Snooker: Ace Oliver set to make big impact on pro tour

Oliver Lines.

Oliver Lines.

0
Have your say

LEEDS teenAGE snooker star Oliver Lines readily admits his dad Peter has been an immeasurable influence on his young career.

Some 19 years after Oliver’s birth in 1995, son and dad now share a place on the professional world snooker tour. Such a feat from father and son has not been achieved since the 1980s when Geoff and Neal Foulds overlapped.

Yet Lines has another snooker idol away from his father – though an understandable one in the once-in-a-lifetime Ronnie O’Sullivan.

Lines, 19, became the European Under-21 champion back in March when almost whitewashing Ireland’s Josh Boileau 6-1 in a one-sided final.

In sealing that victory, Lines booked himself a place on the professional snooker tour for the next two years – alongside dad Peter. Lines senior is the current world number 62, and has been a feature on the professional tour since 1991, barring a couple of blips in 2005 and 2007 from which he returned immediately.

Add to this quarter-final appearances in the 1999 China Open and the 2009 UK Championship and it is clear to see that in his father, Lines Junior has a man with immense experience of professional snooker. And while his ‘old man’ isn’t his ultimate snooker idol, there is no getting away from the influence dad Peter has had on his career – or the trepidation involved in assessing what might happen if the two were to lock horns in battle.

Speaking exclusively to the YEP this week, teen ace Lines was asked who his snooker idol was and admitted: “Ronnie, always Ronnie.

“Nearly everybody idolises him, even the older people!”

“But my dad helps with nearly everything I do, with the snooker, and with everything really.

“He used to always beat me, but it’s fairly even now. He doesn’t like it; I’ve got better now!”

Quite a bit better in fact with the Leeds teen having achieved his highest-ranking finish this year when getting beaten by Oliver Brown in the first round of the Wuxi Classic, after qualifying in his first match as a professional player.

But understandably the career high thus far has been that all-important victory in the European Under-21s which booked a two-year spell on the professional tour alongside his father.

“It felt really good actually,” admitted Lines. “It’s the best thing I’ve ever done. It was an unbelievable feeling.”

The likelihood now is that more feelings of snooker satisfaction are just around the corner. Lines isn’t fazed by the prospect of facing up to players he has grown up watching on the television and isn’t a man ready to make rash predictions. Instead he will let his snooker do the talking.

“I haven’t really set myself any targets,” says cool-headed Lines. “I just want to improve really, and start playing better players.”

But that in time might mean a professional meeting with his father – and it’s a match-up the younger Lines would be dreading. Back in the 80s, Neal Foulds went on to become the world number three, and he triumphed over his dad on both occasions that the two came head-to-head in professional competition. But Lines says that he wouldn’t enjoy the prospect of facing up to his dad in a competitive context.

“It’d be very difficult,” admitted Lines. “It’d probably be one of the worst matches ever. I’m dreading it, I wouldn’t want that. It’d be very difficult for me to beat him in a tournament I think. If it happened he wouldn’t take it too well!”

Mark Selby celebrates winning the Betfred Snooker World Championship at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield. Picture: Steven Paston/PA Wire

World Snooker: Mark Selby masters Sheffield’s Crucible once again to deny John Higgins