Here is the third of our exclusive Q School interviews. Today we speak with the 2008 European Snooker Championship winner and former main tour player; David Grace from Leeds!
David "Dave" Grace has tasted success from a young age becoming the under-19 champion in 2003 and winning the English amateur championship in 2005. He joined the main tour for the 2008/2009 season after winning the 2008 European Championship but he didn't have the greatest debut season and quickly fell off the main tour.
Now at the age of 26, this tall player from Leeds is once again having a go at the big time and is one of the 124 players attempting to get onto the main professional tour by reaching one of the semi-finals of the World Snooker Q School (further details here).
You can follow Dave's progress in the Snooker world on his Twitter account! (@daveg147)
What first got you into playing Snooker?
My dad had a 5ft table, he even sawed the legs off so me and my sister could reach it
Who is your biggest inspiration in Snooker?
John Higgins is the man at the moment. Whatever anyone thinks of him the guy just never knows when he's beat. He had sessions in the world championship just gone where you think he can't play much worse, and yet he got out 4-4. His C game could win tournaments.
Out of all the Snooker matches you have watched on television, which was your favourite?
The Masters when mark Williams beat Hendry on the black is about as good as it gets for tension.
How did you feel your first season (2008/2009) on the main tour went?
On paper I only won 2 matches but that doesn't tell half the story. I lost two matches in deciders and another two 5-3, if i'd turned even a couple of them round i'd have had a chance of staying on. I learned a lot, particularly the 9-8 loss to Jimmy White in the UK. I learned that you never know when your going to get your last chance. My last chance in that match came at 8-6 up, but obviously I didn't realise it at the time. There were only 8 tournaments that season, now there are 20+ and with the q school there for you if you drop off it takes a lot of the pressure off trying to stay on. I'm just desperate to get through the q school so I can have another crack at it!
What made you want to enter the Q School this year?
I'm desperate to get back on the main tour, especially at such an exciting time for the game. The q school is now the main way to qualify for the circuit, its a great opportunity for everyone even if it is very cut-throat!
Where do you practice the most and why do you chose that club over others?
I practice at Northern Snooker Centre in Leeds, its the first place I ever played (full size) and been there ever since. I guess its quite lucky that I live 10 minutes away from probably the best club in the country.
What is the Snooker scene like in Leeds?
It's really strong at league level, and there are a few good juniors coming through. Peter Lines' son Oliver is a good prospect, we have tournaments virtually every week at the club and its great for their development.
How many hours on average a day will you be practicing on the run-up to the Q School?
I'm actually at Pontin's this week, I know some players who would rather stay at home and practise but i'd much prefer to be playing matches.
Out of the 124 players entering the Q School, who wouldn't you want to be drawn against?
I don't think you can be scared of anyone, there are so many good players in the Q School that there are no easy draws.
Will you have to make any sacrifices on the run up to the Q School?
Yes! Normally at Pontin's we have a few drinks but I'm not touching a drop. It's even harder because I'm sponsored by Pontin's and I get free drinks! But the q school must come first.
Do you consider the UK Championship or the Masters a more prestigious tournament?
I'd say the UK because of the longer frames and because its a ranking event, although I would put the Masters above most of the other tournaments.
Do you think Barry Hearn's changes to the sport have all been positive?
Absolutely. He's such a clever businessman, all these different things he's tried he's testing to see what works and what doesn't, who likes it, what the players think, everything. If they don't come off he tries something else. If you like quick fire stuff he's given us the Shootout and the World Open, if you like long matches you've got the UK and the world. There's something for everyone.
What would you change about the game to try and bring more young players in?
I don't think the game itself needs changing, but you need to make the players into super stars again like they were in the 80s. Kids need to see snooker players the same way they see football stars and aspire to get there.
Do you think Judd Trump should be the new flag-bearer for the game?
Barry Hearn will have a field day selling Judd now he's done the business on the table. He's young, attacking, good to watch, he's addicted to Twitter, what more could you ask for! I'm so pleased for him because he was starting to get people on his back because he hadn't won a ranking event. You've got to remember he's still only 21!
If you reach a semi-final in the Q School and get on to the main tour, how will you celebrate?
Theres no time to celebrate with the PTCs starting in June! There might be one good night out with friends but I made the mistake of enjoying it too long last time, by the time i'd come down off the ceiling I was off the tour!
Thanks to Dave for answering our questions. All the best at Q School and hopefully you will make a return to the professional ranks once again!
Here's a video of Dave playing Alex Borg in the PIOS a few seasons back.