Category: Interviews

Jess Woods Q&A

The staging of the 2018 Australian Women’s Open marked not only the first World Women’s Snooker Tour ranking event to be held in the country, but also saw the return of home player Jessica Woods to the circuit after a two-year absence.

Champion in Australia and Oceania on multiple occasions, the 26-year-old is a formidable competitor who is already back up into the world’s top 30 despite having competed in just three events of the current two-year cycle.

At last year’s World Championship she notably ended a run of 34 consecutive frames won by Ng On Yee at the event dating back to 2017, before also becoming the first player to take a frame from eventual champion Reanne Evans in Thailand at the last 16 stage.

In our latest Q&A we caught up with Jess to learn more about her snooker journey to date and discuss the development of the sport in her home country…

Hi Jess, how are you and how is the situation in Australia at the moment during these strange times?

Things here aren’t as bad as over there [the UK]. The gym and other sporting things being closed is the only way that it has really affected me, but I have a home gym now so that’s not even an issue.

The border between New South Wales and Queensland is closed which is a bit of a pain as well. I am definitely one of the lucky ones though, I have still been working plenty of hours – too many at times! We haven’t been put into lockdown and besides some shops being closed and having to social distance, everything has been normal really.

Have you had access to a snooker table throughout the last few months? We saw you taking part in the Blue Ball Challenge for our friends at World Seniors Snooker a few weeks ago.

Yeah, I am very fortunate to have a table in my house which I have been trying to get on as much as possible around my relatively busy life.

Turning back to before the coronavirus had such an impact on the sporting landscape, how is snooker in Australia in general and in particular women’s snooker?

Snooker in Australia is both good and bad. We have a good open tour with many good quality players on it and the women’s game is reasonably well supported, but like many countries we don’t have many juniors coming though.

Snooker is a pretty unknown sport around here, it has only just recently been added to Fox Sport which is a pay-per-view service so it’s not really on TV. I believe they aren’t going to continue streaming it in the future as well so it’s quite hard for someone to stumble across the sport like they may for football (handegg as many people call our football), many of our tables are in services clubs which are slowly replacing the tables with pokie machines.

Like much of the world I think that we have a long way to see the game reach its full potential but I believe we can do it. Snooker is such a great game for young and old to get involved in.

How did you first become interested in snooker and realise that you had a talent for the sport?

My older brother and dad started playing and I went down to the club with them one day. I played every sport I could growing up but this one just stuck.

I’ll let you know when I do realise I have talent ?

It has been great to see you back in action on our circuit over the past couple of years, of course our new event in Australia together with Frank and his team at the ABSC has helped you to get involved. How have you found the tournament and how important is it for us to have a ranking event in Australia?

I really enjoy the event, it has always been a great part of our calendar but to have Reanne [Evans], the Thai girls and the Hong Kong girls come over makes it a great event for me and a great experience for all of us to compete against the world’s best.

I think you guys are doing a fantastic job at getting more women involved in the game and that means pushing the sport to as many countries and women as possible, within reason of course. As a world body I think it is important to show that you represent the whole world and not just the UK.

You also competed in last year’s World Championship – our biggest for many years both in terms of entry numbers and prize money – how did you find that experience?

It was tough! I think I had the biggest group in both the teams and the singles which made the days very long and tiring but it was a very enjoyable experience. I do find these events tough though, not having a high ranking because I can’t compete in most events means that I get tough groups and draws. I got both Ng On Yee and Reanne in that event, which is fantastic experience for me, but also sort of makes it maybe tougher for me than other girls that are a similar standard to me but are higher ranked.

In the past you also spent time in England, competing at our World Championship from 2014-16. How did you find living/being in England and did it help you to improve your game?

I have spent time in England on many different occasions. I lived there for 11 months a couple of years ago but didn’t actually compete in any events over that time for personal reasons. Living in the UK has its perks for snooker for sure, being surrounded by so many players that have made tons is a new experience for someone from a little Aussie club like me. It is definitely a massive advantage having so many people around you to push you as a player and to learn from.

Who are your snooker heroes/influences?

I don’t really have heroes or influences, I respect many players and love watching them but I have very intrinsic motivations when it comes to snooker. I want to become the best player I can be and that’s what motivates me to put the hours in.

My boyfriend/coach is also a huge factor in that, he is very good at telling me to stop being lazy and get on the table! He has taught me so much about the game I would have otherwise never learnt.

What are your on-table ambitions for the future?

My ambitions are to become the best snooker player I can be. I am very competitive and love winning but it is mostly about the journey. Snooker has given me so much; I have travelled the world and met so many people along the way. Now that I have my apprenticeship that may slow down a bit over the next few years, but I am fortunate to work for my family so can get more time off than most jobs.

What are your hobbies and interests when you are not playing snooker?

I enjoy keeping myself busy, cooking healthy meals and keeping fit is a top priority. Whether that be through going to the gym, going for a surf or playing some Oztag I just like to keep active.

I also enjoy reading quite a lot, whether that be a good novel, or exercise and nutritional sciences, I am always trying to learn and keep mentally sharp.

