KEELAN Kay stepped up from the youth ranks to participate in the PDC Unicorn Development Tour at the Robin Park Tennis Centre, Wigan and if there is one thing that he learned, it’s the fact that you don’t get so many finishing opportunities at this level.
He began well when winning his opening match of Development Tour One 4-1 against Josh Habgood before defeating Marcus Kenton 4-0.
Keelan was now contesting his board final against Henk Snijder and after the first two legs were shared the Dutchman edged in front for the second time with a leg in 14.
The Lord of the Board levelled in 19, aided by his third maximum of the day and Kay again had to come from behind to claim a 17-darter to tie the match at 3-3.
Keelan scored 405 points with his first nine darts but his finishing let him down and Snijder came back with consecutive scores of 100, 180 and 101 before checking out in two from 25.
Development Tour Two was contested in the afternoon and disappointingly Kay did not advance past the first match.
He went 3-0 down against Logan Crooks, a player five years his senior, but Keelan pulled it back with wins in 15 and 18.
In the sixth leg he needed just 72 after 12 darts but required another 10 before checking out on double one.
Keelan again scored well and left himself double tops after 15 but didn’t get another opportunity as the Canadian, buoyed by back to back throws of 140 and 180 checked out in 18 for a 4-3 win.
Development Tour Three was contested on the morning of the following day and the Plymouth teenager began with a 4-1 defeat of Adam Howard which started with two 15-darters and checkouts of 105 and 104 respectively.
He then defeated Robert Adnams and despite being taken the full distance clinched the decisive seventh leg in 15.
That victory put Keelan into the last 64 but the Lord of the Board had no answer to the onslaught of Dutchman Marvin van Velzen and crashed out 4-0.
The last tour event of the weekend put Keelan up against Callum Dudding but he was dispatched 4-0, aided by three legs in 15 darts.
Kay then overcame James Wilkinson 4-0 with his best leg being claimed in 16 before a leg in 14, helped Keelan end the hopes of Italian thrower Mattia Pinelli by a 4-1 margin.
The Plymouth marksman was out of the blocks in the round of 32 and required 36 after 12 darts but never got a throw as Danny Key, with the darts, shot out for a win in 15.
But unperturbed Kay took the next three in 17, 19 and 12, only for the Stafford thrower to claim the next before Kay put his supporters through the mill once more.
He was on a finish after 14 darts to progress to the last 16 but it took another five for him to claim a victory which he attained with his highest average of the day of 91.1.
Keelan was now into new territory and faced Jack Main in the round of 16 and after just 12 darts of the opening leg required 89.
But not for the first time over the weekend, he found the double hard to come by and it was left for Main to take it bizarrely in 27!
This unfortunately cast a shadow of despondency over the young Plymouth thrower and he was never in with a fighting chance again as Main clinched the last three legs in 14, 19 and 17.
But this was by far Keelan’s best performance on the PDC Development Tour.
Following his inaugural appearance on the tour in 2018, his management team were looking for improvements on last season’s performances and that is exactly what they got.
Over the four events, Keelan hit nine maximums and finished with an average of 79.03.
More importantly he gained 300 order of merit points which gives him a very creditable ranking of 33 after the first four events.