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Toye goes undefeated to win Sunshine State Predator Pro/Am Tour Championship

David Uwate, Justin Toye and Pedro Botta

By almost any measure, Justin Toye’s title-winning run through a field of 77 entrants on hand for the season finale of the Sunshine State Predator Pro/Am Tour (the Tour Championship) was a fight from start to finish. Of his seven opponents, only one of Toye’s opponents chalked up less than five racks against him. And in almost any race to 9, when opponents are closer than four or five racks, almost anything can happen. Runner-up Pedro Botta’s path to the final was even more fraught with ‘close match’ challenges, at least until he got to the loss side, where he won seven matches and only two of his opponents chalked up more than four against him. The 77 entrants who signed on to compete, joined an event that added $3,500 to the purse; $1,000 from the host location, Rack’s Billiards in Sanford, FL, $2,000 from title sponsor Predator, $300 from the Central Florida USA Pool League and $200 from Skills for Rent, LLC.

After a bye, Toye opened up with three straight 9-6 wins over Mike McPhilomy, Tony Whitman and Randall Mcluckie. He then sent Michael Xiarhos, Sr. to the loss side 9-5 to draw Serafin Serrano in a winners’ side semifinal. Botta, who’d won three on the winners’ side versus George Saunders (9-7), Jose Baez (9-7) and Bret Agler (9-5), got sent to the loss side 9-6 by Justin Gilsinan, who followed him over when he was defeated by Serrano in the following round 9-5. David Uwate, in the meantime, got by Ash Chewkaskie 9-6, Norm Klinkosh 9-2, Malcolm Dodson 9-5 and Marcos Bielostozky 9-7 to pick up Derek Laprairie in the other winners’ side semfinal. 

Toye downed Serrano 9-7 and in the hot seat match, met up with Uwate, who’d sent Laprairie west 9-6. Toye claimed the hot seat over Uwate 9-2 and waited for Botta to complete his seven-match, loss-side winning streak.

It was Serrano who drew Botta on the loss side, four matches into his loss-side run that had included recent wins over Ameet Kukadia 7-4 and Jerry Alverez, double hill. Laprairie picked up Andrew Cleary, who’d lost his opening round match to Tom Decker 9-7 and was working on an impressive eight-match, loss-side winning streak of his own that had recently included three straight double hill wins over Malcomb Dodson, Xiarhos, Sr. and Nate Beal.

Laprairie ended Cleary’s run 7-2, while Botta was taking his next step toward the finals 7-3 over Serrano. Botta downed Laprairie, double hill in the quarterfinals, and then spoiled Uwate’s bid for a second shot against Toye 7-2.

As befitted their separate seven (Toye) and 12-match (Botta) struggles to reach the finals, those finals were, for quite a while, too close to call. Toye pulled out ahead and won by two 11-9.

In their subsequent press release, tour directors Janene Phillips and Bobby Garza were enthusiastic about the players who’d played and the sponsors who’d assisted in a myriad of ways, to the success of the 2021 tour and the Tour Championship itself. 

“What a great weekend for our finale of the year,” they noted.

They went on to thank the ownership and staff of Rack’s Billiards for their hospitality and title sponsor Predator Cues “for everything they do, not just for us, but players and events everywhere.” They also thanked Kamui Brand, Stitch It To Me Embroidery, Skills for Rent, LLC, Central Florida USA Pool League, Diamond Billiard Products and AZ Billiards. They noted contributions from stream commentators Jimmy Antonietta, Kristian Dimitrov and Garza, as well as the assistance of Niki Cuellar and Katie Bowse.

The next stop on the Sunshine State Predator Pro/Am Tour will be the 2022 season opener. Scheduled for the weekend of Feb. 5-6, the event will be hosted by Stroker’s Bar & Grill in Palm Harbor, FL. 

Davis, Jr. comes from loss side & behind in finals to win Sunshine State Pro Am One Pocket

Montas wins concurrently-run, 600-and-under Fargo Rate 9-ball event 

(l to r): Mike Davis, Mike Delawder, Anthony Meglino & Pedro Botta

Fresh off his fourth victory at the 7th Annual NC State Open 9-Ball Championships (March 1-2) in Hickory, NC, Mike Davis, Jr. traveled about 555 miles southwest, to sign on to the Sunshine State Pro Am Tour’s second 2020 stop; the $500-added One Pocket part of it, that drew 16 entrants to Racks Billiards in Sanford, FL. Sent to the loss side in a winners’ side semifinal, Davis returned to meet the man who’d sent him over (Mike Delawder) and defeat him in an exciting, double hill final match.

