Promising snooker talent Charlie Ripp has progressed to the last 16 of the U21 National Snooker Championship for the first time, writes Hannah Dolman.
The 19-year-old from Haverhill has tried to win the regional South qualifier several times, but a runner-up spot was his best result until this year.
Ripp, a former Samuel Ward Academy pupil, said he was ‘very happy’.
The competition is split into three regions — North, Midlands and South — with at least eight players from each area competing for a last 16 place.
The National last 16 stage will take place on April 28 at the Northern Snooker Centre in Leeds, to be played over a best of seven frame knockout.
A semi-final will follow before the final, to be played at the National Finals Weekend at the South West Snooker Academy in Gloucester on June 9.
Ripp has a long way to go to make it to that stage, however, according to coach and mentor Tim Squires.
He said: “He’s definitely got the talent and ability, but he’s also still developing and learning. Making the last 16 is really important, it’s a big step up for him in terms of his level.
“He needs to take the chance to learn and see what it’s like playing the best in the country.
“He actually practices with a full-time snooker professional and that’s had a big impact on his development. Particularly the mental side of his game which he’s found tough.”
Ripp, who trains at the Ex-Servicemen’s Club, said he was aware it marked a major milestone in his development, describing the achievement as ‘the start of the next stage’ of his career.
He said: “It’s been hard but I’m very happy. I’m going to prepare with lots of practice.
“There’s definitely a bit of pressure on me now, partly from myself, but also the confidence of proving that I can do it.”
Ripp, who works part-time, said it required ‘a lot of commitment’ to reach the level required to make the last 16 in the country, but getting there had renewed his desire. “I’m looking forward to it, doing the best I can and seeing how far I can go,” he added.
Squires, who said he can see himself in the young player, explained that a place in the Finals could also lead to international selection.
It is also a chance to gain wider attention from sponsors, while prize money is paid down to the quarter-finalists.
Squires said: “It’s a very expensive sport — £6 to £8 for an hour’s table time which quickly adds up with the amount of table time needed.
“So finance is always problematic, we are so grateful to the club for their help.”