Hughes king of the Castle

A CUESTARS Gold Tour player said it was “very satisfying” to win his first regional snooker tournament for 19 months.

Steven Hughes, who has been working hard to cultivate a better cue action, had his efforts rewarded in Brighton.

The 16-year-old overcame his Chandlers Ford clubmate Oliver Sykes 2-0 to clinch a maiden victory on the EASB Regional Junior Tour South at the Castle SC.

Hughes, whose last major success was the Cuestars South of England Under-21 Silver Tour championship in Swindon in May, 2016, was delighted to be reaping the benefits of his improved technique.

“It was a massive victory but a long time coming,” he said. “It’s nice to finally get it in the bag.

“Having the confidence of cueing well and getting off to a good start, I thought I had a good chance.

“It was very satisfying and still hasn’t sunk in yet (two days later). To finally win one, with that strong a line-up on the day, was very nice.”

Hughes kicked off his group matches in the fourth leg of six by beating Lewis Parnham (Gloucs) 2-0 and losing 2-1 to second-placed Alex Clenshaw (Harlow).

He then overcame clubmates Connor Benzey 2-0 and Ryan Hughes 2-1 to qualify for the knockout in second place.

A 2-1 victory from 1-0 down over leg-three winner Jamie Wilson (Havant) and a 2-0 success against leg-one winner Clenshaw set the Quickdraw Supplies-sponsored teenager up for a clash with Sykes.

Talking about his knockout opponents, Hughes said: “Oliver’s playing out of his skin so I was happy to get a two nil against him. Alex is a very skillful player. And Jamie is on a massive roll at the moment.”

Hughes, who pocketed £50 prize money, climbed to fifth place in the rankings ahead of trips to London, in March, and Gloucester, in April.

Meanwhile, Sykes knocked out English Under-14 Champion Olly Gibbs (Gosport) 2-0 in the quarter-finals and rankings leader Bradley Cowdroy (Bournemouth) 2-1 in the last-four.

He climbed to third in the rankings after his third successive final defeat on the under-20 tour.

The previous day, Sykes, who turned 12 during the week, over-screwed the pink and snookered himself on the yellow on a personal best break of 95 in the Open Series final at Chandlers Ford SC.

The left-hander recorded nine breaks of more than 30 during the event and beat Grahame Hughes 3-2 to win his third Saturday afternoon tournament in four weeks and extend his rankings lead.

Picture by Tim Dunkley

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Tim Dunkley (World Snooker coach)