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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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Linares and Mills go head-to-head in season opener of Sunshine State Predator Pro-Am Tour

Raymond Linares, Donny Mills and Rich Schau

Raymond Linares recorded his best earnings year at the tables in 2021. His second-best occurred 10 years ago, one year before he won the American College Unions International Collegiate Men’s Championship in 2013. He’s started 2022 by chalking up his first tour victory this past weekend (Feb. 5-6) on the Sunshine State Predator Pro Am Tour’s season opener. Opposing him in both the hot seat and finals was Donnie Mills, who also had a good 2021 at the tables, although not even close to his best earnings year, which happened in the same year (2009) that Linares first started showing up on payout lists of Florida tournaments like the Seminole Tour. They’re familiar combatants on the Florida felt (to others and each other) and graced spectators at their most recent battles for a regional tour title with a good show. The $2,300-added event drew 63 entrants to Stroker’s Billiards in Palm Harbor, FL.

Linares opened his bid for the title by giving up only seven racks to his first four opponents;  Ronnie Mercer (1), Manuel Montas (0), Rich Schau (4) and Michael McGuire (2). He advanced to a winners’ side semifinal versus Konner McFayden. Mills, in the meantime, gave up just a single rack to three of his first four opponents; one each to James Green, Nathan Rose and Marcus Murillo. In the second round, though, Mike Delawder had given him the proverbial ‘run for his money,’ chalking up six racks against him and forcing a deciding game that did eventually advance Mills to a winners’ side semifinal against Jerry Arvelaez. 

Linares advanced to the hot seat match 7-3 over McFayden and was joined by Mills, who sent Arvelaez to the loss side 7-4. Mills claimed the hot seat with a surprising (to a few) 7-3 win over Linares and waited for him to come back from the semifinals.

On the loss side, McFayden picked up Rich Schau, who’d followed his third-round loss to Linares with three loss-side wins that had recently eliminated Marcus Murillo 7-2 and Robert Batson 7-1. Arvelaez drew a rematch versus Trenton White, whom he’d sent to the loss side in the third round 7-4 and who’d just chalked up loss-side wins #3 and #4 against Bobby Garza and Han Berber, both 7-3, to earn the rematch.

Schau downed McFayen 7-1, as White was wreaking his vengeance on Arvelaez with his sixth in a row, 7-2. Schau stopped White’s loss-side streak at that sixth win, defeating him 7-5 in the quarterfinals. Schau and Linares battled to double hill in the semifinals before Linares prevailed for a second shot at Mills.

In the finals that followed, Linares jumped out to an early 5-1 lead, which, after watching Mills chalk up the rack that made it 5-2, prompted stream commentator and event competitor, Bobby Garza to note that Mills seems to have a preference to starting out slow.

“I think (Mills) likes to start out from behind,” Garza said. “He finds his stroke midway, catches up and then destroys his opponent.”

Just after the midway mark of the two-hour match, Mills chalked up his first two-in-a-row and seemed to be making Garza’s point, as he pulled within two at 6-4. Mills made it three-in-a-row to draw within one at 6-5, they traded racks to 7-6 and then began a wild rack #14 that featured Mills’ attempt at a 5-9 combination, resting near a corner pocket. The 9-ball didn’t drop, but the 5-ball went three rails and did. Shortly afterwards, Mills shot at the 7-ball and watched it rattle in the hole. He then watched Linares step to the table and take aim at the same 7-ball and a clear opportunity to finish the rack and reach the hill first. The 7-ball didn’t drop, but the cue ball took a ‘cross country’ trip to the opposite end of the table and did. Mills didn’t miss the three balls left and it was tied at 7-7.

Mills took his first lead in the match, winning rack #15, but Linares roared back to chalk up rack #16 with a 5-9 combination. Linares had the break and took full advantage of the opportunity. He dropped three balls on the break and ran the table to claim his first 2022 title on the Sunshine State Predator Pro Am Tour.

In the event that featured three junior competitors, seven ladies, and six USAPL players that attended at a reduced entry fee, the top junior finisher, Trenton White and the top lady finisher, Jeannie Seaver, took home $50 each. 

