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Rodriguez goes undefeated to win his first 2019 Sunshine State Pro Am title

Bill Bloom, Shannon Fitch and Ricardo Joel Rodriguez

Looking to better his 2018 earnings, the year in which he tallied a win on the Sunshine State Pro Am Tour in March and won the Florida 10-Ball Bar Box Championships in November, Ricardo Joel Rodriguez went undefeated through a field of 64 entrants to win the October 5-6 stop (#8) on the 2019 Sunshine State Pro Am Tour’s $1,500-added event ($1,000 by Brewlands and $500 from Predator Cues) at Brewlands Bar & Billiards in North Lakeland, FL . He stopped a seven-match, loss-side winning streak by Bill Bloom, defeating him in the finals to claim the title. Rodriguez’ $1,000 first-place prize doesn’t put his 2019 earnings over his 2018 threshold, but does put him a step closer with a full two months-plus to go.
 
In addition to the event itself, the Sunshine State Pro Am Tour held a mystery auction to raise money for junior competitors Kodi Allen and Trenton White (who was the main event’s top-finishing (9th place) junior) to help offset their expenses for an upcoming trip to Cypress in November, when they will represent the USA in the Jr. World Championships. In addition to the money raised by the auction ($600), the tour donated 5% of the player’s auction to the junior players ($215). An additional $215 was raised by a $50 challenge donation from Jen Radkte, bringing the total to $1,030. Each of the junior competitors will receive half of that total. In addition to the support provided by the tour itself, tour directors Janene Phillips and Bobby Garza gave a ‘shout out’ to the sponsors of this mystery auction event – Michael Zingale of Zingale’s Billiards, Carl Watt of Park Ave. Billiards, Pedro Botta of Racks Billiards, Larry Walthal of the host Brewlands, The Central Florida USA Pool League, Don and Jennifer Berzinski of the People’s Tournament, Stitch it to Me Embroidery, Cyclop Balls, Predator Products and Jeannette Lee with the Tampa APA.
 
Congratulations were extended to the Scarberry family as winners of the mystery auction. Some of the items in the bags included a Sneaky Pete rage cue, a signed-by-Jeanette Lee cue and cue ball, free entries to an event at Zingales and on the Sunshine State Pro Am Tour, gift cards (including Dunkin’), scratch-off lottery tickets, Predator glove and chalk, Cyclops cue ball, Tip tool, T-Shirts, Polos, UFC backpack with ‘extras,’ Tiger Chalk, and if that weren’t enough, two bottles of tequila.
 
The main event tournament saw Ricardo Joel Rodriguez start out with a ‘shutout’ bang over Michael McGuire and then settle into victories over Nataniel Acosta, George McLanahan and Jeremy Bell to arrive at a winners’ side semifinal match versus Jordan Burden. Shannon Fitch, in the meantime, downed Anthony Fisher, Thomas White, Francisco Diaz and Justin McNulty (who’d just sent Bill Bloom to the loss side) to face Robert Batson in the other winners’ side semifinal.
 
Rodriguez’ trip to the winners’ circle was almost rerouted as he and Burden went double hill before Rodriguez prevailed. Fitch joined him in the hot seat match with a 7-4 win over Batson. Rodriguez gave up only a single rack to Fitch and sat in the hot seat, waiting for Bloom to conclude his loss-side run.
 
It was Batson who picked up Bloom, four matches into his loss-side streak, that had included recent wins over Jeremy Bell, double hill and, Anthony Cruz. Burden drew Justin McNulty, who’d defeated Trenton White 5-3 and Jeff Brown 5-1 to reach him.
 
Bloom survived a double hill fight against Batson to advance to the quarterfinals, where he was joined by Burden, who’d spoiled any hopes of a Bloom/McNulty rematch by eliminating McNulty 5-1. Bloom and Burden battled to double hill in those quarterfinals, before Bloom advanced.
 
Bloom downed Shannon Fitch in the subsequent semifinals and got a shot at Rodriguez in the finals. With Bloom racing to 8 and Rodriguez to 9, the two battled to a double hill final game, won by Rodriguez, who claimed the title.
 
Tour directors Phillips and Garza thanked Larry Walthal of Brewlands for hosting the event as well as sponsors Predator Cues, Central Florida USA Pool League, Stitch it to me Embroidery, Cyclops, Kamui and AZBilliards. The next stop on the Sunshine State Pro Am Tour, scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 16, will be a $1,500-added event, hosted by Rack’s Billiards in Sanford, FL. 

