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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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Billy Fowler is the first West Virginia State 9-Ball Champion

Herman Parker and Billy Fowler

Billy Fowler’s been collecting and recording payouts in his profile here at AZBilliards for 18 years now, since he won his first (recorded) major tour victory in Chicago on the Viking Cue Tour back in 2004. This past weekend (March 19-20), he recorded his eighth victory on the Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball Tour in the past six years; one each in ’16, 17’ and ’18, along with two each in 2019 and 2020 (his best recorded earnings year). He also became West Virginia State’s first 9-Ball champion, coming from the loss side to down Josh Heeter in the finals of the $1,000-added WV State 9-Ball Championships, which drew 68 entrants to Sonny’s Billiards in Princeton, WV.

The Open (non-handicapped) event featured races to 7 on both sides of the bracket, with a single race to 9 in the finals. Tour director Herman Parker was pleased with this first WV State Championship, as were, he noted, many of the 68 who competed.

“It was a great event for everybody,” he said.

Fowler and Josh Heeter, looking for his first tour win in about a year, battled twice to claim the title. They met first in a winners’ side semifinal, as Cameron Lawhorne and Mike Clevinger battled in the other one.

Lawhorne downed Clevinger 7-5 and was joined in the hot seat match by Heeter, who’d sent Fowler off on a three-match, loss-side trip 7-3. Heeter grabbed the hot seat with a 7-2 win over Lawhorne.

The event drew the last 12 competitors back to Sonny’s on Sunday. Fowler began his loss-side work against Cory Morphew, who, earlier, had defeated Scott Roberts, double hill, and Trent Talbert 7-4. Clevinger drew Shannon Fitch, who’d defeated junior competitor Cole Lewis 7-4 and Craig Brown, the last West Virginian standing, 7-5.

Fowler downed Morphew 7-4, as Fitch was busy eliminating Clevinger 7-3. Fowler had to battle for his advancement over the next two steps. He survived two straight double hill matches; versus Fitch in the quarterfinals and Lawhorne in the semifinals to earn his second shot against Heeter.

In the extended, single race to 9, Fowler edged out in front and kept widening a lead. He kept at it until the end, completing his championship run 9-5 over Heeter and taking the title home.

Tour director Herman Parker thanked the ownership and staff at Sonny’s Billiards for their hospitality, as well as title sponsor Viking Cues, BarPoolTables.net, Break Time Billiards of Winston-Salem, NC, Dirty South Grind Apparel Co., Realty One Group Results, Diamond Brat, AZBilliards.com, Ridge Back Rails, and Federal Savings Bank Mortgage Division. The next stop on the Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball Tour, scheduled for this weekend (March 26-27), will be hosted by Hummy’s Bar (formerly, Jack’s All-American) in Newport, TN.

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Davis comes from the loss side, and returns to NC State Open 9-Ball winners’ circle

Mike Davis, Jr.

Mike Davis, Jr. won the first three NC State Open 9-Ball championships from 2014 to 2016. After relinquishing the title for three years, to (in order) Shannon Fitch (‘17), Reymart Lim (’18) and Keith Bennett (’19), Davis returned to compete in the 7th Annual NC State Open 9-Ball tournament and in spite of having his path to victory re-routed through the loss side of the event’s bracket, returned to meet and defeat Justin Martin in the finals and reclaim the title. The $500-added event drew 43 entrants to Randolph’s Billiards in Hickory, NC.

Davis advanced through the field to draw Justin Martin in one of the winners’ side semifinals, as Barry Mashburn faced Brian Capps in the other one. Martin sent Davis to the loss side 7-4 and in the hot seat match, faced Mashburn, who’d defeated Capps 7-5. Martin claimed the hot seat 7-4 over Mashburn and waited on Davis’ return.

On the loss side, in the first money rounds, Davis picked up Josh Heeter, who’d shut out Kirk Overcash and eliminated Jeff Abernathy 7-3 to reach him. Capps drew Mackie Lowery, who’d eliminated Hank Powell, double hill, and Edwin Delacueva 7-3.

