A SCHOOLBOY from Ebbw Vale clinched a dramatic victory on the opening day of snooker’s Welsh Open at Cardiff’s Motorpoint Arena.
Jackson Page, a 15-year-old amateur, potted a re-spotted black in the final frame of his first round clash with world number 123 Jason Weston to claim a 4-3 win.
“When that last black went in, I don’t know how I felt – it was just unreal,” said Page, who was allowed time off school to compete in his first professional event.
“My school has been really supportive of my snooker. They let me take time off whenever I’ve got an event, but it’s lucky that I’m in the top set of my classes so even without revision I can still get C-grades,” said the Ebbw Fawr Learning Community student.
The tournament has a total prize pot of £366,000, with £70,000 going to the winner. Players who go out in the second round are guaranteed £2,500.
Page’s next match is tomorrow when he will play John Astley, who defeated Newport’s Ian Preece 4-1 in the first round.
Further Welsh success came through Bridgend’s newly-crowned world No 18 Ryan Day, who also secured a final-frame victory.
Less than 24 hours after appearing in the final of the World Grand Prix in Preston, on Sunday night, Day produced a fighting performance to beat England’s David Gilbert 4-3.
When Day sealed the deciding frame, it was the first time in the match that he had gone ahead of his opponent, having trailed 0-2 and 2-3.
“It’s great being in Cardiff – the crowd today was fantastic. It’s very special for the Welsh players to play here,” said Day, 36.
“I am playing as well as I have for a long time. I got to the quarter-finals in Germany and reached the final last week, so hopefully I can stay on this run and just keep on doing what I’m doing,” he said.
The other Welsh wins came from Penarth’s Dominic Dale and Newbridge’s Lee Walker.
Dale, 45, showed no mercy against his young Chinese opponent Zhang Anda, dispatching him 4-0 to seal a place in the second round.
The 40-year-old Lee Walker had a more testing encounter against Scotland’s Rhys Clark but ultimately prevailed 4-2.
However, alongside the Welsh triumphs, there were also disappointments.
Carmarthen’s Matthew Stevens was dealt a difficult first round draw in having to play world No 2 and former world champion Stuart Bingham.
The match started ominously for Stevens, 39, with Bingham rattling in a century break in the opening frame. But Stevens – a former world No 4 – was not cowed. He potted his way to a well-deserved 2-2 tie before eventually succumbing 2-4.
Meanwhile, Newport’s Ian Preece, 34, bowed out 1-4 to John Astley, while 23-year-old Jak Jones from Neath lost out 2-4 to Craig Steadman.
Eight more Welsh players will be opening their Welsh Open campaigns today.