Jak Jones is braced for the mother of all ticket scrambles among family and friends after securing a World Championships Crucible debut - and a Saturday night first-round match against Ali Carter.
The 29-year-old from Cwmbran in Wales edged out former world finalist Barry Hawkins in the decisive qualifier this week to earn his place in the draw for the final stages.
But the success has only raised some family-related concerns, notably how he will get his eight brothers and sister in if they want to come as well as friends, and also convincing his mum to conquer her nerves and come in to the Crucible to watch him play the biggest game of his life.
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And the World Snooker allocation for players of four balcony seats and the right to buy another six tickets in the 980-capacity arena could be pushed beyond its limits.
Being one of 10 children sees world No52 Jones incredibly grateful and appreciative of all dad Colin and mum Debbie did for him in the way of financial and time sacrifices in juniors and even the early years on the professional tour.
Jones, on his third crack at the tour, said: “It means a lot to my parents Colin and Debbie and my family for me to get to the Crucible – they have put in so much for me to be able to play snooker.
“They made massive sacrifices to help me in my career, financial and time – taking me all over the country to junior tournaments when I was a kid.
“They paid all hotels when I was younger and my expenses when really they couldn’t afford it, but they still did it. This is something that makes it more worthwhile for them.
“Dad was a painter and decorator and mum was a carer, they are both retired now. But I have eight brothers and a sister, so they had a big family to take care of.
“Being one of 10 – is a bit different to most families I suppose. Christmases were wild – still are, really. I am the seventh in line. Now it is just me and my two youngest brothers living at home.
The Welshman will make his Crucible debut after beating former World Championship finalist Barry Hawkins!
“I could be needing a few tickets! And I might need to persuade my mum to come, and then actually come in and watch. She used to drive me around a lot but was so nervous she never came inside.
“Even if she comes to the Crucible, it is almost certain she wouldn’t come into the theatre to watch. She’d probably just be outside in the square, or walking around.
“Might she make an exception? I will be asking her to at least come in and see a frame or two. But my dad hasn’t missed a shot I don’t think since I first played when I was 11 – only during Covid.
“All the others don’t usually come, but they may decide that this is the Crucible they all really want to come and be there. They all follow how I am doing.
“I have been to watch only once at the Crucible, that was Mark Williams against Ronnie O’Sullivan the year I first turned pro in 2010. Ronnie won 13-10.
“And I played Junior Pot Black there as a kid in 2009, when I was 12 or 13. It was basically six-reds and I lost the final to Ross Muir.
“That was the only match there, the other two matches were somewhere else. So the only match I have played at the Crucible to date, I lost!
“I got on the tour quite early the first time when I was only 16, by winning the European Under-19 Championship. I had been decent as a junior.
“It wasn’t as easy as I thought it was going to be, and I probably turned professional too early and too young. There have been a lot of lows, and a few highs, Hopefully there are more highs to come.
“Probably the lowest I have ever been was losing to Thepchaiya Un-Nooh in the first round of Crucible qualifying last year. I lost 6-5 from 5-4 up, and missed a red to go 3-0 up.
“That is the worst I have felt, and falling off the tour two times – that isn’t the best feeling either. But I have learned a lot from my time on tour, and gained a lot of experience.”
*18+ | BeGambleAware