World number 50 Stuart Carrington has got his season off to the perfect start, securing his place at the final stages of the Kaspersky Riga Masters and the Yushan World Open.
The Grimsby potter is now aiming to mount a surge up the world rankings and contend for titles, after making his third Crucible appearance in April. We caught up with Carrington before he heads out to Latvia for this week’s Riga Masters.
Stuart, first of all, you ended last season on a positive note by qualifying for the World Championship. How pleased were you to come through three gruelling rounds at the EIS to reach the Crucible?
“It was really tough in qualifying, it always is. My first match against Nigel Bond, which I won 10-9, didn’t finish until 2am. It was difficult in the second round because I played Ben Woollaston, who is a really good friend of mine, and won 10-8. I then had another difficult game against Zhang Anda. Those three matches take it out of you. That was a very long week, but it was all worth it in the end.”
You are still to win a match at the Crucible, but you pushed Barry Hawkins hard in a late night 10-7 defeat. Did you see that as a missed opportunity to get your first victory there under your belt?
“The longer the match went on, the more it felt like an opportunity. I thought it was there for the taking. Neither of us were playing that well and it wasn’t really happening. Barry is a world class player and is tough to beat. However, I was kicking myself a bit because if I had played a little bit better I really could have taken it to him.
“You look at what someone like Barry has achieved at the World Championship. He now has a good record there, but lost the first five times he played at the Crucible. It is a case of getting that first win out of the way and believing. There is no reason why I can’t go on a run next time if I do that.”
It’s been a good start to your campaign, qualifying for both the Riga Masters and the Yushan World Open. What are your aims for the season ahead?
“I’ve proved to myself that I am an established professional on the tour. The main aim is really to kick on and get to the latter stages of tournaments and appear regularly in quarter-finals, semi-finals and a final. That is the goal. Rather than just have the odd good tournament, I want to do it regularly. Hopefully that will move me up the rankings.”
What have you been up to during the end of season break?
“I’ve been trying to put a little bit of work into my fitness. There is a lot of travelling involved on the tour now so it is important to be fit, especially if you are drawn to play in the first session of Chinese events. Being fitter gives you the best chance of adjusting your body clock quickly.
“Over the the last two or three years I have come off after the longer matches at the Crucible and have been drained. Although, no matter how fit you are, the World Championship is still a gruelling tournament. Hopefully going into next season, being fitter will help me with the mental side of things.”