Mutch makes EASB play-offs

HIS school exams may be over but now he faces the biggest test of his snooker career.

A momentous week in the life of a Jonny Mutch (pictured) could end on Sunday with promotion to an elite national junior circuit.

The Cambridge teenager is one step away from qualifying for the EASB Premier Junior Tour, which is restricted to England’s top-50 under-21 cueists.

Mutch was defeated by Londoner Ronnie Blake in the quarter-finals of the sixth and last leg of the EASB Regional Junior Tour South at Woking Snooker Centre but finished his second season on the feeder circuit in sixth place.

And that means he has earned a spot in the play-offs at the North East Derbyshire Snooker Centre, Clay Cross, on Sunday (June 28).

The day after returning from Woking and five days before his 16th birthday, Mutch completed his last school exam.

“I’m pleased as I finished the season sixth, which means I’m in the play-offs next Sunday,” he said. “I also had my last exam today (Monday) so I have ten weeks of summer holiday and plenty of time to practise.”

Mutch, who finished 15th last season, will be joined in Clay Cross by 13 other players from the north, midlands and south regional tours and six relegated from the Premier Tour all battling for about six places.

The only player to appear in all six legs of the 2014/15 campaign, he reached the final of the third event in Plymouth. The tour also stopped off in Fareham, Cambridge, Newbury and London.

Earlier this season, Mutch made it through to the last-16 of the English Under-16 Championship and he also finished seventh on the Cuestars South of England Under-21 Gold Tour.

Fellow Cuestars Gold Tour player Daniel Knox finished fifth and has also been invited to the play-off.

And James Budd – who, as previously reported, had already won automatic promotion – clinched top spot in the rankings after losing in the last-eight in Woking to the eventual tournament winner Mario Basile, another Londoner.

Meanwhile, the EASB Premier Junior Tour ended its six-leg national circuit in Leeds. English Under-16 champion Mark Lloyd, a multiple Cuestars champion, finished his debut season in a creditable 18th place.

Thomas Lancastle, the 2012/13 Cuestars Gold Tour rankings winner, is 22nd. Sonnie O’Sullivan, the 2012/13 Gold play-off champion, is 29th. Former Cuestars member Ben Fortey is 30th. Jordan Winbourne, who did the Gold double in 2009/10, is 32nd.

Report and picture by Tim Dunkley.