As Grand Finals day on Friday approaches I thought it would be a good idea to have a chat with the eight finalists and see how their form is going into the event as well as how they are feeling about the big day in Leeds and what it would mean to them to be crowned the 2013 Snookerbacker Classic Champion.
We’ll start with the players competing in the 11am quarter finals….
Sanderson Lam – Qualified from the Northern Snooker Centre on 27th January 2013
Results so far: R1 beat Damian Wilks 4-0, R2 beat Sean Hopkin 4-3, R3 beat Elliot Slessor 4-2, R4 beat Martin Ball 4-0.
I played really well to qualify and was really pleased to make it to Finals Day, after I had come through a tough match against Sean Hopkin I felt like I could do it and I did so I was over the moon and I also got a birthday cake from Mrs SB so it was a perfect day for me! For some reason that I can’t really explain after the Classic heat my form and confidence dipped a bit and I lost a couple of matches that I felt I should have won but now I have got it back and I am raring to go for Friday. I have been putting the hours in with David Grace and Peter Lines and I feel ready. There are so many top players in the Classic that to win it would be a real achievement and something that I would always remember, whatever happens afterwards it would be something I could look back on and be proud of. I would love to win it for my Dad who has backed me all the way and always had faith in me so hopefully I can play my best, if I do, I have as good a chance as anyone. I am good mates with Ant Parsons, I think we have played twice in tournaments and won once each, I’m really looking forward to playing in the classic again, it’s a unique event.
Current odds at Apollobet: 10/1 (back Sandi by clicking here)
Ant Parsons – Qualified from the Northern Snooker Centre on 15th December 2012
Results so far: R1 beat Russell Morgan 4-2, R2 beat Will Lemons 4-1, R3 beat Sam Thistlewhite 4-2, R4 beat Sean Hopkin 4-1.
I’ve been playing OK and have had some decent results locally, I am putting a lot of hours in and hitting the practice table hard, my ultimate goal is Q-School and I have already started preparing for that but obviously this event is massive for me. The prize is amazing and for just £50 an entry you have a chance at an incredible prize, there is no other amateur event out there that gives you this kind of opportunity and I think anyone that doesn’t enter it is mad! As for Friday, it’s a high quality line up, everyone is there on merit and everyone will fancy their chances, just as it should be in a big event. I recently qualified as a World Snooker coach and have also worked with Steve Feeney from Sight Right without whom I would no longer be playing, he resurrected my career and his help and the huge support that my Dad gives me has helped me improve massively over the past two years. If I won this it would be a huge achievement for me, to go to Q-School without the financial pressure would be amazing and SB does such a great job of bigging up the winner it will also help me attract future sponsors, I can’t wait until Friday and I will try to not be late this time!
Current odds at Apollobet: 13/2 (back Ant by clicking here)
David Gray – Qualified from the Last Chance Saloon South West Snooker Academy on 17th February 2013
Results so far: QR1 beat Ben Jones 3-1, R1 beat Ryan Causton 3-2, R2 beat Allan Taylor 3-0, R3 beat Sydney Wilson 3-1, R4 beat Anthony Harris 3-1.
Well for me Sunday was a really long day! I had travelled up in the morning very early to play and had some tough matches to win to get through. I didn’t feel that I played all that well but I was solid enough and I hope I can kick on and play a bit better on Finals Day. I made the finals last year too and had a very close quarter final against John Sutton which could have gone either way, I felt that if I’d have won that I could have won it but I hope to put that right this year. I play Jamie Clarke who I have never played before or seen play but having heard a bit about him I know I will need to be playing well to win. I’m really looking forward to Finals Day and hopefully I can go one better than last season. I will travel up in plenty of time this time to make sure I am fully prepared.
Current odds at Apollobet: 3/1 fav (back David by clicking here)
Jamie Clarke – Qualified from South West Snooker Academy on 13th October 2012
Results so far: R1 beat Sanjay Meghani 4-1, R2 beat David Maslov 4-0, R3 beat Zak Surety 4-1, R4 beat Chris Keogan 4-3.
I’ll be honest with you I have no idea how I am playing! I was planning to travel to Leeds last weekend to practice all week at the Northern but I have been very ill and haven’t been able to get out of bed. I am a little better now but still not 100% but I will be giving it my all on Friday and I am going to Leeds tomorrow to play Oli Lines in practice. It came at a bad time as I was playing brilliant just before and won a good pro-am in Wales just a fortnight back, I won £350 for that which really helped me. Today I have had my first practice since then and played Robert Milkins in Gloucester, I lost 5-3 but had a ton and a 90-odd so that’s not too bad. Sometimes when you feel most unprepared you relax more and I hope that will happen to me. I really enjoyed the video draw when Mrs SB got the giggles and it’s nice to play someone as experienced as David Gray to see how I get on. I’ve got the highest break too which is a 141, but knowing my luck someone will beat it in the final frame of the tournament! I hope it stands as the money would be a great boost for me. To win the SB Classic would be amazing and even just getting to the final would be great for me as it is going to take me ages to save up for Q-School! I know I just need to win 8 more frames and I am there and I just hope I can go out and perform, if I play my best I think I have got as good a chance as anyone.
