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Mills/Saputo win 3rd Annual Battle of the Billiards Big Dawg Scotch Doubles

Alec Saputo, Donny Mills, Kyle Bova and Raymond Linares

The ‘bait’ with this Battle of the Billiards Big Dawg Scotch Doubles event, held under the auspices of the Predator Sunshine State Pro Am Tour every year, is that a number of the two-player teams are representing a Florida pool room. It is something like a localized Mosconi Cup event, with multiple teams vying to bring the title to their ‘home’ rooms, literally.

“The great thing about this annual tournament,” said Predator Sunshine State Pro Am Tour co-director Janene Phillips, “is that when pool rooms send players, if those players win, the tournament is held at their location the following year.

“For three years in a row now,” she added, “It’s been Stroker’s (in Palm Harbor, FL).”

This year’s list of competing pool rooms included Racks (Sanford), Mikey’s Place (Plant City), Uncle Waldo’s (Daytona Beach), Grover’s Billiards (West Palm Beach), Brewlands (Tampa), Boulevard Billiards (Ocala) and Backwoods Billiards (Okeechobee). If an independent team (not representing a particular pool room) wins, the site for the following year’s event defaults to Stroker’s. The $500-added 3rd Annual Battle of the Billiards Big Dawg Scotch Doubles Tournament drew 22 teams (44 entrants) to Stroker’s Billiards. 

The event’s defending champions – Kyle Bova and Raymond Linares – who competed independently, went undefeated in 2019, were on hand to defend their title this year and did so, right up until the event’s final two matches. They were defeated in those final two matches by the team of Donny Mills and Alec Saputo (representing Stroker’s), who were the ones who went undefeated this year to claim the event title.

There was a blend of Florida veterans and seasoned pros this year. Local player Saputo picked up the seasoned pro Donny Mills and as a result, chalked up his first title ever. Another local amateur, Ronald Machado out of Orlando picked up Predator-sponsored pro Jesus Atencio and together, playing as an independent team, they finished fourth. Stroker’s owner, Jose Del Rio teamed up with Jason Richko.

Saputo and Mills worked their way through the field, winning their first three matches to arrive at a winners’ side semifinal against Joey Herron and Jon Gore. The defending champs, in the meantime (Bova/Linares), were awarded an opening round bye and won their first two to arrive at the other winners’ side semifinal, against Machado and Atencio. 

Bova/Linares downed Machado/Atencio 7-5 and were joined in the hot seat match by Saputo/Mills, who’d sent Herron/Gore to the loss side 7-3. In their first of two, Saputo and Mills allowed Bova and Linares only a single rack in claiming the hot seat 7-1.

On the loss side, Herron/Gore picked up the father/son team of Thomas and Trenton White, who were working on a six-match, loss-side winning streak that would take them as far as the semifinals. They’d recently shut out Juan Lopez/Casey Grove and survived a double hill battle versus Han Berber and Dee Meadows. Machado/Atencio drew co-tour director Bobby Garza, who was teamed up with Obbie Cirilo. They were working on a five-match, loss-side winning streak which had recently eliminated room owner Jose Del Rio and Jason Richko 6-3, and the team of Marcos Bielostozky and Jerry Arvelaez, double hill.

The father/son White team downed Herron/Gore 6-3 and in the quarterfinals, faced Machado/Atencio, who’d defeated Garza/Cirilo 6-3. The Whites advanced one more step with a 6-4 win over Machado/Atencio.

Anxious to defend their title, Bova and Linares cleared their only loss-side hurdle in the semifinals. They ended the White’s bid to hold next year’s tournament at their place – Mikey’s Place in Plant City, FL – by ending their loss-side streak at six with a 6-4 win. 

Bova/Linares put up a bit more of a fight than they had in the hot seat match, but it wasn’t enough. Saputo and Mills edged out near the end and claimed the 3rd Annual Battle of the Billiards Big Dawg Scotch Doubles title with a 7-5 victory.

