During the recent UK Championship held at Telford, Snooker Island’s Suzy Jardine caught up with rising star Jak Jones and managed to grab a few words with him.
Suzy Jardine: Jak you have just started playing the game, tell me what encouraged you to take it up?
Jak Jones: I was on holiday in Greece and I met Darren Morgan out there and we played a bit of pool, and then because we live near each other back home I went to his snooker club. So Darren Morgan started me playing really.
SJ: So pool was the original first sport and then you moved on to snooker?
JJ: No it was just on holiday. I didn’t play pool or anything, it was just the first time I picked a cue up happened to be on a pool table and I had a few games in Greece and then I went straight to snooker. I never played pool seriously.
SJ: And the influence that Darren has had on your career, he has given you loads of advice as well hasn’t he?
JJ: Well I haven’t been with him for a while now, I left him about three years ago but yeah he gave me a lot of advice at the beginning in my junior career.
SJ: Talk to me about how you also played at his club the Red Triangle, and then went on to play at the Tredegar Snooker Centre that was opened by Simon Griffiths and one Mark Williams. What does it mean to be in the same vicinity as a two time world champion?
JJ: Yeah it was really good at first because when I left the Red Triangle I was just playing in a one table club and when I went to Tredegar I started speaking to Mark Williams and then started practicing with him a lot. But no I don’t play there anymore now but it was great when I was practicing and playing out there.
SJ: Do you have an all time hero in snooker who you have always looked to and idolised and thought I would love to do what he has done?
JJ: Well I like watching Ronnie but obviously Hendry has done the most so I look up to him.
SJ: Has it just been snooker or have you been interested in sports as a whole.
JJ: When I was about 11, 12 and 13 I played football and rugby everyday, every single day for two teams and I became ill then from my asthma so I gave up football and rugby but that’s when I started to play snooker. But I still like football and rugby but at the moment it is all about snooker.
SJ: What about your family, how do they feel about your success?
JJ: Well I think they are happy for me and I have got eight brothers and one sister so it’s a big family. My Dad has watched every single game since I started playing and my Mum comes to every single tournament but she doesn’t like watching me a lot!
SJ: Do you practice with your brothers and your sister?
JJ: No none of them of them play, I am the only one who plays. It’s like a rugby family really, they are all into rugby.
SJ: You said football, do you have a favourite football team?
JJ: I support Man U.
JJ: Not sure, just supported them since I started played football when I was young.
SJ: You had a fantastic victory in the European Under 19s championships and I can see by the look on your face of how proud you are of that one in beating the highly rated Anthony McGill 6-4 in the final. Just tell me a little about that final frame?
JJ: Well I won a big frame at 2-2 I think it was. I was 70 down and won the frame on the black and I felt sick in that match really, cause there was so much on it with getting on the main tour and everything else, but yeah it was a really good game. I enjoyed it.
SJ: How many hours a day do you practice?
JJ: About five, six, seven a day.
SJ: A lot of young blood coming into the the game, there is yourself, there is Jack Lisowski as well. It augurs well for the future doesn’t it?
JJ: Yeah. I’m a couple of years younger than Jack Lisowski, Anthony McGill and Kyle Wilson and all of them, but yeah.
SJ: Tell me a little bit of when you received the trophy for that Under 19 victory. That must have been the proudest moment so far of your career?
JJ: Yeah by miles that is the highlight of my career so far.
SJ: Did your home town know everything when you got back and did they have the celebration party out for you?
JJ: I was playing in Tredegar and so was in Mark Williams’s club so they did because when I won the Europeans Mark won the China Open as well a week after so they did a party in the club.
SJ: So we are talking a joint party for two local heros?
JJ: Yes, for me and Mark’s wins which were just two weeks apart from each other.
SJ: Obviously Mark would have known that you had won the Europeans, did he have anything to say to you?
JJ: He congratulated me and shook my hand when I got back to the club yeah.
SJ: You were nominated for professional status. How did it feel when you got the notification through?
JJ: It was pretty unbelieveable because the year before I wasn’t even playing in the PIOS or anything, I was just playing Welsh juniors. I missed the first PIOS and then got in and done well and finished 10th I think in the rankings, and then won the Europeans the next week. I wasn’t even in the play offs the year or so before I turned pro but when I was younger Darren Morgan and everyone said that you don’t want to turn pro until you are 18 or 19 so it is just a bonus really to turn pro so young.
SJ: How difficult was it combining practicing with your school work as well?
JJ: I got home tutored because I was ill anyway and snooker was pretty easy with being ill, I couldn’t really play football anymore. So I got home tutored every day and then practiced later in the day.
SJ: So obviously you have your education as well to fall back on?
SJ: Tell me a little bit now about your aims for the the season, what would you count as a realistic aim?
JJ: Well I am not doing too great in the rankings but there are four ranking events left so I might qualify for one of the venues left – that would be pretty unbelievable. So yeah, to qualify for a venue.
SJ: Wales has had a rich history in snooker and I think has three world professional champions in Ray Reardon, Terry Griffiths and Mark Williams, and I know Matthew Stevens has got very close as well, so healthy future for Wales isn’t there?
JJ: Yeah there’s a few juniors in Wales doing well as well so it’s looking good.
SJ: You have friends on the tour as well, how difficult is to play a friend in a match – do you just blank out the friendship that you have with him?
JJ: I haven’t played anyone that I am close to on the tour this year but when I do play a friend in a tournament I just blank it out, just no different really.
SJ: Well very very best of luck to you for the season and I hope you achieve your ambitions.
JJ: Thank you.
Jak Jones is a member of the OnQPromotions stable of players.