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DeLawder goes undefeated to win Sunshine State Predator ProAm Tour season finale

Anthony Meglino, Romeo Brown and Mike DeLawder

Hall and Meglino split top prizes on added One Pocket event

In only his second cash finish on the 2022 Sunshine State Predator Pro Am Tour this past weekend (Nov. 26-29), Mike DeLawder went undefeated through a field of 70 entrants to claim the tour’s season finale, its $2,500-added 9-Ball Championships, hosted by Racks Billiards in Sanford, FL. This year’s tour finale added a $1,000-added One Pocket event which drew 21 entrants to the same location and saw Justin Hall and Anthony Meglino split the top two prizes.

The One Pocket tournament started a couple of hours before the 9-Ball Championships on Saturday, and finished after them, at around 3 a.m. on Monday morning, when, after a 4-hour, 46-minute semifinal, Meglino and Hall opted out of a final match and chose to split the money. 

Justin Hall made it to his One Pocket winners’ side semifinal match without giving up a rack, shutting out Raymond Linares, George Saunders and Ricardo (Joel) Rodriguez to pick up Can Salim. From the other end of the bracket, Meglino got by his first two opponents the same way (shutout), before Shannon Fitch put up a double hill fight in their winners’ side quarterfinal. Meglino advanced to draw Manuel Montas.

Meglino shut Montas out, as Hall was giving up his first rack of the tournament to Salim. In what would prove to be the defining match of the One Pocket event, Hall downed Meglino 3-1 and claimed the hot seat. 

On the loss side, Salim picked up Fitch, who’d followed his loss to Meglino with a shutout win over Saunders and a double hill win over Mike DeLawder. Montas drew Kyle Bova, who’d lost his opening round match to Meglino and went on a five-match, loss-side streak that would take him as far as the quarterfinals. He’d recently eliminated Rodriguez, double hill, and shut out Greg Pugh.

Bova shut out Montas and in the quarterfinals, faced Salim, who’d defeated Fitch 3-1. Salim ended Bova’s winning streak by shutting him out in the quarterfinals, before he and Meglino embarked on their epic, double-hill, semifinal struggle for a spot in the finals. Meglino finally closed it out. He and Hall, who would, as occupant of the hot seat at the time, become the event’s official winner, agreed to split the top two cash prizes, as the Sunshine State Predator Pro Am Tour concluded its Thanksgiving Day weekend season finale a few hours before dawn.

Anthony Meglino and Justin Hall

DeLawder faces Meglino in hot seat match of 9-Ball Championships

The dual events occurred more or less simultaneously over the weekend and the much-larger 9-Ball Championships featured many of the 21 entrants competing in One Pocket, among them the top three finishers from that event; Justin Hall, Anthony Meglino and Can Salim. Meglino would battle Mike DeLawder for the hot seat and finish in 3rd place, while Hall and Salim finished 13th and 9th, respectively.

DeLawder’s path to the winners’ circle, after an opening round bye, went through Mike Deere, Manuel Montas, Monthep (Bee) Hongsyok and David Grossman before running into Tommy Kennedy in one of the winners’ side semifinals. Meglino, in the meantime (also following a bye), advanced through Ross Webster, Vincent Cardonia, Jesse Link, and (blissfully unaware of the four+ hour match they’d be playing later), Can Salim to arrive at his winners’ side semifinal against Serafin Serrano. Ramel (Romeo) Brown, who would challenge DeLawder in the finals, would win his first three matches before being sent to the loss side by Kennedy 9-2 in one of the winners’ side quarterfinals.

With a single “bead on the wire” in a race to 9, DeLawder defeated Kennedy 8-8. Meglino joined him in the hot seat match after defeating Serrano 9-5. With that same single “bead on the wire,” DeLawder claimed the hot seat over Meglino 8-3.

On the loss side, Brown, en route to the finals, was in the midst of his five-match, loss-side winning streak and had followed his loss to Kennedy with wins over Lee Heuwagen 5-4 (Heuwagen racing to 7) and David Singleton 7-5, before picking up Serrano. Kennedy drew George Saunders, who was working on his own modest, four-match, loss-side streak having recently eliminated Ricardo (Joel) Rodriguez, shutting him out, and Greg Pugh, Jr. 6-2.

Brown finished Serrano’s 9-ball campaign 7-3, while Saunders was busy doing likewise to Kennedy 5-3. Brown and Saunders battled to double hill in the quarterfinals that followed, Brown advancing to the semifinals against Meglino, who, at the time, was looking to get his first shot in the finals of both events. Brown spoiled that party 7-3 and turned to face DeLawder.

In the final, it was Brown who carried the single “bead on the wire” in a race to 11 against DeLawder. They battled to double hill before DeLawder completed his undefeated run 11-9 to claim the event title.

Tour directors Janene Phillips and Bobby Garza thanked all who attended, watching and/or playing/supporting the event, along with Jana Dixon and Rob McLaren for their assistance. They also thanked the ownership and staff at Rack’s for their hospitality, along with title sponsor Predator Cues, Jamison Daniels, Kamui, Stitch It To Me Embroidery, Dr. V’s Custom Shop, Central Florida USA Pool League and AZBilliards. Added thanks were extended to Garza with Lights Out Streaming and Jacksonville Roofing, USA. 

“We’d like to thank everyone for their continued support,” wrote Phillips and Garza in their tour information e-mail. “We will see you all in February for our season opener at Stroker’s in Palm Harbor, FL.”

