory against Josh Roberts 7-3 to draw Acaba in his first loss-side match. Calderon drew John Morra, who’d defeated Brian Sanders 7-3 and Jerry Alvarez 7-5 to reach him.
Gomez and Calderon advanced to the quarterfinals on the heels of identical 7-5 victories over Acaba and Morra, respectively. And then, building momentum, Gomez chalked up loss-side win #10, eliminating Calderon 7-4.
Gomez reduced his opponents’ number of racks by an additional one, as he spoiled Saez’ bid for a rematch against Orcollo 7-3 in the semifinals. In a ‘déjà vu all over again’ scenario, Gomez and Orcollo greeted each other as finalists at the Houston Open for the second straight year.
Second verse, same as the first. Gomez needed to defeat Orcollo twice. He only chalked up two racks in the first set, eliminating the need for a second. Orcollo walked away with his second straight Houston Open title.
In addition to paying out the top 24 finishers in the event, the Houston Open paid $150 to the top female finisher in the event, which proved to be three women who tied for the prize. They were all from the same family and split the money – Madonna Springs, Gayla Toms and Shyenne Toms (age 12).
Co-owners of Legend Billiards and tournament directors Mindy Cohen and Ted Dean thanked their entire staff for their cooperation and assistance during the weekend run of the tournament, as well as Jerry Olivier Cues for contributing the $1,200 cue that got raffled and was won by Elizabeth Sturges. Cohen and Dean also thanked Ray Hansen and his entire PoolActionTV staff for streaming selected matches of the event all weekend.