Rugby snooker star Wakelin reflects on a stunning start to the year
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The 30-year-old, who was born and bred in the town, won his first ranking title 10 years after turning professional when he won the BetVictor Shoot Out at the end of January.
Wakelin defeated Julien LeVClercq in the final of the fast-paced, one-frame tournament with the highest break of the event of 119 which meant he picked up an extra £5,000 on top of the £50,000 winner’s prize for his biggest pay day to date.
Wakelin had never previously been beyond the quarter-finals of a ranking event but went all the way and then followed it up by reaching the last eight of the BetVictor German Masters in Berlin where a 16-match winning streak was ended in a 5-2 defeat to Robert Milkins who made a maximum 147 break in the process.
He then suffered a second-round exit in a 4-2 defeat at the hands of David Gilbert in the Welsh Open.
But his fine form catapulted him up to 15th in the one-year ranking list and earned him a spot in this week’s Duelbits Players Championship in which he lost 6-2 to Ryan Day in the first round on Monday night.
And, following his magical moment in the Shoot Out, Wakelin explained exactly what his first-ever ranking title meant for him.
“It’s a very surreal moment, something I have always dreamed of,” Wakelin, who is now up to number 31 in the world rankings, told the World Snooker Tour website.
“The last trophy I won was the English Under-19s, it has taken me 10 years to win another one! I couldn’t be prouder of what has happened.
“It takes so much to be able to perform out there.
“In the quarter and semi-finals I wasn’t sure I would be able to push the cue through, I was that nervous.
“But the final was the most comfortable I felt all week and that proves the hard work is all worth it.
“Everyone goes through tough times.
"We are lucky enough to play snooker for a living but that doesn’t mean we haven’t got problems off the table.
“I have had a lot of hardship and some dark times but managed to fight through them and I’m sitting here now with my own silverware. I never thought I would have to buy a trophy cabinet.
“A year or so ago I took up ballroom dancing and that really changed my life.
“It gave me a new outlook, something else to focus on and a new skill to learn.
"I met a whole host of new people and it gave me a chance to raise money for Zoe’s Place and do my bit for a local charity.
"That made me realise I’m a good person deep down.
“The money is life changing, it’s inconceivable. I am from a humble background.
“I didn’t realise when I potted the pink in the final I had nicked the high break as well.
“This result will trampoline me up the rankings.
“I have lost a lot of hard matches which just didn’t go my way because the tour is so strong.
“Over the last 18 months my game has come on so much, I feel as if I’m playing the best snooker of my life.”