Local pool ace Mark Gray has made a cracking start to the new season.
The 42 year-old from Bourne, who is the resident professional at Bourne Snooker Centre, plays on the European 9-Ball circuit and has just returned from a successful trip to Italy.
Competing in the first Euro Tour event of 2016 in Treviso, he finished fifth out of 186 entries and that moved him up one place in the European rankings.
He is now ranked number two behind Niels ‘The Terminator’ Feijen of the Netherlands.
Gray reached the quarter-finals in Italy and picked up some prize scalps along the way, including those of Finland’s top player Jani Siekkinen and Spanish number one David Alcaide.
He was eventually beaten 9-7 by Nicos Ekonomopoulous, the two-times Mosconi Cup winner (like Gray) from Greece.
Gray’s results were:
Round One - beat Mark Magi (Estonia) 9-5.
Round Two - beat Abdulla Omran-Salem (United Arab Emirates) 9-3.
Round Three - beat Daryl Peach (England) 9-5.
Last 32 - beat Jani Siekkinen (Finland) 9-5.
Last 16 - beat David Alcaide (Spain) 9-6.
Last 8 - lost to Nicos Ekonomopoulous (Greece) 9-7.
Two weeks before the Italian venture, Gray played in the first GB9 competition of the year at Radisson Park Hotel in Telford.
Here he managed to win the main event beating Chris Hall in the final to take the £1,100 first prize.
He earlier beat Imran Majid in the semi-finals and Daryl Peach in the quarter-finals.
Then in the pro event the next day Gray managed to get to the final again - only this time he had to make do with the runners-up prize after losing to Craig Osborne from Ipswich in the decider.
He beat Peach yet again in the last eight and Phil Burford in the semis.
“I’m delighted with the way things have gone so far this year,” said Gray. “All in all it’s been a very good start and hopefully there’s much more to come.”
Gray is also a regular player in the Spalding & District Snooker League where for the third year in a row he and his partner Michael Byrne have got to the pairs final which will be played at Springfields on Sunday March 13.