THE FIRST Q School event, which ended on Thursday, saw three players relegated from the circuit at the end of last season regain their places with a former professional also qualifying for the main tour in 2014/15.
Chinese players Tian Pengfei (pictured) and Zhang Anda were among the qualifiers at the Capital Venue in Gloucester, with Craig Steadman and Chris Melling also securing tour places.
Tian raced to a 4-0 victory over Scotland’s Eden Sharav, making breaks of 92 and 127. The key frame here was the third, which Tian won with a blue to black clearance.
Zhang made breaks of 86 and 71 as he cruised into a 3-0 lead over Welshman Jamie Rhys Clarke but lost the next two frames before Clarke cleared from last red to black in the sixth to force a decider. After two scoring visits had given him the early advantage, Zhang made 54 to complete a 4-3 victory.
Steadman, who relegated Steve Davis from the circuit by beating the snooker legend 10-8 in the World Championship qualifiers last month, compiled breaks of 70 and 84 as he defeated Irishman John Sutton 4-0.
Melling came from 3-2 down to beat Duane Jones, a former Welsh amateur champion, 4-3 and thus return to the pro snooker ranks for the first time in seven years.
Melling is better known as a pool player, having won the world 8-ball title twice. He also won a title on snooker’s Challenge Tour in 2003 and enjoyed success in 9-ball pool.
He told worldsnooker.com: “When I played pro snooker before there were only seven tournaments, played in Prestatyn and it was hard to get through the qualifiers.
“These days there are a lot more tournaments plus the flat draws give everyone a much better chance to get to the venues, and I love playing in front of a big crowd. In the past the top 16 were too protected.
“When I was a snooker player before I was mixing it with pool, which is difficult. I will still play a few pool events next season but mainly I will be focussed on snooker and I am really enjoying playing at the moment.
“It was only because the pool calendar went downhill that I started playing snooker a couple of months ago, for the first time in five years. I bought a cue, and on the third day of practice I made a 147. So I decided to give Q School a try, and now I’m on the tour for two years.”
Four more main tour places are available through the second Q School event, which starts on Friday.
Photographs by Monique Limbos.