What can be done in Australia to help encourage more women and girls to take up snooker?

I think it’s very similar here to most other places in the world except snooker isn’t as well known here, many people don’t even know what snooker is when I tell them I play it. Getting snooker more recognised would help I think, many people who were around when Pot Black was on still remember watching it and I often get comments about Eddie Charlton, but no one knows who Neil Robertson is.

Besides just getting more people exposed to the game I think just getting as many juniors involved as possible, whether they are male or female, we just need to get more juniors playing this amazing sport and females should come along with that. Clubs need to think about setting a platform where juniors feel comfortable in a room full of mostly old men, which I often find is more difficult for the young girls, but people like me need to be active in making them as comfortable as possible and making everyone young and old love playing this sport.

Thank you to Jess who like all of our players we are looking forward to seeing back on the baize when the Tour is able to return.

The Mandy Fisher Story

Whether as a fellow competitor, an organiser, as a colleague or as a friend, it is safe to say that most people involved with women’s snooker during the past 40 years have come across Mandy Fisher at some stage or another.

One of three well-known women to have played under the surname Fisher – bizarrely none of them are related – the highlight of Mandy’s career on the baize came back in 1984 as she achieved her dream of becoming the world women’s snooker champion.

But her legacy to the sport will be something far greater as she played an instrumental role in the creation of the organisation known today as World Women’s Snooker (WWS), which she still heads today as its president.

For over 40 years her life has been intertwined with a sport that has fascinated her since she was a girl. Today we hear from Mandy about how she became involved with snooker and the events that led to the formation of WWS in 1981.

“When I left school, I used to go to a local BRSA (British Rail Staff Association) club with my parents because there were a lot of activities including pool and bar billiards,” said Fisher. “One day they were short on players in their team and they asked me to play pool and I won. I then won the local singles championship in my area which was a big achievement at the time. I was the only woman ever to be in it and the only woman ever to win it.

“After that my dad took me somewhere to buy me a cue as a present when I was 16 and that was the first time I had ever seen a snooker table.”

From the outset Mandy was intrigued by the game and as she learned more, inspired by the opportunity in front of her to be able to progress to the highest level in the sport.

“The guy who had the snooker room said he knew of a women’s association and I went along and I saw the standard,” said Fisher. “I thought that there is no other sport in the world where I felt like I could reach this level and become good at it, so I spoke to my parents about how much I loved it. They gave up their front room and moved into a bedroom so I could have a snooker table in there!

“I practiced hard and I went to the World Championship and it was brilliant. A girl called Lesley McIrath won it from Australia and they announced that the following year there was going to be £2,000 for the winner and £1,000 for the runner-up. That was a year’s wages for me so I had a chat with my parents and gave up work to concentrate on snooker. That following year I reached the final, won £1,000 and lost in the final to Vera Selby.”

After her breakthrough performance came a devastating blow however as it was announced in 1981 that there would not be any future women’s snooker tournaments.

Although she was still young and new to the game, Mandy was not prepared to see her snooker journey be cut short and set about forming the association that exists today as WWS. Although this did inevitably come at the expense of her playing career to some extent, she still has many fond memories of the time.

“I was so passionate about the sport and so with the help of a company called Grosser Jack from Windsor in Berkshire, we formed the World Ladies Billiards and Snooker Association,” explained Fisher. “I was the founder of the association and I liked administration, so I had a lot of fun.

“I carried on playing but when I was running things and trying to get it off the ground it was difficult. I was proud to be one of the first women ever to reach the last 128 of the English Amateur Championship.

“There was a lot of talent in the women’s game at that time, players like Alison Fisher, Kelly Fisher, Tessa Davidson, Stacey Hillyard and other such good players. Everyone inside the top eight could make century breaks, which was significant when you consider that at the time it was still such an achievement in the professional game.

“We used to have 40 entries even in those days coming up to Leeds to play at the Northern Snooker Centre, which was – and still is – one of the best clubs in the country. Jim Williamson welcomed us with open arms which a lot of clubs didn’t in those days, so that makes it extra special that the club continues to be a significant venue for us today.”

Of course, the 1980s were known in the UK as snooker’s first boom period and for the women’s game it was no different as Mandy recalls.

“It was an amazing time to be involved in the sport,” said Fisher. “I was quite good friends with Jimmy White and Tony Meo because in my town the man who first introduced me to snooker used to have them down to play on his table and then he would take them around all of the little snooker clubs in the area.

“I was lucky enough during the day to go in and play, then they used to go out and do an exhibition. I would go along and watch which was fantastic, He did that several times and got them lots of exhibitions, in the days when they were amateurs before it really took off in a big way.”

The dominant player during the 1980s was six-time world champion Steve Davis and Mandy has fond memories of crossing cues with him and his great rival Alex Higgins on the baize.

“I did a local exhibition with Steve and Alex at the Bushfield Sports Centre in Peterborough in front of 1,000 people and they bussed a load of people from March to support me which was wonderful,” recalled Fisher. “The atmosphere was incredible and I played three frames against Alex Higgins and I did sneak one off him (he probably allowed me to win it, I’m not quite sure!).

