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Williams Set For Fresh Start

Mark Williams insists he came close to retirement at the end of last season, but a new coaching method and new cue have given him fresh hope for the 2017/18 campaign.

Two-time World Champion Williams missed out on the Crucible this year having dropped out of the world’s top 16. He reached the final qualifying round in Sheffield before losing to Stuart Carrington.

Demoralised by his form in recent years, the 42-year-old from Cwm considered putting his cue away for good.

“For the first time ever I really thought hard about retiring,” said Williams. “I spoke to my wife about it and realised that if I did retire I’ve no idea what I would do.

“For the last few years I have been playing awful, and the older you get the harder snooker gets. I know I reached the China Open final last season (losing 10-8 to Mark Selby) but I’ve only played two good matches in the last three or four years. I got bored of it, I wasn’t enjoying practice and I knew I couldn’t go on the same way.”

Through his coach Lee Walker, Williams was introduced to the SightRight method, which uses sighting and alignment techniques with the intention to improve accuracy. SightRight coach Stephen Feeney has worked with snooker players including Martin Gould and Stuart Bingham as well as golfers such as Colin Montgomerie and Darren Clarke.

“Lee has obviously been watching my game closely over the past year and he thought I should give it a try,” said Williams. “If I’m going to carry on playing then I need to try something completely different. So I decided to give it a go and I’m going to trust in it and practise hard this season. I have seen Stephen a few times and I’m listening to what he’s saying. The things we have talked about and put in place have made a lot of sense.

“I’ve got a new cue from John Parris as well. So I’ve got things to focus on rather than carrying on with what I was doing before.

Williams hasn’t won a ranking title since 2011

“I want to stay in the top 16 this season and hopefully get a place in the Masters and at the Crucible. In the past few years I have not believed that I can win tournaments, but if I can get some confidence back now then who knows.”

Williams also believes that talented young Welsh potter Jackson Page remains on the road to success, despite missing out on a World Snooker Tour card at Q School last weekend. Had 15-year-old Page won one more frame over the two Q School events he would have earned a tour card, but he missed out on count-back having won the same number of frames as Martin O’Donnell.

“He was very unlucky,” said Williams, who mentors Page at his club in Tredegar. “He’s only 15 and he was up there playing against seasoned professionals so he has done remarkably well. He might have the best of both worlds this season because he will still get entry into certain pro events plus he can play in amateur events. He is on the right path.”

Williams will be playing in the upcoming Kaspersky Riga Masters and China Championship qualifiers at the Guild Hall in Preston – for more details and ticket info click here