Steven Hallworth has vowed he isn’t content to make up the numbers on his tour return and is setting his sights on silverware after sealing professional status at Q School.
The 24-year-old had a two-year stint on the tour between 2014 and 2016, when he suffered relegation from the circuit.
Since then Hallworth has been endeavouring to re-establish his professional status, having unsuccessfully faced three trips to Q School. However, this year the Lincolnshire cueman finally sealed his return to the World Snooker Tour with a 4-2 defeat of Alfie Burden in event three.
We’ve caught up with Hallworth to find out more about his ambitions ahead of his second spell as a professional…
Steven, congratulations on coming through Q School. What were the overriding emotions when you got over the line against Burden in that final round at 2:30am?
“It was more relief than anything. I tried to play the right shots in that final break at the end and kill it off in one go. Once I got halfway through the break I started feeling a bit nervous and I was emotional inside knowing how close I was. I just wanted it so badly, but I did manage to stay in the moment.
“It was so late, I had found myself yawning in my chair and my stomach was rumbling as I was ever so hungry. At 2-0 down, I went to the toilet and had a word with myself. I acknowledged that I may be tired and hungry, but said to myself I just had to deal with it. That was literally the last match of the week and I just had to scrape through it any way possible.
“Q School is a savage event. There are a lot of good players that drop off the tour. The standard from the amateur circuit is getting better every year in my opinion. It is so nice just to finally get through after a couple of years falling short at Q School.”
What have you been up to in your four years off the tour and did you consider giving your snooker ambitions up?
“I’ve been working behind the bar in a pub called The Plough in Skellingthorpe. The guys that run it, Nick and Darren, have supported me non-stop. They know snooker is what I want to do. It’s been late nights in there for work and early mornings practising. Normally I get up at 7:30am to go and play until 3pm, then it is straight to the pub for work.
“I do love working there. It is such a nice environment and everyone is so supportive. They all know I want to do the snooker. It is those late nights when you are stood behind the bar and it is quiet. I think to myself that although I enjoy working and seeing the people, it is snooker that I want to do. If I’m going to do it, I’ve got to do it now. I want to make a name for myself and move up the rankings.
“Having lost in event one and two it meant it was do or die in event three. There were all sorts of thoughts going through my head, about whether I’d even qualify for the Q Tour or whether I’d just have to put snooker on the back burner. I just thought I’d have to keep it as tight as possible. I wanted to get to that winning frame and give myself a chance. I did give myself a shot. I thought if Alfie Burden was going to beat me, I wanted to leave everything on the table. Regardless of the result, I’d have been happy with that performance.”
You reached the quarter-finals of the Shoot Out in 2017, how much did you enjoy the experience of making the latter stages of an event like that?
“It was an amazing experience. To get to the quarter-finals, albeit of the Shoot Out, which is a bit of a different event. It was nice to be able to conduct myself in front of a crowd and the TV cameras, with all the different pressures that brings. It is important to use those experiences going forward. I feel like I have served my apprenticeship as a player. Now I’ve got back onto the main tour. It would be good to try and make a breakthrough.
“I don’t ever shy away from the big occasion. It is just how you play on the day. You have to prepare well. I would probably admit I wasn’t good enough to be a professional the first time around. However, it was a valuable and priceless experience. I feel I’m a much better player and I’m definitely ready to kick on and push up the rankings.”
Your practice table is kept at the RAF Waddington base. How did that come about?
“My dad was in the military for 24 years and he was based in Waddington. He was a safety equipment expert. There were always two tables in the officer’s mess. When my dad took me along and I was younger I always used to play on them. When I started to take snooker more seriously, I bought a Star table and asked if I would be allowed to install it there if members of the facility were also allowed to use it.
How much are you looking forward to getting going now?
“I’m buzzing. I’m so determined just to get on the practice table and knuckle down. I want to stay positive all the time and try to leave everything I’ve got on the table. I’ve got myself back on the tour, but this is only the first stage. I don’t just want to be a professional snooker player. I want to push on now and win tournaments. It’s what I’ve worked hard for all my life. I’ll be really knuckling down.”