“But during the second best of three against Steve Davis I just produced. I don’t know if it was the adrenaline but I did play really well and I was 54 points ahead at 1-1 in the third frame before he cleared up with a 57 break. But it was fantastic and I have great memories of that evening, it will always stay with me.”

Although he was not a player, another man synonymous with snooker in the 1980s was of course Barry Hearn, then manager to Steve Davis and now chairman of the sport’s commercial arm World Snooker Tour.

“Barry was lovely and in the early days he gave us an awful lot of support which I am eternally grateful for,” explained Fisher. “My first experience with him was when he organised the intercity mixed pairs where I played with Steve Davis and another girl called Julie Islip played with Tony Meo.

“The event was on national television, screened directly before the FA Cup final to keep viewers on that channel. We did a pre-match interview the week before with Dickie Davis on World of Sport and then went down there to Southend to play on a match table in front of all the people which was amazing.

“Barry did all of that and he saw the potential in women’s snooker. He later secured sponsorship from Forte Hotels to sponsor us for three years, with events played across London. He also achieved the Mita world masters which injected huge sums of money into the women’s game. He really is the Midas man!

“Unfortunately for us Barry was becoming heavily involved with other activities such as Leyton Orient football club and boxing, typically making a success of everything that he does! But it was fantastic to be able to work with him during that period and to see what he is doing now with the professional game.”

More recently, women’s snooker has survived some challenging times before in 2015 agreement was reached with snooker’s world governing body the World Professional Snooker and Billiards Association (WPBSA) for World Women’s Snooker to become its subsidiary company. With the support of the WPBSA the World Women’s Snooker Tour has been able to expand like never before with international events held across the world and over 150 players now on the world ranking list, leaving Fisher optimistic for the future.

“It has been fantastic to have the WPBSA on board during the last few years,” continued Fisher. “They have been really enthusiastic about it and it has been great to host events outside of the UK in mainland Europe, Asia and the Oceania region of the past few years. In particular, last year’s World Women’s Championship in Thailand was one of the best tournaments that I have been involved in during the past 40 years.

“I firmly believe that the sky is the limit with women’s snooker. There is no physical reason why a woman cannot play snooker as good as a man. Certainly, Reanne Evans is capable of and has proved that she can play amongst the professional men. We are welcoming more new players all the time and I am confident that as we continue to grow and visit new territories, we will only continue to see players improve. I see a very bright future ahead for the women’s game.”

Thank you to Mandy for her time and we look forward to seeing her and everyone else back on Tour next season.

Chucky Preston Q&A

Prior to the Eden Women’s Masters last November few had heard of the name Chucky Preston, but after the Northern Irish potter reached the quarter-finals of her maiden ranking event in South London she had already established herself as one to watch on the World Women’s Snooker Tour.

We recently caught up with the 32-year-old, who is already up to number 43 in the world rankings, to talk about her experience on the circuit so far and her passion for snooker…

How much have you enjoyed being a part of the WWS circuit so far, having competed both at the Eden Women’s Masters and the recent Belgian Women’s Open earlier this month?

I have really enjoyed it. At the Eden Masters I was very nervous, I didn’t know anyone and it was all very new to me.

But in Belgium I was a lot more relaxed and it was a lot of fun. I am definitely looking forward to the Festival in Leeds now!

Your debut was particularly impressive as you qualified from your group and went on to reach the quarter-finals. What were your expectations heading into the tournament?

To be honest I did not expect much. I thought that I was way over my head even entering, but it was Rebecca Kenna who encouraged me over Facebook to just go for it and start to entering these events, and I did.

Now I am glad I did, I had not expected to get to the quarters so that was a bonus for me! I am currently receiving from coaching from [former professional] Joe Swail to know that he had a lot of confidence in me helped a lot.

In the last eight you faced 12-time world champion Reanne Evans. Although you lost out on that occasion, is it good to test yourself against the very best players like her?

Absolutely yes. I went into that match to have fun and gain experience. I relaxed a lot in that match as I knew that my chances of winning were slim to none so I watched a lot of her shots selections and positional play. I would say I learnt a few things in that match.

How did you get into snooker and how long have you been playing?

My dad first pushed me into snooker when I was seven and took me to our local club every week until I was old enough to go myself. I played until I was 15, but then quit due to women’s snooker disbanding in Northern Ireland.

I have only recently got back into snooker during the last two years. I found it hard getting back into it as I used to be quick and my game flowed as a kid, but now it is all about thinking and the tactical side is very important.

You have been involved in establishing the Northern Irish Ladies Tour back home. How is this growing and how can you get more women involved in snooker?

Yes I started up the NI Tour in October 2019 and was pleased that we had great numbers for it. It is growing slowly but we are advertising it and pushing it all over social media to encourage more girls to come forward to play.

I will always push it and I will help every player we have on the tour to become better and gain confidence to come to bigger events.

I also created my ‘Chucky Preston all about snooker’ Facebook page to help the girls with routines and drills.

