DeLuna goes undefeated to capture Stop #2 on the Predator Sunshine State Pro Am Tour

Michael DeLawder, Tommy Kennedy, Jeffrey De Luna and Anthony Meglino

Pool players are returning to the tables like a soft drink that’s just been released from a hard-shaken can. In the past month or so, we’ve seen record numbers sign on to tournaments in Texas, North Carolina and last weekend (Feb. 27-28), in Florida, where a capped field of 64 entrants for the $1,500-added second stop on the Predator Sunshine State Pro Am Tour at Brewlands in North Lakeland, FL turned into an 82-entrant field that featured a lot of the tour’s best players and on loan from the Philippines, Jeffrey DeLuna. Note to the Northeast: You might want to prepare for some serious numbers when the Tri-State New York City area opens up.

DeLuna went undefeated through the field, leaving Anthony Meglino (2nd), Mike DeLawder (3rd) and Tommy Kennedy (4th) in his immediate wake. Not to mention Jason Richko, Kyle Bova, Bobby Garza, Dale Stanley and long-timer CJ Wiley, to name just a few of the 82.

As it turned out, DeLuna faced four out of the five of that second-tier set of names on his way to the hot seat. After being awarded one of the ‘byes,’ DeLuna opened up with two straight shutouts, against Richko and then, Ladon Wiley. Stanley was next and DeLuna sent him to the loss side 7-4. A subsequent 7-2 win over Gary Pugh, Jr. put DeLuna into a winners’ side semifinal match against Mike DeLawder.

Anthony Meglino, in the meantime, worked his way through Leon Micco, Wayne Catledge, Sam Khadre and Jimmy Antonietta before coming up against the fourth person on the above second-tier list; CJ Wiley. Meglino downed Wiley 7-5 to draw Tommy Kennedy in the other winners’ side semifinal, which wrapped up seven of the overall list of eight notable names.

Kennedy and DeLawder were both sent to the loss side 7-4. DeLuna then sent Meglino to the semifinals 7-3 and claimed the hot seat.

On the loss side, Kennedy picked up Jerry Arveleaz, who, after losing his second match, double hill, to Serrafin Serrano, was working on a six-match, loss-side winning streak that was about to come to an end. He’d recently eliminated Pugh, Jr., double hill, and Mike Williams 5-1. DeLawder drew NY’s John Francisco, who’d followed up a winners’ side quarterfinal loss to TK, with victories over Anthony Cruz 5-2 and the event’s top-finishing junior, Julio Estevez 6-4. 

Francisco was denied an opportunity for a rematch against TK when DeLawder defeated Francisco 5-1. Kennedy joined DeLawder in the quarterfinals after eliminating Arveleaz 5-3. 

DeLawder ended Kennedy’s brief loss-side trip 5-3 in those quarterfinals and then, in a double hill, semifinal battle, fell to Meglino, who earned himself a second shot at DeLuna, waiting for him in the hot seat.

The wait apparently had no effect on DeLuna. He backed up his 7-3 hot seat win over Meglino with a 9-2 single-match win in the finals.

Tour directors Janene Phillips and Bobby Garza thanked Larry Walthal and the staff at Brewlands for hosting this event, for $1,000 of the added money and for their continuing support. They also gave a shout out to all of their friends who came out to support the tour and help them out; Rob McLaren, Adam Hanas, Nikki Cuellar, Jimmy Antonietta, Cami Becker and Leah Nusbaum (with apologies, noted Phillips, to anyone she left out). Thanks were also extended to the tour’s title sponsor Predator Group (which added $500 for a raffle), Kamui, Diamond Products, AZ Billiards, Central Florida USA Pool League & Stitch it to me Embroidery. 

The next stop (#3) on the Predator Sunshine State Pro Am Tour, scheduled for the weekend of March 27-28, will be a $750-added event, hosted by Boulevard Billiards in Ocala, FL