A Gosport snooker ace has capped a remarkable ‘turning point’ year in his green-baize career by landing his second successive national title.
Mark Lloyd, who won the 2014-15 English Under-16 Championship, stepped up a level and proved his class by winning this season’s under-18 title.
The 16-year-old defeated Leeds cueman James Pearson 6-2 in the final at Cueball Derby.
Lloyd said: ‘I still can’t believe it, this year has been a turning point for me.’
England international Lloyd, who is based at Stoke Snooker Club, in Gosport, took the first three frames.
The pair shared the next four before Lloyd wrapped up the eighth with a break of 61.
He knew he had to keep his cool after his opponent managed to respond well from going 3-0 down.
Lloyd was thankful for the mid-session interval when it arrived so he could regroup and then come out firing again.
He added: ‘It seemed to be flowing nicely.
‘The fourth frame was a little bit shaky for me but the mid-session interval came at the right time to allow me to regroup.’
Lloyd revealed he played down the significance of the final frame in his mind.
Even the very top players in the game can stumble when they get close to victory.
But he wasn’t going to allow the pressure to knock him out of his stride with the winning line in sight.
Lloyd added: ‘In the final frame I thought of it as a practise session position in all fairness, allowing my cueing and experience to carry me through.
‘I was hoping for a century to finish the match but I was just relieved that I had won the match, especially having limited practice due to my exams.’
Now the Gosport cueist is hoping to continue his fantastic form with more successes in future.
‘Hopefully, I can build on this further,’ he added.
‘I’m just hoping there is some life left in me to continue to progress.
‘I’d like to say thank you to everyone for all the support they have given me.’
The past 14 months have indeed been a turning point for the talented teenager.
After winning the under-16 final in May last year, he travelled to Malta in January and won the European Under-17 Snooker Championship, an open tournament for young players worldwide.
Back home, he is currently lying 20th in his second season on the EASB Premier Junior Tour.
Last month, he clinched the rankings and championship double on the Cuestars South of England Under-21 Gold Tour and chalked up a first century break in tournament play on finals day.
On the same day as Lloyd was crowned national under-18 champion, another potting star Jamie Wilson, 12, from Havant, was beaten by the phenomenal Ryan Davies, from Oldham, in the final of the English Under-14 Championship.