At age 19 Ōtaki cueist Blane Watson is already a New Zealand champion and now he is ready to take on the world.
“Winning the New Zealand under-21 snooker title was huge for my confidence and I’m really looking forward to playing in the World Championship in Sydney.”
Watson’s world championship mission begins at the end of this week with four section play matches. The young Kiwi is the number 1 seed in his section. His first match is against Chinese rep Kang He. Also in the section is experienced England player Colin Mitchell, and two Aussies Brad Sheridan and Nathan Cox.
Watson heads to the World Champs on the back of his courageous win in the NZU21 final.
In the semi-finals the fluent left-hander was up against Christchurch player Shaddon McKenzie but proved far to strong for the southerner, taking the match 4-0.
The final against vaunted Waikato cueing Cody Unkovich was to prove are far more testing challenge in their best of seven frames encounter.
Unkovich, with a series of outstanding pots on the colours, took the first frame easily. Superb potting highlighted the second frame won by Watson 80-42. A superb break under pressure saw Watson take a 2-1 lead before Unkovich levelled at 2-2 with a hard earned win in frame four.
Watson made a flying start to the fifth frame with a well constructed break of 41 before Unkovich fought his way back into the frame and had chances to win on the final pink but the final say went to Watson who played an excellent last pot on the black to take a 3-2 lead.
The Ōtaki cueist had a couple of opportunities to finished the match but twice jawed the pink and an errant safety shot saw Uncovich level and send the match to a final frame decider.
An early 31 break gave Watson the advantage and he kept attacking and at 57-15 looked a good bet until Uncovich responded with a break of 26 and with one red left it was still a live match. However the Ōtaki teenager was not to be denied – a top class pressure pot on the final red into the centre pocket sent him on his way to a 77-42 win and his New Zealand title.
“I was a bit shocked at first but pleased I played well under pressure and was able to put Cody under pressure at the crucial time.
“This was my biggest win and now I can look forward to the World Championships in February,” says Watson.
The win was celebrated at The Ōtaki RSA and the Waikanae Club where Blane is a regular player and well known for his attacking style of play.
The Ōtaki teenager went into the tournament in great form, having earlier combined with his father Don Watson to win the New Zealand Fire Service Pairs Snooker championship in Hawera. In the final they dominated to win 3-0 with Blane also taking out the tournament highest break prize.