Ashley Carty crashed out of the World Championship but the Crucible debutant and Leeds United fan will never forget ‘the best two weeks’ of his life, writes Will Jennings.
Rotherham’s Carty lost 10-7 against 2015 world champion Stuart Bingham in his first round clash but battled back admirably from 9-4 down to give the world No.14 the jitters.
The precocious 25-year-old, ranked 69 places below Bingham in the world, is a Leeds fan away from the table and says his debut at the home of snooker made it a fortnight to remember.
“It’s probably been the best two weeks of my life!” he said.
"It was my birthday last week, Leeds United got promoted on my birthday and then a couple of days later were champions.
“And then now this, it’s just incredible and will be something I never forget - you only make your debut once and I just wanted to enjoy it as much as I could.
“To get seven frames is something I’m quite happy with - I didn’t want to come here and get whitewashed and be negative, so I can take a lot of positives from this.
“Friday was probably the best day of my life - to have quite a lot of friends and family here to cheer me on on my first time was unbelievable.
“It was quite a strange atmosphere today and almost felt like a little bit of a practice session, but I had to keep pinching myself as I was sat in my chair and say ‘you’re playing at the Crucible on the biggest stage'.”
Home favourite Carty started his match in front of a limited number of fans as part of the Government’s pilot scheme but finished it behind closed doors after the initiative was scrapped.
He went into Saturday trailing 5-4 and was on the receiving end of a Bingham onslaught early on, as the six-time ranking event winner raced into a 9-4 lead to leave Carty in the chair.
What it means to reach the Crucible. pic.twitter.com/ZyN1VZ9vDq— World Snooker Tour (@WeAreWST) July 27, 2020
But the world No.83 rallied admirably in Sheffield, reducing the deficit to 9-7 after making composed breaks of 83, 51 and 56.
Carty guaranteed two more years on the professional tour by qualifying for the tournament and wants his Crucible bow to ‘kickstart’ his career after a difficult two years on the circuit.
“Before the qualifiers I had to win three tough matches to stay on the tour, and to get to the Crucible was like a two in one, and the pressure was immense,” he added.
“I’m over the moon to get the two years on the two now, and hopefully kickstart my career and give me huge confidence going into the next two seasons.
“Hopefully I can qualify again in years to come and experience the full atmosphere.”
Live snooker returns to Eurosport and the Eurosport app. Watch the World Championship from 31st July – 16th August with analysis from Jimmy White.