ANDOVER cueman John Hunter rose to the challenge of his “hardest” Cuestars South Wilts Snooker League campaign and clinched his tenth title.
The 50-year-old (pictured) edged runner-up Richard Swaffield by just three points to claim a seventh successive crown at Salisbury Snooker Club.
“This season’s has been the hardest to win,” insisted Hunter. “I’ve really enjoyed the challenge and I feel like it’s improved my snooker.
“This feels good given I’m not getting any younger!”
Hunter, who needed to win eight of his last ten frames to guarantee first place, began the run-in with a 4-1 win against Neil Carroll (Rownhams).
Carroll, who cleared with a break of 61 to square the match at 1-1 and missed a straight frame-ball pink with two reds left in the fifth, said: “It was the best I have ever played against John.
“John cleared the table to pinch in on the black. The pots from green to black were outstanding and could have graced the Crucible.”
But Hunter admitted: “Don’t tell him, but in this break I cut the green in when only trying to put it safe.”
And he added: “I don’t know how I won. Neil played to a very high standard.”
Hunter then cruised to a 5-0 whitewash of Steve Ashton with runs of 80, 68 and 40.
Meanwhile, Swaffield signed off with two breaks of 47 and two of 76 in a 5-0 victory over Carroll and runs of 65, 64 and 61 in a 4-1 win against Trevor Pittman.
Simon ‘The Tornado’ Peacock, who breezed through a 5-0 drubbing of Paul Burt (Britford), said: “My form has returned and I didn’t feel like I’m missing much. It feels great to be cueing well again.”
The league’s under-21 champion Anthony Rice beat his brother David 4-1 and then lost 3-2 to bottom-of-the-table Richard Arnold.
It all went “pear shaped” after the 19-year-old from Fordingbridge took a 2-0 lead with breaks of 80 and 45.
Arnold, whose only previous win this season was removed after his opponent was forced to quit the league, rallied with solid matchplay and consistent long potting to force a decider – which went to a re-spotted black.
After losing the toss, and not fancying the safety options, he doubled the black into the yellow pocket.
Results: Neil Carroll 1 John Hunter 4, David Rice 1 Anthony Rice 4, Richard Swaffield 5 Neil Carroll 0, John Hunter 5 Steve Ashton 0, Anthony Rice 2 Richard Arnold 3, Simon Peacock 5 Paul Burt 0, Richard Swaffield 4 Trevor Pittman 1.
Report by Tim Dunkley