Ashley Hugill hopes to build on his strong start to the season and pursue his ambition to improve his game and challenge for titles.
The world number 79 from York reached the second stage of the BetVictor Championship League and knocked 2020 Crucible finalist Kyren Wilson out of the British Open first round.
Hugill is in the second season of a two-year tour card so must climb into the world’s top 64 or finish high enough on the one-year rankings to keep his place on the circuit. But he is looking well beyond that goal.
“I’m not setting my target at trying to keep that tour card. If you’re setting your target that low, there’s some sort of issue,” said the 26-year-old.
“I do want to be on the tour, and it is a big deal, but really I’m hoping to get into a position where I can start challenging for and winning tournaments.
“If you’re not setting your target that high, I don’t know how you can expect to compete with all the top players.”
Hugill’s confidence is backed up by his recent performances, most notably the scalp of Wilson in Leicester last month.
“It’s probably the biggest win of my career,” he said. “We have the same coach so speaking with him in practice was useful. There are quite a few people in my corner who have really helped me.”
Yan and Hugill practise together at Victoria’s Academy in Sheffield
One of those is young Chinese sensation Yan Bingtao, the Masters champion. The pair are regular practice partners and those games are a huge learning experience for Hugill.
“It’s competitive, but obviously Yan has days where he barely misses and bashes me up,” said Hugill. “But I feel I learn more on those days than the ones when I am competing against him or beating him. Watching the shots he plays and comparing mine to his, I can learn so much.”
His next challenge comes in the form of Jack Lisowski at the BetVictor Northern Ireland Open in Belfast in October, and Hugill is relishing the chance to take on another top 16 cueist.
“I think I have a great chance, if I can just keep doing what I’ve been doing, trust myself and trust my process,” he added.
“Hopefully I can start getting a few good runs in big tournaments, beating top players like Kyren and getting to quarter and semi-finals.
“The long-term goal is to try and challenge for tournaments, an intermediate goal would be to get to those latter stages, but keeping it in the short term, it’s just to pot one ball and move on to the next.”