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Meglino comes from loss side, downs Delawder in Sunshine State Predator Pro Am Tour finals

Anthony Meglino, Kyle Bova and Mike Delawder

If you’re a pool player in Florida and happen to notice as you sign in to compete at a tournament that the entrant list includes Anthony Meglino, Mike Delawder, Kyle Bova and Ray Linares, you pretty much know before you’ve finished writing your name that you’re more than likely to have to face one of them, if not all of them, before the weekend is done. Initially, it’s as true for them, of course, as it is for everybody else, up to and including a fifth name, Tommy Kennedy. And after any sort of a trip on the loss side, seeing those four names in the winners’ side final four matches and knowing that two of them are about to be on their way to your side of the ‘street’ has to put something of a furrow in your competitive brow.

They finished this past weekend’s (Oct. 9-10) stop #9 on the Sunshine State Predator Pro Am Tour in the order listed above. The $1,000-added event drew 60 entrants to Brewlands North in Lakeland, FL.

Meglino got himself to the winners’ side final four with an aggregate game score of 28-9, sending Jeff Brown (2), Jay Winters (2), Alec Saputo (4) and Francisco Serrano (1) to the loss side to pick up Delawder. Delawder was the only one who had to face Tommy Kennedy, which he did after downing Ted Westlake (2) and Trenton White (5). He sent Kennedy west 7-3, survived a double hill, winners’ side quarterfinal against Todd Moir and with a 28-16 aggregate score, drew Meglino.

Bova got a forfeit-pass in his opening round and then downed Robert Batson (3) before getting into a double hill fight versus co-tour director Bobby Garza. Bova advanced to defeat Jimmy Antonietta 7-3, completing an aggregate trip to the winners’ side final four at 21-12 to pick up Linares. Linares got by Carlos Gomes (2), James Sandaler (double hill), Wesley Davis (1) and Lee Heuwagen (4) to finish his aggregate scoring at 28-13. face draw Bova.

So, in order, the four of them came to their winners’ side final four matches with game-winning averages that put Meglino first, Linares second and Delawder/Bova in a dead heat for third and fourth. 

That order and those game-winning averages changed as Delawder advanced to the hot seat match 7-2 over Meglino and Bova sent Linares over 7-4 to join him. The battle for the hot seat went, as might have been predicted, to double hill before Delawder claimed it.

On the loss side, Meglino picked up Lee Heuwagen, who’d recently defeated Brett Agler, double hill, and Alec Saputo 7-2 to reach him. Linares drew Wesley Davis, who was on a five-match, loss-side winning streak that had just eliminated Todd Moir 7-3 and Julio Estevez, double hill. Meglino moved on to the quarterfinals with a 7-3 victory over Heuwagen. Linares joined him after stopping Davis’ loss-side streak 7-1.

So the Floridian Final Four was set, with only three question marks left to determine the order of finish. The first was answered when Meglino downed Linares 7-3 in the quarterfinals. The second came in the semifinals when Meglino and Bova came within a game of double hill to eventually advance Meglino to a rematch against Delawder in the finals. Meglino completed his three-match, loss-side winning streak with a 9-5 victory over Delawder in those finals to claim the event title.

Tour directors Janene Phillips and Bobby Garza thanked Brewlands’ owner, Larry Wathal and his staff for their hospitality, as well as title sponsor Predator Cues, Kamui, Stitch-It-To-Me Embroidery, Central Florida USA Pool League, Skills for Rent & AZ Billiards. They added a ‘shout out’ to Benjie Estor and Niki Cuellar for their assistance in running the event, as well as Jimmy Antonietta and Mike Delawder for their commentating contributions to the live stream.

The next stop on the Sunshine State Predator Pro Am Tour, scheduled for the weekend of Nov. 13-14, will be the $2,500-added Amateur 9-Ball Bar Box Championships, to be hosted by Racks in Sanford, FL.

Linares goes undefeated to win Sunshine State Predator Pro Am Tour’s third stop at Stroker’s

Jason Richko, Raymond Linares and Kyle Bova

The top three finishers in last weekend’s (July 31-August 1) stop on the Sunshine State Predator Pro Am Tour, their third to be hosted by Stroker’s in Palm Harbor, FL, could be on the front cover, or at least mentioned in the first chapter of a book entitled Florida State’s Top Pool Competitors. Ray Linares topped the list in the winners’ circle, after navigating his way through a hot seat match versus Kyle Bova and a final against Jason Richko to claim his first (recorded) title since he won the tour’s Bar Box Championship back in November of 2020. This past weekend’s $1,000-added event drew 57 entrants to Stroker’s.

