Gosport teenager pockets national snooker title

Mark Lloyd
Mark Lloyd
  • Lloyd fights back to win thrilling final in Stoke
  • Victory earns 15-year-old an England call-up for Home Internationals
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Mark Lloyd has pocketed the English Under-16 Championship crown.

The Gosport 15-year-old proved that snooker in the south is in rude health with a brilliant run to his first 
national title.

Lloyd defeated Jack Harris 6-5 in the final in Stoke.

But the teenage potter was forced to dig deep after slipping 4-2 and 5-4 behind to his rival.

Lloyd, who is a member of Stoke Snooker Club, said: ‘It was a great match and I’m just so happy to be national champion.

‘I appreciate what everyone has done for me.

‘It’s not just my work that has done it for me, the people who have been there for me have also played a part.’

Lloyd earned his place in the finals via a qualifying event in London and the last-16 knockout in Leeds.

He went 1-0 down at the Longton Snooker Club, levelled at 2-2 but then fell two frames behind after the mid-session interval.

‘I don’t know what happened,’ said Lloyd.

‘I couldn’t cue a ball normally. I missed a fair amount by fair margins.

‘Then some determination kicked in and I started to play much better.’

Trailing 5-4 and needing to clear from green to pink to force a decider, Lloyd played a fantastic pot under pressure on the brown to move the pink from a safe position, while still retaining perfect position on the blue.

Harris needed five snookers in the 11th frame and extracted penalty points from three of them before his opponent secured victory.

Lloyd will soon be sporting a Three Lions waistcoat as he has earned a call-up to the England under-16 team for the Home Internationals.

Less than three weeks after his eighth birthday, he made his debut on the Cuestars South of England Under-21 circuit and was crowned under-12 champion in the 2008-09 season at the age of nine.

He won the Silver Tour rankings title in 2012-13 and was joint Gold Tour champion last season.

The national final denied Lloyd the chance of claiming the Gold Tour title this year – as it clashed with the final leg in Salisbury.

Promoted at the end of his first year on the EASB Regional Junior Tour, Lloyd is now ranked 26th in his debut season on the EASB Premier Junior Tour, which is restricted to the top 49 under-21s in the country.

Cuestars director John Hunter, who made the trip to Stoke to watch Lloyd, said: ‘It was very exciting.

‘Mark not only handled the pressure brilliantly but was also able to think outside the box while under it.

‘Hopefully, his achievement will inspire more Cuestars players to compete and succeed nationally.’

Another Cuestars member, Shane Castle, won the English Under-16 Championship title in 2012.

While Lloyd was tasting success, James Budd was beaten in the semi-final of the Cuestars South of England Under-21 Gold Tour at Salisbury Snooker Club.

Budd won his round-robin group but then lost 3-2 to 13-year-old Bradley Cowdroy in the last four.

Cowdroy lost 3-1 to Mark Wells in the final but Budd, of Stoke Snooker Club, was impressed with what he saw from the talent.

He said: ‘Brad played well against me and battled through when 2-1 behind. I think he will become a professional when he gets older.’