Budd promoted to national U21 tour

FAREHAM snooker ace James Budd has gained promotion to an elite national under-21 circuit.

The 19-year-old (pictured) recorded his highest matchplay break en route to reaching his fourth successive final on the EASB Regional Junior Tour South.

And that means he has secured top spot in the rankings and automatic promotion to the EASB Premier Junior Tour, which is restricted to the best 49 under-21 players in the country.

“I’m looking forward to the challenge,” said Budd, who is sponsored by BAF Entertainment and has also been competing on the Cuestars South of England circuit for three years.

The classy left-hander lost 2-1 to Bristol’s Aaron Lowe in the final of the fifth leg at Frames Sports Bar, Coulsdon, London. Earlier, he had increased his personal best break from 85 to 86 in the group stages against Gloucester potter Aaron Cook.

“It was a good day,” said Budd. “I was pleased to get to the final again and be promoted to the Premier Tour next season.”

It is Budd’s second season on the EASB tour where the best four out of six results count. He won the first leg at his home base – Fareham Snooker Club – last September, finished runner-up in Cambridge the following month, didn’t travel to Plymouth in January and won in Newbury in April. The final event, which he doesn’t need to attend, is in Woking in June.

Success on the Premier Tour can lead to England places and invitations to the European and IBSF World Under-21 Championships, the winners of which usually gain two-year tour cards for the professional circuit.

Budd will be in action again at the Cuestars Finals day at Jesters Snooker Hall, Swindon, on Sunday in a bid to claim the Under-21 Gold Tour championship. Professional player Joe Perry is guest of honour and will take on all the champions in exhibition frames.

Report and picture by Tim Dunkley.