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Cahill Dedicated Ahead Of Professional Return

Blackpool’s James Cahill believes a strict practice regime and strong work ethic can help him to fulfil his potential on the World Snooker Tour, after coming through Q School to regain his professional status last month.

Nicknamed the Giantkiller, Cahill has become renowned for beating some of the sport’s biggest names. He has previously scored wins over Mark Selby and Ding Junhui at the UK Championship. The biggest moment of his career so far saw him become the first ever amateur to qualify for the Crucible in 2019, where he scored a momentous win over Ronnie O’Sullivan in the first round.

However, inconsistencies away from the big stage have made it difficult for the 26-year-old to maintain his place on the circuit. After relegation off the tour at the conclusion of the 20/21 season, he spent last year competing as a top up. However, Cahill put that right by beating China’s Zhao Jianbo 4-1 in the final round of Q School Event Three recently. He is now committed to making the most of this current opportunity.

We’ve caught up with Cahill to reflect on Q School and look ahead to his new season, which gets underway tomorrow at the BetVictor Championship League…

James, how much did it mean to negotiate Q School and secure your professional status for the season ahead?

“There are a lot of players there that can get through. It was a relief, as I’ve never qualified directly through Q School before. It was always through the one-year list or qualifying for the Crucible and other things. I just found something in the last event, started scoring and from there gained a bit of confidence. It was great to get through.

“You don’t want to be playing as a top up. Last year I was playing as a top up and I wasn’t really practising. It is hard to put the hours in, because you aren’t really sure if you are going to be playing. It isn’t a nice position to be in and I’m glad I’m on the tour now. I’m not hanging around hoping to play anymore. I now have the right to play.”

You’ve played on the biggest stages in the sport. How does the pressure of competing at Q School compare?

“It is different and it’s hard to explain unless you’ve been there. There are a lot of good players there that you’ve never played before and they play some shots which you aren’t used to seeing or don’t expect. You change your game slightly and turn balls down, as you know you may get chances in different ways, rather than having to force your way in. There are also the likes of Kurt Maflin, Michael Holt and Andrew Higginson that haven’t got through. Those three have proven how good they are in the past and it shows how hard Q School is.”

What are you going to do differently over the next two years?

“I’m just going to make sure my game is in as good of a place as it possibly can be. I have been guilty in the past of not working as hard as I maybe should. I can get down on myself. It is a hard sport, especially when you feel like you should be getting the results. Sometimes you are only one tournament away but you don’t have the motivation to feel like you are getting there. I now just want to make sure I put all of the hours in. I’ve not taken any time off since Q School. I’m not saying I’m going to light up the world but I just want to put myself in a position to fulfil my potential.”

Do you think there is any reason behind the suggestion that you tend to perform best against the top players?

“I do think the television table suits how I play in a lot of ways. I like a quick table and I like lots of people watching, it makes me focus to ensure I don’t play really badly. It may not be the high ranked players you face in the back room, but you face so many opponents who don’t miss a ball. Everyone on tour is that good.  I have had a lot of good results against top players and there is something in that, but I’m just trying to be as good as I can be more consistently. I do think when you play the top players you get an extra buzz to want to do well. It is hard to explain though. Even I don’t know in many ways.

“If I can get past the first few rounds and get to single table setups then I won’t be losing for the fact of nerves. When I played in the final round of Q School, I felt the best I had all tournament. I don’t know if my concentration is better or whether I get an extra buzz. If I can put myself in that position enough and my game is there, I have a good chance. Some people don’t fancy it or have nerves, I don’t think I will lose because of that. It will be because my opponent has played better than me.”

How confident are you of pushing on over the next two seasons and solidifying your place on the professional circuit?

“I think I am my own worst enemy. There is only one person holding me back and that is me. Peter Lines said that to me, but I sort of already knew. If I can think well and do what I know I can do, then there is no reason I can’t achieve good things. If I can beat myself, then I can beat anyone.

“Now, whether I have a good event or a bad event, I want to make sure I’m at the club the next day putting the hours in. Previously if it went badly, the last thing I wanted to see was a snooker table. I don’t want to be going back to Q School in. Now if I put the time in and apply myself then hopefully the results will take care of themselves. If I can at least step back and say I’ve given it my all then that is all I can do. Hopefully I can get a good few results, stay on and move forward.”