Kyren’s big rise up the rankings has turned him from ‘hunter to hunted’

Kyren Wilson's triumph at the Shanghai Masters has been the highlight of a breakthrough year for the Kettering snooker star

Kyren Wilson's triumph at the Shanghai Masters has been the highlight of a breakthrough year for the Kettering snooker star

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It’s been a breakthrough year for Kyren Wilson, so much so he has gone from ‘being the hunter to the hunted’.

The Kettering snooker star has risen to prominence during 2015 or, to be more precise, over the past couple of months.

Kyren Wilson was named Local Sportsman of the Year at the Northamptonshire Sports Awards

Kyren Wilson was named Local Sportsman of the Year at the Northamptonshire Sports Awards

The 23-year-old had been threatening it for a while but his big moment arrived in September when he beat current world number six Judd Trump 10-9 to become the Shanghai Masters champion – his first ranking tournament success.

As well as the prize money and a big jump up the standings, that victory brought with it a place in the Champion of Champions event, held at the Ricoh Arena a fortnight ago.

And once again Wilson showed he isn’t a flash in the pan as he defeated Trump and Chinese youngster Zhou Yuelong to earn a place in the semi-finals.

He went down 6-3 to Mark Allen in the last four and while there was disappointment, the Kettering star was able to reflect on another excellent tournament outing in front of the television cameras.

“I was a little disappointed,” he admitted.

“I started pretty well in the first frame but I let too many chances slip in the first session and things started to conspire against me a bit after that with a few unlucky kicks.

“Overall it was a great week for me. If someone had said at the start of the year I would be the Shanghai Masters champion and reached the semis of the Champion of Champions, I would have taken that.

“It was disappointing in that semi-final because I am there to win. But when I reflect on it all, I can definitely take the positives.”

And the big competitions keep coming.

The UK Championship – one of the most prestigious tournaments on the calendar – gets under way at the Barbican Centre in York today (Tuesday).

Wilson, now ranked number 22 in the world, will head there as one to watch following his exploits in recent months.

He takes on Paul Davison in his first-round match on Thursday evening with a real desire to go further than ever in the tournament.

His first appearance there in 2013 saw him beaten 6-5 by Anthony McGill in the first round while he suffered an agonising 6-5 defeat to current world number three Neil Robertson in the second stage a year ago.

But, after his recent rise, Wilson is well aware there will be more expectation on him than in previous years.

He said: “It’s nice to be honest, it means you have done well!

“People have said that I have gone from being the hunter to the hunted. It is different because I am going into some matches as the higher seed and I am used to being the underdog.

“But I am comfortable with it. I have always gone into every tournament to win it and it won’t be any different next week.

“It is the second biggest tournament we have in the UK and it’s great to have the big competitions over here in front of the cameras.

“I really like it up in York. It’s brilliant at this time of year with Christmas just around the corner. There is a real tradition about the place.

“The venue is very good and the crowds are usually big for every match.

“I am just hoping I can do better than I have done before.

“You never look at it by thinking it’s a good draw, everybody can beat everybody.

“Paul is a very experienced tour professional and I will treat him with as much respect as I would the world number one.”

While Wilson has been making headlines on a national scale, his talents haven’t gone unnoticed locally.

He was named the Local Sportsman of the Year at the recent Northamptonshire Sports Awards.

A modest individual, Wilson said it wasn’t something he expected.

“It was great to be part of it and it was a nice night out with my fiancee Sophie,” he added.

“I was surrounded by people who have achieved so much in this area. It was great to have a look at what everyone else is doing.

“To win the award added a nice touch to it. I am honoured to have won it, it’s certainly not something I was expecting.”