Teenager James Cahill is to become one of the youngest players to join the ranks of professional snooker.
The 17-year-old was granted a two-year card for the pro circuit after winning the European Under-21s Championships in Bor, Serbia, last week.
Cahill is a member of the Stephen Hendry Snooker club in Brook Street, Preston.
He is the nephew of former world champion Hendry and would love to follow in his famous uncle’s footsteps.
Turning professional has been a long-time ambition for Cahill, who first picked up a cue at the age of four.
His proud mum Maria, a former snooker player on the women’s circuit herself, told the Evening Post: “We think there have only been four players who have turned pro at his age – Judd Trump was the last.
“James is absolutely delighted and it’s something he’s wanted to do since he was very young.
“For the last two years, he’s been playing on the Premier Tour which is for the top Under-21s players in the country.
“He reached No.1 on the tour and the top four in England qualified for the European Championships.
“James won the tournament and that gives him a two-year ticket for the professional snooker tour.
“That gives him entry to the qualifying rounds for the big tournaments.
“Over the next two years he’ll be looking to pick up enough ranking points to stay on the professional tour.
“Winning in Serbia was a magnificent moment for him.
“It was a busy schedule with a three-and-a-half hour drive from the airport to the town where the tournament was. The tables were in lovely condition and he played some great snooker.”
Cahill saw off Ross Muir, Elliott Slessor and Darryl Hill on his way to the final, dropping only two frames.
In the final he whitewashed fellow Englishman Ashley Carty 6-0.
During the tournament, he made 12 breaks of 50 or more, displaying a real maturity at the table.
Mum Maria said: “Snooker runs in the family, with Stephen Hendry being his uncle. I used to play on the women’s circuit and James would come along to watch.
“He’s been keen on snooker since he was four and has worked hard to get to where he is. James left school when he was 15 and had private lessons at home so he could concentrate on playing.
“His coach Mick Caddy has been brilliant with him, putting the time in.
“Terry Griffiths gave him some mentoring leading up Serbia, which was a big help.
“The professional season starts for him at the end of May with a qualifying tournament.
“And from then on, he’s going to be travelling all over the place to different events.
“His aim is to be world champion one day and obviously he has a long way to go.
“With him being only 17 it will be tough on the professional tour.
“But he’s looking forward to it and is aiming to get enough ranking points on the board in order to be kept on after these initial two years.”