Jamie Jones thinks he’s playing the best snooker of his career (Photo: Getty Images)
Jamie Jones has returned to professional snooker in full force this season and feels stronger than ever. The worst moment of his life has taught him to cherish every second of his dream job.
In October 2018, the Welshman was banned from playing the sport for 12 months for failing to expose the corruption of former professional player David John.
Jones was allowed to play, but even after the appeal, his one-year suspension remained in effect, and he was out of the game for nearly two years, waiting for his chance to tour again.
He took that risk at Q school last year and never looked back. He reached the semi-finals of the Scottish Open in December, reached the fourth round of the British Open just before that and won his opening match at the Welsh Open on Monday in impressive fashion.
While he obviously doesn’t want to experience the turbulence of a lost career again, he feels that the time he’s spent away from the game has helped him come back even stronger.
It was the worst moment of my life, but in hindsight I made the right decisions, Jones told Metro.co.uk. I didn’t waste any time, I spent some time thinking about whether I would approach the game the way I wanted to approach it again.
I’m feeling a lot better, I’m enjoying the game which is hugely pressured, if you don’t like the pressure and don’t like it, it’s a difficult time.
This could take a long time. I wouldn’t want to relive what I did, but I did. I’ve never felt better in my life than I do now. So I made the right decisions and I’m proud of myself.
Read more: Snooker
Jones has shown remarkable consistency for a player who has been off the court for nearly two full seasons and is aiming high for next week’s Players Championship, a tournament featuring the top 16 players in the annual rankings.
Going to this prestigious event would be an incredible achievement, and he admits he didn’t see it coming.
I know I can play the game, I know I can get results, but at the beginning of the year I had no idea what I was doing, Jones said after the 4-1 win over Yuan Sijun at Celtic Manor.
I was completely lost. I’ve been trying to remember how to play, and some of the results have already reassured me,
I train very well, as always. I’m just happy now, it’s my first proper race since Christmas and it was a big win for me, probably one of the best training sessions I’ve had this year. I hope it gets better.
I have a good chance to finish in the top 16 at the Players’ Championship next week. I can’t bring myself to try harder, I always try, sometimes too much, which then goes the other way, you don’t get out of shape, but at the moment it’s bubbling up well, I feel I’m playing well. I’ll keep doing what I’m doing.
Jones scored a century in the final frame of his 4-1 win over Yuan Shijun at Celtic Manor (Photo: Getty Images)
The time Jones has lost due to the ban has been a severe psychological blow to him, but he has forced himself to work outside of snooker and believes his work as a lawnmower for the community is a vital part of getting him out of a difficult situation.
It has also helped his snooker now that he is back on tour, as life as a professional seems all the more pleasant after the work he did during his ban.
I just think I’ve always been able to get those kinds of results, and maybe the time off has given me a new perspective on the game, he said.
I play well, I think I appreciate the fact that I play snooker now more than I ever did. It’s not a chore for me to come here and spout games, I’m just happy to be here. I try so hard at training, and maybe it will finally pay off for me.
I feel like a better snooker player than I ever was. Sometimes there are phases where you don’t get in shape, you suffer from the pressure. It’s such a mind game, you do everything right but nothing works. Right now it works, so I’m just trying to get it out and get good results at my expense.
Jones is a three-time semifinalist, but has yet to win his first title. He would love to do that at his home tournament this week, especially as a tribute to Welsh icon Doug Mountjoy, who sadly passed away on Sunday.
I would love to win the World Cup or Great Britain, but then it would be Wales, it would be great to win my own tournament, he said. Especially with the sad news about Doug, I could dedicate it to him, that would be great.
On Wednesday, Jones faces Mark King in the second round.
MORE: Ronnie O’Sullivan: I want to do Ken Dodd, he’s turned to death.
MORE: Brian Ochoisky: For France, it’s great for me to play snooker.
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