CHANDLER’S Ford teenager Steven Hughes has won promotion to the national under-21 circuit.
The 18-year-old finished runner-up on the Under-20 Regional Development Tour South and will compete next season among England’s top 32 juniors.
Hughes credited a new sponsorship deal with Aquatec Plumbing & Heating for giving his game a “new lease of life”.
In fact, Aquatec boss Mark Stickland accompanied Hughes to the fifth and final leg of the feeder circuit at Jesters Snooker Club, Swindon.
The trainee accountant didn’t drop a frame in his four round-robin group matches but lost 2-1 to Londoner Adam Stacey in the quarter-finals.
He said: “I’m really lucky to have Mark sponsoring me again. He realises how much it costs to enter and travel to these tournaments.
“It’s given my game a new lease of life.”
Stickland said: “With a full-time job, trying to squeeze in practice and everything else in life, it’s difficult. But sometimes if you put the effort it, you will reap the rewards.”
World Snooker coach Tim Dunkley has worked with Hughes for eight years.
He said: “Steven knows what this means to me and I know what it means to him. No one battles like Steven. I’m thrilled to bits for him.”
Fellow Cuestars players Ryan Hughes, Lee Whaley, Aristos Pampouris and Ronnie Sullivan finished third to seventh respectively and have been invited to the play-offs in Chesterfield in April when 18 players will battle for four more spots.
On the day that the news was announced, Steven Hughes regained his Tuesday Singles League title at Chandlers Ford Snooker Club.
But he had to battle like never before to claim the Series 27 play-off. Hughes fought back from 1-0 down to first-time finalist Dave Nunn and edged a titanic but thoroughly absorbing safety battle on the brown in the decider at 15 minutes to midnight.
Picture by Tim Dunkley
Steven Hughes and sponsor Mark Stickland
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Tim Dunkley (World Snooker coach)