Polish teenager Antoni Kowalski secured the biggest title of his career to date as he defeated Rory McLeod 5-3 in the final to win the fourth Q Tour UK/Europe event of the season.
The latest stop on snooker’s secondary circuit, a bumper field of 139 players representing 24 different countries entered the tournament held at the Landywood Snooker Club near Walsall.
Competing in only his third Q Tour event during his maiden season on the circuit, Kowalski had previously reached the last four on debut at September’s Event Two in Stockholm.
Due to his performances at Q School earlier this year, Kowalski began his campaign in the last 64 where he ousted Alfie Davies – the other losing semi-finalist from Event Two – 3-2 with a 72 break in the deciding frame. He then compiled three half-century breaks during a 3-1 victory against English under-21 champion Ryan Davies in the last 32 and saw off former Crucible qualifier Simon Bedford 3-0 in the last 16.
Returning for Finals Day, the 19-year-old dispatched two further former professionals; Craig Steadman 4-2 in the quarter-finals and Steven Hallworth 4-1 in the last four – the latter performance saw him rack up four efforts of 50 or above.
Progressing through the other side of the draw was the vastly experienced McLeod.
Despite having not been past the last 16 in any of the opening three events of the term, the 52-year-old Jamaican enjoyed a dominant run to the final, dropping just a single frame en route. McLeod registered four clean sweep wins, including a 4-0 success against Harvey Chandler in the semi-finals.
Reigning Polish national champion Kowalski made a superb start to the title match as he rattled in runs of 70, 74 and 57 which helped put him 3-0 ahead before taking a close fourth frame on the final pink to go into the mid-session interval one frame away from glory.
However, determined former European Tour professional event winner McLeod shifted the momentum after the break as he opened his account with the aid of a 58 break in frame five and then threatened a huge comeback win as he also claimed the next two to move within one of his opponent.
With the pressure intensifying, though, Kowalski kept cool and completed the task in frame eight to secure the title and vital ranking points in his quest to reach the World Snooker Tour for the first time.
Zielona Góra cueist Kowalski becomes the fourth different winner from as many events on this season’s Q Tour UK/Europe series and he also represents the fourth different nationality to lift a trophy following previous event winners Liam Davies (Wales), Michael Holt (England) and Umut Dikme (Germany).