SWINDON teenager Shane Kearns claimed his first major snooker title the day after returning from holiday in Spain.
The 17-year-old was crowned champion of the Cuestars Under-21 Silver Tour during the final leg at Chandlers Ford Snooker Club.
Although Kearns led the rankings going into the tenth event, two title-rivals were snapping at his heels and both needed to progress at least one round further.
The quiet man of the regional circuit, who hadn’t picked his cue up for a week, revealed that his expectations had not been on the high side.
“I feel happy,” he said. “I thought I wasn’t going to play well today because I came back from holiday yesterday.
“I didn’t even think I was going to qualify (for the knockout).”
In fact, it was a Wiltshire one-two. Riley Ellis (Clyffe Pypard), who won the Bronze title in 2016/17, finished runner-up.
Kearns only missed one leg this season and has never failed to progress from the group stages. He picked up three winner’s trophies along the way.
This Silver Tour has strength in depth but four players soon emerged from the pack to contest an absorbing title race at eight venues across central southern England .
Going into the last leg, Kearns led Ellis by two points. Louie Leighton (Basildon) was one point further back in third. Richard Hillgrove (Southend), who missed the previous tournament in Salisbury, was now out of contention.
The title was decided in the quarter-finals of the event sponsored by Pitman Training.
Kearns beat Hillgrove 2-1, Leighton lost 2-1 to O’Shay Scott (Eastleigh) and Ellis went down 2-0 to Mason Wilson (Basingstoke).
The newly-crowned champion then lost 2-1 in the semi-finals to Scott, the eventual tournament winner. But by then the job was done.
Kearns, who is based at Jesters Snooker Club, said he’s looking forward to competing on the Gold Tour next season.
“It’s going to be hard at first,” he admitted. “I’m trying to focus on different aspects of the game to improve.”
Kearns will be presented with his trophy by guest professional Robert Milkins during finals day at Jesters on Sunday, May 19.
For more information about the event sponsor, visit www.pitman-training.com.
Picture by Tim Dunkley
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Tim Dunkley (World Snooker coach)