HE can count Ding Junhui and Ronnie O’Sullivan among his practice partners and young cuemaster Ashley Hugill is hoping he will soon be joining them in the professional ranks.

The Melbourne potter will take a tilt at Q-School in the spring next year as he bids to forge a career on the green baize.

Hugill has been making a splash in amateur tournaments and at Players Tour Championship events this season.

Practising four days a week at the Star Academy, in Sheffield, the 19-year-old can also boast a recent practice victory over Indian Open quarter-finalist Pankaj Advani.

With a highest break in practice of 144, Hugill is one of the favourites for the inaugural York Masters tournament – but has set his sights far higher.

“I got quite good at pool and then moved into snooker,” said Hugill of his development in the game. “I started getting coaching – I think it was for my 11th birthday – and showed quite a bit of promise.

“Now I play four days a week and, from a very young age, I always wanted to be a pro. I love the game. Even before I played, I watched snooker on television.

“When I started to improve quite quickly, my dad was really supportive. This has been my first season of PTCs.

“The first event I entered was at Doncaster and I also entered events at Doncaster and at Antwerp, where I got to the fifth round of the amateur cup.

“I feel things are going well. I am quite a late starter but I am progressing quickly.”

On his experiences of meeting the game’s top players in practice, Hugill feels he is learning a huge amount.

“I played Ding and didn’t perform too well but he was unbelievable,” he added. “I’ve also practised with Ronnie at Sheffield and he didn’t miss too much.

“When you are playing them, you don’t get too many shots but you get to observe them around the table and pick up potential playing techniques. You try to do what they do.

“I get on quite well against some of the lower-ranked professionals. I played Pankaj Advani and beat him 5-4. I had an 80-odd break and a couple of 60s and 50s.

“I’ve also played Thanawat Thirapongpaiboon and Noppon Saengkham – I have beaten Noppon before.

“He had a couple of good results at the UK Championship and qualified for the German Masters and the World Open and is full of confidence.

“I’m going to have a crack at Q-School in the summer. It costs £1,000 to enter but an aunt has put the money up.

“To play in the PTCs as an amateur you really need sponsorship. They are the ideal way to build up on to the tour but I wouldn’t be able to play in all of them (without backing).”

Anyone interested in providing Hugill with sponsorship can contact him by emailing tevhugill32@hotmail.co.uk