When Stephen Hendry announced his return to competition on the Seniors Tour at the Seniors World Championship 2017, there were a lot of expectations and his faithful fans predicted that he would wipe the floor with the opposition. He didn’t. Actually, he was very poor. In his first match, he only just beat Aidan Owens, an amateur, by 3-2, on a black ball shoot-out, and lost by 3-0 to Peter Lines in the next.
He competed on the WSS Tour in the next two seasons, but the poor form continued, and it was clear that he wasn’t enjoying this. But maybe, this is about to change…
Indeed, in an interview with Phil Haig, Hendry has revealed that he’s now working with Sightright and is already seing results:
Stephen Hendry teases coming out of retirement after work with snooker coach
Stephen Hendry has teased the possibility of coming out of retirement, having worked with coach Steve Feeney and beginning to enjoy playing snooker again.
The seven-time world champion retired in 2012 after defeat in the quarter-finals of the World Championship and has not been tempted to return, only playing on the Seniors Tour in recent years.
The 51-year-old struggled to adapt to life in snooker’s chasing pack after dominating the game throughout the 1990s, and regular defeats eventually became too much for him to handle.
However, eight years after retirement, Hendry has been working with Feeney, the man behind innovative training technique SightRight, which has been credited with improvements in numerous players, most notably Mark Williams en route to his 2018 World Championship win.
Hendry is making no promises or plans just yet, but he sounds more interested in playing competitively than he has for almost a decade.
‘I’ve been doing a wee bit with Steven Feeney and I’ve started to get a bit of pleasure from hitting the ball back,’ Hendry told Ken Doherty on an Instagram Live.
I’d done about half a dozen sessions with him and I was getting quite into it, then obviously this [coronavirus] has happened.
‘Hopefully, Praise God if Sheffield is on, if he’s there, he’ll maybe give me a few hits.
‘He asked me what I wanted from it in the beginning and I just said, “I want to enjoy playing snooker,” that’s all. ‘The way I was playing, even in the Seniors. Not hitting the ball properly, it was just torture really, it’s the last throw of the dice.
‘If this thing works out with Feeney, I start to hit the ball properly and get a bit more enjoyment out of playing… ‘
The World Championship Seniors is hopefully going to be on in August. You win that, get in the Champion of Champions, you see what happens there and you never know.
‘I’m making no plans, I just want to enjoy playing then see what comes from there.’
Feeney has also worked with Ronnie O’Sullivan and has been a huge influence on Dave Gilbert’s vast improvements in his mid-thirties, which saw him reach the World Championship semi-finals for the first time last year.
The coaching is based on sighting and alignment and Feeney has also done substantial work with darts players and golfers.
After the rescheduling of the World Championship to run from 31 July-16 August, the World Seniors Championship is now set for 20-22 August at Sheffield’s Crucible Theatre.
Jimmy White is the defending champion, but there will be even more attention on Hendry with a win potentially seeing the legendary Scot return to regular action.
It will be interesting to see where Hendry goes from here. In 2017, after losing to Lines, he admitted that he wasn’t handling pressure well anymore. In his bio he spoke of “yips”. A lot is about confidence in snooker and if confidence returns… who knows indeed? Not to play at his prime level, of course, but to play with pleasure and guve a good account of himself. I’m sure fans would welcome that.