Capps sent Mackie Lowery home with some cash in a 7-5 win. He was joined in the quarterfinals by Davis, who’d survived a double hill battle versus Heeter. Davis then denied Capps a second shot at Mashburn by downing Capps in those quarterfinals 7-2.

Davis moved on to deny Mashburn a second shot at Martin with a 7-3 win in the semifinals. In the finals that followed, Davis was looking to regain a title he’d last held in 2016. His opponent, Justin Martin, was looking to break a three-year streak of being the NC State Open 9-Ball tournament’s runner-up.

Davis won his fourth NC State Open 9-Ball title and handEd Martin his 4th runner-up finish. Davis completed his run with a 9-4 win in the finals.

Tour directors Herman and Angela Parker thanked the ownership and staff at Randolph Billiards, as well as title sponsor Viking Cues, Bar Pool Tables, Delta 13 Racks, AZ Billiards and Tickler Pool Ball Washing Machine. The next stop on the tour, scheduled for March 7-8, will be a $500-added event ($1,000-added with 64+ entrants), hosted by Break & Run Billiards in Chesnee, SC.

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

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

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

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

Bill Bloom, Shannon Fitch and Ricardo Joel Rodriguez

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

Ussery dethrones defending champ Davis at 4th NC State 8-Ball Open

(l to r): Mike Davis & BJ Ussery

Mike Davis had won three straight North Carolina State 8-Ball Open titles and arrived in Hickory, NC on the weekend of September 14-15 to chalk up his fourth. His path to the event victory went off-course early as he was sent to the loss side in the event’s second round. He would win seven matches on the loss side, but in the end, it was BJ Ussery, completing an undefeated run, who would unseat him from his 8-Ball Open throne and wear the crown for the first time. The $500-added event drew 28 entrants to Randolph’s Billiards in Hickory.
 
Davis was defeated in the second round by Jason Evans, who followed him to the loss side later. In the meantime, Ussery and Shannon Fitch advanced to winners’ side semifinals versus Mike Bumgarner and Justin Martin, respectively.
 
Fitch and Martin locked up in a double hill fight that eventually sent Martin to the loss side. Ussery punctuated his advance to the hot seat match with a shutout over Bumgarner. He then downed Fitch 7-4 to claim the hot seat and wait for the event’s defending champion to finish his loss-side run.
 
After chalking up his first two loss-side wins, Davis eliminated Chuck Ritchie 6-4 and survived a double hill fight against Daniel Gambill to draw Martin in the first money round. Bumgarner picked up Jason Evans, who’d shut out Travis Worden and then, in spite of being down 5-0 to Hank Powell, came back to defeat him 6-5 and face Bumgarner.
 
Davis and Evans advanced to their quarterfinal rematch; Evans over Bumgarner 6-2 and Davis over Martin 6-4. As Ussery had punctuated his advance to the hot seat match, Davis punctuated his advance to the semifinals with a rematch shutout over Evans. He then earned the right to defend his 8-Ball Open title with a 6-3 over Fitch in those semifinals.
 
The final match was a straight race to 9. Ussery won it 9-7 to claim his first NC State 8-Ball Open title.
 
Tour directors Herman and Angela Parker thanked the ownership and staff at Randolph’s Billiards for their hospitality, as well as title sponsor Viking Cues, Bar Pool Tables, Delta 13 Racks, AZ Billiards and Professor Q-Ball. The next stop on the Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball Tour, scheduled for this weekend (September 21-22) will be a $500-added ($1,000-added with 64 entrants) event, hosted by Break & Run Billiards in Chesnee, SC.

Hall ‘catches a (loss-side) gear’ and wins Sunshine Pro Am stop with a shutout final

(l to r): Anthony Meglino, Jeremy Bell, Justin Hall & Brewlands’ owner, Larry Walthall

It seemed like such an unlikely scenario, to the point of being almost of unheard of, that we had to double check.
 
In the brackets detailing the results of Stop #4 on the Sunshine State Pro Am Tour on the weekend of May 11-12, there was reportedly a shutout in the final match. Such designations, when they show up on a posted bracket, are often ‘code’ for a circumstance in which the two finalists agree to split the top prizes, and since there is no way to indicate this on a tournament bracket, tour representatives will often write in a shutout score or a double hill score.
 