Tour directors Janene Phillips and Bobby Garza thanked Jose Del Rio and his Stroker’s staff for their hospitality, as well as title sponsor Predator Group, Kamui, Diamond Products, Stitch It To Me Embroidery, Central Florida USA Pool League and AZBilliards. The Predator Sunshine State Pro Am Tour will open its 2021 season back at Stroker’s Billiards on the weekend of February 6-7. 

Mills and Meglino split top prizes in Open division of Sunshine State Pro Am

(l to r): Justin Hall, Anthony Meglino & Donny Mills

Rose comes from the loss side to down Adams and capture Amateur title
 
It’s impossible to know how many times Donny Mills and Anthony Meglino have faced each other on Florida-based and other regional tours, but having spent over a decade as part of a ‘Florida Gang’ of top-tier competitors (along with, among many others, Tommy Kennedy, Mike Delawder and Tony Crosby), we can safely call it ‘a lot.’ This past June, they met in the semifinals of a stop on the Sunshine State Pro Am Tour (Meglino 5-3 over Mills). On the weekend of Oct. 6-7, they would have met twice during Stop #11 on the Sunshine State Pro Am Tour, had they not opted out of a final match. Mills, as the undefeated occupant of the hot seat at the time, claimed the $1,000-added 10-Ball Open event title, which drew 40 entrants to Capone’s in Spring Hill, FL.
 
In a concurrently-run, $300-added, 9-Ball Amateur event, Nathan Rose won five on the loss side to eventually meet and defeat hot seat occupant James Adams to claim that title. The Amateur event drew 45 entrants to the same location.
 
Following an opening round bye in the Open event, Donny Mills downed Anthony Fisher, Robert Batson (both 7-2), and Tommy Kennedy 7-4 to draw Justin Hall in one of the winners’ side semifinals. Meglino, with an opening round bye as well, got by Ed Peterson 7-3, Bill Stroup 7-1 and Marcus Murillo 7-2 to face Nathan Rose (winner of the Amateur event) in the other winners’ side semifinal.
 
Mills defeated Hall 7-5, as Meglino was busy downing Rose 7-4. Mills claimed the hot seat, and, as it turned out, the event title with a 7-4 win over Meglino.
 
On the loss side, Rose picked up Kennedy, who, following his defeat by Mills, downed Trenton White (the event’s top junior player in both events) 6-4, and shut out Stroup. Hall drew Justin Gilsinan, who’d shut out Joe Vetrono and eliminated Joselito Martinez 5-2. Kennedy and Rose locked up in a double hill fight that eventually advanced Kennedy to the quarterfinals against Hall, who’d defeated Gilsinan 5-2.
 
Hall ended Kennedy’s modest, three-match, loss-side winning streak 5-2 in those quarterfinals, and then fell to Meglino 5-3 in the semifinals. Meglino and Mills opted out of the final and the event title went to Mills.
 
Rose wins five on the loss side to meet and defeat Adams
 
Nathan Rose, who was the official winner of Stop #8 on the tour back in July (he split with Jason Sheerman), got sent to the loss side in a winners’ side quarterfinal match of the Amateur event and won five on the loss side before meeting and defeating hot seat occupant James Adams in the finals. Rose had downed Derek Laprairie, Trenton White (top junior in this event, as well), and Justin Gilsinan before running into Ameet Kukadia in a winners’ side quarterfinal.
 
Kukadia sent Rose to the loss side, double hill, and advanced to face Alec Saputo in one of the winners’ side semifinals. James Adams, in the meantime, following victories over Lisa Perez, Rhyan Hunter, and Dale Stanley met up with Justin McNulty in the other winners’ side semifinal.
 
Saputo chalked up a double hill win over Kukadia and in the hot seat match, faced Adams, who’d shut out McNulty. Adams claimed the hot seat 7-4 over Saputo and waited on the return of Rose.
 
