Thursday, August 5, 2021

Nick Kenny: “September’s a ‘massive’ month for me.”

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Tom Beresford
Sports journalist. Non-League football reporter. YouTuber, presenter, podcast host. Previously heard on FiveLive and Love Sport Radio. Managed by Epic Sports Management
[Photography: David Gill / DG Media]

For Cwmbran’s darting ace Nick Kenny, it’s certainly been his breakthrough year on the British Darts Organisation tour.

The 26-year old Welshman has produced some fantastic form on-tour over the last few months, and the Welshman admits “September’s a massive month for me.”

With victories at the French Open and the Belgian Open, Kenny has paved his way inside the top ten in the BDO rankings.

Kenny celebrates victory at the Belgian Open

Following victories in France and Belgium, the confidence gained from those big win certainly shown in Kenny’s game and his applaudable temperament. In an impressive super league performance against Mike Grout for Pontnewydd, the 26-year old recorded an average of 109.98 in a remarkable performance.

Just last weekend, Kenny reached the second round at the BDO World Trophy in Blackburn. Most notably, Kenny enjoyed an impressive 5-0 victory over a tough competitor in Kyle McKinstry, who himself has enjoyed quite a year.

In the second round, Kenny was just edged out by Dutchman Richard Veenstra in a closely contested battle (5-4). Veenstra did go on to reach the final, eventually losing out to Welshman Jim Williams.

Moving up to ninth position in the seasonal rankings, Kenny has certainly found his form heading into the ‘business end’ of the season, and with the cut-off for the Grand Slam of Darts and the 2020 BDO World Championship fast approaching, it’s a big month ahead for the Welshman.

Following the weekend’s BDO World Trophy, Kenny reflected on the event itself and his current form: “I enjoyed it in fairness”, said Kenny.

“I was a little nervous going into the Friday afternoon session about the numbers in the crowd, but it was a solid crowd. It wasn’t packed but it was okay. In terms of my performance, I was confident that if I played my game and put Kyle under pressure, then I could win the match.

“I played consistently well in August with wins in Belgium and France, and managed to record a nice average in our super league just last Wednesday (109.98). I won the bull and got off to a good start, coming out with a really overwhelming 5-0 victory. Kyle’s so much better than how he played, maybe with me starting so well, it put him under some pressure with the short format, but nonetheless I was so pleased to win.

“On Friday evening, the crowd picked up and I returned to the venue to support Jim Williams and watch a few matches after having a walk around Blackburn. The venue’s location was brilliant and easy to get to. It was nice to catch up with ‘Wolfie’ Martin Adams and ‘Duzza’ Glen Durrant, who always speak kindly about me and my game, and give good advice.

“On Sunday against the number one seed, I had the same confident mindset and looked forward to my family watching my match from the crowd. I was ‘gutted’ to see Wayne (Warren) lose before I played, but I was feeling good and practising well. I started off really poor and then got into a great rhythm.

“At 4-3, I was sat on 56 and the dart at tops was so close. To be fair, I only then started feeling the nerves and two 45’s In the last leg cost me, but fair play to Richard (Veenstra) who went on to reach the final, but it was another one that got away. I’m really happy to pick up another 21 ranking points and solidify my seasonal position at number nine in the seasonal rankings.”

After Kenny’s impressive 5-0 win over a ‘top’ player in Northern Ireland’s Kyle McKinstry, the Welshman admits that such a heavy win over a great player will benefit his confidence moving forward, and with wins in France and Belgium, it’s given him a huge boost.

“I follow a few mates, and the BDO lads on the PDC Challenge Tour, and Kyle was awesome at the last weekend of events. In one match, he had a 113 average which is unreal. I’ve never beaten Kyle so I was ‘buzzing’ to win.

“I know that he didn’t really turn up, but I think that if he had, it would’ve still been close. My confidence has been high all season, but with that being the first TV event of the year, not many people would’ve seen me play. I’m really happy with this year, during the last month, my consistency has rewarded me with two titles, and I hope September follows suit.”

Ever since playing three-time BDO World Champion Glen Durrant on his World Championship debut back in 2017, Kenny has looked up to the Teessider, and the admiration is mutual as Durrant insists that Kenny has the temperament and the game to become a World Champion.

Glen’s a great guy”, said Kenny. “He’s been a superb BDO World Champion over the last three years. I’ve had some real battles with him on the floor as well as that first round match at Lakeside back in 2017.

Kenny and Glen Durrant (pictured above), have become close friends on the BDO tour before Durrant made the switch to the PDC in January. [Photography: David Gill / DG Media]

“He’s messaged me within minutes of my recent victories, and always comments on my successes. He’s just a genuine down-to-earth guy, and speaks very highly of me. I enjoyed his run in the World Matchplay in July, and I’m glad that he’s proven some ‘doubterswrong as the BDO in terms of talent, is underestimated by the public eye.

I sat with him on Friday night for about half an hour having a chat, and he was very positive about me and my game. I see a little bit of Glen in my game and I think that a lot of his success has been down to grit and determination. His timing in big matches is unreal, I definitely look up to him, and class him as my role model.

In terms of friends on-tour, Kenny has forged a really close friendship with Surrey’s Dave Parletti, who’s had quite an 18-month spell on the BDO circuit.

“I first met Dave at a county match the in the same year that he got picked for the England squad in 2016, and I told everyone that I’d draw him, and it would be a good game. The draw that we both predicted came to fruition.

