Part-time barman Sanderson Lam was the toast of Leeds tonight after reaching the third round of the Northern Ireland Open.
The 24-year-old was tied 3-3 with Londoner Sean O’Sullivan in his second-round match in Belfast, but held his nerve to produce a decisive break of 64.
Leeds-born Lam works behind the bar at the city’s Northern Snooker Centre – where he trains alongside the likes of Peter Lines, Oliver Lines and David Grace – between tournaments.
Juggling pouring pints and potting balls can prove challenging, but Lam is grateful of the club’s support.
“The owners are really good to me, I am really lucky,” he said.
“I practice through the day there, then in the evenings I work behind the bar. I can pour a decent pint.
“When I am not playing matches, I am working at the club.
“It can be tough, because I open up at the weekends as well. But, I have been there a long time now, they help me and I help them.”
Lam arrived in Belfast having fallen at the first hurdle in the first eight tournaments of the season.
But coming up against the calibre of opponents like elite players Shaun Murphy, Barry Hawkins and Mark Selby, there was no disgrace in that.
Against world No 1 Selby at the English Open, Lam opened with an impressive 51 break, but the Leicester cueman responded with breaks of 78, 106 and 79 to ease to a 4-0 win.
But the Yorkshireman showed his battling qualities in Belfast. Trailing 3-2 to Joe O’Connor, Lam could have been forgiven for thinking he faced another first-round exit.
But he scrambled over the winning line, taking the final two frames of the match, to win 4-3.
“I was quite relieved to get over the line, to be honest,” said Lam. “Even against Selby, I thought I played alright. I have had some tough draws, Selby, Hawkins, Murphy. They are quite hard opponents, but you just have to get on with it.”
Unless results improve, Lam faces a return to Q School next summer to avoid dropping off the Tour. He said: “This is my second season on a two-year card.
“I got on the Tour, dropped off, then got back on again.
“It’s tough, with seeded draws, it’s a battle but you just need to keep plugging away.”
Next up is a third-round match on Thursday against Robbie Williams, who beat Lam’s club-mate Peter Lines 4-2 on Wednesday evening.
The 48-year-old Leeds potter had shocked former world champion Stuart Bingham in the first round with a 4-2 win.
It was the latest in a string of impressive performances from a player who won the World Seniors Championship in 2017.
He reached the semi-finals of this season’s Paul Hunter Classic in Germany and the last 32 of the European Masters.
The next tournament after Belfast for Lam and Lines is closer to home, the Betway UK Championship at York Barbican later this month.
Lam added: “I love York, the place and venue, it’s so good. It’s local as well.”
Tickets for the Betway UK Championship, which starts on November 27, start at just £8. For details visit www.worldsnooker.com/tickets or call 0844 854 2757