After a quiet start to his professional career, teenager James Cahill is developing a reputation as an up-and-coming prospect.
By Mark Rawlinson
Cahill collected the greatest win of his fledgling career in York on Wednesday, with a confident display as he whitewashed Mark King 6-0 in the opening round of the Coral UK Championship.
It was the biggest pay day of the 18-year-old’s career so far – he will pick up £3,000 for the win and has set up a last 64 match with Andrew Higginson at the weekend.
Only into his second year on tour, the Blackpool-based potter has shown real promise in recent months, with a 4-2 win over John Higgins at the Paul Hunter Classic back in August, also making an impressive mark on his snooker CV.
“It is a good result for me,” said Cahill, reflecting on his victory over King. “I was just hoping for a win so 6-0 is obviously better than I expected. I didn’t think I would beat him 6-0 because he is a very experienced player.
“We both missed a few shots in the first frame and then I ended up sneaking it. The second one I ended up winning on the pink when he should have cleared up really, to go 2-0.
“I made a good 84 clearance from 40 behind to go 3-0 up and that just set the tone really. I kicked on and even at 4-0, when you’re playing someone of his class, I went out still thinking I’ve got to play well and luckily it went my way.
“It’s nice to play well in these tournaments. You just try to find form in tournaments like these. I’ve been timing shots a lot better after coming home from the last tournament and I seem to have found something in practice.”
Perseverance is key to any rookie joining the tour. Last season, James picked up just three wins across the 20 competitions he played in. This season he has already won eight matches.
But even the best don’t succeed immediately. Neil Robertson and Shaun Murphy both experienced relegation from the tour in their teenage years, before regaining their cards and flying up the rankings.
“I knew life on tour was going to be hard,” said world number 99 Cahill. “I didn’t have the greatest first season which means in your second season you have to make it up.
“You learn to play in the environment. I went from being quite a good junior and then you come up against these established players. You learn all the time and sometimes you don’t always realise what you’re learning.
“I’ve done well in the European Tour events this year and that’s a good way for me to stay on the tour. In the main ranking events I just want to do as well as I can.”
Cahill is certainly from rich snooker stock as his mum Maria was a very talented player in the women’s game, and her sister Mandy was married to Stephen Hendry.
“Stephen has given me tips over the years,” said Cahill, the 2013 European Under-21 Champion. “But I’ve worked a lot on my own and I thank my mum for everything she has done for me too.
“I think you just pick things up without knowing – it’s the experience you gain. I played here last season so I know what to expect this year and if I play well I feel like I can compete with the best.”