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Osborne wins his first major tournament at Predator Sunshine State Pro Am Tour special event

Dominick Dunn, Jimmy Antonietta & Nick Osborne

He’s been playing pool for well over 20 years and with a 9 ft. Brunswick Anniversary pool table in his home, he’s not short on practice TAT (time at table). He’s been winning local tournaments and faring well in league play (USAPL, NAPA and an American rotation pool league). He’s also been doing cue repair for just about as long as he’s been playing and through word-of-mouth and Facebook, manufactures and markets his own cues; Nick Osborne Custom Cues. On Sunday, January 4, Nick Osborne broke through to win his first major professional tournament; an amateur, special 9-ball event for players with a Fargo Rate of 575 or below, held under the auspices of the Predator Sunshine State Pro Am Tour. The event drew 32 entrants to Park Avenue Billiards in Orange Park, FL.

The day prior (Jan. 2), Park Avenue Billiards also hosted a 10-Ball invitational that drew 25 entrants. Won by Joselito Martinez, that event is detailed in a separate report that can be found elsewhere on these News pages.

So how, one wonders, does a player with so much experience, a table in his home and a cue-repair/cue-making business manage to avoid cashing in one of the country’s most active pool communities (Florida), or elsewhere, for 20 years?

“I never could afford to travel to these tournaments,” he explained. “Park Avenue Billiards is six minutes away.”

Since he’s been very active and successful as a local player for all of these years, in league play and local tournaments, the fact that he’d won his first professional major tournament almost escaped his notice until AZBilliards called him for comment.

“I’ve won all kinds of league events,” he said, adding that a local pool room runs a regular Sunday tournament and that quarterly, they hold a big, invitation-only tournament that he’s won twice. “I’m a good pool player, I’d say among the top 20 in my area.”

He had to come from the loss side to seal this first major win of his, but only for a single match. He and Dominick Dunn (who has a single entry in the AZ database, a 13th place finish on the tour in 2018) battled twice for the title. Osborne opened with a 7-1 win over Damien Osman and then won two 7-4 matches, sending Nate Beal and David Kaiser to the loss side. This set him up to face Brandon Hoffman in one of the winners’ side semifinals. Dunn, in the meantime, after opening with a double hill win over Jay Stock, defeated Robert McLaren 7-4 and Matt Cain 7-5, to draw Wayne Kelly in the other winners’ side semifinal.

Dunn sent Kelly west 7-5, as Osborne was busy chalking up his third straight 7-4 victory, over Hoffman. Dunn handed Osborne his first, and what turned out to be his only defeat, 7-5 to claim the hot seat.

On the loss side, Hoffman and Kelly both drew players who’d lost their opening matches and were in the midst of lengthy loss-side winning streaks. Hoffman picked up Jimmy Antonietta, who was in the midst of a seven-match, loss-side winning streak that would take him all the way to the semifinals versus Osborne. He’d recently eliminated Bobby Quin, double hill and Matt Cain 7-1. Kelly drew Brian Luke, whose five-match, loss-side winning streak was about to end, one match shy of drawing the opponent who’d sent him over (Hoffman). Luke had recently defeated David Kaiser and survived a double hill match against Tommy Pauley.

Antonietta spoiled the potential quarterfinal rematch of Hoffman/Luke with a 7-4 win over Hoffman. Kelly spoiled it with a 7-5 victory over Luke. Antonietta then restricted Kelly’s loss-side efforts to the single, quarterfinal match, defeating him 7-2. Osborne, in turn, ended Antonietta’s loss-side streak 7-5 in the semifinals.

Osborne had trouble remembering details of the single race-to-9 finals between the two opponents, Fargo-rated 575 or below, vying for their first major tournament win.

“It was 23 hours in,” he said. “We’d been playing non-stop from 10:30, Saturday morning and left at 10 a.m. on Sunday morning.”

“I remember I had him (on the hill) at 8-4,” he added, “and a couple of his friends started ‘barking’ at him. I think it riled him up and he strung a few racks together.”

Four in a row, to be precise, but they weren’t enough. Osborne won the deciding 17th game to claim his first major event title.

Tour directors Janene Phillips and Bobby Garza thanked the ownership and staff at Park Ave. Billiards, as well as title sponsor Predator Group, Kamui, Central Florida USA Pool League, Stitch It To Me Embroidery, Diamond Products, AZBilliards, and all of the players who compete in their events. The season-opening, points-earning stop on the 2021 Predator Sunshine State Pro Am Tour, scheduled for the weekend of Feb. 6-7, will be hosted by Stroker’s Billiards in Palm Harbor, FL.