OLIVER Lines jets off to China this week where in his rookie professional year on the tour he will stand proudly alongside father Peter, the first father and son duo to compete on the circuit since Geoff and Neal Foulds 25 years ago.
While dad Peter, 44, was clinging on to his own spot Oliver did his bit to make the family dream possible by winning the European Under-21 title in Romania in March with a 6-1 victory over Ireland’s Josh Boileau.
Even back in 2009, when many of those present remember a wide-eyed kid taking it all in at the UK Championships in Telford as his father reached the quarter-finals, his best result in a major tournament, Oliver was acquiring a reputation as a decent prospect.
But he will be uprooted from his base at the Northern Snooker Centre in Leeds this week and heading for the Far East, looking to cash in on a hard-earned win over Dave Harold in the first round of the Wuxi Classic, after taking part in the Yixing Open on the Asian Tour.
And Oliver has spoken this week about that Telford experience being a catalyst for his ambitions, the advice he has received from his dad, and why beating him on tour this season could backfire badly.
Oliver said: “It was an amazing experience as a 14-year-old that time in Telford watching my dad do well, being there for what was probably his best run in a big tournament.
“Everyone, the families and other players, were all in this same big room and I got to meet Ronnie O’Sullivan there. I think it was at that event I knew what I wanted to do.
“I was around snooker so I first had a go when I was very young, but properly from 13. I used to play football, I was okay but not good enough to be a pro, and decided to concentrate on snooker. In my first year I won the English Under-14s, and that’s when I knew I had a chance.
“At first when I told dad I fancied being a pro he wasn’t keen, as he didn’t think I was serious but that changed as he saw I was dedicated.
“He has just told me to keep my attitude. He says it is a good one for a kid, and that he doesn’t want to see me banging cues on the floor and punching tables after bad shots or bad luck. He wouldn’t be happy if he saw me do that.
“My dad tells me I am a lot better than he was at the same age and can achieve more in the game than he has, so hopefully that is true. And I want to be world champion, that is the dream, the one everyone has coming in to a sport.
“The Crucible is only about 40 minutes away from us, I have been there to watch and it would be amazing to be there as a player one day.
“This season I just need to win as many matches as possible and use the experience to learn and become a better player. Then maybe next season I can push on.
“I’ll fly out to China with him and travel to the tournaments – but when we get there I will hang out with my mates on tour!
“That’s how it is, he understands. And he does his own thing, and has his own pals. I have been to China twice already for the World Under-21s, one of them was in Wuxi. This time will be better, I am a professional and I will get treated better.
“We have played in a few pro-ams, but obviously a first proper match for money in a ranking tournament would be completely different. I can’t even imagine what that would be like, just so weird.
“I live at home with my dad and my step-mum, and I don’t pay housekeeping so it might not go down too well if I beat him with some real money at stake. The most likely result is that I would have to start paying some rent, it could backfire badly if I won.
“I am always in the club at 9.30am, that’s the time dad comes in and I have picked it up. And beating Dave Harold was a big confidence booster. He had me in trouble virtually every shot, there weren’t many chances and it was really a best-of-nine safety match. It was a really good win, and great to come through.”
Next – dad Peter on his pride at walking out alongside his son this season and how Ronnie O’Sullivan is the right role model for him
Photographs courtesy of World Snooker