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Pagett: I’ll Be A Tough Draw For Anyone

Andrew Pagett believes he is good enough to “shoot up the rankings” when he returns to the World Snooker Tour next season after a five year absence.

The 37-year-old Welshman regained his spot by winning the EBSA European Amateur Championship earlier this month. And he is not short of confidence about his own ability as he looks ahead to rejoining the pro ranks.

“Whoever I draw in the top 64 won’t want to play me, they know they will have their hands full,” he said. “I can’t wait to get back on tour and bash a few people up. I know I might be on the wrong end of a few bashings as well but I feel I have the game to shoot up the rankings.

Pagett beat Stuart Bingham at the BetVictor Shoot Out in February

“I am a better player than I have been in the past, I know that – one million percent. As you get older you get wiser and gain more experience. Five years ago I had no clue about safety but I’m much better on that side now. It has taken me a long time to develop as a player but I am ready now and looking forward to seeing what damage I can do.”

Pagett’s European triumph came in Portugal last month – at an event he almost pulled out of due to concerns over the coronavirus outbreak. “I didn’t want to go,” admits the Blackwood cueman. “Darren Morgan was already out there, he rang me up and said the situation was ok. He convinced me that this was my chance to get back on the tour and I should take it.

“The event was cut down from eight days to five and the organisers were taking advice from the government all the way through, restricting the number of fans who could enter the arena. Once I was out there I knew it was the right decision.”

After coming through the group phase without dropping a frame, Pagett beat Ben Fortey, Declan Lavery and Ross Muir to reach the final before seeing off Finland’s Heikki Niva 5-2 to secure the title.

With the trophy at Challenge Tour event three in Leeds

“I have tried so hard this season and I have been playing well enough to win something, it was just a matter of time,” said Pagett, who also won an event on the Challenge Tour and finished third in the rankings.

He has had three previous spells on the pro tour, between 2008 and 2015, and played at the Crucible in 2011. Away from snooker Pagett has two daughters, aged 15 and 11, and helps run a family business, a general store in the Welsh valleys called AP discounts.

“When I was younger I found the travelling hard, spending a lot of time away from my family, and because of that I fell out of love with snooker a bit,” he said. “Now my kids are older they are more interested in spending time with friends, and they say to me ‘dad, go for it.’

“My own dad can run the shop when I am away at tournaments, and the fact that we have a business takes a bit of pressure off me. I can focus fully on snooker now and enjoy the travelling more, it is part of life as a player.

“Previously when I was a pro, in the first round of tournaments we were often playing for £500 or less. These days that’s usually more like £5,000, and players around where I used to be ranked are earning £60,000 or £70,000 a year. The money is so much better than it was before and that has given me the motivation to get back on tour.”

Pagett practises at Darren Morgan’s snooker club in Crosskeys and names the former world number eight as an important influence. “I can’t thank Darren and his wife Tracey enough for what they have done for me,” he said. “His club is a great place to practise on a Star table and a few of the other Welsh lads come there for a game.

“I have never had better people around me – including my own family, my girlfriend Jemma and my manager Tom Cousins. This is a fresh start for me and I can’t wait to get going.”