Current odds at Apollobet: 10/1 (back Jamie by clicking here)
Now a word with the 1pm starters
Kyren Wilson – Qualified from South West Snooker Academy on 12th October 2012
Results so far: R1 beat Kishan Hirani 4-2, R2 beat Jay Bullen 4-1, R3 beat John Whitty 4-1, R4 beat Ben Harrison 4-2.
My mum said to me the other day that the only match I have lost so far this year was against Mark Selby in the PTC event in Munich, to be honest I didn’t realise that but I know I am playing very well at the moment. I won an English ranking event in Gloucester recently and had a 147 there, I am scoring very heavily and I am confident going into Friday. The downside is that I have to fit practice around work hours so my time is limited, but to be honest I have been so busy with tournaments that it hasn’t really had an effect on my game. To win this would be fantastic, the money would help me a great deal obviously but also having seen how much publicity Martin got on the back of winning this last season that is also an added bonus and I would be proud to be the second SB Classic champion having played in the event for the first two years. I’m really looking forward to Friday, I have a tough draw against Adam who I have played before so I know that I will have to be at my best from the start.
Current odds at Apollobet: 4/1 (back Kyren by clicking here)
Adam Wicheard – Qualified from South West Snooker Academy on 12th October 2012
Results so far: R1 beat Ryan Causton 4-2, R2 beat Paul Norris 4-1, R3 beat Allan Taylor 4-1, R4 beat Zak Surety 4-2.
I haven’t really been practicing at all to be honest, I have not touched my cue since December and the last PTC, I haven’t really had a reason to until now and I have been working long hours too. I don’t know if this rest will help me on Friday but I am guessing it probably won’t! That said, I am looking forward to it and I am travelling to Leeds with Andrew so we’ll hopefully have a knock at the club on Thursday, we’re as bad as each other where practice is concerned lately as he told me he hasn’t practiced for months! I think I probably have the toughest draw as I rate Kyren as the best player out there that isn’t on the main tour, though I know he is back again next season. If I were to win the SB Classic I think first you’d have to let me recover from the shock but after that I would be delighted! I’m not that confident but I will give it my best shot and if things click on the day you never know, but I will enjoy the day nonetheless.
Current odds at Apollobet: 7/1 (back Adam by clicking here)
Andrew Norman – Qualified from South West Snooker Academy on 13th October 2012
Results so far: R1 beat Matthew Day 4-1, R2 beat Ben Jones 4-0, R3 beat Gavin Lewis 4-0, R4 beat Allan Taylor 4-3.
How am I playing? I’ll tell you after the matches have finished! Since dropping off the main tour in May 2012, I decided to work full-time and play the PTC’s as a hobby this year. I haven’t practiced at all since then, I have simply turned up to all my matches and relied on my years of experience and practice, just making it happen during the match. Unbelievably, the cue still feels part of my arm and I even managed to get in the top 8 on PTC list this season. This is my first year playing the SB Classic, being an amateur this year. The series of tournaments are a breath of fresh air to the snooker circuit. Mr & Mrs Snookerbacker are wonderful hosts and most of all they make it a fun-filled day which makes you want to play and support them as they are helping the amateur players progress in their snooker careers. As for Friday, I’m feeling confident but so will the other players I expect, just looking at the betting…. somehow I’m second favourite!! What’s that all about then? With a bit of luck I would love to win the trophy to go with the brilliant picture I won in Gloucester and the winnings would go a long way to paying a few bills as I’m getting married in October! It should be a great day and hopefully afterwards we’ll have a nice curry with everyone.
Oliver Lines – Qualified from Northern Snooker Centre on 29th September 2012
Results so far: R1 beat Jamie Barrett 4-3, R2 beat John Whitty 4-3, R3 beat Gary Wilson 4-3, R4 beat Ant Parsons 4-3.
I am playing really well lately, I have entered a lot of tournaments recently and I have had a great run of results. I have improved a lot over the last few months and my matchplay has really come on. I spotted a few weaknesses in my game and I have worked hard at correcting them and I couldn’t be coming into Friday in better form. I had a really tough day in qualifying and won all my matches 4-3 and only ate a chocolate bar all day but I was absolutely buzzing at the end as this is a tournament that I have set my sights on and really wanted to do well in since I saw it being played in Leeds last season. I think it’s probably the best amateur event of the year so it would mean a lot to me to win it and will really help my future career. I am in a difficult half of the draw but you have to beat good players if you want to win things so I will be giving it my all. I played Andrew when I was 13 and he beat me 3-0 but I have improved a bit since then and I have a score to settle with him!
Current odds at Apollobet: 9/1 (back Oli by clicking here)
You can keep in touch with all the SB Classic matches on Friday as things happen at our great Live Scoring page here