CORK'S Aaron Hill is known to family and friends as ‘De Breeze’, and the teenager will need every ounce of his ice-cool temperament to fulfil a dream and reach the Crucible.
The 19-year-old from Cork starts his Betfred World Championship qualifying campaign this morning at the English Institute of Sport in Sheffield.
Hill, still in his rookie year as a professional, has been placed in a tough section of the draw and must win four matches to make it to the iconic theatre venue.
He starts against Yorkshire’s Ashley Hugill, and may have to then beat Sam Craigie, Hossein Vafaei and Zhao Xintong to go all the way.
The high point of his debut campaign so far has unquestionably been a 5-4 victory over the great Ronnie O’Sullivan at the European Masters. The Rocket is the reigning world champion.
And Hill insists he has learned from every experience and possesses the belief to achieve his goal.
Hill said: “I am looking forward to the World Championship more than ever this year after my first season as a professional.
“And to actually win the four matches and to make it through to the Crucible would mean the absolute world to me.
“It has been a good taste of the tour this season, but I am going in there to Sheffield with a point to prove.
“Tour is a tough place and there have been highs and lows, but there have been lots of positives and I am happy enough.
“I have just felt that I am getting more used to it and more comfortable with every tournament, and it will feel more like home next season.
“It has been tough not being able to have someone with me, family or a mate, but I am thankful just to be playing in these strange times.
“The World Championship is a massive tournament in every way, and even in the qualifiers you can win money can really put you up the rankings with a win or two.
“My first match is against Ashley Hugill, he is a good player and though we haven’t met as pros he beat me in the final of a Challenge Tour event last year in Belgium.
"But it is all on the day. The section I am in is not the easiest for sure, a tough route, but if you are going to qualify you have to come through those tests.
“Certainly last year as an amateur in these qualifiers I didn’t start well, so that is something I am really looking at, to make a good start. But the year before I only got pipped at the end."