Linares didn’t have a rack chalked up against him until the third round of this event when he met and defeated T. Smoke 7-4. A 7-3 victory over room owner, Jose Del Rio followed, which put Linares into a winners’ side semifinal against Robert Hammock. Bova, in the meantime, had defeated Randall McLuckie, Evan Huynh, Casey Silvers, and Ke Wu to arrive at his winners’ side semifinal matchup against Edward Porter. Jason Richko, who’d won two matches on the winners’ side, versus Bill Tincher and Joe Klein, was sent to the loss side by junior player Julio Estevez 7-5. Estevez, who would end the tournament as the top junior, followed him over in the next round.

Bova got into the hot seat match 7-4 over Porter and was joined by Linares, who’d defeated Hammock 7-3. Linares claimed the hot seat 7-4 over Bova and waited on the return of Richko.

It was Hammock who picked up Richko on the loss side. At the time, Richko was in the midst of the seven-match, loss-side winning streak that would put him into the finals. He had most recently eliminated Ke Wu 5-3 and Robert Batson 7-2. Porter drew Julio Estevez, who was likely looking at the possibility of a rematch versus Richko. He’d lost a winners’ side quarterfinal match to Hammock and on the loss side, shut out Casey Silvers and defeated Joselito Martinez 6-3.

Richko downed Hammock 7-2 to earn his rematch. Estevez did his part, downing Porter 7-4. Richko wreaked his vengeance on Estevez by allowing him only a single rack in the quarterfinals that followed.

Richko then downed Bova 6-4 in the semifinals for a shot at Linares, waiting for him in the hot seat. Linares completed his undefeated run with a 9-3 win in the finals.

Sonja Chbeeb was the event’s top female finisher (17-24th). 

Tour directors Janene Phillips and Bobby Garza thanked Jose Del Rio and his staff for their “awesome hospitality and hosting the tour, year after year,” as well as title sponsor Predator, kamui, Diamond Products,  Safety Harbor Resort and Spa, Stitch it to me Embroidery, Central Florida USA Pool League, AZ Billiards & Skills for Rent. The next stop on the Sunshine State Predator Pro Am Tour, a $1,000-added Amateur 9-Ball event, scheduled for Saturday, August 21, will be hosted Q-Ball in Jacksonville, FL.

Donny Mills fights loss-side challenge from Linares to win Predator Sunshine State Pro Am stop

Raymond Linares, Donny Mills and Derek Laprairie

They are two of the more recognizeable names in the Florida pool community. Donny Mills and Raymond Linares have been ‘butting heads,’ figuratively speaking, since they both made their first appearances in our database; Mills, in 2003 and Linares, in 2009. They are both veterans of the Seminole Pro Tour, the KF Cues Tour, the Viking Tour, Tommy Kennedy’s Southeast Open 9-Ball Tour, the US Open 9-Ball Championships and lately, the Predator Sunshine State Pro Am Tour, where this past weekend (May 1-2), they met in the finals of a $1,500-added event ($500 from a Predator raffle) that drew 52 entrants to Stroker’s Billiards in Palm Harbor, FL. They missed meeting in the hot seat battle by one match, with Linares having to come from the loss side to challenge Mills in the final. Mills won it to claim his first (recorded) event title since winning Capone’s Labor Day Classic last September.

Mills, who never gave up more than three racks in any match until the final, got by Michael Xiahros, Jr. (3), Han Berber (another Florida veteran; 1), Bobby Garza (3), and Chuck White (3) to arrive at a winners’ side semifinal matchup versus New Jersey’s Desi Derado. Derek Laprairie, in the meantime, who, after an opening round bye, only gave up more than three racks once on his way to the hot seat match, got by Robert Batson (5), Trenton White (3) and Les Duffy (3) to draw Linares in his winners’ side semifinal.

Mills gave up only one rack versus Derado to get into the hot seat match. Laprairie gave up three to Linares to join him. Mills got into the hot seat by a very-popular-at-this-event 7-3 score over Laprairie.

Linares went to work on the loss side against Han Berber, who’d followed his second-round loss with six straight loss-side wins, including a double hill victory over Marcus Murillo and just before meeting up with Linares, a shutout over Chuck White. Derado drew Jerry Arvelaez, who’d followed his winners’ side quarterfinal defeat at the hands of Linares with victories over Lee Heuwagen 7-4 and Les Duffy 7-1.

Derado chalked up another one of those 7-3 wins, over Arvelaez, to earn himself a rematch against Linares, who’d demonstrated to Berber what a shutout felt like. Linares defeated Derado a second time 7-2 and then, got his shot against Mills with a 7-3 win over Laprairie. 

There’d been a baker’s dozen worth of double hill matches at this event and the extended-race-to-9 finals was the last of them. Mills closed out his undefeated run 9-8 to claim the event title.