When it becomes available, further information about the Sunshine State Predator Pro Am Tour’s 2023 schedule can be found on the tour’s listing, here on the AzBilliards website.

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Yapp wins 9-ball and 10-ball events at $10K-added, 3rd Annual Meucci Classic

Silviana Lu and Aloysius Yapp

Silviana Lu wins Ladies 9-ball

Yep, Yapp won ‘em both. And his girlfriend, Silviana Lu won the other one. 

The 3rd Annual Meucci Classic at Racks Billiards Sports Bar & Grill in Sanford, FL this past weekend (Nov. 10-13) gave Singapore’s Aloysius Yapp his third and fourth 2022 event victory, which added to his already-best (recorded with us) earnings year since we recorded his first two cash winnings in September of 2012, a week apart; a 17th place finish at the Party Poker World Cup of Pool in Quezon City in the Philippines (won by Mika Immonen) and a week+ later, a 33rd place finish at the China Open in Shanghai (won by Dennis Orcollo). 

So, the Meucci Classic was nowhere near his first rodeo. By the same token, Yapp’s presence outside of a fairly consistent group of world-travelling pool professionals had him flying under a lot of the US pool-playing radar until he showed up in the finals of the 2021 US Open 9-Ball Championships in Atlantic City and battled in the finals (unsuccessfully) against Carlo Biado. He became a much more consistently-present figure for the rest of the year, with appearances in (among others) the American 14:1 Straight Pool Championships (9th), the International 9-Ball Open (17th), the International Open’s Big Foot 10-Ball (3rd behind Joshua Filler and Mika Immonen) and a win on the Predator US Pro Billiard Series in Battle Creek, Michigan.

He’s cashed in 19 events this year, winning four of them, runner-up in two and 3rd in three. He won this year’s Michigan Open and the Sandcastle Open before heading to the eastern shores of Virginia where he finished 9th at this year’s International Open 9-Ball tournament and was 3rd for the second time at the Big Foot 10-Ball event; this time, behind the juggernaut known as Fedor Gorst and Joshua Filler. He shuffled off to Sanford, FL last weekend, where he went undefeated through seven opponents, downing Austria’s Max Lechner twice; double hill in the hot seat match and 9-5 in the finals of the $4,000-added, 121-entrant 9-Ball tournament.

Left in the good-company dust (among others) were Austria’s Wiktor Zielinski, Poland’s Mieszko Fortunski, Germany’s Moritz Neuhausen, Finland’s Mika Immonen, Austria’s Mario He, Greece’s Alex Kazakis and Estonia’s Denis Grabe. Lithuania’s Pijus Labutis finished the tournament with the distinction of having won the most consecutive matches, 10 of them on the loss side, before he was stopped by Lechner in the semifinals. Leading the American charge for the title was BJ Ussery, Jr., who finished 4th; an outstanding finish for the South/mid-Atlantic competitor. Also in the US lineup were local stalwarts Anthony Meglino, Donny Mills, Mike Delawder, Raymond Linares, Bobby Garza and 1992’s US Open 9-Ball Champion, Tommy Kennedy.

The 3rd Annual Meucci Classic’s $5,000-added, 63-entrant 10-Ball Tournament was a different story. Same ending, just a different story. The 10-Ball battles preceded and overlapped the 9-Ball battles, so Yapp availed himself of the six-opponent practice opportunity, with an extra ball in the game, and went undefeated. He got by Poland’s Konrad Juszczyszyn and two Americans, George Saunders and Alan Rolon Rosado, to advance to the 16-player, single-elimination phase of the event. Yapp was joined in the winners’ side advancement by Wiktor Zielinski, Bosnia/Herzegovina’s Sanjin Pehlivanovich, Dmitri Loukatos, Taipei’s Jung Lin Chan and Jeffrey DeLuna. BJ Ussery, Jr., who’d go on to finish fourth in the 9-Ball competition, advanced, as did Donny Mills. Joining them from the loss side were Adam Wheeler, Max Lechner, Pijus Labutis (who would not get the most consecutive win prize in this event), Jani Uski, Mika Immonen, Mario He, David Singleton and Denis Grabe.

Ussery would engage in the only double hill battle of the single-elimination’s first round, against Jani Uski, and it would knock him out of the 10-Ball competition. Three of the four quarterfinal matches went double hill; Immonen over Uski, Yapp over Labutis, and Grabe over Lechner. Zielinski downed Pehlivanovic 11-5.

Zielinski ‘iced’ the Iceman, allowing him only a single rack in one of the semifinal matches, while Yapp was a little busier, eliminating Grabe 11-7. Yapp claimed the 10-Ball title with a stingy 11-3 victory over Zielinski.

Indonesia’s Silviana Lu goes undefeated, winning 81% of her 37 games to claim Ladies title

In this, her first year as a cash-winning player in our AZBilliards database, Indonesia’s Silviana Lu has cashed in only two events. She finished in a tie for 5th place at the Asian Pool Federation’s 9-Ball Open, Women’s Division in August. A month later, she finished in the tie for 9th place at the WPBA’s Michigan Open. Her boyfriend, Singapore’s Aloysius Yapp finished in the tie for 17th in the former event and won the latter.

