Sunday, 10 June 2012

Living the professional dream

The start of a new season means the realisation of a dream for the tour's newest professionals.

Sean O'Sullivan (SOS) and Michael Wasley (MW) are two of a cluster of players starting out in their top class snooker careers.

They took some time out of their busy schedules and preparations to talk to OnCue. Here's what they had to say....

How did it feel to win your professional tour card?

SOS: Turning professional is what I have wanted to do since I started playing snooker when I was nine-years-old. It's a dream come true and I will try my absolute best to make the most of this opportunity.

MW: Winning the match that sealed my place at Q School was a great feeling. It was extra special because Paul Mount, who has given me so much support, was there watching. Turning professional has been a dream of mine for a long time but when you're younger I don't think you appreciate just how difficult it is to do. This is just one of my goals achieved. The hard work starts now. I've got so much more I want to achieve.

Tell us more about yourself...

SOS: I'm 18-years-old. I play at Upton Park snooker centre just down the road from the the West Ham United FC stadium, but I'm not a Hammers fan! I'm a die-hard Gooner. I first got into snooker through playing pool because my Mum and Dad used to work in a pub. From three-years-old I would always be on the pool table kneeling on a stool. I was picked for London under-18s team when I was eight-years-old and at nine-years-old I played my first game of snooker with my Dad. I haven't looked back since. Off the table I'm very relaxed and chilled out, but also a Facebook and Twitter maniac.

MW: I'm 22-years-old and live in Gloucester. I've been playing at the South West Snooker Academy ever since it opened and have done my fair share of grafting to make it to professional status. I'm very fortunate to be playing at this academy and that makes me even more determined to make the most of my opportunity. Not a lot of people do more for snooker players than Paul Mount. It's absolutely superb. The practice facilities are top class, there are plenty of players to practice with and Terry Griffiths is around to coach.

What kind of player are you?

SOS: I tend to be quick, but don't rush. I'm an attacking player and don't turn down shots that I think can win me the frame. With the experience I've gained from playing each match, I've learned when to push the boat out and when not to, but I'm still learning the game, of course. The best part of my game is long-potting but I need to improve my safety to compete at the very top level.

MW: I just try to play the game as well as anyone. I like to take my chances when they come along but Q School was very gritty and I showed I could play that way as well. It was a lot more tactical so it's not practical to only play the game one way.

What excites you most about professional life?

SOS: The prospect of climbing up the rankings, playing some of my heroes throughout the season and hopefully qualifying for a venue.

MW: I'm just looking forward to being part of it all. I played in between six and 12 tournaments last season, but now I'll be playing lots more. It's going to be a busy season but I'm young with no attachments so it's exactly right for me, and a great opportunity.
Have you set yourself any goals for your first season?

SOS: I just want to enjoy the experience. I'll be trying to win as many games as possible and just see how it goes. I don't want to put too much pressure on myself too early knowing I have the second year as well.

MW: I've got a few reasonable targets. It's going to be like climbing a mountain so I just want to show steady progress. I'm going to go into every game wanting to give a decent showing and try not to worry about my ranking too much in the first season. It would be great to qualify for one event. That would be a massive milestone. 

Where do you see yourself in five years' time?

SOS: I hope I'll be doing well on the tour, pushing up the rankings and who knows how far. I believe anything is possible. Just look at my mate and practice partner Martin Gould. Not too many years ago he was in the same position as I am now in the 80s of the rankings, but now he's a top 16 player and Power Snooker champion.

MW: Every player wants to climb up to the top 16 and be world number one, one day and I'm no different but there are many more targets to meet before you get to that level. I'm going to set myself lots of little targets along the way and see if my hard work pays off. 

What is the best piece of advice you've received?

SOS: My Dad told me the day before Q School event two that I didn't realise how good I actually was and that if I started believing in myself and think lucky, great things would come. He was right. I'm not surprised because my Dad isn't often wrong. I wouldn't be where I am now without the support from my parents.

MW: Lots of different people have given me lots of advice down the years but there's one thing Terry Griffiths said to me before Q School that made the big difference. He told me that every ball counts and that just made sure I put everything into every shot which gave me a greater chance of potting each time. It's that higher pot success that wins you matches. It's a very simple piece of advice but gave me the extra edge.

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