Neath cueman Jamie Jones is relishing the return of fans at the BetVictor Welsh Open, after last year’s event was forced behind closed doors due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The ICC Wales will host packed crowds, as snooker’s top stars take to the baize to contest the Ray Reardon Trophy. You can still be there for as little as £10. For details click here.
After a tricky start to the campaign, Jones is beginning to come into form and clinched his place in the final stages of next week’s tournament with a high quality 4-3 win over Zhou Yuelong in qualifying. He faces Jimmy Robertson first up next week.
Jones is relishing competing in front of fans at next week’s Welsh Open and believes that they provide a unique atmosphere due to the deep cultural roots of snooker in the country.
We caught up with Jones to discuss the Welsh Open, the rest of the season, Crucible qualifying and his training for October’s London Marathon…
Jamie, how much are you looking forward to competing in front of spectators at next week’s event?
“Snooker is a very important part of people’s lives in Wales. From the con clubs and working clubs to snooker halls. There will be a lot of people coming up from Neath next week. They will be coming to watch me, but it is about more than that. They love the sport and will want to see as many players as they can. The tournament is always so well supported. To have been behind closed doors last year, it will be great for all of the fans and players to have it properly back to normal.
“I grew up playing with Jimmy Robertson in the juniors, so I’m looking forward to playing him as well. I know it will be open and free flowing against him, so it is a game which will be good for both of us. I think it will also be good for people watching at home. With any luck there will be a few big breaks and it will be a great game to watch.”
How pleased were you with that win over Zhou Yuelong in qualifying?
“It was a really good result and especially under the circumstances. Every match is really important for me at the moment. If I’d lost that would have been another zero on my ranking. Those first round games are massive. I rate Zhou up there with Yan Bingtao and Zhao Xintong, he is such a classy player. I was 2-0 down in no time and he was looking really strong. To pull the win out of the bag from there was excellent. I made a good break in the decider, so I was very happy.”
You started this season with four successive first round defeats and an opening round exit at the Championship League. Despite that you are still ranked 38th in the world. How important is the end of this season to ensure you stay there?
“I had a really good first season and got good prize money. My ranking might be slightly false. If I don’t have a good end to the season I will have a lot of points to protect next year. I don’t want a false sense of security. This year has been a little bit slow but that’s not been due to any lack of preparation. Things just haven’t worked out as I’d wanted. I feel good going into this last leg of the season.
“I was saying to my girlfriend the other day that in the past after every defeat I’d get bogged down and not want to do anything for a few days. Now I am accepting that I will do everything I can to get the result. If it doesn’t go my way, then it will go right next time. My attitude isn’t wavering and I am putting the same effort in for every event. The sport is too tough to keep having a go at yourself. You have to hope that it will all turn around.”
You have a good record at the World Championship, having progressed through qualifying four times and made a quarter-final in the process. How do you feel ahead of this year’s event?
“I’ve got a couple of good tournaments in the run in to the World Championship so it is an important part of the season. I tend to do well in the World Championship most years, so hopefully I can be well prepared for it. I’m really looking forward to it. I think the longer matches tend to help me in the World Championship. In a best of seven, if you start badly, you are bang under it. I don’t tend to start that well in games so the short matches can be difficult. That is something I’m definitely going to have to address.
“I love going to Sheffield. It is a big buzz at the qualifiers for everyone trying to get to the Crucible. I just love that time of the year. The weather changes, all eyes are on the snooker and it is a great time. You want to be a part of it all. It was good last year with the partial crowds, but I’m sure that it will be amazing this year. When Rob Walker announces the guys out on that first morning with a full crowd, it might be the loudest first round announcement ever. There is a big prize on offer for everyone at qualifying this year.”
How are your preparations going for running the London Marathon for the Jessie May Trust in October?
“I have my running gear on right now and I’m going to go on a ten mile run as soon as I get off the phone. There’s no plan in place as of now. I’m just enjoying it really. I run or do a bit of bike work or swimming every day. I’m keeping my general fitness up. I’ll start the marathon plan just after the World Championship. I’ve never felt fitter. Everything I have ahead of me and what I’m doing it for, is fantastic. My life has changed for it and it isn’t just a run for me. I am so glad I have the opportunity to run for the Jessie May Trust.”
If you want to sponsor Jamie and donate to the Jessie May Trust, click here.
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