The World Women’s Snooker Tour (WWS) continues from next Tuesday with the staging of the first-ever Asia-Pacific Women’s Snooker Championship.
To be held at the Mounties Club in Sydney, Australia, the will be the final competition held prior to the upcoming World Women’s Snooker, with the updated ranking list to be used to seed the group stage draw in Thailand.
With a bumper field of 28 players – the most for a WWS event in Australia, surpassing the numbers at the three stagings of the Australian Women’s Open to date, it is set to be another fantastic four days of snooker.
Among the field are new world number two Mink Nutcharut and three-time world champion Ng On Yee, who are joined by Under-21 number one Ploychompoo Laokiatphong from the top 10 in Australia.
The seeds are completed by World Cup winner Siripaporn Nuanthakhamjan and Hong Kong’s Ho Yee Ki, as well as home favourites Jessica Woods and Lilly Meldrum.
For the first time, there is also set to be an Under-21 tournament held in Australia which features four players, including top seeds Laokiatphong and Meldrum.
The main competition will see all 28 players start in the group stage, separated into seven groups of four.
Thailand’s Mink Nutcharut heads to Australia looking to complete a hat-trick of victories on the WWS Tour for the first time following wins at the Eden Masters and Belgian Women’s Open since November.
The 23-year-old will also know that a run to the quarter-finals on Thursday will be enough to see her rise to top spot in the official WWS rankings for the first time in her career, eclipising current number one Reanne Evans who has reigned since April 2019.
She will be joined in her group by Dianne Spring and Linda Larrea of Australia, as well as Agnes Kimura of New Zealand. Both Spring and Kimura have reached the last 16 stage of previous ranking tournaments held at Mounties.
Australian number one Jessica Woods leads Group B and will be hoping to go one better than her run to the final of the Australian Women’s Open back in October.
The 29-year-old – who also made the highest break of the WWS season (120) to date during her final run – will begin her campaign in a multinational group that includes former ranking event quarter-finalists Yee Ting Cheung (Hong Kong) and Xuejun Alice Wu (China).
The group is completed by Kimberley Cullen of New Zealand, who reached the last 16 of the 2019 Australian Women’s Open on her only previous Tour appearance.
Former world number one Ng On Yee will be hoping to bounce back from her quarter-final exit at last week’s Belgian Women’s Open with a strong performance at the Asia-Pacific Women’s Championship.
A winner at the Mounties venue in 2018, Ng is without a title on the World Women’s Snooker Tour so far this season and will begin her quest for silverware in a group that includes Australia’s Kylie Bellinger, who reached the last 16 of the Australian Women’s Open in 2019.
Also in the group are two debutants, with home player Sharon Benson set to join Jade Cullen of New Zealand.
World number nine Ploychompoo Laokiatphong is set to make her debut in Australia having missed out on the three previous ranking events staged in the country.
The 20-year-old talent from Thailand has previously reached three ranking event semi-finals and will get her week underway in an interesting group which also includes Man Yan So of Hong Kong, who herself reached the last four in Australia back in 2019.
Joining the established Tour duo are Australian pair Di Merritt and Tea Smith, with the latter ready to make her Tour debut.
Another top ranked player who will compete in Australia for the first time will be Thailand’s Siripaporn Nuanthakhamjan, with the 23-year-old looking to close down the gap to the world’s top 10 in the latest rankings.
Currently ranked 15, the former World Cup winner is regarded by many as one of the most talented up and coming youngsters on the circuit.
She has been handed a youthful group that includes three of the five players also due to compete in the Under-21 Championship, with Mia Newman, Roxie Cooper and Natahsa Chethan all set to make their Tour debuts this weekend.
The penultimate group in the draw will see the return of 14-year-old prodigy Lilly Meldrum to the Tour following her career-best semi-final run at last year’s Australian Women’s Open tournament.
Having previously impressed at the 2022 World Championship held in England, the Australian player will be hoping to add further ranking points to her tally with a potential top 32 place in reach ahead of next month’s trip to Thailand.
Awaiting her will be Scotland’s Louise Foster – who will be the only player from Europe in the field having joined the Tour at last October’s Scottish Open – plus Maria Paul-Bennett and Temple Gealey, both of New Zealand.
Gealey returns to the circuit for the first time in over 20 years after her appearance at the 2002 World Championship.
Ho Yee Ki of Hong Kong is the seeded player in the seventh and final group as she looks to build on her quarter-final run at the UK Championship earlier this season.
Awaiting the 36-year-old will be a group that includes 2019 Australian Open quarter-finalist Carlie Tait of Australia, alongside her compatriot Christine Firth and finally Louise Kerr of New Zealand.
Alongside the main competition, there will also be a side-tournament staged for the five Under-21 players in the draw, including current junior number one Ploychompoo Laokiatphong, who is unbeaten in the Junior category since the 2019 Eden Masters.
She will be joined in a knockout draw that includes Lilly Meldrum, Mia Newman, Roxie Cooper and India’s Natahsa Chethan.
The action gets underway next Tuesday from 10:00am AEDT with the latest match results and standings available via WPBSA SnookerScores.