Jack Lisowski can be forgiven if he didn’t sleep last night. The 19 year-old makes his television debut today against the world’s no.1, John Higgins, at the Wyldecrest Welsh Open.

Lisowski is in his first season; Higgins is a three times world champion and all time great.

This is truly snooker’s version of David v Goliath. You’ll recall David was the winner of that one, although it wasn’t a best of seven.

Jack contributes a column in Snooker Scene each month detailing life on the circuit. He became a professional at the start of the season and has grabbed his opportunity with both hands – proof that it can be done, even though the qualifying system can be tough.

He didn’t start so well, losing his first three matches. At that stage, the wild-eyed wonder of being a snooker pro was replaced with harsh reality: it’s difficult.

Lisowski was worried at this point that he may lose his place on the tour but this is where the PTC series came into its own. Unlike recent seasons, there was plenty of snooker to be played and plenty of time to bed in.

Lo and behold, Lisowski reached the final of PTC 3, which lit the blue touch paper for what has been a highly productive season.

He knew it would virtually guarantee his tour card, which took some of the pressure off, and he will also be in the grand finals next month.

Lisowski qualified for the German Masters but, obviously, his match against Higgins will be the biggest of his career thus far.

I would wish any young player well in such circumstances but Jack is worthy of special mention. Three years ago, he was told he had Hodgkins Lymphoma, a form of cancer.

This is horrendous news at any age but for a 16 year-old it must have been a very painful experience.

It was especially hard that this frequent visitor to junior tournaments was unable to play snooker at this time.

But Jack didn’t feel sorry for himself. Instead he filled his time reading up on world events, subscribing to the Economist and scouring the pages of The Times.

Thankfully he has recovered and is now fully focused on his career. He shares a house in Romford with Judd Trump and practises at the Grove Snooker Club there, also a base for Ronnie O’Sullivan.

I’m impressed with his general attitude. He wants to learn all the time and though he will be understandably nervous today, he knows Higgins is a big favourite and that he should just enjoy it.

He is also articulate beyond his years and smart too: when he won a bit of prize money earlier in the season instead of going wild he invested it in a share portfolio, which made a profit.

Lisowski represents the future of the game. He is currently the outstanding choice for newcomer of the year in the revived WPBSA awards and has many years of playing ahead of him.

How well he does is up to him and the standard he can attain but he has clearly turned professional at an ideal time, with plenty of opportunities ahead of him.

He credits receiving the WPBSA's Paul Hunter Scholarship for him improving enough to become a professional. Hunter won the Welsh Open at the age of 19. It is asking a lot for Lisowski to do the same but, whatever else he does in his career, this is an important moment and one he will always remember.

I’m sure three years ago there must have been concern that a day like today would never come. Well, it has come and good luck to Jack this afternoon.


Monique said...

Good luck to Jack indeed.

He's been doing exceptionally well in his first season so far; "exceptionally" because it's rather uncommon.
I personally think that the fact that he is a bit older - 19 not 16 - and that circumstances in life have certainly made him more mature than others played a role.
Anthony McGill who just turned 20 last week is another example of a sucessful debutant.
I'm not sure that turning pro at 16 is the right thing to do. They might have the game but they are still kids and this is a tough world.

Anonymous said...

excellent blogging dave.
agree entirely!
gl jack

Dave H said...

Monique - I think it depends more on the individual. There are 16 year-olds more mature than 19 year-olds.

I think they should be allowed to turn pro at 16 but there should be a better structure in place - well, a structure actually - to give them advice and support. At the moment they basically just turn up with a cue and start playing.

southerner said...

I sent a complaint to the BBC about the lack of online coverage of the Welsh Open. I got an email back, saying that it would be covered online.
But there is no mention of it on the BBC website, so does anyone know where online it will be available, if it is?

MattWilson said...

Fantastic blog Dave, very well said. I don't know Jack personally, but everything I hear about him from my fellow amateurs is positive - be it snooker related or comments on his personality. I was talking about Jack with Martin O'Donnell yesterday and we both agreed that he is on the fast track right to the top. I know Nick Pearce (who used to run Jack's former club in Gloucester) rated him so highly as to say he has the most natural talent he had seen since Ronnie came on the scene - high praise indeed.

