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Debut win for the remarkable Jack Smithers

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  • Debut win for the remarkable Jack Smithers

    An EPSOM-based England pool international who was given two hours to live as a premature baby enjoyed a winning debut on a regional snooker circuit.

    Jack Smithers took full advantage of home tables at Frames Sports Bar, Coulsdon, to clinch the third leg of the Cuestars South of England Under-21 Gold Tour.

    The 20-year-old overcame a spirited performance by fellow left-hander Bradley Cowdroy to prevail 3-1 in the final on a professional-standard Star table.

    “I wasn’t expecting to win it so it’s a bonus that I did,” he said “Bradley played well all day. He beat me earlier on in the group stages. Fair play to him.”

    Smithers - who represented his country at pool at various junior levels for seven years since the age of 12 - spent the first 98 days of his life in hospital after being born 14 weeks early, just two weeks after the legal limit for an abortion, weighing 1lb 14oz. That’s less than a bag of sugar.

    He is now playing snooker full time for a year and targeting Q School next May.

    “Snooker is progressing more than pool and the prize money is a lot better,” he explained.

    “My grandad helps me out (financially). I’ll see how I get on. If it works out, great.”

    Cowdroy emerged from a high-quality 16-strong field with his young head held high.

    The 13-year-old from Bournemouth beat Smithers, James Budd (Fareham) and Callum McDonald (Salisbury) to win his group, clawed back a two-frame deficit to overcome Callum Browne (Westbury) 3-2 in the last-eight and accounted for English Under-16 champion Mark Lloyd (Gosport) 3-1 in the semi-finals.

    Anthony Rice (Fordingbridge) recorded the day’s highest break of 70 against Matt Gillon (Gosport) in the group stages.

    The fourth leg of eight is at Greenbaize Snooker Club, Bournemouth, on Sunday, January 10.


    Anthony Rice: 70, 48.
    Jack Smithers: 65.
    Mark Lloyd: 55, 53, 45, 42, 40.
    Mickey Joyce: 43.
    Jamie Wilson: 43.
    Brad Chappell: 42.


    ROUND-ROBIN GROUP A: 1st, Mark Lloyd (Stoke SC, Gosport); 2nd, Brad Chappell (Greenbaize, Bournemouth); 3rd, Nathan Farmer (Stoke SC, Gosport); 4th, Dan Sykes (Chandler’s Ford SC).

    ROUND-ROBIN GROUP B: 1st, Bradley Cowdroy (Greenbaize, Bournemouth); 2nd, Jack Smithers (Frames, Coulsdon); 3rd, James Budd (Fareham SC); 4th, Callum McDonald (Salisbury SC).

    ROUND-ROBIN GROUP C: 1st, Anthony Rice (Salisbury SC); 2nd, Callum Browne (Player’s, Westbury); 3rd, Ronnie Blake (Frames, Coulsdon); 4th, Matt Gillon (Stoke SC, Gosport).

    ROUND-ROBIN GROUP D: 1st, Mickey Joyce (Chandler’s Ford SC); 2nd, Jamie Wilson (Copnor SC, Portsmouth); 3rd, Jonny Mutch (Cambridge SC); 4th, Reece King (Greenbaize, Bournemouth).

    QUARTER-FINALS (12 points): Lloyd 3 Wilson 1, Cowdroy 3 Browne 2, Smithers 3 Rice 1, Chappell 3 Joyce 2.

    SEMI-FINALS (15 points): Cowdroy 3 Lloyd 1, Smithers 3 Chappell 1.

    FINAL (£50/£30 25/18 points): Smithers 3 Cowdroy 1.

    Hughes hits purple patch on Star tables

    STEVEN Hughes admitted he was forced to dig deep to claim his first winner's trophy on the Cuestars South of England Under-21 Silver Tour.

    Sheer will to win propelled the 14-year-old from Chandler’s Ford over the line on challenging pro-standard tight tables in south London.

    Hughes, who is sponsored by Vankru Cycling, utilised his renowned battling qualities to fight back from 1-0 down in both the last-four and the final of the third leg at Frames Sports Bar, Coulsdon.

    After defeating Aidan Murphy (Bristol) 2-1 on a Star table, he repeated the feat against David Rice (Fordingbridge).

    Hughes said: “I dug deep again and turned it around and won, which was amazing.

    “It shows that I can compete well, especially on the tougher tables. They are very tough to play on. You have to be spot on all the time. There’s no room for error.”

