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HOME INTERNATIONALS - 2003
Event Report
STOKE-on-Trent pool ace Gareth Potts has wasted no time in establishing himself on the domestic and international scene.

The promising England international proved his class again with a hard-fought victory to win the Men's individual title at the Home Internationals Pool Championships at the Britannia Hotel in Stockport.

Potts, who overcame some difficult matches on route to the final, triumphed 6-5 over Welshman Russell Burgess to take the coveted crown.

And the title, which earnt the young star a 600 winner's cheque, was richly deserved as Burgess refused to lie down as he recovered having trailed 4-1 and 5-4 to take the match into a last frame decider.

At one stage it had looked like Potts was going to miss out on the coveted crown after not potting a ball of his break. That gifted Burgess the advantage, but the Welshman missed a difficult double on the black to win the game and Potts didn't waste his chance to close out the match.

"It was a fantastic victory for me considering that it was my fourth 6-5 on the trot," beamed Potts, who defeated fellow Englishman Mick Hill, Ireland's Derek Smith and John Column, and Darren Salvy (6-1) on his path to the final two.

"It was a great match, I went 4-1 up, but all of a sudden he's come back at me and I've had to make a couple of decent finishes towards the end."

Indeed, and none more so than the final frame where the pressure was really on Potts to put all the stops out of the bag. "He [Russell] tried a couple of shots to bring the black and was unlucky to make a mistake, but I was just happy to have another go at the balls," admitted Potts. "It was a case of holding myself together and making sure I won. "When you beat someone like Mick [Hill] it always gives you the confidence and belief to go on and win and I was delighted that I managed to do that. I've been really pleased with my form after the World Championships this year."

Success was also sweet for Sue Thompson who the women's crown, scooping a 200 winner's prize with a comfortable 5-0 victory over emerging North Ireland star Emma Cunningham, her country's team captain.

Scotland international Thompson was in sparkling form throughout the tournament and even surprised herself by dropping just three games on her way to the title. "I'm delighted with the way I played," said Thompson. "I've felt in good form all the way through this event."

A First Round victory over Mandy Palmer (5-1), followed by comprehensive wins against Barbara Taylor (5-1), Sonia McParland (5-0) and Lyndsay McKellar (5-1) guaranteed Thompson her place in the final.

And not satsified with their success in the individual events, Potts and Thompson then guided their respective countries to honours in the Team competition.

Potts starred in the England side which retained their Team crown with a 14-6 victory over Northern Ireland, while Thompson was also in fine knick as she helped guide Scotland to second place in Women's Team final.

It was Wales who took the overall ladies title as they defeated Scotland 8-4 in the final, having finished unbeaten in the qualifying stages. England won the 3rd/4th play-off match against Northern Ireland with an 8-1 triumph.

England men's team manager Richard Ellis was delighted that his team managed to retain the title for another year. England have yet to lose the crown since the competition's inauguration.

"I don't now long the tournament's been going for, but we certainly haven't lost it since I've been manager for the last three years," said Ellis.

"We felt very confident coming into the tournament, especially with the team we've got. Individually they are the best players in the world. "We played Northern Ireland in the round robins and they gave us a tough game, it was a warning for us, but luckily in the final we beat them quite comfortably. Gareth Potts has played brilliantly all week, he only lost three frames all weekend, and at at this level that is very hard. Also Mick Hill who dropped just two frames, but collcectively we played very well".

Promising teenager Daniel Miller, from England, showed maturity beyond his years to win the Junior title with an impressive 5-0 victory over Ben Browne, from Wales. Miller also had an impressive tournament droppping just six games throughout a memorable championships.

This year's Junior team title went to Scotland who overame England 8-5, managed by Les Church, while Wales got the better of Ireland to take the 3rd/4th play-off final with a 9-6 win.

Neil Goulding - Press Officer

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