She has recorded her first event victory with us as a result of going undefeated through a field of 27 entrants in the $1,000-added Ladies 9-Ball event. And she did so by defeating her six opponents with an 81% game-winning average (30-7), shutting out half of them and not allowing any of them to chalk up more than three against her; Nicolle Cuellar, who has Florida-area tour victories and cash finishes going back 10 years to the former Flamingo Tour.

Note to competitors looking to take advantage of the increased amount of money being offered at Scotch Doubles events across the country: In addition to the Fillers (Joshua and Pia) and the Fedor Gorst/Kristina Tkach pairing, you might want to watch out for the Yapp/Lu partnership.

Lu’s trip to the winners’ circle went through Marge Soash (0), Cuellar (3), Palmoa Santana (1) and Jessica Human (1) to arrive at the hot seat match versus Jennifer Berzinski to whom she gave up two racks to claim the seat. Adriana Villar, who lost her opening match to Cuellar and won eight on the loss side (shutting out three and surviving a double hill match against Helene Caukin), challenged Lu in the finals. Lu shut her out to claim the event title.

In addition to the 218 participants in the three events (with some duplication), tour representatives thanked title sponsor Meucci Cues, the ownership and staff at Rack’s for their hospitality, Outsville, JB Cases, Carlos Sanchez productions, Fort Worth Billiards Superstore and Clutch Shot Billiards Apparel.

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Round One of Pat Fleming’s International Open 9-Ball Tournament in the books

Some expected and not-so expected advances highlight Day One of the 128-entrant 9-ball event  

Surprises?

At the level of talent on display at this week’s (Oct. 28-Nov. 5) International Open in Norfolk, VA, it’s hard to single out any one match in the event’s opening round of play and call the result a surprise. One’s reaction to a given result will depend largely on an individual’s perception of the players involved and their own sense of how a match between them would play out. This, in turn, might reveal more about the person being surprised (or not) than it might about the match result.

As a random example from the International Open’s first event of the week, the $10,000-added One Pocket tournament won by T-Rex (Tony Chohan; see story elsewhere in our News). If you haven’t already seen the results, imagine the semifinal match between Sky Woodward and Fedor Gorst, won by Woodward. Surprised? 

Round one of the Open’s $50,000-added, 128-entrant 9-Ball tournament is over. We offer a short and not comprehensive list of matches from the round, and without looking it up through our links to the bracket, pick a winner, find the result and then determine whether it’s a surprise to you. An indication (J) identifies the player as a junior competitor. Results at the end of the report.

Tapei’s Hsieh Chia-Chen vs. Switzerland’s Dimitri Jungo (winner of last week’s American Straight Pool Championships in Virginia Beach)? Jesus Atencio vs. (J) Kashton Keeton? Earl Strickland vs. Taipei’s Hsuan Wei Kuo? Brandon Shuff vs. Russia’s Kristina Tkach, crowned as the Women’s 2022 Straight Pool Champion last week in Virginia Beach? Hunter Lombardo vs. Shane Wolford? BJ Ussery, Jr. vs. Chris Rienhold? Corey Deuel vs. Sharik Sayed? Poland’s Mieszko Fortunski (semifinalist at the Straight Pool Championships) vs. Matt Krah? Vietnam’s Brian Vu vs. (J) Payne McBride? Justin Martin vs. Lukas Fracasso-Verner (former J)? 

Among those whose victories in the opening round were not likely have been a surprise to anybody were: Jayson Shaw’s win over John Francisco, Spain’s David Alcaide (the last piece added to Europe’s Mosconi Cup team puzzle), who defeated USA’s Sullivan Clark 10-6, Sky Woodward’s victory (albeit, double-hill victory) over Italy’s Francesco Candela, Fedor Gorst’s win over Curucao’s Bryan Farah 10-7 and Joshua Filler’s shutout victory over USA’s Christopher Pyle. There are, of course, others who have advanced on the winners’ side, which, for purposes of brevity, we’ll restrict to those not listed above who are among the top 10 in our Money Leaderboard: Spain’s Francisco Sanchez-Ruiz, Greece’s Alex Kazakis, Austria’s Albin Ouschan and the Philippines’ Roberto Gomez.

Among the key matchups highlighting Round Two today (Tuesday, Nov. 1) will be 6 p.m. battles between Alex Kazakis and veteran US competitor Raymond Linares, junior competitor Joey Tate’s matchup against Kuwait’s Abdullah Alyousef, Sanchez-Ruiz versus Justin Martin,  Roberto Gomez against Alex Pagulayan and junior competitor Payne McBride taking on Straight Pool Championship runner-up, Mieszko Fortunski. At 8 p.m., Albin Oushcan will take on Thorsten Hohmann, David Alcaide faces Josh Roberts, Hungary’s Vilmos Foldes will go up against Taipei’s Ko Pin Yi, and the winner of the Strickland/Hsuan Wei Kuo match (revealed below) versus Taipei’s Hsieh Chia-Chen (all 8 p.m.). At 10 p.m., Round Two’s winners’ bracket will continue with Tony Chohan against last week’s Straight Pool Championship runner-up Wiktor Zielinski, Jayson Shaw will meet the winner of the Shuff/Tkach match (revealed below), Ralf Souquet will go up against BJ Ussery, Alex Pagulayan will take on Roberto Gomez and Sanchez-Ruiz will battle Justin Martin. 

