Alex Pace won the Oceania Under-21 Snooker Championship for the first time in his career on Wednesday in New Zealand.
Held at the Havelock North Club in Hawkes Bay, sixteen of the continent’s brightest youngsters took part in this annual Oceania Billiards and Snooker Federation (OBSF) event. Split into groups of four, the top two from each pool advanced to the quarter-final knockouts.
Tasmanian cueist Pace topped Group B after winning all three of his fixtures. He then defeated fellow Australian Denzil Nicholson 4-2 in the last 8 and dethroned defending champion Mario Hildred (NZ) 5-2 in the semis.
Pace’s opponent in the final was another one of the host nation’s contingent, Adam Lilley. Runner-up to Hildred in a deciding frame twelve months previously, Lilley also qualified top from his group with a 100% match record. During his 4-1 quarter-final victory over Cody Turner (NZ), Lilley crafted a 112 clearance, he also came through with change to spare in his last four clash against Sam Martin (NZ), 5-1.
The tone for an intriguing trans-Tasman final was set in the opener. Pace went in with a break of 47, Lilley responded with a 58, but it was the Australian who cleared from blue to a tricky black along the top cushion to go 1-0 up.
The New Zealander’s reaction was a positive one, though. He chalked up the next two to go in front and then bettered his, and the tournament’s highest break effort, when constructing a fantastic 128 clearance in frame four to move two clear at 3-1.
However, the direction of the match changed again. Pace was able to claim the next two to square, and in a tight finish where modest breaks were exchanged, he managed to emerge as a 6-4 winner.
Pace, who was the eighth different winner in as many editions, said: “I’m overwhelmed and just so happy that I was able to get the win in my last year”.
In March, the OBSF, which is part of snooker’s international federation the World Snooker Federation, will hold the mixed gender 2019 Oceania Snooker Championship in New South Wales, Australia, where the winner will be offered a two-year professional main tour card. Before this, at the same Mounties venue, the Oceania Women’s and 6 Red Championships will also be staged.
Photo courtesy of the New Zealand Billiards and Snooker Association.
Results (from the quarter-finals onwards)
Mario Hildred (NZ) 4-2 Kyle Thomson (Aus)
Denzel Nicholson (Aus) 2-4 Alex Pace (Aus)
Denin Bunn (NZ) 0-4 Sam Martin (NZ)
Cody Turner (NZ) 1-4 Adam Lilley (NZ)
Hildred 2-5 Pace
Martin 1-5 Lilley
Pace 6-4 Lilley