Not this time.
 
According to tour directors Janene Phillips and Bobby Garza, Justin Hall ‘caught a gear’ during his first loss-side match and went, like the proverbial ‘hot knife through butter,’ through three loss-side matches and then shut out hot seat occupant, Jeremy Bell to capture the event title. The $1,350-added event drew 64 entrants to Brewlands in North Lakeland (Tampa), FL.
 
It was also reported in the same posted bracket that the top finishing female in the event was Jeanette Lee and as that, too, seemed a little unlikely, we double-checked, assuming we would discover that another woman who happened to have the same name as the well-known female pool champion had finished in the four-way tie for 13th place. But no, it was THE Jeanette Lee, who was sent to the loss side in the second round of play by Faheem Zia and after a single win on the loss side, ran into Tommy Kennedy, who defeated her in a double hill battle.
 
Though Hall may have ‘caught the gear’ that propelled him into the finals when he arrived on the loss side, he was showing evidence of a solid performance early. He won his first two matches, against Marvin Limas and Will Smith (not the actor) 7-1. Stephanie Mitchell gave him a run for his money, but fell 7-5. Hall then defeated Robert Batson 7-2 to draw Bell for the first time in a winners’ side semifinal. He arrived at the winners’ side semifinal with a 75.67% game-winning percentage (28-9); a touch better than winning three out of every four games he’d played.
 
Bell, in the meantime, arrived at that winners’ side semifinal with a 66% winning percentage (28-14). At the other end of the bracket, Anthony Meglino was making his way to the hot seat and arrived at his winners’ side semifinal with a 65% winning percentage (28-15). He got by Angel Alvardo and Bobby Garza, both 7-4 before running into Tommy Kennedy, who battled  him to double hill, before giving way. A 7-1 victory over Faheem Zia put Meglino in the other winners’ side semifinal against Shannon Fitch.
 
Bell sent Hall to the loss side 7-3, as Meglino and Fitch locked up in a double hill fight that eventually put Meglino in the hot seat match against Bell. Meglino ended up on the wrong side of this third double hill match and headed for the semifinals.
 
On the loss side, Fitch picked up Serrano Serafin, who’d defeated Robert Batson, double hill, and Mike Xiarhos, Sr. 5-1 to reach him. Xiarhos had previously eliminated Kennedy in a double hill match. Hall drew Faheem Zia, who’d survived a double hill fight against Nathan Rose and eliminated Che Mrvos 5-3.
 
Fitch shut Serafin out and advanced to the quarterfinals. Hall, in the meantime, was digging himself a hole with Zia on the hill at 4-0. Hall stopped digging and ‘caught the gear’ at that point. Over the next 27 games, Hall would give up only three racks. He chalked up five against Zia and moved into the quarterfinals against Fitch.
 
Hall gave up a single rack to Fitch in those quarterfinals and then downed Meglino 5-2 in the semifinals. In the interim between meeting Bell for the first time and his eventual victory over him in the finals, Hall’s winning percentage had dropped by about five points to 70% (55-23), but it was more than enough to claim the event title.
 
Tour directors Janene Phillips and Bobby Garza thanked the owner, Larry Walthall and his Brewlands staff for their hospitality, as well as sponsors Predator Cues, Cyclops Balls, Stitch It To Me Embroidery, USA Pool League and AZBilliards. The next stop on the Sunshine State Pro Am Tour, scheduled for June 22-23, will be hosted by Strokers in Palm Harbor, FL.

Applebee and Griffin split top prizes on Sunshine State Pro Am season finale

(l to r): Nick Applebee, Tommy Kennedy & Mike Griffin

White and Grossman split top prizes in Amateur event
 
The season finale of the Sunshine State Pro Am tour, held on the weekend of Dec. 1-2, saw both the Open/Pro and Amateur finalists opt out of a final match. In the $500-added Open/Pro event on Saturday (the tour’s Open 9-Ball Championships), which drew 31 entrants, hot seat occupant Nick Applebee and Mike Griffin (at approximately 4 a.m.) let their first meeting in the battle for the hot seat stand as the determining title match. In the $300-added, Amateur event on Sunday, which drew 22 entrants, it was hot seat occupant Thomas White and challenger David Grossman, who did the same thing. Both events were hosted by Park Ave. Billiards in Orange Park, FL.
 
