RICCARDO Drayton twice fought back from 1-0 down en route to claiming his second winner’s trophy on the Cuestars South of England Under-21 Bronze Tour.
The 12-year-old from Chandlers Ford overcame first-time finalist Zak Truscott (Waterlooville) 2-1 to clinch the eighth leg at Salisbury Snooker Club.
And he did the same thing in the last-four to deny runaway rankings leader Ronnie Sullivan (London) a tenth straight final.
“It was tough but I played my best and it worked out well,” said the talented young potter.
Drayton won all three group-stage matches and defeated Samuel Laxton (Portsmouth) 2-0 in the last-eight.
Reflecting on his hard-fought victory win over Sullivan, whom he also beat in the final of the second leg at the same club last October, Drayton smiled: “I loved that win.
“I knew it wasn’t over (at 1-0 down) and I took my chances well.”
In the second frame of the final of the event sponsored by Attic Life and TopCue, he stormed back into contention with his highest Cuestars break of 48.
“I did the same thing and kept at it,” he said.
Drayton, who is now joint second with Laxton in the rankings, recorded a new high break of 65 in competition last month and, along with Sullivan, will set a Cuestars record by earning promotion straight from Bronze to Gold, missing out Silver entirely.
But that prospect doesn’t faze the budding star.
“It’s going to be tough but you only learn when you play better players,” he pointed out.
Truscott, meanwhile, demonstrated great strength of character to claim his first Cuestars trophy.
The 14-year-old from Waterlooville, who is sponsored by Lead Generation Services, had finished bottom of his group and not won a single frame in the previous three tournaments in Bournemouth, Havant and Fareham.
But he topped his group in Salisbury and beat Gosport pair Will Forster and Ben Crump by 2-1 scorelines in the knockout.
Nine-year-old Owen Jenkins (Havant) qualified for the Bronze knockout for the first time and went out 2-0 to Sullivan in the last-eight.
Sullivan needs just two points from the remaining two legs to be mathematically certain of being crowned rankings champion.
The ninth leg of ten is at the 147 Snooker Club, Swindon, on Sunday, April 22.
For more information about loft conversion specialists Attic Life, go to www.atticlife.co.uk. To visit Salisbury-based TopCue, which supplies snooker and pool cues and a range of accessories, go to www.topcue.co.uk.
Riccardo Drayton: 48, 25.
Ronnie Sullivan: 34, 22, 21, 20.
Zak Truscott: 24, 22.
Samuel Laxton: 22.
Mason Wilson: 22.
Harry Wilson: 20.
ROUND-ROBIN GROUP A: 1st, Zak Truscott (Waterlooville Sports Bar); 2nd, Owen Jenkins (Waterlooville Sports Bar); 3rd, Oliver Cooper (Frames, Coulsdon); 4th, Thomas McEvoy (Salisbury SC); 5th, Eddie Mason (Salisbury SC).
ROUND-ROBIN GROUP B: 1st, Mason Wilson (Academy, Basingstoke); 2nd, Samuel Laxton (Waterlooville Sports Bar); 3rd, Dean Russell (Waterlooville Sports Bar); 4th, Harry Wilson (Waterlooville Sports Bar).
ROUND-ROBIN GROUP C: 1st, Riccardo Drayton (Chandlers Ford SC); 2nd, Ben Crump (Stoke SC, Gosport); 3rd, O’Shay Scott (Chandlers Ford SC); 4th, Taylor Elliott (147, Swindon).
ROUND-ROBIN GROUP D: 1st, Ronnie Sullivan (Frames, Coulsdon); 2nd, Will Forster (Mayfair, Gosport); 3rd, Louie Leighton (Rileys, Benfleet); 4th, Will Kempson (Salisbury SC).
QUARTER-FINALS (12 points): Truscott 2-1 Forster, Crump 2-0 M Wilson, Drayton 2-0 Laxton, Sullivan 2-0 Jenkins.
SEMI-FINALS (15 points): Truscott 2-1 Crump, Drayton 2-1 Sullivan.
FINAL (25/18 points): Drayton 2-1 Truscott.
Picture by Tim Dunkley
Riccardo Drayton and TopCue owner Jamie Harvey.
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Tim Dunkley (World Snooker coach)