Name: Justin Astley
DOB: 20th May, 1983
Turned Pro: 2001
Highest Ranking: 85th (2010)
Highest Break: 137 (2005 World Championship Qualifiers)
Career Highlights: 2012/13 ET6 last 32, 2010 World Open second qualifying round, 2012 Haikou World Open second qualifying round, 2009/10 PIOS Number #7 & Events 7 and 8 finalist
Prior to 2010/11, Justin Astley’s most recent main tour experience came during the 2005/6 season but it was to be a year to forget, his relegation being confirmed following a 10-3 defeat to talented youngster Mark Allen during qualifying for the World Championship.
In the years since he toiled on the PIOS tour, finishing 20th, 21st and 39th between 2007-2009 and the 2010/11 season looked to be heading for a similar outcome as the season ended its final phase. Impressively however, Justin was able to finish the season with a flourish, final appearances coming in both Events 7 and 8 to lift him into the all-important top eight at the end of the season and back onto the main tour.
Justin during the 2011 World Championship qualifiers
Justin’s start to the 2010/11 season was to prove difficult as he won just five matches in the first 11 matches of the Players Tour Championship. Coupled with early exits in the first two full ranking events of the season, he had already given himself a mountain to climb if he was to retain his main tour place.
Unfortunately for Justin the second half of his season was to be even worse as he failed to win another match after the World Open and eventually saw his campaign ended by James Wattana who recorded a 10-3 victory in their World Championship qualifier.
As a result Justin finished the season in 90th place, well short of the required top 64 to stay on the circuit for the following season.
During 2011/12 Justin was unable to secure a return to the main tour via the Players Tour Championship but at the PTC11 event he was able to pull off arguably the most impressive victory of his career to date as he came back from 3-0 down to win 4-3 against reigning world champion John Higgins in Sheffield.
He could not repeat the feat in the last 64 however, losing 4-0 to promising youngster Sam Craigie.
Justin takes on John Higgins at the PTC11 event
Later in the season, Justin was to enter the World Championship as an amateur, defeating Les Dodd and Del Smith to reach the last 32 stage and set up a clash with promising youngster Sam Craigie. Their match would prove to be full of drama, Craigie winning an 82 minute frame to lead 9-8, before the pair were pulled off having overran into the evening session. On their return the tension proved to be even greater, but it was Justin who took the final two frames to come through a 10-9 winner.
He was not done there however as he then knocked out Tony Drago in the next round, despite seeing his experienced opponent come back from 7-2 down after the first session, to level the match at 7-7. His run however was to come to an end in the penultimate qualifying round as he lost 10-3 to China’s Liang Wenbo.
Continuing to compete as an amateur, Justin’s best result at a PTC event came at the ET6 event, where he won matches against Kishan Hirani, Andrew Norman and most impressively, top 16 player Stuart Bingham to qualify for the final stages in Munich.
As one of the strongest performers during the Q School who was unable to qualify for the circuit, Justin was also been invited to a number of full-ranking events, notably taking the scalp of Craig Steadman at the 2013 Haikou World Open qualifiers, before losing out to Mark Joyce in the second round.
Justin also won a series of matches at the World Championship qualifiers, defeating Tony Knowles, Paul Wykes and Patrick Wallace, before losing 10-8 to Paul Davison in the opening round.