Mitchell Mann suffered a difficult defeat at the Betfred World Championship which left his career on the line, but he immediately picked himself up off the floor to regain his professional status at Q School.
The 29-year-old finished in second position on the Order of Merit across the three Q School events to secure a fresh two-year tour card. Mann believes it was the work he put in during the lead up to the event which ensured his swift return to the tour.
The Birmingham cueman suffered a gut-wrenching 6-5 loss to China’s Chen Zifan at Crucible qualifying to temporarily lose his professional status. However, he quickly snapped out of that disappointment and set about racking up the hours required to rectify that on the practice table.
Mann explained: “The loss to Chen Zifan was a difficult one to take, but I actually went into the club the following morning to practise. Not many people would play the day after a defeat like that. It was a loss in the biggest event we can play in to be dumped off the tour. That is hard to take, but I knew I had to put everything into Q School.
“My work ethic for that tournament was the most important thing. I completely upped my schedule on a daily basis compared to what I would normally do. I felt like my game was at a decent place. I’m not looking at how talented I am vs other players now. For me it is about how hard I work and trying to do everything to be better prepared to get the results.
“I lost a game to Martin Gould at the Welsh Open and saw his level was so much higher than mine. Between myself and my manager Lee Gorton, we spoke about it and realised that the work rate had to go up. We went to the worlds, didn’t stay on but bounced straight back and went for it again. I feel like for once in my life, I got what was deserved due to how I put the work and the hours in.
“Ricky Walden has also helped me a bit and he has been unbelievable as well. He’s given me some really good routines to get my level up and has also had some kind words of advice. He’s achieved a lot in the sport being a three-time ranking event winner. Ricky and Lee, along with Saqib Nasir who owns the club I practise at, are just awesome.”
Mann admits that it is the psychological side of Q School which provides the sternest test. With a stark line between professional status and a year as an amateur, there is a huge amount on the line. Mann faced a difficult wait after losing his last 16 match in event three to Scotland’s Dean Young, who went on to earn a debut season on the circuit. Eventually, after figuring out the mathematical permutations, Mann came to the realisation he had done enough to secure his place and he says it was an emotional moment.
“To be honest I had a tear in my eye when I found out I was on. Snooker is all I know and I’m not getting any younger. My dad welled up a bit because he has been unbelievable support for me down the years. Personally the emotions were all just about sheer relief at seeing hard work pay off.
“Q School is tough, but it is more the emotions that are the part I find the hardest. We are all eager to be on that tour. I actually want to apologise to Dean Young, who I lost to in my last match. I said a couple of things I shouldn’t have and showed a bad attitude during the game. None of that was his fault. It was just a personal frustration on my part and I wanted to say sorry to him if I offended him at all.”
Mann has openly discussed his battles with anxiety and depression in the past, which have impacted on him both on and off the baize. He now says that he wants to help and talk to others who are going through similar experiences.
Fortunately, Mann is now in a better place with his own mental health and as a result, he is relishing the prospect of a further two years on the professional tour.
“I’ve come through some very hard times to be where I am at now and because of that I cannot wait to get out there with my two-year card. All of the demons have gone and I feel as good as I ever have. It is all just about playing snooker now.
“I have control over it now and know how to deal with things so much better. I happily talk about mental health if anyone ever wants to have a chat about that kind of stuff. I’ve been open and honest about it in interviews in the past, because if my message can help just one person with their battles that would be great.
“Snooker is a hard sport as we are all trying out there. When you lose it hurts. What has helped me is sorting my lifestyle off the table and making better decisions. It takes a bit of time figuring out all of that stuff, but for me it was getting the right circle of people that was most important. I lead the quiet life now and spend a lot of time with my family and things.”