Posts by: Matt Huart

Vasiljeva Takes Positives From Fu Encounter

Latvia’s Tatjana Vasiljeva lost 4-1 to Marco Fu today in the opening round of the 2016 Kasperksy Riga Masters.

The 32-year-old received a wildcard to the first event of the 2016/17 professional calendar and was handed a tricky draw against this year’s Crucible semi-finalist Marco Fu.

The WLBS world number five impressed onlookers however, taking the second frame of the match and only narrowly losing the final two frames, both on the last black.

Vasiljeva though was happy with her performance: “I felt strong and not scared. I missed a pink in the 4th frame, maybe I should have played safe instead or trying to play a double. In the next frame I missed a red and it was a frame ball for me.

“But I liked the way I played. It’s an amazing feeling when you are competing with one of the best players in the world and feel competitive. I enjoyed playing Marco, he is a great player with a very good attitude. Not bad for the first time playing in a major event – I definitely want to come back.”

WLBS Announces 2016/17 Calendar

World Ladies Billiards and Snooker (WLBS) has today announced its provisional calendar for the 2016/17 Women’s World Ranking Series.

For the first time since 1995 the Eden Ladies World Championship will be held outside of the UK, at the Lagoon Billiard Room in Toa Payoh, Singapore.

The season will begin with the Paul Hunter Ladies Classic, a new event in Fürth, Germany which will run alongside the long-standing World Snooker Tour professional competition. The early rounds of the event will be played at a separate venue, with the semi-finals and final to be played at the Stadthalle.

The event will be followed by the LITEtask UK Ladies Championship in Leeds and the Eden Ladies Open Championship at the Cueball in Derby, before the one-day Connie Gough Memorial Trophy returns to Dunstable.

Following the Eden Ladies World Championship in Singapore, the season will conclude with the LITEtask World Festival of Ladies Snooker in Leeds, which will include mixed pairs, ladies doubles, seniors and under-21 competitions, as well as an innovative new 10 reds format competition.

WLBS President Mandy Fisher said: “I am delighted with our first calendar of events as the newly-formed WLBS and am really looking forward to the start of the season. This is the beginning of a great future for the ladies game and I would like to thank Eden Resources, LITEtask and the Northern Snooker Centre Leeds for their continued support.”

WPBSA Chairman Jason Ferguson said: “Today’s announcement marks the beginning of our efforts to engage more women and girls to take up competitive snooker. Fundamental to the growth of WLBS is that players all over the world have the opportunity to compete and the events in Germany and Singapore mark a new beginning. It is our view that engagement with the regional and national governing body network will see more women stars emerge and compete for place on the open to all, World Snooker Tour.“

The WLBS has also unveiled new branding to be used from the start of the 2016/17 season, including a purple logo design based upon that previously seen at World Snooker Ladies Day.

Vasiljeva to Play in Riga Masters

WLBS world number five Tatjana Vasijeva has received a wildcard to the 2016 Kasperksy Riga Masters.

Winner of the European Ladies Championship in 2012, 32-year-old Vasiljeva is Latvia’s most successful ladies player and recently reached the semi-finals of the WLBS World Championship in Leeds.

She has been drawn to play world number 12 Marco Fu in her last 128 match, which will be held over to the venue stages of the event in Riga which will run from 22-24 June 2016.

Her appearance will be the first at the televised stages of a ranking event since Reanne Evans successfully qualified for the 2013 Wuxi Classic.

Having previously formed part of snooker’s European Tour series, for the first time the event in Latvia will become a full-ranking event on the World Snooker Tour.

The total prize money for the tournament will increase from €125,000 to €200,000. The winner’s prize for next season’s Kaspersky Riga Masters will be doubled to €50,000.

Ladies Day 2016 – First and latest World Champion united

This Tuesday saw Ladies Day successfully staged for the fourth successive year at the World Snooker Championship in Sheffield.