Tour directors Janene Phillips and Bobby Garza thanked Jose Del Rio and his Stroker’s staff for their hospitality, as well as title sponsor Predator, Kamui, Stitch It To Me Embroidery, Diamond Products, AZBilliards, Central Florida USA Pool League and Safety Harbor Resort & Spa. The next stop on the Predator Sunshine State Pro Am Tour, scheduled for the weekend of June 26-27, will be hosted by Brewlands Carrollwood in Tampa, FL.

Meglino goes undefeated at Beyond Billiards’ 10-Ball Tournament

Anthony Meglino (Ryan Acosta – 1801 Photography)

Anthony Meglino has already made about half of what he made at the tables all of last year and it’s barely March. He cashed (according to our records) in six events last year; three of them at Derby City, one on the Predator Sunshine State Pro Am Tour and two at the Meucci Classics. He’s already cashed in five (that we know of) this year; two on the Predator Sunshine State Pro Am, one on the first of a Bi-Annual pair of events, held under the auspices of AH tournaments and two, at Beyond Billiards in Davie, FL. The most recent Beyond Billiards event – the Beyond 10-Ball Open Tournament – was held this past weekend (Mar. 6-7) and saw Meglino go undefeated to chalk up his first recorded win since he captured an event title on the Sunshine State Pro Am Tour almost exactly two years ago (March 11-12, 2019).

To win it, though, Meglino had to win his final three matches against the competitor who’d won the Beyond Billiards’ Super 9-Ball Open last month (Randy Epperson), the competitor who was that event’s runner-up (Tony Robles) and a seasoned Florida veteran, who’d won seven on the loss side for the right to meet him in the finals (Raymond Linares). The $200-added event drew 32 entrants to Beyond Billiards.

Meglino’s path to the winners’ circle actually went through Linares twice. Meglino opened his campaign with a 7-1 win over Steve Goulding before meeting and defeating Linares 7-4 in the second round. Meglino went on to defeat Cristian Vanegas 7-3, which set him (Meglino) up for a winners’ side semifinal match against Randy Epperson. Tony Robles, in the meantime, got by Raul Alvarez and Rick Sanchez, both 7-5, before defeating Howie Salstein 7-1 and drawing Sam Kantar in the other winners’ side semifinal.

Meglino dispatched Epperson to the loss side 7-3 as Robles, doing what he’d done in the previous Super 9-Ball Open, sent his winners’ side semifinal opponent over; in this case, Kantar 7-1. Also, as he had done in the previous event, Robles followed his winners’ side semifinal opponent over to the loss side, when his hot seat match opponent defeated him; in this case, Meglino, 7-3.

Linares had opened his loss-side campaign with a 6-2 win over Erick Poveda and then survived the first of two double hill matches he’d face, against Chris Filippelli. He went on to defeat Jhay Powell 6-3 and get through another double hill fight, against Bishop Ramcharan, to draw Epperson. Kantar, in the meantime, drew Rick Sanchez, who was also working on a four-match, loss-side winning streak, which had started when he’d been defeated in the second round by Robles. Sanchez had most recently eliminated Dror Ami 6-2 and Yusan Alvarez 6-4.

Kantar stopped Sanchez’ run with a double hill win that sent him to the quarterfinals. He was joined by Linares, who chalked up his 5th loss-side win 6-3 over Epperson. Linares defeated Kantar 6-4 in those quarterfinals.

Robles was, of course, looking to get back into the finals as he had done in the 9-Ball tournament last month. This time, though, he’d have been hoping that he wouldn’t have to share the victory as he’d done with Epperson, when they’d opted out of a final. He never got the chance. In an almost predictable double hill fight between the two veteran competitors, Linares prevailed and got a second shot against Meglino in the hot seat.

While Meglino came into the event looking to claim his first victory in two years, Linares came into it looking for his first victory in three months. Linares had yet to cash in 2021, but had cashed three times on the Predator Sunshine State Pro Am Tour last year, including a bar box victory at the tour’s stop in November. Meglino completed his undefeated run with a 9-3 win over Linares in the finals.

According to Beyond Billiards’ owner Eduardo Gomez, Tony Robles will conduct a Straight Pool Clinic at the Davie, FL location on Sunday, March 21. The event will touch upon the sport’s history, fundamentals, techniques and patterns. RSVP to secure your spot at 954-434-3487. The venue will hold another Beyond 9-Ball Open Tournament on Sunday, April 11.

Mills/Saputo win 3rd Annual Battle of the Billiards Big Dawg Scotch Doubles

Alec Saputo, Donny Mills, Kyle Bova and Raymond Linares

The ‘bait’ with this Battle of the Billiards Big Dawg Scotch Doubles event, held under the auspices of the Predator Sunshine State Pro Am Tour every year, is that a number of the two-player teams are representing a Florida pool room. It is something like a localized Mosconi Cup event, with multiple teams vying to bring the title to their ‘home’ rooms, literally.

