Rory McLeod, Matthew Lawton and Halim Hussain emerged as champions from the opening weekend of the new 2019/2020 English Partnership for Snooker and Billiards (EPSB) tournament season.
McLeod Makes Perfect Start
Held at the Winchester Club in Leicester, nearly 60 players took part in the first of five English Amateur Tour events this term, but it was local star and club coach McLeod who came through to secure the accolade.
The former world number 32 was made to work hard for the triumph, enduring several close finishes, although his journey began with a routine 4-0 success over Kieran Brighton. He then survived a scare in the last 32 having watched opponent Manasawin Phetmalaikul come back from 3-0 down before denying the youngster in a decider, 4-3.
Returning the next day McLeod produced a recovery of his own from 3-1 adrift to oust Ashley Hugill 4-3 in the last 16. An even tighter outcome arose in the quarter-finals when he eliminated Steven Hallworth on the final pink.
Zak Surety, maker of the event’s highest break of 141 in a deciding frame during the previous round, led McLeod 2-0 in the semi-finals before the 48-year-old chalked up four frames in a row to reach the final. There he faced Sanderson Lam, who had been in fantastic form all weekend and defeated Sydney Wilson 4-1 in the other last four tie.
McLeod claimed the opener, but Lam responded with a break of 108 – his fourth ton of the tournament – to level up at 1-1. However, the 2015 Ruhr Open champion won the next two frames to move within one of the title.
Lam fashioned an effort of 65 in the fifth to help keep his hopes alive, but McLeod collected the next to record a 4-2 victory and take the glory. It was a perfect start to the season for ‘The Highlander’, who is competing in the amateur ranks for the first time in nearly two decades.
The competition featured plenty of high-quality play; capping the plethora of sizeable contributions were ten century breaks, including a 139 from Hallworth and a 131 from Lam. Testament to how tough the tour is, all of McLeod’s opponents on the Sunday were recent ex-professionals – himself and Lam had been a part of the top tier only a few months previously.
> To view the results and high breaks from English Amateur Tour Event One, please visit the WPBSA Tournament Manager system HERE.
Under-20 Regional Development Tour
Lawton and Hussain put themselves in a good, early position to earn promotion onto the Under-21 Premier Development Tour next year by winning the respective Under-20 Regional Development Tour North and Midlands titles in Hull and Leicester on Sunday.
Split into three separate regions (The South will have its first event in October), the tour is the EPSB’s secondary tier for junior players. Each region will hold five competitions throughout the season with ranking points gained for those who qualify for the knockout phases in each.
Lawton dropped just one frame as he qualified top of Group A at the Tradewell Snooker Centre. In the knockouts he defeated Riley Fisher 2-1 in the semi-finals and then Michael Roberts 2-1 in the final. Grimsby based Lawton also registered the top break of the day with a 60.
Birmingham’s Hussain dominated proceedings at Breakers Snooker Club – relinquishing only a frame during the entire day – culminating in 2-0 successes over Westley Cooper in the semi-finals and Callum Brayne in the final. Hussain also constructed the day’s highest run with an effort of 71.
Coming up this weekend is the opening EPSB Seniors Tour event at the Tradewell in Hull. Entry has been extended until the end of Tuesday 17th September. To book your place in the event, please visit the EPSB MemberZone HERE.
The above image is courtesy of The Winchester Club / James Chambers