Hong Kong's promising snooker star Cheung Ka-wai, 16, claimed the title at the Hong Kong Under-21 Snooker Open Championship 2016 (Event One) on Sunday. He won a narrow 4-3 victory over his opponent Leong Man-hoi, 19, in the final at World Snooker Club 147, in Sheung Wan.
The final was played over seven frames, and any errors in a frame could change the result of the match. Ka-wai was 2-3 behind but he managed to make a strong comeback in the sixth and seventh frames.
The players reached a 14-14 tie in the sixth frame, but Man-hoi's reckless attempt to hit a red ball let Ka-wai take control of the rest of the frame. Ka-wai felt more confident and his game improved. He finally took the sixth frame 61-14.
The seventh frame tested both players' capacity to overcome pressure and minimise their errors. Although Man-hoi led 11-10, he missed a red ball leading Ka-wai to hit back with a 63 break. Ka-wai's ability to exploit his opponent's errors helped him win the seventh and final frame, 81-19.
He told Young Post that strong defence played a vital role in the battle against Man-hoi. "My opponent's tactics were strong today, so I needed to strengthen my defence, such as by setting different balls in an awkward position to stop him hitting them easily."
Ka-wai also said staying calm was key to winning the final. "I didn't start well and made careless mistakes. I was angered by missing some easy shots in the first two frames. Later I stayed more focused and patient," he said.
"With a clearer mind, my game improved. The final taught me to be mentally tougher in future tournaments."
Ka-wai won the title at the IBSF World Under-18 Snooker Championship (men's category) in St Petersburg, Russia, in October last year. He said he is now preparing for the 17th ACBS Asian U21 Snooker Championship to be held from March 1-8 in Colombo, Sri Lanka. He's also set his sights on the 2018 Asian Games in Indonesia.
His coach, Alan Wong, said Ka-wai needed to work hard to improve, particularly on his ability to overcome pressure. "Ka-wai was nervous so he didn't have a good start. Coping with stress will help him tackle tough and intense competition," said Wong.
Ka-wai is taking part in a partnership programme between the Hong Kong Sports Institute (HKSI) and two institutions from the Elite Athlete-Friendly School Network - the English Schools Foundation and Lam Tai Fai College (LTFC).
HKSI and LTFC signed a Memorandum of Understanding in 2014 so Ka-wai can train full-time and continue his studies at the secondary level. "I am grateful for the programme, as I can concentrate on training. I look forward to participating in local or international tournaments," he said.
Tommy Fong Wah-fu from Hong Kong Billiard Sports Control Council said the sport needs more support, so that it can be more widely promoted.
"Local snooker players like Marco Fu Ka-chun and Ng On-yee had outstanding results in international competitions. Our level of this sport is also globally recognised," said Fong.
"We hope that more tournaments like the Under-21 Snooker Open Championship will be organised. We look forward to more young people joining this sport and performing brilliantly in international tournaments."
Who are your favourite athletes?
Snooker players "The Rocket" Ronnie O'Sullivan and John Higgins, because of their formidable defence and attack. They are also able to tackle tough and unexpected situations in every competition.
If you could have a superpower for 24 hours, what would you choose and how would you use it?
The Anywhere Door in the Japanese manga series, Doraemon. This gadget would let me go anywhere by simply opening the door.
Who is your favourite singer?
Hong Kong pop singer Eason Chan Yick-shun. His songs, such as Bicycle, are powerful and inspiring.
Imagine you're a famous athlete. What company would you sign on as a spokesperson for and what product would you promote?
Parris Cues. I would promote this company's cues because they are well-made.