Snooker: Leslie wins key to open door to two years on pro tour

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Bonnyrigg’s Michael Leslie has won a place on the World Snooker professional tour for the next two seasons by winning the European Billiards & Snooker Association (EBSA) Under-21 Championship in Sofia, Bulgaria, with a 6-2 victory over Shane Castle in the final.

Leslie, 19, came close to winning the EBSA Under-21 trophy last year but he fell short in the final as he lost 6-3 to surprise finalist Kaceper Filipiak(Poland).

However, at this year’s event, he managed to go one better beating impressive 14-year-old Shane Castle 6-2 in the final and to receive a nomination for the World Snooker pro tour for the next two seasons.

Breaks of 46, 76, 42 and 121 took Leslie into a 4-0 interval lead in the best of 11-frame final. Castle responded to take the next and rattled in 84 to close the gap to 4-2. However, Leslie hit a 100 in the next to stand within a frame of the championship. In frame eight, Castle broke down early and Leslie closed out the match in style with a run of 91.

A delighted Leslie revealed after the match: “I cannot believe it yet. It feels like a dream. Last year I was just so disappointed to lose in the final, but I came here again this year and I felt stronger. I think maybe a wee bit of experience showed in the final which made the difference.

“The support from Scotland is brilliant. I practice every week with Marcus Campbell, Anthony McGill and I’ve had a few games with John Higgins as well. I’m really grateful to the support I’ve had from my parents, the Red Triangle Club at Cumbernauld and my sponsors, Billy Stirling and Alan Maxfield.”

Looking forward, Leslie said: “The chance to play and travel all over the world is just amazing.”