The 18-year-old reflects on his best moment in snooker so far at last week’s Paul Hunter Classic.
James, you beat John Higgins 4-2 in a televised match in Germany last Saturday, how much of a boost has that given you?
It feels great and hopefully I can start winning more matches now and see where it takes me. It was a great experience and the best feeling I’ve had because it was live on TV and everyone was watching back home. I can take a lot from it, I know I can play well in that situation. I had played on TV once before when I was 15, against Ding in a PTC event, he had a 147 and beat me but I played ok. Some players don’t feel comfortable in front of the TV lights, but I feel like it’s what I have always played for and I enjoy the crowd and everyone watching, it’s a buzz.
You made a great clearance in the sixth frame to win the match, how were you feeling?
When I got to the final black I felt a bit nervous because it was a big win for me. But up until then I was fine, I knew what I had to do and I’ve done it before.
After that you played Rod Lawler in the last 32 and lost 4-3 at 3.30am. How did that feel?
It was a long match. I was 3-0 down and he played well. I got back to 3-3 and had half a chance in the last frame but couldn’t take it. Anyone would get tired playing until that late but it’s the same for both players and I don’t mind it.
Do you feel more comfortable now compared to your debut season?
Yes, most players struggle in their first season. You learn a lot, even if you don’t realise it. In certain situations you pick up different things. This year I’m a bit more experienced and I know what to expect. I just have to keep trying to get stronger at each tournament.
What are your targets for this season and the future?
I’d like to keep doing well in the European Tour events because that might be a route to staying on the tour if I don’t get into the top 64. I’m just trying my best in each match. I’d also love to qualify for the Shoot-Out in Blackpool because it’s my home town and I’d have a lot of friends there. I’m in it for the long haul and my dreams are to be world number one and World Champion, that’s what everyone plays for.
Where do you practise?
I have a table at home and mum has a snooker club in Preston.
Growing up, your mum Maria was a leading ladies player and you had an uncle called Stephen Hendry, so was it inevitable you’d become as snooker player?
I was always around it when I was young. I wanted to be as good as Stephen…or anything close would be fine!