“The great thing about this annual tournament,” said Predator Sunshine State Pro Am Tour co-director Janene Phillips, “is that when pool rooms send players, if those players win, the tournament is held at their location the following year.

“For three years in a row now,” she added, “It’s been Stroker’s (in Palm Harbor, FL).”

This year’s list of competing pool rooms included Racks (Sanford), Mikey’s Place (Plant City), Uncle Waldo’s (Daytona Beach), Grover’s Billiards (West Palm Beach), Brewlands (Tampa), Boulevard Billiards (Ocala) and Backwoods Billiards (Okeechobee). If an independent team (not representing a particular pool room) wins, the site for the following year’s event defaults to Stroker’s. The $500-added 3rd Annual Battle of the Billiards Big Dawg Scotch Doubles Tournament drew 22 teams (44 entrants) to Stroker’s Billiards. 

The event’s defending champions – Kyle Bova and Raymond Linares – who competed independently, went undefeated in 2019, were on hand to defend their title this year and did so, right up until the event’s final two matches. They were defeated in those final two matches by the team of Donny Mills and Alec Saputo (representing Stroker’s), who were the ones who went undefeated this year to claim the event title.

There was a blend of Florida veterans and seasoned pros this year. Local player Saputo picked up the seasoned pro Donny Mills and as a result, chalked up his first title ever. Another local amateur, Ronald Machado out of Orlando picked up Predator-sponsored pro Jesus Atencio and together, playing as an independent team, they finished fourth. Stroker’s owner, Jose Del Rio teamed up with Jason Richko.

Saputo and Mills worked their way through the field, winning their first three matches to arrive at a winners’ side semifinal against Joey Herron and Jon Gore. The defending champs, in the meantime (Bova/Linares), were awarded an opening round bye and won their first two to arrive at the other winners’ side semifinal, against Machado and Atencio. 

Bova/Linares downed Machado/Atencio 7-5 and were joined in the hot seat match by Saputo/Mills, who’d sent Herron/Gore to the loss side 7-3. In their first of two, Saputo and Mills allowed Bova and Linares only a single rack in claiming the hot seat 7-1.

On the loss side, Herron/Gore picked up the father/son team of Thomas and Trenton White, who were working on a six-match, loss-side winning streak that would take them as far as the semifinals. They’d recently shut out Juan Lopez/Casey Grove and survived a double hill battle versus Han Berber and Dee Meadows. Machado/Atencio drew co-tour director Bobby Garza, who was teamed up with Obbie Cirilo. They were working on a five-match, loss-side winning streak which had recently eliminated room owner Jose Del Rio and Jason Richko 6-3, and the team of Marcos Bielostozky and Jerry Arvelaez, double hill.

The father/son White team downed Herron/Gore 6-3 and in the quarterfinals, faced Machado/Atencio, who’d defeated Garza/Cirilo 6-3. The Whites advanced one more step with a 6-4 win over Machado/Atencio.

Anxious to defend their title, Bova and Linares cleared their only loss-side hurdle in the semifinals. They ended the White’s bid to hold next year’s tournament at their place – Mikey’s Place in Plant City, FL – by ending their loss-side streak at six with a 6-4 win. 

Bova/Linares put up a bit more of a fight than they had in the hot seat match, but it wasn’t enough. Saputo and Mills edged out near the end and claimed the 3rd Annual Battle of the Billiards Big Dawg Scotch Doubles title with a 7-5 victory.

Tour directors Janene Phillips and Bobby Garza thanked Jose Del Rio and his Stroker’s staff for their hospitality, as well as title sponsor Predator Group, Kamui, Diamond Products, Stitch It To Me Embroidery, Central Florida USA Pool League and AZBilliards. The Predator Sunshine State Pro Am Tour will open its 2021 season back at Stroker’s Billiards on the weekend of February 6-7. 

Linares wins seven on the loss side, meets and defeats Rodriguez in Bar Box Championship final

Joel Rodriguez, John Gore & Raymond Linares

It’s been a while since Raymond Linares has made any ‘noise’ on any of the country’s pro tours. Prior to this past weekend (Nov. 14-15), the last recorded victory for him in our database was the last of three times that he won the American College Unions International Collegiate Pocket Billiards National Championship in 2013, at the age of 26. Linares won it two years in a row (’10-’11), skipped a year, and then, in the same year that he won the APA’s Amateur Championship, 2013, he won it a third time. 

