APRIL Fool’s Day in Bournemouth could be interesting.
Aldershot hotshot Ryan Mears is now the front runner in the race for the Q School place on the Cuestars South of England Championship Tour.
The 29-year-old takes a 14-point rankings lead over Mike Finn into the last leg on April 1.
Mears secured pole position with a 3-2 victory over ex-professional Bradley Jones in the final of the seventh leg at Frames Sports Bar, Coulsdon.
Former world number 33 Jones had inflicted a 3-1 defeat on Finn in the last-four.
Mears took a 2-1 lead with a 65 clearance, which he described as “one of the best of my life”.
Jones forced a decider in his trademark brisk and busy style, hitching his sleeves up while striding around the table with his shoulders back like a sergeant major berating a bunch of new recruits.
But Mears secured an outright rankings lead by doubling the match-ball red into a middle pocket to complete a 50 break.
“It was a great battle,” he said. “I was chuffed to win.
“I feel even happier winning this one than I did in Top Spot (in Havant, in November). It’s the significance – and the fact it was Bradley, an ex-pro.
“I was really happy that I played really well all the way through the day.”
Turning his thoughts to the season finale in Bournemouth, Mears added: “I’m looking forward to it.”
Jones was the only player to take frames off Mears during the event sponsored by the host club. The 43-year-old from South Croydon had lost 2-1 in the group stages.
Finn (Eastleigh) recorded the day’s highest break of 110 in the deciding frame of his second group-stage match against Ronnie Blake (Carshalton).
Paul Bunyard’s outside hopes of securing the rankings title ended with a 3-1 defeat by Finn in the last-eight.
Home player Henry Eastwood (Carshalton) made his first ever semi-final appearance on the Championship Tour but was turned over 3-0 by Mears.
And Evan Plummer, a Gold Tour teenager also based at Frames, reached the last-eight on his debut. After beating Dan Sykes (Chandler’s Ford) 3-1 in the last-16, Plummer was knocked out 3-0 by clubmate Jones.
The high-quality 27-strong field returned 23 breaks of 50 or more.
If Finn beats Mears in the final of the eighth and last leg on Sunday, April 1, at Greenbaize Snooker Club, Bournemouth, the pair would be tied on points. But Finn would clinch the title by virtue of more tournaments won.
For more information about Frames Sports Bar, go to www.framessportsbar.co.uk.
Mike Finn: 110, 73, 67, 60, 56, 56.
Craig Marsh: 75.
Dan Sykes: 69.
Paul Bunyard: 65, 65, 64, 64, 57.
Ryan Mears: 65, 52, 50, 50.
Terry Burke: 61.
Bradley Jones: 55, 55, 52, 51.
Paul Ganley: 50.
ROUND-ROBIN GROUP POSITIONS
GROUP A: 1st, Mike Finn (Churchills, Eastleigh); 2nd, Paul Ganley (West Byfleet Social Club); 3rd, Henry Eastwood (Frames, Coulsdon); 4th, Ronnie Blake (Frames, Coulsdon); 5th, Marc Russell (Southampton).
GROUP B: 1st, Dan Sykes (Chandlers Ford SC); 2nd, Olly Gibbs (Chandlers Ford SC); 3rd, Andrew Darken (Chertsey SSNR Club); 4th, Martin Wallace (Crowthorne RBL); 5th, David Stevens (Frames, Coulsdon).
GROUP C: 1st, Paul Bunyard (Woking SC); 2nd, Labeeb Ahmed (Frames, Coulsdon); 3rd, Connor Benzey (Chandlers Ford SC); 4th, Oliver Sykes (Chandlers Ford SC); 5th, Elliott Weston (Top Spot, Havant).
GROUP D: 1st, Ryan Mears (Sovereign, Farnborough); 2nd, Bradley Jones (Frames, Coulsdon); 3rd, James Budd (Fareham SC); 4th, Ray Mears (Sovereign, Farnborough).
GROUP E: 1st, Terry Burke (Frames, Coulsdon); 2nd, Jamie Wilson (Waterlooville Sports Bar); 3rd, Mike Trigg (Chandlers Ford SC); 4th, Harry Jones (Frames, Coulsdon).
GROUP F: 1st, Craig Marsh (Crucible, Newbury); 2nd, Ryan Hughes (Chandlers Ford SC); 3rd, Evan Plummer (Frames, Coulsdon); 4th, Ronnie Sullivan (Frames, Coulsdon).
LAST-16 (10 points): Ganley 3-2 Burke, Eastwood 3-1 Marsh, Ryan Mears 3-0 Darken, Gibbs 3-2 Ahmed, B Jones 3-1 Wilson, Plummer 3-1 D Sykes, Finn 3-0 Hughes, Bunyard 3-1 Budd.
QUARTER-FINALS (24 points): Eastwood 3-0 Ganley, Ryan Mears 3-0 Gibbs, B Jones 3-0 Plummer, Finn 3-1 Bunyard.
SEMI-FINALS (£30, 30 points): Ryan Mears 3-0 Eastwood, B Jones 3-1 Finn.
FINAL (£140/£70, 50/36 points): Ryan Mears 3-2 B Jones.
Picture by Tim Dunkley
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Tim Dunkley (World Snooker coach)