PROFESSIONAL Mark Davis paid tribute to the temperaments of Cuestars players when he was guest-of-honour at the under-21 finals day.
And, as news came through that Championship Tour winner Billy Castle had just triumphed at Q School, the world number 37 declared there has never been a better time to turn pro.
As well as presenting all the trophies, Davis made three centuries in his 17 frames against the youngsters and was beaten only once, by 12-year-old Gold Tour player Aidan Murphy.
Talking during a break in the busy afternoon at Jesters Snooker Club, Swindon, the 44-year-old explained how impressed he was with his young opponents and with the other games he watched.
“Their temperaments seem very good, which I notice straight away,” he said. “I’m a bit old school. I don’t like all the banging the cues and the moaning, which a lot of the youngsters do these days.
“I saw some outrageous bits of bad luck going on and they still just got on with it. It’s good to see. It’s a very important part of the game. The earlier you learn that the better.”
Davis praised organisations like Cuestars that are helping to find and develop tomorrow’s stars.
“I really enjoyed it,” he said. “The way the game is in the UK at the moment, it’s nice to have a place like this with loads of youngsters playing.
“You speak to some of the guys in Scotland and Wales, the junior (structure) is pretty poor. When I retire, I want to see some UK kids on the TV when I turn it on.”
And he had this advice for 24-year-old Castle who makes his debut on the Main Tour at the end of the month.
“Just learn,” he said. “You can’t teach people experience.
“Take as much as you can from every match. If you lose, you learn more, but even if you win just take what you can from it. Learn as quickly as you can.
“You have to go through it. It’s as simple as that. Like when he plays his first TV game. You have to go through those situations to get the experience of it.
“Good luck to him. The tour is very, very strong these days. Try to enjoy it and don’t put too much pressure on yourself.
“It’s a good life. We travel all over the world. I’ve been to places I’d never have gone to. I would never have gone to Australia. If I packed up tomorrow, I wouldn’t complain. For Billy, there’s no better time to turn pro. For 20 years of my career, we had six tournaments a year. Now we’ve got them coming out of our ears.”
Turning to his own career and no ranking tournament wins in his 26 years as a professional, Davis admitted: “It bugs me a little bit. I’d love to win one before I stop.”
Already this year, Davis has become the oldest player to make an official 147 maximum break. And he then repeated the feat 51 days later. They say these things come in threes. Perhaps there is a rankings trophy with his name on it.
Picture by Tim Dunkley: Mark Davis and Cuestars players and parents on the steps at Jesters.
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Tim Dunkley (World Snooker coach)