(‘Surprise?’ results from above: Junior competitor Kashton Keeton defeated Jesus Atencio 10-6,  Strickland got by Wei Kuo 10-5, Taipei’s Chia-Chen sent Dimitri Jungo to the loss side 10-7, Shuff beat Tkach 10-8, Lombardo over Wolford 10-6. Ussery over Reinhold 10-9, Sayed downs Deuel 10-6, Fortunski gets by Krah 10-7, Junior competitor Payne McBride defeats Brian Vu 10-2 and Justin Martin moves on with a double hill win over Lukas Fracasso-Verner.) 

Fans can watch not only the featured table with full commentary, but also any other table at the event with the Accu-Stats PPV coverage. They can also follow all of the action online with real-time scoring and online brackets all week long.

PPV Coverage
One Pocket Stage One Online Brackets
One Pocket Stage Two Online Brackets
Big Foot 10-Ball Brackets
9-Ball Brackets
Real Time Scoring

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Patsura & Muramatsu Take Texas Open 9 Ball

Vitaliy Patsura

Over the past weekend, the grand finale of the 49th Annual Texas Open 9 Ball Championships took place. Hosted by owners Kim and Tracy Sanders, Skinny Bob’s Billiards in Round Rock, TX was the place to be!

The $20,000 added 9 Ball Open had an entry fee of $200. The double elimination event was races to nine and winner breaks. Using a template rack, the nine was racked on the spot with three point rule in effect. 

After the players auction, the brackets were posted and play began.

Using eighteen Diamond tables, the 128 player field was whittled down by Sunday to the final 32. A second players auction was held and when it was over, the action resumed. 

Two players battled their way through the very tough field to the hot seat match – Ukraine’s Vitaliy Patsura and BCA Hall of Famer Alex Pagulayan. 

On his way to the hot seat match, Patsura thumped Raymond Linares 9-2 and Jay McGovern 9-1 and defeated Justin Espinosa 9-5, Nathan Wallace 9-7 and Jesus Atencio 9-6 before eking out a win over John Morra 9-8.

In the bottom portion of the bracket, Pagulayan defeated Clint Palaci 9-5, Brian Sanders 9-5, skunked Gordon Vanderveer 9-0, blistered fellow Filipino and day’s old Texas Open One Pocket champ Roberto Gomez 9-2 and Robert Frost 9-3. He then sent Josh Roberts to the one loss side with a score of 9-5.

In dead punch, the hot seat match saw Patsura claim his seat in the finals with a 9-5 victory over Pagulayan.  Alex headed to west to await an opponent. 

Over on the one loss side, Josh Roberts kept Jesus Atencio in his chair with a 9-4 win. John Morra eliminated the always tough Naoyuki Oi 9-5. Both Atencio and Oi finished 5th-6th.

Morra was ahead with a 5-3 lead until Roberts stepped on the gas. Tied at seven apiece, Josh won the last two games and took the win 9-7. John finished in fourth place. 

The Alex Pagulayan-Josh Roberts match began – each player looking to get into the finals. Alex leaped out to a 5-1 advantage but here came Josh! He tied it up at five games each!

Alex won the next three games to reach the hill 8-5. But then, here came Josh again to take the next two games! Alex decided to finish it right there and took the match 9-7. He moved on to the finals leaving Josh in third place. 

As this event was true double elimination, Pagulayan would have to defeat Patsura twice to win the tournament. 

Alex won the first game and Vitaliy won the next three. Then he started to really pull ahead – 5-2, 6-2, 7-3 and to the hill he went. Alex managed to win one more game and then Vitaliy ran out to claim the title!!!

While the main event was going on, Sky Woodward took the $500 added Banks Ring Game mini over Raed Shabib and Sakura Muramatsu defeated Jennifer Kraber to win the Ladies Ring 9 Ball Game! Congratulations to both!

Sakura Muramatsu

The $3,500 added Ladies 9 Ball Division had a full field of 32 players with races to seven. 

After several matches, room owner Kim Sanders and last year’s third place finisher Sakura Muramatsu battled for the hot seat. Sakura cruised to a 7-3 win to claim her spot in the finals. 

Kim was sent to the west side to await the victor of the Jennifer Kraber-Michelle Cortez match. Michelle prevailed 7-5 leaving Jennifer in fourth place.

Cooling her heels waiting for an opponent didn’t seem to faze Sanders any as she took the match over Cortez 7-4. Michelle finished in third place.

As this was also true double elimination, Sanders would have to defeat Muramatsu twice to win the tournament but it was not to be – Sakura won the final match 7-3. 

Congratulations to Vitaliy and Sakura for becoming the 2022 Texas Open 9 Ball Champions! Great tournament, Alex and Kim! 

And, thanks again to everyone at Skinny Bob’s for a first class event! Big thanks to the local sponsors – they included Diamond Billiard Products, GAF, Hanshew Custom Cues, Sanders Roofing & Exteriors, ABC Supply, Sionis, Aramith and Mints Amusements.

Thanks to Tournament Director Jason Hill for an exemplary job juggling multiple events. 

We’d also like to thank Scott Rabon, Larry Schwartz, Raymond Linares and Ray Hansen for their excellent commentary.

And, as always, PoolActionTV would like to thank our fans and sponsors! They include JB Cases, Hanshew Jump Cues, EnviroAssessments, Lomax Custom Cues, Aramith, Simonis, Diveney Cues, Diamond Billiard Products, Durbin Custom Cues, the Action Palace of Dayton, OH and the Fort Worth Billiards Superstore of Fort Worth, TX. 

