Category: Interviews

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.

Record Year for Ng On Yee

Mark Selby grabbed the headlines on the professional circuit last year as he completed a successful defence of his World Championship title to finish the 2016/17 season with a record-equalling five-ranking titles.

But the ‘Jester from Leicester’ was not the only player to enjoy a five-star campaign as Hong Kong’s Ng On Yee matched his feat on the WLBS World Women’s Snooker Tour, claiming five ranking titles of her own during the calendar year.

The highlight for the 27-year-old came in Singapore as she defeated 11-time champion Reanne Evans and India’s Vidya Pillai, both in dramatic final frame deciders, to claim the World Women’s Championship for a second time. She quickly followed up her success by adding further world crowns at Six and Ten Red levels a month later to complete a hat-trick of titles.

Although she lost out to Evans at the Paul Hunter Women’s Classic to start the new season, she quickly turned the tables with victories at the UK Women’s Championship and Women’s Masters competitions to complete a career-best year on the tour.

Such is the extent of her success during the year that the second ranked player has put herself in with a chance to overtake long-term number Evans and become world number one for the first time if she can make a good start to 2018.

‘Only the beginning’

But for On Yee, while last year yielded the most silverware of her career to date, she firmly believes that the best is still yet to come with many years and challenges ahead of her on the green baize.

“I always live by the following slogan: If you believe it, you can achieve it!” said On Yee. “2017 was definitely my best year by far.

“A lot of people have asked whether this defines the peak of my career. For me it is is quite the opposite, I believe this is only the beginning of a very long career for me. Even the best player cannot guarantee that he or she will win every game, but I believe there’s still a lot for me to learn both on and off the table – and if I keep on learning, I can only get stronger! In particular I have recently been working really hard on improving my scoring and break building.”

Breakthrough

The 27-year-old began competing in WLBS events in 2011 and quickly climbed the rankings, scoring her first victory against top dog Reanne Evans on her way to winning the UK Women’s Championship for the first time in 2013.

Her real breakthrough came however at the WLBS World Women’s Championship in 2015, when she ended Evans’ ten-year reign as world champion in the semi-finals, before going on to defeat Emma Bonney in the final to claim the sport’s biggest title for the first time.

Becoming a star

Such success has seen her become a bona fide sporting icon in her native Hong Kong, transcending her sport and being profiled in the internationally famous Elle Magazine. In 2016 she was named ‘Best of the Best’ at the prestigious Hong Kong Sports Star Awards, becoming the first non-cyclist to win the award for seven years.

Last summer On Yee took played in exhibition matches against legendary figures Stephen Hendry and Jimmy White at the inaugural Hong Kong Masters, a ground-breaking tournament which attracted crowds of over 3,000 in her homeland and that On Yee hopes will return in the future.

“It makes me very happy to see more opportunities and greater awareness for snooker in Asia, i.e. the Women’s World Championship being held in Singapore and the first Hong Kong Masters. In Hong Kong, we always have full support from the government and Hong Kong people. Tickets sold very well this year, meaning we have increased number of snooker fans.

“I don’t see why we cannot have similar matches or exhibition opportunities in the future. Hopefully this can be a yearly cultural event, along with sports including Formula E, Volleyball and Marathons.”

The World Women’s Snooker Tour will return next month with the WLBS British Open, to be played at the Stourbridge Institute on the weekend of 17-18 February 2018.

Reanne Evans plays rest shot

Reanne Targets Tour Return

Earlier this year Reanne Evans became the first woman to win a match at the World Championship in Sheffield and snooker’s biggest female star admits that she would love to experience the ‘buzz’ of the professional circuit again on a regular basis.

Dudley’s Evans describes her 10-8 win against Finland’s Robin Hull as the best win of her career ‘by far’ in particular because of how highly she regards the former Shoot Out champion as a player in his own right.

“I class Robin as a top class player and much better than his ranking,” said Evans. “In our match I thought that he played well but I was just able to put him under a little pressure.

“I was proud of myself for that win. It was great to hear comments afterwards like how I looked like a pro out there. It was the most comfortable I have felt playing, using the nerves to help me.

“A couple of years ago when I played Ken Doherty [Doherty won 10-8 at the same stage of the event] we both struggled and I had a sniff at winning. I was gutted, the most gutted I have ever been – so to win against Robin was amazing for me.”

Back in 2010/11 Evans was awarded a wildcard to compete on the professional circuit for a season but was unable to make an impact, despite coming close on a few occasions, notably taking then reigning world champion Neil Robertson to a deciding frame at the EPTC6 event. Nevertheless she enjoyed the experience and would love the opportunity to compete once more against the best players in the world on the open tour.

“When I was on tour I didn’t win a match,” explained Evans. “But I learned so much and my game improved loads. Being on tour just gave me another lease of life and was something different and new to try. It also gave me the chance to prove points to myself in some ways.

