When Sanderson Lam’s parents left behind China to move to Leeds in the Nineties, they dreamed of giving their children a good education.
But 21-year-old Lam – one of three brothers – quickly found his skills were on the green baize with a cue in his hand.
After turning professional this year, Lam – who is based at Leeds’ Northern Snooker Centre – has his sights on graduating as a top-64 player.
In his rookie season he reached the last 32 of the International Championship, while also claiming the prized scalp of top-16 star Mark Allen in an event in Germany.
With the snooker boom in Asia, increasing numbers of Chinese teenagers are coming to England to play on the Tour.
But Lam, the son of a Leeds bus driver, was born in England, and his Yorkshire roots become apparent as soon as he opens his mouth at one of the growing number of Tour events staged in Asia.
“Every time I go away, it’s a bit weird, because they can speak fluent Chinese but it’s a bit harder for me,” he said.
“I was born over here, but as soon as they see I am Chinese, they think I can speak fluently. It’s a shock.
“I can speak Chinese, but not fluently. I am still trying to learn a lot. I have got quite a strong Leeds accent, a deep voice, so when I talk in China, they can’t understand the accent.
“My mum and dad hear me every day, so they know what I am saying.
“My parents speak English, Mandarin and Cantonese. At home, mostly they speak Chinese and a little bit of English. I speak mainly English.
“My mum and dad came over to give us a better life, to get a good education, qualifications and get a good job. That was before snooker, now I just concentrate on that.”
Sheffield-based Ding Junhui was the trail-blazer for Chinese players jetting to England to follow their snooker dreams.
Over the last decade, dozens more have followed and Lam is not surprised, having witnessed the popularity in his parent’s homeland.
“All the talent that is coming through from China is ridiculous,” he said.
“When I went to China, we visited a school and they actually learn to play snooker in the schools, where they have tables.
“It’s very exciting, we don’t get that over here.”
Lam, who has a two-year Tour card, is ranked No 88 in the world, but has his targets on breaking into the coveted top 64.
“It’s very exciting for me, I am really looking forward to just play,” he said. “I have got a two-year Tour card, so I am just looking to climb up the rankings.
“I practice Monday to Friday, normally on the weekends I just chill out. I get to the club about 10am, until 4.30, then go on to the gym. This season has been okay. It’s my first season so I can’t expect a lot. It has gone a lot better than I thought it would.
“Getting a good result in China gave me a lot of confidence. I reached the last 32 in the International Championship.
“Every first year for a new professional means a lot of hard work, considering the standard there is today. I knew I would have to put a lot of hard work in.
“My aim is to get into the top 64, I just need to practice hard. I feel like I am good enough to get into the top 64.”
Lam is one of several professionals who are based at the Northern Snooker Centre, alongside best friend Oliver Lines, Peter Lines and David Grace.
Having seen Oliver shoot up the rankings, and 30-year-old Grace reach the quarter-finals of this week’s UK Championship in York, Lam is not short of motivation to follow in their footsteps.
“If the other professionals are doing well at the club, that gives me more motivation to do well,” he continued. “When you see the other lads, it gets you motivated and want to work even harder.
“Anything’s possible, you just need to play well on the day.
“I beat Mark Allen 4-3 in Germany, so if I can beat Mark I can beat anybody really, because he is one of the best players in the world. Consistency is the key.”