Mark Gray is top of the Great Britain nine-ball pool rankings after victory over Darren Appleton
Spalding and District Snooker League star Mark Gray has moved to the top of the Great Britain nine-ball pool rankings after defeating one of the legends of the game.
Gray beat Darren Appleton in the second round of the tour event, which was staged at the Mercure Hotel in Telford.
The event attracted more than 100 entries and Gray recorded 9-1, 9-5 and 9-3 wins in the opening three rounds against Ali Asgar, Graham Hickman and Yan Wong respectively.
The victories moved him into the last 16 knock-out stage, where he defeated the highly-rated Jake Newlove 9-2.
Six successive rack wins then accounted for New Zealand number one Matt Edwards in the quarter-final.
Edwards is in England to play in the upcoming World Cup of Pool - which is being screened live on Sky Sports this week - and the contest was tied at 3-3 until Gray hit his winning streak.
He was then a 9-5 winner in the semi-final against Imran Majid, who had gone into the tournament as the number one ranked player until he was beaten by the 48-year-old from Bourne.
An 11-9 win against Appleton in the final then secured the success for Gray, who has also been playing the eight-ball version of the sport this year.
He explained: “I have been trying my hand at eight-ball pool this year, but this result shows nine-ball is still my main game.
“That definitely showed in the last 16 against Jake, who has beaten me on the Ultimate Pool Tour this year, but nine-ball is my game and I played great to get the win.
“It was a great result for me overall, especially to beat Darren in the final as he is one of the legends of the game.
“He is by far the United Kingdom’s greatest ever nine-ball player. He’s won everything in the game there is and, although I went 4-1 down, I battled back well to get the win.”
Gray had gone into the tour event following his success the previous weekend in the annual Rack and Roll Open at Leicester.
Despite the resident professional at Bourne Snooker Centre having not played any American pool this year, he managed to defeat a field of 26 entrants - which stood him in good stead for his win last weekend.
Gray is next in action in Blackpool on June 24 and 25, when he plays in the third stop of the Ultimate Pool Tour.