Part-time factory worker Luke Simmonds is looking forward to the challenge of taking on defending champion Ronnie O’Sullivan in the first round of the Betway UK Championship in York next week.
Amateur cueman Simmonds has been drawn against six-time UK Championship king O’Sullivan in the tournament which runs from November 27 to December 9 at the York Barbican.
Simmonds has never been ranked higher than 94th in the world but won enough matches at Q School this year to earn a place in certain ranking events.
The 38-year-old from the Isle of Wight has worked in a factory for the past eight years, building carbon fibre body parts for cars. He practises snooker whenever he can, to prepare for tournaments.
“Hopefully I’ll have a couple of days practice next week before I head up to York,” said former World Amateur Champion Simmonds. “The financial side is difficult because if you are not winning matches then you can’t cover your expenses.
“It’s exciting to be drawn against Ronnie because I have never played him before and it will be my biggest match in terms of the profile of the occasion.
“I admire Ronnie because, along with John Higgins and Mark Williams, they are able to play snooker in an optimum state of mind. They are totally at ease with themselves, enjoying the game with no concerns about prize money or expenses.
“I would love to be able to do the same but the hardest thing is to get to that point. I don’t feel good about my game at the moment because I am very self-critical of my own performances.
“Snooker is a unique game in that when you are at the table, if you can clear the balls then there’s nothing your opponent can do about it. And if you don’t give your opponent chances then he can’t score.”
That match will take place on Thursday November 29th at 2.30pm. The event starts with 128 players in the line-up, and the whole first round takes place over the first three days.
Other top stars battling for the £170,000 top prize include Mark Selby, Judd Trump, John Higgins, Neil Robertson, Mark Williams and Mark Allen.
Tickets for the first three days start at just £8, and with eight tables in play in every session, it’s an incredible chance for fans to see many of the world’s top stars with superb value for money. For details CLICK HERE
Televised by BBC and Eurosport, the Betway UK Championship has been staged every year since 1977 and is one of snooker’s Triple Crown events, alongside the World Championship and the Masters.
Ronnie did read this article, and tweeted:
hope my opponent can get the time off work for our game in the uk champs, it’s very interesting in what he has to say about being on the tour
Quite baffling in my eyes, but some read this tweed as patronising. How come? For me, this is just Ronnie expressing sympathy for a player who finds himself in a situation that Ronnie never had to face. Also, I’m sure that he reads this as a confirmation that the bottom ranked players can’t make a living out of the game.
Meanwhile, Ronnie is with Jason Francis for three nights of “Sporting life Story”, the first one happening yesterday in Halifax. Feedback was very positive as always.