The second round of the qualifiers continued yesterday at the EIS bringing relief for some, heartbreak for others. Here is WST report on the day:
Un-Nooh And Holt Boost Survival Hopes
Thepchaiya Un-Nooh and Michael Holt both won their opening matches in the qualifying rounds of the Betfred World Championship to strengthen their hopes of avoiding relegation from the pro circuit.
Thailand’s Un-Nooh and Nottingham’s Holt have both won the Shoot Out in recent years, but poor form over the past two seasons has seen them drop into the danger zone in the tour survival race. But wins tonight in the second qualifying round in Sheffield have helped their cause.
Un-Nooh saw off Andrew Pagett 6-4 in a high quality match which featured four centuries. From 3-0 down, Pagett took the next two frames with a top run of 122, before Un-Nooh made a 137 in frame six, missing the final black for a 144 which would have been the highest break of the event so far.
Welshman Pagett then fired 116 and 100 for 4-4, only for Un-Nooh to take the last two frames with 90 and 54. He now plays Jak Jones.
“I have to fight for everything – for my tour card, for my family,” said Un-Nooh. “My family is in my head when I am down on a shot.”
Holt scored breaks of 56, 63, 77, 67 and 54 in an impressive 6-1 win over Hammad Miah as he set up a third round match with Tom Ford – another tie which could be vital to his survival.
“I was a bit nervy,” admitted Holt. “I was a bit lucky as well, I had the run of the balls. I know the position I am in and I have got to win. That has taken the doubt out of my mind. Being a pro has been a massive part of my life for a long time so to drop off the tour would be a disaster.”
Nigel Bond is the only player to have turned pro in the 1980s and kept his place on the tour until now, without needing a wild card. But the 1995 Crucible finalist will have to go to Q School to maintain his pro status as he lost 6-1 to Germany’s Lukas Kleckers.
Amateur Michael White scored a 6-2 win over Martin O’Donnell while Ashley Hugill top scored with 84 in a 6-0 whitewash over Dean Young.
One match that isn’t mentioned is the encounter between Sunny Akani and Zhang Jiankang. Zhang won it by 6-4 and this means that Sunny is losing his tour card and will need the Q-school. Sunny was 5-0 down in this match and fought with all he had. He was one ball away to force a decider… The bad start cost him. I’m really sad and sorry for Akani because long covid hit him very hard, ruined his season and probably his perparation as well. He’s a very hard worker and a lovely person. I really hope that he can bounce back immediately.
Yesterday’s results mean relegation for Sunny Akani, Martin O’Donnell, Nigel Bond, Fergal O’Brien and Lee Walker. They also propelled Ashley Hugill at the top of the 4-men one year rescue list.