    Rice, who was chasing snookers with two reds left in the decider, said: “Steven is a credible winner.”

    And the 20-year-old had also been forced to battle back himself to record an excellent 2-1 semi-final victory over the highly-rated Evan Plummer (Coulsdon).

    He replied to Plummer’s 38 break in the first frame with a 37 in the next and secured the decider on the final blue.

    It has taken Hughes - last season’s Bronze Tour rankings champion, who jointly leads the Silver rankings with leg-two winner Murphy - just three events to put himself in contention for promotion to next year’s Gold Tour.

    “That would be very nice,” he said. “But at the minute I’m just trying to finish the season on a high.”

    Hughes and Murphy may be in pole position but the race for the Silver title promises to be extremely close this season. Rice is one point adrift in third. Last season’s Bronze play-off champion Connor Benzey (Eastleigh) is only nine points off top spot and ten-year-old Oliver Sykes (Chandler’s Ford) is another four points further back.

    The home club’s James Beavan recorded the day’s highest break of 46 in the group stages.

    The fourth leg of eight is at Greenbaize Snooker Club, Bournemouth, on Sunday, January 10.


    James Beavan: 46.
    Oliver Sykes: 42.
    Evan Plummer: 38, 36.
    Olly Gibbs: 37.
    David Rice: 37.


    ROUND-ROBIN GROUP A: 1st, Harry Jones (Frames Sports Bar, Coulsdon); 2nd, David O’Callaghan (Greenbaize, Bournemouth); 3rd, Olly Gibbs (Chandler’s Ford SC); 4th, Keegan Reed (Salisbury SC).

    ROUND-ROBIN GROUP B: 1st, Evan Plummer (Frames Sports Bar, Coulsdon); 2nd, Steven Hughes (Chandler’s Ford SC); 3rd, Oliver Sykes (Chandler’s Ford SC); 4th, Adam Cowdroy (Greenbaize, Bournemouth).

    ROUND-ROBIN GROUP C: 1st, Kaine Petty (Salisbury SC); 2nd, Charlie Pringle (Chandler’s Ford SC); 3rd, James Beavan (Frames Sports Bar, Coulsdon); 4th, Connor Benzey (Chandler’s Ford SC).

    ROUND-ROBIN GROUP D: 1st, Aidan Murphy (Bristol Conservative Club); 2nd, David Rice (Salisbury SC); 3rd, Ally Pollard (Salisbury SC); 4th, Nat Kidner (Greenbaize SC, Bournemouth).

    QUARTER-FINALS (12 points): Rice 2 Jones 1, Plummer 2 Pringle 1, Hughes 2 Petty 0, Murphy 2 O’Callaghan 1.

    SEMI-FINALS (15 points): Rice 2 Plummer 1, Hughes 2 Murphy 1.

    FINAL (25/18 points): Hughes 2 Rice 1.

    Two out of three ain’t bad for Tillison

    PORTSMOUTH potter Ben Tillison has taken a commanding lead on the Cuestars South of England Under-21 Bronze Tour.

    The 15-year-old admitted to a “new-found respect” for professional snooker players after winning the final of the third leg on a fast Star table in south London.

    Tillison defeated first-time finalist Shane Kearns (Swindon) 2-1 from 1-0 down at Frames Sports Bar, Coulsdon, to claim his second tournament win of the season.

    “It was a very close match,” he said. “I was still trying to get used to the Star table. It was annoying at first but I got the hang of the really tight pockets in the end.

    “In the first frame, I wanted snookers and the ball just flew past where I wanted it to go.

    “I have a new-found respect for (professionals). It’s actually quite hard.”

    Tillison, who had marked his return to the game after a year’s break with victory in the first leg in Salisbury, did adapt to the conditions well enough to compile the day’s highest break of 20.

    The rankings leader opened up an 18-point gap over leg-two winner Ryan Hughes (Chandler’s Ford), whom he had lost to in the group stages.

    In the semi-finals, Hughes was knocked out 2-0 by Kearns while Tillison beat Ben Crump (Gosport) by the same score.

    On his 16th Cuestars outing, ten-year-old Connor Shaw (Bournemouth) qualified for the knockout for the first time but went out 2-0 to Crump in the quarter-finals.

    The fourth leg of eight is at Greenbaize Snooker Club, Bournemouth, on Sunday, January 10.


