The stage is set for the third iteration of the World Snooker Federation Junior Championship which takes place at the Mounties Club, Mount Pritchard in Australia between 31 January to February 3.
Open to players who were aged under 18 at the end of 2022, junior hopefuls will look to follow in the footsteps of former winners Gao Yang (2020) and Anton Kazakov (2022), and claim the two-year professional World Snooker Tour card on offer.
An intriguing line-up awaits ‘Down Under’ and there is a strong home contingent flying the flag which includes national under-16 champion Jason Yu and national under-18 champion Jayden Dinga.
Lilly Meldrum – the Australian under-18 girls champion – is also set for action. The 14-year-old travelled to England for last year’s WSF staging and during the same trip reached the final of the World Women’s Under-21 Championship. Meldrum is one of several women players who will also be competing in the Asia-Pacific Women’s Championship which is being held at the same venue near Sydney.
Two of the hot favourites for the junior title are Liam Davies and Liam Pullen, who both travel to Australia in fantastic form.
Davies has enjoyed another incredible 12 months with success both at home and abroad. A semi-finalist in this competition last year, the Welshman has won national under 18 and 21 titles, and the EBSA European under-18 championship which was held in Albania last summer. Davies was one frame away from reaching the final qualifying round at last year’s World Championship, and he has continued to impress on the Q Tour with several deep runs.
Pullen has been the star player on this season’s English junior circuit, finishing top of the Under-21 Premier Development Tour rankings having won three of the six events.
Two more English cueists in firm title contention are reigning national under-16 and 18 champion Stan Moody, and last year’s WSF Junior Championship runner-up Jake Crofts, who will be looking to go one step further having been denied by Ukraine’s Kazakov, 5-3, in the 2022 final.
Iulian Boiko – still just 17-years-old – will be hoping to take over the mantle of champion from his fellow countryman and looking to join him on the sport’s top tier. A finalist in the main WSF Championship in 2020, Boiko is the only player in the draw to have already been a professional.
Several nations are set to represented in the Championship; other notable entrants include Steven Wardropper – a Scottish under-14 and 16 champion, former Latvian national championship finalist Filips Kalnins, and Thailand’s Nattanapong Chaikul who competed at last year’s Q School in England where he defeated professional ranking event winner, Michael Holt.
The opening two days of the tournament in New South Wales will consist mainly of round robin action as players attempt to qualify for the last 16 knockout rounds. Follow WPBSA SnookerScores for full information on the draw, live scores and results throughout the four days.
Article by Michael Day.