Kennedy, Roberts and Mills chase dawn, split top three prizes on Sunshine State Pro Am
Skip Maloney
Oct. 9, 2017
(l to r): Tommy Kennedy, Donny Mills & James Roberts
(l to r): Tommy Kennedy, Donny Mills & James Roberts
By the time Stop #8 on the Sunshine State Pro Am Tour had whittled down to its final three competitors, it was nearly 4 a.m. on Sunday, October 8. Tommy Kennedy was in the hot seat, while Donny Mills had just concluded his quarterfinal victory over Benji Buckley, setting him (Mills) up to face James Roberts in the semifinal match. It didn’t happen. The three agreed to a three-way split of the relevant dough, awarding the undefeated Kennedy the event title. The $1,000-added event drew 57 entrants to Stroker’s Billiards in Palm Harbor, FL.
 
The event itself was something of a fluke. The weekend of October 7-8 was originally set aside by the Sunshine Pro Am Tour to organize a “First Coast Classic,” intended for members of local leagues (APA, BCA, etc.), to be hosted by Park Avenue Billiards in Jacksonville, FL. As the scheduled event drew closer, so did Hurricane Irma, and in the wake of that storm’s results, which included the continuing widespread absence of electricity, the tour postponed the First Coast Classic, to a yet-to-be-determined date in 2018. In the meantime, the tour decided to organize a regular tour stop, and did so in about nine days. Jose Del Rio, owner of Stroker’s Billiards in Palm Harbor agreed to host it, and a strong list of competitors, including Kennedy, Roberts and Mills (among others) signed on to compete.      
 
Once Kennedy had sent Pierre Palmieri to the loss side 7-2 in one winners’ side semifinal and Roberts had sent Justin “Red” Jenkins over 7-5 in the other one, Kennedy and Roberts squared off to fight for the hot seat. It went double hill before Kennedy finished what would prove to be his last match.
 
On the loss side, Donny Mills, winner of the June 25 tour stop at the same location and recently arrived from a winners’ side quarterfinal loss to Jenkins, downed Stephen Richmond 7-4 and Anthony Meglino 7-2 to pick up Palmieri.  Jenkins drew Benji Buckley, who’d survived a double hill fight versus Nathan Rose and eliminated Tony Vicari 7-4 to reach him.
 
Mills downed Palmieri 7-2, as Buckley was spoiling a potential Mills/Jenkins re-match by defeating Jenkins 7-4. In the last match of the tour stop, Mills advanced to the semifinal that didn’t happen, 7-4 over Buckley.
 
And that was that. Kennedy, Mills and Roberts (small, medium and large in the photo) agreed to a three-way split of the money, and called it a night, or early morning, as it was. In addition to the list of 16 players who were awarded prize money, the tour also awarded $20 each to the top finishing female – Vanessa Ruedas – and top junior – Codi Allen.
 
Tour representatives Janene Phillips and Bobby Garza thanked Jose Del Rio for hosting the last-minute event, and all of the players, who signed up in the nine days that preceded it. The next stop on the Sunshine State Pro Am Tour (#9), scheduled for November 18-19, will be hosted by Capone’s in Spring Hill, FL.