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From the loss side, Rodriguez chalks up first Sunshine State Pro Am Tour victory in three years

Mike DeLawder, Trenton White and Ricardo Joel Rodriguez

Barnes goes undefeated to claim concurrently-run Ladies event

One did it the hard way, while the other opted for the shorter, arguably more difficult easy way. Ricardo Rodriguez, looking for his first win on the Sunshine State ProAm Tour in three years, lost his third winners’ side match at this past weekend’s (Oct. 8-9) tour stop He then won seven straight on the loss side before downing Trenton White in the finals to claim the event title. Jessica Barnes took the shorter route in the concurrently-run Ladies event, winning five in a row and downing Nicole Cuellar twice to claim the ladies’ title.

The $1,500 added main event drew 60 entrants to Brewlands Bar & Billiards North in Lakeland, FL. The $500-added Ladies event drew 16 entrants to the same location.

Rodriguez’ path took him past Marcos Bielostozky and George Saunders, both 7-5, before he ran into a double hill match versus Desi Derado that he lost. Mike DeLawder and Trenton White, in the meantime, worked their way forward toward their hot seat match; White advancing through Mike Xiarhos, Jr., Leon Micco, Dale Stanley and Konnor McFayden to arrive at a winners’ side semifinal against Robert Noon, while DeLawder sent Anthony Cruz, co-tour-director Bobby Garza, and both Manuel Montas and John Souders (both double hill) to the loss side to draw Ameet Kukadia in the other winners’ side semifinal.

DeLawder came within a game of being forced into his third straight double hill fight, but just did edge out in front near the end to defeat Kukadia 7-5. White joined him in the hot seat match after surviving his double hill struggle against Noon. White shut Delawder out to claim the hot seat.

On the loss side, it was Kukadia who drew the finals-bound Rodriguez, who’d just eliminated junior competitors Kaylee McIntosh 7-2 and Konnor McFayden 7-4. Noon picked up David Singleton, who’d defeated John Souders 7-3 and survived a double hill match versus Garza to reach him.

Rodriguez defeated Kukadia 7-5 and was joined in the quarterfinals by Noon, who’d put Singleton on the wrong side of his second straight double-hill match. Rodriguez took the quarterfinal match 7-5 over Noon and then, by the same score, denied DeLawder his second chance against White.

Rodriguez waste little time. He took the finals against White 9-5 to claim the event title

Nicole Cuellar, Sofia Mast and Jessica Barnes

Barnes gets into a 7-3 groove to the hot seat match

Jessica Barnes seemed to decide that since she had gotten herself into a groove of some kind that she should probably stick with it. She defeated her first three opponents on her way to the Ladies win by the same 7-3 score, defeating co-tour-director Janene Phillips, Erica Pennington and, in a winners’ side semifinal, the Pink Dagger (aka junior competitor Sofia Mast). Nicole Cuellar, in the meantime, got by Sandra Micco, Cami Becker and in her winners’ side semifinal, Margie Soash 7-1.

Cuellar knocked Barnes out of her 7-3 groove in the hot seat match, but it wasn’t enough. Barnes survived Cuellar’s double hill challenge to claim the hot seat.

On the loss side, Soash picked up and was defeated by Helen Caukin 5-1, as The Pink Dagger drew and eliminated Kaylee McIntosh by the same score. Mast defeated Caukin 5-2 in the quarterfinals, only to have her brief, loss-side run upset by Cuellar’s desire for a rematch against Barnes. Cuellar won that battle 5-1. Barnes downed Cuellar a second time, 9-5, to claim the Ladies title.

Tour directors Janene Phillips and Bobby Garza thanked Larry Wathall and his staff at Brewlands “for taking great care (them) all weekend,” as well as title sponsor Predator Cues, Kamui Brand, Diamond Billiard Products, Jamison Daniels, Stitch It To Me Embroidery, AZBilliards, Dr. V’s Custom Shop and Central Florida Pool League. ‘Shout outs’ were extended to Bobby Garza and Lights Out Streaming for providing great stream and commentary, along with Jimmy Antonietta, Rob McLaren, Mike D and George Saunders for their commentating and  Adam Hanas for helping run the boards. 

