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Higginson And Castle Set Up Third Round Tie

Andrew Higginson and Billy Castle both secured safe passage into the third round on day three of Q School to set up a high-quality clash on Monday night.

Higginson made light work of Labeeb Ahmed, beating him 4-0 inside 47 minutes including breaks of 100 and 57 with an average shot time of just 14.9 seconds. Former Shoot Out quarter-finalist Castle defeated Mark Vincent 4-1 with runs of 128 and 58.

The pair are scheduled to play at 7pm on Monday but recently met as early as November in the final of the fourth Q Tour event in Stockholm. Castle took the match 5-4 via a re-spotted black in a deciding frame.

Ian Martin, who played several top-up matches on tour last campaign, is out of Event One after losing 4-1 to Poland’s Daniel Holoyda. The Warsaw-based potter last entered Q School four years ago but was triumphant on his return with two breaks over 50. He now faces Chris Totten in the third round.

“I’m very happy to be back,” said the 24-year-old. “I was not satisfied when I saw the draw because Ian Martin is a very decent player but I think I accommodated to the venue very quickly and just played my snooker.

“I love playing here at World Snooker Tour tournaments. For me, it’s a delight, a different world. Here everything is perfect. You can just barely touch the cue ball. Everything reacts, every spin matters. It’s like snooker heaven.

“I started playing snooker nine years ago. I won the Polish Championship final with my handball team but I actually had a choice between football and snooker. Long story short I didn’t want to play football that much anymore so I transitioned to snooker, started playing, fell in love with the game and now I’m here!”

Michael Holt and Alexander Ursenbacher had no such trouble in their games. The Hitman breezed past Jeff Cundy 4-1, while Ursenbacher hit four without reply against Belgium’s Tan Wang Chooi. The 27-year-old started the season in fine form with a shock victory over Ronnie O’Sullivan at the Cazoo British Open. But, after finishing the season 87th, he dropped off the tour.

“Winning one match a tournament isn’t enough,” said the Swiss potter. “You really need to do something to keep your tour spot. I haven’t done that, that’s why I am here. It puts a lot of pressure on you but the key is to be calm and be yourself.

“I didn’t really miss much after the first two frames today. I play even quicker in practice but I’m pleased with 18 seconds a shot. I’m just trying to play my game and I bet you’re going to see a lot more under 20 seconds a shot if I keep doing what I’m doing.”

Barry Pinches and Peter Lines will meet in the last 64 after securing victories earlier in the day. Pinches was made to work for his win, needing a decider to beat Nathan Jones 4-3. Whereas the 2017 World Seniors Champion, Lines, defeated Ben Robinson 4-2.

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Event one runs until May 31st when the final round will be played and the four remaining players will earn tour cards. Event two then runs until June 6th, with another four tour cards up for grabs. Click here for our Q School Explainer.