Are there opportunities for women to compete against men in amateur snooker in Northern Ireland?

Yes in the Northern Ireland Billiards and Snooker Association (NIBSA) tour which I play in. It is tough, but you can’t give up. The only way to get better is to keep competing, even if you are getting beat every time.

I urge the girls to play in these and over the next year I hope we have at least three girls playing on the NIBSA tour.

You are also friends with former Masters champion Mark Allen back home and played in his pro-am last year. How did you get to know him?

Yes I have played in his pro-cam tournament on a couple of occasions, which is an excellent tournament to be part of. I have known both Mark and Jordan Brown from my younger days, but not very well back then.

More recently I have got to know Mark more from being in the club and we have just got on well. He couldn’t do enough for people, for example before I played at the Eden Women’s Masters he gave me a little pep talk which also helped me there.

We have also seen that you have recently introduced your wife Avril to snooker – could we see a Preston double act at the upcoming World Women’s Pairs Championship in Leeds?

Haha I hope so! But I don’t think so just yet, but it would be great though!

She said maybe next year, but in the meantime I will try to change her mind. Her excuse is she is my bigger fan and wants to be standing by all my matches to watch!

What would your message by to any other women and girls who are considering picking up a cue and joining the WWS circuit?

Absolutely do it. Why not, what have to got to lose?

No matter the level of your ability, the WWS events are fantastic to play in. You get plenty of table time and you gain a lot of experience and confidence. If anything, these events will help you to progress even further!

Finally, what are your interests and hobbies away from the table?

I am a business owner of a tattoo studio where I am the solo artist there.

I also like to go out on my motorbike which I find to be relaxing and de-stressing. I am also taking flying lessons at the moment and hope to gain my pilot’s licence.

I am also a big gamer and I could spend hours on my Xbox. There are just not enough hours in the day!

Chucky will next be in action at the Festival of Women’s Snooker, which takes place from 3-6 April 2020 at the Northern Snooker Centre in Leeds. Entry for the event is open online HERE.

Zoe Killington Q&A

Among those who will be competing at this weekend’s UK Women’s Snooker Championship in Leeds is 13-year-old Zoe Killington and we recently caught up with the Merseyside youngster to talk about her snooker journey so far…

Hi Zoe, you are one of our youngest players on the World Women’s Snooker Tour, how much have you enjoyed competing on the circuit and how did you get into snooker?

It has been nearly a year since I started at the Eden Women’s Masters last year. I have enjoyed the events immensely. It is fantastic to be able to play snooker with other women and girls and be part of a community.

I first started playing about a year earlier, just for fun. I wanted a hobby and just have something fun to do at the weekend. My dad has played snooker since he was young and plays with a few of his mates. One week I had to go with him and I found it quite interesting. At first I didn’t want to take it seriously, but I started having lessons around March 2018, and that’s when I thought about taking it more seriously.

You come from a real snooker hotbed in Merseyside, tell us a little about where you play and the other notable players in the area…

Where I play is fantastic [George Scott Snooker Club]. We have a kids club on a Saturday morning and everyone there is nice and friendly. I’ve made some good friends. It’s good to have friends who enjoy playing snooker, even if they are all boys.

One of my teammates, Sean Maddocks, is an upcoming talent. He recently just missed out on a main tour place at Q School, making it to the final round. He’s only 17 and he’s made two 147s. Another good player is Danny Harwood, who plays on the World Disability Billiards and Snooker circuit. He plays in our league and is always a challenge. Another teammate of mine is Mikey Roberts. He’s 15 and won Merseyside events and is another outstanding player.

Who are your snooker heroes? Earlier this year you played Mark Selby in an exhibition…

Earlier this year I did play Mark Selby, set up by my coach. But some of my heroes are Anthony McGill, Shaun Murphy and Judd Trump. When I first started to play snooker, I noticed Anthony McGill. I liked the way he played, and I learnt a lot on shot selection. He also noticed my cueing action on Facebook as he is friends with my coach. That did make me like him more. I’ve met him in person in my local club and in the club he plays in, in Glasgow.

Looking ahead to this weekend’s UK Women’s Snooker Championship, the event will be a little different for you as for the first time, your younger sister Laura will be taking part in the under-21 competition in Leeds. How special would it be to have two Killingtons high in the rankings one day?

I am so excited for my sister, Laura, to play in Leeds. I have wanted her to play for ages, but she did gymnastics and enjoyed that. It would be so fun if we could both be some of the best players on the circuit. It would just be great to have her there and for her to play at a young age would mean she would improve so much, so quickly, I could have a real threat soon! We hope to compete together in the World Women’s Pairs Championship at some point.

 And finally, what message would you have for other girls who might be thinking of taking up snooker and joining the WWS Tour?

For anyone who’s joining the circuit and playing snooker, it’s fabulous. You feel part of a community, and it is a brilliant feeling. Everyone is always friendly. There’s nothing to be nervous about, because everyone has been there on their first day.

