Switzerland’s Alexander Ursenbacher is fast emerging as one of the stars of the new snooker season.
The 21-year old potter is enjoying a second taste of life on the professional tour and has started with a bang. Following on from his run to the last 32 of the Riga Masters, he achieved a clean sweep of three wins from three in Preston last week to secure qualification to the Indian Open, European Masters and World Open tournaments – meaning a busy couple of months ahead travelling.
This excellent start has given him a real spring in his step. “I have started playing better recently this season and since then I just started believing in myself more,” he said.
Ursenbacher’s first spell on the circuit as a teenager between 2013 and 2015 did not make for happy reading with very few wins, but the signs were there that this could be a more fruitful season after he secured two wins in qualifying for the World Championship in April as an amateur top-up player.
He said: “By beating (Robert) Milkins and (Scott) Donaldson, I showed that I am capable of beating bigger players and that’s what it’s all about.
“When I got to the final round, I thought to myself that now I feel good enough to make a living out of snooker and the run gave me a huge boost.
“When I was on tour the first time, I was always trying so hard thinking about winning or losing, playing good or bad and now I’m just enjoying the game and staying focused.”
Ursenbacher, nicknamed Little Arnie, is already proving a huge hit with snooker fans for the way he plays the game and as he represents the first player from Switzerland to play the game professionally.
He said: “It’s quite well known that we haven’t got a lot of players. We have maybe got five players who can play 50 breaks and that’s why I don’t really play a lot here, but I want to do my country proud.
“I used to love playing pool and then I saw that massive green table. I thought I would give it a try and although it was frustrating at the beginning, I knew after a couple of weeks that this is what I was going to do for the rest of my life.”
In the coming weeks, Ursenbacher faces two matches against four-time world champion John Higgins – but it’s a challenge he is relishing.
“I’m looking forward to it because I know he is one of the greats and you can’t afford a lot of mistakes against players like him,” he said.
“But that’s where I want to belong and I’m going to try to enjoy it, give my absolute best and hopefully I’ll have the chance to win.”