In a concurrently-run, $1,000-added ($500 from Racks Billiards & $500 from Predator Cues) event for Fargo Rates of 600 and below that drew 56 entrants, Manuel Montas went undefeated to claim that title.

It was a four-match march to the One Pocket hot seat for Delawder and a seven-match march to the title for Davis. Delawder got by Justin Gilsinan and Pedro Botta, before sending Davis to the loss side 3-1 in a winners’ side semifinal. Anthony Meglino, in the meantime, downed George Saunders and Adam Wheeler to face Kyle Bova in the other winners’ side semifinal.

Delawder beat Davis 3-1 and in the hot seat match, faced Meglino, who’d shut Bova out. Delawder claimed the hot seat by shutout and waited for Davis to finish his three-match, loss-side trip.

Davis began his trip back to the finals with a shutout over James Sandaler, who’d eliminated Bobby Garza and Adam Wheeler to reach him. Bova was defeated double hill by Pedro Botta, who’d previously eliminated George Saunders and Nathan Rose.

Davis dropped Botta into 4th place with a 3-1 quarterfinal victory and got his second shot at Delawder, following a shutout over Meglino in the semifinals.

The race was extended to 4 in the finals and early on, things weren’t looking to good for Davis, Jr. Delawder reached the hill at 3-0 before Davis was able to respond, but when he did, he came back strong, winning four in a row to claim game, set and match.

Montas and Kukadia split top prizes, with undefeated Montas claiming 9-ball title 

Ameet Kukadia, Manuel Montas and Cody Ingle

With a Fargo Rate differential of two points, Manuel Montas (596) and Ameet Kukadia (598) played against each other once in a straight-up race to 7 in the 9-ball tournament. Montas won that single matchup and as the undefeated occupant of the hot seat claimed the event title, when he and Kukudia agreed to a split of the top two prizes.

Montas’ path to the hot seat went through Muhammand Ali, Jeffrey McDonald, Francisco Gika and Brent Mireles to arrive at a winners’ side semifinal versus Guy Skehan Jackson; a 596 (Montas)/531 (Jackson) matchup. Three of the four matches that Kukudia (598) played to arrive at his winners’ side semifinal against Cody Ingle (546) went double hill and the fourth one was an ‘almost.’ He won his second round match against Lenny Reid 7-5, but he had to play a 13th deciding match against Evan Huynh, Katie Bowse and Kristian Dimitrov to reach Ingle.

Montas and Jackson battled to double hill before Montas advanced to the hot seat match. Kukadia gave up only a single rack to Ingle and joined Montas in what would prove to be the title match, battling for the hot seat. Montas won it 7-3.

On the loss side, Jackson picked up Stan Delonjay, who was working on a seven-match, loss-side winning streak that was about to end and had included recent wins over Kristian Dimitrov 5-1 and Vernet Lasrado 5-3. Ingle drew Evan Huynh, who, after his double hill defeat at the hands of Kukadia, was working on a six-match, loss-side streak that was also about to end and had recently included victories over Larry English 5-2 and Brent Mireles 5-1.

Jackson and Ingle ended the loss-side streaks of their respective opponents by the same 5-2 score; Jackson over Delonjay and Ingle over Huynh. Jackson and Ingle then battled to double hill in the quarterfinals. Ingle prevailed and had his modest, loss-side streak ended by Kukadia 5-2 in the semifinals.

The decision to split the cash involved with the top two prizes was negotiated and reached. As the undefeated occupant of the hot seat, Montas became the official winner.

Tour directors Janene Phillips and Bobby Garza thanked the ownership and staff at Racks Billiards, as well as title sponsor Predator Cues, Diamond Products, Kamui, Central Florida USA Pool League, Stitch it To Me Embroidery, AZBilliards, and the live streaming of the events by Xtreme Pool. The next stop on the Sunshine State Pro Am Tour, scheduled for April 25-26, will be hosted by Brewlands in Tampa, FL.