Led by WPBSA World Snooker coaches Andrew Highfield and Dannie Findlay, there were opportunities for members of the public to try snooker at the Cue Zone in the Winter Garden.

The day was supported by players from the World Ladies Billiards and Snooker (“WLBS”) tour, including 11-times world champion Reanne Evans.

Activities included a coaching masterclass delivered by Andrew Highfield and doubles competitions involving members of the public, as well as a 60-second challenge competition won by Latvia’s Tatjana Vasiljeva.

There was also a special appearance by Vera Selby MBE, winner of the first ever World Ladies Championship held in 1976 and again in 1981. The 86-year-old from Gosforth played a few shots with Reanne Evans and both appeared with presenter Hazel Irvine on BBC television.

The event supported Bluebell Wood Trust, official charity partner of World Snooker at the World Championship.

To learn more about ladies snooker and how you can get involved visit http://www.wlbsl.com/

Ladies Day Returns to Sheffield

The fourth annual Ladies Day will take place in Sheffield at the Winter Garden on the 26th April 2016 during the Betfred World Snooker Championship.

First introduced by World Snooker’s governing body the WPBSA in 2013, the initiative aims to encourage women to participate in snooker, as players, fans or officials.

Run by WPBSA World Snooker coach Andrew Highfield, activities will include a coaching masterclass, snooker relay event, a trick shot challenge and special doubles competitions featuring world ladies players and members of the public.

There will also be a 60 second challenge event involving girls who currently participate in the WPBSA’s Cue Zone into Schools programme, with coaching from female players on site.

Women of all ages are encouraged to come along and receive coaching, whether they are snooker novices or experienced players.

“It is great that World Snooker is again supporting World Ladies Billiards and Snooker (WLBS) by staging Ladies Day at the World Championship for a fourth time,” said WLBS director and former ladies world champion Mandy Fisher.

“It is a great opportunity for the general public to see WLBS players in action and for them to see the high level of women’s snooker first hand,” continued Fisher. “We will have a great mixture of nationalities on display on the day and we will be engaging the public to play alongside the WLBS players in various sessions throughout the day.

“These are exciting times as ladies snooker begins its journey under the governance of the WPBSA and we have been working hard on plans for the future. We hope with more exposure we receive from days like Ladies Day, along with support from the WPBSA and World Snooker that WLBS can reach and appeal to a new generation of female snooker players.

“It is also great to be able to support such a great charity as Bluebell Wood Hospice on the day and I encourage everyone to come down and have some fun on the day either watching WLBS players in action or playing alongside them in the Cue Zone area whilst supporting a great cause at the same time.”

WPBSA Chairman Jason Ferguson added: “We are one of the few sports that allows both male and female players to compete on an equal basis. As a sport that is about technique, skill, concentration, hard work and discipline, we operate a world snooker open tour, irrespective of where people come from. Ladies Day is about recognising that and getting that message across.

“We have engaged now formally with the WLBS as an organisation to encourage and increase participation in ladies snooker. We have seen through our Cue Zone into Schools programme that there is a real will from girls to take up the sport. Not everybody wants to play football or tennis or the regular sports that are being played in schools and we want to offer another opportunity to all.

“Ladies day is a celebration and we hope year on year to be able to bring more news about how more and more women have got involved in snooker.”

The event will also raise money for World Snooker’s official charity, Bluebell Wood Children’s Hospice in Rotherham. Fans are encouraged to wear purple, the colour of Bluebell Wood’s logo, and a selection of cakes will be on sale with money from every sale going to the hospice.

The following 10 WLBS players will be in action on Ladies Day:

Reanne Evans, 11times World Champion (England)

Jessica Woods, Oceanian Champion 2016 (Australia)

Kathy Howden (Australia)

Irina Gorbataya (Russia)

Sandra Bryan (Ireland)

Tatjana Vasiljeva (Latvia)

Diana Schuler (Germany)

Vicky Shirley (England)

Suzie Opacic (England)

Jodie Allen (England)

Michelle Brown (England)

Evans Regains Ladies Crown

Reanne Evans won the WLBS Eden Resources World Championship for the 11th time by beating Ng On Yee 6-4 in the final in Leeds.

