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Snooker: Coppack claims his place on pro circuit.

Byline: By MARK CURRIE

A DECADE of training has finally paid off for 27-year-old Gareth Coppack, who has qualified for the world professional snooker circuit for the first time.

The Rhyl-based trainee gas engineer has earned his place on the tour - restricted to the top 96 players - after finishing top of the Welsh amateur rankings.

And now he is busy preparing for the first major event of the calendar, the Shanghai Masters, on June 26, in a field that includes Flint-based Ricky Walden, currently ranked 36th in the world.

Coppack, who first picked up a cue when he was nine, said: "I've been working towards this goal for the last 10 years and it's a great feeling to have finally made it.

"Three years ago I was playing on the challenge tour, which is one step down, and I missed out after losing the very last match. And I've been pretty close on a few other occasions as well."

A former UK and Wales j unior champion who has regularly played for his country, Coppack came close to giving up on his dream and enrolled on a trade training course at his local college.

"I went on the training course to have something to fall back on, but obviously I've now got to concentrate full-time on the snooker," he added. "I have got to give it 100% again which means stepping up my table time to six or eight hours."

Coppack is hoping to attract sponsorship and can be contacted on 07776 1 50289.

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Snooker pro Gareth Coppack
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:May 23, 2007
Words:260
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