A TEENAGE potter based at Chandlers Ford Snooker Club left his coach purring with delight after overcoming a nervous start to claim a national title.
Olly Gibbs fought back from 2-0 down to beat Isa Ishtiaq 5-4 in the final of the English Under-14 Championship.
The 13-year-old from Gosport admitted the occasion got to him in the early stages of the game at the South West Snooker Academy, Gloucester.
“I was quite nervous going into the match,” he said. “I went 2-0 down and had missed some very easy balls, scoring under ten points in both of them.
“I was extremely nervous going into the final frame. When I won, I felt great.”
His coach, David Mumford, said: “Oliver did magnificently.
“I said to Oliver last week, ‘you don’t have to be at your best all the time, you have to be at your best at the right time’.
“Oliver most certainly delivered in this regard and he should be proud of his win.
“He now qualifies as an England International where he gets to wear the three lions on his waistcoat. What a thrill for him and his family.”
Gibbs dug deep to square the match at 2-2 going into the mid-session interval and took the first frame after the restart.
Bradford-based Ishtiaq took the next two but Gibbs showed remarkable composure to force a tense decider, which hinged on a safety battle where the last two reds were almost touching the black that was hanging over a pocket.
Mumford added: “His natural style makes him a dangerous opponent for anyone. He is fearless and a great long potter.
“He is also not afraid of winning. Some players get nervous when it gets down to the wire but not Oliver.
“He got stronger as the pressure built and this will undoubtedly stand him in good stead for his future within the game.
“He knows how to win but he doesn’t always do it the easy way.”
Gibbs, who finished 12th on the Cuestars South of England Under-21 Gold Tour and tenth on the EASB Regional Junior Tour (South West), reached the national under-14 final by beating Jamie Wilson (Havant) 4-3 in the southern final in Clacton last November.
He is the second graduate of the Saturday morning junior leagues at Chandlers Ford SC to be crowned English Under-14 Champion. Shane Castle landed the title in 2010 and 2012.
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Tim Dunkley (World Snooker coach)