Hartlepool snooker ace Ryan Clark wins first match since turning pro

Snooker player Ryan Clark. Picture by FRANK REID

Snooker player Ryan Clark. Picture by FRANK REID

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HARTLEPOOL snooker star Ryan Clark has celebrated his first win on the game’s professional tour – but he admits there is room for improvement.

The 20-year-old concedes that he “scraped” through the first round of qualifying for the Australian Open with a 5-3 victory over Vinnie Calabrese.

Clark only landed his place on the World Tour last week and suffered defeat in qualifying for China’s Wuxi Classic on Tuesday.

But the former Dyke House pupil bounced back against Australian opponent Calabrese last night and will now face Belgium’s Luca Brecel in Saturday’s second phase of qualifying in Gloucester.

“I’m over the moon to be through and to get my first win so soon after getting on the Tour,” Clark told SportMail.

“But I did not play my best if I’m being honest and I scraped through in the end.

“I had a couple of good breaks in there but I didn’t really settle down as well as I would have liked.

“I lost the first frame but had a couple of 59s to go 3-1 up.

“He got it back to 4-3 but I was better in the eighth frame and did not give him a sniff.

“My safety was better and I did enough to get the win, which is what it’s all about.

“I suppose if you’re still winning when you’re not at your best then it must be good, that’s encouraging at least.”

Clark worked himself into a commanding position, leading 4-1 after five frames.

He needed just one more to progress but Calabrese fought back and took the contest to 4-3.

Clark, though, was first to get in at the table in the eighth frame and forged into a decisive lead thanks to a break of 45, his safety game ultimately seeing out the match.

His next challenge is highly-rated Bresel, himself just 18 years old.

“Luca will be a tougher game,” Clark went on.

“He’s quite an attacking player and likes to take on his shots.

“I’ve played him once before when we were younger and I won so it will be interesting to see how we’ve both come on.

“But, with all respect to Vinnie, I think Luca will take advantage if I make the same mistakes as I did last night.

“It’s all about getting to five frames, though, and I’m hoping my game clicks into place a little bit more than it did last night.”

Meanwhile, Clark’s Hartlepool Snooker Centre comrade, Darren Cook, was beaten 5-2 by Joe Swail in yesterday’s qualifier.