DENNIS Smith warmed up for the start of the PDC Tour in style with a double success in Eastbourne over the weekend, writes ANDY WARREN.
After winning the mixed triples tournament alongside John Newland and Tammy MacKenzie on Saturday, the 43-year-old beat an impressive field to capture the prestigious Red Dragon Eastbourne Open title with a 6-5 victory over Barry Knight in the final.
The PDC Tour doesn’t get underway until the middle of February, but Smith has been practising hard in preparation for the new season and was pleased to see his efforts rewarded by re-claiming the title he last won in 2010.
“Eastbourne has always been a good tournament to be involved in, and it always used to be the one everyone went and played in as they warmed up for the new season,” he said.
“I have done well there in the past and won it in 2010, so it was great to go back there and get the win because I haven’t played in it since.
“There was a good field there with the likes of Andy Jenkins, Arron Monk, Darren Webster and James Hubbard, so it was a great one for me to win and pick up some good prizemoney.
“I have got myself into a new practice routine and have been working hard, so it is always nice when that gets rewarded.
“I wasn’t faultless though, and there were a few little spells where I missed a few doubles. I had to come back from behind to win the final too, so there is plenty for me still to work on.”
Johnny Haines made the last 16 of the event, and on the previous day made it to the quarter-finals of the warm-up singles event.
Swindon youngster Jack Tweddell also enjoyed an impressive Saturday as he made it to the last four before losing to eventual winner Paul Hogan, beating Smith 3-1 along the way.
“I played really well on the Saturday, and it was great to beat Smiffy,” Tweddell said.
“I tried to block out and forget about who I was playing against, and it seemed to work for me because I played well and managed to get the win.
“We have played each other a few times before but I don’t think I have beaten him in a big tournament, so this was great.
“I did well to get to the last four, but Paul (Hogan) was playing brilliantly and he deserved to win.”
Josh McCarthy also performed well on the south coast as he reached the final of youth event, before losing out to Andrew Clark.