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Meglino/Mills at it again in Florida; Meglino, undefeated, wins Capone’s Firecracker Open

Anthony Meglino (Photo courtesy 1801 Photography)

Hale takes two out of three over Black (4th in Open event) to win concurrent Amateur event

The last time Anthony Meglino and Donny Mills met in the finals of an event, they did it twice. At the Stroker’s Spring Classic in March, Mills went undefeated, downing Meglino in the hot seat and final of a 9-Ball event on a Saturday, while Meglino came back from a hot seat loss to defeat Mills in the final of a 10-Ball event on Sunday. They almost met in the finals of the Sunshine State Pro Am Tour’s dual tournaments during the tour’s 5th anniversary just ahead of the 4th of July in 2021. They met in the hot seat match, which Meglino won, but Kyle Bova (who’d already won the concurrent 9-ball event) defeated Mills in the semifinals to spoil the rematch. This past July 4th weekend, under the auspices of the Florida Pool Tour, they did it again, meeting in the hot seat and finals of Capone’s Firecracker Open. Going undefeated, Meglino won the $1,000-added 10-Ball event that drew 40 entrants to Capone’s in Spring Hill, FL.

In a concurrently-run, 650-and-under Fargo Amateur event, Gary Hale took two out of three over Ken Black (4th in the Open event) to claim that event title. The $500-added 9-ball event drew 64 entrants to the same location.

After an opening round bye in the Open event, Meglino faced what, score-wise, was his toughest opponent, Ross Webster, who put up a double hill fight to start the event balls rolling, so to speak. Meglino survived to down Nathan Rose and Raymond Linares, drawing Pedro Botta in one of the winners’ side semifinals. Mills, on the other hand, started his weekend off with a shutout over Matt Wooten and followed up by sending Will Smith and Lee Heuwagen to the loss side, drawing Trapper Croft in the other winners’ side semifinal.

Mills downed Croft 7-2 as Meglino was sending Botta west 7-5. Meglino claimed the hot seat 7-5, as well.

On the loss side, Croft drew a rematch against Ken Black, whom he’d defeated in the opening round of play and was on a seven-match, loss-side winning streak that would end in the quarterfinals. He’d recently eliminated Dale Stanley, double hill and Linares 5-1. Botta picked up Heuwagen, who’d followed his winners’ side quarterfinal loss to Mills with victories over Justin Hall, double hill, and Frankie Bourgeois.

Heuwagen defeated Botta 5-2 and in the quarterfinals, faced Black, who’d sent Croft home 5-2. Heuwagen ended Black’s loss-side journey with a shutout in those quarterfinals, but in spite of putting up a double hill fight, had his loss-side journey terminated at three by Mills in the semifinals. Meglino put an end to Mills’ even-shorter loss-side run with a 9-2 victory in the finals.

Finalists in Amateur event battle for second (recorded) cash finish anywhere

For the winner, Gary Hale, it was his first (recorded with us at AZ) win anywhere and only his second recorded cash finish since placing 13th at a stop on the Sunshine State Pro Am Tour in March of last year. Runner-up Ken Black was looking for his best (again, recorded with us) finish anywhere, since he’d finished 5th at a stop on the Planet Pool Tour in Virginia, 16 years ago. 

Beyond the standard courtesy of a ‘Welcome Back’ from fellow members of the Florida pool community, the 62 other entrants in the field were likely not too thrilled with their results on this particular weekend. They played against each other three times; hot seat and double elimination final. Hale won the first and third to claim the Amateur title.

Hale downed four opponents to arrive at his winners’ side semifinal match versus Aay Kay, while Black chalked up four on his end of the bracket, including two, double hill wins (versus Louie Black in the opening round and Anthony Fisher in a winners’ side quarterfinal) to meet up with Adam Fear in the other one. Kay put up a double hill fight, but it was Hale who advanced to the hot seat match to meet Black, who’d defeated Fear 7-4. Hale sent Kay to the loss side 7-5 to claim the hot seat.

On the loss side, Fear picked up Charles Marable, who’d lost a winners’ side quarterfinal to Hale and then, defeated Ryan Kuhlman 6-3 and Joel Vetrono, double hill. Kay drew Casey Grove, who was working on a four-match, loss-side streak that had recently eliminated Joe Gnapp 6-1 and Anthony Fisher by shutout.

Kay and Grove locked up in a double hill battle that did eventually send Kay to the quarterfinals, where he was joined by Marable, who’d defeated Fear 6-1. Kay downed Mirable 6-3 in those quarterfinals. Kay and Black were both fighting for a second chance versus Hale, waiting for one of them in the hot seat. Black took the semifinal 6-4.

Black went on to take the opening set of the finals 7-3. In an entertaining last match for all the proverbial marbles, they battled to double hill in the second set before Hale claimed his first (recorded) event title.

