Here is the fifth of our exclusive interviews with World Snooker Q School players. This time it is the turn of Malta's top amateur and former main tour professional, the 2004 & 2005 European Champion; Alex Borg!
Alex Borg may not be a name that first springs to mind when you think about Snooker players, but this 41-year-old from Malta is their top amateur and is looking to return to the main tour once again and hopefully qualify for a ranking event venue this time round (he reached the last 64 on three occasions).
His biggest victories have come in the European Championship where he won the title in 2004 and then managed to defend his title the next year in 2005! He came close to retaining it for a third year in a row but lost in the final. He will be hoping for more success in the Snooker World Cup later this year (further details here) where with top Maltese professional Tony Drago he will be battling it out on the big stage for some big money and major prestige.
To get back on the professional main tour for the 2011/2012 season he needs to beat five players in a row to reach a semi-final in one of the three Q School events (further details here). Can he make it and rejoin good friend Tony Drago back amongst the Snooker elite? Only time will tell! Over to you Alex...
What first got you into playing Snooker?
I used to go to a local Band Club in my village with my dad and there was a full size snooker table in there.
Who is your biggest inspiration in Snooker?
John Higgins because in my opinion he’s the best all round player at the moment.
Out of all the Snooker matches you have watched on television, which was your favourite?
John Higgins vs Ronnie O’Sullivan in the 2006 Saga Masters Final in which John won 10-9 on the black.
What made you want to enter the Q School this year?
Since Barry Hearn came in as Chairman of WSA, I have seen many positives things in the way the game is being run. He’s the best in the business and snooker needed him badly. That made me have another go to try and get back onto the Main Tour because as Barry says there has never been a better time to be a snooker player.
Where do you practice the most and why do you choose that club over others?
I have my own snooker table at home which I use for my solo practise but I play also at Juventutis Domus Club because they have the best conditioned table in Malta.
What is the Snooker scene like in Malta? Any new players we should be keeping an eye on?
Snooker is still a very popular sport in Malta but unfortunately we don’t have many young players coming up. Hopefully this will change in the near future with the local Association thinking of opening a new Snooker Academy in the coming months.
How many hours on average a day will you be practicing on the run-up to the Q School?
Between 3-5 hrs a day. We had the final stages of the Maltese Championships just before the Q School and that helped me to get some really match practice.
Out of the 124 players entering the Q School, who wouldn't you want to be drawn against?
There’s no really any player that I prefer not to be drawn against because I believe that to get through from the Q School I have to beat any player whom I’m drawn against. There are too many good players to pick any of them.
Will you have to make any changes to your daily routine on the run up to the Q School?
Put in some extra hours on the practise table!
Do you consider the UK Championship or the Masters a more prestigious tournament?
I think the UK is more prestigious because it’s a ranking event.
Do you think Barry Hearn's changes to the Snooker world have all been positive?
The increase in ranking events and prize money, PTCs, the World Cup, the Shootout Tournament and Q School were all positive changes from Barry Hearn. I think the special prize for a maximum break should be put back on though.
What would you change about the game to try and bring more young players in?
I think the introduction of new tournaments such as the shootout, World Open etc are making the snooker players more popular and this will help bring more young players into the game because they will become their heroes.
Do you think Judd Trump should be the new flag-bearer for Snooker?
Yes because the way he plays the game is very exciting to watch and snooker needs this to keep getting popular.
If you reached a semi-final in the Q School and get on to the main tour, how would you celebrate your victory?