I’m impressed: Seven-time world snooker champion Stephen Hendry praises Hong Kong team during clinic

Hong Kong senior team make a deep impression on the greatest-ever snooker player during a clinic at the Queen Elizabeth Stadium

PUBLISHED : Friday, 21 July, 2017, 3:40pm
UPDATED : Friday, 21 July, 2017, 11:45pm

It’s not every day you get to meet a seven-time world champion and even rarer you get tips from him. So it was a day to remember for members of the Hong Kong senior team, who were given a special snooker clinic by the greatest player to hold a cue.

Stephen Hendry put the team through their places as he gave special instructions to members such as Cheung Ka-wai, Katrina Wan Ka-kai and Steven Chau Hon-man at Queen Elizabeth Stadium on Friday.

The player they call “the King of the Crucible” was left impressed by the team, who grabbed the opportunity with both hands to meet the Scottish legend, gain tips and even play an impromptu match with him.

Hendry, who dominated snooker in the 1990s, becoming the youngest-ever snooker champion at 21 in 1990, complimented the Hong Kong team for playing “a high standard of snooker”.

“Very good, very good technique. Yes, I’m impressed,” said 49-year-old Hendry. But the Scot wants to see some improvement in how the local players play their shots.

“Both the two boys that I played [Cheung and Chau] there was a bit of movement when they played their power shots. In snooker it’s very important to keep very still on the shot and allow the cue to do the work.

“If you try to use your body to make the power then you will find it difficult. But it seems to be a traditional way of playing in Asia. Marco Fu raises a bit [his head] when he plays power. Also Ding [Jinhui] and in the past James Wattana. Maybe it’s the way they play in Asia, I don’t know.

“It’s very difficult to practise on your own. If there is some way to put your hand on your head so you don’t move, that would be good. The tip I would give is that once you play the shot, make sure your chin is touching the cue after you hit the cue ball,” said the Scot, who will be competing in Sunday’s exhibition match as part of the Hong Kong Masters programme.

Wan said she was lucky to finally meet Hendry having watched him on TV through the years.

“It feels surreal to be able to see him in the flesh and he was great. He was really patient and his tips were brilliant,” said Wan. “I really learned something from him. I have seen him play so many times before on TV and now I have finally met him. I am a player myself. He’s a seven-time world champion so it doesn’t get better than this!,” she said.

Hendry retired from the game in 2012 only to return to play in the senior snooker tour, where the best players have a chance to qualify for the main draw of the world championships at the Crucible in Sheffield. He also plays poker and has made appearances on Celebrity Master Chef.

Hendry said three-time and reigning world champion Mark Selby would have difficulty matching his seven world titles, while the Scot said he didn’t have the desire to become a full-time player again.

“Selby will definitely win another two or three. But after that, it’s difficult to see him win eight, so I’m happy,” said Hendry, whose record looks safe for the time being.

“For Mark Selby to win five more, it’s going to be difficult. He could do it. He’s the best player at the moment and I don’t see anybody else really challenging him. Whether Ronnie [O’Sullivan who has five world titles] has the desire to win a few more, I don’t know. ”

Meanwhile, Judd Trump has booked a semi-final place in the Hong Kong Masters by defeating fellow Englishman Shaun Murphy 5-3 in Friday’s first session – the third straight quarter-final match that ended by that scoreline.

Trump, the world No 3, will play the winner of Friday evening’s must-see quarter-final between five-time world champion Ronnie O’Sullivan and four-time world title holder, John Higgins, both of England.