Finishing in top eight of the world won’t distract Lee Mein

Lee Mein. Pictures: Toby Williams
Lee Mein. Pictures: Toby Williams
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Capital cueman Lee Mein ranks his performance in the World Under-21 Championship as his biggest achievement in snooker so far.

Mein reached the quarter-finals in Dubai last month before losing out to Ireland’s Josh Boileau, who went on to reach the final and become runner-up to winner Hossein Vafaei.

Picture Toby Williams 07920841392. Champion Snooker player Lee Mein photographed at the Locarno Snooker Hall, Slateford, Edinburgh.

Picture Toby Williams 07920841392. Champion Snooker player Lee Mein photographed at the Locarno Snooker Hall, Slateford, Edinburgh.

However, despite such a good run, Mein refused to get carried away with his performance when asked whether he could be the next snooker ace from the Capital to make it onto the Professional Tour. “I am delighted to have done so well in a tournament with so many quality players in it,” said Mein.

“I have been practising really hard and went in to the tournament knowing that I was capable of doing well, although to reach he last eight of a world tournament was more than I could have hoped for and is my biggest achievement in snooker by far.

“But turning professional is not on my mind. Don’t get me wrong, I would love to but the standard is so high. Next season, I will look to improve my performance in the Scottish tournaments and will also have a shot at a couple of the PTC events and see how I do at that level. If it was to come then great but for now I am just going to keep my head down and see where it gets me.”

Mein, who lives just five minutes from the Locarno Snooker Club, in Slateford where he plays, qualified from his group in the Under-21 event after winning two out of three of his matches. After defeating Ireland’s Daniel Dempsey to reach the last 32, Mein survived a black-ball finish to defeat Pakistan’s Hamza Akbar 5-4, before ousting Australia’s Kurt Brown 5-3 to reach a career best quarter-final. However, despite having chances, Mein found Boileau just too strong on the day and went out 6-0.

The former Firrhill High School pupil said “I had a few close matches but my matchplay overall was good and when it got to the key points in the matches, I held myself together well and took my chances.

“The black-ball win against Akbar could have gone any way but thankfully I got through that match and it gave me a lot of confidence. However, it was disappointing to go out the way I did. It was a strange match with most frames going to the colours. I got chances but I just couldn’t finish frames off and whenever I missed Josh would clear up to win the frame.”

Despite having had relatively modest success at junior level, Mein has been making steady progress. Having represented Scotland Under-14, Under-16 and Under-19 level, he was invited to represent Scotland in 2013 at the Euro Under-21s and again earlier this year. Last month, Mein reached the final of the Scottish Under-21 National championship losing to Glasgow’s Dylan Craig before earning the right to play alongside Craig and Glasgow’s Chris Totten in this year’s World Under-21 championship in the United Arab Emirates.

He said: “It has been hard going in the junior circuit in Scotland. There has been so many good players coming through the like Michael Leslie, Scott Donaldson, Robert Carlisle, Ross Muir and Eden Sharav that it was difficult for me to break through.

“It was near impossible to get near the international events as these guys were so good and always taking the places. However, I have played in the last three now and I am starting to get the taste for it.

The atmosphere is amazing and you get so much support from back home that it just makes you want to get back on the stage and do better the next time.”

Mein’s achievements were praised by Paul Marinello, owner of the Locarno Snooker Club. He said: “Lee has been working hard at his game and he shouldn’t underestimate his performance. He was up against some of the best players in the world in his age group and he got to the last eight.

“He is now becoming established at an International level and he just needs to keep working hard, get more tournaments under his belt and he will get even better.”