Applebee and Griffin split top prizes on Sunshine State Pro Am season finale

(l to r): Nick Applebee, Tommy Kennedy & Mike Griffin

White and Grossman split top prizes in Amateur event
 
The season finale of the Sunshine State Pro Am tour, held on the weekend of Dec. 1-2, saw both the Open/Pro and Amateur finalists opt out of a final match. In the $500-added Open/Pro event on Saturday (the tour’s Open 9-Ball Championships), which drew 31 entrants, hot seat occupant Nick Applebee and Mike Griffin (at approximately 4 a.m.) let their first meeting in the battle for the hot seat stand as the determining title match. In the $300-added, Amateur event on Sunday, which drew 22 entrants, it was hot seat occupant Thomas White and challenger David Grossman, who did the same thing. Both events were hosted by Park Ave. Billiards in Orange Park, FL.
 
In the Open/Pro event, Applebee got by Michell Monk, Jay Stock and Jeannie Seaver to draw Bobby Garza in one of the winners’ side semifinals. Mike Griffin, in the meantime, opened his campaign against the tour’s top junior of the year, Trenton White. After defeating him, Griffin moved on to send Thomas White (official winner of the Amateur event) and Asia Cy to the loss side, to face David Grossman in the other winners’ side semifinal.
 
Griffin got into the hot seat match with a 7-4 win over Grossman. Applebee and Garza locked up in a double hill fight that eventually sent Applebee to the hot seat match and Garza to the loss side. Applebee claimed the hot seat 7-5 over Griffin.
 
On the loss side, Grossman and Garza had the misfortune of running into two competitors who’d lost their opening round matches and were in the midst of a five-match, loss-side winning streak. Garza drew Tommy Kennedy, who’d lost his opening match, double hill to Jordan Burden and most recently had defeated Asia Cy 7-5 and Cody Booth 7-1 to draw Garza. Grossman picked up Anthony Meglino, who’d lost his opening round match to Adam Saaidi, and had most recently eliminated Jeannie Seaver 7-2 and just did survive a double hill fight against Shannon Fitch.
 
Kennedy downed Garza 7-2 and in the quarterfinals, faced Meglino, who’d survived his second straight double hill match, versus Grossman. Meglino ended up on the wrong end of his third straight double hill match and was defeated by Kennedy in those quarterfinals. Looking for his eighth straight loss-side win and a shot at Applebee in the hot seat, Kennedy fell to Griffin 7-5. Griffin and Applebee opted out of the final and the Open/Pro weekend was over.
 
White and Grossman let hot seat result stand
 
Thomas White, who ended up in the tie for 13th place in the Open/Pro event, won the hot seat match in the Amateur event over David Grossman, who had finished in the tie for 5th place in the Open/Pro event. Though Grossman won his semifinal match, he and White opted out of an Amateur final, which allowed White, as the undefeated occupant of the hot seat, to claim the official event title.
 
White advanced through the 22-entrant field to arrive at a winner’ side semifinal against Aaron Sikes. Grossman drew Scott Rohleder in the other one. Grossman advanced to the hot seat match 7-4 over Rohleder, while White downed Sikes 7-1 to join him. White and Grossman battled to double hill to claim the hot seat, which White eventually did, in what proved to be his last match.
 
On the loss side, Rohleder picked up Open/Pro winner, Nick Applebee, while Sikes drew Bobby Garza (5th/6th in the Open/Pro). Rohleder advanced to the quarterfinals with a double hill win over Applebee. He was joined by Garza, who’d benefited from a forfeit by Sikes.
 
Garza then eliminated Rohleder 5-1 before falling to Grossman in the semifinals 6-2. White and Grossman opted out of the final and the Sunshine State Pro Am Tour’s season finale was in the books.
 
In addition to the two tournaments, the tour announced its three award winners – Anthony Meglino as Player of the Year, Kelly Cavanaugh as Lady of the Year and Trenton White as the year’s top junior player.
 
Tour directors Janene Phillips and Bobby Garza thanked the ownership and staff at Park Avenue Billiards for their hospitality, as well as sponsors Kamui, Cyclop Balls, Diamond, Play The Game clothing, AZ Billiards, Jacksonville Roofing USA, Inc. and Inside Pool TV. The next stop on the Sunshine State Pro Am Tour will be its season opener, scheduled for January 5-6, 2019 at Stroker’s Billiards in Palm Harbor, FL. It will include a 9-ball Amateur event and the tour’s 10-ball Invitational Tournament for its top 16 players.