Linares was a very active participant in the Florida-based Seminole Pro Tour, prior to these victories of his, but it was during his time with the tour, and as it neared its end around 2011, that his interest started a shift in the direction of camera operation, videography and the production end of promotional material. Before the days of YouTube, circa 2008, he worked with George Torres of Video.com, at a time that coincided with his taking pool lessons from John DiToro of the Seminole Tour, who introduced him to Torres.

“John DiToro recommended him to me, as a person who could help me with entry fees if I agreed to help him,” said Linares. “George and I hit it off from there.” 

It was the start of three or four years, during which Linares carried Torres’ bags, helped him set up equipment and worked with (at the time) DVDs. It became Linares’ passion and his career. He won his first ACUI championship as a result of being enrolled in film production courses at Miami Dade College.

“Florida’s the place where that foundation was built,” he said, “and John DiToro was my early coach and inspiration.”

Pool’s loss was videography’s gain and as Linares settled into a career, marriage and a recently, a daughter, pool slipped quietly, though not completely into the background, which accounts for his limited appearances in events after about 2013. He is currently a videographer with Spectrum, a part of the company’s news offering within its cable channel operations.

A few years ago, Linares got an invitation from Mark Wilson to go and train with him at Lindenwood University. His career, being what it was, often time-consuming, he put it off for quite a while and then accepted the invitation; staying with Wilson and training. The training led, more or less, directly to this past weekend, when Linares entered a 93-entrant field for the Sunshine State Pro Am Tour’s $1,500-added Amateur 9-Ball Bar Box Championships, held at Rack’s Billiards in Sanford, FL. Linares was awarded an opening round bye, and won two matches; shutting out Donnie Lester and defeating Justin Toye 9-6, before being sent to the loss side by Chris Daly 9-7. Linares won seven on the loss side for the right to meet Joel Ricardo Rodriguez in the finals, where a nail-biting, double hill final gave him his first major victory in a long time.

It was, said Linares, not really a surprise to him, because as a result of his training with Wilson and a table in his home, he’d been working his way back into pool shape. In a letter he’d written to Wilson recently, he described a new difference in the way he was positioning himself at the table.

“I’m not sure what it is,” he wrote to Wilson, “but lately I’ve had a noticeable settling in to the stance and stroking position where there’s incredible stillness during the cueing motion.

“Likely,” he added, “due to residual effects of regular training and implementing of foundational basics, now becoming well-seasoned and embedded into normal operations.”

Well, sure. . . whatever works, right?

As Linares began his work on the left side of the bracket in this Sunshine State Pro Am Bar Box Championship, the man who’d sent him over there, Chris Daly, advanced to a winners’ side semifinal against Joel Ricardo Rodriguez, who’d gotten by Will Harper, David Angelo, Steve Wiggam, Rhyan Hunter, and Mike Griffin to reach him. John Gore and James Sandaler squared off in the other winners’ side semifinal.

Rodriguez sent Chris Daly to an immediate loss-side re-match against Linares with a 9-3 win. Gore sent Sandaler over 9-7. Rodriguez claimed the hot seat, sending Gore off 9-7 to a semifinal against Linares.

Daly caught Linares four matches into his loss-side streak, which had begun with victories over Serafin Serrano, Jerry Arvalaez and most recently, included wins over Dennis Brown 7-5 and Obbie Cirillo 7-3. Sandaler picked up Justin Gilsinan, who’d recently defeated Mike Delawder 7-5 and survived a double hill battle versus Mike Griffin.

The rematch was a somewhat predictable double hill fight, eventually won by Linares, who advanced to the quarterfinals. Gilsinan joined him after shutting Sandaler out. It looked as though there might be fireworks in that quarterfinal struggle, but it didn’t turn out that way. Linares defeated Gilsinan and semifinalist, Jon Gore 7-3.

Another predictable double hill battle ensued in the race-to-11 finals that followed between Linares and Rodriguez. After the back and forth battle that led to the 10-10 tie and the 21st deciding game, Rodriguez dropped two balls on the break and looked to have a fairly open, connect-the-dots-to-the-winners’-circle layout. Following his drop of the 2-ball, Rodriguez found that he’d under-run his position for the 3-ball. He made that 3-ball, but it was tricky enough to send the cue ball into the jaws of a corner pocket. Shooting at the 4-ball, he missed and watched as the cue ball moved cross corner, dropped the 8-ball and followed it in. Linares took ball in hand, sunk the remaining four balls and claimed the event title.

Linares had not been playing competitively until the last few months, during which he had competed and won a few small venue tournaments here and there. This event, he explained, wasn’t exactly a breakthrough for him.

“The breakthrough for me had been in my training,” he said. “Getting consistent time on the table and seeing the evolution of what I’d done in the past.”

