THOMAS Sharp ended a run of four semi-final defeats on the Cuestars Under-21 Bronze Tour with a first winner’s trophy.
The 14-year-old from Portsmouth edged Dylan Smith 2-1 in the final of the fifth leg at Chandlers Ford Snooker Club.
Remarkably, Sharp had to be persuaded to compete in the event.
He said: “I wasn’t going to play. On Wednesday my form was awful.”
Following a chat with Samuel Laxton’s dad, Wayne, and a decent practice session on Thursday, he decided to make the trip along the M27.
The advice paid off as the Waterlooville Sports Bar-based teenager was unbeaten in the group stages and he overcame Jaydon Elliott (Swindon) 2-0 in the quarter-finals.
He then dispatched first-time semi-finalist Will Kempson (Salisbury) 2-0.
“I was confident going into the semi-final,” he said. “But, then again, you never know what can happen.”
He then took the opening frame against Smith. But his opponent from Tunbridge Wells doubled the black off the side cushion into the yellow pocket to force a decider.
“He was probably playing it,” conceded Sharp, who had trailed in the frame.
Behind again in the third, he clawed back the deficit and fluked the match-ball brown.
“I went into the last frame and just made sure I played as good as I could,” he said.
“It’s harder coming from behind but I enjoy coming back from behind.”
It was Smith’s fourth runner-up trophy in his debut season and it means Owen Jenkins (Havant), who lost 2-0 to second-placed Smith in the last-four, remains top of the rankings by two points going into the second half of the season.
Sharp is two points further back in third.
George Laxton (Portsmouth) qualified for the knockout for the first time but went down 2-1 to Jenkins from 1-0 up in the last-eight.
Mason Coveney (Basingstoke) had a debut to remember. He beat Smith in the group-stages, qualified for the knockout and went out 2-0 to Kempson in the last-eight.
And six-year-old William Thomson (Chandler’s Ford) became the youngest Cuestars player in history. He marked the occasion by beating Eddie Mason (Salisbury) in his first match.
The event was sponsored by Vortex Property Management to raise awareness of Sightsavers, an international charity that works in developing countries to treat and prevent avoidable blindness.
For more information about the charity, visit www.sightsavers.org.
The sixth of the ten legs is at Greenbaize Snooker Club, Bournemouth, on Sunday, February 3.
ROUND-ROBIN GROUP A: 1st, Owen Jenkins (Waterlooville Sports Bar); 2nd, Jaydon Elliott (147 SC, Swindon); 3rd, Katie Griffin (Jesters, Swindon); 4th, Daniel Walter (Mayfair, Gosport).
ROUND-ROBIN GROUP B: 1st, Mason Coveney (Crucible, Newbury); 2nd, Dylan Smith (Victoria SC, Tunbridge Wells); 3rd, Thomas McEvoy (Salisbury SC); 4th, Freddie Turner (Salisbury SC).
ROUND-ROBIN GROUP C: 1st, Thomas Sharp (Waterlooville Sports Bar); 2nd, George Laxton (Waterlooville Sports Bar); 3rd, William Thomson (Chandlers Ford SC); 4th, Eddie Mason (Salisbury SC).
ROUND-ROBIN GROUP D: 1st, Harry Wyatt (Chandlers Ford SC); 2nd, Will Kempson (Salisbury SC); 3rd, Taylor Elliott (147 SC, Swindon); 4th, Sam Walter (Mayfair, Gosport).
QUARTER-FINALS (12 points): Jenkins 2-1 Laxton, Smith 2-0 Wyatt, Kempson 2-0 Coveney, Sharp 2-0 J Elliott.
SEMI-FINALS (15 points): Smith 2-0 Jenkins, Sharp 2-0 Kempson.
FINAL (25/18 points): Sharp 2-1 Smith.
Picture by Tim Dunkley
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Tim Dunkley (World Snooker coach)