Gloucester’s Michael Wasley is yet another promising young amateur hoping to gain a place on the main tour and launch his snooker career. He is based right next to the South West Snooker Academy and has been part of the set up since inception, both working and practicing there. I caught up with him during PTC7 to find out how he came to be in his current position.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself and when you started playing snooker?
I started when I was about 7. I got into it through my dad and my godfather, and it used to be once a week every Thursday which continued for quite a few years until I joined Westgate Snooker Club in Gloucester when I started to play more often.
How old were you when you made your first century?
I think I made my first century when I was 12, maybe 13 so quite late.
It’s funny that you think it’s quite late to make a century at 13!
It is now considering all the youngsters. You only have to mention Shane Castle who I think made one when he was 9 so that makes me a late developer. But when I made my first century that’s when I decided to try and take it up as a career and I started to practice more from that day.
Did you have any players to play against and help to bring you along?
Jack Lisowski. He is pretty much Gloucester born and bred as well and we practiced quite a lot together. And with a friend of ours, Luke Windlass, we were like the Three Musketeers really and we’ve known each other from quite a young age. There were a lot of good players at the club as well, you had Nick Pearce who was a professional at the time, you also had Rob Milkins, Dave Finbow used to come along too and there were a lot of other good players in the area. You only had to look at old league tables and see the centuries that were knocking around, there were quite a few every week. So there’s always been a good standard of snooker around Gloucester.
Who did you grow up watching on tv and wanting to emulate?
I was a little bit too young for Stephen Hendry. When I was watching him at 7 and 8 he was just coming out of his best form and Ronnie was just coming into his and he was more entertaining, and Jimmy White as well. I enjoyed watching Paul Hunter a lot too, he was very entertaining and especially when he was coming back from behind, and I remember Matthew Stevens when he lost in the World final and there are a lot of moments that I’ll remember being sat in front of the tv about 3 inches away totally glued to it!
Do you still keep an eye on the game and have your favourites now, or now that you’re involved and know a lot of the players do you just focus on yourself and your own game?
I do have a few favourite players, not from when I was younger but just for how they play the game, Ding Junhui being one. He’s one of the best break builders I’ve seen. Also Judd Trump for his potting ability, he can pot them from anywhere. I grew up with Judd so to see someone you’ve grown up with enter the top 16 and making it, it’s good to see and I aspire to him.
How did you come to be involved with South West Snooker Academy?
I’ve been involved with Paul Mount for quite a few years now. He played in our local league and fortunately he was there to offer me sponsorship when I was 15 after another sponsorship from a couple of Gloucester based guys fell through. And we’ve grown very close since then through the sponsorship and obviously the Academy.
It must be beyond expectations how it’s turned out?
It’s amazing! I only live 5 minutes down the road so it’s really good to come here every day and practice and do the job I do.
What’s your role here?
I look after and maintain the tables to begin with, and I also get involved in projects in how we can promote the Academy. One of the ideas I came up with was to raffle tickets around local pubs in Gloucester which helps to promote the venue and let the local area know that we’re here. I think the Academy is already established in amateur and professional snooker terms, but around Gloucestershire and local league players and the general public, that’s the focus for the immediate future.
How would you describe your style of snooker?
I wouldn’t call myself attacking. I do go for certain shots and when I do go for them it’s 100% but I would say tactically I’m very strong. I came back from 2-0 down against Ken Doherty and he’s quite tactically strong and I feel like I outplayed him in the safety department in that match. After he started off with 2 centuries I didn’t think I could out pot him so I relied on my safety game and it gave me the chance to get back to 2-1 and that seemed to knock his rhythm so I carried on playing accordingly. If I’m playing well and feel like going for my shots then I will, but most times I’ll try to put him on the back rail as much as I can.
You’ve been on the live streaming a couple of times, so how was that?
I played Tony Drago on one of the live streams and to be honest I forgot I was on! I’ve never played on live tv with the cameras very close and here there was just one camera guy moving the camera around near the black end of the table but I just forgot about it and concentrated on the match. I think I was 3-0 down and got it back to 3-2 and it could have been 3-3 but I threw away a chance, but I was on a losing streak at the time and when it’s like that you can be so desperate to win that you lose sight of what’s going on in the match because you’re thinking too much about winning, and that’s what happened in that match.
Then the second time I was on the live stream it was against John Higgins and I played quite well in that match and got to 2-0, but there was a crucial point when I was trying to get to 3-0 when I was on 47 and had a bit of a bad contact. I thought I’d got away with it but he potted a good red and made a good break to win the frame which started the ball rolling and then that’s what happened. But I totally forgot I was on live streaming and somebody said afterwards that when the camera was focussing on me between frames I was picking my nose – I didn’t even know, I’d completely forgotten I was on the live stream!
Which PTC have you enjoyed the most?
I did enjoy going over to Germany because the weather was nice and it was good to catch a few rays as well as play snooker. But I didn’t do too well because I hadn’t practiced enough going into the tournament.
What do you think of your chances of qualifying for the main tour through the PTC money list?
Well I’m only on 200 points so I don’t think I can put myself anywhere on the rankings but I feel the PTCs are a one tournament thing. It can either be done on a consistent basis or it could be a one off tournament where you have a good run and it puts you up there in the rankings. So if for example I had a run to the semi-final it would put me on 2700 points which would be right up there in the race as one of the top amateurs.
What are your aims for the future?
Well to be honest about a month ago I was thinking about getting a full time job, but without Paul’s backing I would definitely have to get a job and it’s for that reason I decided to try and make the most of this chance. I know I’m good enough to get on the main tour but it’s about having that break and it’s the same in any sport. I would say that on the main tour there are players who I am as good as, if not better. But it’s tough because you can travel around a lot and win a couple of matches and come away with nothing and be in the red.
My sister and mother support me but they’re not really in a position to support me financially, and I lost my dad when I was 10 so obviously that hindered me and all that went with it such as going to tournaments. So it’s been quite hard but I’ve tried to make the best of my situation and I practiced hard, and now I’ve got myself into a position where I’ve got a chance. I went to school and got my A-levels when I was 16-18 and I’ve got some work experience so I’ve got something to fall back on. But it is really tough when you’re at the table and even if you’re only playing for £200 you start thinking about the money. When you go to the European events you have to buy food because you can’t go and cook something in your hotel room. So I really enjoy what I do and I love the game, but sometimes I hate it for that reason! It is really tough to make a living out of it.
Thanks for your time and all the best in the future.
No problem, thanks.
You can follow Michael on Twitter here