“One of the things I noticed as the tournament went on,” he added, “was that as I was going through it, I felt like matches were not like individual matches. Instead of the highs and lows of one match following another, it was like every match was a small piece of a big match. It was very encouraging and I knew I had a chance to win it. When I get to that place, I’m liable to beat anyone.”

He’s reached two peak places this year. In addition to this Bar Box Championship, Linares also won a 2020 Emmy award for a documentary he helped shoot for Spectrum, NY, called “Northern Boulevard,” detailing the historic significance of Flushing, Queens, as it relates to religious freedom in the US.

Double threat. Look for him in the credits on your television shows and watch out for him, perhaps sooner than you think, at a pool table near you.

Tour directors Janene Phillips and Bobby Garza thanked Pedro Botta and his staff at Rack’s Billiards for their hospitality, as well as title sponsor Predator Group, Kamui, Diamond Products, Stitch It To Me Embroidery, Central Florida USA Pool League and AZBilliards. They also extended thanks to Jeffrey DeLuna for stream commentary, along with Jimmy “Hollywood” Antionetta and Rob McLaren, photos from Bill Katchuski, assistance from Jessica Ammons for running the boards, and raffles help from Leah Nusbaum and Danielle Cirillo.

Arvelaez and Martinez split top prizes on Sunshine State Pro Am

Raymond Linares, Jerry Arvelaez and Joselito Martinez

At 3 a.m. on Sunday morning, September 13, at Boulevard Billiards in Ocala, FL, Jerry Arvelaez and Joselito Martinez opted out of a final match at the 4th stop on the Sunshine State Pro Am Tour. They were prepared for one, but the venue was closing. As the occupant of the hot seat at the time, Arvelaez was declared the official winner and according to our records, it was his first major win. The $1,250-added, Open 10-Ball event ($750 by Boulevard Billiards’ owner Don Kreischer and $500 by Predator for cue raffle) drew 64 entrants.

Though the event was won by relatively new talent, the full field was not without its share of top-notch Florida (or anywhere else, for that matter) talent. Raymond Linares made it to the hot seat match. Donny Mills, Tony Crosby, James Sandaler, Obie Cirillo, and co-tour director Bobby Garza were in the mix, as well.

Arvelaez, though, went 6-0 and defeated three of those – Cirillo, Sandaler and Linares. He opened with a victory over Malcom Dodson before facing and sending Cirillo to the loss side 7-5. He survived a double hill fight versus Jon Gore, before sending his eventual and just potential opponent in the finals Joselito Martinez to the loss side 7-3, which set him up to face Sandaler in one winners’ side semifinal. Raymond Linares, in the meantime, had defeated John Souders, Justin Toye, Ameet Kukadia, and Donny Mills 7-3 to face Joel Rodriguez in the other winners’ side semifinal.

Linares moved into the hot seat match on the heels of his 7-5 victory over Rodriguez. He was joined by Arvelaez, who’d defeated Sandaler 7-3. In what proved to be his last match, Arvelaez claimed the hot seat by giving up only a single rack to Linares in the match.

On the loss side, Sandaler picked up Jon Gore, who, after his double hill loss to Arvelaez, won three in a row, including two rather significant wins over Donny Mills 5-1 and Tony Crosby, double hill. Rodriguez picked up Martinez, who’d also lost to Arvelaez, and then survived a double hill battle versus Ameet Kukadia and eliminated junior player Trenton White 6-4.

Sandaler and Gore locked up in a double hill fight, eventually won Gore. Martinez downed Rodriguez 5-3 to join Gore in the quarterfinals. Martinez ended Gore’s loss-side winning streak 5-3 in those quarterfinals, and then, like Arvelaez in the hot seat match, gave up only a single rack to Linares in the semifinal.

Arvelaez and Martinez agreed to the split. Everybody went home.

Tour directors Janene Phillips and Bobby Garza thanked title sponsor The Predator Group, Kamui, Central Florida USA Pool League, Stitch-It-To-Me Embroidery, Diamond Products & AZ Billiards. They also gave a shout out to Don Kreischer and his Boulevard Billiards staff, in particular for the effort Kreischer and John Souders put into re-covering the tables, which at the time of the event “looked and played great.” The next stop on the Sunshine State Pro Am Tour, scheduled for the weekend of Oct. 3-4, will be a $1,000-added Amateur 9-Ball event, hosted by Brewlands North in Lakeland, FL.

