Cuellar downs Sheerman twice to win first Sunshine State Pro Am Ladies event

Julia Sheerman and Nicolle Cuellar

In what was a ‘first,’ but unlikely to be the last, the Sunshine State Pro Am Tour held a consecutively-run Ladies event, alongside their regularly scheduled Men’s event on the weekend of August 1-2; the tour’s first stop in six months. In addition to acting as a co-tour director for the event, Nicolle Cuellar went undefeated to win the Ladies event, defeating Julia Sheerman twice in the hot seat and finals. As it turned out, it was the second event that was won by one of its directors. The men’s event, which drew 64 entrants (see separate story), was won by co-tour director (with Janene Phillips) Bobby Garza. The $350-added (plus an Acme case to the winner) event drew 25 entrants to Rack’s Billiards in Sanford, FL. The two winners had shared a tie for 5th place in the last event to be held before the pandemic began its regimen of restrictions back in February.

Cuellar’s path to the winners’ circle went first through Katie Bowse (7-2), who would go on to win seven on the loss side to compete in the semifinals. Cuellar advanced to down Lauren Kowalski 7-4 and Gayden Beardsley 7-2 to arrive at a winners’ side semifinal against Becky Yelvington. After being awarded an opening round bye, Sheerman defeated Danielle Fee, 7-2 and survived a double hill battle against Tracey Gagnon, to arrive at her winners’ side final matchup versus Lisa Anderson.

Sheerman advanced to the hot seat match 7-3 over Anderson and was joined by Cuellar, who’d sent Yelvington to the loss side 7-3, as well. Cuellar won the first of her two against Sheerman 7-4 and waited in the hot seat for her return.

Yelvington opened her loss-side campaign against Tracey Gagnon, who’d been defeated by Sheerman and on the loss side, had survived a double hill match against Kowalski and eliminated Christina Moxley 5-3. It was Anderson who picked up Bowse, five matches into her loss-side streak, which had most recently included a shutout over Christine Dufour and a 7-2 victory over Lyn Remsen.

Bowse, who, to the point of her match against Anderson, had given up only eight racks in five loss-side matches, made it eight racks in six matches with a shutout that advanced her to the quarterfinals. Yelvington, apparently in the spirit of things, gave up only one as well to Gagnon and advanced to join Bowse in the quarterfinals.

Yelvington chalked up as many racks against Bowse in those quarterfinals as Bowse’s previous four opponents (5), but it wasn’t enough as Bowse chalked up her requisite 7 racks to earn a shot against Sheerman in the semifinals.

Sheerman, looking for her first (reported) cash payment since finishing 9th in the Amateur division of the 2019 George “Ginky” Sansouci Memorial tournament last year, would not be denied. Bowse put up a fight that came within a game of forcing a double-hill deciding match, but Sheerman prevailed for her second shot at Cuellar.

Sheerman notched a percentage-point better showing in the finals than she had in the hot seat match against Cuellar, but like Bowse in the semifinals, the effort fell short. Sheerman won 36% of the games she played in the hot seat match (4 of 11) and 40% of the games she played in the final (6 of 15). Cuellar actually won more games as a percentage in the hot seat match (7 of 11 for 64%) than she did in the finals (9 of 15 for 60%). Statistics, though, don’t always tell the whole story. This one ended with Cuellar completing her undefeated run to claim the first Sunshine State Pro Am Tour women’s title.

Phillips and Garza thanked Pedro Botta and his staff at Rack’s for their hospitality, as well as title sponsor Predator Group, Stitch It To Me Embroidery, Diamond Billiard Products, Central Florida USA Pool League, X-treme Pool (which streamed selected matches of the event) and AZBilliards. The next stop on the Sunshine State Pro Am Tour is to be determined. Phillips and Garza are discussing safety protocols and other issues with the potential host to clarify procedures and solidify the date. Check the tour’s Facebook page for further information.