A 16-YEAR-OLD Hammersmith pool player went from rank outsider to the final of the Foster's World Junior Championships this week.
And star Giuseppe D'Imperio did it with a 20-year-old battered cue, which mortifies his dad Nick every time his brilliant son takes it to a game.
But D'Imperio senior was elated after his son beat the best in the world the eight-ball game has to offer, coming within a whisker of lifting the ultimate prize in Blackpool at the weekend.
Giuseppe missed a crucial black in the 11th frame of his showdown with Ben Clark, from Braintree, Essex - and went on to lose the match 8-5.
But beaming Nick has yet to take it all in - especially as three years ago his son, a member of St Augustine's Club, was a beaten semi-finalist in their own Hammersmith Pool League.
He said: "I couldn't watch some of the final - I was all nerves.
"But Giuseppe wasn't. I've often thought he had the perfect temperament for the game, although if he had got past round one I would have been elated - never mind this."
The junior D'Imperio had to play four qualifying games before he was even allowed near the Imperial Hotel at the seaside - the last of which involved a five-hour round trip to Southampton.
But it was only when Giuseppe, a pupil at St Mark's School in Hounslow, beat two of the junior England team in Blackpool to reach the final did the reality of what he achieved start to kick in.
He said: "The crowd around my table suddenly grew, so it was the only time I got a bit nervous.
"But I tried to block all that out and just play my game."
It wasn't to be this time, and there wasn't that much time to celebrate afterwards.
D'Imperio senior said: "There was a strict curfew on the junior players, and they had to be in their rooms by midnight.
"In fact, the only sign of any letup in his normal regime at home was when his mum said he didn't need to dry the dishes a couple of times this week.
"Needless to say, his 14-year-old sister Kate complained like hell."