    Ben Tillison: 20.


    ROUND-ROBIN GROUP A: 1st, Shane Kearns (Jesters, Swindon); 2nd, Ben Crump (Stoke SC, Gosport); 3rd, Connor Shaw (Greenbaize, Bournemouth); 4th, Riley Ellis (Jesters, Swindon); 5th, Ben Hatch (Southampton).

    ROUND-ROBIN GROUP B: 1st, Ryan Hughes (Chandler’s Ford SC); 2nd, Ben Tillison (Copnor SC, Portsmouth); 3rd, Jack Ratcliffe (Jesters, Swindon); 4th, Arnie Petty (Salisbury SC); 5th, Dan Foard (Frames Sports Bar, Coulsdon).

    ROUND-ROBIN GROUP C: 1st, Bowen Zhu (Chandler’s Ford SC); 2nd, Chloe White (Copnor SC, Portsmouth); 3rd, Callum White (Copnor SC, Portsmouth); 4th, Rio Smith (Copnor SC, Portsmouth).

    QUARTER-FINALS (12 points): Kearns 2 Ratcliffe 1, Hughes 2 Chloe White 1, Tillison 2 Zhu 1, Crump 2 Shaw 0.

    SEMI-FINALS (15 points): Kearns 2 Hughes 0, Tillison 2 Crump 0.

    FINAL (25/18 points): Tillison 2 Kearns 1.

    Budd claims consolation prize

    FAREHAM’S James Budd defeated Dan Sykes (Chandler’s Ford) 2-1 in an all-Gold Tour Plate final.

    Budd had finished third in his four-man round-robin group that included both finalists while Sykes had finished fourth in his group that included the 2013/14 joint rankings champions Brad Chappell (Poole) and Mark Lloyd (Gosport), the current England Under-16 champion.

    The first Cuestars event to be held in Coulsdon attracted a 46-strong field: 16 in Gold, 16 in Silver and 14 in Bronze. Non-qualifiers from each tournament competed in a handicapped Plate knockout.


    Ben Hatch: 25.


    PRELIMS: Dan Sykes (Chandler’s Ford SC) beat Ally Pollard (Salisbury SC), Ronnie Blake (Frames, Coulsdon) beat Oliver Sykes (Chandler’s Ford SC).

    LAST-16: Nat Kidner (Greenbaize, Bournemouth) beat Riley Ellis (Jesters, Swindon), D Sykes beat Blake, Nathan Farmer (Stoke SC, Gosport) beat Adam Cowdroy (Greenbaize, Bournemouth), Ben Hatch (Southampton) beat Rio Smith (Copnor SC, Portsmouth), James Budd (Fareham SC) beat Connor Benzey (Chandler’s Ford SC), Reece King (Greenbaize, Bournemouth) beat Keegan Reed (Salisbury SC), Callum White (Copnor SC, Portsmouth) beat Matt Gillon (Stoke SC, Gosport), Arnie Petty (Salisbury SC) beat Dan Foard (Frames, Coulsdon).

    QUARTER-FINALS: D Sykes beat Kidner, Farmer beat Hatch, Budd beat King, White beat Petty.

    SEMI-FINALS: D Sykes beat Farmer, Budd beat White.

    FINAL: Budd 2 Sykes 1.

    Tim Dunkley (World Snooker coach)

    About Cuestars

    Founded more than 25 years ago by director John Hunter, Cuestars runs grass-root snooker tournaments across the South of England.

    Competitions take place on Sundays between October and May, and cater for players of all ages.

    All Cuestars tournaments are played off scratch. There are no handicaps, except in the Under-21 Plate, the Under-21 team event and the Under-21 Handicap Championship. Cuestars uses a round-robin format leading to a knockout.

    Competitions for 2015/16 include: South of England Championship Tour; Under-21 Gold, Silver and Bronze Tours; Weekend Junior Section Rankings and Seniors (40+) Tour.

    Website: E-mail John Hunter:

  • #2
    Nice lad is Jack . Well done to him .

    The other young lads at Frames seem to be playing well too .
    Still trying to pot as many balls as i can !


    • #3
      Excellent write-up and your passion really comes through. I've worked with actual journalists who can't write a sports article this good, with natural flow.

      Thanks and keep them coming.
      Favourite players: Kirk Stevens, Stephen Hendry, John Higgins, Ronnie O'Sullivan, Ding Junhui