Crackington Haven is a long way from the Crucible – a 310-mile drive to be precise – but it is the base for the renaissance of a former World Championship semi-finalist.
Andy Hicks, who made the Crucible’s last four in 1995, is based in the Cornish village midway between Bude and Tintagel and is returning to the professional tour at the age of 45.
Devon-born Hicks is one of 16 players to earn a two-year professional licence after qualifying through Q School – the World Tour’s feeder event.
After paying his £1,000 entry fee, he won one of the last spots on offer in the third and final Q School event earlier this month in Wigan to return to the big time after six years away.
“The last four years I’ve tried to get through, I’ve come close every time but it’s tough,” he told BBC Radio Cornwall.
“The pressure’s on at Q School because you have a two and a half week window to get on as a professional and if you don’t do that you have to wait another 12 months to have another go at it.
“Now I’ve qualified as a main tour professional for the next two years, there’s so many tournaments with plenty of money hopefully up for grabs that now, in effect, the pressure’s off. Now it’s about going out there and playing at my best.”
Arguably the zenith of Hicks’ career came when he beat Steve Davis, Willie Thorne and Peter Ebdon on his way to the last four at the Crucible in 1995.
In the semi-finals he fell 16-11 to Nigel Bond, who went on to lose to Stephen Hendry in the final.
Hicks earned almost £700,000 in prize money in a professional career that spanned 22 years from 1991, although the peak of his powers came between 1994 and 1996 as he made semi-finals in the Masters, UK Championship, European Masters and the World Open as well as the Crucible.
But while living on the picturesque North Cornwall coast has its advantages when it comes to lifestyle and nice views, it’s one big disadvantage is its low population of high-calibre snooker players.
“There’s a lad from Bude that comes across and two or three others that I play, one lad comes up from Plymouth to play me sometimes,” says Hicks, who practises for four or five hours a day.
“But generally most of it is solo practice, purely because of where I live.
“That side of it is a little bit tough as well, but hopefully there won’t be so much practice and there’ll be more tournament play for me to be in really, that’s the plan.
“I’m 45, so if I give it a go now for another four or five years and take me until I’m 50 I can say I’ve done my bit and given it my all.”
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