AN AMATEUR snooker player from Berkshire hopes he’ll never again compete on the Cuestars South of England Championship Tour.
Rankings winner Billy Castle rounded off his triumphant season by winning the last leg at the home of the series sponsor.
A semi-final exit in Bournemouth last month had already secured the 24-year-old from Reading a free place at Q School in Preston in May and the chance of fulfilling his dream of turning professional.
But he finished the season in style by overcoming ex-professional Bradley Jones 3-1 in the final of the eighth event at Frames Sports Bar, Coulsdon.
“It’s been a good season,” he said. “There’s been a lot of good players on the Championship Tour and hopefully next year it carries on like that.
“If I’m not on the (Main) Tour, I’ll have another go at it.”
Castle took the opening frame despite calling a foul on himself while potting the frame-ball green.
Jones, who appeared in the Coral Shoot Out in Watford in February, leveled on the colours but needed snookers on the blue in the key third frame.
And the 42-year-old from South Croydon carefully laid his cue in its case with four reds remaining in the fourth.
Castle said: “It was the first time I’d played Bradley. He played on TV the other day and he’s a former pro so he knows the game inside out.
“I knew if I nicked the third frame that could kill him off. It would have killed me off if he’d have taken the third frame.”
And he added: “It’s been a tough day but I managed to get the win.
“It’s nice to do it at the home of the sponsor and it’s nice to win it on a Star table. It puts me in good stead for Q School.”
Castle at least reached the semi-finals in all eight legs, winning three and finishing runner-up three times. A total of 85 players took part over the season.
Christian Chislett (Basingstoke) clinched the runners-up spot by qualifying for the knockout. He actually beat Jones in the group stages but went out when the pair met again in the last-four.
Jones prevailed 3-0 in his trademark brisk style which was only interrupted when a fly settled on the cue-ball as he shaped up to play a rest shot down the side rail.
Both private rooms were used in the group stages – until a club member called Jimmy White popped in for a practice in one of them.
Meanwhile, three youngsters took home fond memories from their Championship Tour debuts.
Silver Tour player Harry Jones (Bradley’s son) beat Ray Mears and took a frame off Ryan Mears with a 36 clearance, his highest Cuestars break.
Ronnie Sullivan, who competes on the Bronze Tour and is also from the home club, took a frame off England international Mickey Joyce (Basingstoke). And he was on the receiving end of the day’s highest break of 96 compiled by Castle.
And Riccardo Drayton, who made his first Bronze outing in February, made the long trip up from Chandler’s Ford and edged Peter Chin (Newbury) 2-1 in his first group match.
For more information about Frames Sports Bar, visit www.framessportsbar.co.uk. For general snooker articles and news, visit their sister website www.cuesports.club.
Billy Castle: 96, 74, 54, 54.
Ryan Mears: 83, 54.
Bradley Jones: 72, 69, 67, 51.
Christian Chislett: 57, 54.
Mickey Joyce: 56.
ROUND-ROBIN GROUP POSITIONS
GROUP A: 1st, Ryan Mears (Sovereign SC, Farnborough); 2nd, Paul Ganley (Woking SC); 3rd, James Cullen (Woking SC); 4th, Harry Jones (Frames, Coulsdon); 5th, Ray Mears (Sovereign SC, Farnborough).
GROUP B: 1st, Billy Castle (Crucible, Newbury); 2nd, Mickey Joyce (Chandler’s Ford SC); 3rd, Martin Wallace (Crowthorne RBL); 4th, Ronnie Sullivan (Frames, Coulsdon).
GROUP C: 1st, Christian Chislett (Selsey RBL, Chichester); 2nd, Bradley Jones (Frames, Coulsdon); 3rd, Riccardo Drayton (Chandler’s Ford SC); 4th, Peter Chin (Jesters, Swindon).
QUARTER-FINALS (24 points): Ryan Mears 3 Wallace 0, Castle 3 Cullen 2, Chislett 3 Joyce 0, Bradley Jones 3 Ganley 2.
SEMI-FINALS (30 points): Castle 3 Mears 1, Jones 3 Chislett 0.
FINAL (£90/£40 50/36 points): Castle 3 Jones 1.
Pictures by Tim Dunkley:
Curtis Braithwaite (left), who runs Cuesports Club, and Billy Castle
Billy Castle (left) and Bradley Jones
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Tim Dunkley (World Snooker coach)