In mid-May 21-year-old Rugby snooker player Chris Wakelin is taking a long holiday. But he’s not heading for a Greek island to party with his mates.
Chris is taking three weeks off from his job as a delivery driver with Asda to join promoter Barry Hearn’s Cue School and he is staking £1,000 of his hard-earned savings on this route to hopefully becoming a professional.
With a lot of self-belief in his talents with a cue, Chris has great expectations of making at least the semi-finals in one of the three competitions he will be taking part in during those three weeks. There is no cash prize if he does achieve that goal. The rewards could be far greater than that, as a good result will allow him to become a professional and join the main tour.
Parents Mark and Angie Wakelin bought Chris his first mini snooker table, with balls hardly bigger than marbles, when he was eight years old.
“By the time he was 11 he was playing in the local league and winning everything there was to win,” said Mark.
“My father was a good player, I was better than him and Chris is far better than me. I know as his dad I am bound to be biased, but I honestly think he stands a good chance.
“The more I have watched him play, the better he gets, no matter who he is playing. When he plays well he is capable of beating anybody on the day.”
As a player Chris’s hallmark is consistency and efficiency. So much so that the player who beat him in the English amateur championships and who is now himself on the main tour, commented on Facebook: “I have just beaten some machine from the Midlands.”
In addition to reaching the semi-finals of the English Amateur Championship Chris has made it through to the England Under 21 final in June, beating the red hot favourite 5-2 on the way.
Lots of dedication and trips to the Attack snooker centre in Nuneaton, where he trains, means that life for Chris is very different to that of most of his mates. But that is what it takes to achieve such things as his 142 break in a competition last year, and the three maximum breaks he has made in practice.
“I am willing to make the sacrifices,” says Chris. “I have stopped going out for three months, and put all my savings into this. But if I get through it will all be worth it.
“Everyone seems a bit perplexed by what I am doing. Perhaps it’s because it’s not often that you find someone playing at this level.”
His all-time inspiration is Ronnie O’Sullivan. “He is by far the best player there has ever been and is likely to be. Everything he does seems so effortless.”
With £1,000 riding on his chances of getting through the tough demands of Cue School, against some of the finest players at this level in the country, Chris knows that, financially, this is just the beginning. The average annual competition entry fees for a professional are between £15,000 and £20,000.
To that end he is keen to attract a sponsor, with the attractions of their name prominently displayed on his waistcoat, and, if all goes to plan, regular airings on national television.
Anyone wishing to find out more should contact Mark Wakelin on 07850 123147.