All set for big break

Blackpool amateur snooker player Jason Tart is tipped to be the next big thing.
Blackpool amateur snooker player Jason Tart is tipped to be the next big thing.
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HIS uncle is seven time world champion snooker royalty, but teenage star Jason Tart wants to be judged on his own merits.

And with the Pro-Am series finals a few weeks away, when Jason will face world number 58 Mark Joyce, that success could be just around the corner.

As Stephen Hendry’s nephew takes to the practice table at Marton Social Club, the realisation of a lifetime ambition is already within touching distance.

The 18-year-old, from South Shore, said: “Stephen has been an inspiration to me, and continues to be one, as he is still knocking in the maximums, it would be amazing to play him in a tournament.

“At the moment though I am trying to make a name for myself by practising hard and playing in as many pro-am tournaments as possible.

“The series finals are in May, followed by the Q School, which could see me on to the professional circuit, competing for £5m prize money.

“That is when things will get really exciting as I could play against the likes of John Higgins and Steve Davis.”

Jason’s career choice may seem an obvious one, his Uncle Stephen is a legend, his aunt Maria Cahill Tart is a top ladies’ player, and his cousin James is another rising star.

But it took a while for his natural green baize talent and love of watching the world’s best players on television to quash his first passion, football.

He added: “I have always enjoyed playing snooker because it runs in the family, but I was always really keen on football and wanted to see how far I could go on the pitch.

“At the end of the day though frustration probably got in the way because I realised I wasn’t ever going to be good enough to play for a professional team.

“With snooker there was a natural ability, I recognised I could play fairly well and two years ago I decided to give it a proper go.”

Jason, a former student at Blackpool and The Fylde College, admits doing what comes naturally has gained him an astonishing number of accomplishments in a very short space of time.

He said: “I am lucky and I can’t believe how far I’ve come in two years, I am competitive and love scoring century breaks -– last week I had a 135 and a 131.

“I would describe my style as ‘exciting’, I really like to watch current world champion Neil Robertson, and of course, Ronnie O’Sullivan is one of my favourites.

“I love watching quick frames when the player pockets ball after ball in quick succession, there is something hypnotic about it.”

And it is Jason’s ‘exciting’ style that has caught the eye of English sporting events promoter Barry Hearn.

The man behind World Snooker and the Professional Darts Corporation got in touch with Jason’s manager, Craig Webster, as soon as his Q School form was submitted.

Craig, director of Tiger Troycounty estate agents who have sponsored Jason’s bid to turn professional, said Mr Hearn was very encouraging.

He said: “Jason has earned a reputation on the amateur circuit, and is known for his exciting style of play and his century breaks.

“When Barry Hearn found out Jason was the nephew of Stephen Hendry, he was keen to see him on the professional circuit, as he fits the bill as far as he is concerned.

“We are really happy to support Jason because he is a Blackpool lad and we are a local business, it seemed fitting that we help him towards success.

“Staff at Marton Social Club have also been extremely helpful and have promised to re cloth a table and make the pockets smaller to help him get the best out of his game.

“In Blackpool there is a shortage of well known snooker talent and we would really like to see our lad do well.”

The Q School is a new system for qualifying for the professional World Snooker Tour.

Each qualifier will receive £1,000 and compete for total prize money of £4.5m.

The competition will take place between May 11 and May 31 at the World Snooker Academy in Sheffield.