Wymondham darts player James Hubbard qualifys for PDC World Matchplay Championships
Wymondham darts player James Hubbard has taken another giant step in his fledgling career by qualifying for the PDC World Matchplay Championships in Blackpool later this month.
The 19-year-old got the three wins he needed at the European Darts Open in Dusseldorf over the weekend to take his place amongst the game's elite when they gather at the Winter Gardens on July 21.
Hubbard admitted to owing Lady Luck a huge debt in securing his place when in his third round match against Steve Brown, his opponent missed six darts at a double, allowing the teenager to snatch the deciding leg and a 6-5 victory.
'I'm over the moon – I went there knowing that if I won three matches then I would have a good chance of qualifying for the Matchplay,' said Hubbard, who eventually bowed out in the quarter-finals, losing 6-2 to Richie Burnett. 'I rode my luck a little bit, especially against Steve (Brown) but sometimes it goes like that and it's up to me to build on it.'
Hubbard believes qualifying for the Matchplay is the biggest achievement of his career so far, eclipsing his victory at the PDC World Youth Championship last year.
'Winning the World Youth Championships was a big thing for me but qualifying for the World Matchplay is harder than the World Championships,' he added. 'You've got the top 16 players in the world and then outside of that you have to be one of the top 16 players from this year.
'It's definitely the best thing that I've done in the game so far and I feel like I am playing well.'
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Hubbard has been drawn against world number five Wes Newton in the first round and he admits he will have to come to terms with taking on the local favourite.
'It's not a bad draw – but he is from Fleetwood so he's going to have a lot of support,' he said. 'I would not be surprised if I come out to boos to be honest, which will be new for me.
'I've shown that what I can do in the past but it is very different playing big players in front of the television cameras – it's a completely different experience but one I'm hoping to enjoy.
Hubbard's star continues to rise with many commentators in the game marking him out as one to watch following his defeat of world champion Adrian Lewis at a European Tour round in Berlin. He is not letting his recent success go to his head though and feels he has merely been able to take advantage of the opportunities put before him.
'I think it's all about timing – there are lots of people from different sports with the same amount of ability as I've got who never get the chance to show what they can do,' he said. 'But if you do get a chance then you have to make your own success and seize your chance. I got my chance by winning the World Youth Championships and it's all gone on from there.'