Patrick Whelan and Hamim Hussain were the first-ever event winners on the new EPSB Open Series last weekend.
Created to provide more regular competitive playing opportunities, the EPSB Open Series is open to all, regardless of a player’s location or status within the sport. Several venues across England have already signed up to the concept with over 45 events set to take place before the end of this calendar year.
Whelan emerged from a field of 50 entrants to claim the title and £400 top prize at the Tradewell Snooker Centre in Hull.
The promising 23-year-old had a memorable day on the east coast, coming through six rounds. However, he nearly fell at the first hurdle, needing to come back from 2-0 down against former WDBS Group 7 event winner Mike Gillespie in winning 3-2.
He then enjoyed two far more comfortable 3-0 victories over current main tour professional Craig Steadman in the last 32 and Ian Jones in the last 16. Another deciding frame triumph was required, though, in the quarter-finals in order to eliminate exciting teenage prospect Liam Pullen. Earlier in the tie, Whelan made breaks of 101 and 60.
Whelan then dispatched his second professional player of the day, this time WSF Open Champion Ashley Hugill, 3-1 in the last four. This was despite Hugill crafting an effort of 120 in frame two.
In the final, Whelan faced former professional and Crucible Theatre qualifier Simon Bedford.
Bedford was also impressive on route, defeating Leo Fernandez and Ryan Davies both 3-0 in the last 16 and eight respectively. In possibly the match of the day in the semi-finals, he overcame Sanderson Lam 3-1; Lam opening proceedings with a break of 126 before Bedford compiled runs of 73, 62 and 63.
However, Whelan was not to be denied in the final, top scoring with a 69 during a 3-0 victory.
A total of six century breaks were made in Hull during the day; Lam topping that particular chart with a 136.
Hooray for Hamim
At the Winchester Club in Leicester, youngster Hussain was also celebrating a top prize.
A regular event finalist on the national scene over the past few years, 20-year-old Hussain constructed breaks of 45 and 51 as he negotiated Shaun Payne 3-1 in the opening round.
He then scored efforts of 49, 59 and 51 whilst defeating Darren Sharman 3-0 in the last 16 before contributions of 72 and 68 helped him deny younger brother Halim by the same score line in the last eight.
Hussain – who reached the last 32 of the Snooker Shootout earlier this year – was made to work hard in the semi-finals as he edged past Josh Thomond 3-1, producing a 60 in the first frame.
His opponent in the showpiece match was recent professional exponent and 2019 English Amateur Champion Brandon Sargeant, who had defeated former English under-18 and current 6-reds champion Jenson Kendrick 3-1 in the other last four tie.
The final was an entertaining affair – Hussain accumulated breaks of 56 and 57 during the match and would win 3-2 on the colours in the deciding frame.
The next EPSB Open Series events are scheduled for this weekend at Barratts in Northampton on Saturday and Breakers in Leicester on Sunday.