Singleton downs Fitch in finals to capture Sunshine State Pro Am Bar Box Championship

(l to r): Andrew Pettenger, David Singleton & Shannon Fitch

David Singleton’s victory at the Sunshine State Pro Am’s Amateur Bar Box Championships on the weekend of November 16-17, was not only his first victory on the tour, it officially made 2019 his best earnings year to date. At two previous stops on the tour, back in January and July, he’d finished in both in the tie for 9th place. He and Brian McBride finished in the tie for 5th place in September at the tour’s 2nd Annual Big Dawg Scotch Doubles Tournament. According to available records, Singleton has only cashed in five events in the past three years; the extent of his known activity at the tables. Shannon Fitch, on the other hand, while also in the midst of his best earnings year to date, has cash-winning records dating back over 20 years, was also looking to chalk up his first victory on the Sunshine State Pro Am Tour. The $2,200-added event drew 84 players to Racks Billiards in Sandford, FL.
 
It was a five-match march to their first meeting in the hot seat. Singleton followed an opening round bye with victories over Randall McLuckie, Jose Guerro Baez, Christopher Anderson and Bobby Garza (double hill) to draw Jon Gore in one of the winners’ side semifinals. Fitch, also opening with a bye, advanced through Thomas White, Hector Ortiz, Robert Noon and the tour’s #1-ranked competitor going into this event, Nathan Rose, to arrive at a winners’ side semifinal matchup against David Jacobs.
 
Fitch downed Jacobs 9-5, as Singleton was busy sending Gore to the loss side 9-7. In their first of two, Fitch claimed the hot seat 9-3 and waited for Singleton’s return from the semifinals.
 
On the loss side, Gore drew Andrew Pettenger, who, after an opening round bye, had lost to Mike Delawder in the second round, and embarked on a seven-match, loss-side winning streak that would take him as far as the semifinals. He’d most recently defeated Nathan Rose 7-6 and Jai Smith 7-5. Jacobs drew Garza, who after his loss to Singleton had eliminated Racks’ owner Pedro Botta 7-2 and Jose Guerro Baez 7-5.
 
Garza and Jacobs locked up in a double hill fight that eventually sent Jacobs to the quarterfinals. Pettenger joined him after defeating Gore 7-5. Pettenger chalked up the last match of his loss-side streak 7-5 over Jacobs, before Singleton defeated him 6-2 in the semifinals.
 
For the finals, the race was extended to 11 games. Singleton won it 11-7 to claim the event title and move up significantly, to within the top 10, of the tour’s highest-ranked players.
 
Tour directors Janene Phillips and Bobby Garza thanked Pedro Botta and his Rack’s staff for their hospitality, as well as title sponsor Predator Cues, Cue Sports Studios (for streaming), Leah Nusbaum Photography, Stitch-It-To-Me Embroidery, Diamond Products, Cyclop Balls, Central Florida USA Pool League and AZBilliards. The next stop on the Sunshine State Pro Am Tour, scheduled for Saturday, December 7, will be hosted by Park Ave. Billiards in Orange Park, FL.

Rodriguez goes undefeated to win his first 2019 Sunshine State Pro Am title

Bill Bloom, Shannon Fitch and Ricardo Joel Rodriguez

Looking to better his 2018 earnings, the year in which he tallied a win on the Sunshine State Pro Am Tour in March and won the Florida 10-Ball Bar Box Championships in November, Ricardo Joel Rodriguez went undefeated through a field of 64 entrants to win the October 5-6 stop (#8) on the 2019 Sunshine State Pro Am Tour’s $1,500-added event ($1,000 by Brewlands and $500 from Predator Cues) at Brewlands Bar & Billiards in North Lakeland, FL . He stopped a seven-match, loss-side winning streak by Bill Bloom, defeating him in the finals to claim the title. Rodriguez’ $1,000 first-place prize doesn’t put his 2019 earnings over his 2018 threshold, but does put him a step closer with a full two months-plus to go.
 