“Would I like that feeling again? Of course while I’m still playing I will try to get back there. It would be in my mind the only thing I haven’t achieved regularly.”

Successful start

While she has occasionally had the opportunity to compete on the open tour, the 31-year-old has remained a constant force on the World Women’s Snooker Tour which she has dominated since claiming the first of a record 11 WLBS world titles to date in 2005.

She started the 2017/18 season in familiar fashion by claiming a dominant victory at the Paul Hunter Women’s Classic in Germany, defeating Ng On Yee 4-1 in the final before the Hong Kong player turned the tables to win by the same scoreline at the LITEtask UK Championship in October.

“It has been a good start to the season,” continued Evans, who is currently supported on tour by Elite Studio 147, the Blade Cue and World Seniors Championship organiser Jason Francis. “Obviously I try to win everything I enter, but I haven’t been playing great for a while now and I have been suffering with a neck injury recently so have got to be pleased with my results.

“I always strive to win more and set more records, but I can’t take players like On Yee for granted and I don’t like losing so as my mom would say – I need to pull my socks up!”

Reanne Evans poses with WDBS players

WDBS Visit

Earlier this season Evans took time out to visit the Open Disability Snooker Championship organised by World Disability Billiards and Snooker at the Golden Cue in Bilston, England. People with various disabilities were thrilled to meet the player widely recognised as the sport’s greatest ever female player who was impressed by what she saw.

“I must admit that when I went to see the WDBS tour I had no idea what to expect,” continued Evans. “When I walked in and saw players with all different types of disability knocking balls in on off the lamp shades, just being generally happy to be there and loving playing, it really opened my eyes.

“I thought it was fantastic. They even made their own equipment so that they could play – nothing stopped them! They just loved it and I wish them all the best.”

Suzie Opacic at PHWC

Opacic Plans Flying Start at UK Women’s Championship

This weekend sees the return of the World Women’s Snooker Tour returns with the LITEtask UK Women’s Championship 2017, the second ranking event of the new season.

Among the field will be current WLBS world number eight Suzie Opacic, who is looking forward to returning to the baize having missed out on the recent Paul Hunter Women’s Classic won by Reanne Evans in Germany.

We caught up with Suzie recently to look ahead to this weekend’s tournament, hear why she believes that recent changes to the Tour have given women’s snooker a real boost and also learn more about her life away from the table…

Hi Suzie, you are currently preparing for your first event of the new season this weekend in Leeds. How much are you looking forward to getting back to the baize for what will be your first event of the new season?

I’ve still been practising over the summer and I’m really looking forward to getting back into tournament play after missing the Paul Hunter Women’s Classic.

I was surprised that I managed to hold onto eighth spot in the rankings despite missing the event in Germany, so I am hoping that I can have a good tournament in Leeds and push on up the rankings.

You played well in Leeds last year and were unfortunate to lose out in a decider to eventual runner up Tatjana Vasiljeva. What are your targets for this year?

To not lose as many deciders! I had a number of very close matches last season at crucial times, and so hopefully this season I can maintain my composure under pressure and win those vital frames when they really matter.

I always just aim to do my absolute best at a tournament – at the end of the day it’s all down to how you play on the day and everything clicking into place!

You have been competing on the tour for most of the last decade but we have seen some big developments over the past 12 months, notably with tournaments overseas in Germany and Singapore. What have you made of the changes and the direction that the tour is heading in?

Yes, my first tournament was in 2006. I had a four-year break from the circuit largely due to studying and completing a Masters, but also because the circuit was going downhill, with low entry numbers, fewer tournaments and no real incentive to play.

The last few years however have seen a huge change to women’s snooker with backing from sponsors like LITEtask and Eden but the change of structure too, which has been a real boost.

I’ve been really fortunate this season to have the backing of Billiards Boutique, and this sort of sponsorship really boosts the circuit and allows more players to compete.

The circuit is seeing new faces at every tournament, and more tournaments abroad which is increasing the standard and giving the game more appeal. I was very impressed in Singapore by the standard of some of the younger Thai players especially.

How much encouragement for the future does it give you to see Reanne Evans winning matches on the Main Tour and Ng On Yee playing in big arenas at the World Games and in Hong Kong recently?

Seeing Reanne and On Yee increasing the profile of the women’s game is a real boost and it gets more girls playing – we need more of this to raise the publicity of women’s snooker and encourage girls to take up the game.

There’s still a standard gap between the men’s and women’s circuits and this gap needs to be broken down so the women’s game can attract more sponsors and increase the profile of the women’s game – and there’s no reason the standard should be any lower, it’s just down to getting more girls playing from grassroots level.

