Hayden Staniland Q&A
On 14 March 2020, Worksop’s rising star, Hayden Staniland, lost in the final of the EBSA European Under-21 Snooker Championship in Portugal. Had he won that final, Hayden would have earned himself a coveted professional World Snooker Tour card.
With Nottingham Snooker’s leagues and tournaments currently suspended due to the Coronavirus pandemic, I found the time to catch up with Hayden on his return to England.
Question: How did you first get into snooker?
I first got into snooker when I was about 8 years old, down at the local club where my Uncle, Dad and Grandad were playing. I really wanted to play but I wasn’t old enough so I just picked the balls out for them.
Question: Do you remember your first game?
When I started playing properly I was about 11 years old and I quickly found I had a natural talent for the game. I practiced as much as I could after school and I still do now, even though I have a full time job working 40 hours a week.
Question: Has anyone helped you to become a better player?
My Mum and Dad have helped me so much by taking me to tournaments and helping me financially. I had a bit of coaching from World Snooker coach Steve Mallender, who taught me the stance, feathering and how to address the cue ball. I’ve also received some valuable advice from more experienced players. Apart from that I’m mostly self-taught.
Question: What sort of things do you practice?
I play as much solo practice as I can, doing things like the line-up, long shots and other routines. I also like to play against other players to improve my matchplay in order to prepare me for tournaments.
Question: How did you qualify for the EBSA European Under-21 Snooker Championship?
I qualified through the EPSB’s Premier Junior Tour which consists of the top 32 Under-21 players in England. After event 4 of the tour this year, I was ranked 4th out of those 32 players. The top 6 players in the rankings qualified for the EBSA European Under-21 Snooker Championship in Portugal.
Question: Tell me about your experience in Portugal?
As you know, I reached the final after a great week of snooker. It was my first European competition, and there were 93 entries from 32 different countries.
In my group I played 4 matches and won 3, taking me through to the best of 7 last 57 play off round. I won that taking me into the last 32 and then went all the way to the final where I played 18-year-old Irishman Aaron Hill.
Aaron played really well in the final. He made breaks of 59, 69 and 76 to lead 4-0 at the interval. I won the first two frames after the break, including a run of 53 in the 6th frame to trail 4-2, and I felt I was getting back into the match. Unfortunately it wasn’t to be and Aaron won the 7th frame to take the title and earn his Tour Card.
Question: After such an impressive performance in Portugal, how optimistic are you about the future?
This result in Portugal is just the start and I will do everything I can to push on and achieve more from here. I hope to realise my dream of turning professional in the next few years.