Kettering darts star Ricky Evans is back on the big stage this weekend.
And the 23-year-old is determined to make an impact when he competes in one of the PDC’s major tournaments – the William Hill Grand Slam of Darts.
Evans, who has enjoyed a superb first year on the Pro Tour, earned his place in the competition when he reached the final of the World Youth Championships earlier this year.
And he will be in fine company in the group stages at the Wolverhampton Civic Hall.
Evans was drawn with five-time world champion Raymond van Barneveld as well as seasoned pros Tony O’Shea and Mervyn King.
It will mean a first-ever meeting with the Dutch star on Saturday afternoon but Evans (pictured) is in confident mood after reaching his first senior final last weekend in the Players Championship 13.
Evans picked up £5,000 after he was beaten 6-3 by Brendan Dolan in the final having beaten the likes of Gary Anderson, Ronnie Baxter and Jamie Caven on his way to the last two.
And it has left him feeling buoyant ahead of his big week.
“I am counting down the days,” he said.
“To be drawn alongside someone like Raymond is fantastic and I am sure his fans will be there in full voice. But I am not going to let that bother me.
“It is a tough group but I would like to think that I am no mug now and I hope the other players feel that I help make it a tough group.
“I played really well in Wigan last weekend and I beat some very good players.
“I am feeling good and if I can get on a run then I believe I can have an impact.”
The top two from each group in the Grand Slam will advance into the last 16 and the whole event is being screened live on Sky Sports from Saturday.
It proved to be a very fruitful weekend for Irthlingborough’s Kevin McDine as he consolidated his place amongst the Pro Tour qualifiers for the World Championships with two quarter-final appearances in the Players Championships.
On the first day in Wigan, McDine was eventually beaten 6-5 by Dolan after claiming wins over Jelle Klaasen (6-5), Mark Forman (6-4), Mark Cox (6-0) and Steve Brown.
And he repeated the feat on the following day as victories over Jon Jukes (6-4), John Part (6-4), Brown (6-5) and Colin Fowler (6-5) saw him meet eventual winner Ian White in the last eight where he was edged out 6-5.
Rushden’s James Richardson suffered two first-round exits at the hands of Josh Payne (6-5) and Matt Clark (6-4) respectively while Evans’ second day wasn’t as good as his first as he lost 6-0 to Michael Smith at the first stage.
Richardson and McDine both missed out on a place in the Grand Slam after taking part in the wildcard qualifiers.
McDine lost 4-3 to Brown in the third round while Richardson went down 4-2 to Alan Norris in the first.