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From the loss side, Rodriguez chalks up first Sunshine State Pro Am Tour victory in three years

Mike DeLawder, Trenton White and Ricardo Joel Rodriguez

Barnes goes undefeated to claim concurrently-run Ladies event

One did it the hard way, while the other opted for the shorter, arguably more difficult easy way. Ricardo Rodriguez, looking for his first win on the Sunshine State ProAm Tour in three years, lost his third winners’ side match at this past weekend’s (Oct. 8-9) tour stop He then won seven straight on the loss side before downing Trenton White in the finals to claim the event title. Jessica Barnes took the shorter route in the concurrently-run Ladies event, winning five in a row and downing Nicole Cuellar twice to claim the ladies’ title.

The $1,500 added main event drew 60 entrants to Brewlands Bar & Billiards North in Lakeland, FL. The $500-added Ladies event drew 16 entrants to the same location.

Rodriguez’ path took him past Marcos Bielostozky and George Saunders, both 7-5, before he ran into a double hill match versus Desi Derado that he lost. Mike DeLawder and Trenton White, in the meantime, worked their way forward toward their hot seat match; White advancing through Mike Xiarhos, Jr., Leon Micco, Dale Stanley and Konnor McFayden to arrive at a winners’ side semifinal against Robert Noon, while DeLawder sent Anthony Cruz, co-tour-director Bobby Garza, and both Manuel Montas and John Souders (both double hill) to the loss side to draw Ameet Kukadia in the other winners’ side semifinal.

DeLawder came within a game of being forced into his third straight double hill fight, but just did edge out in front near the end to defeat Kukadia 7-5. White joined him in the hot seat match after surviving his double hill struggle against Noon. White shut Delawder out to claim the hot seat.

On the loss side, it was Kukadia who drew the finals-bound Rodriguez, who’d just eliminated junior competitors Kaylee McIntosh 7-2 and Konnor McFayden 7-4. Noon picked up David Singleton, who’d defeated John Souders 7-3 and survived a double hill match versus Garza to reach him.

Rodriguez defeated Kukadia 7-5 and was joined in the quarterfinals by Noon, who’d put Singleton on the wrong side of his second straight double-hill match. Rodriguez took the quarterfinal match 7-5 over Noon and then, by the same score, denied DeLawder his second chance against White.

Rodriguez waste little time. He took the finals against White 9-5 to claim the event title

Nicole Cuellar, Sofia Mast and Jessica Barnes

Barnes gets into a 7-3 groove to the hot seat match

Jessica Barnes seemed to decide that since she had gotten herself into a groove of some kind that she should probably stick with it. She defeated her first three opponents on her way to the Ladies win by the same 7-3 score, defeating co-tour-director Janene Phillips, Erica Pennington and, in a winners’ side semifinal, the Pink Dagger (aka junior competitor Sofia Mast). Nicole Cuellar, in the meantime, got by Sandra Micco, Cami Becker and in her winners’ side semifinal, Margie Soash 7-1.

Cuellar knocked Barnes out of her 7-3 groove in the hot seat match, but it wasn’t enough. Barnes survived Cuellar’s double hill challenge to claim the hot seat.

On the loss side, Soash picked up and was defeated by Helen Caukin 5-1, as The Pink Dagger drew and eliminated Kaylee McIntosh by the same score. Mast defeated Caukin 5-2 in the quarterfinals, only to have her brief, loss-side run upset by Cuellar’s desire for a rematch against Barnes. Cuellar won that battle 5-1. Barnes downed Cuellar a second time, 9-5, to claim the Ladies title.

Tour directors Janene Phillips and Bobby Garza thanked Larry Wathall and his staff at Brewlands “for taking great care (them) all weekend,” as well as title sponsor Predator Cues, Kamui Brand, Diamond Billiard Products, Jamison Daniels, Stitch It To Me Embroidery, AZBilliards, Dr. V’s Custom Shop and Central Florida Pool League. ‘Shout outs’ were extended to Bobby Garza and Lights Out Streaming for providing great stream and commentary, along with Jimmy Antonietta, Rob McLaren, Mike D and George Saunders for their commentating and  Adam Hanas for helping run the boards. 

In light of the fact that the tour had a junior competitor among the final three in both of this past weekend’s events (Trenton White and Sofia Mast) and because, like so many others,  who enjoy watching these young competitors succeed in their early pool careers, Phillips and Garza thanked Asia Cy for donating an entry fee to a junior lady, Leah Holler and wished to make mention of two local individuals who are “doing great things for the junior competitors’ –  Danielle Fee with Shooting for the Stars and Eddie Altman with Junior Billiards Scholarship Fund. If you’d like to help support a junior program, reach out to either of these organizations.

