IT WAS the champagne moment that had eluded a Berkshire snooker player for more than seven years.
Martin Wallace has finally beaten long-time rival John Hunter for the very first time.
And to cap an historic day for the left-hander from Wokingham, his 2-0 success came in the final of the seventh leg of the Cuestars South of England Seniors (40+) Tour at Salisbury Snooker Club.
It was Wallace’s first Cuestars tournament win since May, 2011.
“I’ve never beaten him,” he said. “I’m happy. It’s good. At last, I’ve won.”
Wallace, 50¾, potted pink and black to take the first frame by one point.
Despite their extraordinary high-scoring group-stage match earlier in the day, the pair couldn’t muster a 20 break between them until Wallace compiled a 39 in the second frame.
He led by 20 points on the colours but Hunter was left chasing snookers after going in-off the green.
When the finalists met in their best-of-three-frames round-robin game, Hunter had opened with a run of 75 and took the decider with a 65 after Wallace had squared the match with a 69.
But Wallace insisted that encounter had no bearing on the final.
“I wasn’t thinking about that,” he said. “I thought it would be a different match.
“We were both tired and he didn’t play like he normally does against me. He wasn’t himself and I managed to capitalise.
“I didn’t feel nervous and didn’t feel tense. I just wanted to play to a decent standard.”
The result means new rankings leader Hunter (Andover) has a three-point advantage over Matt Ford (Bracknell) going into the final leg at Waterlooville Sports Bar on April 15.
Wallace, who is based at Crowthorne Royal British Legion, qualified as one of the two best third-place finishers in the group stages and defeated Chris Rigby (Sutton) and John Monckton (Woking), both by 2-0 scorelines, in the knockout.
He made his Cuestars debut in the Championship Tour in Swindon in October, 2010 and won back-to-back Seniors Tour events at the end of that season.
Meanwhile, Herman Desmier (Wimborne) qualified for the knockout for the first time and went on to reach the semis. He won three of his four group-stage matches, overcame Phil Morgan 2-1 in the last-eight and eventually went out 2-0 to Hunter.
Morgan (Salisbury), who beat Wallace in the group stages, has an 18-point lead over Stephen Hills (Northfleet) in the Masters (55+) rankings.
Hunter recorded the day’s highest break of 94 against Morgan.
For more information about event sponsor Dransfields – the UK’s largest independent supplier of gaming and amusement machines to pubs and clubs – go to www.dransfields.com.
John Hunter: 94, 71, 65, 46, 43.
Martin Wallace: 69.
John Monckton: 48.
Steve Ashton: 45.
Dan Hammond: 44.
ROUND-ROBIN GROUP POSITIONS
GROUP A: 1st, Andrew Darken (Chertsey SSNR Club); 2nd, Herman Desmier (Bournemouth & District Constitutional Club); 3rd, Steve Ashton (Salisbury SC); 4th, Neil Carroll (Chandlers Ford SC); 5th, Jon Walker (Potting Shed, Aldbourne).
GROUP B: 1st, Chris Rigby (Chertsey SSNR Club); 2nd, Neil Herd (Salisbury SC); 3rd, John Monckton (Woking SC); 4th, Dan Hammond (Chandlers Ford SC); 5th, Jackie Ellis (147, Swindon).
GROUP C: 1st, John Hunter (Salisbury SC); 2nd, Phil Morgan (Chandlers Ford SC); 3rd, Martin Wallace (Crowthorne RBL); 4th, Paul Burt (Salisbury SC); 5th, Stephen Hills (Traders, Northfleet).
KNOCKOUT RESULTS (PRIZE MONEY)
QUARTER-FINALS (12 points): Monckton 2-0 Darken, Wallace 2-0 Rigby, Hunter 2-0 Herd, Desmier 2-1 Morgan.
SEMI-FINALS (£15, 15 points): Wallace 2-0 Monckton, Hunter 2-0 Desmier.
FINAL (£80/£40, 25/18 points): Wallace 2-0 Hunter.
Picture by Tim Dunkley
Have you got any snooker news?
Send me your snooker news now. It doesn’t have to be from a Cuestars tournament. E-mail me details or contact me via Facebook and you could be on the Cuestars website and in your local newspaper. E-mail: [email protected]
Tim Dunkley (World Snooker coach)