Tragedy keeps snooker in perspective for Sanderson Lam as he returns with a new attitude

Sanderson Lamb

Sanderson Lam came through Q School Event 2 and back on tour (Image: WST)

Sanderson Lam struggled through Q School last week, but having endured far worse than the grueling tournament, he keeps his eyes on the game.

Lam is back on tour for the second time after impressively coming through Event Two in Sheffield when things looked dangerous on at least a couple of occasions.

He bounced back from a 3-1 deficit against Kurt Maflin in the last 16 to win 4-3 before falling behind Steven Hallworth in the final frame of the final round, only to break 60 to win the match.

The Yorkshireman has developed a calm under pressure, controlling his emotions and relieving the pressure himself.

“I knew I was waiting well, hitting the ball really well, but it’s just controlling your mind, especially in Q school because it’s so hard,” Lam said

“Even in the first event I lost to Soheil [Vahedi] and I didn’t think I played so badly and lost 4-1. I was really down but just said to myself, “I didn’t do anything wrong, don’t be hard on yourself and keep going.” Then at the second event it just clicked. I played well, relaxed a bit more.’

The immense sadness of personal tragedy has actually helped Lam keep his emotions in check after coming to terms with the death of one of his best friends, Jake Nicholson, almost a year ago.

Jake tragically died of cancer at just 28 years old and the talented player’s death hit many people in the snooker scene really hard.

Lam was just as injured as anyone but it unexpectedly helped his game as he now accepts that snooker is becoming meaningless compared to other things.

“I thought that although I would like to continue, there are many things in life that are more important. It’s not the end of the world,” he said.

“I lost a good friend of mine, Jake Nicholson, he was very close to me, one of my best friends. Now it’s the one year anniversary.

“Jake was my age. He just wanted to play snooker. If you think about losing snooker matches at the end of your life, think about Jake.

“It definitely helped my mindset to find some perspective. Just go out there, give it your all and if I don’t win, I don’t win. But I’ve been really happy that I’ve held together in the last two games, and actually the whole tournament.”

Sanderson Lamb

Lam’s best run in a ranking event was the round of 16 at the 2017 Gibraltar Open (Image: Wiki)

He added: “I’m really happy with how I did it, losing 3-1 to one of the favorites and getting a really good break in the deciding set to go through. It shows I’ve got what it takes and hopefully I can keep going.

“The key for me is that I’ve controlled my emotions above. As long as I can keep her in place, stay positive, give me the best chance.

“I think in the last 24 months I’ve really improved by controlling my emotions. If I had been in this situation in the past, I would not have gotten through it. Before that I would give up if I was 3-1 down.”

It’s impressive that Lam can keep an eye on snooker as it’s a game he’s dedicated his life to and whether he’s an amateur or a professional he plays full time.

“If I got stuck I would still play all the amateur competitions, the amateur circuit is really good now,” he said. “I work part-time shifts at the bar at the club and also do some exercise.

“It takes things out of my mind. I can do that on my terms, which is nice depending on what comps you have. I coach amateurs, beginners, decent players, that’s good.

“Seeing them doing well is a great feeling. It’s nice to see them improve and pass on your skills and see them get better.’

The club in question is the legendary Northern Snooker Center in Leeds which is also home to Peter and Oliver Lines, David Grace and a host of top amateurs.

But the boys are not just practice partners, there is a family atmosphere, with Peter and Oliver a real family.

“We all play at the same club, but me and Oliver are the closest,” said Sanderson. “We’ve known each other for 20 years now.

“Growing up, Saturday morning coaching for the juniors. That’s where I and Oliver met. His father and another coach led the classes.

“There are so many memories there. I probably spent more time there than in my own house. When I’m not at home I’m there, playing, working, sometimes having a few drinks.

“It’s not just the pros – so me, David, Oliver, Peter – but a lot of good amateurs – Kuldesh Johel, Dan Womersley, Liam Pullen that’s coming there now, it’s really good. I wouldn’t be surprised if he does well over the next few years.’

Oliver Lines has made impressive progress on the main tour (Picture: Getty Images)

Lam is back on tour for the first time since 2019 when he had a four-stint as a pro and he believes he’s coming back mentally stronger and ready to show what he can really do on the table.

“I watched a lot of videos about the mind and how the mind works, sports psychology. That really helped me,” he said.

“I will work more on my mindset. I know I can play, but I need to play with more freedom, get into a rhythm.

“Before I thought too much as I lay on the table. I would do things on the gaming table that I wouldn’t do in practice. I have to enjoy it, I deserve to be there, so let’s see what the next two years bring.

“I think going into your shell is the worst thing you can do, you have to get into a rhythm. I wasn’t playing my natural game, I was almost 29 seconds per shot and that’s not me. At all.

“You don’t think you’re walking so slowly, but you just slip back into your shell. If all you can do is play snooker, don’t get bogged down and play your natural game then this is the best way to do it.

MORE : “I haven’t touched my cue in a year” – Adam Duffy is back on tour nearing the end of snooker

MORE : Ryan Thomerson’s epic quest for a snooker pro via Melbourne, a blacksmith shop and the home of Neil Roberston

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snooker Tragedy keeps snooker in perspective for Sanderson Lam as he returns with a new attitude

Nate Jones

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