sinatra stampAnd the first 17 qualifiers signal a very good year for the 2013 USBA National Championship!

With less than 60 days to the 2013 national three-cushion tournament, the field is taking shape. The top four place winners from 2012 are given automatic positions in the tournament. The place winners, in order of finish, are Pedro Piedrabuena, Mazin Shooni, Sonny Cho and Hugo Patiño. All four are former national champions. Piedrabuena has won the title five times and will be looking for his sixth trophy. Shooni and Cho have won the championship once each, while Patiño is a two-time winner.

Six qualifiers have produced the following players eligible to play:

Medford, Oregon -- Danny Louie, Tommy Thomsen

Peabody, Massachusetts -- Joe DeAmato, Tony Ferrara

Milpitas, California -- Rigoberto Cuevas

Miami, Florida -- Carlos Hallon, Sergio Hernandez

New York, New York -- Michael Kang, Miguel Torres

Louisville, Kentucky -- Brian Haff, Jim Bishop, George Theobald, Tom Rossman

Please note: Some of the players who qualified may not play. Replacements for automatic qualifiers who choose not to play will be announced in the coming weeks.

So there are our first 17 who made it in! Two additional qualifying tournaments remain on the calendar: February 17 Amazin Billiards in Malden, Massachusetts, and March 1 to 3 at Chris's Billiards in Chicago, Illinois.

In addition to the automatic qualifiers, the following players have indicated they will play. All have played in qualifiers and are currently guaranteed spots in the field:

Raye Raskin, Bassel Elshaar, Eric Hughes, Jamil Isreal, Bill Johnson, Jim Shovak, Victor Cuzzi, Carlos Medina, Young Gull Lee and Dave Van Lokeren

Several additional players have been placed on the open list: Mike Shamos and Jamie Sibley. They did not play in a qualifier but are eligible because they are USBA members and have paid the full entry fee.

Players are chosen based upon the following order of preference:

1. Top four place winners from prior year;
2. Players that qualified through a qualifying tournament;
3. Players who played in qualifiers;
4. Players who played in a USBA tournament in 2012; and
5. USBA members who did not play in a qualifier.

The entry fee is $300 for any USBA member who played in a qualifier and $500 for any player who did not.

The national championship will be held April 3 to 7 at the Allen Hopkins Super Billiards Expo at the New Jersey Convention & Expo Center. For hotel and other information on the event CLICK HERE!