 

We wish Zoe the best of luck this weekend at the UK Women’s Snooker Championship, which takes place at the Northern Snooker Centre in Leeds. Click here for links to tournament information, with the draw and format due to be released this Thursday.

Aimee Benn Q&A

Today we speak to perhaps the most consistent player on the World Women’s Snooker Tour during the 2017/18 season. No, not 11-time world champion Reanne Evans or current snooker queen Ng On Yee, but 16-year-old Aimee Benn from Leeds who impressively was able to reach the last 16 at each of her tournaments during over the past 12 months, an achievement matched by only a handful of other players on the circuit.

The youngster has continued to steadily improve her game since she joined the women’s circuit back in 2015 and now sits inside of the world’s top ten for the first time in her career. She is not done yet however and tells us below how she hopes to continue her development over the coming months…

Hi Aimee, firstly congratulations on your recent win at the Otley and District Singles (handicapped) Snooker League title recently. Tell us a little bit about that and what it means to have taken the title?

Thank you, it was my first season playing in the league which includes players of any age, any gender. I wasn’t playing my best snooker as I hadn’t had much practice since my GCSE exams, but I just kept getting further and further in the competition and I remember my dad saying to me once I reached the semi-finals that he was already proud of me for getting so far.

I managed to win the title in the end which is such a huge achievement for me, as it built my confidence which I didn’t have to start with. My dad is a very competent snooker player and he has never won the event, so that makes me even more proud.

Looking back at your last season on the World Women’s Snooker Tour, you were extremely consistent, reaching the last 16 at all of the events that you entered. What do you put that consistency down to?

To achieve consistency in matches, you have to be consistent in practice time, regularly repeating drills until they’re drilled into your head.

Obviously, I’ve faced some tough opponents on the tour which more times than not I’ve fallen short against. It is 100% a learning curve for me as I know that I do need to be more consistent with the standard of my snooker, as well as raising that standard so that I can reach the latter stages of tournaments.

Do you feel that you are continuing to improve as a player?

Yes, I’m sure. Becoming a better player is what everyone strives for and when you keep achieving the little milestones like getting to the last 16 more times than not feels great. It shows me that I really am becoming a better player.

You also finished the season ranked inside the top 10 for the first time, how special an achievement was that for you?

Honestly, it feels great to be inside the top 10, but at this stage it doesn’t mean a lot to me as it’s not about the rankings for me personally. It’s about how well I play and improving my standard to compete more and more with the more competent players inside the top 10.

What do you feel that you need to do to be able to take the next step and reach the latter stages of competitions?

To reach the later stages of the competitions, I feel that I would need to put in a lot more work on the practice table to improve my standard enough so that there is a higher chance of me beating the top players than me losing to them. Also the more I gain experience in competing with the better players, the more I’ll be able to beat them to reach the later stages of competitions.

You are getting used to competing against some of the best women players in the world like Reanne Evans and Ng On Yee. What can you learn from these great players?

When you play the top two seeds, you get a lot from watching. Watching how they look around the table and get a feel for the pace, the spin, the angle. Watching how they break build by getting themselves into the easiest positions and thinking three shots ahead.

Once they get into their swing, they’re unstoppable and it’s phenomenal to watch. You can see how you would play the shot, and if they would play it differently, that helps me to improve as a player.

How much are you looking forward to the new 2018/19 season and returning to action?

I’m looking forward to it as I have many friends off the table who compete alongside me and against me, but I’m more looking forward to improving and showing people that I can do it.

Speaking of your friends, there are indeed a lot of junior players now on the tour – how much does it help you to have the junior community that we now have on the circuit?

Outside of snooker, we’re all friends and that helps to keep us going on. But on the table we’re enemies, out for blood! The junior community is really great because we are all at roughly the same stage and it’s great to see us all developing and growing as players and people.

What are your favourite hobbies away from the baize when not playing snooker?

Honestly, snooker is my sole hobby, I don’t really do much else other than going out with friends, just anything a normal teenager would do.

Finally, what would you say to other young girls like yourself who might be tempted to pick up a cue and give snooker a try?

Give it a go. You won’t regret it at all. Picking up a cue is the first step, we all had to start somewhere.

What I’d advise to any young girls that are interested in snooker would be for them to just give it a go, get up to your local snooker club and see how much fun it is. Snooker is a sport where it’s very difficult at first but then when you look back, you improve every single day.

The best thing for someone wanting to get on the tour would be to come to one of our events, local to you, and just watch and get involved with the lovely community we’ve got.

Thank you to Aimee and best of luck to her for the start of the 2018/19 season which gets underway in Leeds, England, with our new Women’s Snooker Open Day event on 14 September, ahead of the 2018 UK Women’s Snooker Championship at the Northern Snooker Centre the following two days.

 Learn more about how you can get involved and join the circuit HERE.

Chloe White plays snooker shot

Chloe White Q&A

In our latest Q&A today we catch up with Havant teenager Chloe White, following a successful first full season on the World Women’s Snooker Tour which saw her complete the successful defence of her Eden Masters Under-21 title in Gloucester and rise to a career-high ranking of no.26.

