The World Women’s Snooker Tour returns on Friday (19 January) with the return of the Belgian Women’s Open at the Trickshot Snooker Club in Bruges.
Won last year by world number one Mink Nutcharut, the fourth staging of the event will represent the fifth world ranking event of the 2023/24 season and will include a strong field of 34 players from 11 countries.
Set to compete in the main competition are defending champion Nutcharut, as well as former winners Reanne Evans and Ng On Yee. Flying the flag for the home nation will be last year’s runner-up Wendy Jans, while Rebecca Kenna, recent Eden Masters champion Mary Talbot, Emma Parker and Tessa Davidson will also be present from the world’s top 10.
The top two seeds, defending champion Nutcharut and second ranked Ng will be seeded through to the last 16 stage, with the remaining 32 players drawn into eight groups of four. The top two players from each group will progress to the knockout stage to begin on Saturday afternoon with two preliminary round matches. As in 2023, the last 16 round will also be completed on Saturday evening.
Alongside the main tournament there will also be a side-tournament held for Seniors players, as well as a Challenge Cup on Sunday for players who do not reach the quarter-finals.
To the group stage draw…
Belgium’s Wendy Jans will be hoping to go one better than in 2023 when she made it through to the final of her home event for the first time before ultimately losing out 4-1 to champion Mink Nutcharut.
The 40-year-old will begin with a group that includes former Asia-Pacific Championship semi-finalist Yee Ki Ho of Hong Kong China, who reached the last eight on her only previous appearance in Belgium at the 2018 European Women’s Masters.
Also present will be England’s Shabnam Younus-Jewell, who recently made her Tour debut at November’s Eden Women’s Masters, as well as Enkhtsetseg Shairiinyambuu of Mongolia, who will compete on the WWS circuit this weekend for the first time.
Arguably the most intriguing group in prospect, Group B has seen England’s Rebecca Kenna handed a challenging draw as she will look to extend a record that has seen her reach the knockout stages of every tournament she has played since the 2016 Paul Hunter Classic.
With two semi-final appearances from three ranking events played so far this term, Kenna will share a group with India’s Amee Kamani, who reached her maiden final at the Australian Women’s Open back in October. The pair are yet to meet in a singles match on the circuit, but did cross cues at the World Cup event last March as India defeated England in the final to take the title.
Also present in the group is Bayarsaikhan Narantuya of Mongolia, who most notably claimed the scalp of three-time world champion Ng On Yee at last year’s World Championship in Thailand on her way to the quarter-finals. The 29-year-old makes her third appearance on Tour and will be looking to continue her climb up the world rankings.
Completing the group will be Belgium’s Vanessa Vermeulen, who has competed in her home event every year since its first staging in 2019.
World number 11 Steph Daughtery heads up Group C and will return to a venue at which she has enjoyed success in the past following her Under-21 and Challenge Cup title double back in 2019.
The English player will be looking to improve upon her last 16 runs at the UK Championship and Eden Masters tournaments earlier in the season, while she also reached the same stage in Belgium 12 months ago.
Joining her in Group C will be reigning world under-21 champion Anupama Ramachandran, who reached a career-best quarter-final at the UK Championship last September, while Belgian duo Caty Dehaene and Elke Hoebeke will return to complete the group.
Mary Talbot heads to Belgium as a ranking event winner for the first time in her career following her breakthrough success at the Eden Women’s Masters last November.
Up to a career-high ranking position of number six, Talbot reached the last eight at the Trickshot in 2023 and will be hoping to gain further ranking points as she looks to close the gap to the top five.
Awaiting her in the Group will be Kate Le Gallez of Guernsey, who reached the last 16 stage of the event 12 months ago, as well as former World Championship quarter-finalist Anja Vandenbussche.
The group will also see one player join the circuit as Morocco’s Soukaina Makhlouf makes her debut.
Former world number one Reanne Evans is set to return to Bruges looking to capture the Belgian Open title for the first time since 2019 as she looks to close the gap to the top two Mink Nutcharut and Ng On Yee.
Awaiting her will be Belgian pair Elise Boon and Tour debutant Martine Ketels, as well as Scotland’s Louise Foster, who competed in the event for the first time in 2023.
Former ranking event winner Tessa Davidson returns to Bruges looking to improve upon her last 16 run in 2023 and consolidate her position inside the world’s top 10.
The 54-year-old leads a group that includes promising Indian junior Natasha Chethan – who has twice reached the last 16 stage of a ranking event to date – as well as England’s Emma Powers-Richardson on what will be her second trip to Belgium.
Home player Emilie Demeester returns following an impressive debut in 2023 which saw her reach the last 16 of the main competition, before winning the Challenge Cup competition on the final day.
World number 12 Diana Schuler will maintain her uninterrupted streak of appearances in Bruges which has seen the German player reach the last 16 stage on two of her previous three outings.
She will be joined by England’s Connie Stephens – who also reached the last 16 at the Trickshot in 2019 – as well as Mei Mei Fong of Hong Kong China, who will compete in Belgium for the first time this weekend.
The group will be completed by Justine Abrassart, one of three Belgian debutants at the event.
The final group will be headlined by England’s Emma Parker, who enjoys a strong record in Belgium with one semi-final and three quarter-finals from her previous four tournaments in the country.
The 24-year-old faces a group which will see Hungary’s Annamaria Wilkins compete in her first tournament outside of the UK since 2020, while Louise Jordan will make her first appearance of the season, having last competed at the British Open last May.
Joining the trio will be Tamara Huyghe, who makes her Tour bow.
An impressive field of 12 players is set to contest the Seniors side-tournament in Bruges with top two Tessa Davidson and Mary Talbot once again on a collision course to meet in the final.
Hoping to stop them will be a field that includes former Scottish Open Seniors winner Diana Schuler and two-time Belgian Open Seniors winner Caty Dehaene.
All the action gets underway on Friday from 10:00am CET, with the latest match results and standings available via WPBSA SnookerScores.