Cirilo downs veteran Richko in finals to win Sunshine State Pro Am Tour’s season opener

(l to r): Jason Richko, Nick Applebee & Obbie Cirilo

Rose, White and Mitchell announced as 2019 Player of the Year, Top Junior and Top Female
 
By all accounts, Obbie Cirilo doesn’t get out on the tables much. As of this past weekend, February 1-2, he’s chalked up exactly two cash finishes in his (recorded) pool career, which began, as far as we know in January, 2018. Both cash finishes were event victories and both, including this past weekend, were on the Sunshine State Pro Am Tour. His opponent in the hot seat and finals of this Sunshine State Pro Am season opener, Jason Richko, hasn’t been at the tables much recently either. He entered the tournament with only five cash finishes in the same amount of time; no event wins, but all on the Sunshine State Pro Am Tour. Richko, however, has a history that dates back 20 years to what’s been recorded in our database as his first cash finish anywhere; 13th at the Planet 9-Ball Intergalactic Open in Tampa that year (2000).
 
So. .  the newcomer and seasoned veteran battled twice in the $1,450-added event which drew 64 entrants to Stroker’s Billiards in Palm Harbor, FL. Richko won the first of the two, but Cirilo came back from a semifinal win to defeat him in the finals and claim the title.
 
Victories over Hayleigh Scarberry, Mark Nowicki, Joe Scarborough and Mitch Keiser brought Cirilo up to a winners’ side semifinal match against Nick Applebee. Richko, in the meantime, got by Gregory English, Marvin Llamas, Joselito Martinez and Raymond Linares to arrive at his winners’ side semifinal match versus Justin McNulty.
 
Cirilo downed Applebee 7-2 to earn his spot in the hot seat match. Richko earned his with a 7-1 victory over McNulty. In their first of two, Cirilo and Richko battled to double hill before Richko prevailed to claim the hot seat.
 
Applebee moved to the loss side and picked up Bobby Garza, who’d been sent over in the event’s second round and was in the midst of a six-match, loss-side winning streak that was about to end and had most recently included back-to-back, double hill victories over Linares and Llamas. McNulty drew Nicholle Cuellar, who’d been defeated in a winners’ side quarterfinal by Applebee and gone on to defeat Dave Stern 5-2 and Trenton White, double hill, in a match that featured the event’s top female finisher (Cuellar) and top junior (White).
 
McNulty downed Cuellar 6-3, and was joined in the quarterfinals by Applebee, who’d ended Garza’s streak 5-2. Applebee and McNulty locked up in a double hill fight that eventually did send Applebee to a semifinal matchup against Cirilo. Cirilo put a stop to Applebee’s short, loss-side run 5-3 and turned his attention to a rematch against Richko in the hot seat.
 
Cirilo was battling for his second victory on the Sunshine State Pro Am Tour, and only his second cash finish in two years. He completed the task, downing Richko 9-6 in the finals to claim the season opening title.
 
Tour awards 2019 Player of the Year, Top Junior and Top Female Player
 
[photo id=51590|align=right]The event also featured awards for the tour’s 2019 best players. Nathan Rose, who finished at the top of the 2019 tour standings was named Player of the Year. Trenton White, who finished second in the standings was the tour’s Top Junior player, while Stephanie Mitchell finished as the tour’s top female, 6th in the overall standings.
 
Tour directors Janene Phillips and Bobby Garza thanked Jose and Lyshia Del Rio and their Stroker’s Billiards staff for their hospitality, as well as title sponsor Predator Cues, who donated the cue, the raffle of which – won by Ethan Tinsley – added $450 to the prize fund, and $300 worth of gloves. They also thanked sponsors Stitch It To Me Embroidery, Central Florida USA Pool League, Diamond Products, Kamui, AZBilliards and Kodi Allen “for always helping to sell the tickets.”
 
The next stop on the Sunshine State Pro Am Tour, scheduled for the weekend of March 7-8 at Rack’s Billiards in Sanford, FL, will feature two non-point events. There will be an Open One Pocket event and a 9-Ball Amateur event for competitors with Fargo Rates of 600 or under.  

Bova and Linares win Big Dawg Scotch Doubles event on Sunshine State Pro Am Tour

(l to r): Bobby Garza, Mike Griffin, Kyle Bova and Raymond Linares

Event donates goods and money to Hurricane Relief effort for Bahamas
 
It was a previously scheduled event on the Sunshine State Pro Am calendar, which became an opportunity for the Del Rios, owners of Strokers Billiards in Palm Harbor, FL to contribute to the relief efforts organized for the victims of Hurricane Dorian’s wrath in the Bahamas. The $500-added Big Dawg Battle of the Billiards Scotch Doubles event, held on the weekend of September 7-8 drew 29 teams of two to Strokers.
 
“We had players from all over the state attend,” said co-tour director Janene Phillips. “From Miami to Jacksonville.”
 
