Snooker: Dylan dazzles in first tournament after coaching from the experts
by Andy Tong | 19th September 2018
TUNBRIDGE WELLS snooker prodigy Dylan Smith has begun a gruelling tour of junior tournaments – and was runner-up at the first attempt.
The 10-year-old, who attends Brenchley & Matfield Primary School, reached the final of the first Cue Stars competition in Salisbury, a grass roots initiative for under-21 players across the South of England.
There are 10 events from this month to May 2019, contested over three different levels, Gold, Silver and Bronze Tours – for those with a personal best break of over 60, between 40 and 60, and less than 40. Dylan’s highest break so far is 33 so he is contesting the Bronze Tour.
He has played exhibition frames against legends such as Jimmy White (twice) and Mark King at Victoria Snooker Centre on Camden Road.
But this was a different experience altogether; he played 12 frames in total, winning nine of them. In the final he was beaten by another 10-year-old, Owen Jenkins from Havant.
His father Lee Smith said: “To play against kids his own age is quite rare for Dylan. When you’re in an exhibition match, everyone is on your side and they want you to do well.
“This is a game-changer. He’s up against his peers, kids who really want to beat him. He needs to be composed and confident in his abilities.
“He came away understanding how he needs to manage frames if he wants to walk off with the winners’ cup next time.”
It’s a long, challenging day for young players, starting at 10am with the final at 9pm.
Dylan had received specialist coaching in the build-up to the event, firstly from Neil Johnson at Scotty’s club on Merseyside.
He played on a ‘star table’ – with professional pocket dimensions – which was donated by John Higgins to local 16-year-old tyro Sean Maddocks, who holds the record for the youngest 147 break aged 15 years and 98 days.
“He had a very intensive weekend,” said Lee. “Neil Johnson puts so much effort in, giving advanced technical corrections and advising on break-building, shot routines – and how to manage yourself under pressure.”
After his visit to Liverpool Dylan went on to Sheffield, home of the World Championship at the Crucible Theatre and also the Star Academy.
The training was focused on the psychological side, channelling his energy – and the anger that arises when a shot goes wrong.
Alan Trigg, head coach at the academy, told the Times: “Having coached thousands of juniors and hundreds of professional players alike over the past 45 years, I can say that with the correct motivation and hard work, Dylan will become a top player in the world.
“I can see he has a natural talent for the game, which reminded me very much of a young Jimmy White, a great potter and fearless shot-maker.
“This gives him a great advantage over other children his age. But to achieve professionalism it will require incredible hard work and he will need to learn the game at a fast pace.
“In China and other countries there are children of Dylan’s age that are already achieving very high standards in the sport.”
Now Dylan is featured in a new film by local director Heather Hughes, who is making a documentary about the Victoria club in town.
The footage includes an interview about the importance of sartorial elegance with Stuart Hardman, whose Southborough tailors Hardman & Hemming fitted Dylan with a £1,000 three-piece suit free of charge.
Dylan is looking for sponsorship so he can continue to receive coaching and to help cover the costs of his Bronze Tour travel.
For more information on sponsorship opportunities, contact Lee on 07796958312 or via Facebook: www.facebook.com/DylanSmithSnooker