The next and final stop of the year for the Sunshine State ProAm Tour, scheduled for the weekend of Nov. 26-27 and hosted by Racks Billiards in Sanford, FL will feature two events; a $1,000-added Open One Pocket event and a $2,500-added Open 9-Ball Bar Box Championship. 

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Hall ‘catches a (loss-side) gear’ and wins Sunshine Pro Am stop with a shutout final

(l to r): Anthony Meglino, Jeremy Bell, Justin Hall & Brewlands’ owner, Larry Walthall

It seemed like such an unlikely scenario, to the point of being almost of unheard of, that we had to double check.
In the brackets detailing the results of Stop #4 on the Sunshine State Pro Am Tour on the weekend of May 11-12, there was reportedly a shutout in the final match. Such designations, when they show up on a posted bracket, are often ‘code’ for a circumstance in which the two finalists agree to split the top prizes, and since there is no way to indicate this on a tournament bracket, tour representatives will often write in a shutout score or a double hill score.
Not this time.
According to tour directors Janene Phillips and Bobby Garza, Justin Hall ‘caught a gear’ during his first loss-side match and went, like the proverbial ‘hot knife through butter,’ through three loss-side matches and then shut out hot seat occupant, Jeremy Bell to capture the event title. The $1,350-added event drew 64 entrants to Brewlands in North Lakeland (Tampa), FL.
It was also reported in the same posted bracket that the top finishing female in the event was Jeanette Lee and as that, too, seemed a little unlikely, we double-checked, assuming we would discover that another woman who happened to have the same name as the well-known female pool champion had finished in the four-way tie for 13th place. But no, it was THE Jeanette Lee, who was sent to the loss side in the second round of play by Faheem Zia and after a single win on the loss side, ran into Tommy Kennedy, who defeated her in a double hill battle.
Though Hall may have ‘caught the gear’ that propelled him into the finals when he arrived on the loss side, he was showing evidence of a solid performance early. He won his first two matches, against Marvin Limas and Will Smith (not the actor) 7-1. Stephanie Mitchell gave him a run for his money, but fell 7-5. Hall then defeated Robert Batson 7-2 to draw Bell for the first time in a winners’ side semifinal. He arrived at the winners’ side semifinal with a 75.67% game-winning percentage (28-9); a touch better than winning three out of every four games he’d played.
Bell, in the meantime, arrived at that winners’ side semifinal with a 66% winning percentage (28-14). At the other end of the bracket, Anthony Meglino was making his way to the hot seat and arrived at his winners’ side semifinal with a 65% winning percentage (28-15). He got by Angel Alvardo and Bobby Garza, both 7-4 before running into Tommy Kennedy, who battled  him to double hill, before giving way. A 7-1 victory over Faheem Zia put Meglino in the other winners’ side semifinal against Shannon Fitch.
Bell sent Hall to the loss side 7-3, as Meglino and Fitch locked up in a double hill fight that eventually put Meglino in the hot seat match against Bell. Meglino ended up on the wrong side of this third double hill match and headed for the semifinals.
On the loss side, Fitch picked up Serrano Serafin, who’d defeated Robert Batson, double hill, and Mike Xiarhos, Sr. 5-1 to reach him. Xiarhos had previously eliminated Kennedy in a double hill match. Hall drew Faheem Zia, who’d survived a double hill fight against Nathan Rose and eliminated Che Mrvos 5-3.
Fitch shut Serafin out and advanced to the quarterfinals. Hall, in the meantime, was digging himself a hole with Zia on the hill at 4-0. Hall stopped digging and ‘caught the gear’ at that point. Over the next 27 games, Hall would give up only three racks. He chalked up five against Zia and moved into the quarterfinals against Fitch.
Hall gave up a single rack to Fitch in those quarterfinals and then downed Meglino 5-2 in the semifinals. In the interim between meeting Bell for the first time and his eventual victory over him in the finals, Hall’s winning percentage had dropped by about five points to 70% (55-23), but it was more than enough to claim the event title.
Tour directors Janene Phillips and Bobby Garza thanked the owner, Larry Walthall and his Brewlands staff for their hospitality, as well as sponsors Predator Cues, Cyclops Balls, Stitch It To Me Embroidery, USA Pool League and AZBilliards. The next stop on the Sunshine State Pro Am Tour, scheduled for June 22-23, will be hosted by Strokers in Palm Harbor, FL.