Tour directors Janene Phillips and Bobby Garza thanked Jose and Lyshia Westbrook-Del Rio and their Stroker’s Billiards staff for their hospitality, as well as title sponsor Predator Cues, Diamond Billiard Products, Kamui Brand, Stitch It To Me Embroidery, AZBilliards, Safety Harbor Resort and Spa, Central Florida USA Pool League, Jamison Daniels, and Eastern Billiards. Janene thanked Bobby for providing the Lights Out Streaming, sponsored by Jacksonville Roofing USA and Andrew Cleary for his graphics. The next stop on the Sunshine State Predator Pro Am Tour, scheduled for the weekend of March 5-6, will be the $1,500-added Open 9-Ball Bar Box Classic, hosted by Cue-Phoria Billiards and Café in Winter Park, 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. 

Grossman and Ferguson are ‘official winners’ of Sunshine State Pro Am Open/Amateur events

Bobby Garza, Anthony Meglino & David Grossman

 

David Grossman, playing in an Open event, and Bill Ferguson, playing in an Amateur event,  were the ‘official’ winners of the Sunshine State Pro Am Tour’s latest double stop event on the weekend of August 4-5. Both of them split the top two prizes with their respective runner-ups – Anthony Garza in the Open event and Clint Nichols in the Amateur event. The $700-added events ($500 for the Open and $200 for the Amateur) drew 34 (Open) and 30 (Amateur) entrants to Park Avenue Billiards in Orange Park, FL.
 
Grossman, in the Open event, faced separate opponents in the hot seat and (unplayed) finals. He advanced to a winners’ side semifinal against Anthony Meglino and sent him to the loss side 7-3, from which he would return to challenge Grossman in a final that didn’t happen. Bobby Garza downed Billy Burke 7-5 in the other winners’ side semifinal and faced Grossman in the hot seat match. Grossman sent Garza off to the semifinals and sat in the hot seat, awaiting what turned out to be a split with Meglino.
 
On the loss side, Meglino opened his loss side trek against Mike Delawder, who’d defeated Marcus Murillo 7-3 and Scott Rohleder 7-4 to reach him. Burke picked up Tommy Kennedy, who’d gotten by Clint Nichols (who’d show up as runner-up in the Amateur event) 7-3 and James Sandaler 7-2. Meglino and Burke advanced to the quarterfinals; Meglino, double hill, over Delawder and Burke, 7-2 over Kennedy.
 
Meglino downed Burke 7-2 in the quarterfinals and completed his loss-side run with a double hill win over Garza in the semifinals. The split was arranged, and Grossman became the official event winner. The event's top junior player was awarded $40.
 
Bill Ferguson and Clint Nichols battled once for the Amateur title. In the hot seat match, as it turned out. Ferguson had downed Bobby Hicks, double hill, in one of the winners’ side semifinals, while Nichols was busy sending Chuck White to the loss side 7-5. In their one and only match, Ferguson defeated Nichols 7-4 and claimed the hot seat.
 
On the loss side, Hicks picked up Matthew Wilson, who’d gotten by Thomas White 5-1 and Bobby Garza, double hill. Chuck White drew Wes Hammam, who’d defeated Jack Smith 5-2 and James Sandaler 5-3 to reach him.
 
Hicks downed Wilson 5-2 and in the quarterfinals, matched up with Hammam, who’d sent White to the figurative showers 5-1. Hammam then downed Hicks, double hill in the quarterfinals, before he was eliminated by Nichols 5-2 in the semifinals. Nichols and Ferguson agreed on the split, leaving Ferguson as the official winner. The Amateur event awarded $40 to its top junior, Trenton White.
 
Tour directors Janene Phillips and Bobby Garza thanked the ownership and staff at Park Ave Billiards, as well as sponsors Cyclop, Kamui, Play the Game Clothing Co., Predator, Jacksonville Roofing and AZBilliards. The next stop on the Sunshine State Pro Am Tour, scheduled for September 1-2 will be another double event (9-Ball Amateur, 10-Ball Open), hosted by K & K Billiards in Miami.