Rising snooker star Ashley Carty is looking to follow in the footsteps of former world champion Shaun Murphy when he heads to the German Masters next week.
The 19-year-old hails from Thurcroft, Rotherham, the same town where Murphy resided when he was crowned Crucible champion in 2005.
The amateur potter – who trains at Murphy’s former club, The Player’s Lounge in Sheffield – will be making his first appearance in the last 32 of a major ranking event, having beaten world No 15 Robert Milkins and James Cahill in Wigan last month to seal his passage to Germany.
Carty believes the result against Milkins proves that he can beat anybody on his day, and cannot wait to get started in Berlin’s Tempodrom.
“I always believe in my ability and that I can give anyone a game if I play my best,” he said.
“I still can’t believe I’ve qualified – I can’t wait to get there. The venue is outstanding so I just can’t wait to play.”
The English Under-21 champion plays world No 27, Martin Gould in the opening game of the tournament on Wednesday.
He was narrowly beaten by Gould in their only previous meeting which came in the qualifying round of last season’s Wuxi Classic. But he is confident that he can return the favour in the German capital.
“I lost 5-4 but I gave him a good game,” he reflected. “Hopefully, this time, I can go one better.
“I’d just be over the moon to make it to the last 16, but I’ll just take it one match at a time and go as far as I can.”
Carty currently combines his time on the table with his part-time job as a sports coach.
He learned his trade at the North Notts Arena Snooker Academy, after being introduced to the game by his dad, John, when he was just eight years old.
“I used to go to the local snooker club with my dad,” he added. “He then bought me a six-foot snooker table for in the house and I just took it from there.”
More than 11 years later, qualifying for the German Masters is undoubtedly the biggest achievement of Carty’s short career.
He has fallen at the final hurdle of Q School in each of the last two years, as well as reaching the semi-finals of the EBSA World Under-21 Championship last season.
However, the youngster is hopeful he will soon make his breakthrough on the professional circuit.
“It’s about having the luck at the right time,” he observed. “I just haven’t had it yet.”
Reaching the latter stages of Q School accumulated enough points for Carty to participate in several major ranking events, via the top-up places allocated in the absence of any professionals.
He recently played world No 5 Barry Hawkins in the opening round of the UK Championship, as well as Judd Trump in the last 128 of the Bulgarian Open. Joining them on the main tour at the third time of asking would fulfil his short-term ambition but, further ahead, he is aiming higher.
“My long-term goals are to get into the top 16,” he outlined. “And hopefully, I can win some ranking events in a few years’ time.”
Former world champion Steve Davis was in Sheffield this month to launch a new inter-schools competition to find future stars like Carty.
The tournament will see 16 schools preparing over the coming months for finals day on April 17, the day before the World Championship starts.
Some 150 young players, boys and girls, will gather at Sheffield Park Academy to compete for prizes.
The first phase of Cue Zone Into Schools was launched at the 2013 World Championship in Sheffield with 12 schools taking part across the UK, with many achieving nationally recognised qualifications using snooker.