Evans won the tournament ten consecutive times from 2005 to 2014, until her run ended last year when she lost to Hong Kong’s On Yee in the semi-finals. The 30-year-old from Dudley has now regained the crown.

Defending champion On Yee led the final 3-1 after a break of 72 in frame four, but Evans hit back to 3-3. On Yee took the seventh frame but Evans finished strongly by winning three in a row to capture the trophy.

World number one Evans, who has now won the last four WLBS ranking events, said: “I am over the moon. I am glad to win the title back and now the trophy is back in England where it belongs. There was more pressure on On Yee than me this year. I know how difficult it is being defending champion, but I just wanted to play alright.

“I struggled a little bit, kept fighting and thought that if I stuck in there my safety would let me have a few chances. When it went 4-4 I thought if I could get in front, it would get me going and I wouldn’t fancy losing after that. In the end I felt like I was cueing alright and I enjoyed it. I am really pleased to come away with the trophy.”

On Yee, who dropped just one frame on her way to a third consecutive final, said: “It was a good game, she played well today. I was a bit nervous as defending champion but I enjoyed the game. I am now focused on my match against Peter Lines in Sheffield and looking forward to the challenge.”

On Yee now heads to Ponds Forge in Sheffield to take part in the Betfred World Championship qualifiers – she starts her opening match against Lines at 2.30pm on Wednesday.

For all the results click here.

Here come the girls

The 2016 Eden Resources World Ladies Championship in Association with Northern Snooker Centre will be held between 31st March and 5th April in Leeds.

Staged by the sport’s newly restructured governing body, World Ladies Billiards and Snooker (WLBS), the event is arguably the most eagerly anticipated edition of the sport’s biggest tournament in recent years.

For the last decade it has been Dudley’s Reanne Evans who has reigned supreme over the ladies game, winning the tournament on a record ten successive occasions from 2005-2014.

Last year however saw the world number one suffer a shock defeat at the World Championship, falling 4-2 to Hong Kong’s Ng On Yee at the semi-final stage, the 24-year-old going on to defeat Emma Bonney and win the biggest tournament of her career to date.

Following her big win, On Yee repeated her victory against Evans to win the UK Championship last September and prove that her world title success was no accident, although it is Evans who has now won the three most recent events (Eden Masters, Connie Gough Memorial and Eden Classic), as she prepares to try and win back the world crown in Leeds.

In a change to the format for 2016, the top eight seeded players will be automatically seeded through to the knockout stages, with the remaining players required to come through a two-day round robin phase to complete the last 16.

This means that the likes of Evans and On Yee, as well as other top ranked players including four-time World Championship runner-up Maria Catalano, 2015 finalist Emma Bonney and Latvia’s Tatjana Vasiljeva can focus on the final two days of the main event.

The main World Championship tournament is however just one of the competitions that will be staged over the course of a six day World Festival of Ladies snooker.

During the first two days of the event there will be a ladies pairs event (won last year by Reanne Evans and Jasmin Bolsover) and a mixed pairs event (won by Reanne Evans and Michael Holt).

In tandem with the round robin matches there will also be seniors (won by Jenny Poulter last year), and under-21 competitions (won by Jasmine Bolsover) played at the Northern Snooker Centre, with a plate event, also won in 2015 by Woking’s Bolsover.

Members of the public are welcome to come and watch all events, while live updates will be posted via the website www.WLBS.com, Twitter and Facebook.

Click here for more information and here to see the winners of 2015.

Please contact WLBS Marketing Officer Diana Schuler for any questions you might have

Text: www.WPBSA.com

On Yee Named ‘Best of the Best’

Reigning WLBS world ladies champion Ng On Yee was named ‘Best of the Best’ at the prestigious Hong Kong Sports Star Awards on Monday evening.