“We both had high 96 average’s, and I won 4-3. We had a few beers afterwards and have got on like a house on fire ever since. We’ve always had a really good laugh on-tour. Dave throws the same darts as me, I’ve travelled with him and practiced.

Dave Parletti (left) and Nick Kenny (right)

“He’s unbelievable on-form, and he had an amazing year last year, especially what happened to him in Prague. He’s like a big brother to me, even though you’d think I was older (laughs). While he was in Prague, I had the phone call that he was touch and go to pull through a serious operation after his ordeal and thankfully he did.

“He’s a top mate of mine, and the way he’s played since then is remarkable. I’m hoping that he gets in the Grand Slam with a successful September, and maybe I could join him. I’m Playing pairs this weekend with him in Selsey, and I feel that if we click, then we can win it.

With the England Classic/Masters taking place in Selsey this weekend, Kenny will be looking to replicate his recent form to pick up as many points as possible heading into the business end of the season.

“I’ve been looking forward to every event this year”, said Kenny. “Selsey’s always a really enjoyable weekend. I’m hoping to play as I did the last time I was there. September is a massive month for me.”

Being a proud Welshman, Kenny admits that Welsh darts is in a great place. With the likes of Jim Williams, himself and Wayne Warren playing so well on the BDO tour, and Gerwyn Price and Jonny Clayton playing so well in the PDC.

“I’m really proud to be Welsh”, Kenny added. “I’m pleased for Jim following his recent successes, and Wayne is someone that I travel and room with, and is another close friend of mine. ‘We’ve’ got three players inside the top 10 of the BDO rankings, and two in the top 16 of PDC with ‘Gezzy’ (Price) being a Grand Slam of Darts winner, and arguably at one point, the best player on the planet.

Welsh darts is very healthy as a whole, and I hope it continues. I’m hoping that Dean Reynolds returns to the top, and also wish Jamie Lewis and Mark Webster all the best on the PDC tour along with all the other Welsh players.

Kenny’s journey all started whilst playing on the PDC Development Tour, and the Welshman admits that it’s really helped him progress through the ranks, and admits that playing against the best players can only improve your game.

It definitely improves your game”, said Kenny. “2014 for me, was a breakthrough year in which I won two events. I grew up playing the likes of Van Gerwen, Smith, Cullen, Monk and Hubbard.

“At one stage, I was probably considered one of the best on the tour, but the standard in my era was top-class. I’d love to have seen DartConnect statistics around when I was playing, as I feel that I played some of my best darts on the tour.

“As for PDC tour-card holders playing on the Development Tour, when I played, they didn’t allow players in the top 32 to compete. It didn’t bother me, I remember beating Benito (van de Pas) a few times, and had some amazing battles with Jeffrey de Zwaan. These days, it doesn’t bother me what they do, but what I do know is that playing better players makes you a better player.”

During the early days of Kenny’s BDO career, the Welshman played on both the BDO circuit and the PDC Development Tour, I asked the Cwnbran-based star just how tough it was to compete on the BDO tour, and how rewarding it can be. Dean Reynolds won a PDC tour-card through the Development Tour back in 2017, but decided to decline it and compete on the BDO tour instead.

“Towards the end, I had to pick and choose what to do and actually wanted my welsh place over the development tour financial rewards”, said Kenny. “I was confident that I could progress (as I done), so although it was hard , I don’t have any regrets.

“I spoke with Dean (Reynolds) at the time, and ultimately it was his choice. I think he did what was best for him. Winning on the BDO tour is much harder than people think. You play 8-9 games in some events and play in difficult venues where people are on holiday and not there to try and pick up world ranking points.

“We’re all each to our own in reality although we all get on well. The recent BDO announcements are very positive, and I think that next year’s World Trophy could be a sell out. I’m looking forward to the future.

“The PDC is way above the rest in terms of set up and structure, but I feel that there are many players who could do well in the PDC in the BDO. The BDO world trophy was a success and I’m happy moving forward.”

Speaking of the recent changes in terms of the BDO board, officials and venues, Kenny’s been impressed with the changes, and is looking forward to the future.

“With three events televised for three years with Eurosport, the future’s bright”, said Kenny. “The 02 indigo will bring in new fans, and I’m hoping new sponsors come onboard. I hope that with the new season starting very soon that all events are lined up, and rules are set in place. Therefore sponsors know where they stand, and players can plan ahead without the risk of financial loss.”

Kenny also reflected on the early days of his darting career, and and when he first took the sport seriously.

“As a youngster, I loved practising. My Dad thought I was good at around 11-12, and as a 13-year old, I went to the England Youth Open in Breen, where I defeated a 17 year-old Ross Smith, and just lost out to Cameron Menzies.

“From then on, Super League and County B and A, Welsh Youth and Europe cup Youth winner. I travelled a little for a social interest before getting to the last 16 at the World Masters beating O’Shea, Hankey and Waites before losing to ‘Wolfie’ Martin Adams.

Kenny reached the Semi-Finals at the BDO World Trophy in Barry, Wales, back in 2017, losing out to fellow Welshman Martin Phillips.

“I was known for playing for the Welsh national team, and my Development Tour success that year, but I then picked up a sponsor and travelled the BDO circuit, winning my first major at the International Open, I realised my potential especially after having darts to beat Mark McGeeney on TV at the World Trophy.

“Now I’m a good month away from the Grand Slam of Darts, and although it will be tough, I’m confident that I can get there.”

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