Phil Haigh spoke to Ashley Carty who will be back on Tour next season

Ashley Carty has not been invited to the 2023 World Championship qualifiers and, like Balvark, I find this very surprising. Also surprising to me was how Ashley, who qualified for the Crucible in 2020, plummeted down the rankings. In this interview he explains what happened

Ash Carty is back on the World Snooker Tour after traumatic time set him back

Phil Haigh Wednesday 8 Mar 2023 7:53 pm

Ashley Carty
Ash Carty picked up a crucial win at the Q Tour Playoffs on Sunday (Picture: Andy Chubb/Sheffield Sport)

It was a painful end to his previous stint on the World Snooker Tour, but Ash Carty is back and feeling better than ever as he prepares for another crack at the professional circuit.

The Yorkshireman won the Q Tour Playoffs on Sunday, beating Farakh Ajaib, Hamim Hussain, Ross Muir and then Florian Nussle in the final to earn himself a two-year tour card.

Still only 27 years old, Carty had four years on tour before falling off last year and is thrilled to bounce straight back, especially without having to go to the notoriously difficult Q School.

I’m absolutely buzzing,’ Carty told ‘It’s relief more than anything, to do it so soon, the last thing I wanted was to have two, three, four years off tour. It’s nice to be back on within one season

Avoiding Q School was the main thing, to avoid that at all costs because it’s just absolutely brutal, anything can happen and it’s just not a nice tournament to be in.’

Carty looked to be making progress on the professional tour, reaching the Crucible in 2020 with some fine qualifying wins over the likes of Jimmy Robertson and Rob Milkins before putting up a good fight in a 10-7 loss to Stuart Bingham on the sport’s greatest stage.

From there it was somewhat surprising to see him drop off tour last year, but after failing to come through Q School, he hinted at off-table troubles.

Ash tweeted in June last year: ‘Gutted to have fell off the tour and not gained my place back on

The last 6/7 months for me away from the table have been awful to say the least, thankfully things have been getting better slowly and I can start to focus fully on snooker again & to try and get back on the tour.’

Speaking about that tough time now, Carty explains that snooker was far from his chief focus as his father’s life was in jeopardy for months at the time.

My dad was seriously ill during my last season on tour, thankfully he’s getting better now but he was in hospital for about four months,’ Ash explained. 

He had Covid, he was in intensive care for two months, then he had a stroke which put him in hospital for another two months. 

For the first two months I wasn’t sure if he’d make it or not, so snooker took a back step completely. I was still turning up to tournaments, I actually got a couple of good wins, I beat Maguire and a couple of others, but I wasn’t practicing at all really, just an hour a day while that was going on.

‘I was going to tournaments and I wasn’t sharp, I wasn’t thinking about snooker at all, it was a really tough time for me. Thankfully now he’s on the mend slowly and I can concentrate on snooker a lot more now, but then I didn’t want to play snooker at all.’

The really tough time off the table brought bad habits into Carty’s practicing which he didn’t get rid of until very recently when his friend gave him a talking to.

With his dad’s health improving, Carty needed to get back to the grind and has been putting in the hours on the table and on the road, which has paid off already with his Q Tour Playoffs victory.

I wasn’t practicing, I got into a bad habit and not even doing good practice when I was in the club,’ he explained. ‘I was doing that for probably a year and it was only three months ago that my friend who runs the club where I play had an honest chat with me

He told me I wasn’t practicing hard enough and it hit me a bit. I went home that day, thought about it and realised he was right

I changed a lot from then, I’ve been doing a lot of fitness, getting up at 6am and going for a run, my friend has been coming to the club and picking balls out for me, that’s really helped. I feel a lot more sharp, doing intense practice, maybe two hours non-stop, not going on my phone after doing a line-up, that’s no good.

That was just after the Q Tour had finished. I finished 13th and I thought, “I’m a lot better player than this, I need to sort myself out if I want to get back on tour.” Since then I’ve just felt really good, in myself as well. I’ve noticed a big difference in my game, feel a lot more confident and sharp.

Even my time on tour, I wasn’t practicing as hard as you have to to get to the top, which I’ve realised now. I’ve got to improve a lot more to get where I want to be, but it’s been a good kick up the backside.

With a reinvigorated attitude to practice and some wins under his belt, Carty is feeling good about his game again and is ready to take on the tour once more.

‘I do feel confident,’ he said. ‘This season off the tour has helped a bit. If you’re on the tour and not winning many matches then your confidence is rock bottom

I feel a lot more confident now, I think it’s done me good having a year off the tour, winning matches and getting confidence back. I’ve proved before what I can do, it’s just doing it more consistently.

Carty is also taking inspiration from his good pal Joe O’Connor, who he came up with in the junior ranks and has now watched him shine this season, reaching his first ranking final at the Scottish Open.

This season he’s been unbelievable and that’s inspired me,’ said Ash. ‘I’ve been good friends with him for years and we’ve always been at a similar level

As juniors I was even a little bit better than him, so to see what he’s doing, it’s inspiring. I know I can do that as well.

That’s where I want to be, I want to be back at the Crucible. I want to do what Joe’s doing, getting to quarters, semis, finals of big ranking events.’

Before he returns to pro status next season, Carty heads to the European Amateur Championships in Malta this weekend as he looks to add some more silverware to his collection and return to the tour in style.

First of all I want to wish Ash the best, on tour of course, but in his private life as well.

Next… a word for the conspiracy theorists who believe that covid was just a cold, measures to attempt to contain the spread of it were unnecessary and the vaccine did nothing: read what happened to Ash’s father.

Ash is only 27. His father is unlikely to be a frail old man in his 90th, is he? Yet he spent two months in intensive care.

The same happened to two close friends of my husband. One, in his early 60th, eventually survived, but one of his lungs is completely destroyed. The other one died. He wasn’t even 40. He was a professional sportsman (track and field).

Covid is NOT a cold. Covid can cause clotting that destroys your organs. Covid can fool your immune system that then attacks your own body. The more recent strains are milder, more contagious but milder. That’s how viruses evolve. What happened with COVID had happened before, most notably with the Spanish flu pandemic in 1918. Then as well the virus evolved from an animal disease.

The confinement measures were necessary at the start of the pandemic, until the virus got better understood and adequate treatments were found. That said, it wasn’t necessary for them to last as long as it did. And completely isolating elderly, fragile persons for months – many with dementia – was inhumane. They needed to be protected but they equally needed human contact and love. There is a balance to be found in everything and it wasn’t found. Same when it comes to visiting very ill people in hospitals, or attending one’s child birth.

The vaccine doesn’t prevent those who get it from catching the disease, nor does it prevent from transmitting it. It does however protect from the worse symptoms and hence reduces both mortality and morbidity. The global stats prove it did that. The vaccine against the flu works similarly. All my kids got the vaccine against measles -it was mandatory at the time in Belgium – and all three still got the disease but in a milder form without pulmonary complications. That’s what it’s about. It doesn’t suppress the disease but it helps preventing the worse case scenarios.