In the Open/Pro event, Applebee got by Michell Monk, Jay Stock and Jeannie Seaver to draw Bobby Garza in one of the winners’ side semifinals. Mike Griffin, in the meantime, opened his campaign against the tour’s top junior of the year, Trenton White. After defeating him, Griffin moved on to send Thomas White (official winner of the Amateur event) and Asia Cy to the loss side, to face David Grossman in the other winners’ side semifinal.
 
Griffin got into the hot seat match with a 7-4 win over Grossman. Applebee and Garza locked up in a double hill fight that eventually sent Applebee to the hot seat match and Garza to the loss side. Applebee claimed the hot seat 7-5 over Griffin.
 
On the loss side, Grossman and Garza had the misfortune of running into two competitors who’d lost their opening round matches and were in the midst of a five-match, loss-side winning streak. Garza drew Tommy Kennedy, who’d lost his opening match, double hill to Jordan Burden and most recently had defeated Asia Cy 7-5 and Cody Booth 7-1 to draw Garza. Grossman picked up Anthony Meglino, who’d lost his opening round match to Adam Saaidi, and had most recently eliminated Jeannie Seaver 7-2 and just did survive a double hill fight against Shannon Fitch.
 
Kennedy downed Garza 7-2 and in the quarterfinals, faced Meglino, who’d survived his second straight double hill match, versus Grossman. Meglino ended up on the wrong end of his third straight double hill match and was defeated by Kennedy in those quarterfinals. Looking for his eighth straight loss-side win and a shot at Applebee in the hot seat, Kennedy fell to Griffin 7-5. Griffin and Applebee opted out of the final and the Open/Pro weekend was over.
 
White and Grossman let hot seat result stand
 
Thomas White, who ended up in the tie for 13th place in the Open/Pro event, won the hot seat match in the Amateur event over David Grossman, who had finished in the tie for 5th place in the Open/Pro event. Though Grossman won his semifinal match, he and White opted out of an Amateur final, which allowed White, as the undefeated occupant of the hot seat, to claim the official event title.
 
White advanced through the 22-entrant field to arrive at a winner’ side semifinal against Aaron Sikes. Grossman drew Scott Rohleder in the other one. Grossman advanced to the hot seat match 7-4 over Rohleder, while White downed Sikes 7-1 to join him. White and Grossman battled to double hill to claim the hot seat, which White eventually did, in what proved to be his last match.
 
On the loss side, Rohleder picked up Open/Pro winner, Nick Applebee, while Sikes drew Bobby Garza (5th/6th in the Open/Pro). Rohleder advanced to the quarterfinals with a double hill win over Applebee. He was joined by Garza, who’d benefited from a forfeit by Sikes.
 
Garza then eliminated Rohleder 5-1 before falling to Grossman in the semifinals 6-2. White and Grossman opted out of the final and the Sunshine State Pro Am Tour’s season finale was in the books.
 
In addition to the two tournaments, the tour announced its three award winners – Anthony Meglino as Player of the Year, Kelly Cavanaugh as Lady of the Year and Trenton White as the year’s top junior player.
 
Tour directors Janene Phillips and Bobby Garza thanked the ownership and staff at Park Avenue Billiards for their hospitality, as well as sponsors Kamui, Cyclop Balls, Diamond, Play The Game clothing, AZ Billiards, Jacksonville Roofing USA, Inc. and Inside Pool TV. The next stop on the Sunshine State Pro Am Tour will be its season opener, scheduled for January 5-6, 2019 at Stroker’s Billiards in Palm Harbor, FL. It will include a 9-ball Amateur event and the tour’s 10-ball Invitational Tournament for its top 16 players.

Davis comes from the loss side to recapture NC State 10-Ball title

Mike Davis, Jr.

