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Significant Scots
Stephen Hendry


This information was taken from the Global Snooker Centre web site at Global Snooker Centre

 

Believed by many to be the greatest player the game has ever seen, Stephen Hendry has certainly broken all records: more titles, more century breaks, more maximums and certainly more prize money than any other player. His seven world titles is only bettered by Joe and Fred Davis and their victories came when there were only a handful of players. There may have been better potters or better safety players and he himself would admit that others have more natural talent, but no one has been a better all round match player. Just as Steve Davis had dominated the 1980s, the 1990s belonged to Stephen. In that decade he won no less than 28 ranking titles and countless other major victories. Like Davis, his domination was such that many opponents were beaten before they got to the table.

 

Scotland had had to wait a long time for a really good player to emerge. There had been one or two who had reached the top 32 but none who looked like challenging for titles since Walter Donaldson in the 1950s. It is not surprising that people got very exited about a diminutive 14 year-old who won the National Under-16 title in 1983 and appeared on Junior Pot Black barely able to reach across the table. At 15 he was Scottish Amateur champion and became the youngest ever entrant in the World Amateur the same year. After he retained that Scottish title in 1985, at 16 he became the youngest ever professional.

 

In his first season as a pro, 1985/86, he reached the last 32 of the Mercantile Credit Classic and only narrowly lost to Willie Thorne in the first round at the Crucible. After becoming the youngest Scottish Professional champion, he ended the season half way up the ranking list at 51 but people were already taking notice. In the next he reached the Grand Prix quarter-final and the semi-final of the Mercantile. He only lost in the deciding frame to eventual winner, Joe Johnson, in the world quarter-finals. Having reached the final of the World Doubles with Mike Hallett, he retained his Scottish pro title and was up to 23rd in the rankings.

 

Ian Doyle, a Scottish businessman, had spotted his potential and has guided his career since those early days. This partnership became the foundation of a massive snooker empire which today controls most of the game’s top players. Stephen was now being spoken of as a successor to Steve Davis and a series of challenge matches were set up in which the master gave the young pretender a sharp lesson. That was however to give Stephen his determination to win and win and eventually become as good, if not better, than Davis.

 

His third pro season gave him his first ranking titles, the Grand Prix and the British Open. He also won the Australian Masters, a third successive Scottish Professional title and, again with Mike Hallett, the World Doubles and ended the season at number four. Everyone now realised he was something special. He failed to win a ranking event in 1988/89, his best being runner-up in the UK but he won his first Masters at Wembley as well as the New Zealand Masters. Despite the lack of a ranking victory he was up to third. He has not failed to win a ranking event in any season since.

 

In 1989/90 he picked up the UK Championship, Dubai Classic and Asian Open titles adding the Scottish and Wembley Masters before arriving at Sheffield as favourite to lift the world crown. This he duly did beating Jimmy White in the final and at the age of 21 had already won all the games major prizes. The number one ranking position was his as well. In 1990/91, although he failed to retain his world title, he picked up a further five ranking events, a record for a single season. Among his other successes he retained both the B&H and the Scottish Masters. In only two events did he fail to reach the quarter-finals.

 

The World Championship was regained in 1992 together with victories in the Grand Prix and Welsh Open as well as some six other titles including a fourth consecutive B&H Masters which he would make five in 1993. By now Stephen’s position was being threatened by a new generation of young players including Ronnie O’Sullivan and John Higgins but he continued to win some three ranking events each year and beat off all comers at the world championships in Sheffield. Other honours came his way including an MBE from the Queen.

 

In 1996 he won his sixth world title to equal the modern day record set by Ray Reardon and Steve Davis. Records are important to Stephen and he was determined to win that seventh title. He looked to be on course in 1997 when he reached the final as usual. On this occasion however he came up against a very determined Ken Doherty, who, although very much the underdog, managed to win 18-12. Stephen was confident that the record would come his way but the following year he lost in the very first round to Jimmy White who he had beaten in four finals. To make matters worse as far as he was concerned, John Higgins, by winning the title, also took over as world number one, a position which he had guarded jealously for eight years.

 

He was very proud of his status as the world’s top player and set about regaining that position but it would not prove easy. There were now four players standing at the top of the rankings sharing most of the titles between them; Hendry, John Higgins, Ronnie O’Sullivan and Mark Williams. He finally managed to get that elusive seventh world title in 1999 beating Mark Williams 18-11 but did not manage to return to No 1 in the rankings. He began the following season by winning the invitation Champions Cup and the British Open but has not managed a title since.

 

One department of the game in which Stephen is head and shoulders above all others is in his break building. He has made something close to 500 century breaks, nearly double his closest rival and an unprecedented seven maximum breaks in competitive play. Having achieved so much and with nothing left to prove, it is amazing that he still retains his appetite for the game. Nearly seven million pounds in prize money alone means that money is no longer an incentive.

 

He said early in his career that he hoped to be able to retire a millionaire by the age of 27. Well he is now 36 and many times a millionaire but shows no signs of giving up yet. He recently said that he now realises that snooker is the thing he does and he cannot, at present at least, imagine giving up. He has expressed his admiration for the way Steve Davis continues to get a thrill out of beating the new generation of players from time to time and that he has no plans to retire at present.

 

Even though he's now averaging only one title per season and no longer has that air of invincibility, he is still fiercely competitive. He may no longer be the favourite to win every tournament and his concentration is not what it once was but all his fellow players know that he is not ready to be written off yet and will no doubt add to his formidable list of victories.

 

The 2004-5 campaign proved solid if not spectacular. Hendry continued to work closely with coach Terry Griffiths and their efforts yielded the Malta Cup, and final appearances in the Welsh Open, where he lost a thriller to Ronnie O'Sullivan, and the China Open, where he was beaten by the new kid on the block, Ding Junhui. Reward for all that effort was to retain his number two position on the ranking list.

Chris Turner

Achievements:

 

World Champion - 1990, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1999
United Kingdom champion - 1989, 1990, 1994, 1995, 1996
International Open champion - 1993. 1997
Grand Prix champion - 1987, 1990, 1991, 1995
British Open champion - 1988, 1991, 1999, 2004
Dubai Classic champion - 1989, 1990, 1994
Asian Open champion - 1989, 1990
Welsh Open champion - 1992, 1997, 2003
European Open champion - 1993, 1994, 2005
Thailand Masters champion - 1998
Scottish Open champion - 1999
Masters champion - 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1996
Irish Masters champion - 1992, 1997, 1999
Red Bull Super League winner - 1998

Scottish Masters champion - 1989, 1990, 1995
Malta Grand Prix champion - 1998, 2001
Matchroom League winner - 1991, 1992, 1994, 1995, 2000, 2004
Champions Cup winner - 1999
World Doubles champion - 1987 (with Mike Hallett)
World Masters Doubles champion - 1991 (with Mike Hallett)
Pontins Professional champion - 1990

Hong Kong Challenge winner - 1991
Indian Challenge winner - 1991
555 Challenge - Overall winner - 1991
European Challenge winner - 1992
Australian Masters champion - 1987
New Zealand Masters champion - 1988
Scottish Professional champion - 1986, 1987, 1988

Scottish Amateur Champion - 1984, 1985

National Under-16 champion - 1983


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