Connor Cinato caused the first shock of the Just Retirement Professional World Indoor Singles at Potters after ousting last year’s runner-up Andy Thomson from the tournament.
The confident Kettering teenager had backed himself to beat his England Under-25 team manager prior to their first-round clash at the Hopton-on-Sea leisure resort, and the 19-year-old proved it was no loose talk as he sealed victory with the last bowl of the match, clinching a nail-biting tie-break success.
“It was a very good performance,” admitted Cinato, who was making his debut in the event. “I thought I played really well and the result came with it.
“I’m now looking forward to the next match, but I’m playing all the way through now until my next game, next Thursday, in nationals and various competitions. It will give me good practise, not on the portable rink, but it should get my arm going and give me a lot of confidence.
“I haven’t really got time to rest on my laurels, but it’s not so bad.
“I’ll get plenty of rest in between times as well.”
The ace - who now represents the Kingsthorpe club - raced out of the blocks early on, in a match that pitted the competition’s youngest competitor against the oldest, to charge into a 4-1 lead after four ends and although Thomson pulled level two ends later, a couple of doubles helped Cinato eventually clinch the first set 8-5.
Buoyed by that first-half success, Cinato instantly moved 2-0 up in the second set, but he wasn’t able to press home the advantage as both players traded leads.
A loose eighth end proved pivotal for Cinato as he dropped a big three, which gave Thomson a two-shot cushion going into the final end.
Cinato earned shot with his second bowl, but couldn’t add to it, which meant the set went to Thomson, triggering a tie-break.
Cinato won the crucial toss and made Thomson take the mat first, but after opening up the head, the youngster then produced a superb bowl that rested to within a couple of feet of the ditch and take first blood.
A huge slice of luck then gave Cinato a match lie on the second end, but Thomson played weight, sent the jack off the rink and earned the shot he needed to send the encounter into a final end.
Thomson stuck one on the pot and Cinato took it off, but after the Scottish-born England international produced a virtually identical response to his previous bowl, the pressure was back on the Kettering teen to deliver, but he took the jack into the ditch and his green bowl followed it to seal a stunning win.
“When I dropped a three I was annoyed with myself as I knew that if I closed that end off then it would nearly have been game over and maybe would not have gone to a tie-break,” admitted Cinato.
“But I didn’t really feel any added pressure in the tie-break because I am used to them and had to come through two in qualifying.
“Thommo made my mind up when he put a side toucher in and I had to go for it again and got it.”
Cinato will play Jamie Chestney in the second round after he saw off the threat of Jason Greenslade.