“I AM hungry for success.”
The words of Cork snooker ace Aaron Hill who spoke exclusively with The Echo ahead of his return to the UK where he plays in the WST Pro Series this coming week.
Hill will be part of the 128 player strong field with 16 groups of eight players in each group and the top two players will emerge from each group to make the last 32.
There aren’t any easy games in professional snooker and Hill has been drawn in group ‘B’ featuring Kyren Wilson, Kacper Filipiak, Li Hang, Yuan Sijun, Sunny Akani, Pang Junxu and Fan Zhengyi.
Hill is looking forward to a return to the table but explains why life can be difficult in Milton Keyes.
“Look it’s great that snooker can be played, but the Marshall Arena is a strange place with all the tournaments played there it is like going to the same club every time and that isn’t what the tour is,” Hill said.
“I know World Snooker deserve a lot of credit for keeping things going, but I can tell you it isn’t very popular with most of the players, it can be void of atmosphere when you are on the back tables and there is nobody there and I have seen seasoned professionals walk out and vow not to return.
“It was a lot easier before when you would meet up with the players, go for a bite to eat and have the craic, but as the hotel we stay in is actually part of the arena we spend all our time in our rooms and that is tough.
“I am travelling back this week and I will do a Covid-19 test before I fly, but I hope things improve soon because it can be very difficult trying to get yourself up for your matches in a confined space for maybe 22 hours of the day.
"It isn’t too bad if you win, but if you lose you have absolutely nothing to do or nowhere to go, so something needs to improve.”
At least with the round-robin format in this forthcoming tournament Hill will play a lot more snooker with seven matches in a best of three frames format.
2020 was for many people a real write-off for obvious reasons, but it was an incredible year for Aaron Hill who started the season off in style at the BetVictor Shootout in Watford.
“I got the invite to the Shootout because I was the Irish U21 champion and I was also the European U18 champion and I loved it.
“I loved the atmosphere and the opportunity to be backstage in the player’s lounge where the banter was unreal.
“Also to see my family in the crowd was a real buzz for me and I made it to the last 32 beating Robbie McGuigan and Kyren Wilson, I got a little look at what professional snooker life was like.”
Hill then travelled to Portugal and did a historic double, winning two European titles at the same championships lifting the U18 and U21 titles.
“People asked me why did I play in the U18 event as the U21 tournament had the tour card and the U18 didn’t.
“I wanted to defend my U18 title also I was 17 and it would be my last chance to play in the event and I beat Sean Maddox in the final and it was sweet revenge for my defeat by him in Malta at a WST event there earlier in the year.
“I wanted that U21 title more than anything and I knew what is meant to be the EBSA U21 champion, it meant a two-year tour card and I would be the first to win both U18 and U21 titles at the same championship.
“I met Harper Staniland in the final and breezed into a four frames to nil lead and then I was on 40 breaks in the next two frames and missed some dolly easy reds and he won both frames.
“I was nervous, very nervous and tired because I had played every day in Portugal without rest, but when I eventually got over the line to win the final it hit me emotionally.
“I couldn’t believe it at first, but when it sunk in and I was met by my family at Dublin Airport I knew that my dream of being a professional snooker player was a reality.”
Because of Covid-19 and WST organisational matters, Hill had to wait quite a while before his professional debut, but in between, he practiced hard and played in the Blue Ball Challenge to raise money for frontline workers, but eventually, Hill was on a flight to London for his first tournament.
As it happens the first tournament was also a league round-robin format, but Hill didn’t play his best and won one match out of three, but little did anyone know what would happen a week later in the European Masters.
Hill started well with a win over seasoned professional Any Hicks which meant his second-round match would be against his all-time snooker hero Ronnie O’Sullivan.
It was a match that nobody would forget and would put the name Aaron Hill on the World Snooker map once and for all!