Hiten Patel and Craig Waddingham were the final event winners of the inaugural Ultimate Pool Challenger Series season last weekend at the Players Pool & Snooker Lounge.
Indian international Patel travelled to Newcastle-under-Lyme ranked 26th, but his live televised victory in Event 7 saw him shoot up the rankings into the top eight, earning him promotion to the Ultimate Pool professional ranks for the 2022 campaign. As well as a payday of £5,000, he also booked a place at this Sunday’s end-of-season Champion of Champions Shootout which will be live on FreeSports TV.
Patel began with wins over Nigel Craig (6-2), Lee Washbrook (6-4) and Toby Bolt (6-0) to qualify for Saturday’s last 16. There, he dispatched Joe Nulty 6-3 and then former event winner and number one Challenger heading into the weekend, Dan Eaton-Lees 6-2. In the last four he eliminated another event champion in the form of Waddingham 6-5 to reach the evening’s final.
In the title match Patel faced Lewis Roberts who was appearing in just his third Challenger event of the season. A former snooker professional, Roberts defeated players from five different countries in the opening five rounds before getting the better of the consistent youngster Luke Gilbert, 6-3.
The final was a treat for all. Patel took an early lead, but Roberts found his feet in the race to six, moving on the hill at 5-3 up.
With time running down, Patel crafted a break clearance to make it 5-4 before a dramatic frame ten which saw Roberts miscue when the cueball was next to the side cushion and just two pots away from glory.
Patel coolly took his chance to level and, with just over 90 seconds remaining on the match-clock, he broke and cleared again in time to claim arguably the biggest title of his career to date.
Waddingham finished the season as the number one ranked Challenger after winning Event 8 – incredibly, his second event triumph on the Series in just four outings.
The former World Masters winner defeated Daniel Darton 6-1, Event 5 runner-up Craig Hart 6-3, Darren Matthew 6-1, Kyle Cope 6-1, Lee Kendall 6-1 and Phil Parkin 6-1 to make another final with a frame aggregate of 36-8.
His opponent for the title was maiden finalist Dominic Clemens who was constructing a late charge of his own to get into the 2022 professional ranks. The Cornishman knocked out Eaton-Lees 6-5 in round one and also pipped Morocco's Oussama Masskini 6-5 in the last four.
However, the final would be a bridge too far for Clemens as Waddingham pocketed £3,000 following a 6-3 success.
As well as his two wins, Waddingham also made the semi-finals of the other two events he participated in. He will undoubtedly be a handful next season and surely nobody would be surprised if he won an event on Ultimate Pool’s top tier straight away.