Germany’s Lukas Kleckers secured a place on the World Snooker Tour by defeating Martin O’Donnell 4-1 in the final round of Q School event one in Preston.
Q School began with 206 players battling it out for 12 fresh two-year tour cards. Sunday’s four winning quarter-finalists have gained their place on tour, as will the four to emerge from next week’s event two. The remaining spots will be allocated to the best placed players across both tournaments.
Victory for 20-year-old Kleckers means he will be the first German to compete with a full tour card since Patrick Einsle in 2010. His qualification is sure to come as a huge boost to snooker fans in Germany, where the popularity of the sport has reached an all-time high. The German Masters in Berlin has played host to huge crowds in recent years, with attendances reaching as high as 2,500 at the Tempodrom venue.
O’Donnell dropped off the tour this season after World Championship qualifying and will turn his attention to event two, where he will hope to secure an immediate return to the professional ranks.
The German controlled this afternoon’s tie, after being pegged back to 1-1 he claimed three in a row to clinch his place on the tour, making a break of 42 to wrest the advantage in the fifth frame.
“I can’t believe it, I’m still shaking,” said Kleckers. “There is a big snooker community in Germany and they will all be going mad right now. It’s very big for them and they have really supported me. My dream would be to inspire more players to come through. I would love to get more people playing snooker in Germany.
“I’m not sure what to expect because the tour is very hard. If I can do enough over the next two seasons to stay on tour, then that is the target. Everything after that is a bonus.”
Allan Taylor sealed an immediate return to the tour, defeating Sean O’Sullivan 4-0 in their quarter-final clash.
O’Sullivan also dropped off tour at the end of last season, but will have to join O’Donnell in looking to ensure his return in event two.
Taylor had looked set to miss out at the last 16 stage, when he trailed Daniel Ward 3-2 and required a snooker. However, after Ward went in-off he capitalised to book a decider. He then compiled a classy run of 96 to win 4-3. The 32-year-old was clearly relieved after recapturing his tour card.
“My last 16 match was just one of those where I refused to lose,” said Taylor. “I just had to take the bull by the horns and punish his mistake and I obviously made 96 in the decider. That last match with Sean almost felt like a freebie. I was in control throughout most of the match. I’m over the moon to win.”
Ashley Hugill has secured a full tour card for the first time after four years at Q School. The 22-year-old potter from York defeated William Lemons 4-2 to acquire professional status.
Billy Joe Castle also joins the professional ranks for the first time. The 24-year-old from Southampton defeated tour veteran Paul Davison 4-2 to book his tour card. Castle also defeated China’s Zhang Yong in the last 16, who dropped off the tour at the end of last season.