In addition to the event itself, the Sunshine State Pro Am Tour held a mystery auction to raise money for junior competitors Kodi Allen and Trenton White (who was the main event’s top-finishing (9th place) junior) to help offset their expenses for an upcoming trip to Cypress in November, when they will represent the USA in the Jr. World Championships. In addition to the money raised by the auction ($600), the tour donated 5% of the player’s auction to the junior players ($215). An additional $215 was raised by a $50 challenge donation from Jen Radkte, bringing the total to $1,030. Each of the junior competitors will receive half of that total. In addition to the support provided by the tour itself, tour directors Janene Phillips and Bobby Garza gave a ‘shout out’ to the sponsors of this mystery auction event – Michael Zingale of Zingale’s Billiards, Carl Watt of Park Ave. Billiards, Pedro Botta of Racks Billiards, Larry Walthal of the host Brewlands, The Central Florida USA Pool League, Don and Jennifer Berzinski of the People’s Tournament, Stitch it to Me Embroidery, Cyclop Balls, Predator Products and Jeannette Lee with the Tampa APA.
 
Congratulations were extended to the Scarberry family as winners of the mystery auction. Some of the items in the bags included a Sneaky Pete rage cue, a signed-by-Jeanette Lee cue and cue ball, free entries to an event at Zingales and on the Sunshine State Pro Am Tour, gift cards (including Dunkin’), scratch-off lottery tickets, Predator glove and chalk, Cyclops cue ball, Tip tool, T-Shirts, Polos, UFC backpack with ‘extras,’ Tiger Chalk, and if that weren’t enough, two bottles of tequila.
 
The main event tournament saw Ricardo Joel Rodriguez start out with a ‘shutout’ bang over Michael McGuire and then settle into victories over Nataniel Acosta, George McLanahan and Jeremy Bell to arrive at a winners’ side semifinal match versus Jordan Burden. Shannon Fitch, in the meantime, downed Anthony Fisher, Thomas White, Francisco Diaz and Justin McNulty (who’d just sent Bill Bloom to the loss side) to face Robert Batson in the other winners’ side semifinal.
 
Rodriguez’ trip to the winners’ circle was almost rerouted as he and Burden went double hill before Rodriguez prevailed. Fitch joined him in the hot seat match with a 7-4 win over Batson. Rodriguez gave up only a single rack to Fitch and sat in the hot seat, waiting for Bloom to conclude his loss-side run.
 
It was Batson who picked up Bloom, four matches into his loss-side streak, that had included recent wins over Jeremy Bell, double hill and, Anthony Cruz. Burden drew Justin McNulty, who’d defeated Trenton White 5-3 and Jeff Brown 5-1 to reach him.
 
Bloom survived a double hill fight against Batson to advance to the quarterfinals, where he was joined by Burden, who’d spoiled any hopes of a Bloom/McNulty rematch by eliminating McNulty 5-1. Bloom and Burden battled to double hill in those quarterfinals, before Bloom advanced.
 
Bloom downed Shannon Fitch in the subsequent semifinals and got a shot at Rodriguez in the finals. With Bloom racing to 8 and Rodriguez to 9, the two battled to a double hill final game, won by Rodriguez, who claimed the title.
 
Tour directors Phillips and Garza thanked Larry Walthal of Brewlands for hosting the event as well as sponsors Predator Cues, Central Florida USA Pool League, Stitch it to me Embroidery, Cyclops, Kamui and AZBilliards. The next stop on the Sunshine State Pro Am Tour, scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 16, will be a $1,500-added event, hosted by Rack’s Billiards in Sanford, FL. 

Earl Strickland Back in USA top FIVE … Really?

Earl Strickland (Erwin Dionisio)

If someone pointed out that iconic 9-Ball legend Earl Strickland
 
* went two & out at the 2018 International 9-Ball Open last fall
* went three & out at the US Open 9-Ball event this past spring
* went three & out at the Predator World 10-Ball Championships this summer,
 
you might nod your head and think something like,
 
Yeah, well, OK…. Seems about right… fit as he might be, he’s 58 year’s old. I’m sure he still shoots straight, but what should we really expect from a player who was world 9-Ball champion seven years before the current world 9-Ball champion was born? He may get invited to things occasionally, but that’s more because of the attention he draws than him actually keeping up with the young guns.
 
