Professional Snooker - 2016 Indian Open Qualifying (Day 1)
28th-30th May 2016 / Guild Hall, Preston, England
IT'S BACK! OPENING DAY REVIEW FROM PRESTON
Current Top 16 stars Marco Fu, Martin Gould and Kyren Wilson all emerged as winners from the opening day's play in 2016 Indian Open Qualifying; the curtain raiser to the new 2016/2017 professional snooker season.
Fu, a semi-finalist at the Crucible last month, made a brace of half-centuries to beat amateur top-up player Louis Heathcoate 4-2, whilst German Masters champion Gould registered runs of 54, 72 and 58 in eliminating rookie pro Christopher Keogan 4-1, despite the Q-School graduate taking Frame 1 with a 64.
Shanghai Masters winner Wilson enjoyed his bow as a member of the elite for the first time in his short career by destroying Egypt's Hatem Yaseen 4-0 with efforts of 58 and 68. Yaseen, the 2015 African Champion, scored just a total of 17 points throughout.
The highest ranked player at the Guild Hall on Saturday to be dismissed was the World Number 22 David Gilbert, who lost out 4-2 to Liam Highfield.
World Number 27, Ben Woollaston, joined Gilbert through the exit door after going down 4-3 to Thailand's 2015 Asian Under 21 champion Akani Songsermsawad (pictured above).
'Sunny', as he is affectionately known, had a tour card last season, but only entered World Championship qualifying where he was ousted by fellow countryman Thepchaiya Un-Nooh 10-9. He notched up his maiden pro win after being aided with a 54 break in the decider; he had earlier constructed a 75 too.
Other Asian cueists to upset 'seeded' opposition included James Wattana (Thailand) and Hamza Akbar (Pakistan).
Veteran Wattana chalked up a very impressive 4-1 win against Norway's Kurt Maflin. Somewhat bizarrely, Maflin's only success of the afternoon in Frame 4 saw him compile a break of 138 - the highest of the day by some distance.
Akbar got the better of Chris Wakelin 4-1 to build on his victory in WCQ at Ponds Forge in April.
Professional debutant Zhao Xintong survived a comeback from Tom Ford to book his place in Hyderabad after pipping the World Number 43 4-3 on the final black ball.
The Chinese teenager was a regular fixture on the circuit as an amateur player last season due to a high 2015 Q-School ranking, but officially claimed his tour card courtesy of reaching the IBSF World Amateur Championship final in Egypt last November.
Zhao made a 53 break in Frame 2 on his way to a 3-0 advantage. But Ford, last year's Riga Open runner-up, rattled in runs of 68 and 56 in squaring it up at 3-3.
The Leicester cueist also led 47-0 in the decider, before the youngster attacked.
There will also be more representation for China in India during July with Xiao Guodong and Zhou Yuelong also securing qualification in Preston.
Reigning World Seniors Champion Mark Davis began his 26th consecutive season on the top tier with a comprehensive 4-0 success over James Cahill; posting a top contribution of 85 in the process.
Wales' Duane Jones enjoyed just a single victory in major ranking events throughout 2015/2016, but he immediately matched that tally here with a 4-1 success against Yu De Lu. The 23 year old was in serious scoring form with breaks of 70, 115 and 72.
Gary Wilson, Eden Sharav, Jamie Burnett, Martin O'Donnell, Jamie Jones, Allan Taylor, Dominic Dale, Fraser Patrick, Peter Ebdon, Robbie Williams and John Astley also negotiated the qualifying hurdle.
PLAYER OF THE DAY - AKANI SONGSERMSAWAD
This 20 year old Thai could have tremendous potential for the future.
He very nearly upset compatriot Un-Nooh at Ponds Forge, but did well this time around to hold his nerve in the decider against a classy player such as Woollaston.
Photo Credit - World Snooker
Written and published by Michael Day on the 28th May 2016