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Cuellar goes undefeated to win Stop #3 on Tiger Florida Tour

Nicolle Cuellar, Vanessa Seaver and Jessica Barnes

Coming off of her best recorded earnings year (2021), Florida’s Nicolle Cuellar is getting a bit of a late start to better those earnings in 2022, although her undefeated run at the Tiger Florida Tour’s (TFT) third stop this past weekend (Sat. May 7) has started her off in the right direction. Her last recorded win on the TFT occurred last August. Cuellar has, in fact, had two good years at the tables, 2020 being her best recorded earnings years until the total figure improved in 2021. She’s been combining work on the TFT with appearances on the Sunshine State Pro Am Tour over the past few years, and earlier, dating back to when her efforts began notation here at AZBilliards 10 years ago, on the Flamingo Tour. The TFT’s $750-added event last weekend, Stop #3 on the 2022 tour, drew 36 entrants to Brewlands North in Lakeland, FL.

The event started out with a double elimination bracket, which, being a 64-entrant bracket, featured four matches in the opening round of play and 28 byes. Three rounds later, when the bracket had narrowed to eight players, four on each side of the bracket, it became a single-elimination race to the finals.

Cuellar’s path to the winners’ circle, after being awarded one of the 28 byes, went through Angel Kotewa (1), Kimberly Housman (3) and Stephanie Mitchell (3), at which point, she became one of the final eight. Joining her among the four to emerge from the winners’ side of the bracket were Lisa Perez, Jeri Bouvette and Jessica Barnes. Facing those four from the loss side of the bracket were Helene Caukin (facing Barnes), Jessica Karamia Human (facing Cuellar) and the Seaver sisters; Vanessa, squaring off against Bouvette and Jeannie facing Perez.

Human, who’d been sent to the loss side in the final winners’ side round by Barnes, played only one match on the loss side, surviving a double hill match versus Kaylee McIntosh to join the final eight. Cuellar stopped Human’s bid right there, downing her 7-3 and advancing to the semifinals against Barnes, who’d defeated Caukin, double hill. 

Only one of the Seaver sisters survived the first single-elimination round and as it turned out, Lisa Perez faced them both. She faced Jeannie in that first round and battled her to double hill before advancing to meet Vanessa, who’d battled to double hill before defeating Bouvette to earn her spot in the semifinals against Perez.

Time constraints forced the semifinals and finals to be cut down to races to 5. Vanessa Seaver punched her ticket to the finals with a shutout over Perez. She was joined by Cuellar, who eliminated Barnes, double hill; a ‘heartbreaker,’ according to TD Mimi McAndrews, because in the deciding game, Barnes broke and hung the 9-ball in the teeth of the side pocket. Cuellar stepped to the table and though unable to work herself into shape for an easy combination on the 9-ball, ran the table to get it and advance to the finals. 

Cuellar completed her undefeated run with a 5-2 win over Vanessa Seaver. Having not competed in the TFT season opener back in January and finishing in the tie for 8th on the February stop, Cuellar was way down in the tour standings when she began her title quest at the third stop. Her victory moved her among the tour’s top 10, into 9th place on the list that now has Stephanie Mitchell at the top. Vanessa Seaver’s runner-up finish moved her into second place with Carrie Metz, Kaylee McIntosh and Jeannie Seaver behind her. Cuellar’s victory also netted her paid qualifier spot for the WPBA’s Soaring Masters event in July.

Tour director Mimi McAndrews thanked Larry Walthall and his staff at Brewlands for their hospitality, along with title sponsor Tiger Products, AZBilliards, Boynton Billiards, Andy Cloth, Eastern Billiards, Stitch-It-To-Me Embroidery and Brutal Game Gear. She also extended thanks to Josh Arnold and Stephanie Mitchell for their assistance with running the event. The next stop on the Tiger Florida Tour, scheduled for Saturday, July 16, will be hosted by Shooter’s Billiards in Port St. Lucie, FL.

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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.