Hi Chloe, you have just completed your first full season on the World Women’s Snooker Tour, how do reflect on the year?

I’m pleased to have broken in to the top 30 this season. I went into the WLBS events with no expectations and just wanted to see how far I could get in the tournaments, so I feel as though I have settled in well by managing to win two Eden Masters under-21 tournaments. Hopefully I can progress further next season in the main competitions, as well as in the under-21s.

Are you happy with the improvement in your game over the past 12 months?

Yes, I feel as though my game has become more consistent over the last season due to playing the various players throughout the WLBS tour. Through watching and competing against the better players, such as Reanne Evans and Ng On Yee, it allows me to witness areas in my game that I need to improve on so that I am able to compete with them in the future.

You have also had success in other regional events recently, including the West of England Billiards and Snooker Foundation (WEBSF) Ladies Open and mixed gender Cuestars events. How important is it as a young player to continue gaining experience like this?

Through playing in various regional events such as Cuestars and WEBSF it has allowed me to gain additional experience which I can take into my matches in the WLBS. I feel as if it is important for young players like me to carry on gaining experience from competing in these events as it allows us to potentially compete at a higher level in the future.

You are also playing and beating men in these competitions. What can you learn from playing against men and do you think it is possible for a woman to be as good as the male players?

Through playing men in competition or even during practice, it allows for different competition alongside the women’s game. Through playing a variety of players, it allows my game to improve due to playing many different styles of both men and women.

It is an advantage to have my boyfriend (Mark Lloyd) who plays; practising with him allows me to prepare myself for upcoming tournaments. Women can be as good as men, so hopefully there will be more women who take up snooker in the future.

How did you become interested in snooker and what made you start to play the game seriously?

I became interested in snooker initially through my dad, who took my brother to the local snooker club where they played. I then found out that there was a snooker section where I then began to play in competition against other players. Through my game progressing, I then discovered further events, such as Cuestars and WLBS, and now I’m looking to build on that to see how far I’m able to get within the game.

What is the best thing about being a women’s snooker player?

The best thing about being a women’s player are the different opportunities within the game. As the women’s game is developing, it is good to be part of this progression; competing on the tour with the other players.

What snooker ambitions do you have, both for the next 12 months and also longer term?

I have never set myself targets but I’m just hoping to achieve the best I can within the game. It would be nice to progress further in the tournaments in the main competitions as well as possibly achieving a few more under-21s titles while I’m still within this age bracket.

I’m just hoping to progress to the best I can be.

With more and more tournaments taking place outside of the UK, are you excited by the opportunity to travel alongside your snooker career?

I believe it is a great opportunity for us to have the chance to be able to compete outside of the UK. I’m hoping to travel to these tournaments within the future and am seeking sponsorship to allow me the chance to be able to compete in these tournaments.

Current world number 7 Suzie Opacic is another player from your region, how much support has she provided to you?

Suzie welcomed me into the WLBS after telling me about the organisation. Suzie made me feel a lot more welcome to the tour as it’s always nice to know somebody when competing first time. Suzie is lovely and I am glad to know her off of the tour as well. From that, it has allowed me to meet the other competitors as well as to compete with them.

You are also one of our most stylish players, with your unmistakeable pink waistcoat – do you have any other fashion surprises for us next season?

Well I needed something to make me stand out 😉 The fashion should stay the same but I’m sure there will be some slight changes for you to keep an eye out for!

What you would say to any women players thinking about playing a WLBS event?

There are great opportunities for women to enjoy playing the sport in which they love against other women from across the world. The tour is very welcoming with many great characters that you have the opportunity to compete against.

With the game progressing, it would be great to see more women players coming through to promote the sport further; showing its popularity within the UK as well as abroad. It would be great to see the women’s game become more popular (alongside the increase within the professional game) and hopefully more women will be interested in joining this welcoming organisation.

 

Chloe will be among the players returning to the World Women’s Snooker Tour for the start of the 2018/19 season. Three events have already been announced beginning with the UK Women’s Championship in September, with the details of up to five further events to be confirmed.

If you would be interested in sponsoring Chloe please contact us for more information.

Photo of Chloe and Billy Castle from Cuestars.

In action at the 2017 Paul Hunter Women's Classic

Doro Rapp Q&A

With less than one week to go until the start of the 2018 Festival of Women’s Snooker we caught up with Germany’s Dorothée Rapp to learn more about how she became interested in snooker and about her off-table passion for music…

Hi Doro, you will be returning to England to play at the Festival of Women’s Snooker next week. How much are you looking forward to this year’s event?

Yes, I am looking forward to it very much. It’s a great opportunity and challenge for me with interesting people and a great venue.

In action at the Paul Hunter Women’s Classic (August 2017) © Monique Limbos

How did you first become interested in snooker?

Many years back I went to play a bit of pool with friends now and then, purely for fun, in a place around the corner. There were two snooker tables too, but I always gave them a wide berth – they seemed so huge!

