ALDERSHOT hotshot Ryan Mears reckons he’s “in the mix” to win the Cuestars Championship Tour after pocketing the £140 first prize in Wiltshire.
The 30-year-old wrapped up a 2-0 victory over rankings leader Mark Lloyd in the final of the fourth leg with a 68 break
Good snookers and equalled good escapes dominated the first frame at Salisbury Snooker Club. But a rare safety error by former national junior champion Lloyd allowed Mears to pot brown, blue and pink to take the opener.
And he built on an early lead in the next with a well-taken clearance.
Mears insisted his toughest matches were against players he knows well – his dad, Ray, and his Byfleet league teammate James Cullen.
“It was a slow start,” he admitted. “A very slow start, me and my dad. It was the two closest frames I’ve had all day.
“But it picked up and was OK after that.
“My game with James in the last-16 was a big game. It’s never easy against your teammates.”
Mears, who finished runner-up to Mike Finn last season, had lost in the last-16 in the previous three tournaments but is now in second place, eight points adrift of 19-year-old Lloyd (Gosport) going into the second half of the campaign.
“I’m well in the mix now,” he said.
Meanwhile, Pascal Richard (Gosport) climbed to third place following his first semi-final appearance of the season.
In a fetching Christmas jumper, he knocked in the day’s second highest break of 73 in a 2-1 defeat by Mears.
Christian Chislett (Southampton) moved up to fourth after losing 2-1 to Lloyd in the last-four.
The 28-strong field returned 31 breaks of 50 or more. Jack Smithers (Epsom) made the highest of 78 in the group stages. And Londoner Andrew Darken recorded a personal best Cuestars break of 56 in his last-16 defeat by Chislett.
Fareham Snooker Club hosts the fifth leg of eight on Sunday, January 13.
Jack Smithers: 78, 68, 61, 51, 50.
Pascal Richard: 73.
Mark Lloyd: 72, 67, 63, 58, 58, 50, 50.
Christian Chislett: 69, 62, 58, 54, 52, 51, 51.
Ryan Mears: 68, 66, 56, 54, 51.
Adam Nash: 63.
Andrew Darken: 56.
Ronnie Blake: 54, 50.
Mickey Joyce: 52.
Lee Stagg: 50.
ROUND-ROBIN GROUP POSITIONS
GROUP A: 1st, Mark Lloyd (Stoke SC, Gosport); 2nd, Jamie Wilson (Waterlooville Sports Bar); 3rd, Lee Stagg (Salisbury SC); 4th, Stu Barter (Chandlers Ford SC).
GROUP B: 1st, Pascal Richard (Mayfair, Gosport); 2nd, Arron Smith (Selsey RBL); 3rd, Kevin Impett (Southampton); 4th, Steven Hughes (Chandlers Ford SC).
GROUP C: 1st, Ryan Mears (Sovereign, Farnborough); 2nd, Anthony Cutler (Greenbaize, Bournemouth); 3rd, Andrew Darken (Chertsey SSRN Club); 4th, Ray Mears (Sovereign, Farnborough); 5th, Zak Truscott (Waterlooville Sports Bar).
GROUP D: 1st, Jake Stewart (Salisbury SC); 2nd, Adam Nash (Churchills, Eastleigh); 3rd, Ronnie Blake (Frames, Coulsdon); 4th, Mike Trigg (Cue T’s, Marchwood); 5th, Steve Wheatland (Chandlers Ford SC).
GROUP E: 1st, Christian Chislett (Churchills, Eastleigh); 2nd, Mickey Joyce (Academy, Basingstoke); 3rd, James Cullen (Woking SC); 4th, Anthony Rice (Salisbury SC); 5th, Nick Miles (Cue T’s, Marchwood).
GROUP F: 1st, Jack Smithers (Frames, Coulsdon); 2nd, George Heatley (Woking SC); 3rd, Oliver Sykes (Chandlers Ford SC); 4th, Mark Ridout (Greenbaize, Bournemouth); 5th, James Budd (Stoke SC, Gosport).
LAST-16 (10 points): Lloyd 2-0 Blake, Smith 2-1 Nash, Smithers 2-0 Cutler, Chislett 2-1 Darken, Ryan Mears 2-1 Cullen, Stewart 2-0 Heatley, Joyce 2-0 Wilson, Richard 2-0 Sykes.
QUARTER-FINALS (12 points): Lloyd 3-0 Smith, Chislett 3-2 Smithers, Ryan Mears 3-1 Stewart, Richard 3-2 Joyce.
SEMI-FINALS (£35, 15 points): Lloyd 2-1 Chislett. Ryan Mears 2-1 Richard.
FINAL (£140/£70, 25/18 points): Ryan Mears 2-0 Lloyd.
Picture by Tim Dunkley
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Tim Dunkley (World Snooker coach)