Thursday, 23 February 2012

Craigie cracks on

This week's China Open qualifiers has served up plenty of impressive performances; but one player has caught my eye more than most.

Sam Craigie - enjoying life on the main tour for the first time this season - has been in inspired form.

Wins against Adam Wicheard, Liu Song and Gerard Greene have captured the imagination of many and means he's just one step away from qualifying for his first major ranking event.

His performance today was of the highest order with breaks of of 137 and 129 helping him to a win against the former top 32 man.

Tomorrow he faces Ricky Walden to determine whether he can go all the way to Beijing. Many will expect his fairytale run to end but this is a second chance for Craigie who has already played in the last 48 of ranking event this season, narrowly losing out 5-4 to Ken Doherty on the road to the German Masters.

This experience will serve the 18-year-old incredibly well and there's no doubting he has both the ability and steely determination to spring a surprise.

These are not his only successes in his maiden season. Wins against David Grace and Liu Song helped him on his way to a run in qualifying for the Australian Open, he beat Andrew Pagett in the UK Championship qualification process and captured victories over Stephen Lee and Michael en route to the last 16 of PTC11.

Craigie already has a lot to look back on with pride this season but he could be set for more yet.

His glittering amateur career suggests we shouldn't be surprised by his exploits either.  He's won national titles at under-14, under-15, under-16 and under-21 levels as well as captaining the England under-16 national team.

He was the youngest ever winner of the Junior Premier Tour at just 14 but even at the age of 10 was predicted by some as having a bright future in the game.

Keep your eye out for Sam Craigie.

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