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.
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)
Emery 2-4 Bulman
Page 4-0 Hill
Bulman 1-5 Page