Rose opened his loss-side trip to the finals with a 6-3 win over Hunter and eliminated Trenton White 6-4 to draw McNulty. Kukadia picked up Stanley, who’d defeated Gilsinan and Jai Smith, both 6-2. By identical scores of 6-3, Stanley (over Kukadia) and Rose (over McNulty) advanced to the quarterfinals, where Rose prevailed, double hill, over Stanley.
 
Rose downed Saputo 6-4 in the semifinals, and then defeated Adams 9-5 in the finals to claim the Amateur event title.
 
Tour directors Janene Phillips and Bobby Garza thanked the ownership and staff at Capone’s, as well as sponsors Cyclop Balls, Diamond, Kamui Tips, Play the Game Clothing Co., Jacksonville Roofing USA, Inc., and AZ Billiards. The next stop on the Sunshine State Pro Am Tour (due to cancellation of a stop in November) will be the tour’s Season Finale, scheduled for December 1-2 at Park Ave. Billiards in Orange Park, FL. 

Rose and Sheerman split top prizes at Stop #8 on Sunshine State Pro Am Tour

(l to r): Jason Sheerman & Nathan Rose

In spite of working to win 10 loss-side matches for the right to face hot seat occupant Nathan Rose at Stop # 8 on the Sunshine State Pro Am Tour, Jason Sheerman (and Rose) opted out of a final match and split the top two prizes, leaving Rose, as the event’s official winner.  The $1,000-added event, held on Saturday, July 14, drew 64 entrants to Strokers Sports Bar & Grill in Palm Harbor, FL.
 
Nathan Rose navigated his way through the full field, downing Jack Remsen 7-3, and everybody else – Jason Richko, Angel Martinez, and Matt Menes – 7-2, to arrive at a winners’ side semifinal against Bobby Garza (ranked #2 on the tour). Chris Gentile, in the meantime, got by Chris Piper-Wang, Will Smith, Mike Delawder (double hill), and the event’s top female finisher, Stephanie Mitchell, to arrive at a winners’ side semifinal to face Sam Kantar.
 
Rose got by Garza 7-2, and in the hot seat match, faced Chris Gentile, who’d sent Kantar to the loss side 7-3. Rose played what proved to be his last match and claimed the hot seat 7-5 over Gentile.
 
On the loss side, it was Kantar who picked up Sheerman, seven matches in to his loss-side streak; a streak that began when he faced and shut out his wife, Julia. Sheerman had most recently eliminated Kim Dyer 7-4 and Matt Menes 7-5. Garza drew Dale Stanley, who’d been sent to the loss side, double hill, by Kantar in a winners’ side quarterfinal. Stanley defeated Alec Saputo 7-3 and shut out Stephanie Mitchell to reach Garza. Sheerman chalked up loss-side win #8, defeating Kantar 7-3, as the tour’s #3 player (Stanley) downed #2 (Garza) 7-3.
 
Sheerman, who, to date, has not been ranked on the 2018 tour, downed Stanley 7-4 in the quarterfinals, and then gave up only a single rack in defeating Gentile in the semifinals. Sheerman and Rose opted out of the final match, allowing Rose, as the official winner, to chalk up 150 tour ranking points and move up from 9th place to a 4th place tie with Tommy Kennedy. Sheerman jumped from tour obscurity to join 16 other players with 100 points and settle into the 56th through 71st slot on the tour rankings.
 
Tour directors Janene Phillips and Bobby Garza thanked Jose Del Rio and his staff at Stroker’s for their hospitality, as well as sponsors Play The Game Clothing Co., Jacksonville Roofing, USA Kamui Tips, AZBilliards and Alvin Nelson with Inside Pool TV. Stop #9 on the Sunshine State Pro Am Tour, scheduled for August 4-5, will be a double event, featuring a $175-added Amateur event and a $1,000-added Pro event. Both will be hosted by Park Avenue Billiards in Orange Park, FL.