Improving Lines loses out in China to rival Bingham

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Leeds teenager Oliver Lines is quickly shaking off his rookie tag after reaching the final of the Haining China Leather City Open.

The 19-year-old – the current European Under-21 champion – has already beaten world No 1 Mark Selby and Mark Williams in recent weeks.

Now Lines – who is following in his father Peter’s footsteps as a snooker player – can tick off reaching his first professional final. But it was a step too far for Lines, who had won six matches in Haining to reach the final, losing out 4-0 to Stuart Bingham –who collected his fourth Asian Tour title.

“I’m just over the moon to win another Asian Tour event,” said Bingham. “Oli is a promising young player coming through in England, hats off to him for getting this far.

Bingham nicked the first frame by potting brown and blue, having earlier made a break of 54. Frame two also came down to the colours and Basildon’s 38-year-old Bingham cleared from blue to black for 2-0.

He dominated the third with a top break of 31, and took the fourth 61-11 to secure the £10,000 first prize.

Lines beat Ryan Day 4-2 in the quarter-finals and edged out Jimmy Robertson 4-3 in the semis, making an 89 in frame six and taking the decider 87-7.

“I struggled from the start,” said Lines. “I didn’t settle and I was nervous before it started. I just needed to get one frame to settle down.”

Next up for Lines is the International Open in China, and the teenager is just hoping to carry on his swift education in the professional ranks.

“I just want to keep winning matches and see how far I can get,” he said. “I’ve got a wildcard first game in Chengdu, then if I win that it’s Rod Lawler which will be another tough game.”

Lines was a keen footballer until he switched to snooker at the age of 14. “I enjoyed playing snooker more,” he added. “I didn’t like football as much so I decided just to play more snooker and join my dad.”

Bingham, who is known for his enthusiasm for competing in tournaments worldwide, won two Asian Tour events during the 2012/13 campaign and another last season.

His victory moved Ali Carter a step closer to competing in the Champion of Champions tournament; if next week’s International Championship is won by a player already qualified for Coventry, then Carter will earn a place.

Yesterday’s result means that John Higgins will be at the Champion of Champions.

Bingham said: “I came here four or five days early which was great preparation, doing exhibitions and practising.

“It’s been a great week on and off the table.

“I’m trying my best to win the titles, to get Ali Carter into the Champion of Champions.

“I did Barry Hawkins a favour last season by winning an Asian Tour event to get him into the Players Championship, and he went on to win it. “With all the troubles Ali has been through, hopefully things will be good for him in the future.”

“I’d definitely like to come to Haining again. The venue is very good, the playing conditions have been pretty good all week, all the volunteers and referees have done a great job to make it a fantastic week. Also the hotel is second to none.”

The story of the week, though, was the performance of tour rookie Lines, who has already given notice of his potential in recent weeks by beating the likes of Mark Selby and Mark Williams. European Under-21 champion Lines, the son of experienced pro Peter, has swiftly become recognised as one of snooker’s most promising talents.

The 19-year-old from Leeds won six matches in Haining, beating Ryan Day 4-2 in the quarter-finals and edging out Jimmy Robertson 4-3 in the semis, making an 89 in frame six and taking the decider 87-7.

After the final, Lines said: “I struggled from the start. I didn’t settle and I was nervous before it started. I just needed to get one frame to settle down.

“I just want to keep winning matches and see how far I can get. I’ve got a wildcard first game in Chengdu, then if I win that it’s Rod Lawler which will be another tough game.”

Lines was a keen footballer until he switched to snooker at the age of 14. “I enjoyed playing snooker more,” he added. “I didn’t like football as much so I decided just to play more snooker and join my dad.”

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