Native Son

Ginky SanSouci Dives Into the Deep End of Pool

He eventually honed an "older," more controlled, unfailingly consistent game--defined by pinpoint cueball control, impeccable "ball" patterns, perfect mechanics, and a strategical genius at playing the percentages. Unlike most young players, who are pure shotmakers with a leaning toward the wild side of self-destruction, Ginky is machinelike, stoic, impregnable. He makes even the most intricate shots look simple. "He's all but impossible to beat sometimes," said 32-year-old pro Tony Robles, himself once the best player in New York City. "He's got that steady rhythm where he never ever rushes himself, whether he's up or down in the match. Trust me, you have to beat him. He doesn't beat himself. The kid has no weaknesses."

"Every time I see him play," said longtime New Jersey pro and former World Champion Allen Hopkins, "I'm impressed with him, especially with his composure under pressure and his knowledge of the game. I don't think there's a player in the world his age or younger who's a better all-around player. In fact, I don't think there's anybody of any age who's the clear favorite playing him. And if they don't believe me, let them play him some and find out on their own."

"The thing I like about him most," said 42-year-old upstate New York pro Mike Zuglan, a five-time New England Player of the Year, "is that when he puts himself into a tough situation, he always fights his way out rather than gives up or whines about it, like a lot of other players."

For the last four years, SanSouci has not only been the Player of the Year on the Tri-State Tour, one of the leading regional circuits in the Northeast, but has also completely dominated to the point where, during one stretch, he won a staggering 12 consecutive tournaments. His high run in straight pool is 212 consecutive shots and in 9-ball, eight straight racks. It's only been in the last three years, however, that he's played regularly in national pro events (after hooking up with a lawyer named Martin Garfield, who sponsors him by paying all his entry fees and traveling expenses): He's "cashed" in nearly 80 percent of the events and placed in the top five twice, both in 1997 (tied for fifth in the ESPN World Open 9-Ball and second in the Sands Regency Open).

"That second-place finish especially was a learning experience. Because I simply gave my opponent [Kim Davenport] the match before we even played. At the time, I was so content with my position that I kept saying to myself, 'Well, the worst I could do is second. They can't take that away from me.' And that's a terrible way to think. In Charlotte, I corrected myself. I kept telling myself, 'You're not content with second. Second place is no good.' It reminds me of something [former No. 1 player] Earl Strickland once said: Finishing second to me feels like finishing 2000th.' So now I'm playing all the tournaments to win. And unlike before, when I just thought I could beat all these great players, now I know I can."

Just as long as his pain in the neck stops being such a pain in the neck.

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