Hendry, Stephen

▪ 2000

      Throughout the 1990s, Stephen Hendry ruled snooker as few had ever done before. In 1996, with an 18–12 victory over Peter Ebdon, Hendry claimed his sixth world championship, a feat only two other players (Ray Reardon in the 1970s and Steve Davis in the 1980s) had achieved in the modern era. Following that win, Hendry's career declined. After being ranked number one in the world for eight consecutive seasons, he lost the top ranking with a first-round loss in the 1998 world championship. He had also lost in the final in 1997, snapping a string of 30 straight wins in that event. Hendry, however, inspired by his own desire to become the first player in the modern era to win seven world championships, rose to the top again in 1999.

      Hendry was born Jan. 13, 1969, in Edinburgh. In 1984, at age 15, he became the youngest Scottish amateur snooker champion in history. He turned pro the following year and in 1987 became the youngest player ever to win a tournament, the Grand Prix. At the end of the 1989–90 season, Hendry, at 21 years 106 days, topped Jimmy White 18–12 to become the youngest world champion ever. He claimed the number one ranking in 1990 and held it until White defeated him at the world championship in 1998. From March 1990 to January 1991, Hendry won five straight titles and 36 consecutive matches to post the longest unbeaten string in the sport's history. He repeated as world champ for five straight years from 1992 to 1996. A series of records fell in his wake. He became the first player ever to score the maximum of 147 three times in tournament play, recording his first 147 in 1992 and two more in 1995; he then added one in 1997 and another in 1998. His seven centuries in the final of the 1994 U.K. championship also set a record.

      After the 1996 world championship, Hendry slipped. He reached rock bottom in a 9–0 loss to Marcus Campbell, a relative unknown, at the U.K. championship in November 1998. At age 30 (seven years younger than Reardon was when he won the first of his six world titles) Hendry considered retirement, but he persevered, working with former coach Frank Callan. Victories in the Scottish Open and the Irish Masters rebuilt his confidence, and at the 1999 world championship he survived a tough draw that included the number four and number nine players in the world to reach the final, in which he defeated Mark Williams 18–11. Once again, Hendry was setting records, with an unprecedented seventh world title and his 31st ranking title. He had pushed his career earnings past £6.2 million (about $10 million) and by November had reclaimed his number one ranking.

Anthony G. Craine

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Universalium. 2010.