Capital snooker ace Robert Carlisle hopes that winning the Scottish National Snooker Championship against Glasgow’s former professional Gary Thomson can give him the edge over his rivals when his bid for European Championship glory gets underway in Sofia, Bulgaria, on Monday.
Carlisle, 23, had to do it the hard way, coming up against some top-quality opposition on route to victory. After reaching the quarter-finals, he stunned former professional Paul McPhillips with a 5-0 victory before surviving a final frame decider against Craig MacGillivray to reach the final. Another former professional stood in Carlisle’s way, but after winning the opening three frames, Carlisle dominated and ran out comfortably 7-2 over Thomson to win his first Scottish title since leaving the junior ranks.
“I am over the moon. Everyone wants to win their National Championship and to do it the way I did beating three former Scottish professionals was a great achievement for me,” said Carlisle.
However, despite aiming to win a National Championship for the first time, Carlisle admitted his mind did wander to Easter Road where his beloved Hibs faced a battle of their own to stay in the Scottish Premiership – a battle they surrendered to Hamilton.
“I would have been at Easter Road cheering them on, but I had a big match of my own to play. I was leading 6-1 around the time the match was nearly finishing and I couldn’t help but keep an eye on the score. I was gutted but after losing the eighth frame to go 6-2 I managed to refocus and go on and win the next frame. Though, the result at Easter Road did mean I wasn’t as happy as I should have been.”
Carlisle’s victory sealed a terrific double achievement after winning the East of Scotland title this season where he defeated Scotland’s No.1 ranked amateur Craig MacGillivray in February.
He said: “Winning the East earlier this year definitely gave me a lot of confidence. To beat a player of Craig’s calibre on that stage to win my first East of Scotland title meant a lot. It gave me a huge lift and a lot of confidence in myself which helped me win the National.”
Carlisle enjoyed a successful junior career winning many titles at Under-14, 16, 19 and 21 levels, and being known as “Bobby the Blast” to his opponents on the snooker circuit for his fast play.
“I definitely don’t hang about on the table and tend to play the first shot I see. The name just seemed to stick with me after that.”
However, since moving out of the juniors, Carlisle has found it difficult to breakthrough on the main Tour, unable to repeat the success he encountered as a junior
He said: “It has been difficult but this season I have finally managed to make a big step up. Gary (Thomson) beat me in a final earlier this season and whilst disappointed to lose, it was a good achievement reaching the final. I am also working so I am a lot happier within myself and it is showing on the table.”
Carlisle will be one of 108 hopefuls competing for the title of European Amateur champion and a place on the World Snooker Professional Tour, the route that fellow Locarno Snooker club player, Scott Donaldson took when winning the title two years ago.
He will be up against Nick Jennings (England), Dematris Nicoleau (Cyprus), Spasian Spasor (Bulgaria), Maor Shalam (Israel) and Andrey Khudobin (Belarus) in a bid to secure one of the 64 places in the knockout phase of the event.
He added: “There are a lot of top quality players competing next week so it will be tough, but I am playing well and if I play to my potential then I can win it. Winning the Scottish Amateur means that I get another chance later this year at the World Amateur Championships in India.”