OLIVER Sykes admitted he was “shocked” after collecting his first winner’s trophy on the Cuestars Under-21 Gold Tour at the end of an astonishing four weeks.
The 12-year-old from Chandler’s Ford, dubbed ‘The Sniper’, also fired in a new high break during the opening leg of the regional circuit at Salisbury Snooker Club.
Sykes pocketed £70 prize money following his 2-0 victory over clubmate Connor Benzey in the final.
“It’s amazing,” said the talented left-hander. “It’s a great feeling. I’m shocked.
“Last year, I was so close to winning one.
“I was up for it. I hoped I was going to win and just went for it.”
Sykes increased his highest competitive break by one to 96 in the second frame of his 2-0 quarter-final victory over Londoner Ronnie Sullivan.
He then defeated last season’s rankings winner Bradley Cowdroy 2-0 in the last-four.
“It was really important because I’ve lost against him the last few times I’ve played him,” explained Sykes.
Remarkably, he had lost to Benzey and Cowdroy in the group stages.
Exactly a month ago, Sykes was preparing to travel to Leeds where his England Under-16 B team would be the shock winners of the Home Internationals.
His feature on Trans World Sport then hit the airwaves before a trip to Gloucester where he reached the quarter-finals of the international under-18 MIUS Cup.
And now he has broken his duck on the Cuestars Gold Tour.
But there’s no rest for wannabe green baize stars.
On Saturday, he and Cowdroy will be in Clay Cross, near Chesterfield, for their debuts on The Regency Pro Tips Premier Junior Tour, a national circuit for the country’s top-32 players aged under-21.
Back in Salisbury, Cowdroy (Bournemouth) had won a play-off with Dan Sykes (Chandler’s Ford) for the second of the two best third-place qualifiers.
Benzey beat his Chandlers Ford clubmate Steven Hughes 2-1 on the final black in the second semi.
Sullivan, who won the 2017/18 Bronze Tour rankings at a canter and was promoted straight to Gold, won his round-robin group on his debut.
Riccardo Drayton (Chandler’s Ford), the second player to make the jump straight from Bronze, was rewarded by being drawn in the same five-man group as Benzey, Oliver Sykes and Cowdroy.
The second leg of ten is at Waterlooville Sports Bar on Sunday, October 7.
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Oliver Sykes: 96.
Jamie Wilson: 74, 41, 40.
Connor Benzey: 59.
Ryan Hughes: 59.
Dan Sykes: 52.
Bradley Cowdroy: 43.
ROUND-ROBIN GROUP A: 1st, Connor Benzey (Chandlers Ford SC); 2nd, Oliver Sykes (Chandlers Ford SC); 3rd, Bradley Cowdroy (Greenbaize, Bournemouth); 4th, Ryan Hughes (Chandlers Ford SC); 5th, Riccardo Drayton (Chandlers Ford SC).
ROUND-ROBIN GROUP B: 1st, Jamie Wilson (Waterlooville Sports Bar); 2nd, Steven Hughes (Chandlers Ford SC); 3rd, Dan Sykes (Chandlers Ford SC); 4th, Arron Smith (Selsey RBL); 5th, Chloe White (Waterlooville Sports Bar).
ROUND-ROBIN GROUP C: 1st, Ronnie Sullivan (Frames, Coulsdon); 2nd, Olly Gibbs (Fareham SC); 3rd, Elliott Weston (Top Spot, Havant); 4th, Callum McDonald (Salisbury SC).
QUARTER-FINALS (12 points): Benzey 2-0 Weston, S Hughes 2-0 Gibbs, Cowdroy 2-0 Wilson, O Sykes 2-0 Sullivan.
SEMI-FINALS (15 points): Benzey 2-1 S Hughes, O Sykes 2-0 Cowdroy.
FINAL (£70/£35, 25/18 points): O Sykes 2-0 Benzey.
Picture by Tim Dunkley
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Tim Dunkley (World Snooker coach)