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WPBSA China Open: 15-year-old Yuan Sijun youngest player to ever participate in event

Reporter: Damion Jones 丨 CCTV.com

03-31-2016 16:12 BJT

Despite his tough exit, Yuan Sijun still did well to earn a wild card entry and advance to the Second Round of the China Open.

The 15-year-old's performance in Beijing has also given him a solid springboard to leap into the future, as his showing at this competition is his best ever result at a ranking event.

His face steeled with focus and confidence, it's easy to forget that Yuan Sijun is still a teenager as he runs the snooker table.

But the youngest entrant in the history of the China Open would stun Andrew Higginson to earn a wild card into the Round of 64, where his roll continued with a 5-0 victory over reigning German Open champion and World Number 13 Martin Gould.

"I had never won a wild card match before, but I won two of them this time, which really boosted my confidence. I think my strength is attacking, but I am not very good at defense yet, so I should practice more in the future," Yuan said.

Yuan made his ranking event debut at the 2013 Shanghai Masters when he was just 13 years old. That made him the youngest player to ever compete in a wild card round at such a high level tournament.

But he had already started making a name for himself in China by winning the previous season's Sichuan Open, an event that included a number of professional players. That early success got many fans hoping he could become the "next"Ding Junhui.

"I've heard a lot of stories about Ding Junhui's career, which have really helped me in my career. He is my role model, and I think it is so hard to surpass Ding because he is the top player in China, but I will work hard to make it happen," he said.

After starting to play snooker at the age of 10, Yuan says he quickly fell in love with the game, and to pursue his dream full-time, he left school after finishing sixth grade in 2013.

"It was me who made the decision to quit school and focus on snooker. If I try to play while still studying, I can't do well in both of these activities, so I gave up studying," Yuan said.

And the 15-year-old has a clear goal for 2016, as well as big plans for the future.

"I hope I can qualify for a professional event this year, I hope I can compete at the professional event in England next April, and also I hope I can win a title at a ranking event before I turn 23 or 24," he said.

So the young shotmaker has a clear vision of his career trajectory, as well as a loyal group of fans who traveled from Fujian Province to Beijing to watch him compete this week, hoping to see China's next star become a force on the felt.

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