ALDERSHOT hotshot Ryan Mears has claimed his first national snooker title.
Mears (left) awarded himself “ten out of ten” after a quick-fire victory in the final of the English Association of Snooker & Billiards’ Amateur Tour.
And he pocketed the biggest paycheck of his snooker career.
The 23-year-old, who is based at Sovereign Snooker Club, Farnborough, collected £300 following his 35-minute 3-0 destruction of Daniel Ward (West Midlands) at the North East Derbyshire Snooker Centre, Clay Cross.
Although the final may have been a breeze, Mears put his family and friends through a rollercoaster ride of emotions during a remarkable day’s play.
The Hampshire cueman had finished third in the southern section after a four-leg tour. The top eight from north and south qualified for the last-16 play-off.
In his first group-stage match, Mears lost 3-2 from 2-1 up against James Hill (Wolverhampton).
“(James) played well and I hardly had a shot,” he declared.
And at 2-1 down to Ward and 33 behind with one red left, it looked all over.
However, in a game that will live long in the memory, Mears laid a fiendish snooker, smacked in a long red and compiled a 35 clearance to force a decider.
But when Ward opened the fifth frame with a 52 break, it looked like his opponent’s chance had gone again.
Back bounced Mears with a 70 clearance to the blue, leaving Ward chasing snookers.
After accounting for Shaun Wilkes (Doncaster) 3-1 in the last-eight, Mears defeated fellow Cuestars member Billy Castle (Marchwood) 3-1 in the semi-finals.
Such is the strength of snooker in the south that no northern players made the last-four.
Alex Dunkley (Southampton), the southern champion ahead of Castle and Mears, beat Jamie Barrett (Cleethorpes) 3-2 from 2-1 down and needing two snookers in the quarter-finals – but lost 3-2 to Ward from 2-0 up.
Meanwhile, Castle saw off Gareth Green (Bradford) 3-2 before going down to the eventual tournament winner.
The following week, Mears failed in his bid to land a second national title.
He lost 6-1 to John Astley (Gateshead) in the English Six-Reds Final at the Star Snooker Academy at Sheffield Utd’s training facilities during the EASB’s finals weekend.
Picture by Hazel Mears