In light of the fact that the tour had a junior competitor among the final three in both of this past weekend’s events (Trenton White and Sofia Mast) and because, like so many others,  who enjoy watching these young competitors succeed in their early pool careers, Phillips and Garza thanked Asia Cy for donating an entry fee to a junior lady, Leah Holler and wished to make mention of two local individuals who are “doing great things for the junior competitors’ –  Danielle Fee with Shooting for the Stars and Eddie Altman with Junior Billiards Scholarship Fund. If you’d like to help support a junior program, reach out to either of these organizations.

The next and final stop of the year for the Sunshine State ProAm Tour, scheduled for the weekend of Nov. 26-27 and hosted by Racks Billiards in Sanford, FL will feature two events; a $1,000-added Open One Pocket event and a $2,500-added Open 9-Ball Bar Box Championship. 

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Kennedy/Hunter go undefeated to win Open/Amateur divisions of 5th Annual Labor Day Classic

Rhyan Hunter and Ameet Kukadia

Capone’s 5th Labor Day Classic, held this past Labor Day weekend (Sept. 3-4), is in the books and the undefeated winners are Tommy Kennedy in the $500-added Open event and Rhyan Hunter in the $1,000-added Amateur event, which was open to competitors with a Fargo Rate of 640 and under. Both events yielded full fields; 64 in the Amateur event and 16 in the Open event at Capone’s in Spring Hill, FL.

Hunter was the only player in the Amateur event having to give the entire field a single game on the wire, which wasn’t enough for anyone to come close to him. His precision shooting and heart gave him the victory in every match. He opened with a shutout over JT Russell and advanced through victories over Justin Logan 7-3, Justin Ward 7-3 and another shutout, versus Dan Mello, to arrive at a winners’ side semifinal against Andy Crews. In the meantime, eventual runner-up Ameet Kukadia, slowly becoming a regular at Capone’s events, advanced to the other winners’ side semifinal versus (unrelated to Dan) Mike Mello, who was playing in his first event at Capone’s. 

Hunter defeated Crews 7-3, as Mike Mello sent Kukadia to the loss side 7-4. Hunter claimed the hot seat 7-4 over Mello and waited on Kukadia’s return.

On the loss side, Kukadia drew Dan Mello, who’d survived a double hill match against Jamison Daniels and shut out Justin Logan to reach him. Crews picked up Justin McNulty, who’d also survived a double hill match, against Benji Estor, and came within a second straight double hill match, downing Litos Davila 6-4. 

Kukadia and McNulty advanced to the quarterfinals; Kukadia, 6-2 over Dan Mello and McNulty, 6-4 over Crews. Kukadia defeated McNulty in those quarterfinals 6-3 and then won his redemption match versus Mike Mello 6-2 in the semifinals.

To claim the title, Kukadia needed to win two matches against Hunter in the finals that followed. Hunter completed his undefeated run with a 7-2 win in the only set necessary.

Tommy Kennedy (File photo)

Kennedy weathers ‘challenge’ storms to go undefeated in Open event

The Open event had its share of past champions, including Jason Richko (2019) and Tony Crosby (2021). Not present was the Labor Day Classic’s 2020 Champion, Donny Mills, who was ‘laboring away’ at Turning Stone in New York state over the weekend. 

“He was doing damage up there,” said TD Carrie Vetrono, “and finished as runner-up. Congratulations to Donny.”

Tommy Kennedy was a former champion, as well (2019), and his undefeated run through the Classic made him the first competitor to have his ‘name up in lights’ as winner of the event, twice. It was not an easy journey for TK.

Of the five matches Kennedy played to claim the Labor Day Classic’s 2022 Open title, two went to double hill and two more came within a game of it. He opened with an 8-6 win over Marcus Murillo and a double hill win over Richard Broumpton, which set him up in a winners’ side semifinal against one of the former champions, Jason Richko. In the meantime, Lee Heuwagen and Tony Crosby were working their way to their meetup in the other winners’ side semifinal; Crosby arriving with a 16-3 aggregate score against Zee Zee Green (0) and Ross Webster (3), Heuwagen arriving with a 16-4 aggregate score against Bobby Jones (3) and Guy Jones (1). 

Kennedy got into the hot seat match 8-6 over Richko. Heuwagen joined him after a commanding 8-2 win over Crosby. TK grabbed the hot seat 8-4.

