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Rodriguez goes undefeated, chalks up ‘anniversary’ win on the Sunshine State Pro Am Tour

Les Duffy, Jerry Arvelaez & Ricardo Joel Rodriguez

When Ricardo Joel Rodriguez stepped to the tables this past weekend, Oct. 3-4, to compete on the Sunshine State Pro Am Tour, he was looking to repeat his performance on the weekend of Oct. 5-6, 2019, when he won on the same tour, at the same location (Brewlands Bar & Billiards in Lakeland, FL) and collected the same 1st place prize of $1,000. This year’s $1,400-added event on the tour ($1,000 from Brewlands owner, Larry Wathal and $400 from the raffle of a Predator Cue) drew a full field of 64 entrants with 16 players on a waiting list.

Rodriguez had to get by Les Duffy twice to complete his undefeated run. The two had distinctly different trips to the winners’ side semifinal when they met for the first time. Rodriguez, racing to 8, faced four opponents (Jacob Songer, Anthony Fisher, Trenton White and Marcos Bielostozky) and played 50 games, winning 64% of them (32-18). Duffy, racing to 7, faced four opponents, as well (Francisco Serrano, Joselito Martinez, Kyle Fee and Alberto Perez), but only played a total of 34 games. He won 82% of those games (28-6), bolstered by back-to-back shutouts over Fee and Perez. 

In the meantime, Jerry Arvelaez worked his way to the other winners’ side semifinal against David Singleton. Arvelaez’s trip was (statistically) about halfway between Rodriguez and Duffy; four opponents (Micah Daughtery, Monthrep Hongsyok, Jimmy Antonietta & Enrique Gamez), 40 games, a 77% game-winning percentage (31-9) and one shutout, over Antonietta. Singleton, just to complete what turned out to be the event’s top four finishers, got by Nick Lewis, Derek Laprairie, Chris Filippelli and what ended up being the event’s top finishing female, Nicole Cuellar. Singleton rounded out the percentage ‘game’ at 70%; winning 29 of the 41 that had gotten him as far as the winners’ side semifinal. 

The four arrived at the winners’ side semifinals, in game-percentage winning order as 1) Duffy, 2) Arvelaez, 3) Singleton and 4) Rodriguez. Rodriguez would, in two matches, jump four steps to win it, as the other three maintained the relative positions they held going into those winners’ side semifinals.

Singleton downed Arvelaez 8-3, as Rodriguez was busy sending Duffy to the loss side 8-4. Rodriguez claimed the hot seat 7-4 over Arvelaez and waited on Duffy’s return.

On the loss side, Duffy picked up Sam Kantar, who was working on a six-match, loss-side winning streak that was about to end and had recently included victories over Gamez 7-2 and a shutout over Cuellar. Singleton drew Bielostozky, who, following his defeat at the hands of Rodriguez, had survived two straight double hill matches and eliminated Joselito Martinez and Ameet Kukadia.

Singleton and Duffy got right back to winning ‘work.’ Singleton downed Bielostozky 7-2 and in the quarterfinals, faced Duffy, who’d stopped Kantar’s winning streak 7-3. Duffy then dropped Singleton 7-5 in those quarterfinals and left Arvelaez in 3rd place with a 6-4 victory that earned him his second shot against Rodriguez, waiting for him in the hot seat.

Duffy began the final race to 10 with one ‘bead on the wire’ and got out to a lead that at the 7-4 mark, looked fairly grim for Rodriguez. But Rodriguez fought back, winning five of the next six games to bring the match to a double hill, final game. Duffy broke the final rack into what looked like a winning layout. He played to the 5-ball and scratched. Rodriguez took the ball in hand and completed the rack to claim the event title.

Tour directors Janene Phillips and Bobby Garza thanked Larry Wathal and his Brewlands staff, as well as title sponsor The Predator Group, Kamui, Central Florida USA Pool League, Stitch It To Me Embroidery, Diamond Products, and AZBilliards. The next event on the Sunshine State Pro Am Tour, scheduled for the weekend of November 14-15, will be the tour’s Amateur 9-Ball Bar Box Championships, to be hosted by Racks Sports Bar & Billiards, in Sanford, FL.