On Yee, who became world champion for the first time in her career last April, emerged victorious at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre in Wan Chai, from an initial field of 34 candidates who had been nominated by their respective associations. The 25-year-old became the first non-cyclist to win the prestigious award for seven years, ending the three-year reign of Sarah Lee Wai-sze.

She told the South China Morning Post: “I am very happy to have had a lot people supporting me so that I can overcome hurdle after hurdle to achieve the many good results on the international stage.

“As a player, I enjoy a lot of benefits in training and competitions but this could not have happened without the hard work and contributions of many former snooker players in Hong Kong. I owe them a lot.

“I will be spending a lot more time in England this year and the road ahead will be much more difficult against many top professionals, but I will keep learning to become a better player.”

The world number two is currently preparing for the defence of her world title with the 2016 Eden Resources World Championship due to begin on 31st March 2016 at the Northern Snooker Centre in Leeds.

She has also been invited to participate in the 2016 Betfred World Championship, with the qualifying tournament to run from 6-13 April 2016 at Ponds Forge, Sheffield. The draw is to be made after the seeding revision following the conclusion of the China Open.

Text by www.wpbsa.com

Laura Evans playing snooker

Good Evans

When it comes to ladies snooker, most would associate the sport with its star player, ten time world champion and current world number one Reanne Evans.

There is however another Evans on the baize, 30-year old Laura Evans from Neath, West Glamorgan, who made her return to the World Ladies Billiards and Snooker (WLBS) tour at the Eden Masters event last December.

A fan of Stephen Hendry as she grew up in the 1990s, Laura began to play snooker at the age of 14.

“I used to play in my local club with my friends,” said Evans. “A coach at the time came up to me and told me that I had a natural cue action and asked if I would like any coaching, so it went on from there really.

“I started to enter the Welsh ladies tournaments and won my first event when I was 15. Then I started to enter world ladies events the next year and used to practice for about six hours a day at that time.”

Evans enjoyed success during her early career, winning the Welsh Ladies Championship on three successive occasions. She also competed with world stars including five-time world champion Kelly Fisher in the game’s biggest events, peaking at number eight in the world rankings, before the ladies game was hit by changes to legislation concerning tobacco advertising in 2003 which left Evans out of the sport.

A decade on, however, with the ladies game moving back in the right direction and her love of the game undiminished, Evans made the decision to return in 2014.

“I initially entered a few tournaments and got back into it,” explained Evans. “I’ve recently started to play in my local club (the Star Snooker Club in Skewen) and my first tournament back in 2015 was the Eden Masters in Cambridge before Christmas.”

It proved to be a comeback to remember as she made it through to the final of a WLBS event for the first time in her career, notably defeating reigning world and UK champion Ng On Yee along the way at the quarter-final stage:

“It was really good, I couldn’t believe it,” she said. “I was chuffed with that one but she took it really well to be fair. She’s a really lovely girl; she congratulated me and said that I had done really well. Some people would have just walked out but she is really nice.”

Although her namesake and snooker hero Reanne would prove to be too strong for her in the final, winning 5-0 with an impressive pot success percentage of 95%, Laura, who herself has a high break of 139 to her name in practice, will be sponsored by Darren and Emma’s Catering for the final three events of the season and in particular is looking forward to the 2016 World Championship in Leeds.

“I am not sure how many have entered the World Championship,” said Evans. “But I know that there is a girl from Australia coming and girls from Hong Kong. They come from pretty much everywhere. It’s nice to see new faces and different talents from around the world and to see how good they are.

“I am hoping to do well and am going to get my head down now. I have been practising hard and I try to practise for about four hours a day when I am not at work, but I think I need to put a bit more into it now before the next two events.

“I feel like at the moment I am playing really well in practice but it’s not happening in my tournaments. I think it’s just lack of match play that I am missing out right now and the more I enter, the more confident I’ll be.”

