DORSET’S Paul Wykes is preparing for an ambitious tilt at reaching the Mecca of snooker – just months after dusting off his cue following a two-year break from the sport.

The former professional, who lives in Tuckton and now runs his own wealth management company, is hoping to qualify for next month’s World Championships in Sheffield.

Wykes once reached 41st in the world rankings and was in the top-64 for 13 years. He spent 16 years on the circuit and made the last 16 in four major tournaments.

He said his appetite was whetted for another shot at the big time after he had won the Dorset Open at the Ambassador Club in Poole recently – and following a family discussion.

“I have got two sons who have never seen me play professionally,” said Wykes, who will next month meet Finland’s Robin Hull in the first of seven qualifiers for a place at the Crucible. “Bearing in mind I spent 16 years on the main tour, I thought that was ludicrous.

“We had a family chat about it and I decided to give it a go. They will both come with me to the qualifiers and are over the moon about that. I really want to do it for myself and it will be nice for my sons to see me play for the first time in a professional envi ronment as well.”

Wykes, father to 13-year-old Samuel and Lewis, who is 10, has been practicing every morning before work at the St James’s Institute in Southbourne.

“It has always been a dream of mine to play at the Crucible,” added the 41-year-old. “I know it is a long shot but I am going to give it my best. The standard is the highest it has ever been and there are some very good players on the circuit.

“I got my cue out for the first time in two years a couple of months ago and won the Dorset Open against some good amateurs. That was nice to start the ball rolling. I have been practicing hard and am playing quite well.

“I have kept my pro ticket and have kept up my subscription. This is the last year that non-tour pros can enter the World Championships. I have missed it for the past couple of years and am looking forward to giving it another go.

“I have reached the last qualifying round twice and the Crucible is the only major venue I have never played at. I came off the main tour in 2007 and have played hardly since then. I have got my own business now and this is just a break from the norm to see if I have still got it.

“I am not saying it is just a bit of fun because I am going to take it really seriously. Whatever happens, it won’t be the start of a big comeback – but, hopefully, it will be a glorious swansong!”