Crosby wanted the trophy and came back from the loss-side, knocking out Sandeep Swain 7-5, Ross Webster 7-1 in the quarterfinals and this time, victorious over Heuwagen in their semifinal rematch 7-5.

Kennedy and Crosby locked up in what was Kennedy’s second double hill match. After a long day of shooting, Crosby fell short, giving way in the 15th rack and handing Kennedy the title.

TD Carrie Vetrono thanked everyone that participated and helped make Capone’s 5th Annual Labor Day Classic the tournament that it was. 

“Without everyone’s help we could not do this,” she said. “Special thanks to Rocco-Rocky McElroy and his Capone’s staff for all they do, as well as Joel Vetrono and Anthony Fisher for helping send matches out on the amateur event.”

The next event at Capone’s, scheduled for the weekend of October 8-9, will be an Open Handicap event that will play out on the venue’s 9-foot tables. 

See y’all on the rail!

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Davis, Jr. comes from loss side & behind in finals to win Sunshine State Pro Am One Pocket

Montas wins concurrently-run, 600-and-under Fargo Rate 9-ball event 

(l to r): Mike Davis, Mike Delawder, Anthony Meglino & Pedro Botta

Fresh off his fourth victory at the 7th Annual NC State Open 9-Ball Championships (March 1-2) in Hickory, NC, Mike Davis, Jr. traveled about 555 miles southwest, to sign on to the Sunshine State Pro Am Tour’s second 2020 stop; the $500-added One Pocket part of it, that drew 16 entrants to Racks Billiards in Sanford, FL. Sent to the loss side in a winners’ side semifinal, Davis returned to meet the man who’d sent him over (Mike Delawder) and defeat him in an exciting, double hill final match.

In a concurrently-run, $1,000-added ($500 from Racks Billiards & $500 from Predator Cues) event for Fargo Rates of 600 and below that drew 56 entrants, Manuel Montas went undefeated to claim that title.

It was a four-match march to the One Pocket hot seat for Delawder and a seven-match march to the title for Davis. Delawder got by Justin Gilsinan and Pedro Botta, before sending Davis to the loss side 3-1 in a winners’ side semifinal. Anthony Meglino, in the meantime, downed George Saunders and Adam Wheeler to face Kyle Bova in the other winners’ side semifinal.

Delawder beat Davis 3-1 and in the hot seat match, faced Meglino, who’d shut Bova out. Delawder claimed the hot seat by shutout and waited for Davis to finish his three-match, loss-side trip.

Davis began his trip back to the finals with a shutout over James Sandaler, who’d eliminated Bobby Garza and Adam Wheeler to reach him. Bova was defeated double hill by Pedro Botta, who’d previously eliminated George Saunders and Nathan Rose.

Davis dropped Botta into 4th place with a 3-1 quarterfinal victory and got his second shot at Delawder, following a shutout over Meglino in the semifinals.

The race was extended to 4 in the finals and early on, things weren’t looking to good for Davis, Jr. Delawder reached the hill at 3-0 before Davis was able to respond, but when he did, he came back strong, winning four in a row to claim game, set and match.

Montas and Kukadia split top prizes, with undefeated Montas claiming 9-ball title 

Ameet Kukadia, Manuel Montas and Cody Ingle

With a Fargo Rate differential of two points, Manuel Montas (596) and Ameet Kukadia (598) played against each other once in a straight-up race to 7 in the 9-ball tournament. Montas won that single matchup and as the undefeated occupant of the hot seat claimed the event title, when he and Kukudia agreed to a split of the top two prizes.

Montas’ path to the hot seat went through Muhammand Ali, Jeffrey McDonald, Francisco Gika and Brent Mireles to arrive at a winners’ side semifinal versus Guy Skehan Jackson; a 596 (Montas)/531 (Jackson) matchup. Three of the four matches that Kukudia (598) played to arrive at his winners’ side semifinal against Cody Ingle (546) went double hill and the fourth one was an ‘almost.’ He won his second round match against Lenny Reid 7-5, but he had to play a 13th deciding match against Evan Huynh, Katie Bowse and Kristian Dimitrov to reach Ingle.

Montas and Jackson battled to double hill before Montas advanced to the hot seat match. Kukadia gave up only a single rack to Ingle and joined Montas in what would prove to be the title match, battling for the hot seat. Montas won it 7-3.