If that’s where your head is at, grab a cup of coffee and be careful not to spill it.
 
Earl has recorded 600 games in the last two years, and he’s performed at 790 speed for those games. There aren’t 50 players in the world at 790. There aren’t five players in the USA at 790. And that’s higher than he performed for the handful of years before that.
 
Earl has played 77 games in the last year against opponents rated over 800. And he has an overall winning record for those games. Opponents include Van Boening, Shaw, Feijen, and Kaci. That’s right, he is 39 wins, 38 losses against these over-800 players in the last year in games played at Turning Stone, World Pool Masters, and International 9-Ball Open.
 
Earl just last week performed at 850-speed for over 100 games en route to his second-place finish at Turning Stone, with a 9-8 win over Thorsten Hohmann, a 9-1 win over Jayson Shaw, and a 9-5 win over Shane Van Boening before losing 11-13 to Shane in the finals (aggregate 20 – 18 against Shane).
 
How does this stellar performance comport with the lackluster results noted above?
 
We should all recognize that with the deep fields being amassed for these major events, anybody can go two & out or fail to advance to an elimination phase or lose in the first round of the elimination phase without it signaling a decline in his or her game. At the US International 9-Ball Open for instance, Earl lost 11-8 to Niels Feijen and 11-9 to Alexander Kazakis. That can happen to anybody no matter how strong and no matter how in stroke.
 
At the US Open 9-Ball, following an 11-2 win over Pedro Botta of Florida (653), earl lost 10-11 to Dennis Hatch (775) and 10-11 to Erik Hjorliefson (748). Anytime a top player loses a match in a hill-hill situation, that player was just one roll away from prevailing in that match and then winning who knows how many more. FargoRate sees these three matches as 55 games played at 773 speed, nothing out of the ordinary for a top US player, just not distributing the wins in a way that advances in the tournament. Move along. Not much to see here. This in part is why performance ratings contain more information than do tournament finish positions. And ratings based on more games are more predictive than are tournament outcomes.
 
Earl Strickland’s Fargo Rating is now 784. That puts him at world number 64. And in the USA he is behind only Van Boening, Dechaine, Bergman, and Woodward.
 
And speaking of Dechaine, yes the window salesperson from Maine does still play and has also logged about 600 games in the last two years performing at 803 speed for those games.
 
So wipe up your coffee and let us know on facebook.com/fargorate what you think. Would you like to see Strickland play more? How about Dechaine? Would you like to see him play more? Is celebrating excellence a thing?
 
(This article originally appeared on the Fargorate Blog at http://www.fargorate.com/fargorateblog/archive/earl-strickland/)

Burgos goes undefeated to take Sunshine State Pro Am Tour stop

(l to r): Anthony Meglino, Jose Baez & Julio Burgos

On the weekend of July 13-14, Julio Burgos added a sixth cash payout to his page in the AZBilliards database, dating back to January, 2018. It was his third entry as a tournament winner, having won a stop on the AllOutPool Tour in June of last year, and a stop on the J. Pechauer Southeast Open 9-Ball Tour in January of this year. His third tournament win, an undefeated run through a field of 64 entrants at the $1,300-added, 8-ball Bar Box Open on the Sunshine State Pro Am Tour, was hosted by Racks Billiards and Sports Bar in Sanford, FL.
 
Burgos launched his run to a third tournament win against Mike Delawder, downing him 6-4. He then defeated George Saunders 6-2, Bobby Garza 6-1 and Anthony Meglino 6-3 to draw Nathan Rose in one of the winners’ side semifinals. Jose Guerra Baez, in the meantime, searching for his first tour win took a path to the hot seat that went through Julio Delpozo 6-2, Ameet Kukadia 6-4, and two straight double hill wins, over Milton Strack and David Singleton, to arrive at his winners’ side semifinal match against Ricardo Joel Rodriguez.
 
Burgos and Baez advanced to the hot seat match on the heels of two, double hill matches that sent Rose and Rodriguez to the loss side. It was Burgos’ double hill match of the tournament. It was Baez’ third straight double hill win. Burgos claimed the hot seat with a 6-2 win over Baez and waited on his return.
 
