WILTSHIRE snooker ace Riley Ellis sported a smile as wide as the county after clinching the Cuestars Under-21 Silver Tour rankings title.
The 17-year-old, from Clyffe Pypard, near Royal Wootton Bassett, needed to win the sixth and last leg of a tough season to overhaul Londoner Elliott Johnson.
And the battle-hardened Ellis duly delivered, beating Portsmouth potter Samuel Laxton 2-0 in the final at Jesters Snooker Club, Swindon.
The top two in the rankings had both finished runner-up in their respective round-robin groups.
Johnson then lost 2-1 to Laxton in the last-four on the table next to Ellis’s semi-final against Mason Wilson (Basingstoke).
Ellis, aware of what was happening, said: “The nerves started kicking in then.”
He edged Wilson 2-1 and then claimed his second winner’s trophy of the campaign by overcoming Laxton, whom he had lost 2-1 against in the group stages.
Ellis was lost for words after the match but his face told the story
“I can’t even describe it,” he said. “I’m just glad I managed to pull through the group stages.
“I only wanted to go up (to the Gold Tour) if I earned the right.”
Paying tribute to Laxton, he added: “I love playing Samuel. He’s got a great safety game.”
Laxton finished fourth in the rankings despite missing two of the legs. Will Forster (Whiteley) was third.
Ellis thanked his sponsors Lee Craddock, from car-valeting firm Time to Shine, and Andy Cook, from Save On Tyres, as well as David and Marian Dunevein, on whose table he practises.
The event was sponsored by trophy supplier Don Rogers Sports (www.donrogerssports.co.uk), Swindon-based window cleaners Clean Cut (www.clean-cut.co.uk) and Jesters Snooker Club (www.jesterssnooker.co.uk).
The 2021/22 junior season kicks off at Salisbury Snooker Club on Sunday, November 14.
Mason Wilson: 45.
Elliott Johnson: 35, 31, 30.
Samuel Laxton: 34.
Riley Ellis: 32.
ROUND-ROBIN GROUP A: 1st, Mason Wilson (Academy, Basingstoke); 2nd, Elliott Johnson (London Snooker); 3rd, John Donovan (Cousins, London); 4th, Chloe White (Waterlooville Sports Bar); 5th, Callum White (Waterlooville Sports Bar).
ROUND-ROBIN GROUP B: 1st, Samuel Laxton (Waterlooville Sports Bar); 2nd, Riley Ellis (Chandlers Ford SC); 3rd, William Thomson (Chandlers Ford SC); 4th, Will Forster (Fareham SC); 5th, Harry Wyatt (Greenbaize, Bournemouth); 6th, Connor Wollen (Jesters, Swindon).
SEMI-FINALS (15 points): Ellis 2-1 Wilson, Laxton 2-1 Johnson.
FINAL (25/18 points): Ellis 2-0 Laxton.
Pictured, from left: Riley Ellis, Roy Elliott (from Clean Cut), Samuel Laxton