Billy Joe Castle: Snooker player making impression in first professional year
Billy Joe Castle is now more familiar with green baize than green fingers after giving up his day job as a gardener for professional snooker.
The 25-year-old, from Southampton, has already made a strong impression in his first year on the professional circuit.
Castle beat Jimmy White in qualifying on his way to the European Masters last 16 in Belgium earlier this month.
“Not a lot of players can say that in their entire professional career, let alone their first year,” he said.
Having previously filled his days with landscape gardening until lunchtime before heading to Newbury to put in the hours on the practice tables, Castle is focusing full-time on snooker.
“In the next couple of years, if I can break into the top 64 that would be my goal,” the current world number 121 told BBC South Today.
“After that, I’d love to play at the Crucible in the World Championship – that would be amazing.”
Castle turned professional in May after coming through qualifying school.
“To break through this year was a dream come true, being a professional player is something I’ve always wanted to do,” he said.
“I would never change the way I’ve gone about it to get here, doing a variety of jobs to pay for petrol to get to tournaments.
“It was tough combining work with playing in amateur leagues and practice. But I’m glad I did it as from where I’ve come, I know what it takes to work hard for something.”
Castle’s next challenge sees him head to the English Open in Barnsley from 16 October before the International Championship in China.