Brandon Sargeant added his name to the long, illustrious list of former champions after producing an impressive comeback in the final of the 2019 English Amateur Snooker Championship at the Star Snooker Academy in Sheffield, last weekend.
This latest edition of the sport’s oldest event began back in January when hopefuls contested regional heats across the country before the second phase – hosted between the Northern Snooker Centre in Leeds and the South West Snooker Academy in Gloucester – whittled the entry down to just four remaining players. The quartet booked their berths and assembled at the EASB Finals weekend where the area and overall championships would be confirmed; none of whom had made it through to the grand final before.
Sargeant, who will compete on the professional circuit for the first time this campaign after topping the 2018/19 Challenge Tour rankings, made breaks of 86 and 101 as he comprehensively brushed aside Wayne Brown, 8-1, to secure the Northern Section title.
Meanwhile, recent Q School graduate Jamie O’Neill set-up an all-top tier final following a see-saw 8-6 success over former main tour ticket holder Zak Surety in the Southern Section decider. There was never more than a frame between the pair, who took turns to lead, until O’Neill won the last two frames of the encounter. Whilst O’Neill crafted runs of 82, 104 and 93, it was Surety who compiled the highest with a 124.
The next day, Sargeant and O’Neill met in the final of this iconic, coveted championship that crowned its first champion in 1916. Sargeant opened his account straight away but breaks of 64, 87, 57 and 65 subsequently aided O’Neill during a six-frame winning streak that put him firmly in control. However, Sargeant stopped the rot in frame eight to bookend his session, and on resumption later in the day he narrowed the gap to just two.
O’Neill re-established a three-frame cushion at 7-4 up, but it would prove to be merely a minor halt to Sargeant’s momentum as breaks of 83, 92 and 113 helped the 21-year-old rattle off six consecutive frames of his own to emerge as a 10-7 victor. Ending his amateur career in style, it was quite a turnaround for the Stoke-on-Trent cueist who won nine of the concluding ten frames.
For the third year running, the English Amateur champion already had their professional tour card assured for the upcoming season; Billy Joe Castle lifted the trophy in 2017, and Joe O’Connor in 2018.
Several other English national champions were discovered in Sheffield throughout the busy weekend.
Gosport’s Mark Lloyd had to win the last three frames in order to oust Callum Beresford, 8-7, to claim his maiden Under-21 Championship. Lloyd is no stranger to collecting national honours, though, having held the Under-16 and Under-18 titles in recent years, too.
Jenson Kendrick – another talent from Stoke-on-Trent – had a very fruitful time in Yorkshire as he secured a trophy double with victories in the Under-18 and 6 Red Championships. On both occasions Kendrick got the better of Hamim Hussain in the final, with 6-0 and 8-6 score lines respectively.
Another youngster who added to his silverware haul was Paul Deaville. The Liverpool based teenager followed up his Under-14 accomplishment from last year by defeating Liam Pullen, 6-3, in this year’s Under-16 final. For Pullen, it would be his second loss of the weekend after agonisingly being pipped on a re-spotted back in the deciding frame (5-4) by Stanley Moody in the Under-14 Championship final.
Brown bounced back from his disappointment the day before – and of 12 months previously when he fell at the last obstacle – to deny Stuart Watson, 6-5, in the Masters Championship final, whilst John Rees recorded a 5-2 success over Barry Stark to triumph in the Over-55 Championship for the second time in the last three years.
Northern Amateur Snooker Championship | Wayne Brown (50) 1-8 (86, 101) Brandon Sargeant
Southern Amateur Snooker Championship | Jamie O’Neill (82, 104, 50, 93, 55, 50) 8-6 (75, 124) Zak Surety
English Amateur Snooker Championship | Brandon Sargeant (83, 92, 113) 10-7 (64, 87, 57, 65) Jamie O’Neill
Under-21 Snooker Championship | Callum Beresford 7-8 (110) Mark Lloyd
Under-18 Snooker Championship | Hamim Hussain 0-6 (58, 64) Jenson Kendrick
Under-16 Snooker Championship | Paul Deaville (83) 6-3 (56) Liam Pullen
Under-14 Snooker Championship | Liam Pullen (95) 4-5 Stanley Moody
Masters Snooker Championship | Wayne Brown 6-5 Stuart Watson (breaks information not available)
Over-55 Snooker Championship | John Rees 5-2 Barry Stark
6 Reds Snooker Championship | Jenson Kendrick 8-6 Hamim Hussain