 

Our next event is the Ten Ball Champions Challenge featuring Roberto Gomez and John Morra! Held at Railyard Billiards & Sports Pub in Louisville, KY, this is going to be great! Dates are September 9th-11th! Hope to see you there!!!

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Linares and Seaver Sisters Win in Bradenton

David Singleton, Raymond Linares and Lee Heuwagen

Livingston’s Billiards in Bradenton Florida was the place to be on July 23rd if you wanted to watch top level pool as the Sunshine State Predator Pro/Am Pool Tour held a 44 player open event as well as a 23 player open ladies event. 

When all of the balls had been pocketed early Sunday morning, it was Raymond Linares standing undefeated in the open event. Linares had wins over Juan Trevino, Dawson Kleist, Alec Saputo, Randal McLuckie and Desi Derado to get to the hot-seat match, where he had to face David Singleton. 

Singleton took advantage of a first round bye, and then defeated Joseph Holler, Justin McNulty, Will Smith and Donny Mills. 

Linares took the hot-seat with a 7-3 win over Singleton. 

On the one loss side, Lee Heuwagen was on a tear. Heuwagen had lost his first match of the day to Mike Mathieu 7-3, but wasn’t going to let that stop him. Heuwagen won six straight on the one loss side, without allowing an opponent to even get to the hill against him. That winning streak was only slowed down when Donny Mills got to hill-hill before Heuwagen sent him home in 4th place. Heuwagen then made quick work of Singleton in the semi-final match 5-1. 

The final match was an extended race to 9 that didn’t get started until early Sunday morning. Heuwagen looked to have things well under control as he raced to an early lead, but Linares fought back to win the match 9-7. 

Vanessa and Jeannie Seaver with Kimberly Housman

While the open event was crowning its champion, the Open Ladies Event came down to a sisterly split between Jeannie and Vanessa Seaver. Both players went undefeated until they faced each other for the hot-seat. Jeannie won that match 7-1, but Vanessa was right back in the finals after a 5-2 win over Kimberly Housman in the semi-finals. Instead of duking it out one more time in the finals, the Seaver sisters agreed to split first and second place. 

Tour operators sent out their thanks to Livingston Billiards owners Jesse and Teresa Marlow, as well as tour sponsors Predator Group, Kamui Brand, Diamond Billiard Products, Stitch It To Me Embroidery, Central Florida USA Pool League and Jamison Daniels. 

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Meglino/Mills at it again in Florida; Meglino, undefeated, wins Capone’s Firecracker Open

Anthony Meglino (Photo courtesy 1801 Photography)

Hale takes two out of three over Black (4th in Open event) to win concurrent Amateur event

The last time Anthony Meglino and Donny Mills met in the finals of an event, they did it twice. At the Stroker’s Spring Classic in March, Mills went undefeated, downing Meglino in the hot seat and final of a 9-Ball event on a Saturday, while Meglino came back from a hot seat loss to defeat Mills in the final of a 10-Ball event on Sunday. They almost met in the finals of the Sunshine State Pro Am Tour’s dual tournaments during the tour’s 5th anniversary just ahead of the 4th of July in 2021. They met in the hot seat match, which Meglino won, but Kyle Bova (who’d already won the concurrent 9-ball event) defeated Mills in the semifinals to spoil the rematch. This past July 4th weekend, under the auspices of the Florida Pool Tour, they did it again, meeting in the hot seat and finals of Capone’s Firecracker Open. Going undefeated, Meglino won the $1,000-added 10-Ball event that drew 40 entrants to Capone’s in Spring Hill, FL.

In a concurrently-run, 650-and-under Fargo Amateur event, Gary Hale took two out of three over Ken Black (4th in the Open event) to claim that event title. The $500-added 9-ball event drew 64 entrants to the same location.

After an opening round bye in the Open event, Meglino faced what, score-wise, was his toughest opponent, Ross Webster, who put up a double hill fight to start the event balls rolling, so to speak. Meglino survived to down Nathan Rose and Raymond Linares, drawing Pedro Botta in one of the winners’ side semifinals. Mills, on the other hand, started his weekend off with a shutout over Matt Wooten and followed up by sending Will Smith and Lee Heuwagen to the loss side, drawing Trapper Croft in the other winners’ side semifinal.

Mills downed Croft 7-2 as Meglino was sending Botta west 7-5. Meglino claimed the hot seat 7-5, as well.

On the loss side, Croft drew a rematch against Ken Black, whom he’d defeated in the opening round of play and was on a seven-match, loss-side winning streak that would end in the quarterfinals. He’d recently eliminated Dale Stanley, double hill and Linares 5-1. Botta picked up Heuwagen, who’d followed his winners’ side quarterfinal loss to Mills with victories over Justin Hall, double hill, and Frankie Bourgeois.

Heuwagen defeated Botta 5-2 and in the quarterfinals, faced Black, who’d sent Croft home 5-2. Heuwagen ended Black’s loss-side journey with a shutout in those quarterfinals, but in spite of putting up a double hill fight, had his loss-side journey terminated at three by Mills in the semifinals. Meglino put an end to Mills’ even-shorter loss-side run with a 9-2 victory in the finals.

Finalists in Amateur event battle for second (recorded) cash finish anywhere

For the winner, Gary Hale, it was his first (recorded with us at AZ) win anywhere and only his second recorded cash finish since placing 13th at a stop on the Sunshine State Pro Am Tour in March of last year. Runner-up Ken Black was looking for his best (again, recorded with us) finish anywhere, since he’d finished 5th at a stop on the Planet Pool Tour in Virginia, 16 years ago. 

