Jack Whelan defeated Shaun Storry in a close and compelling final to win the 2022 Ultimate Pool Pro Cup in front of the live television cameras at the Players Pool & Snooker Lounge in Newcastle-under-Lyme.
The victory represents The Wonder’s second Ultimate Pool ranking title – following success on the Pro Series back in April - and banks him a top prize of £10,000.
The former world blackball champion headed into the opening professional tournament of the new 2023 season in fine form having reached the final of the Champion of Champions earlier this month and comfortably come through qualifying to reach the 32-player four-day main stages on BT Sport.
A semi-finalist here 12 months ago, Whelan looked good for another deep run as he hit peak form emerging from Group G with wins over Lewis Roberts (5-4) and Phil Parkin (7-1).
The Derby cueist then recovered from a set down to oust one of the all-time greats of the sport, Chris Melling, via a 6-red shootout in the quarter-finals. That result set up a semi-final showdown with defending champion Jordan Shepherd – a repeat of their meeting at the same round last year.
This time, however, it was Whelan who would make the final with an impressive straight sets win.
Whelan’s opponent there was Storry, who likewise was aiming for his second Ultimate Pool title after glory on the Pro Series in the past.
One of the circuit’s most consistent exponents, it was no surprise to see ‘Autopilot’ challenging for the trophy come the final night. He won Group A during the opening session of the televised stages and then returned later in the week to eliminate reigning WEPF World Champion Ronan McCarthy in a 6-red shootout in the last eight and then Australia’s Pro Series event winner Jake McCartney in the last four.
Both coming into the final with a string of brilliant performances behind them, the title match wasn’t able to develop into a flowing affair as several frames became protracted – leading the encounter to be nervy, but intriguing.
With the first set clock wearing thin on time, the score remained at just 2-2, although Storry very nearly pulled off a sensational last-gasp clearance – only a very thin cut on the 8-ball just before the buzzer denying him. Therefore, both players went into the second set with half a point each.
There was a stark contrast at the start of the second set, though, as Storry found a Golden Break in the first frame, and then went back in front with the first break clearance of the match in frame three.
The tie then reverted back to being scrappy as neither player could distance himself from the other. However, at 4-4 – with a grandstand finish in prospect – Whelan enjoyed his best spell of the final by registering a reverse clearance followed by a break clearance to move ahead by two at such a crucial juncture.
With only around two minutes left, Storry embarked on a rapid break clearance to give himself a chance, but in his haste, he fouled and handed Whelan a glorious chance to win the set outright – which he did.