Monday, April 17, 2006

Paul Hunter (CANCER arrived) A CREDIT TO HIS SPORT

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A Credit to his Sport.Com World Championship
15th Apr - 1st May, 2006 - The Crucible Theatre, Sheffield

Assured of a rapturous reception on his latest visit to the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield and admired by snooker fans worldwide, local Yorkshire hero Paul Hunter will commendably complete his professional ranking tournament engagements on the WSA 2005/06 Tour when he takes on Australian Neil Robertson in Round 1 on Day 3 of competition for the £896,240 888.Com World Snooker Championship. During a season totally overshadowed by his well documented on-going battle against cancer, the 27 year-old Leeds professional has illustrated outstanding courage and determination in maintaining his wish to compete on the world stage despite continuing concerns regarding his current state of health…

An ever present competitor in events of consequence this term, the former three-times Masters champion is understandably short of match victories during the current campaign, but to his credit, the current World No.5 has diligently fulfilled his playing commitments across the globe with appearances this season in both Malta and China in addition to four UK based events, which it has to be said, is in stark contrast to the level of willingness shown by some of his fellow professionals when required to promote their sport at overseas venues.

The hallowed venue of snooker in Sheffield may be much closer to home for Yorkshire born and bred Hunter, but for his opening round opponent Neil Robertson the journey from his Australian home in Melbourne has required a somewhat lengthier trip.

Although UK based in Cambridgeshire during the season, progressive 24 year-old Aussie Robertson has quickly established himself as one of the games top overseas produced competitors, and recent seasons have seen the likeable left hander emerge from relative obscurity to a provisional ranking of 13 and within touching distance of a place in the world’s elite top sixteen. A major ranking event quarter-finalist on four occasions, the Australian No.1 reached the last eight of the 2005 UK Championship, and was narrowly beaten 10-7 on his Crucible debut earlier that year by seven-times World champion Stephen Hendry MBE.

While qualifier Robertson is seeking his first victory in Sheffield, snooker’s richest tournament has not always proved the most fruitful for local cueman Hunter. An opening round loser during his first two Crucible visits, the Yorkshireman finally broke his duck at the third attempt with a 10-6 victory over Derby professional David Roe in 2001.

A subsequent 13-5 Round 2 defeat against seven-times winner Stephen Hendry MBE halted the Hunter challenge on that occasion, and Australian Quinten Hann again brought early disappointment when he scored a 10-9 first round victory to oust the local favourite in 2002.

Hunter finally broke his Crucible jinx in 2003 and went close to landing the spoils in snooker’s premier event before eventually losing out to Dubliner Ken Doherty 17-16 following an epic semi-final encounter.

2004 frustratingly witnessed a third deciding frame elimination for Hunter who finished on the wrong end of a 12-13 Round 2 score line having let slip a commanding 10-6 lead over Welshman and close friend Matthew Stevens, and while his 10-8 Round 1 defeat at the hands of Nottingham professional Michael Holt was of secondary concern in 2005 given the then impending commencement of his course of chemotherapy against cancer, the popular Leeds cueman will be equally determined to provide a creditable display when he opens his latest challenge for the coveted Crucible crown. (Apr 17th – 10am).

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