Name: Stuart Pettman
DOB: 24th April 1975
Turned Pro: 1992
Highest Ranking: #35 (2010/11)
Highest Break: 142 x2 (2001 Thailand Masters, 2009 China Open Qualifiers)
Career Highlights: 2009 China Open semi-finalist, Qualified for the 2003, 2004 & 2010 World Championship, 2005 Malta Cup, 2005 Grand Prix and 2007 Shanghai Masters Last 16
Since turning professional in 1992, Stuart was an ever-present on the main tour until his relegation at the end of the 2010/11 season. It was not though his 11th last 32 match in a ranking event that he was able to win one, that coming at the 2005 Malta Cup against Paul Hunter before he lost to Steve Davis in the next round.
Following that run Stuart made the last 16 on two further occasions, coming unstuck against David Gray at the 2005 Grand Prix and Stuart Bingham at the 2007 Shanghai Masters. He improved on all of these results over in Beijing in 2009 however as he reached the semi-finals of the China Open before going down 6-1 to Peter Ebdon.
As far as the World Championship was concerned, Stuart qualified for the final stages at the Crucible on three occasions, in 2003, 2004 and most recently in 2010.
In 2003 he defeated Rod Lawler, Shokat Ali and Dave Harold to qualify before suffering a 10-2 hammering at the hands of eventual winner Mark Williams. Hhe again struggled on his second appearance where having beaten future world champion Shaun Murphy and Grand Prix winner Marco Fu to qualify, he was brushed aside by seven times champion Stephen Hendry, again by a 10-2 scoreline.
Despite a run to the last 16 in Shanghai and an impressive tournament at the Grand Prix, Stuart ended the 2007/8 season ranked down in 62nd place, his lowest position since 2000.
He began 2008/9 ranked up in 51st place on the provisional list however and by reaching the last 32 stage of the first two tournaments of the season, ensured early on that his tour status would be safe for another season.
Though his form dipped slightly in the middle part of the season, an opening round win in the qualifying stages of the World Championship ensured that he would return to the top 48 in the rankings and so reduce the amount of qualifying matches that he would need to win during 2009/10 in order to qualify for venues.
China Open Breakthrough
The best was still to come however at the China Open (which he had already qualified for back in January with wins over Peter Lines, Alan McManus and Steve Davis), as in Beijing he enjoyed the best run of his long career.
Having come through the potential banana skin of his wildcard match against Cao Yupeng, Stuart then defeated Mark Allen to reach the last 16 of a ranking event for only the fourth time in his career where he would face Ali Carter, the man who had just won his first ranking event title and was the form player on the tour. winning that match to progress to the quarter-finals for the first time in his career, many then expected that his run would be ended there by a resurgent Graeme Dott but Stuart was flying and raced to a 5-2 victory to reach his first semi-final.
Though this did prove to be one match too far as he went down 6-1 to Peter Ebdon, it was a terrific tournament from Stuart one that ensured he would rise 25 places in the rankings, more than any other player during 2008/9.
After the highs of 2008/9, Stuart experienced a tough start to the following 2009/10 season as he won just one of his opening four ranking event matches and failed to make a venue as a result.
He was though to make a third appearance at the Crucible Theatre following qualifying victories against David Roe and then Stuart Bingham at the EIS in Sheffield. Having lost heavily during his previous two appearances at the Crucible however, 2010 was to prove even worse as he suffered a 10-1 hammering at the hands of China’s Ding Junhui.
Stuart experienced a quiet start to the 2010/11 season as he opted not to compete during the majority of the PTC events and saw his ranking slip to 45th at the season’s seedings revision as a result. His cause was not helped by an agonising defeat to Stephen Maguire at the World Open during a match in which he had a number of opportunities to win, one missed green during the deciding frame in particular.
Stuart during his final match at the 2011 World Championship qualifiers
We might not have known it at the time but this result coupled with his heavy defeat at the Crucible earlier in the year was to prove the trigger for Stuart’s decision to retire from the sport at the end of the season. This being the case it was perhaps inevitable that Stuart’s levels of motivation during the rest of the season were not at their highest and having opted not to enter a number of the PTC events as well as the German Masters, he finished the season ranked 77th.
Click here to read my interview with Stuart on his career and his book from March 2011.