Best of luck to him today!


Anonymous said...

well said david. no room for being ageist.

if youre good enough, youre old enough.

southerner said...

The website is now saying the Welsh Open is available on the red button!

Anonymous said...

goodness sake, hallett cant even see reds on the table...3rd frame ding match

suppose thats what happens when you comment on what everyone else is seeing on their screen and not being in a booth and actually at a venue.

Monique said...

I'm not ageist and 18 isn't exactly old. But I do disagree with pushing kids too early in sports.
When I hear that tennis women in their 20th have injuries that will leave the with sequels for life because they took intensive practice at an age when the squeletton isn't fully formed, that young gymnast never grow up into full adult women because the strain on their body and the attempts to keep them small and light ... my opinion is that this is a crime. Those young persons have only this life and it shouldn't be wrecked for the sole purpose to break a record or be the youngest to do something or to please national pride. Even if they agree with it because they can't possibly imagine the full consequences.
Snooker is not such a brutal sport but it is still one that is very demanding mentally and psychologically.
I agree with Dave IF proper structures are in place to protect the youngest players, from sycophants, form hangers around, from pushy entourage and from themselves at times. But it's not the case at this moment in time.

Anonymous said...

snooker isnt gymnastics. not comparable imo. your comment was ageist imo. :)

Betty Logan said...

If the Tories continue with Labour's plans to keep kids in full-time education until they're 18 then the age at which players can turn pro will be delayed for a couple of years. I'm not convinced it would be good for the players or for the game, because you don't have a long shelf-life in sport.

Anonymous said...

Good luck to Jack today, I remember seeing him during a break from chemotherapy and he was losing some hair .I thought to myself this day may never happen.

He will be one of the faces seen on posters within the next few years, and will certainly not let people down at the last minute.

It will be tough playing Higgins considering his motivations for performing will be even higher this week himself, but this certainly wont be the last we will see of Jack today.

Toni said...

"This is truly snooker’s version of David v Goliath. You’ll recall David was the winner of that one, although it wasn’t a best of seven."


Sparky said...

So, to summarize the first day:

1)Matthew Stevens was to play in front of his home crowd, and there was no crowd

2)Jack Lisowski was to make his TV debute, and there was no live TV coverage

TomDaleyWilliamssister said...

Get them involved as young as possible.

These days kids can make centuries and the occasional maximum by the time they're 10 or 11 years old.

With the untapped talent out there they should get a shot on the main tour at 13 or 14 in my view.

Other sports do this to greater effect so all the moaning from Betsy is rather pointless as usual.

Anonymous said...

Were you feeling ok tonight David? At one point in frame 5 or 6 I think it was (in the Cope Mcleod match) I thought you had dropped dead - just relentless Hallett commentating on every shot. He even asked you a question and got no reply. I was getting worried....Fortunately you put in a belated appearance at the end of the frame.

Dave H said...

This must be the first occasion someone has complained a commentator hasn't spoken enough!

jamie brannon said...

Yes, very disappointing crowds.

Can a reasonably priced venue not be found in a different part of Wales? As this situation seems to happen every year.

I liked Lisowski yesterday. A fluidity in the balls, allied to an elegant cueing action.

I fancy Day to overturn O'Sullivan. Partly because Ronnie will want get the match out of the way too quickly, as his Arsenal are playing Barcelona in what promises to be a classic. If I had to commentate for EuroSport or the Beeb that night, I would be sullen!!

Have the BBC Wales changed presenter this year? It wasn't the guy from last year, who I think is called Oliver?

Betty Logan said...

Other sports do this to greater effect so all the moaning from Betsy is rather pointless as usual.

I suggest you actually read what I said you illiterate retard.

Anonymous said...


cant Dave go for a jobby without being told to speak?

Anonymous said...

Jamie, yes the BBC have changed their presenter and indeed the previous guy was called Oliver. I also think that Ryan Day will beat O'Sullivan not because his beloved Arsenal are playing but because he just can't be arsed with it.

Anonymous said...

Dave, is it true eurosport asks commentators not to speak alot during matches?

Dave H said...

Not really. Speak if you have something to add should be the approach.