Over on the loss side, Rose picked up Chris Gentile, who’d defeated Chad Rhodes and Bobby Garza, both 4-2, to reach him. Rodriguez drew Meglino, who, following his defeat at the hands of Burgos, had shut out Serafin Serrano and eliminated Kim Dyer, double hill (4-3).
 
Rose and Gentile locked up in a double hill fight that eventually sent Gentile home and Rose to the quarterfinals. Meglino, in the meantime, gave up only a single rack to Rodriguez and joined Rose in the quarterfinals. Meglino took the quarterfinal match 4-2 over Rose, and then had his four-match, loss-side winning streak snapped by Baez 4-1 in the semifinals.
 
With Burgos looking to chalk up his third win of six cash payouts and Baez already at his best finish, to date, and looking for his first major tour win, the finals had a lot at stake for both of them. Burgos completed his undefeated run, downing Baez 8-5 to claim the event title.
 
Tour director Janene Phillips thanked Racks’ owners Anthony Digiacomo and Pedro Botta, as well as Predator Cues, Kamui, Cyclop Balls, USA Pool League, Diamond Products, Stitch It To Me Embroidery, AZ Billiards and Cue Sports Studios (for the event’s live stream). The next stop on the Sunshine State Pro Am Tour, scheduled for the weekend of Sept. 7-8, will be the 2nd Annual Battle of the Billiards Scotch Doubles Tournament, to be hosted by Strokers in Palm Harbor, FL.

Rodriguez comes back to down Langford in finals of Sunshine State Pro Am

(l to r): Robbie Langford, Ricardo Rodriguez & Joselito Martinez

Ricardo Joel Rodriguez came back from a hot seat loss against Robbie Langford and downed him in the finals of the next-to-last stop on the Sunshine State Pro Am Tour, the 10-Ball Bar Box Amateur Championships, held on the weekend of November 17-18. It was Rodriguez’ second win of the season, having defeated top-rated Sunshine State Pro Am veteran Dale Stanley in the finals of an event back in March. This most recent, $2,000-added event drew 84 entrants – 67 men and 17 women & juniors –  to Rack’s Sports Bar & Billiards in Sanford, FL.
 
Rodriguez and Langford trod similar, though not identical paths to the winners’ side semifinals, facing challengers who chalked up about five racks against them, on average. Rodriguez drew Moe Fattah in his winners’ side semifinal match. Langford faced Chris Gentile.
 
Rodriguez improved his game winning average by shutting Fattah out, as Langford advanced to face him in the hot seat match with a 9-6 win over Gentile. Langford claimed the hot seat 9-5 and waited for Langford to get back from the semifinals.
 
Gentile ran into Joselito Martinez on the loss side, who’d been sent over by Langford in the fourth round and was in the midst of a six-match, loss-side winning streak that would take him as far as the semifinals. He’d most recently defeated Jason Sheerman 7-2 and Bobby Conner, Jr. 7-1. Fattah picked up Donny Branson, making his own five-match, loss-side mark that included recent wins over Eric Roberts 7-1 and Mike Griffin 7-4.
 
Fattah downed Branson, double hill, and in the quarterfinals, facEd Martinez, who’d eliminated Gentile 7-4. Martinez then defeated Fattah 7-4 and was a single match away from a re-match against Langford. Rodriguez spoiled his bid for that re-match, defeating him 10-6 in the semifinals to earn his own re-match.
 
Happy with his score in the semifinals, Rodriguez opted to repeat it in the finals. He defeated Langford 10-6 to earn his second 2018 Sunshine State Pro Am title and become the 2018 10-Ball Bar Box champion.
 
Eric Roberts took home some cash as the event’s top finishing junior. Nikki Cuellar and Jessica Barnes did, as well, as they shared rewards in a tie for top finishing female.
 
Tour directors Janene Phillips and Bobby Garza thanked Rack’s owners Pedro Botta and Anthony Digiacomo and their staff, as well as Seminole Harley Davidson, Cyclop Balls, Diamond, Kamui, Jacksonville Roofing, Inc., Play the Game Clothing Co., Bill Katchusky Photography, Alvin Nelson and Inside Pool. The next stop on the Sunshine State Pro Am Tour, scheduled for December 1-2, will be the tour’s season finale, hosted by Park Ave. Billiards in Orange Park, FL.