KYREN Wilson was left devastated when he fell off the tour three years ago – and much can be gleaned about his character by the way he has bounced back.
The 22-year-old from Northamptonshire is enjoying a second lease of life and is making the most of it, reaching the last eight in Shanghai this season and now the Dafabet World Championship.
World No89 Wilson won four matches in qualifying at Ponds Forge, including most impressively a 10-7 victory over former world champion Graeme Dott.
Scotland’s Dott was generous in a desperately disappointing defeat, insisting that he had played far worse and won, another indication of the quality of Wilson’s performance.
And it is all welcome payback for some hard graft put in by a player that admitted he was left feeling “worthless” after losing his place among the professional ranks.
And an unsuccessful stint as a barman in his local club only made him more determined to make a go of it on the baize – resulting in a Crucible debut against Ricky Walden on Monday.
And the youngster also has a debt of gratitude to former world champion Peter Ebdon, who spotted his prowess at just six years of age near his home.
Wilson said: “Falling off tour back in 2011 was such a tough time, there were times I felt like depression was taking over. I felt worthless.
“I had gone from people asking me what I did and me saying ‘professional snooker player’ to losing that. I had no job title, nothing.
“I got a job in my local snooker club behind the bar, but I was shocking. I got twitchy. I tried to pour pints, forgot how many I’d poured and the sub-total, and couldn’t work the screen on the till.
“People were always handing the pints back saying that there was too much head or not enough.
“But that taught me the value of money. I had lost appreciation for it, and having got my tour place back I am very hungry and feel stronger.
“I have played well all season, apart from the China Open earlier this month. I had a cold, and had almost written the worlds off.
“But now I want to win a match at the Crucible and I think I have the game to go far.
“I had a few friends and family supporting me against Graeme and they will be there in Sheffield, I’ll probably have to tell them to calm down in there.
“It was strange, from 7-6 down against Graeme I just felt like I was getting stronger, I felt like buying a house in Sheffield I had been there that long after four matches in a week.
“The only time I came to the Crucible was to watch Peter Ebdon, who was a massive influence on me as a kid when he was also living in Northamptonshire.
“Famously I beat him as a six-year-old at pool, he’s probably sick of hearing about that.
“I practise with him a lot still, and he sends me texts saying well done. He didn’t have to give me that time, he was already up there as a top player and former world champion.
“I wanted to pick his brains at the Star Academy before the Dott match – but he wasn’t there that day.”
Photographs by Monique Limbos