Michael "Hitman" Holt from Nottingham is a former three-times ranking event quarter-finalist including the UK Championship in 1999. But since reaching the quarter-finals of the Grand Prix in 2005 he has remained largely in the background of the snooker scene.
But last year he had the best season of his career by winning the inaugural staging of the Pink Ribbon tournament at the South West Snooker Academy and then went on to win the last PTC event this season, EPTC6 in Prague where he beat no less than John Higgins in the final who had just won the previous event.
In this year's Pink Ribbon tournament he beat Ryan Day 4-0 in around 20 minutes and nearly came close to defending his title but lost to in-form Mark Joyce in the final.
At the age of 32, Michael still has a lot of years left in his snooker career. Can he build on his triumphs in 2010 and go on do his talent justice? Only time will tell.
Michael is also active on Twitter! You can follow him at @hitmanholt.
So Michael, why did you decide to enter this year's Pink Ribbon tournament?
Well I won it last year! It is a good tournament; it's a good charity to support. The season is coming now and there's a good field to test yourself against, so for all those reasons, it's a good tournament to enter.
What were your initial impressions of the academy when you first visited here last year?
This place is brilliant. You can't really fault it can you. It's perfect. Easy to get to, accessible, perfect inside, what more could you ask for?
What is it like to return here as the defending champion of the tournament? Is there added pressure on you?
Not really. I try my hardest in every match and you play each match as it comes. Last year is gone now and you've just got to get on with this year.
Image courtesy - World Snooker
What would you consider to be the biggest achievement of your snooker career?
Well there’s not been many unfortunately! There have been a few things. My pro career has been a bit of a disappointment really. I don't feel I have had many achievements so far. Winning that tournament in Prague was obviously a big thing. I had had problems off the table at the time. It was good to win that, beating John Higgins in the final that was great.
So how do you feel your game has been since you beat John Higgins in the final of EPTC6?
It was quite a good little season even though I had a shocker, apart from that tournament win the rest of the season was awful. I won here last year and then I didn't win anything for ages. I can't put my finger on why I did so badly last year, I just want to win matches. I felt great, but still lost to players that I should have beaten. Sometimes you can't put your finger on why you've not won. I played ok. But I look forward to this year being better.
Barry Hearn has changed so much about the tour and snooker's image in just one year. In an ideal world, where would you like to see the game going in the next few years?
Well I think it's going in the right direction. There's only so much you can do, you can't make people like the game. There are enough people who like Snooker to provide a good, professional sport, so I think to just keep going in the direction he's going. He has had good some good new ideas, like the Snooker shootout, I enjoyed playing in that even though it wasn't very long. Yes I'd say, keep going forward, have faith in him, he knows what he's doing. Hopefully it will keep going forward and it'll get better and better.
In your area, are there any up and coming youngsters to look out for?
To be honest, not in my area. There are not many young players from Nottingham, we used to have quite a lot of good players but for some reason there aren't many youngsters. The lad I just played; Sean O'Sullivan, he's quite a good player. He's got a lot of potential, if he keeps practicing; he's got a good chance.
Which club do you practice in and why do you choose that club over any other?
Pegasus Snooker Club in Arnold, Nottingham because I can fall out of bed and on to the practice table! And plus it’s a good table, the table is great, the club is nice, it is really convenient, what more could I ask for really? The table plays well and it always does which is good.
On average, how many hours a day do you practice? Do you practice more in the run up to ranking events?
Officially or unofficially? Officially, ten hours! No I play at least four hours when I'm on my own. There's no tried and tested magic formula, like practise for six hours and you'll be a world champion, else we'd all be doing it. You know if you’re honest with yourself when you have worked hard. One thing I've always done in my career is that I've worked hard. Even when my attitude was its worst I have always worked hard.
Exactly! I was speaking to John Higgins yesterday and he said that he only practices about four, five hours a day. Once you've got that built in technique it is more a question of keeping it going.
Yes, that's right.
Any tips for young aspiring snooker players?
Practice as much as you can but keep it fun. I see a lot of young lads now who are too busy playing "long straight blues" - screw a red in, try and go for everything, smash a red into the side, experimenting, you'll learn in that way. So maybe one day when you have to play a shot like that, you know how to play it. Keep it fun for as long as possible because when you turn professional, you can't do daft stuff like that ...unless you're an alien. But yeah I think you should keep it fun as long as possible and practice as much as you can.
What is your earliest memory of snooker?
One of my first memories was watching the 85 final to be honest. I was watching I can remember that. I was rooting for Steve Davis and was obviously disappointed. My mum let me stay up late to watch it which was great. Yes, that's one of my earliest memories.
And finally, where did the nickname "The Hitman" come from?
Alan Hughes, the old compare, picked it for me and it stuck. There's quite a long list of sportsmen with that name, and I'm quite happy with that and it stuck, yeah I'll take that!
Well Michael "Hitman" Holt rolls of the tongue quite well!
Yes, it's great; I'll try and get up there with the other hitmen you know!
Big thanks to Michael Holt for taking time out to be interviewed during the Pink Ribbon tournament and all the best for the rest of the season.