Snooker: Parrott thrilled to regain top form

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The Independent Online

John Parrott is delighted to show that he can still shine on the big stage as he made his way into the last eight of the UK Championship in York on Monday night.

John Parrott is delighted to show that he can still shine on the big stage as he made his way into the last eight of the UK Championship in York on Monday night.

Parrott, who won the world title in 1991, has spent a few years in the doldrums when his enthusiasm for the game dwindled. Parrott's ranking slipped to a level where he was in danger of having to make regular visits to the Pontin's holiday complex in Prestatyn to try and qualify for the major events.

But that prospect looks increasingly remote with every match he wins in York and the 40-year-old Merseysider will fancy his chances of going further when he meets Alan McManus or Mark King for a semi-final spot.

"I was worried I was going to be a 'cubicle' player," said Parrott, referring to the booths used when several tables are erected at a venue. "But I've gone back to playing how I used to when I was a junior. I had a great result against James Wattana in the first round here and I'm feeling comfortable again."

Parrott was a rank outsider when the event began, but with all the world's top eight out of the way following Peter Ebdon's 9-8 defeat to Stephen Lee, a surprise champion will be crowned on Sunday. "It's just the old football cliché with me - one match at a time," said Parrott, who beat Ricky Walden, conqueror of John Higgins, to reach the quarter-finals. "Whether I play Mark King or Alan McManus in the next round they are both seasoned competitors, so it won't be easy.

"Everyone still in the tournament will be thinking there's no reason why they can't go on and win it. The young lads coming through are hungry and the gap between them and the players at the top of the game is not that big any more."

One of those emerging stars is Ali Carter, who ended the challenge of the highest remaining seed, Paul Hunter, with a dramatic last-gasp 9-8 success. But, like Parrott, the 25-year-old from Essex is refusing to look beyond his next opponent. "I'm not thinking about the final," insisted the world number 19 who will meet new favourite Stephen Maguire or Steve Davis next.

World Championship runner-up Graeme Dott is the highest-ranked player left who has yet to capture a tour title. "With the top eight out it is an opportunity for someone," said the 27-year-old Glaswegian. "There are a lot of hard matches to go yet, but I'm looking forward to playing David Gray or Barry Hawkins."

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