Beyond the standard courtesy of a ‘Welcome Back’ from fellow members of the Florida pool community, the 62 other entrants in the field were likely not too thrilled with their results on this particular weekend. They played against each other three times; hot seat and double elimination final. Hale won the first and third to claim the Amateur title.

Hale downed four opponents to arrive at his winners’ side semifinal match versus Aay Kay, while Black chalked up four on his end of the bracket, including two, double hill wins (versus Louie Black in the opening round and Anthony Fisher in a winners’ side quarterfinal) to meet up with Adam Fear in the other one. Kay put up a double hill fight, but it was Hale who advanced to the hot seat match to meet Black, who’d defeated Fear 7-4. Hale sent Kay to the loss side 7-5 to claim the hot seat.

On the loss side, Fear picked up Charles Marable, who’d lost a winners’ side quarterfinal to Hale and then, defeated Ryan Kuhlman 6-3 and Joel Vetrono, double hill. Kay drew Casey Grove, who was working on a four-match, loss-side streak that had recently eliminated Joe Gnapp 6-1 and Anthony Fisher by shutout.

Kay and Grove locked up in a double hill battle that did eventually send Kay to the quarterfinals, where he was joined by Marable, who’d defeated Fear 6-1. Kay downed Mirable 6-3 in those quarterfinals. Kay and Black were both fighting for a second chance versus Hale, waiting for one of them in the hot seat. Black took the semifinal 6-4.

Black went on to take the opening set of the finals 7-3. In an entertaining last match for all the proverbial marbles, they battled to double hill in the second set before Hale claimed his first (recorded) event title.

Florida Pool Tour representatives thanked the ownership and staff at Capone’s for hosting the Firecracker Open and Amateur events on the 4th of July weekend, as well as all of the competitors who participated. The Florida Pool Tour will hold the Stroker’s Master’s Open Championship, to be hosted by Stroker’s in Palm Harbor, FL on the weekend of August 20-21.

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Hogue goes undefeated to claim 2022 Sandcastle Open in Edison, NJ

Greg Hogue and Danny Olson

Conflict between expectations and event reality stirs controversy 

Greg Hogue of Tulsa, OK, has had two good (recorded) earning years at the tables. They stand as bookends to a 15-year pool career that began in 2006, which remains on record with us here at AZBilliards as his best earnings year. It continues with what is now his second-best earnings year, this one, thanks in large measure to his undefeated performance at the 2022 Sandcastle Open last weekend (June 4-5). The $2,500-added event drew 32 entrants to Sandcastle Billiards in Edison, NJ.

Hogue had to face South Dakota’s Danny Olson twice in this event. Olson, as it happens, is in the midst of his best recorded earnings year since he first showed up in our player database back in 2011. At the end of the Sandcastle Open, while Hogue had moved up to a career-high spot on our AZB Money Leaderboard (#100), Olson moved up to his career-high spot on the board to #72.

They met first in the winners’ side second round. As Hogue was working on an opening round, 7-4 victory over Alex Vangelov, Olson had his hands full with a double hill fight against one of the top players in the world, Jayson Shaw. Olson won that battle, only to be sent west by Hogue 7-4. Hogue advanced to win his third straight 7-4 victory, over Levie Lampaan and pick up Jonathan Pinegar (aka Hennessee from Tennessee) in one of the winners’ side semifinals. Meanwhile, Oscar Dominguez from the West Coast had been busy downing his young protege Adrian Prasad, Alex Osipov and Josh Thiele to arrive at his winners’ side semifinal battle against Raymond Linares.

Dominguez added another 7-4 win to the batch of them, downing Linares to earn his spot in the hot seat match. Hogue joined him after sending Pinegar to the loss side 7-5. Hogue sent Dominguez to the semifinals, claiming the hot seat 7-5.

On the loss side, Pinegar picked up Danny Olson, four matches into the seven-match, loss-side streak that would end in the finals against Hogue. He’d recently eliminated Mhet Vergara 7-2 and Shane Wolford 7-3. Linares drew Derek Daya, who was working on a six-match, loss-side streak that included victories over Lampaan 7-5 and knocked Jayson Shaw out of the tournament 7-4.

Daya chalked up his sixth in a row against Linares 7-5, while Olson was defeating Pinegar 7-3. Olson then stopped Daya’s run 7-3 in the subsequent quarterfinals.

Olson punched his ticket to the finals with a 7-5 win over Dominguez in the semifinals. Though Olson would chalk up one more rack than he’d managed against Hogue in the second round, Hogue claimed the Sandcastle Open title 7-5.

Old story, new day . . .

The 32-entrant field, which resulted in the promotional, expected figure of ‘$5,000-added’ being reduced to the reality of ‘$2,500-added,’ didn’t sit well with the players who showed up. Sandcastle Billiards owner, Ed Liddawi, wasn’t too happy about it either. Prior to the event, 55 players had registered to compete. By the time the event started, that number had dwindled to 32, with only two of the 23 players who did not compete, providing reasonable explanations regarding their inability to attend.  The flyer promoting the event made it clear that the ‘$5,000-added’ figure was contingent upon a field of 64 entrants and in the end, Liddawi returned the entry fees to all of the players who had submitted an entrance fee, to include some who reached out to him, in less than reasonable ways, while he was in the middle of conducting the event they had failed to attend.