Mike Davis, Jr. won the first North Carolina State 10-Ball Open in 2015, going undefeated to claim that first NC State 10-Ball title. The following year, though he made it to the hot seat, he was defeated in the finals by Shannon Fitch. Last year, Davis won four on the loss side before he was met and defeated in the semifinals by Reymart Lim, who went on to capture the title. This year, on the weekend of July 13-14, Davis once again came from the loss side, and in a re-match against Lim in the finals, he re-captured the NC State title. Held under the auspices of the Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball Tour, the $500-added event drew 30 entrants to Brass Tap in Raleigh, NC.
 
The four competitors who squared off against each other in the two winners’ side semifinals ended up as the event’s top four finishers. Two of them, of course (the hot seat competitors), were guaranteed to be among the top three. The other two spots, especially given the competition on the loss side of this event, were up for grabs. Davis and defending champion Lim were two of the winners’ side semifinalists, while Justin Martin and the Q City 9-Ball Tour’s top winner over the past five years (JT Ringgold with 12 tour victories, including his latest, one week ago) squared off in the other one.
 
Lim sent Davis to the loss side 7-4, as Justin Martin gave up only a single rack to Ringgold. Lim claimed the hot seat 7-3 over Martin and waited on Davis’ return.
 
There were some familiar Southeast faces lurking on the loss side. Davis moved over and picked up one of them; BJ Ussery, who’d defeated Scott Roberts 7-2 and (another familiar competitor) BJ Hucks 7-5. Ringgold drew Jason Evans, who’d just eliminated Mark Ransom 7-1 and Kelly Farrar 7-2.
 
Davis and Ringgold advanced to the quarterfinals; Davis, 7-1 over Ussery and Ringgold, 7-3 over Evans. Ringgold’s effort to chalk up win #13 on this year’s Q City 9-Ball Tour was stopped by Davis, who defeated him 7-4. Davis then defeatEd Martin in the semifinals 7-2.
 
With one NC State 10-Ball title each to their credit, Davis and Lim met for a second time in the finals. The single race to 9 was characterized by some back and forth play that led to a number of tied scores, before Davis edged out in front to eventually win it 9-6.
 
Tour directors Herman and Angela Parker thanked the ownership and staff at Brass Tap for their hospitality, as well as title sponsor Viking Cues, Delta 13 Racks, AZBilliards and Professor Q Ball. The next stop on the Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball Tour, scheduled for this weekend (July 20), will be hosted by the Clubhouse in Lynchburg, VA.

Kazakis comes back from hot seat loss, downs Pagulayan in Beasley Custom Cues 9-Ball Open

(l to r): Brass Tap Billiards owner Rich Kuntz, Alex Kazakis & Alex Pagulayan (Upstate Al)

In its language of origin (Greek), the name ‘Alex’ means ‘warrior.’ Two of them battled twice in the first Beasley Custom Cues 9-Ball Open (formerly the Don Coates Memorial), held on the long weekend of June 13-17. The annual event, sponsored by and with $10,000-added by Doug Beasley, has traditionally drawn the country’s (and increasingly, the world’s) best players, and this year, was no exception. Included in the roster of 85 entrants (among many others) were last year’s winner and runner-up, Sky Woodward and Zoren James Aranas; the 2016 winner, Rodney Morris, Johnny Archer, Neils Feijen, Ronnie Alcano, and the two Alex ‘warriors’ who fought twice to claim the title – Alex Kazakis and Alex Pagulayan. Kazakis lost their hot seat match but returned from the semifinals to defeat The Lion in the finals. The event, as always, was hosted by Brass Tap & Billiards in Raleigh, NC, whose history is longer than the event itself.
 
“Back in the 80s & 90s, they’d hold Wednesday night tournaments,” said Doug Beasley, on-site throughout the weekend at his table/booth, displaying his custom-made cues. “These weren’t money-added, or anything like that. They were just weekly tournaments, and you’d see Earl (Strickland), who used to live down here, Johnny Archer, Kim Davenport and Efren Reyes (among others).
 
“The former owner of the place (Tony Coates) was good friends with Johnny,” he added, “and he’d call him up and let him know he was getting an event together. They were all traveling around (more or less) together at the time, and they’d come in here, just for the weekly tournaments, so there’s a lot of history (related) to this room.”
 
