ALI CARTER spoke of his delight after playing his first major match in the big time since undergoing life threatening treatment for lung cancer.
The Essex cueman, who was diagnosed with cancer after the World Championship, received a standing ovation from Coventry’s Ricoh Arena crowd as he entered the stage to play world number two Neil Robertson in the day’s opening Champion of Champions match.
Carter lost the match 4-0 but the fact he returned to the big stage after such a traumatic few months, which could have ended his life, was the most important and pleasing factor for him and for everyone associated with the sport.
The two-times World Championship finalist has been on a heavy programme of chemotherapy since the devastating news and with that going positive he is now looking to the future and getting back to playing tournaments.
World Snooker bosses announced last month Carter’s provisional top 16 seeding will be frozen throughout the season – allowing him to enter snooker’s biggest events and Ronnie O’Sullivan, who beat Carter in two World Championship finals, said his return has given the sport a huge lift.
The day was such a big and emotional one for Carter, he even forgot to turn up in his snooker clothes. In the first frame he played in Ricky Walden’s waistcoat.
After the defeat Carter said: “It was the right result today, after what I have been through, no competitive play to speak of really for six months. I have had a nightmare from start to finish; I came out of the house today without a suit so I am wearing jeans, somebody else’s shirt, somebody else’s tie, Ricky Walden’s waistcoat.
“It was a pleasure to be out there playing again in front of a big crowd and I got a great reception, so I am very pleased and I am looking forward to the UK (Championship).
“I couldn’t take the reception all in because I have a waistcoat which looks like a bin liner on me! It was great and I really appreciated it.
“It was great to be out there. I wish the result was the other way round but it wasn’t, so I will go home and enjoy my life.”
After a lot of treatment work and telling his story to many media outlets, Carter now hopes to concentrate on his snooker and plans to put in many hours of practice before he takes to the stage again in his first round match in the upcoming UK Championship.
“The UK in York is one of my favourite events and when I got diagnosed that was the one I was targeting,” he added.
“I will get on the practice table, into the gym and next time I will make sure I pack my suit and it is in the car when I get home so I won’t forget it when I go to York.”