Virgin Island’s Mahkeal Parris Captures WPA World Junior 9-Ball Championship Title

Mahkeal Parris (Photo courtesy of Billiard Education Foundation)

Over 60 junior pool players representing 27 countries and 5 continents converged on Moscow, Russia from 10/30 to 11/3 to participate in the 2018 WPA World Junior 9-Ball Championships. North America was well represented in this prestigious battle for world junior cue sport supremacy. Thirteen athletes (11 from USA and 2 from Canada) qualified via respective BEF/CBSA qualifying events. In addition, 23 companions, parents, and coaches including team leaders, Tom Riccobene, Tom “Dr. Cue” Rossman, and Roy Pastor, made this historic trip to encourage and support the youthful competitors.
 
Players from the United States in the Girl’s division were April Larson, Aryana Lynch, Michelle Jiang, Tiana Jiang, and Vivian Liu. Players in the Boy’s Under 19 division were Jordan Burden and Thomas Haas from the US, plus Dean Cuillerier from Canada. USA players Austin Summers, Joey Tate, Matthew Wiseley, and Mahkeal Parris, plus Haydar Cappo from Canada, represented the Boy’s Under 17 division.
 
Arriving players registered on October 30th and attended a player’s meeting led by Tom Riccobene to go over event guidelines, rules, and much more. Tom and “Dr. Cue” also gave a short pep talk to all players to encourage them and calm any jitters they might have in such a prestigious event. In the evening a group leader
meeting was held by Gre Leenders, Secretary General of the WPA (World Pool Billiard Association) to cover event regulations and answer any questions.
 
On October 31st Leenders welcomed everyone at the player procession / opening ceremony and declared the event officially open. Players began scheduled practice sessions and competitive matches shortly after the ceremonies were over. In addition, group / individual photos of the players / coaches were taken.
 
[photo id=50503|align=right]Initial rounds of competition began on 8 beautiful Dynamic 9-foot tables made in Germany. Mahkeal Parris and Austin Summers posted first round wins, while Joey Tate, Matthew Wiseley, and Haydar Cappo battled brilliantly but came up short as Germany, Iran, and Norway players performed flawlessly. April Larson, Michelle Jiang, and Vivian Liu were victorious in the second round with Aryana Lynch and Tiana Jiang experiencing their first loss against Sweden and Ukraine players respectively. Jordan Burden and Dean Cuillerier were defeated in the third round by Hong Kong and Poland players, but showed tremendous passion and resolve for future matches. Parris and Summers continued their winning ways in round four with a nail-biting score of 7 – 6 for each player. Round five girls action revealed April Larson and Michelle Jiang winning, while Vivian Liu was bested by Sweden. A final round of the day showcased Thomas Haas experiencing his first loss to a strong Poland player. North America finished the day winning 9 out of 18 matches.
 
Closed practice sessions and arena competition continued the next day with Haas and Burden winning matches in the first round, while Cuillerier played with the heart of a champion against a victorious Russia player. The following six matches revealed disappointing defeats for Tate, Cappo, T.Jiang, Lynch, Wiseley and Parris despite determined drive and passion evident in each match. Summers and Liu raced to victory over Slovakia and Korea, with Burden besting Belarus and Bosnia / Herzegovina over Haas. North America finished the day with an excellent showing against the best junior players in the world with a 45.2% win-loss percentage.
 
The third day of competition started with Larson, M. Jiang, and Summers undefeated and Liu, Parris, and Burden with one loss each. Excitement filled the air as Liu made a valiant comeback but fell short on the final score against Korea. M. Jiang and Larson experienced hard fought losses to Taiwan and Sweden respectively. Parris stunned the top Iranian player with an impressive victory while Burden exhibited burning focus in an exciting seesaw battle against a determined player from Costa Rica. Larson handily defeated a Ukrainian star player to make the “final 4”! M. Jiang continued her brilliant play in a loss against a Korean champion player.
USA athletes Mahkeal Parris and Austin Summers played each other as a result of the redraw format for the “final 8” players. After an early lead, Summers encountered an awesome winning display of flawless position and shooting accuracy by Parris, moving him to the “final 4”!
 
April Larson finished in a third place tie after the eventual champion, Chia-Hua Chen from Taiwan, registered the match victory against her.
 
A special moment in billiard history continued as Parris registered an amazing six game wins in a row after being behind against Slovakia by a score of 5 games to 1. Parris played brilliantly with strategic safeties and crystal clear thinking for perfect position play…resulting in a magnetic victory score of 9 – 7, earning him a spot in the final match against Norway. After a rousing response from all in attendance, Parris was honored with photo requests with family, friends, and fellow players from many countries. North America completed the day with total match wins to date of 18 out of a possible 41 and a 43.9% win-loss percentage.
 
