Dylan shows promise on World stage

Dylan shows promise on World stage
Snooker prodigy Dylan Smith

The 12-year-old was taking part in the inaugural WSF (World Snooker Federation) Junior Open for under-18s at the new Malta Snooker Academy.

The six-day tournament featured 55 young players from around the world, with the winner receiving a two-year professional card for the main World Snooker tour and $5,000.

In the group stage Dylan found himself up against China’s Yi Ze Wu, a 16-year-old who narrowly lost a match against, professional player, John Higgins 5-4.

His first opponent, though, was a nine-year-old Moldovan, Matvei Lagodzinschii, and Dylan found himself locked in an early battle.

The Mascalls pupil took the first frame 64-46 but Matvei hit back in the second, winning it 64-35. Dylan responded in style, taking took two frames in a row, 58-33 and 67-45.

The second day saw him having to play two matches, against the Polish junior No 2 Lukasz Jezierski, 16, and China’s No 1 Yi.

The first contest began in similar fashion with Dylan taking the first frame by 41 points to 52 but then losing the second on the final black ball, 58-48.

Again the Paddock Wood tyro came back strongly to take the next two frames, 52-44 followed by a crushing 45-7 margin.

Yi is a regular century breaker and he proved too strong for his English opponent, winning three frames 78-10, 101-1 and 87-27 including a break of 73 in the second.

Dylan did manage a classy break of 24 in the final frame after which Yi’s father and coach talked to Dylan and his father Lee on Google translate, praising the youngster’s cue action and professional attitude.

On the third day Dylan lost 3-0 again, this time to the experienced 16-year-old England international Isa Ishtiaq from Leeds (49-29, 52-44, 63-50).

But he impressed again in the final frame with a break of 26 and was confident of going through to the knockout stages.

After those two defeats, however, his frame average was poor and he had to contest a preliminary play-off match.

He found himself up against the experienced Welsh international Bradley Tyson, 16, with the winner going on to play in the last 32 against England’s No 1, Sean Maddocks.

Tyson raced into a convincing lead, taking the first frame by 53 points to 10, but a tired-looking Dylan drew on his reserves again and came back in frame two to win 53-26.

Tyson stamped his authority back on the tie, taking the third 58-28, only to see Dylan fight back again convincingly to win frame four 53-20.

The decider was a tense affair with Tyson making the early running and Dylan mounting an impressive comeback.

But it proved too little too late and Tyson went on to clear the final colours and take the frame 61-26 to win an epic tussle 3-2.

Tyson lost to Maddocks in the next round, with the English boy going on to reach the final where he lost to China’s Gao Yang, 15; his compatriot Yi lost to him in the semi-final.

Lee was bullish about his son’s prospects afterwards, saying: “I think we saw a glimpse of the Dylan of the future in frames two and four, and it was enthralling to watch.

“I would predict not only a professional career for him but a potential world champion in the making.”

He added: “Dylan can be proud of his efforts here, as he played in a sporting and professional style and has made many new friends and admirers from around the world.

“He can reflect that he was the youngest player to make the knockout stages of the tournament.”

World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association chairman Jason Ferguson tweeted: “Keep up the good work Dylan! It was a pleasure to see you playing in the WSF tournament.”

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