Away from the baize, Evans works as a support worker for women with mental health problems but one day hopes that ladies snooker will grow to a point where she and other players are able to make a living from snooker:

“Ladies snooker has been up and down, moving forward then back,” continued Evans. “But now they are working really hard to promote it as much as they can. A few of the girls played in an exhibition with two of the professional lads (Mark Selby and Shaun Murphy) recently and that went really well.”

Indeed, Evans feels that the ladies game is currently moving in the right direction and that snooker is now becoming more accessible to women:

“It’s easier now,” said Evans. “Years ago a lot of places wouldn’t let ladies in but they are alright now, times have changed and more women do go into snooker halls. Times have changed for the better. More women will now play because snooker is more open to them.”

Being from Neath, Evans is one of many talented snooker players to emerge from the area, with four from South Wales competing in the Ladbrokes World Grand Prix this week.

“Years ago I used to practise with Michael White, but I think he was about nine then,” recalled Evans. “Also Jamie Jones and Dominic Dale used to play where I did.

“You could see that they were going to go far if they kept it up, Michael had a hundred break when he was nine and Jamie was just brilliant.

“A lot of us used to play at a club called the Empire which closed in 2010, but back in the day loads of really good players used to go there.”

Nevertheless, Evans continues to love the game as much as ever and in particular the camaraderie on the circuit.

“We have quite a close group and there is good banter,” she added. “We all get on really well and it’s nice to see each other and have a laugh. It’s serious on the table obviously but there are no hard feelings after a game and we have a really nice bunch of girls.”

On Yee To Play In Betfred World Championship

Reigning world ladies snooker champion Ng On Yee has qualified to take up a place in the qualifying rounds of this year’s Betfred World Snooker Championship.

On-Yee, 25, from Hong Kong, became the first non-British winner of the World Ladies Snooker Championship last year and is now set to play in the sport’s biggest event at Ponds Forge International Centre in Sheffield in April. She will need to win three qualifying matches to reach the televised stages at the Crucible Theatre.

On-Yee, who ended the ten-year reign of Reanne Evans in the semi-finals of the ladies event, is coached by Terry Griffiths’ son Wayne and also went on to win the LITEtask UK Ladies Championship for a second time last September.

Last year, Evans played 1997 world champion Ken Doherty at the Betfred World Championship qualifiers in a tightly contested match, eventually won 10-8 by the Irishman.

“I am very excited by the prospect of competing in the best competition in the world,” said On-Yee. “It will be a great opportunity to learn more about the differences between the ladies game and the professional tour.

“Playing at the very top level is a dream come true for me. I am excited to see new doors being opened in snooker, with more opportunities for ladies to participate in different competitions.

“After such a good year of results in 2015, I want to build on that and try to become even stronger in 2016. This added opportunity to compete with and learn from some of the best players in the world is a chance I am very grateful for. I will work very hard to represent myself, Hong Kong and ladies snooker in the best possible way. My goal will be to make the most of this opportunity as I look to improve in the future.”

The WPBSA, snooker’s world governing body, recently announced a restructure of ladies snooker whereby World Ladies Billiards and Snooker Association (WLBSA) became World Ladies Billiards and Snooker (WLBS), after becoming a subsidiary company of the WPBSA.

“On-Yee’s success at the 2015 World Ladies Championship was an incredible achievement and she thoroughly deserves the opportunity to now play in the World Championship in Sheffield,” said Jason Ferguson, Chairman of the WPBSA.

“Snooker is a sport with no boundaries and as the first non-British winner of the World Ladies Championship, On Yee is a tremendous example to all who aspire to compete in our sport at the highest level.

“Following the recent restructure of the WLBS we are hugely excited by the future of the ladies game and looking forward to continuing its growth globally as we continue to promote the core values of the Olympic movement.”

The qualifiers for the 2016 Betfred World Championship will run from 6-13 April 2016, with the draw to be made after the seeding revision following the conclusion of the China Open.