On the loss side, Jackson picked up Stan Delonjay, who was working on a seven-match, loss-side winning streak that was about to end and had included recent wins over Kristian Dimitrov 5-1 and Vernet Lasrado 5-3. Ingle drew Evan Huynh, who, after his double hill defeat at the hands of Kukadia, was working on a six-match, loss-side streak that was also about to end and had recently included victories over Larry English 5-2 and Brent Mireles 5-1.

Jackson and Ingle ended the loss-side streaks of their respective opponents by the same 5-2 score; Jackson over Delonjay and Ingle over Huynh. Jackson and Ingle then battled to double hill in the quarterfinals. Ingle prevailed and had his modest, loss-side streak ended by Kukadia 5-2 in the semifinals.

The decision to split the cash involved with the top two prizes was negotiated and reached. As the undefeated occupant of the hot seat, Montas became the official winner.

Tour directors Janene Phillips and Bobby Garza thanked the ownership and staff at Racks Billiards, as well as title sponsor Predator Cues, Diamond Products, Kamui, Central Florida USA Pool League, Stitch it To Me Embroidery, AZBilliards, and the live streaming of the events by Xtreme Pool. The next stop on the Sunshine State Pro Am Tour, scheduled for April 25-26, will be hosted by Brewlands in Tampa, FL.

Burgos goes undefeated to take Sunshine State Pro Am Tour stop

(l to r): Anthony Meglino, Jose Baez & Julio Burgos

On the weekend of July 13-14, Julio Burgos added a sixth cash payout to his page in the AZBilliards database, dating back to January, 2018. It was his third entry as a tournament winner, having won a stop on the AllOutPool Tour in June of last year, and a stop on the J. Pechauer Southeast Open 9-Ball Tour in January of this year. His third tournament win, an undefeated run through a field of 64 entrants at the $1,300-added, 8-ball Bar Box Open on the Sunshine State Pro Am Tour, was hosted by Racks Billiards and Sports Bar in Sanford, FL.
 
Burgos launched his run to a third tournament win against Mike Delawder, downing him 6-4. He then defeated George Saunders 6-2, Bobby Garza 6-1 and Anthony Meglino 6-3 to draw Nathan Rose in one of the winners’ side semifinals. Jose Guerra Baez, in the meantime, searching for his first tour win took a path to the hot seat that went through Julio Delpozo 6-2, Ameet Kukadia 6-4, and two straight double hill wins, over Milton Strack and David Singleton, to arrive at his winners’ side semifinal match against Ricardo Joel Rodriguez.
 
Burgos and Baez advanced to the hot seat match on the heels of two, double hill matches that sent Rose and Rodriguez to the loss side. It was Burgos’ double hill match of the tournament. It was Baez’ third straight double hill win. Burgos claimed the hot seat with a 6-2 win over Baez and waited on his return.
 
Over on the loss side, Rose picked up Chris Gentile, who’d defeated Chad Rhodes and Bobby Garza, both 4-2, to reach him. Rodriguez drew Meglino, who, following his defeat at the hands of Burgos, had shut out Serafin Serrano and eliminated Kim Dyer, double hill (4-3).
 
Rose and Gentile locked up in a double hill fight that eventually sent Gentile home and Rose to the quarterfinals. Meglino, in the meantime, gave up only a single rack to Rodriguez and joined Rose in the quarterfinals. Meglino took the quarterfinal match 4-2 over Rose, and then had his four-match, loss-side winning streak snapped by Baez 4-1 in the semifinals.
 
With Burgos looking to chalk up his third win of six cash payouts and Baez already at his best finish, to date, and looking for his first major tour win, the finals had a lot at stake for both of them. Burgos completed his undefeated run, downing Baez 8-5 to claim the event title.
 
Tour director Janene Phillips thanked Racks’ owners Anthony Digiacomo and Pedro Botta, as well as Predator Cues, Kamui, Cyclop Balls, USA Pool League, Diamond Products, Stitch It To Me Embroidery, AZ Billiards and Cue Sports Studios (for the event’s live stream). The next stop on the Sunshine State Pro Am Tour, scheduled for the weekend of Sept. 7-8, will be the 2nd Annual Battle of the Billiards Scotch Doubles Tournament, to be hosted by Strokers in Palm Harbor, FL.

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.