Welshman Jamie Jones is hoping a running regime can help him to secure his place in the top 16 of the one-year list and qualify for the upcoming Cazoo Players Championship.
Jones is aiming to combine the roads with the baize during a busy February period. The Neath cueman currently lies in position to qualify for the Players Championship and a strong showing at next week’s BetVictor Welsh Open will seal his spot.
Jones is enjoying an impressive return to the professional scene this season, a suspension in 2018 subsequently caused him to drop off the circuit. After regaining his tour card at Q School last year, he has already gone on a fine run to the semi-finals of the Scottish Open.
We’ve caught up with Jones to find out how he has getting on with his return to the tour so far…
Jamie, first of all what was your experience like at Q School and how much did it mean to regain your place on the tour?
“I think my attitude was good going into Q School. If I’d had a bad two seasons, with losses and disappointments, it would have been a different atmosphere. Because of the way I ended up in Q School, I wasn’t there because of losses. I was doing fine and then flash forward 18 months and I was in Q School. I was pretty confident going in there to be honest. I just thought that if I could use my experience on the tour then that would carry me through. Looking back on things, we all know how rusty you can get with time off. Even just coming through Q School was an achievement, so I am proud of that.”
Having stopped playing completely for a while, how naturally did things come back to you when you got the cue back out?
“I jumped straight back in at the deep end. I’m lucky that I have Michael White, Daniel Wells and Ryan Day right on my doorstep. I just asked them all for games. The first two weeks were brilliant. I played great, but then I had a couple of months where I couldn’t pot a ball. The honeymoon period was over. I remembered how difficult the game was. It was a grafting process really. It is brilliant practising with them, they all work so hard. I’m lucky with where I live. It got me back up to speed pretty quickly.”
You actually went to the same school in Neath as Daniel Wells and Michael White. How much have the three of you helped each other’s games growing up?
“I think, speaking to a lot of other professionals, they are usually the only one from their town or area. So for us all to have gone to the same school, is quite unusual. It is definitely a factor that the Empire Club in Neath was so good. There were so many good amateur players there that we all had quite a good upbringing. It was hard matchplay snooker. That club holds the secret to our success. We are lucky that we have each other, but we are also lucky we had the club as well. Sadly it has shut down now.
“We are all very competitive, but we all speak a lot as well. We discuss matches and we chat about general life stuff. I’ve had some difficult times and it hasn’t all been roses for Michael in recent times after falling off the tour. Daniel is looking a bit dodgy for staying on at the moment as well. We are helping each other through bit by bit. When we were younger we had dreams about being a professional and how great it would be. That was right, but now we are professional we understand how difficult it is to keep up the required standard. We are all working hard and helping each other.
“The fact that Michael, being a ranking event winner, isn’t on the tour currently shows just how tough it is. For someone like him to drop off the circuit is crazy. Then to not even get through Q School really hits home how high the standard is. You can win a tournament one week, but you are only ever two years from falling off of the tour, it is very cut throat. I’m playing a lot with Michael at the moment and he is playing as well as he ever has done in practice. I think it is only a matter of time before he starts bringing it to the match table.”
You are a keen runner and have been hitting the roads a lot recently. Has that helped you on the table?
“I’m running more than I ever have, purely because it makes me feel better. I’m really enjoying it. I’m also doing a bit of yoga. I’m basically trying to do everything I can to feel that little bit better. It helps me practise more and gives me more energy to do things properly. I have a goal to run three miles a day for the whole month of February. It is a really important month ahead, so if I can give myself a little distraction from the snooker, it can take my mind off it. It is a little plan I’ve made for myself.
“At the moment, I’ve never felt this good in myself in my whole life. It is consistency with running, yoga and working out in the house. That has been a massive change in my life. I have more energy and it is making me eat better as well. I don’t want to go pigging out after putting all that work in on the fitness side. I feel like a different person. You see Ronnie doing 10 and 11 mile runs. Obviously that is a bit extreme, but it works for him. He has found it helps him a lot and I’ve also found something in running.”
It was a brilliant run to the semi-finals of the Scottish Open before Christmas. Do you believe a maiden ranking title could be on the horizon?
“I’m proud of myself for the wins I had before Christmas. I won some great matches to get through in the Scottish Open, but the semi-final against Mark Selby was such an eye opener. I was turning up with no pressure, thinking I would go out to enjoy it. Mark didn’t let me enjoy one second of that match. I fouled a blue with my waistcoat in the first frame, he absolutely pummelled me for two hours after that. I just had to sit in my chair and watch. I realised that the level these guys are playing at is incredibly high. It is probably one of the best performances I’ve ever had against me.
“I believe I’m good enough. I’ve got to the latter stages of events and done well at the Crucible a few times. I believe in myself and I believe I can win a tournament. I am very appreciative of things now and can’t wait to play in every event. I’m happier around the venue, playing and practising. In my dark times I have found an appreciation of what I’ve got. I feel that puts me some way towards lifting a trophy.”
You are in a great position to secure a place in the top 16 of the one-year list and qualify for the Players Championship. How proud would you be to achieve that on your return season?
“The strange thing is over the years I’ve been in the World Grand Prix a few times but I’ve never been anywhere near this event. It is so strange to have not even been on the tour six months ago, now I am aiming to be in a top 16 event. I can only concentrate on the next tournament. If I can do well in the Welsh Open then the points will take care of themselves. I’ve always got my next match. If I can do well then I will be more than in there with a shot.”
You can keep up with how Jamie is getting on with his running by following Jamie 147 on Strava.
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