ANTHONY Rice faces a taxing time over the next few months in his bid to mark his final season on a junior snooker circuit with a first title.
Back-to-back tournaments wins has taken the 20-year-old from Fordingbridge clear at the top of the Cuestars South of England Under-21 Gold Tour rankings.
He followed up his success on home tables at Salisbury Snooker Club earlier this month with victory in the third leg in Swindon.
Rice, a tax assistant at Total Tax and Accounts in his home town, defeated Aidan Murphy 2-0 in the final of the event sponsored by Cube Property Holdings at Jesters Snooker Club.
Last season’s Gold Tour championship play-off winner reckons it’ll be tough to bow out with the title but he was pleased with his ability to pinch frames from under the noses of his opponents.
He said: “It would be nice to win the Gold Tour rankings given that it’s my last season. That said, it’s still very early on and there’s a lot of snooker to be played between now and then.
“The standard is solid throughout and I really can lose to anyone, especially given such a short format.
“I felt that I played quite solid throughout the day – and scored well occasionally.
“What was most pleasing for me was the number of frames that I won that I should have lost.
“In both frames of the semi-final I came from behind. And in both frames in the final, Aidan took an early lead.
“I find it just as satisfying to steal a frame that I have no right to win as I do winning a frame in one visit.”
Reflecting on work demands, he added: “Having start a new job with January (self-assessment tax deadline) coming so quickly, I have very little time to practise so confidence counts for a lot.
“I’ve had a decent spell and have won three of the last four Cuestars Under-21 events so I suppose it just gives me a little more confidence and belief on the day.”
Bristol-based Murphy, 13 – who is sponsored by Elite Mobility, Hanham Flooring Centre and NH Couriers – was also runner-up in the first leg at Waterlooville Sports Bar in September.
Leg-one winner Bradley Cowdroy (Bournemouth) rattled the final pink on a personal best matchplay break of 87 in his first frame of the day against Adam Stacey (London).
Rice leads beaten semi-finalist Cowdroy by ten points. Murphy is four points further adrift in third.
The fourth leg of ten is at Frames Sports Bar, Coulsdon, on Sunday, December 3.
For more information about London-based Cube Property Holdings, which builds and manages luxury homes and places of work, visit www.cubepropertyholdings.co.uk.
Bradley Cowdroy: 87, 74, 46.
Anthony Rice: 65, 60, 51.
Connor Benzey: 57.
Daniel Sykes: 47, 44, 42.
Jamie Wilson: 47.
Mickey Joyce: 40.
Charlie Pringle: 40.
ROUND-ROBIN GROUP A: 1st, Anthony Rice (Salisbury SC); 2nd, Olly Gibbs (Chandlers Ford SC); 3rd, Dan Sykes (Chandlers Ford SC); 4th, Oliver Sykes (Chandlers Ford SC); 5th, Ryan Hughes (Chandlers Ford SC).
ROUND-ROBIN GROUP B: 1st, Bradley Cowdroy (Greenbaize, Bournemouth); 2nd, Aidan Murphy (Fishponds Cons Club, Bristol); 3rd, Steven Hughes (Chandlers Ford SC); 4th, Adam Stacey (Legends, Leytonstone).
ROUND-ROBIN GROUP C: 1st, Mickey Joyce (Chandlers Ford SC); 2nd, Jamie Wilson (Waterlooville Sports Bar); 3rd, Charlie Pringle (Chandlers Ford SC); 4th, Connor Benzey (Chandlers Ford SC).
QUARTER-FINALS (12 points): Rice 2-1 S Hughes, Cowdroy 2-1 D Sykes, Murphy 2-1 Joyce, Gibbs 2-0 Wilson.
SEMI-FINALS (15 points): Rice 2-0 Cowdroy, Murphy 2-0 Gibbs.
FINAL (£70/£35, 25/18 points): Rice 2-0 Murphy.
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Tim Dunkley (World Snooker coach)