CHRIS Aubrey knows he needs to take his sport more seriously if he is to maintain his position as one of darts’ rising stars.

The Swindon player has been one of the most consistent performers on the PDC Youth Tour in recent years which attracted the attention of five-time major winner James Wade who offered him a lucrative sponsorship deal through Modus Darts.

Despite struggling through 2013, Aubrey has maintained his relationship with Wade and has now switched from former equipment sponsor Red Dragon back to Unicorn, with whom he enjoyed the bulk of his success in previous years.

Aubrey has begun the new year well, qualifying for the UK Open this weekend having played well throughout the qualifying campaign before drawing either Lionel Sams or Carl Green in the first round, but knows he needs to show a new level of dedication if he is to become an established player on tour.

“To be honest 2013 is a year I have to forget about because it really wasn’t good at all for my standards,” he said.

“I have to look forward to what’s ahead and I’m sure I can do that because this stuff with Unicorn is like a new lease of life for me.

“When I first started playing well I was using Unicorn stuff and I’m going back to it now so you really never know what can happen.

“I do need to take things a lot more seriously now and after chatting to my manager he said ‘it’s not a game, it’s a business’ and he’s right.

“You look at people like Michael van Gerwen and he’s won £1.3million in 16 months and his life changed in the space of a year. Things can change and you never know what’s round the corner.

“I have to put the work and the effort in and get on with things to try and put things right.

“I’ve spent more time on the board recently than I have for a while and have been doing a lot of good work with Mark Cox to prepare for this tournament.

“I played pretty well in the qualifiers, although I only picked up money in one event, and I’ve been working hard and I’m glad it’s paying off.”

The switch to Unicorn is also set to bring about a change of darts for Aubrey, but the youngster isn’t expect the switch to cause him any issues.

“My darts I’m using at the moment are the same ones I’ve been using for quite a while now but what Unicorn will do is they will make me a set of darts almost exactly the same as ones I have now,” he said.

“They might make some changes to the barrels or put some colouring in the grooves but they will be exactly the same as the ones I have now so it shouldn’t be a problem at all for me and I can carry on as normal.”