``I played semi-professionally for two years' />

SHANE HURNDELL
Twelve years ago Havelock North's Baden Jackson vowed he would never play snooker again.
``I played semi-professionally for two years and when I realised I wasn't going to make the grade as a fulltime professional I packed it in ... my life-long dream folded,' Jackson told SportToday.
That was when he was living in his home city of Nottingham in the United Kingdom.
Fortunately for the Hawke's Bay snooker fraternity Jackson, 33, has regained his ``competitive fire' again.
Playing in his first competitive tournament since then, the weekend's Roger Russell Memorial 30th annual Heretaunga Classic in Hastings, Jackson reached the plate final which he lost 2-1 to New Zealand's fourth ranked player, Mark Hannah of Capital City, after a re-spotting of the black in the final frame.
``I'm disappointed I didn't make the main draw. But I'm confident I can do that next year ... I've just got to cut out the silly mistakes and play some money matches to get me used to that pressure again,' said Jackson.
``I won't be playing any more tournaments before next year's Classic though, because work comes first,' said Jackson, who opened up the Lads and Dads Barbershop in Havelock North shortly after arriving in the Bay in December.
A former England pool representative, Jackson intends to play Hawke's Bay's national under-21 champion David Meier- Bailey on a regular basis as part of his preparation for next year's Classic.
``Hopefully that will help my game as well as his. David is ranked fifth in New Zealand so that will give me a good gauge as to where I'm at,' said Jackson.
He has yet to decide whether to make pool or snooker his priority with the cue.
``I'll probably go where the big money is ... cash pays the bills and trophies only collect dust.'
Jackson pointed out he left all of his trophies back in England as it would have cost too much to bring them to New Zealand. He started playing pool when he was 10 and snooker when he was 15.
While he has got his New Zealand residency he says he is unable to play in the national championships until he has lived here for three years.
``My goal is to win a major pool or snooker tournament before I'm 40 as that's when I will put the cue away for good,' added Jackson.
Meier-Bailey and Hastings veteran Robin Tabernacle did the best of the Hawke's Bay players in the Classic, one of the country's richest tournaments.
They both reached the quarterfinals where Meier-Bailey lost 3-2 to eventual runner-up Chris Maltby of Taranaki and Tabernacle lost 3-0 to eventual winner, Germany-based professional Chris McBreen.
The final saw McBreen pocket the first prize of $2400 with a 4-1 win against Maltby.
He also travelled home with the $500 prize for the highest break, a 104 clearance in his 3-0 semifinal win.
Maltby, who beat Capital City's Kiwi No1 and six-time winner of the Classic Harry Haenga 3-2 in his semifinal, had the highest break of 100 until McBreen produced his 104.
The Classic was one of two tournaments McBreen played during a visit home. Last weekend he was beaten by Auckland's Kiwi No2 and last year's winner of the Classic, Henry Killian, in the semifinals of a Wellington event.
Killian didn't qualify for the main draw in the Classic.
``I'm getting married back in Germany in August so I also used this visit home to organise our wedding rings with a mate of mine who is an Auckland jeweller,' said McBreen.
``So everything worked out well ... the rings are organised and I won one of the events I tackled.'
McBreen pointed out he was fortunate Maltby made more mistakes than he normally would in the final. He said he was unlikely to return next year.
``I was lucky the sponsor of the Wellington tournament paid half my airfare this time to come back from Germany but it would be too costly for me next year,' he said.