Tuesday 19 April

Whelan and Hill Triumph on Professional Series

Jack Whelan and Michael Hill were the latest winners on this season’s Ultimate Pool Professional Series following title victories last weekend at the Birmingham Hilton Metropole.

Whelan lifted his first trophy with the organisation in Event 3, just months after joining its professional ranks.

A semi-finalist on his singles debut at the Professional Cup just after Christmas, former world champion Whelan defeated fellow Derby native Craig Lakin 7-3 in the preliminary round before receiving a bye in the last 32 due to Australia’s Jake McCartney not making it to the event in time due to visa issues.


Subsequent last 16 and quarter-final wins over Greg Batten (7-1) and Aaron Davies (7-4) put Whelan into Saturday’s Finals Night.

There, he ended the impressive run of new professional Hiten Patel 7-4 in the semi-finals to set up a tasty title match with reigning Professional Cup champion Jordan Shepherd – the man that extinguished Whelan’s hopes in that particular event.

‘The Welsh Wizard’ emerged from a showcase top half of the draw, eliminating Dan Eaton-Lees (7-3), Professional Grand Slam champion Stevie Dempsey (7-4), Aaron Bassoo (7-3), number one ranked player Shane Thompson (7-2) and then Craig Waddingham (7-5) in the last four.


Shepherd raced into a 3-0 lead in the final, but Whelan soon got a firm foothold in the tie by registering four successive break or reverse clearances to move in front. He then extended his advantage to 5-3 before his opponent stopped the run by chalking up the eighth.

However, ‘The Wonder’ was not to be denied the trophy and a £10,000 payday, as he strung together the next four frames to record an emotional 8-4 triumph and make his big breakthrough on the Ultimate Pool circuit.

Hill secured his second accolade with Ultimate Pool, and in as many Pro Series weekends with victory in Event 4.

Having lost in two finals last year, Hill broke his trophy duck with the organisation only last month in Blackpool with Pro Series 1, and ominously for the field it looks like the reigning six-time world champion now has a taste for titles on the Ultimate Pool scene.


‘The Machine’ bounced back from a last 16 exit in Event 3 by coming through a very tough gauntlet which included wins over three of the circuit’s top four ranked professionals. Hill saw off Dylan Leary (7-5), Declan Brennan (7-3), reigning UP Masters champion Phil Harrison (7-4) before recovering to pip Shaun Storry 7-6 in the semi-finals.

That win set up a blockbuster clash with Gareth Potts in the final.

For a third successive Pro Series weekend, Potts would appear in a title match. The four-time world champion saw off two–time world champion Tom Cousins in the last 32 – for the second time that weekend – and then Aaron Davies (7-6), Jimmy Croxton (7-3) and Christophe Lambert (7-4).

Predictably, the final between arguably the two greatest players of all-time generated significant interest. It was a long, eagerly anticipated meeting – the pair had not faced each other on a big stage for over 11 years. A rivalry like no other, the two legends have defeated each other in a world championship final.


In front of a packed live audience at the venue, Hill claimed the opening frame after his opponent went in-off, although Potts responded with a break clearance to level.

Many would have expected the match to pan out in a similar back-and-forth manner, but this wasn’t the case. Hill continued to maximise his opportunities, whilst Potts seemed to be a good shot or pot away from capitalising on his chances.

Hill went on to claim the next seven consecutive frames to record a resounding 8-1 success and become only the second player to have won multiple Pro Series titles after three-time winner Thompson.