By Mark Wyatt
Whilst Stuart Bingham stormed his way to a maiden World Snooker Championship title in 2015, Jackson Page was a month shy of his 14th birthday.
Fast-forward three years and both men found themselves lining up against each other in the second round of the 2018 Welsh Open.
Defending champion Bingham, who won the 2017 tournament by beating Judd Trump 9-8 in the final, managed to avoid any upsets by steering past Page with a 4-2 victory.
But Bingham was full of praise for the “talented” 16-year-old and spoke of his admiration for the young Welshman.
“I remember the day I left school at 16 and I’d only just made my second ever 100 break, so for him to go out there and perform the way he does is unbelievable.” Bingham recalled.
“You can see with any young player they love going for the big shots and the attacking play, getting in your face and making big breaks.
“Luckily for me he only made the one break over 50 against me, the pressure may have got to him a little bit out there being on the TV table as well.”
Page is currently under the wing of two-time world champion and ‘The Welsh Potting Machine’ Mark Williams, which Bingham is certain will only improve the teenagers game.
“Winners breed winners don’t they! Mark is a fantastic mentor for Jackson and I think it can only help his career by working with him.
“Honestly the sky is the limit if he believes in himself. It took me 20 years to pick up trophies but if you keep believing then you’ve got every chance oat success.”
Despite the loss to Bingham, Page was up-beat on his chances at success in the future and gaining a tour card to join the professionals at every tournament.
“Hopefully I’ll be on the tour card next year and competing on the regular with these great players.” Page said.
“I think I’ve progressed playing with people like Mark (Williams) and Duane (Jones), every aspect of my game is improving and I feel more comfortable out there definitely.
“The more I practise with them then the more you can learn and you can try to emulate them as much as possible.”
Page was ready to admit that he was outclassed by Bingham in their match however, citing the veteran’s long play as a reason for his win.
“He was in a few times from the start so I didn’t look like getting anything but I took my chance.
“He fought back so well though and didn’t miss a long ball, his pot percentage on the long ball must’ve been sky high so it was very difficult to play against him, it’s always very tough against these types of players.
“Obviously, I’m disappointed that I didn’t get a chance to progress further in the competition but I’ve got to take the positives from playing a match like this and move on quickly.”
Bingham recognised the talent of Page during the first frame where the 2015 World Champion found himself 1-0 down, but he soon battled back to take the win.
“He’s thrown his arm at a couple of shots there when he probably needed to tighten up a little.
“He went for a long blue at the end and when you’re 3-2 down sometimes you have to bite your lip and play a safety shot. But he’s 16 and you can’t moan about that can you!”
With his tournament over, Page was looking forward to the next tournaments.
“I’ve got Gibraltar next week and then Sheffield for the World Championship qualifiers.
“I can do well if I just keep practising, everyone reminds to keep working hard and hopefully I’ll make it onto the tour card soon.”
For full Welsh Open 2018 coverage, visit Gair Rhydd Sport online.