Aaron Hill got his 2022/23 season off to a positive start by reaching Stage Two of Championship League Snooker in Leicester.
The Cork cueist’s one victory and two draws proved to be enough to see him finish in first place with five points.
Hill opened the competition with a tidy break of 101 before seeing off Craig Steadman with a 3-0 scoreline.
The former European under-18 and under-21 champion then surrendered leads in his two subsequent fixtures.
David Grace and Ben Hancorn subsequently fought back against the Irishman to gain respective 2-2 ties at the Morningside Arena.
However, it ultimately didn’t end up being costly, with Hill holding on top spot thanks to a superior frame difference over Grace – who also drew with Hancorn but could only beat Steadman 3-1.
Hill was relegated from the Main Tour at the end of last season following a disappointing rookie spell on the professional circuit.
But the 20 year-old immediately bounced back after a strong performance in Q School at Ponds Forge in Sheffield.
Meanwhile, Robert Milkins also qualified for the next phase of the Championship League, which represents the season-opening ranking event for the 2022/23 campaign.
Milkins enjoyed a 100% record from his opening two matches against Sanderson Lam and Allan Taylor, dropping just one frame in the process.
It set up a dramatic final clash against Andy Hicks in the league format, the latter having also won his first two ties.
With a slightly inferior frame difference, Hicks knew that he had to beat Milkins to progress, but despite taking the first frame he could only manage a 2-2 draw.
The result sends Gibraltar Open champion Milkins through to Stage Two, which will take place in just under a month.
The reason for the lengthy wait is the Championship League format itself, with a further 30 groups to be contested in Stage One across 15 more days of action before we can move on to the next part of the competition.
It’s an elongated process that isn’t really befitting of a launch to a new season, but it is what it is.
On Tuesday, Group 4 will see Zhao Xintong enter the fray alongside Noppon Saengkham, Michael Holt, and Steven Hallworth – the latter two now participating as amateur top-ups.
Priced at around 12/1 using the Coral app, Zhao is among the outright betting favourites for success in this summer’s Championship League Snooker.
Group 31 is also scheduled with Anthony Hamilton, Hammad Miah, Adam Duffy, and Ashley Hugill in action.
Live coverage is available on FreeSports and Matchroom.Live in the UK and Ireland, and by various other means around the world.
Click here to view the draw (times: CET)
Featured photo credit: WST