Florida Pool Tour representatives thanked the ownership and staff at Capone’s for hosting the Firecracker Open and Amateur events on the 4th of July weekend, as well as all of the competitors who participated. The Florida Pool Tour will hold the Stroker’s Master’s Open Championship, to be hosted by Stroker’s in Palm Harbor, FL on the weekend of August 20-21.

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Gilsinan and Burden come from deep on the loss side to win FL State Amateur 9-Ball events

Tony Crosby, Jerry Arvelaez, Michael Zingale, Justin Gilsinan and Mike Lear

Between the Main and Second Chance events on the Florida Pool Tour’s $5,000-added Florida State Amateur 9-Ball Championships this past weekend (Jan. 15-16), 183 players (with duplication) came to Zingale’s in Tallahassee to play some 9-ball. It had to be the most heavily-attended event in the state in the last two years. And both events featured winners who’d lost early matches and came back on the loss side to claim a title.

After being awarded an opening-round bye (along with 122 others in the 256-player bracket), Justin Gilsinan lost his third winners’ side match (double hill to Nick Applebee) and then won 10 in a row to claim the $4,000-added, 134-entrant Main Event. Jordan Burden lost his opening match (5-1 to Stacy Harrell) in the $1,000-added, 49-entrant Second Chance event and also won 10 straight to claim that title.

The events were designed to accommodate players at a certain handicap ranking and below. While Fargo Rate was employed to determine a lot of the handicaps (699 and under), co-tour directors Tony Crosby and Mike Lear used that and personal knowledge of players to determine eligibility.

With the eventual winner already at work on the loss side in the main event, it was Jerry Arvelaez and Trenton White who, in races to 7, advanced through the 9-ball field to reach the hot seat match. Arvelaez started his trip with a double hill win over Jason Richko and then advanced through Frankie Bourgeois (3), Josh Hillard (0), Desi Derado (5) and Ben Smith (4) to arrive at his winners’ side semifinal match against White. White had sent Billy Pelkey (5), Lincoln Seiffert (0), Bobby Moore (3), Aidan Rigsby (1) and Jesse Middlebrooks (5) to the loss side to arrive at his winners’ side semifinal against Kelvin Holliman.

Arvelaez and Applebee battled to double hill before Arvelaez prevailed, advancing to the hot seat match. White joined him after sending Holliman over 7-2. Arvelaez and White came within a game of double hill, before Arvelaez edged out in front to claim the hot seat 7-5.

On the loss side, Applebee picked up Roderick Rentz, who’d lost a winners’ side quarterfinal match, double hill, to Holliman and then, given up just a single rack to Joselito Martinez and none at all to Desi Derado to reach Rentz. Holliman had the misfortune of drawing Gilsinan, who was six matches into his loss-side trip, which had consisted of three matches that came within of game of double hill (5-3), two straight double hill wins and a shutout of Josh Hillard.

Rentz chalked up his second straight shutout, downing Applebee and advancing to the quarterfinals, with the possibility of a rematch against Holliman ahead of him. Gilsinan joined Rentz, spoiling the rematch, with a 5-3 win over Holliman. 

Gilsinan put an end to Rentz’ loss-side run 5-1 in the quarterfinals and chalked up loss-side win #9 in the semifinals, eliminating White 5-3. Gilsinan completed his improbable loss-side run in the finals. He downed Arvelaez 8-5 to claim the Florida State Amateur 9-Ball Championship.

Burden comes back from opening-round loss to win Second Chance tournament

The only thing missing from Jordan Burden’s equally improbable, 10-loss-side-win performance to claim the Second Chance victory was what would, no doubt, have been a satisfying ‘So there!’ rematch against Stacy Harrell. It didn’t happen.

It was Jason Jones and Chris Campos who worked their way through the 39-entrant, Second Chance field to square off in the hot seat match. Jones claimed the hot seat 5-2, unaware that his six-match run through the winners’ side was about to come to an end.

On the loss side, Burden’s sixth win came at the expense of Billy Burke, who’d lost his winners’ side semifinal match against Jason Jones. Burden defeated Burke 5-3, advancing to the quarterfinals, where he eventually shut out David Uwate. 

The last piece of Burden’s loss-side puzzle was Campos in the semifinals. A 3-1 victory over him put Burden into the finals, where he defeated Jason Jones 5-3 to claim the Second Chance title. 

Tour directors Tony Crosby and Mike Lear thanked the ownership and staff at Zingale’s, as well as sponsors Aramith Billiard Balls, Outsville, Simonis Cloth, Salotto Pro, Digital Pool, Fargo Rate, Crosby’s Billiards and Darts Supply, Straight Shooter Gear, Patchlab.com, Sniper and XL Press Co. The Florida Pool Tour will return to Zingale’s next month for the $5,000-added Florida State Open 10-Ball Championships, scheduled for the weekend of Feb. 26-27.