Gareth Allen admits his professional odyssey has been a tough one so far after exiting the UK Snooker Championship at the first round stage.
The 27-year-old former Chester League potter was beaten by China’s Liang Wenbo, the world number 28, 6-1 at the Barbican in York on Tuesday night, extending a poor run of form in tournaments of late.
World number 104 Allen, from Ewloe, made the leap into the professional ranks earlier in the year and started off in impressive fashion but a series of tough draws against top 30 opposition have stymied his efforts to climb the rankings.
Liang made two century breaks during their first round match, while also missing out on the opportunity at a maximum 147 due to a kick, to show his class.
“This season is a lot different from being amateur,” said Chester FC fan Allen.
“You go from being one of the top amateurs in the country and winning a lot of matches to coming down to the bottom ranks of the pros where you don’t win as much.
“It’s very hard but I’m practising very hard and hopefully this experience will make me a better player.
“Liang played very well after the interval to be fair so all credit to him. And he should’ve got a 147 in there bar a kick.
“I am a bit disappointed but on the whole he played a bit better than me.”
Allen has enjoyed some high points since turning professional in 2015, beating veteran Barry Pinches at the Shanghai Masters in August and running Belgian hotshot Luca Brecel close in Germany that same month.
Allen says he is enjoying the experience and the chance to hone his craft against the world’s top players but admits the heat will be on next season as he bids to make it into the top 64 to secure his tour card for another two years.
“It’s so much harder but it is just one massive learning curve that I’m trying to make sure I learn from,” said Allen.
“I’m trying not to think too much about securing my card as there is a lot of snooker to play between then. But I’m playing well and I just need to get on a bit of a run and beat a few players who are ahead of me and try and kick on up the rankings.
“It’s hard but nobody said that it was going to be easy. I’ve just got to keep working hard.”
Chester-born potter Ricky Walden fared better at the Barbican on Wednesday, comfortably beating Brazilian Itaro Santos 6-1 to set up a possible showdown in round two with either Li Hang or Lee Walker.
World number 11 Walden was always in control against Santos and will fancy his chances of making the latter stages after reaching the final of the Haining Open in China at the end of October.
Ricky Walden v Itaro Santos highlights