GROWING up on Cathedral Road in Gurranabraher, snooker was always a passion of Aaron Hill's, but little did he realise that one day he would be vying to mix with the sport's elite.
It all began when his dad, Stephen, brought him to the Crucible Snooker Hall off Blarney Street as a 12-year-old and now, seven years later, he is competing against the best players on the professional circuit.
“This season began back in August and I have competed in many tournaments in the UK and looking back on the last five months it has been a mixed bag where I have played well in some and not so well in others,” said Aaron Hill.
The biggest win for Hill this season was his win over Zhao Xintong, who later went to win the UK championship a few weeks ago, so I guess it proves that I can mix it with the best when I bring my A game to the table,” added Hill.
Indeed by defeating Xintong, Hill qualified for the European Masters that takes place in Germany in February 2022 as he looked back on this memorable win.
“I actually beat him 5-4 in Cannock Birmingham and that was probably my best performance of the season and now it’s a case of getting more consistency into my game.”
The biggest scalp in Hill’s young career was when he defeated Ronnie O’Sullivan in the European Masters as he reflected on this tournament with pride.
“I actually defeated Andy Hicks, Ronnie O’Sullivan, and Matthew Stevens and those wins really have given me great inspiration to reach the last 16 of a world ranking tournament.”
When a young 19-year-old goes toe-to-toe with Ronnie O’Sullivan it must give him huge inspiration as he reflected on that famous win.
To beat a player in the calibre of Ronnie O’Sullivan you would have to play very well and on the day it came right for me and it was a win to savour.”
Turning professional at the age 18 in February 2020 has been demanding for Hill as he praised his main sponsor Tomás Singleton for his incredible sponsorship.
“The cost of playing professional snooker when you are trying to break into the big time is very expensive and without the generosity of Tomás I just couldn’t pursue my career and I would like to take this opportunity to thank him.
“The Macau Casino are also brilliant to me and of course, my parents who are always there for me and without all them my career would be non-existent.”
Life on the snooker circuit is different to what the armchair viewers sees on TV.
“It can be tough as they are more downs than ups but my philosophy is simple when the good times come it makes it all worthwhile and hopefully 2022 will be kind to me.” Positivity is important according to Hill.
“There are tournaments where everything goes wrong but I have learned to look forward as you could not exist otherwise and I am consistently looking for ways to improve my game.”
Having experienced playing and watching the best players in the world Hill had interesting views on who he believes are the best on the circuit.
“At the moment my money would be on Mark Selby as I think he is the best player in the world and although Judd Trump is very close to him Selby has an excellent all round game.”
The people’s favourite in snooker is Ronnie O’Sullivan and Hill was philosophical in summing up ‘the Rocket’.
“When Ronnie is switched on I don’t think there is anybody better but he is having a tough season as in the last two tournaments he looked to be really focused but it’s just not happening for him at the moment.” The snooker circuit is enjoyable as Hill summed up his experience on the tour.
“The majority of the guys are friendly but some just keep to themselves particularly in tournaments but off the table I must admit that I have always been treated well by all the players.”
The Christmas period will all be about some practice and family time for Aaron.
“My next tournament is mid-January but I have a table in my parents’ house that I can practice on but look, at the end of the day Christmas is for family time and I intend to enjoy it.”
It will be off to Leicester in mid-January for Aaron and looking ahead moving up the world rankings will be number one priority on his wish list.
I am ranked 84th in the world but I will have to move up as to remain on the tour. I will have to be ranked higher but look I am still only a puppy in the sport and I do feel time is on my side.
“At the moment you have Mark Selby, Judd Trump, John Higgins, and Ronnie O’Sullivan but they are not getting any younger and I do feel there is a serious career in this sport for me.
“I will give my all to reach the summit and I do know it’s not beyond me but there are many talented young players coming through with the same aspirations that I have so it’s a case of fighting for survival.”
The 19-year-old northsider will keep the Cork flag flying in his quest to topple the best in world snooker.