OTTERBOURNE potter Nick Jennings says he “feels like a winner again” after pocketing £250 prize money at a snooker tournament in Newbury.
It was third time lucky for the 27-year-old in the final of the penultimate leg of the Cuestars Dafasnooker Championship Tour at The Crucible Sports & Social Club.
Jennings, runner-up in the previous two events in Fareham and London, fought back from 1-0 down to deny Ryan Mears top spot in the rankings.
“I feel like a winner again,” he said. “It’s been a long time.”
Aldershot hotshot Mears clawed back a 40-point deficit to take the opening frame with a tricky black into the yellow pocket.
But Jennings’ ability to float in a ball from distance helped him take the next two by comfortable margins.
Earlier, he wrapped up a 2-0 quarter-final victory over rankings leader Mark Lloyd with the day’s highest break of 106.
Jennings, who lost in the semi-finals of the 2011 IBSF World Under-21 Championship in Canada during an illustrious junior career, admitted he fell out of love for the game in recent years.
“I’m definitely enjoying the game a lot more now,” he insisted.
“I’ve got a cleaner mind and I feel good about myself.
“You never know, I might get some fire back and go national again.
“I wasn’t enjoying it before.”
Lloyd’s lead over Mears at the top of the rankings was cut to four points ahead of the eighth and final leg at Greenbaize Snooker Club, Bournemouth, on Sunday, March 31.
Meanwhile, Eastleigh teenager Connor Benzey, who recently chalked up his 50th century break, made the last-four for the first time.
The 17-year-old lost 2-1 to Mears after compiling runs of 84 and 85 in his knockout victories over Jack Smithers (Epsom) and Christian Chislett (Southampton).
Challenge Tour player Ben Hancorn (Bristol) edged Stuart Watson (Stratford), who is currently sixth on the World Seniors Tour, 2-1 in the last-eight before going out 2-0 to Jennings in the semis.
The 45 runners at the eight-table club for the event sponsored by Reading-based PL Auto Services returned 31 breaks of 50 or more.
Steve Wheatland (Bishopstoke) must be considered the unluckiest of them all. Taking a frame off title favourite Lloyd (Gosport) put him in line for a play-off for one of the best runners-up. But one member of his round-robin group left the club without completing his matches, thus wiping out his previous results.
For more information about PL Auto Services, visit www.plautoservicesltd-reading.co.uk.
The Cuestars Championship for the top-32 ranked players, which carries a guaranteed £500 first prize for the winner, is at Waterlooville Sports Bar on Sunday, May 12.
Nick Jennings: 106, 77, 77, 69.
Connor Benzey: 85, 84, 70, 69, 68, 52.
Dale Prout: 76, 68, 57.
Adam Nash: 76.
James Cullen: 73.
Ryan Mears: 72, 64, 55, 54.
Steven Hughes: 72.
Stuart Watson: 70, 56.
Jack Smithers: 70.
Ben Hancorn: 66, 56.
Anthony Rice: 58.
Mickey Joyce: 56.
Emin Thorose: 55
Anthony Cutler: 52, 51.
Mark Lloyd: 50.
ROUND-ROBIN GROUP POSITIONS
GROUP A: 1st, Mark Lloyd (Stoke SC, Gosport); 2nd, Steve Wheatland (Chandlers Ford SC); 3rd, Stu Barter (Chandlers Ford SC). Luke Newman (Cheltenham) withdrew.
GROUP B: 1st, Ryan Mears (Sovereign, Farnborough); 2nd, Anthony Cutler (Greenbaize, Bournemouth); 3rd, Oliver Sykes (Chandlers Ford SC); 4th, Neil Craycraft (Jesters, Swindon).
GROUP C: 1st, Christian Chislett (Churchills, Eastleigh); 2nd, Stuart Watson (Stratford); 3rd, Ian Rose (Sunninghill Comrades Club); 4th, David Rice (Salisbury SC).
GROUP D: 1st, Steven Hughes (Chandlers Ford SC); 2nd, Craig Marsh (Crucible, Newbury); 3rd, Emin Thorose (Liberal Club, High Wycombe); 4th, Pat Patel (Crucible, Newbury).
GROUP E: 1st, Connor Benzey (Chandlers Ford SC); 2nd, Ross Barker (Abingdon Cons); 3rd, Mark Ridout (Greenbaize, Bournemouth); 4th, Liam O’Shea (Jesters, Swindon).
GROUP F: 1st, Ronnie Blake (Frames, Coulsdon); 2nd, Anthony Rice (Salisbury SC); 3rd, Dan Sykes (Chandlers Ford SC); 4th, James Trump (SWSA, Gloucester).
GROUP G: 1st, Colin Norton (Waterlooville Sports Bar); 2nd, Jonjo Sharkey (Crucible, Newbury); 3rd, James Height (Break N Dish, Street); 4th, James Budd (Stoke SC, Gosport).
GROUP H: 1st, Nick Jennings (Churchills, Eastleigh); 2nd, Jack Smithers (Frames, Coulsdon); 3rd, Lawrence Cormacey (Churchills, Eastleigh); 4th, Andrew Darken (Chertsey SSRN Club).
GROUP I: 1st, Adam Nash (Churchills, Eastleigh); 2nd, Mike Trigg (Cue T’s, Marchwood); 3rd, George Heatley (Woking SC); 4th, Daniel Hall (Jesters, Swindon).
GROUP J: 1st, Ben Hancorn (Bristol); 2nd, Darren Johnson (Petersfield Bowls & Snooker Club); 3rd, Elliott Weston (Top Spot, Havant); 4th, Wasim Khan (Liberal Club, High Wycombe).
GROUP K: 1st, James Cullen (Woking SC); 2nd, Dale Prout (Crucible, Newbury); 3rd, Andrew Vernon (Sunninghill Comrades Club); 4th, Mickey Joyce (Academy, Basingstoke); 5th, Kevin Impett (Salisbury SC).
LAST-16 (10 points): Lloyd 2-0 Trigg. Jennings 2-0 Cullen, Hancorn 2-1 Blake, Watson 2-0 Hughes, Chislett 2-0 Marsh, Benzey 2-0 Smithers, Nash 2-0 Norton, Mears 2-0 A Rice.
QUARTER-FINALS (12 points): Jennings 2-0 Lloyd, Hancorn 2-1 Watson, Benzey 2-1 Chislett, Mears 2-0 Nash.
SEMI-FINALS (£50, 15 points): Mears 2-1 Benzey, Jennings 2-0 Hancorn.
FINAL (£250/£100, 25/18 points): Jennings 2-1 Mears.
Picture by Tim Dunkley
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Tim Dunkley (World Snooker coach)