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Weekly Round-up in Snooker

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It’s a quiet month on the baize but it’s perhaps an appropriate time to introduce a new regular feature this season – the “Weekly Round-up in Snooker”.

As the campaign gathers pace towards the end of 2019 and the action begins to come thick and fast, some stories will inevitably be missed.

Here then will be an opportune moment to recap on everything minor and major that has happened in the previous seven days.

Let’s take a look at what’s been happening in this first weekly round-up in snooker.

Joe Swail Retires

Probably the biggest headline in July so far was the confirmation from Joe Swail of his retirement from professional snooker.

The Northern Irishman, who had been a pro since 1991, announced on social media that the decision was due to “various health/mental reasons”.

The former world number ten dropped off the Main Tour at the end of the last term and was undoubtedly one of the most well-liked players on the circuit.

The 49 year-old’s most memorable moments undeniably came at the Crucible Theatre, where he reached the World Snooker Championship semi-finals in successive years in 2000 and 2001.

Swail’s best ranking event performance came eight years later, though, when he was denied a maiden title in the final of the Welsh Open by Ali Carter.

The World Seniors Tour awaits for Swail, somewhere one suspects the Belfast potter could thrive for quite a few years to come.

Swail said: “I’ve had an unbelievable time and a successful career on the snooker circuit.”

“Retirement it is and I will now enjoy and concentrate on my coaching/practice sessions and play in a few World Senior and amateur events next season.

“Many thanks for all the support over the years, very much appreciated.”

World Seniors Championship Draw

Speaking of the World Seniors Tour, its flagship tournament is on the horizon with the event being staged in Sheffield next month.

In quite a coup for Jason Francis and co. who are in charge of the tour, the Crucible Theatre will take hosting duties for the first time.

Defending champion Aaron Canavan has been paired with Au Chi-wai while favourite Jimmy White meets Rhydian Richards.

The likes of Stephen Hendry, Cliff Thorburn, John Parrott, and Joe Johnson are also in the field.

A couple of the preliminary round ties to get excited for involve two retired fan favourites in Willie Thorne and Tony Drago.

The latter, who has recovered from recent health concerns, meets blast from the past Dene O’Kane while Thorne faces former world seniors champion Darren Morgan.

The action starts on August 15th.

IBSF World Under-21 Championship

Somewhat gone under radar this week has been the IBSF World Under-21 Championship in China.

Once one of the highlights of the international amateur circuit and a ticket onto the Main Tour, this tournament has taken a hit in recent years following the controversial breakaway of the World Snooker Federation.

It means that the term “World” has become a loose interpretation of what was once a festival of snooker that every aspiring young talent around the globe used to contend.

A high percentage of the field represents either China or India, with a smattering of other entrants from the likes of Iran, Australia, New Zealand, and Thailand.

In total, there is just a handful of Europeans in the draw, including only a single Englishman in the form of Callum Beresford.

Beresford has easily qualified from the round-robin phase and is among the 32 remaining competitors in the hunt in the knockout stages.

Challenge Tour Set for Second Season

World Snooker announced the 2019/20 calendar for the Challenge Tour, which is back for a second campaign.

Amateurs will gain the chance to compete on a regular basis with the dangling carrot of two professional cards to come at the end of the series.

After ten events, the number one ranked player on the Order of Merit will automatically receive a two-year card.

An additional card will be awarded via a play-off system, with the players ranked between second and ninth fighting it out for the right to turn pro.