Nico Elton hopes to follow in the footsteps of snooker star Judd Trump when he takes part in the English Under-16 final tomorrow.
Elton faces Brandon Sargeant in tomorrow’s final, on home ‘soil’ at the Star Snooker Academy, inside the main building at Sheffield United’s Shirecliffe Academy base.
Trump, the former World number one, is a former winner of the English U16 title, as is Jack Lisowski, who this year qualified for the World Championships at the Crucible for the first time.
Both players completed scholarships under Keith Warren and Garry Baldrey when the duo ran the Academy of Snooker at the English Institute of Sport - and Elton now practises under their tutelage at the Star Snooker Academy, alongside professionals including Ding Junhui and Dechawat Poomjang.
“I think I’ve played well so far,” former Meadowhead School pupil Nico, who registered three impressive victories to reach the final stage, told GrassRoots.
“I feel in good form, and I’ve been practising well on the table leading up to the final.
“So I’m confident of beating him.
“A lot of good names have come through and won this tournament, like Jack, Judd and Ben Woollaston.
“Hopefully I can win this tournament, turn professional and go and join them on the main tour.”
To reach the U16 final, Nico first beat John Morrel 4-1, then triumphed 4-2 over Aaron Davies.
Nico’s first real test came in the semi-final, when he faced Louis Heathcote - who triumphed when the two last met, in the English Under-14 final two years ago.
When Leicester’s Louis raced into a 4-0 lead, a similar outcome looked on the cards until Nico reeled off five consecutive frames, to secure a 5-4 win and set up a ‘home’ final against Sargeant.
Nico’s main target is to next year join the professional tour, via the ‘Q-School’ qualification competition.
Twelve players will gain a two-year place on the main tour, if they win through the qualifying stages held at the World Snooker Academy, at the EIS.
Nico has every right to feel confident of achieving his goal - last year, he won the Under-15 Pontins ‘Star of the Future’ event - also previously won by Trump and Woollaston - and finished second recently in the European Under-17s tournament in Malta, losing to Brian Cini in the final.
n Nico’s U16 final against Brandon Sargeant begins at 11am, at the Star Snooker Academy in Shirecliffe.