Then in 2013, almost accidentally I watched the World Championship in Sheffield on Eurosport and decided I finally needed to understand the basic rules. Somehow I got hooked, but by that time there was not a single snooker table left in my town (all British military personal being gone), but there was an open-door weekend in a club not too far away. I went, I tried a frame and that started it.

What is it that you enjoy about the game?

Apart from the colourful material and the huge table? 🙂 I guess I love that it’s fascinating over a long time, it’s never the same, you can work on many different aspects – and it’s fantastic when it – sometimes – works as planned.

Rather than being a fan of particular players, I like the twists and turns of long matches.

© Marco Borggreve

Away from snooker we know that you are also a talented musician – tell us a little about that…

The two go quite well together actually, but luckily I started playing the cello much earlier so it works the way it should more often!

Yes, I am a professional classical musician working full-time in a symphony orchestra. We play subscription concerts in the cities around here, we are also touring quite a bit in Germany and in Europe and we also have been to Japan and the USA twice on tour. We are around 75 people from about 15 different nationalities. We get to play with world class conductors and soloists, but we also play a great many concerts for and with school children.

As special project we also play opera. It is quite demanding and time consuming, especially since of course almost all evenings and weekends are worktime, but I love it.

In fact, last year during the Paul Hunter Women’s Classic you almost had to be in two places at once with both the snooker and a concert running during the same weekend…

True, that was a crazy schedule. To be able to play in the snooker tournaments I need a special permit, since of course the orchestra has to take holidays all at the same time – during the summer – and it takes some planning and goodwill from my section colleagues to be able to go away in mid-season, and it all depends on that no one calls in sick – in which case I would have to return immediately.

Last year I could play the morning match in Nuernberg, then I took a train to Fulda – about one hour away – of course the train was late, then a taxi to the concert venue. It was an open air gala, so everything was already fenced up. The taxi driver almost refused to take me there thinking it was all closed.

Then the security almost didn’t let me in because I was not arriving with the rest of the orchestra – but I made it just in time for the soundcheck and once seated I could relax!

Afterwards to a hotel – since no train was going that late at night – before next morning heading back to Fuerth to play snooker.

And back to the baize, why do you think women should play snooker and in particular our competitions?

Why not? When I started playing the cello it was still said to be unusual for a woman and some orchestras even did not accept them for the auditions. Times have changed 🙂

Doro will be competing in next weekend’s Seniors, Pairs, 10-Red and 6-Red World Championship tournaments at the season-ending Festival of Women’s Snooker at the Northern Snooker Centre in Leeds, England.

Entries remain open until tomorrow at 4:30pm BST, click HERE for more information and to enter.

Nutcharut Wongharuthai Q&A

There was a familiar winner earlier this month at the WLBS British Open as 11-time world champion Reanne Evans claimed her latest title on the World Women’s Snooker Tour, but an unfamiliar runner-up as Thailand’s Nutcharut ‘Mink’ Wongharuthai reached her first WLBS final in Stourbridge.

The 18-year-old, who plays at and is supported by the Hi-End Snooker Club, made her WLBS debut at last year’s World Women’s Snooker Championship in Singapore, immediately showcasing her talent by compiling an event-high break of 90.

But it was not until this month that she could play her first WLBS event within the UK, at which she exceeded all expectations by defeating newly-crowned world number one Ng On Yee 4-2 in the semi-finals, before losing out to Evans in the tournament’s decisive match.

We recently caught up with Mink to look back at the tournament and learn more about a player described recently by world number three Rebecca Kenna as “definitely a top-five player in the world” notwithstanding her current world ranking of 32…

Congratulations on reaching your first WLBS final at the British Open earlier this month. How happy were you to make it that far?

As it was my first time participating in a WLBS tournament in the UK I was very happy to have made it to the final, although I lost to Reanne. She was a very deserving winner and I will continue to work even harder to achieve more.

You had a fantastic win against Ng On Yee in the semi-finals? Is she one of your idols in the game for what she has achieved for women’s snooker in Asia?

She definitely is. I believe that all of the women players in Asia look up to Ng On Yee as their role model for her wonderful achievements as an Asian player. She has done all of us Asian players proud.

You have now played Reanne Evans in Singapore and here, what makes her such a strong opponent?

To be frank, I feel that her reading and her play of the game is very different from us Asian players. Her break building technique especially is what I feel is very close to the men’s standard.

However, given ample time and practice, I hope to be like her in the near future.

Did you enjoy playing in the UK for the first time?

Yes. It was definitely a time worth spending in Stourbridge town with all of the lovely people around and working with organisers like the WLBS.

Do you plan to play in more WLBS events now?

Yes I hope I can play in more WLBS events in the future provided I am able to get more like-minded sponsors to help me along the way.

How did you become interested in playing snooker?

Well, I grew up in a snooker club as my mum used to be a cashier there. My dad loves snooker very much too and eventually I started playing and fell in love with this game at the age of 10-years-old.

We have seen on social media that you are referred to as ‘Mink’ in Thailand – why is that?

Normally in Thailand we call each and everyone by their nickname because our traditional Thai names are too long and we doesn’t have any Christian name like Western people. So we use nicknames instead.

