Hall ‘catches a (loss-side) gear’ and wins Sunshine Pro Am stop with a shutout final

(l to r): Anthony Meglino, Jeremy Bell, Justin Hall & Brewlands' owner, Larry Walthall
It seemed like such an unlikely scenario, to the point of being almost of unheard of, that we had to double check.
In the brackets detailing the results of Stop #4 on the Sunshine State Pro Am Tour on the weekend of May 11-12, there was reportedly a shutout in the final match. Such designations, when they show up on a posted bracket, are often ‘code’ for a circumstance in which the two finalists agree to split the top prizes, and since there is no way to indicate this on a tournament bracket, tour representatives will often write in a shutout score or a double hill score.
Not this time.
According to tour directors Janene Phillips and Bobby Garza, Justin Hall ‘caught a gear’ during his first loss-side match and went, like the proverbial ‘hot knife through butter,’ through three loss-side matches and then shut out hot seat occupant, Jeremy Bell to capture the event title. The $1,350-added event drew 64 entrants to Brewlands in North Lakeland (Tampa), FL.
It was also reported in the same posted bracket that the top finishing female in the event was Jeanette Lee and as that, too, seemed a little unlikely, we double-checked, assuming we would discover that another woman who happened to have the same name as the well-known female pool champion had finished in the four-way tie for 13th place. But no, it was THE Jeanette Lee, who was sent to the loss side in the second round of play by Faheem Zia and after a single win on the loss side, ran into Tommy Kennedy, who defeated her in a double hill battle.
Though Hall may have ‘caught the gear’ that propelled him into the finals when he arrived on the loss side, he was showing evidence of a solid performance early. He won his first two matches, against Marvin Limas and Will Smith (not the actor) 7-1. Stephanie Mitchell gave him a run for his money, but fell 7-5. Hall then defeated Robert Batson 7-2 to draw Bell for the first time in a winners’ side semifinal. He arrived at the winners’ side semifinal with a 75.67% game-winning percentage (28-9); a touch better than winning three out of every four games he’d played.
Bell, in the meantime, arrived at that winners’ side semifinal with a 66% winning percentage (28-14). At the other end of the bracket, Anthony Meglino was making his way to the hot seat and arrived at his winners’ side semifinal with a 65% winning percentage (28-15). He got by Angel Alvardo and Bobby Garza, both 7-4 before running into Tommy Kennedy, who battled  him to double hill, before giving way. A 7-1 victory over Faheem Zia put Meglino in the other winners’ side semifinal against Shannon Fitch.
Bell sent Hall to the loss side 7-3, as Meglino and Fitch locked up in a double hill fight that eventually put Meglino in the hot seat match against Bell. Meglino ended up on the wrong side of this third double hill match and headed for the semifinals.
On the loss side, Fitch picked up Serrano Serafin, who’d defeated Robert Batson, double hill, and Mike Xiarhos, Sr. 5-1 to reach him. Xiarhos had previously eliminated Kennedy in a double hill match. Hall drew Faheem Zia, who’d survived a double hill fight against Nathan Rose and eliminated Che Mrvos 5-3.
Fitch shut Serafin out and advanced to the quarterfinals. Hall, in the meantime, was digging himself a hole with Zia on the hill at 4-0. Hall stopped digging and ‘caught the gear’ at that point. Over the next 27 games, Hall would give up only three racks. He chalked up five against Zia and moved into the quarterfinals against Fitch.
Hall gave up a single rack to Fitch in those quarterfinals and then downed Meglino 5-2 in the semifinals. In the interim between meeting Bell for the first time and his eventual victory over him in the finals, Hall’s winning percentage had dropped by about five points to 70% (55-23), but it was more than enough to claim the event title.
Tour directors Janene Phillips and Bobby Garza thanked the owner, Larry Walthall and his Brewlands staff for their hospitality, as well as sponsors Predator Cues, Cyclops Balls, Stitch It To Me Embroidery, USA Pool League and AZBilliards. The next stop on the Sunshine State Pro Am Tour, scheduled for June 22-23, will be hosted by Strokers in Palm Harbor, FL.