STEVEN Hughes admitted he was forced to dig deep to claim his first winner’s trophy on the Cuestars South of England Under-21 Silver Tour.
Sheer will to win propelled the 14-year-old from Chandler’s Ford (pictured) over the line on challenging pro-standard tight tables in south London.
Hughes, who is sponsored by Vankru Cycling, utilised his renowned battling qualities to fight back from 1-0 down in both the last-four and the final of the third leg at Frames Sports Bar, Coulsdon.
After defeating Aidan Murphy (Bristol) 2-1 on a Star table, he repeated the feat against David Rice (Fordingbridge).
Hughes said: “I dug deep again and turned it around and won, which was amazing.
“It shows that I can compete well, especially on the tougher tables. They are very tough to play on. You have to be spot on all the time. There’s no room for error.”
Rice, who was chasing snookers with two reds left in the decider, said: “Steven is a credible winner.”
And the 20-year-old had also been forced to battle back himself to record an excellent 2-1 semi-final victory over the highly-rated Evan Plummer (Coulsdon).
He replied to Plummer’s 38 break in the first frame with a 37 in the next and secured the decider on the final blue.
It has taken Hughes – last season’s Bronze Tour rankings champion, who jointly leads the Silver rankings with leg-two winner Murphy – just three events to put himself in contention for promotion to next year’s Gold Tour.
“That would be very nice,” he said. “But at the minute I’m just trying to finish the season on a high.”
Hughes and Murphy may be in pole position but the race for the Silver title promises to be extremely close this season. Rice is one point adrift in third. Last season’s Bronze play-off champion Connor Benzey (Eastleigh) is only nine points off top spot and ten-year-old Oliver Sykes (Chandler’s Ford) is another four points further back.
The home club’s James Beavan recorded the day’s highest break of 46 in the group stages.
The fourth leg of eight is at Greenbaize Snooker Club, Bournemouth, on Sunday, January 10.
James Beavan: 46.
Oliver Sykes: 42.
Evan Plummer: 38, 36.
Olly Gibbs: 37.
David Rice: 37.
ROUND-ROBIN GROUP A: 1st, Harry Jones (Frames Sports Bar, Coulsdon); 2nd, David O’Callaghan (Greenbaize, Bournemouth); 3rd, Olly Gibbs (Chandler’s Ford SC); 4th, Keegan Reed (Salisbury SC).
ROUND-ROBIN GROUP B: 1st, Evan Plummer (Frames Sports Bar, Coulsdon); 2nd, Steven Hughes (Chandler’s Ford SC); 3rd, Oliver Sykes (Chandler’s Ford SC); 4th, Adam Cowdroy (Greenbaize, Bournemouth).
ROUND-ROBIN GROUP C: 1st, Kaine Petty (Salisbury SC); 2nd, Charlie Pringle (Chandler’s Ford SC); 3rd, James Beavan (Frames Sports Bar, Coulsdon); 4th, Connor Benzey (Chandler’s Ford SC).
ROUND-ROBIN GROUP D: 1st, Aidan Murphy (Bristol Conservative Club); 2nd, David Rice (Salisbury SC); 3rd, Ally Pollard (Salisbury SC); 4th, Nat Kidner (Greenbaize SC, Bournemouth).
QUARTER-FINALS (12 points): Rice 2 Jones 1, Plummer 2 Pringle 1, Hughes 2 Petty 0, Murphy 2 O’Callaghan 1.
SEMI-FINALS (15 points): Rice 2 Plummer 1, Hughes 2 Murphy 1.
FINAL (25/18 points): Hughes 2 Rice 1.
Report and picture by Tim Dunkley