ANTHONY Rice returned to the scene of his greatest green baize triumph and picked up another piece of “unexpected” silverware.
The 20-year-old from Fordingbridge insisted girlfriend Steph has been partially responsible for his recent good form.
Last month, Rice won the final EASB Regional Junior Tour event of the season at Jesters Snooker Club, Swindon, to earn promotion to the national under-21 circuit.
And now he has claimed the Cuestars South of England Under-21 Gold Tour Championship on the same tables.
“I’m delighted but it was unexpected,” he said. “I’ve had some really unexpected results recently.
“It’s been unbelievable really. I haven’t been practising due to having a job, exams and meeting a lovely girl.”
Rice, who finished sixth in the Cuestars rankings, progressed through the group stages at the end-of-season finale and beat Callum Browne (Trowbridge) and Aidan Murphy (Bristol) by 2-0 scorelines in the knockout before edging Bradley Cowdroy (Bournemouth) 2-1 in the final.
Cowdroy, 15, who overcame rankings winner Mark Lloyd (Gosport) 2-1 in the second semi, had won the Greenbaize Section championship and collected his trophy from World number 37 Mark Davis.
It was Rice’s fifth regional tournament win and a fourth at Jesters. He won his first Gold Tour ranking event in 2014 and a second following a “desperate” two-year wait.
His only other success was on the Regional Junior Tour in Coulsdon last season.
“I’ve only ever won a tournament at one other club,” he said. “Maybe it’s horses for courses. I think it’s just made me believe I can win again.”
The event was sponsored by the home club. For more information about Jesters, visit www.jesterssnooker.co.uk.
Bradley Cowdroy: 55.
Oliver Sykes: 49.
Anthony Rice: 48, 48.
Aidan Murphy: 46.
ROUND-ROBIN GROUP A: 1st, Mark Lloyd (Stoke SC, Gosport); 2nd, Aidan Murphy (Fishponds Cons Club, Bristol); 3rd, Dan Sykes (Chandler’s Ford SC); 4th, Oliver Sykes (Chandler’s Ford SC).
ROUND-ROBIN GROUP B: 1st, Bradley Cowdroy (Greenbaize, Bournemouth); 2nd, Callum Browne (Player’s, Westbury); 3rd, Olly Gibbs (Chandler’s Ford SC); 4th, Jamie Wilson (Waterlooville Sports Bar).
ROUND-ROBIN GROUP C: 1st, Anthony Rice (Salisbury SC); 2nd, Connor Benzey (Chandler’s Ford SC); 3rd, Ronnie Bake (Frames, Coulsdon); 4th, Arron Smith (Selsey RBL, Chichester).
ROUND-ROBIN GROUP D: 1st, Mickey Joyce (Chandler’s Ford SC); 2nd, James Budd (Fareham SC); 3rd, Adam Stacey (Legends, Leytonstone); 4th, Steven Hughes (Chandler’s Ford SC).
QUARTER-FINALS: Murphy 2 Joyce 1, Lloyd 2 Budd 0, Cowdroy 2 Benzey 1, Rice 2 Browne 0.
SEMI-FINALS: Cowdroy 2 Lloyd 1, Rice 2 Murphy 0.
FINAL: Rice 2 Cowdroy 1.
Pictures by Tim Dunkley.
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Tim Dunkley (World Snooker coach)