In comments that surfaced on our own AZBilliards Forums, some players made the point (in a variety of ways) that financial considerations dictate whether or not someone is going to sign on to compete (entry fees, green fees, calculated travel and living expenses, weighed against the potential for winning enough cash to offset those expenses and hopefully, more). Thus, plans to compete are often contingent on there being sufficient money at stake to make attendance worthwhile. A subsequent and substantial reduction in the amount of prize money available has a way of altering the cost/benefit analysis to the point where not only might a player have to face the reality of not making any money, he/she might end up losing money.

That said, room owners, tour directors and event promoters, like Ed Liddawi, are conducting the same sort of cost/benefit analysis built on the financial burdens they have to assume when considering the creation and promotion of a given event. When, through no fault of their own, some of the math is thrown off track, then they, too, have to face the reality that instead of an event, that as planned, was designed to benefit their own financial expectations, as well as the  expectations of the players, they have to make hard decisions that inevitably impact both sides of the financial equations. Just like the players, they can end up losing money, too. 

Not an ideal set of situations for anybody. 

The debate, articulated in the Forums and in some cases, personally to us here at AZBilliards is not new and in a polarizing way, familiar to anyone who follows politics these days. It’s not enough apparently to just state a given case, it becomes necessary to demonize one’s opponents; to call a room owner/event promoter ‘greedy,’ or complain, in general, about how much ‘these people’ work toward making a player’s life miserable by ‘stealing’ from them with no regard as to what they, the players have to deal with, or, conversely, that players ‘don’t understand or care’ about what it takes to organize and ultimately run an event and are ‘only interested in themselves.’

Those are NOT quotes from any particular individuals, merely examples of the sort of close-minded debate that contributes little or nothing to the solution of a central problem that has plagued pool longer than AZBilliards has been around. Part of the problem is, of course, that there have been in the past and continue to be room owners/event promoters who are greedy, cheat players out of money and act in bad faith, caring little about the fate of the players they’re hosting at a given event. But there are also players who act out of bad faith, too, assume they’re being cheated and start with that as a premise when they engage in any sort of discussion about a specific controversy.

The specifics of this decades-old controversy, to include actual quotes from players and room owners can be found in our Forums, stretching back over the years, with a great deal of regularity. Complaining falls under the umbrella of individual and “inalienable rights,” afforded to greedy room owners/event promoters and self-centered, whining pool players alike. But you can’t paint all room owners/event promoters and players with the same brush. It should be noted, as well, that many room owners are players themselves at varied levels of proficiency (Jayson Shaw and Oscar Dominguez, who attended this event, as two examples, and Ed Liddawi, who put it on). Responsible, reasonable room owners/event promoters and responsible, reasonable players do not tend to join the acrimonious debate, especially when it devolves into senseless name-calling and baseless accusations. It is not anyone’s intent to censor the commentary or the Forum community, but it should be incumbent on individuals in both ‘camps’ to seek reasonable solution(s) to the varied and apparently intractable problems represented in the debates themselves.   

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White, Daly split top prizes on Eastern Billiards/Andy Cloth/Corner Pocket Premier 9-Ball Tour

Trenton White

It wasn’t actually the first and isn’t likely to be the last.

This past weekend (May 14-15), Eastern Billiards, Andy Cloth, Stephanie Mitchell’s The Corner Pocket pool room in Largo, FL and Jamison Daniels presented something of an official start to a series of Premier 9-Ball Tour events. Back in April, the first three of those sponsors held what they called a Shootout, that drew 32 entrants to The Corner Pocket. Won by Kyle Bova, the Shootout acted as something of a ‘proof of concept’ demonstration that led to the scheduling and eventual $2,000-added event that drew 53 entrants to the Corner Pocket this past weekend.

According to Mitchell, the endeavor is being designed as a series of independent events and though it bears the moniker of a traditional ‘tour,’ it will not be subject to traditional tour fees or any overall player-specific format; neither specifically handicapped (although the most recent event was handicapped) or Pro or Ladies events, as examples. The next planned stop on the tour, scheduled for July, at a to-be-determined specific date is being planned as a Ladies event.

Trenton White and Chris Daly, who was looking for his first recorded victory since winning a stop on the Poison Tour eight years ago, split the event’s top two prizes after the event semifinal between Daly and Kyle Bova. As occupant of the hot seat at the time, White became the event’s official winner. 

White opened his trip to the hot seat with two straight shutouts, against Wanda Crews and Cory Wilcox, before giving up his first rack (two of them, actually) to Nathan Rose and four more of them to Mike Lear. He drew Joseph Dyer in one of the winners’ side semifinals. Daly, in the meantime, went through Tom Mittnight, John Cohmer, Frank Costantino and Carlos Gomes before running into Kyle Bova in the other winners’ side semifinal. 

Bova diverted Daly’s ‘trip to the finals’ train to the loss-side tracks 6-2 and advanced to the hot seat match. White joined him after sending Dyer west 6-4. White began the race-to-6 hot seat match with a single ‘bead on the wire’ that he didn’t need. He chalked up the five racks he needed before Bova had dropped a single 9-ball.

On the loss side, Daly picked up Mike Lear, who’d followed his loss to White with victories over Costantino and Penera Mota, both 5-1. Dyer drew Rose, who’d been another victim to White’s winners’ side exploits and then, got by Scott Tollefson, before winning back-to-back matches against Carlos Gomes and Raymond Linares, both double hill.

