Click here for the South West Snooker Academy website and to see the draw.
After a three and a half hour drive from my home town of Eastbourne I finally reached the South West Snooker Academy, ready two hours before my first match in a proper Snooker tournament. I had been to the academy before and as usual the friendly staff at On Q Promotions were accommodating as they were last year when I visited the first time for the EPTC4 event.
Unfortunately though I had arrived too late to get a go on the practice table! So there I was ready to play my first match on a Star table after never having played on them before, as could be understanded I was a little nervous. Quite surprisingly I was drawn against 14-year-old Ben Fortey (who just happened to be half my size!) who was a local talent that made century breaks in practice matches the day before so I wasn't expecting much.
Surprisingly I somehow managed to win the first frame. Ben was understandably nervous in his first frame and missed a few easy balls. At the end of the frame I had been needing two snookers on the pink and me completely misjudging the angles he managed to get them. Thankfully though I slotted in the pink for my first ever frame won in a snooker tournament!
Photo courtesy - Monique Limbos
After that it went all down hill for me, Ben got in to his stride and duly dispatched me off the table to win the match 4-1. Ben is definitely a raw talent and if he keeps going the way he is at the moment could be a future star of the game. All in all I really enjoyed my first experience playing under professional condititions. The tables are a world apart from the ones used in clubs/pubs and require a different approach to get used to the faster more responsive cloths, but once you play on a Star table you never want to go back.
Whilst at the academy I also met the newly crowned European under-21 champion and the youngest player to ever join the main tour; Poland's Kacper Filipiak and his dad. He doesn't speak much English yet so it was quite hard to get much out of him but he was still happy to pose for a few photographs. Judging by his performance in the european tournament he could be a handful on the tour this year, definitely another youngster to look out for.
There is another round of pre-qualifying today at the academy and then the main event begins proper tomorrow morning. Apperently John Higgins will be arriving in a pink van filled with pink balloons later on in the day so that will be a sight to behold! The other pros entering the tournament include Jimmy White, Graeme Dott, Mark Allen and Martin Gould so it is a high quality field and it will be interesting to see how last year's champion Michael Holt will get on.
All proceeds from the event will go to breast cancer research. You can buy tickets for the professional matches from the SWSA website here.
Click here to see Monique Limbos' photos from Day 1 of the Pink Ribbon 2011
Day 1 - Full Results:
Stephen Kent 1-4 Ben Fortey
Roland Cox 0-4 (50) David Bailey
Alex Taubman (61) 4-1 Matt Northern
James Loft 4-2 Terry Challenger
Phil O'Kane 4-0 Sachin Plaha
Ollie Douglas (71,63) 4-0 Paul Mount
Simon Woodward 0-4 Stephen Ellis
Tom Johnson 1-4 Gavin Lewis
Ricky Hong Chin 4-0 Anthony Robson
Darryl Hill 1-4 (50) Ben Harrison
Alex Hutchings w/o Guy Loft
Nick Pearce 3-4 (60) Ross Muir