After preparing the arena for the 3 final championship matches, the stage was set for three of the greatest youth matches ever witnessed. Chen made a remarkable laser-focused comeback scoring a 9 – 5 win against a persistent Seoa Seo from Korea. A determined Parris from the Virgin Islands (USA) nearly duplicated his semi-final performance by registering an early match score deficit of 1 – 4 against the solid style of Emil Gangfløt from Norway; however, Parris caught a gear with brilliant strategy and precision shooting to take home the gold by a final score of 9 – 6. The arena went wild in full support of Parris’s incredible comeback victory.
 
The third match of the day pitted Kin Ling Yip against Robbie James Joaquin Capito, both from Hong Kong for the Boy’s under 19-division crown. After an early back and forth battle for table supremacy Yip pulled away to reach the hill with 10 games. Capito showed great poise and burning focus and tied the score at 10 – 10. Yip won the final game in a cool, calm, and collected manner to travel to the champion circle.
 
An awards ceremony was conducted shortly after the final match with huge gold trophy cups and medals presented to Taiwan’s Chen, USA’s Parris, and Hong Kong’s Yip. USA’s April Larson received a beautiful medal for her excellent performance and 3rd place tie. Austin Summers tied for 5th place with 3 other international players. Michelle Jiang and Vivian Liu finished in ties for 5th and 7th respectively, along with other international stars of our sport.
 

BEF Sending Student-Athletes To 2018 Junior World 9-Ball Championships

13 Players Slated To Compete Against The World's Best Juniors

 

The 2018 Billiard Education Foundation Junior National 9-Ball Championships, held this past July, qualified 13 billiard student-athletes to represent North America for the upcoming WPA Junior World 9-Ball Championships. From October 30 – November 4, 2018, the prestigious annual world event will take place for a second consecutive time in Moscow, Russia.

 
Through the support of the Billiard Congress of America, the BEF continues to coordinate international travel and participation for this tournament, a tradition it has carried on for the past two decades.
 
The following players will proudly represent the United States in 2018: 
Jordan Burden, U18 (Jacksonville, FL)
Thomas Hass, U18 (Lancaster, PA)
Matthew Wiseley, U16 (Poplar Bluff, MO)
Austin Summers, U16 (Metropolis, IL)
Joey Tate, U16 (Lake Villa, IL)
Mahkeal Parris, U16 (St. Croix, US Virgin Islands)
Michelle Jiang, Girls U18 (Harvard, MA)
April Larson, Girls U18 (Bloomington, MN)
Aryana Lynch, Girls U18 (Allen, TX)
Tiana Jiang, Girls U18 (Harvard, MA)
Vivian Liu, Girls 18 (Hayward, ME)
 
Along with the lineup of talent from the U.S., Canadians Dean Cullerier (U18), and Haydar Ali Cappo (U16) will also be representing North America at the Junior World Championships.

Kennedy and Grossman split top prizes in short-field stop on the SE Open 9-Ball Tour

(l to r): Billy Burke, David Grossman and Tommy Kennedy

Competitors who think that there aren’t enough tournaments in which to compete might want to consider a conversation with a few tour directors, who deal with short fields of entrants at their events, when there are more competitive area tournaments on a given weekend, than there are players to compete in them. Case in point: the Sunday, January 20 stop on Tommy Kennedy’s Southeast Open 9-Ball Tour. Normally, tours communicate with each other about dates, but on occasion (like this one), events get stacked up, leading to, in this case, a field of 12 entrants. The $500-added event was hosted by Park Ave. Billiards in Orange Park, FL.
 
Kennedy and David Grossman opted out of a final match in this one and split the top two prizes. Kennedy, as hot seat occupant, claimed the official event title.
 
Kennedy faced Jim Sandaler in one winners’ side semifinal, as Grossman met up with Jordan Burden in another. Kennedy downed Sandaler 7-2, as Grossman navigated his way through a double hill fight against Burden that eventually put him in the hot seat match with Kennedy. Kennedy shut Grossman out to claim the hot seat.
 
On the loss side, Burden picked up David Williams, who’d defeated Ash Chewcoskie and Kevin Arvin to reach him. Sandaler picked up Billy Burke, who’d lost to Kennedy earlier, and eliminated Bobby Garza, and Dale Stanley.
 
Burden got through a double hill match versus Williams to advance to the quarterfinals. Burke joined him with an almost-double-hill (7-5) win over Sandaler. Burke took the quarterfinal match against Burden 7-4, and survived the semifinal (though final) match of the event 7-6. Kennedy and Grossman opted out of the final to split the top two prizes.
 
Kennedy thanked the ownership and staff at Park Ave. Billiards, as well as sponsors J. Pechauer Custom Cues, Mueller Recreational Products, BilliardBuzz.com, and David Adams. The next stop on the Southeast Open 9-Ball Tour, scheduled for Saturday, January 27, will be hosted by Waldo’s Billiards in Daytona Beach, FL.