Daly and Lear battled to double hill, before Daly advanced to the quarterfinals. He was joined by Dyer, who’d eliminated Rose 5-3. Daly earned his rematch against Bova with a 5-3 victory over Dyer in those quarterfinals. 

Though Daly began what would prove to be the last match of the event, the semifinal race-to-5, with one ‘bead on the wire,’ Bova’s chances of winning the match (as calculated by Fargo Rate)  were just over 50%; 52.5 to Daly’s 47.5. So, statistically, almost even. Daly gave up just a single rack as he chalked up the five he needed for a shot against White, waiting for him in the hot seat. A shot, as it happened, that did not materialize, as White and Daly negotiated a split of the top two prizes.

Tour director Chad Kosier thanked Eastern Billiards’ Gary and Ruth Lucchesi for their “opportunity to keep great tournaments alive,” along with Andy Cloth, Jamison Daniels,  Stephanie Mitchell and her Corner Pocket staff for their hospitality and Rob Charles for “priceless help.” He also extended thanks to Allen Ellison of Billiard Livestream for his effort at bringing the event to members of its remote audience.

As noted above, the next event on the Eastern Billiards/Andy Cloth/The Corner Pocket Premier 9-Ball Tour is likely to be a Ladies event, scheduled for a date-to-be-determined in July. For further information, you can keep an eye on Stephanie Mitchell’s (The Corner Pocket) Facebook page and initiate a Friend request, along with any specific inquiries. 

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Kennedy and Meglino split the top two prizes on the Predator Sunshine State Pro Am Tour

Tommy Kennedy, Anthony Meglino and Justin Gilsinan

They were the last two standing at the season finale of the Sunshine State Pro Am Tour in December, 2019 and this past weekend (March 5-6), they were the last two standing at the $1,000-added, second stop on the 2022 Predator Sunshine State Pro Am Tour, which drew 38 entrants to Cue-Phoria Billiards and Café at Winter Park, FL. Neither of the events featured a final match because at the end, reported as 3 a.m. in both cases, Tommy Kennedy in the hot seat and Anthony Meglino, coming back from a few matches on the loss side (both times), opted out of a final and split the top two prizes. Kennedy, in the hot seat, was the official winner both times.

It was, thanks in part to the pandemic, Kennedy’s first win since that 2019 event on the same tour. He’d won an event on his own Southeast Open 9-Ball Tour in August of that year. Meglino, on the other hand, had chalked up six event victories in that time frame, four of them on the Predator Sunshine State Pro Am Tour, and three of them in 2021, which turned into his best recorded earnings year, to date. Meglino is well on his way to making 2022 better than last year at the tables.

Kennedy opened his campaign with wins over Michael Anderson, David Nguyen and Raymond Linares, advancing to a winners’ side semifinal against former tour director of the New York City area’s Predator Pro Am Tour and now, transplanted Floridian competitor, Tony Robles, who, in the preceding winners’ side quarterfinal, had sent Meglino to the loss side, double hill. In the meantime, Justin Gilsinan, winner of this past January’s Florida State Amateur 9-Ball Championship, had defeated Michael McGuire, Brent Mireles and KC Donahey to meet up with Justin Toye in the other winners’ side semifinal.

Kennedy sent Robles to the loss side 7-5 and in the hot seat match, was joined by Gilsinan, who’d survived a double hill battle over Toye. Kennedy claimed the hot seat 7-5 over Gilsinan.

On the loss side, Robles picked up a rematch against co-tour director of the Predator Sunshine State Pro Am Tour, Bobby Garza, who, after that 7-1 loss had embarked on a five-match, loss-side streak that had recently eliminated Donahey 5-3 and Monthep Hongsyok, double hill. It was Toye who picked up the battling-back-to-the-finals Meglino, who’d followed his loss to Robles with wins over Orlando Dixon 5-1 and Raymond Linares 7-3.

Garza and Robles locked up in a double hill fight that eventually sent Garza to the quarterfinals. He was joined by Meglino, who’d defeated Toye 7-3. Meglino allowed Garza just a single rack in those quarterfinals and advanced to the semifinals against Gilsinan.

Gilsinan didn’t give up his potential second shot against Kennedy in the hot seat easily. He fought for it right down to the 13th deciding game, but Meglino closed out what proved to be the last match of the event. He and Kennedy agreed on the split as the sun was painting thin, early colors in the horizon skies over Winter Park, FL.

Tour directors Janene Phillips and Bobby Garza thanked Faheem Zia and the staff at Cue-Phoria Billiards and Cafe for their hospitality, as well as title sponsor Predator Cues, Diamond Billiards Products, Kamui Brand, Stitch It To Me Embroidery, AZ Billiards, Safety Harbor Resort and Spa, Central Florida USA Pool League, Jamison Daniels, Eastern Billiards and Andy Cloth. Phillips went on to thank her co-tour director Garza for providing the Lights Out Streaming, sponsored by Jacksonville Roofing and Andy Cleary for his graphics. She also noted and thanked Brent Mireles, Jimmy Antonietta and Tony Robles for their commentary on the stream.

The next event on the Predator Sunshine State Pro Am Tour, scheduled for the weekend of April 9-10, will be a $1,500-added event hosted by Brewlands North in Lakeland, FL.

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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.