When 21-year-old Oliver Lines lost to Marco Fu in the last 16 of this year’s UK Championship, the young man from Leeds was widely applauded for his impressive run in the event.
His accomplishment in the third round alone was worthy of buckets of praise: in comfortably defeating Judd Trump, the third-best player in the world, the world number 61 demonstrated a maturity well beyond his years.
But then Lines went on to do something equally surprising.
All-too-often, when a low-ranked player beats one of the top players in the game, the surprise victory alone is enough to whet the underdog’s appetite and, lacking in focus, he bows out meekly in the next round to a much more ordinary opponent.
Not in Lines’ case.
In the fourth round, he played Jimmy Robertson, ranked 32nd in the world. Lines did not just beat Robertson. He whitewashed him– six frames to nil.
On the evidence, then, Oliver Lines’ loss to Marco Fu– a former world number six– should not be taken as a failure.
That Lines managed to secure a meeting with Fu at all should be cherished because, in getting to that stage, Lines showed that he possesses a rare combination: talent and bottle.
When his tournament came to an end, the young man deserved to relax and look back at a job well done.
Unfortunately, however, that much was not allowed.
Twitter has two faces and following Lines’ exit at the hands of Fu, Twitter’s ugly face rose to meet the Englishman.
Following Lines’ own tweet, several other professional snooker players sent messages of support and assured Lines that he was not alone.
Based on the tweets from Mark Williams, Mark Allen and Ben Woollaston, it seems that professional snooker players, irrespective of how successful they have been, are routinely sent abusive messages from Twitter ‘trolls.’
These tweets highlight an under-reported aspect of professional sportspeople’s lives.
Moreover, they serve to underline the intensity of the psychological toll which competitors must endure if they are to be successful.
Indeed, the sad reality is that although snooker is a spectator sport, a minority of its most committed spectators are most certainly not snooker fans.