CHRIS Melling may have suffered disappointment at the big-money Ultimate Pool Grand Slam last weekend, but he bounced back in style on Monday.

The Keighley potter was starting the defence of the Ultimate Pool Champions League crown he won last year, and stormed through to the last-16 by obliterating his group stage opponents.

He went up against Rob Wharne, Emma Cunningham and Jake-Dylan Newlove, beating the first two 4-0 and the latter 4-1.

Reflecting on his progression, Melling said: "I played well in the Champions League on Monday.

"I had a bit of a slow start, but I played an unbelievable shot to pot a red towards the end of my first frame against Rob.

"It's something I do a lot, and that set me away.

"It was pretty unusual to win 4-0, 4-0 and 4-1, as often you don't get much of a chance if your opponent's break goes well for them.

"That's tended to be the case when I've lost games recently, where I've just not had the chances.

"If you can't get to the table, you can't win, that's the cruelty of the sport.

"So I'm really satisfied with how Monday night went, but my next group in the last-16 in a few months' time is going to be really tough.

"It's already got (professional number one) Shane Thompson and (former world champion) Jack Whelan in it, and there's a good chance (former back-to-back world champion) Tom Cousins will qualify for it next week, so it'd be a flip of a coin to see which of the four of us made it through."

Melling's comment about not getting the chances to win games was proven last weekend, in the Grand Slam, which had a £14,000 winning prize, the biggest payday in the sport for the past few years.

Stevie Dempsey triumphed, with Melling losing two of his three games to crash out before the last-16 stage.

He said: "I won my first match 8-2 against David McNamara (who had earlier beaten Melling's fellow Keighley potter Arfan Dad) and I played really well.

"But when I faced Neil Raybone in the next round, I didn't really get a chance at the table.

"I was 5-1 down, and all I'd really had was a couple of breaks, one of which I'd gone in off from.

"I lost that game 8-3, so that put me into the losers' section, but then I went out after getting beaten 6-5 there by Shaun Chipperfield.

"It was strange though, because I beat David at 3pm on the Friday, didn't play Neil until 4pm on the Saturday, but then I was back on the table 20 minutes after that to face Shaun.

"I actually had a really good game against Shaun, as I had five chances and took them all."

Both the Grand Slam and Champions League events took place in Newcastle-under-Lyme, but Melling is travelling a bit further afield for his next competition.

He said: "I'm going to Slovenia on Friday (tomorrow) for the first Euro Tour event of the year.

"It'll be the first one I've played since the Covid pandemic started, and I've not had a great deal of 9-ball practice since the World Championships.

"I'll need to put in a few hours of hard work on the table this week to get used to that format again for this weekend."

Fast forward a few weeks, and Melling will be hoping to win the Sportsman of the Year prize at the Bradford Sports Awards on March 31.

Discussing his nomination, the Keighley star said: "I got a surprise when I had the phone call to say I'd been shortlisted.

"I've played pool professionally since I was 16, so it's been over 26 or 27 years since I started, and I've won pretty much everything there is to win, so it's nice to be recognised and honoured in this way.

"To potentially get rewarded for something you love doing is special."