Q School snooker 2021 news : 'A minefield' – Duane Jones keeps cool to secure his tour status
Q School is complete for another year after Duane Jones, Dean Young, Lei Peifan and Ian Burns secured their professional World Snooker Tour status for the next two years after a gripping final day at Ponds Forge in Sheffield. Hammad Miah and Mitchell Mann also earned tour cards after finishing third and fifth respectively on the Q School order of merit made up from the three qualfying events.
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Former German Masters semi-finalist Duane Jones avoided losing his elite status on the professional World Snooker circuit with a solid 4-3 win over Si Jiahui on the final day of Q School in Sheffield.
The Welshman went into his final qualifier in event three on Sunday – the concluding day of the frantic three-week tournament – knowing he had already regained his spot on the main tour courtesy of a top-two place on the competition's order of merit, but edged out 18-year-old Si, who made breaks of 82, 86 and 74 yet still lost.
Jones, 28, enjoyed a 4-2 victory over world number one Judd Trump in the second round of the Welsh Open two years ago, but could manage only nine wins last season to force him to return to Q School.
“I think on paper this is the toughest Q School I’ve ever played in," said world number 87 Jones after securing his new two-year card.
It’s been a tough six weeks to be honest with you. Losing my place on the tour, I only fell off by one position in the one-year list. To come back and get straight through doesn’t get any better, I’m over the moon with it.
"The draw was just a minefield. With it being seeded the way it has, people said it would be easier but it isn’t. There are seeds all over the draw and before you could be in a little spot without them.
“I’m just going to try and keep going and practising, rather than take a break and start again. The iron is hot now so I’ll keep the ball rolling for as long as I can.
“In round three, I went for a bit of breakfast before the match and I couldn’t get into my hotel room. The card wouldn’t work.
Duane Jones kept his cool to secure his elite status on the World Snooker Tour.
Image credit: Eurosport
"We tried for an hour and a half and I thought I wouldn’t make it. I came over to tell the tournament director I might not make it. Eventually we managed to bust the door open with spanners, crowbars and tools, it was all coming out. The hotel allowed me to do it to make my match. I am very lucky to even be here!”
While Si came up agonisingly short, fellow teenagers Lei Peifan, 18, and 19-year-old rookie Dean Young will take their respective places on the main tour next season after completing the passage to potting riches at Ponds Forge.
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Scotland's Young top scored with a knock of 91 in a concluding 4-1 victory over Haydon Pinhey that will see him make his professional debut while Lei regained the tour spot he lost last season with wins over Jed Mann, Patrick Wallace, Ben Mertens, Sanderson Lam and Billy Castle.
Ian Burns regained his tour status courtesy of a 4-1 success against Mark Lloyd with fellow Englishmen Hammad Miah and Mitchell Mann making up the 14 qualifiers from the three-week event via their overall returns in the competition's order of merit.
“I’m relieved more than anything. After coming so close in the first event, losing out to Peter Lines in the final round. I’m over the moon to get through," said former Welsh Open quarter-finalist Burns.
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“That last match is horrible. I never expected to get through easily. It is just a case of getting over the line. Duane Jones and Lei Peifan were playing with no pressure, but I am just so relieved to get through.
“My little boy was born back in January, so there is that going on in life as well. I think it spurs you on a little bit to not do it for myself but do it for the family as well.
It has been tough coming back and a long three weeks in Sheffield. Especially in your hotel room trying to kill time. You just have to fill your time as best you can and keep yourself focussed.
The new 2021/22 snooker season officially begins with the Championship League on 4 July.