Page Captures European Under-21 Championship

Page Captures European Under-21 Championship

Jackson Page has realised his professional ambition courtesy of his dominant victory in the 2019 EBSA European Under-21 Snooker Championship earlier today in Eilat, Israel.

In recent years the talented Welsh teenager has been highlighted by many as one of the hottest properties on both the amateur and youth circuits. Among other titles and accolades, Page won the European Under-18 category in 2017 & 2018 and is the current Welsh amateur champion too. A practice partner of reigning world champion Mark Williams, he also reached the last 16 of the Paul Hunter Classic last summer.

Held in Israel for the first time, this year’s Under-21 event had a cosmopolitan feel to it with over seventy entries from twenty-six different countries taking part.

Page topped his group after winning all three of his round robin fixtures and progressed into the knockouts as one of the top seeds. There he continued his relentless assault on the championship by eliminating Richard Wienold (Germany) 4-0, Attila Horváth (Hungary) 4-0 and Hamim Hussain (England) 4-0 to reach the semi-finals with relative ease.

In the final four Page came up against the Republic of Ireland’s Aaron Hill, the player who had just succeeded him as the new European Under-18 champion at this same venue a few days previously. However, Hill’s hopes of a historic double were brushed aside as he lost 4-0. It meant that Page had reached the final with the loss of just the single frame he relinquished in the group stages.

His opponent in the final was fellow 17-year-old Ross Bulman, who was keeping alive the dream of dual Irish youth glory. Bulman, like Page, had advanced throughout the tournament undefeated. He secured his berth in the final following a 4-2 success over Dylan Emery (Wales) – the losing finalist to Hill in the Under-18s on Tuesday.

Runner-up to Alexander Ursenbacher in this competition in 2017, Page settled down well in the final, opening an ominous looking 3-0 lead with the aid of 63 and 65 breaks. ‘Action’ Jackson also looked poised to chalk up frame four, but a gutsy snatch 34 clearance to the pink by Bulman made the scoreline look competitive going into the mid-session interval.

Page was unperturbed by this minor setback, though. On the resumption it was business as usual as he crafted a break of 57 to move one away before sealing the title in a virtuoso finish with a run of 102 for a 5-1 win. He had also made the tournament’s highest break – a run of 129 – during the last sixteen.

The youngster follows in the footsteps of previous European youth champions such as Mark Allen, Michael White and Luca Brecel. Page is the first winner of this event from Wales since it was rebranded from Under-19 to Under-21 in 2011.

Claiming the championship means that Page has lived up to the widely believed prediction that it was only a matter of time before he broke onto the top tier of the sport. As the European Billiards and Snooker Federation is a member of the World Snooker Federation, he will be offered a guaranteed two-year professional main tour card for the 2019/20 and 2020/21 seasons.

2019 EBSA European Under-21 Snooker Championship

Results (from the quarter-finals onwards)

Wesley Pelgrims (Belgium) 0-4 Dylan Emery (Wales)

Julien Leclercq (Belgium) 3-4 Ross Bulman (Republic of Ireland)

Hamim Hussain (England) 0-4 Jackson Page (Wales)

Aaron Hill (Republic of Ireland) 4-0 Ivan Kakovskii (Russia)

Semi-finals

Emery 2-4 Bulman

Page 4-0 Hill

Final

Bulman 1-5 Page

Aaron is King of the Hill in Eilat

Aaron is King of the Hill in Eilat

Aaron Hill became the second Irish player within the last three years to have claimed a European Billiards and Snooker Association youth title following his success in the 2019 European Under-18 Snooker Championship earlier this week.

Held at the U Magic Palace Hotel in the Israeli coastal city and resort of Eilat, this was the first of three events that make up this year’s EBSA Championships. Running until 2 March, the subsequent Under-21 and Main categories will complete a busy programme. It is the first time that Israel has held the championships.

In what was the fourth annual staging of the Under-18 discipline, representatives from a healthy 24 different nations took part – further evidence of snooker’s growing appeal on the continent.

Cork cueist Hill qualified from his round robin group, finishing second behind Hungary’s promising 12-year-old prospect Bulcsú Révész.

During the knockout portion of the competition Hill made breaks of 54 and 57 to dispatch Bradley Tyson (Wales), 3-0, and 60 and 81 in seeing off Iulian Boiko (Ukraine), 3-1, to reach the quarter-finals.

Hill then capped off a 4-1 win over Belgium’s Julien Leclercq with a run of 70 before eliminating number 1 seed Florian Nüßle, 4-2, in the semis with a further brace of half-centuries. Current Austrian National champion Nüßle was the runner-up to Jackson Page in this tournament twelve months ago in Sofia, Bulgaria.

Awaiting Hill in the final was the undefeated Dylan Emery of Wales, who was looking to follow in the footsteps of fellow countrymen Tyler Rees (2016) and Page (2017, 2018) as the only other winners of this championship.

Emery eased through his group without dropping a frame, also constructing the highest break of the event, a 141. That was one of three centuries he would make in total.

He then dispatched Dean Young (Scotland) 3-2 and Nicolas Mortreux (France) 4-2 in the last 16 and 8 respectively. In the last 4 he stopped the possibility of an all-Irish final when he denied Ross Bulman, a stablemate of Hill’s, 4-0.

A predictably close and tense final ensued; Emery took a 2-1 lead with the aid of 54 and 59 breaks, but Hill responded to move in front for the first time and just one away from the trophy as he chalked up runs of 59 and 50.

The Welshman, a year older than his opponent, levelled it up at 3-3, however, Irish eyes were smiling when Hill kept his nerve in the decider as he coolly amassed a decisive 84 break.

The action continues with the Under-21 Championship which concludes this Friday and will see the winner claim a two-year ticket to the World Snooker Tour from the start of next season.