For e.g. Noppon Saengkham [current top 64 player, who was in Stourbridge to watch Nutcharut] is known as Moo in Thailand. It is the same for me  as I am known as Mink.

Who are you favourite snooker players?

My favourite players include Ronnie O’Sullivan definitely, also Mark Selby, as well as Ding Junhui.

How big is snooker among women in Thailand?

There are a number of female players competing, among them four to five of them are of my level. So sometimes it’s quite competitive when it comes to selections.

I hope one day Thailand be the host for a world women’s event, so that more of them will be given the opportunity to compete with players around the world.

Malta next for the World Championship – how excited are you to play in the tournament?

I hope that day will come soon. I simply just love competing with different players around the world.

Nutcharut Wongharuthai plays snookerDo you have any other interests when not playing snooker, things you like to do for fun?

My other hobbies include watching TV and playing games, but I do spend most of my time practising snooker though!

And finally, you play at the Hi End Snooker Club in Thailand, how good is that venue?

It is beyond words that I can describe. Hi-End presently sponsor and support me. I feel so honoured to be able to practice in this club. It’s literally the most prestigious club in the whole of Thailand with top quality tables as well as equipment. If one were to take this sports seriously, Hi-End snooker club in definitely the place to practice in.

Nutcharut Wongharuthai will next be in action at this year’s World Women’s Snooker Championship, to be held as part of the inaugural World Snooker Federation Championships from 14-17 March 2018 in Malta.

Maria Catalano Q&A

This weekend sees the return of the World Women’s Snooker Tour with the WLBS British Open, to be played for the first time at the Stourbridge Institute, England.

One player more than familiar with the venue is world number three Maria Catalano, who will be looking to build upon a consistent first half of the season by once again making it to the final stages of a ranking event.

We caught up with her recently to discuss her current form, her relationship with friend and rival Reanne Evans and how she has turned her hand to refereeing in recent times alongside her playing career…

The women’s tour returns this weekend and you won’t have too far to travel with the British Open to be played at your local club in Stourbridge. How much are you looking forward to playing an event there?

I am really looking forward to a tournament, it has been a while since the last one and I can’t wait to get back playing.

It’s nice to have a competition on home ground and being familiar with the club. It’s a good club!

You have had a consistent start to the season so far with two semi-final runs, how happy are you with your game right now?

I am quite happy with my game at the moment. I have had the opportunity to practice recently which is always good. If I have practice time I really should be reaching at least the semi-finals consistently.

Last time out in Gloucester you came agonisingly close to victory against Reanne Evans. Does that give you the confidence that you can take the next step to be able to beat the top two and win more titles?

It’s always nice to reach the stage that you should be doing based on your talent. I have always felt on my day I am capable of beating any of the female players. My game is never been about who I am playing but more about how I approach my game on the day.

Although Reanne is a big rival on the table, you are great friends off it. How did you get to know her and how hard is it to play against somebody that you are friends with?

I met Reanne through her brother who was playing snooker at the time and the local league games. Now I can’t get rid of her! 🙂

We are good friends off the table but during a match you kind of have to just focus on the game rather than who you are playing. I enjoy playing Reanne as it can make for a really good match.

As well as playing, you are also refereeing, recently including an exhibition with Mark Selby in Stourbridge, tell us a little about that. Do you enjoy refereeing?

I took up refereeing to get involved in a different aspect of the game, however, my passion still lies with playing. It’s still nice to be involved in some refereeing though to support the game and exhibitions are really good.

I was refereeing Mark a couple of weeks ago and I chose the right night to do it – Mark was fantastic, making three centuries and a 147! It was an amazing night and one I can tick off my list that I have refereed a 147!

Who are some of the other players on the tour who you think that we should watch out for over the next few years?

For me there are a lot of juniors that are coming through who have great potential. To be honest the one who stands out for me is Shannon Metcalf. Shannon is just very naturally talented and there is nothing forced in her game which is nice to see. I have high hopes for her in the future.

Next up after the British Open will be the big one, this year’s World Women’s Snooker Championship in Malta. Are you looking forward to that?

I can’t wait! I have never been to Malta and the distance is good. I have heard great things about the hotel and venue so it should be a great tournament.

And finally, tell us a little bit about your life away from the baize and your unusual day job!

I work really hard off the table with my dad and brother from March to November every year. Our family ice cream business ‘Antonios Ices’ has been going for over 60 years now. It’s all about work during these months for me so I do not have time to pick my cue up, nor do I want to as I am knackered! ?

It is challenging and frustrating  as come November I have had months off and have to really pick myself up to get back into playing well, but I have always done it and I am not quite ready to give the game up yet.

The job funds my tournaments as I have never had a sponsor, but I have had some me time and I am ready for Stourbridge and Malta before its back to the graft! 🙂

Maria has been drawn to play in Group D at the British Open, where she will begin her quest for the title with matches against Jackie Ellis and newcomer Connie Stephens on Saturday.

View the full draw HERE.

Selected images provided by Monique Limbos.