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The nearly maximum man carries his bat

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  • The nearly maximum man carries his bat

    ANDOVER cueman John Hunter returned from a summer playing cricket to carry his bat in his first snooker tournament of the new season.

    Hunter brushed off the earlier disappointment of a missed maximum chance to claim the first leg of the Cuestars South of England Seniors (40+) Tour.

    A 2-1 victory from 1-0 down over Bracknell’s Matt Ford in the final at Greenbaize Snooker Club, Bournemouth, earned him £100.

    Ford, the Cuestars Championship Tour winner for the past two seasons, killed off the first frame with a 65 clearance. Hunter, who is based at Salisbury Snooker Club, levelled with a run of 58 and took the decider on the yellow.

    “Having no expectations is always a good thing,” said the 50-year-old opening batsman for Penton CC who has not played competitive snooker since the end of last season.

    “I keep telling myself, because he looked so good, I’m going to make him earn this. He looked in awesome form.

    “It was a surprise because I’ve been playing cricket all summer. I like to have a complete break because you build up scars in snooker. It just refreshes me.”

    High Wycombe sharpshooter Nick Birney’s 85 break in his final group-stage match against Jon Walker was eclipsed when Hunter took blacks with the first 12 reds for a 96 against Chris Stocker. But hopes of a first 147 (“a long time ago” he broke down on 120) ended with a failed tricky plant on two of the last three open reds.

    “Everything was perfect,” explained Hunter. “If I’d got the (previous) positional shot right, then I really would be shaking because you look at the table and think I’ve not got to do anything, I’ve just got to hold myself together.

    “As I said to the guys, 96 is the worst place to finish on a 147. You’re better off with the break ending on the first black!”

    Portsmouth ex-professional Mike Talmondt’s bid for a hat-trick of Seniors titles faltered with a 2-1 last-eight defeat by Martin Wallace (Reading). To avoid a three-way tie and a play-off for the second qualifying spot in his round-robin group, Wallace had needed to win at least one frame against Hunter. He duly obliged with a 58 break in the opener.

    Dave Pullman (Wokingham) made the semi-finals for the first time and Paul Shears, who is based at the delightfully named Devizes Literary & Scientific Institute, bowed out in the quarter-finals on his Cuestars debut.

    The 19-strong field returned 14 half-century breaks.

    Fareham Snooker Club hosts the second leg of seven on Sunday, October 23. The top-20 ranked players at the end of the series will play off for £500 prize money in Newbury on April 23.


    John Hunter: 96, 58, 57, 54.
    Nick Birney: 85, 60, 49.
    Matt Ford: 79, 65, 59, 42.
    Mike Talmondt: 68, 62, 40.
    Jon Monckton: 61.
    Martin Wallace: 58.
    Neil Carroll: 55.
    Mark Tillison: 44.
    Chris Stoker: 40.


    GROUP A: 1st, John Hunter (Salisbury SC); 2nd, Martin Wallace (Crowthorne RBL); 3rd, Nick Birney (Liberal Club, High Wycombe); 4th, Chris Stocker (Sunninghill Comrades Club, Ascot); 5th, Jon Walker (Potting Shed, Aldbourne).

    GROUP B: 1st, Jon Monckton (Woking SC); 2nd, Paul Shears (Devizes Literary & Scientific Inst); 3rd, Paul Lawrence (Park Gate RBL); 4th, Paul Bateman (Crucible, Newbury); 5th, Neil Carroll (Chandler’s Ford SC).

    GROUP C: 1st, Matt Ford (Sunninghill Comrades Club, Ascot); 2nd, Dave Pullman (Sunninghill Comrades Club, Ascot); 3rd, Darren Howard (Liberal Club, High Wycombe); 4th, Neil Herd (Salisbury SC); 5th, Steve Ashton (Salisbury SC).

    GROUP D: 1st, Mike Talmondt (Copnor SC, Portsmouth); 2nd, Mark Tillison (Copnor SC, Portsmouth); 3rd, Stephen Hills (Traders, Northfleet); 4th, Ray Mears (Sovereign SC, Farnborough).


    QUARTER-FINALS (12 points): Hunter 2 Tillison 0, Pullman 2 Monckton 0, Ford 2 Shears 0, Wallace 2 Talmondt 1.

    SEMI-FINALS (£20, 15 points): Hunter 2 Pullman 0, Ford 2 Wallace 0.

    FINAL (£100/£50, 25/18 points): Hunter 2 Ford 1.

    Tim Dunkley (World Snooker coach)