READING ace Billy Castle reckons he has what it takes to qualify for the professional snooker circuit.
The 24-year-old won a free Q School entry worth £600 by clinching the Cuestars South of England Championship Tour rankings title with one leg to spare.
Castle will travel to Preston in May for two tournaments where two-year Main Tour cards will be offered to the eight semi-finalists plus the top four on the order of merit, a list of unsuccessful players ranked by number of frames won.
“I shall be ready for it,” he insisted. “I don’t see any reason why I can’t get either to the semis or finish in the top four in the rankings – especially the way I can play.
“Only 12 get through so it’s tough. There’s no mugs up there. But I feel I’m good enough and the right age to do something.”
Castle, who is based at The Crucible Sports & Social Club, Newbury, won two of the seven Cuestars tournaments this season and never finished outside the last-four.
Qualifying for the knockout in the penultimate event sponsored by www.snookerhub.co.uk at Greenbaize Snooker Club, Bournemouth, opened up an unassailable gap.
After cruising through the group stages, he wrapped up a 3-1 last-eight victory over defending champion Matt Ford with a 134 total clearance before a shock 3-0 defeat by home player Grant Mason.
Places not taken up by any of the 128 professionals in the next season’s Main Tour events are offered to amateurs on the order of merit.
Following the 2015 Q School, Castle was invited to the qualifying stage of the Australian Open in Crawley and lost 5-2 to Vinnie Calabrese in the first round on a table next to where Jimmy White was competing.
But with a son who is nearly two and a seven-month-old daughter, life as a professional would be hard for the former England international.
“You’ve got to sacrifice something to make a better life for them,” he said. “But my wife and the family are behind me.
“You’ve got to play in every event to get your points, especially when you first get on the tour. It would be a full-time job.
“All the hard work over the years might be paying off. It would fulfil a lifetime dream.”
Picture by Tim Dunkley
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Tim Dunkley (World Snooker coach)