May 24 2013 Latest news:
Thursday, June 21, 2012
Norfolk’s PDC World Youth Darts Champion James Hubbard is getting used to mixing it with the big boys ahead of his first competitive test against double PDC World Champion Adrian ‘Jackpot’ Lewis.
The Wymondham teenager faces the hottest property in the game this weekend in the opening round of the latest European Tour event in Germany.
Hubbard is undaunted by the prospect of another clash against one of tungsten’s elite after recently pushing Terry Jenkins all the way before losing 9-6 in the UK Open at Bolton.
The 19-year-old admits he has not looked back since lifting the global junior crown in front of 10,000 at London’s O2 Arena back in May.
“It has been quite a strange one because you go from seeing these guys on the television and now I’m getting a text message from Simon Whitlock and you just think, ‘This is weird’,” he said.
“I was playing mainly in BDO events with the likes of Martin Adams, but then I had one good day at the PDC Youths and the whole sport has changed my life. “The biggest thing you find is they are so clinical (on the oche). When the pressure is on you have to perform. If you are 5-4 down in a match and you have to win a leg against the darts to stay alive, then there is no second chance.
“You have to go out and play thinking that when you get a shot at a double, that is the only one you will get. It is not just the well known guys, but really for everyone on the PDC, or the majority of them – this is a living. They are professionals and this is their livelihood, so you are not going to get easy matches.”
Hubbard will take plenty of confidence into his Lewis, pictured, showdown as he bids to force his way into the prestigious World Matchplay tournament at Blackpool later this summer.
“If I make the Matchplay then I more or less qualify for the World Championships at the end of the year, which would be another televised event,” he said. “I’m just around the qualifying places in the rankings for Blackpool, but obviously a good result in Berlin would help because it’s one of the bigger events on the tour and I think the prize money for each victory is double the usual event.
“Some-one pointed out to me the other day it’s the World Youth Champion against the World Champion, which is nice, and it will be the first time I have played him in competition – but it’s something I will look forward to.
“It’s not the easiest draw I could have got, but I am getting used to that. I was 5-5 against Terry at the UK Open and averaging 103.
“He came out after the interval and checked out some big scores.
“I finished the match averaging in the 90s, so you can’t do a lot about that when someone plays well and takes the game away from you.”
Hubbard’s longer term target is to establish himself on the PDC tour – which brings with it one major downside.
“I haven’t really been back to Norfolk since Bolton over these past two months. I do miss my family and friends a lot but this is something I love that I am being paid to do,” he said. “You would much rather do this than a normal everyday job. My girlfriend lives in Newcastle, which is where I am based a lot of the time. Winning the PDC Youth title earned me a two-year acceptance to tour events and all my entry fees are paid.
“I’m also getting exhibition work, as well as competing all over England and now in Europe.
“At the end of that two-year period I need to be in the world’s top 64 to stay on the tour. I’m around the 70 mark in the rankings at the minute, so I just have to try to maintain it.”