Craig Howieson claimed a breakthrough victory when he overcame compatriot Gavin Rumgay in a tense all-Scottish final at the West of Scotland Grand Prix at Scotstoun yesterday.
It was a fitting denouement to an event which has just had its status raised to make it the only Grand Prix event to be staged in Scotland, as the country's top two players did battle over a full five games.
Never having beaten the national No.1 before, 23-year-old Howieson looked to be in control when he won the first two 11-7, 14-12. However, he was tested to the limit as Rumgay hauled it back, winning the third 11-7 and the fourth 11-7 before claiming a 5-1 lead early in the final game.
London-based Rumgay has won 24 grand prix titles south of the border and so it was hardly a surprise that the Scot did not give up on the match without a fight. He continued to battle with the final match at 8-8, before Howieson finally stole a march to win the match.
He becomes the first Scottish winner of this event since 2003, but a local winner had been assured ever since the semi-finals. Howieson overcame compatriot Stewart Crawford in the last four, while Rumgay had beaten Scotland international team-mate Niall Cameron to reach the final.
That result only added to the respect which Howieson held his opponent yesterday and he knew what to expect in their match. "He's such a good fighter, he never gives up and he always finds a way to win," he said afterwards.
That, though, only intensified the sense of satisfaction. "I've never won a Grand Prix and I think that's my first Grand Prix final," said Howieson. "Rumgay's the Grand Prix king of recent times. If he'd won that it would have been his 25th and you've got to have huge respect for him. I've played him for a long, long time and that's the first time I've beaten him.
"He's 400 places above me in the world rankings. If I can prove I'm capable of beating players of his calibre it's very positive in the run up to the Commonwealth Games."
In the women's singles final, top seed Hannah Hicks from Hampshire - who had beaten Scotland's Gillian Edwards in the semi-finals - defeated Cleveland's Karina Le Fevre 11-5, 11-6, 11-7.