Snooker: After Ronnie the Rocket, Trump the young ace

Judd Trump does not turn 15 until 20 August, but so prodigious is his talent that Ladbrokes are offering just 10-1 against him becoming world champion and only 25-1 against him being the youngest-ever champion, a distinction held by Stephen Hendry at 21 years and three months.

Judd Trump does not turn 15 until 20 August, but so prodigious is his talent that Ladbrokes are offering just 10-1 against him becoming world champion and only 25-1 against him being the youngest-ever champion, a distinction held by Stephen Hendry at 21 years and three months.

In March, at 14 years, 206 days, Trump became the youngest player to make a 147 maximum in competition, superseding Ronnie O'Sullivan's effort at 15 years, 98 days 13 years ago.

Yesterday he became the youngest winner of an adult English national title by beating Craig Steadman, a solid 21-year-old from Bolton, 8-7 in the final of the English Open (open, that is, to any Englishman outside the top 64 in the world rankings) in Leeds.

Trump opened brilliantly with a total clearance of 132 on his first visit to the table and led 4-3 at lunch and 5-4, 36-0, early in the evening before a trio of frame winners from Steadman, 59, 70 and 82, put him two up with three to play. Trump obviously has the grit and nerve to match his talent, and levelled at 7-7 with a pair of timely half-centuries, 53 and 57, before making a match-winning 44 in the decider.

Young Trump first played when he was five, and was unbeaten for three years in the lower divisions of the Bristol League from the age of seven, winning the division's individual title each year. At 10, he won the English Under-15 Championship; at 13, he won it again; and this afternoon he is attempting to complete the hat-trick. He has won 100 tournaments, made 150 centuries in competition and earned more than £15,000 in prize-money in the last 18 months.

His highest-profile success was the £4,000 first prize in the Pontin's Open at Prestatyn last May, when he beat the former world No 5, Mike Hallett, 4-2 in the final. "He's got bags of talent and he's very confident, but most of all I was impressed with his temperament," Hallett said. "There was a crowd of about 800 and he took it all in his stride." Hallett added a warning, however. "There are plenty of pitfalls," he said. "It's all a big adventure at the moment. The test will come when he has a lull - and he will."

Apart from the talent and the temperament, Trump also has the right emotional backing. He is blessed with supportive but not pushy parents: Steve, a long-distance lorry driver, and Georgina, who works in a local school. His younger brother Jack, who turned 12 yesterday but who already has a highest break of 75, is also one to watch. Yesterday afternoon Jack won the English Under-13 Championship.

"I think one of the things Judd has got going for him is that although he loves his snooker he's not obsessive," said Derek Curnow, the proprietor of Keynsham Snooker Club, Bristol, Judd's practice base. "When he's played, win or lose, he doesn't want to sit and analyse it. He goes and does something else." After winning the Pontin's Open he went out to play on the swings.

Curnow, a dyed-in-the-wool snooker man who helps guide Judd's career, is disappointed that the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association will not allow him to compete on next season's Challenge Tour, one step below the world-ranking circuit.

Although the WPBSA's lower age-limit for membership is 16, Curnow argues that Trump should be given his chance on the Challenge Tour in order to qualify for the main tour as soon as possible.

"I've been invited to meet Sir Rodney Walker [the new chairman of the WPBSA], so I hope something can be done," he said.

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