The World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association (WPBSA) has welcomed the decision of World Snooker Tour to award seven-time world champion Stephen Hendry an Invitational Tour Card from the start of the 2020/21 season.
The decision follows a successful run at the recent World Seniors Snooker Championship which saw the 51-year-old defeat current tour player Nigel Bond and 2018 Seniors champion Aaron Canavan to reach the semi-finals, before losing 4-2 to old rival Jimmy White at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield.
Despite his defeat, both those within the game and fans at home were impressed by the form of the Scot – who hit seven breaks over 50 during the tournament – and Hendry himself has said that he “really enjoyed” competing again at the tournament.
WPBSA Chairman Jason Ferguson believes that the rekindling of Hendry’s competitive spirit at the tournament underlines the importance of the World Seniors Tour as part of the WPBSA’s Sport Development structure.
“I am delighted to see that Stephen has decided that now is the time to compete once again at the highest level of our sport,” said Ferguson. “Few players have contributed to the success of our sport as Stephen Hendry during the modern era and it is with open arms that we welcome this great champion to the World Snooker Tour once again.”
“It is also important to acknowledge the role that the World Seniors Snooker Tour, a project instigated by the WPBSA prior to its launch at the 2018 World Championship, has played in his decision. During the years following his retirement in 2012 there were few opportunities for players like him to continue playing competitively following life on the professional circuit.
“With many older professionals either having fallen off the main tour, or approaching that stage of their careers, it was vital that we provided them with another means by which they can continue to play the game they love competitively. In Stephen’s case, his enjoyment gained by returning to the baize has led to his return to the WST circuit and I have no doubt that the World Seniors Tour will continue to provide a springboard for more of our sport’s former champions to bounce back on the professional tour.”
The ROKiT Phones World Seniors Snooker Tour continues this November with the staging of its recently announced Qualification School tournament.