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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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Gonzalez goes undefeated to chalk up his first win on the Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball Tour

Heeter’s loss-side run evokes memories of the late Larry “The Truth” Nevel

Back in November of 2021, Buzzy Gonzalez chalked up his first recorded cash finish anywhere at a stop on the Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball Tour at the Gate City Billiards Club in Greensboro, NC.  He finished 5th that weekend, and with no evidence of competition since, this past weekend (Feb. 12-13), he returned to the Gate City Billiards Club, where he recorded his first regional tour victory on the same tour. He was challenged in the finals by Josh Heeter, who lost his opening round match and won 12 on the loss side for the right to meet him in the finals. The event drew 68 entrants to the Gate City Billiards Club.

Heeter’s run through the loss side of the bracket brought eerily relevant memories to tour director Herman Parker (among others), who recalled that the only player to ever win that many matches on the loss side of a Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball event before was the late Larry “The Truth” Nevel, who passed away on February 11, one day before this past weekend’s tournament began.

With Heeter already at work on the loss side, Gonzalez advanced to a winners’ side semifinal versus Jerry Stone. Hank Powell and Daniel Adams squared off in the other one. 

Powell and Adams fought to double hill, before Powell advanced to the hot seat match 8-5 (Adams racing to 6). Gonzalez joined him after shutting Stone out. Gonzalez claimed the hot seat over Powell 7-6.

Heeter had already chalked up nine of his eventual 12 loss-side wins, including recent victories over Justin Ward 9-3 and Gene Parker 9-4. when he ran into Stone, fresh from his defeat at the hands of Gonzalez. Adams picked up Kelly Farrar, who’d eliminated Joe Woo 7-4 and Dakota Ash, double hill (7-4), to reach him.

Heeter chalked up loss-side win #10, 9-2 over Stone. Adams joined him in the quarterfinals following his 6-6, double hill win over Farrar. Heeter then downed Adams 9-4 and in a tense, semifinal, double hill fight, defeated Powell 9-7.

Minus their respective handicaps, the event finals were a tie. Heeter, though, had to chalk up two more racks than Gonzalez, and when it reached the tie at 7-7, Gonzalez had won.

Tour director Herman Parker thanked the ownership and staff at Gate City Billiards Club for their hospitality, as well as title sponsor Viking Cues,, Dirty South Grind Apparel Co., Realty One Group Results, Diamond Brat,, and Federal Savings Bank Mortgage Division. The next stop on the Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball Tour, scheduled for this weekend (Feb. 19-20), will be hosted by Borderline Billiards in Bristol, TN.

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Ringgold gets by Johnson twice to claim Q City 9-Ball Title

JT Ringgold picked up his first victory on the 2016 Q City 9-Ball Tour with an undefeated run on the weekend of April 16-17. He dominated two matches versus Scotty Johnson to claim the event title, which drew 34 entrants to Mickey Milligan's Billiards in New Bern, NC.
They met first in the hot seat match. Ringgold had sent Jack Whitfield to the loss side 9-1, while Johnson was defeating Montez Lloyd 5-3. Ringgold subsequently gave up only two racks to Johnson and sat in the hot seat awaiting his return from the semifinals.
Over on the loss side, Whitfield picked up Jorge Ramos, who'd sent Jerry Cannon and Roy Musser home; 7-4 and 7-3. Lloyd drew Greg Smith, who'd defeated Justin Ward and Edward Forbes, both 8-2.
Whitfield advanced to the quarterfinals 5-3 over Ramos, and was joined by Smith, who'd ended Lloyd's day 8-4. Whitfield advanced one more step with a 5-4 victory over Smith, and one step away from a re-match against Ringgold, faced Johnson in the semifinals. 
Just as anxious for a re-match, Johnson downed Whitfield 5-1 and got his chance. As it turned out, his match against Whitfield was not only his last match victory, it proved to be the last time that Johnson would win a game. Ringgold completed his undefeated run through the field with a shutout over Johnson in the finals.
The next stop on the Q City 9-Ball Tour, scheduled for April 23-24, will be hosted by Brown's Billiards in Raleigh, NC.