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European Billiards & Snooker Association (EBSA) Under-21 Championship 2012
19-year-old Michael Leslie from Scotland came close to winning the EBSA Under-21 trophy last year but he fell short in the final as he lost 6-3 to surprise finalist Kaceper Filipiak.
But at this year's event in Sofia, Bulgaria he managed to go one better by performing superbly in the group stages and went on to beat impressive 14-year-old Shane Castle 6-2 in the final and to receive a nomination for the World Snooker pro tour for the next two seasons.
Leslie controlled the match from the start as Castle struggled to find the form he’d displayed throughout the event.
Breaks of 46, 76, 42 and 121 took Leslie into a 4-0 interval lead in the best of eleven frame final.
Castle responded to take the next and rattled in 84 to close the gap to 4-2.
But the fourteen year left a long red for Leslie in the next and he constructed 100 to stand within a frame of the Championship.
In frame eight Castle broke down early and Leslie closed out the match in style with a run of 91.
A delighted Leslie revealead after the match “I cannot believe it yet. It feels like a dream.
“I’ve dreamed of this a few times, that I’d won the final, and thought please don’t be a dream, but then woken up and been gutted.
“Last year I was just so disappointed to lose in the final, but I came here again this year and I felt stronger.
“I think maybe a wee bit of experience showed in the final which made the difference.
“Shane is absolutely amazing. He’s going to be a top player, one of those players you look at and I think he’s got everything.
“Of course nothing is guaranteed but he’s absolutely brilliant and I think he’ll be a Top professional in the future.
“I started well in my first group match, but then I wasn’t feeling so good as I would have liked. From the Last 32 through to the quarter finals people expected me to win and I felt quite a bit of pressure.
“In the semi final against Sam Harvey it was an even playing field. We’re good mates and I felt relaxed.
“I felt a bit nervous today, but I was okay. One the match started I was quite relaxed.
“The support from Scotland is brilliant. I practice every week with Marcus Campbell, also with Anthony McGill and I’ve had a few games with John Higgins as well.
“It’s the best way to improve and I feel it’s helped me a lot.
“I’m really grateful to the support I’ve had from the Red Triangle Club at Cumbernauld and my sponsors Billy Stirling and Alan Maxfield. I hope they have a big cheque book for next season!
“The family didn’t come out this time. It’s such an expensive trip for them and I told them ‘I’m a man now’ I can go by myself and do the job.
“I played in a few PTCs and I think that will help me for next season on the Main Tour.
“A PTC will feel just the same but the big ranking events will be completely new for me. But I still can’t quite believe it. I just can’t wait for the challenge.
“It’s also brilliant to get two seasons guaranteed on the tour and so many events too.
“The chance to play and travel all over the world is just amazing. It’s what I’ve always dreamed of."
EBSA Under-21 Championship Final - Frame Scores
Shane Castle 2-6 Michael Leslie
33-94(46), 6-76(76), 41-53(42), 0-122(121), 62-25, 84(84)-0, 12-100(100), 12-118(91)
EBSA U-21 Champion - Michael Leslie