The size of the room, dominated by the tables, lent itself to a ‘small bar’ atmosphere, which, in light of the talent on display during the weekend had a way of transforming it into a ‘big bar’ event; something akin to seeing a popular musician perform in a small nightclub. Tour directors Herman and Angela Parker, who took the reins of this event for the first time last year and operate the Viking Cues’ Q-City 9-Ball Tour, run a tight ship and in spite of some common (and relatively insignificant) issues related to the room’s size, the increasing rise in temperature (as spectators grew toward the final day), and well-known personality issues, the event went off without a hitch. Herman took lead on the ‘issues’ as they arose, from navigating rule disputes, imagined and real personality clashes and the general melee of top-notch, and sometimes volatile professional pool players all in a room together, trying to win the $5,000 first prize.
 
By Saturday, June 16, the field had narrowed down to its final 12 players. Before the day was over, it would be down to six. The two Alexes advanced to a winners’ side semifinal; Kazakis squaring off against Josh Roberts (whom he’d meet and defeat twice), and Pagulayan, facing Ronnie Alcano. Kazakis got into the hot seat match with a 9-5 win over Roberts, and faced Pagulayan (the sport’s best comedian), who’d sent Alcano to the loss side 9-6. Pagulayan claimed the hot seat 9-6 over Kazakis and waited on his return from the semifinals against Roberts.
 
On the loss side, where, at this point, everyone was ‘in the money,’ there were a lot of dangerous competitors, any one of whom could have advanced to challenge Pagulayan’s occupation of the hot seat. New York’s Joey Korsiak, Brandon Shuff, Shannon Fitch (a Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball regular, who played well throughout the weekend) and Filipino Jeff DeLuna were the first to be eliminated in the event’s first money round (13th through 16th). Alcano, coming over from the winners’ side, picked up Zoren James Aranas, who’d eliminated Rodney Morris 9-6, and Tony Chohan 9-5. Roberts drew the increasingly dangerous, 19-year-old Albanian, Klenti Kaci, who’d defeated Justin Martin 9-2 and Fedor Gorst 9-7 to reach him.
 
Aranas got by Alcano 9-7, as Roberts chalked up two impressive wins in a row; defeating Kaci 9-5, and then, by the same score in the quarterfinals, Aranas. This set up the semifinal re-match between Kazakis and Roberts.
 
The room was getting a little ‘tighter,’ as humidity and a degree of oxygen deprivation was beginning to have an effect on the way the balls were rolling on the table. This, by way of an observation from UpstateAl, who along with Levi Combs, under the auspices of #LiveAction Media Streaming, was providing the broadcast for the event.
 
Roberts made the event’s semifinal match a little closer than their previous match in the winners’ side semifinals. It was a tight match, but Kazakis pulled ahead to win it 9-7 and earn (definitely earn) his re-match in the finals against Pagulayan.
 
Not surprisingly, the race-to-13, single match final shaped up early as something of an epic battle. Tied up at 2-2, Kazakis and Pagulayan moved into a repetitive (alternate) break and win sequence, that began when Pagulayan took two in a row to go ahead 4-2. Kazakis won rack #7 to narrow the gap to a single game. They repeated this win one, lose one sequence through the next seven games, until Kazakis broke through to win two in a row and create the match’s second tie at 7-7.
 
Pagulayan answered with two in a row of his own to get back in front by two (9-7), for the fourth time since rack #6. It was, with one exception, the last winning rack for Pagulayan. Kazakis went on a five-rack run that was eventually interrupted by Pagulayan’s 10th winning rack. Kazakis sealed the deal with rack #23 and at 13-10, claimed the title to the 1st Beasley Custom Cues 9-Ball Open.
 
Tour directors Herman and Angela Parker thanked Rich Kuntz and his Brass Tap staff for their hospitality, as well as title sponsor Doug Beasley Custom Cues, the Coastal Carolina TAP League, Omega, AZBilliards, #LiveAction Media Streaming (with Levi Combs, and Upstate Al commentating), and Outsville Great White Pro Chalk.   
 
The Parkers will be back at work with the Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball Tour next weekend, June 23-24, when they will hold a $500-added event at Speakeazy Billiards in Sanford, NC.