Represented at the event were Stroker’s Bar & Grill, Boulevard Billiards, Uncle Waldo’s, Fat Cats, Rack’s Billiards and Sports Bar, Brewlands and Park Ave Billiards, among others. All responded to a campaign organized by Lyshia Westbrook-Del Rio. A flyer was produced that announced a “Hurricane Dorian Bahamas Disaster Relief” effort, soliciting a variety of non-perishable items, like canned goods, pre-packaged dry goods, toiletries, batteries and flashlights to name just a few. Donations were accepted for a week, and all those who donated were offered a free drink.
 
“We just happened to have a stop during her crusade,” Phillips explained, “so we wanted to be a part of it.”
 
“Between the 50/50 and player auction, we were able to donate $321,” she added, “plus all the donations that everyone brought in.”
 
There was, of course, a pool tournament that went along with all of this activity and it was won by the team of Kyle Bova and Raymond Linares, who went undefeated through the field. They advanced to the hot seat match, defeating Justin McNulty and Rolando Aravena 7 -3.
 
McNulty and Aravena had sent Bobby Garza and “Iron” Mike Griffin to the loss side in the third round of this event. Garza and Griffin won five on the loss side, that included wins over Sam Kantar and Dave Kennedy, as well as Trey Jankowski and Steve Knoll, both 5-1. They also had a successful 5-3 rematch against McNulty and Aravena in the semifinals that gave them a shot at Bova and Linares in the hot seat.
 
Bova and Linares, though, completed their undefeated run. They downed Garza and Griffin 7-2 to claim the Big Dawg Battle of the Billiards Scotch Doubles event and contributed to relief efforts for the Bahamas.
 
Tour directors Janene Phillips and Bobby Garza thanked the Del Rios “for their continuous support and generosity, not only for the pool scene, but for the community, as well.” They also thanked sponsors Predator Cues, Diamond Billiard Products, Kamui, Stitch it to Me Embroidery and Cyclop Pool Balls. The next stop on the Sunshine State Pro Am Tour, scheduled for October 5-6, will be a $1,000-added Amateur event, hosted by Brewlands North in Lakeland, FL.

Burgos goes undefeated to take J. Pechauer Southeast Open 9-Ball Tour stop

(l to r): Julio Burgos, Tommy Kennedy, Steve Voucher & Raymond Linares

According to our records, Julio Burgos hasn’t been around for long, but he’s certainly been around a lot. In his first and only year (2018) in our database of active and cash-earning competitors, he won a stop on Florida’s AllOutPool Tour, and cashed in events in California (the 6th Annual Cole Dickson Memorial), Texas (Texas 10-Ball Championship) and Indiana (Derby City Classic’s One Pocket Division). He opened his 2019 efforts on the weekend of January 19-20, when he added a victory on the J. Pechauer Southeast Open 9-Ball Tour, going undefeated, and downing Florida and Seminole Tour veteran, Raymond Linares, twice. The $1,000-added event drew 62 entrants to Rack’s Billiards in Sanford, FL.
 
Burgos and Linares advanced to the final four on the winners’ side of the bracket and faced Steve Voucher (for Burgos) and Bobby Garza, co-tour director of the Sunshine State Pro Am Tour (for Linares). On Sunday, Burgos downed Voucher 9-6, as Linares was busy sending Garza over 9-7. Burgos claimed the hot seat 9-7 over Linares and waited on his return.
 
On the loss side, Voucher picked up the tour’s director, Tommy Kennedy, who’d defeated Bee Hyzinga 7-4 (on Saturday) and Joselito Martinez 9-6 (on Sunday). Garza drew Cristobal D. Barrows, who’d eliminated Dennis Brown, double hill, and Rhyan Hunter 9-5.
 
Voucher and Garza got right back to work, handing Kennedy and Barrows their second loss; Voucher over Kennedy 9-2 and Garza over Barrows 9-6. Voucher took the quarterfinal match over Garza 9-4, and put up a double hill fight against Linares in the semifinals. Linares dropped the last 9-ball, though, and advanced to a rematch against Burgos in the finals.
 
Burgos and Linares played the same number of games in the race-to-11 final that they’d played in the hot seat match. Burgos won 56% of the games he won in that hot seat match (9-7), but 69% of the games he won in the final (11-5), completing his undefeated run to claim his first 2019 event title.
 
Tour director Tommy Kennedy thanked the ownership and staff at Rack’s Billiards, as well as title sponsor J. Pechauer Custom Cues, Simonis Cloth and Mueller Recreational Products. He also extended a thanks to Janene Phillips, co-tour director with Bobby Garza of the Sunshine State Pro Am Tour, who ably assisted him with the event. The next stop on the J. Pechauer Southeast Open 9-Ball Tour, scheduled for March 2, will be hosted by Doodles Billiards in Hinesville, GA.