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  Monday, 12 February, 2001, 15:14 GMT
Hunter's back in the pack
paulhunter
B & H Masters champ Hunter ponders the future
Paul Hunter's win at the Benson and Hedges Masters highlights how a talented teenager resurrected a fledgling career.

The Yorkshireman's potential was recognised at an early age when he won the junior title at the age of 14.

In 1995, he reached the final of the English Amateur Championship and later that year turned professional.

He soon signalled his intentions by reaching the semi-final of the Regal Welsh Open in 1996 at the tender age of 17.

This is a particularly remarkable achievement when you consider he battled through 11 matches, including the qualifiers, to get to that stage.

As Stephen Hendry noted after beating Hunter in their 1996 UK Championship quarter-final: "He's got the game and he's got the bottle."

Paid dividends

The 22-year-old with the boyish good looks seemed set to take the snooker world by storm after winning the Regal Welsh Open in 1998.

On the way to the title, Hunter left Steve Davis, Alan McManus, Peter Ebdon and-in the final-John Higgins, flailing in his wake.

Hunter rose to 12th in the world after a string of semi-final appearances, and scooped the1998 Snooker Writers Association Young Player of the Year.

However, a disappointing 1999-2000 season saw him slip back to 14 in the rankings.

He decided he needed a more disciplined approach if he wanted to realise his potential.

He "cut out the late nights" - and it paid dividends with him winning the Masters in a 10-9 final against Fergal O'Brien.

He was given a winner's cheque of 175,000 and it now means his career earnings have topped 430,000.

See also:

01 Feb 01 | Benson and Hedges Masters
12 Feb 01 | Benson and Hedges Masters
12 Feb 01 | Benson and Hedges Masters
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