Looking back at this year’s World Women’s Championship in Singapore in March, how memorable was the week and would you like to see more tournaments held in Asia?

Singapore was a fantastic experience. To be able to play the game you love on the other side of the world, meeting new players in a new environment, it was great. It was clear that there’s some huge talent across other parts of the world and there’s no reason why the women’s game should be so restricted to UK tournaments. More tournaments in Asia will boost the profile of the women’s game and help increase the standard too.

For many years Reanne Evans dominated the women’s tour and of course she is still the number one ranked player, but in Ng On Yee she seems to have a real contender now. How good is that rivalry for women’s snooker?

Women’s snooker, and any sport, needs that rivalry to increase standards and push players to strive to be the best. Everyone wants to be challenged and it was clear in Singapore there are some real contenders pushing forward in the women’s game, which is great to see.

Earlier this year we saw Chloe White win her first under-21s event at the Eden Masters in Derby. You know her well and must have been pleased to see her win that event?

Chloe plays at the same club as me and so it was great to see her win. I’ve seen her progress really well over the last few years. Her game has rapidly improved and she’s proved she’s a real contender to pick up junior titles. It’s great to see more junior players on the circuit and their commitment is fantastic.

Finally, away from the baize there have also been exciting developments for you as you have taken up a new job. Tell us a little bit about that…

I changed jobs in the summer and now work for Heathrow Airport as a town planner in the Expansion team. My role is to help get planning consent for the new runway and associated expansion project. It’s a £17 billion project and also includes realigning the M25, so it’s a very exciting project to be working on but also very challenging.

It’s a fine balance between work and managing to find the time to practice, but as long as I can continue to compete, especially when many of the girls play full time, then I’ll enjoy playing on the circuit. At least if there are more tournaments abroad I can go straight from work to the plane!

Good luck to Suzie and the rest of the field in action this weekend at the LITEtask UK Women’s Championship. View the draw here.

Stephanie Daughtery

Next Generation Geared For German Trip

As the Paul Hunter Women’s Classic returns to the city of Fürth, Germany later this month, a number of the Tour’s younger players are preparing for their first taste of snooker action outside of the UK.

The tournament will be the first event of the 2017/18 World Women’s Snooker Tour and as in 2016, will be headlined by familiar faces including multiple world champions Reanne Evans and Ng On Yee, as well as fellow top 10 players Maria Catalano, Wan Ka Kai and Rebecca Kenna who will all be eyeing a title tilt.

As well as the big names however, the event will also see no fewer than six players aged 18 or under representing the next generation of women’s snooker, five of whom will be travelling from the UK to play in their first ever overseas competition.

Leading the charge will be Wakefield’s Stephanie Daughtery, two-time defending UK Women’s under-21 champion and WLBS world number 17. Set to be among the seeded players at a ranking event for the first-time, Daughtery first began to play at the age of 12 and was introduced to the World Women’s Snooker Tour by her coach Anthony Hebblethwaite back in 2014.

Now 16, Daughtery is already looking forward to her first overseas competition and the chance to gain crucial experience as she looks to achieve her ultimate goal in the sport.

“I am very excited to be able to compete in Germany for the first time!” said Daughtery. “My aim is to one day become world women’s snooker champion and this will be a great opportunity to be able to learn from the top players.

“I hope that being able to experience playing in a different environment will help me to improve my game and am looking forward to being able to watch and compete against some outstanding players during the week.”

Daughtery is looking forward to being joined by players including Aimee Benn and Claire Edginton, both also regular faces at UK based events who will be competing overseas for the first time.

“The social aspect of these events is really important,” continued Daughtery. “Aimee and Claire are my closest friends on the tour so it is great that we will all be able to make the trip together.

Players aged 18 or under at the Paul Hunter Women’s Classic (age in brackets)

  • Lily Dobson (14)
  • Aimee Benn (15)
  • Stephanie Daughtery (16)
  • Emma Parker (17)
  • Linda Erben (17)
  • Claire Edginton (18)

Another of the younger generation who will be making the trip is 17-year-old Emma Parker, who in April claimed victory at the LITEtask World Under-21 Championship for the first time. Unlike Daughtery and her other contemporaries, Parker is a relative newcomer to the Tour having entered her first event at the Connie Gough Trophy back in February.

“I played pool with my dad when I was little,” said Parker. “Where we played there was a snooker table and I always wanted to play but I was too small. Eventually when I was able to play snooker I loved it and became hooked. I have been playing competitively for two years now.

While this will be her first playing experience overseas, the tournament will not mark Parker’s first visit to Germany, following a unique experience back in 2006 when she was lucky enough to play a special role at the FIFA World Cup.

“I went to Germany in 2006 for the football World Cup,” explained Parker. “I went as a mascot for the England team after winning a competition sponsored by McDonalds. I walked out on the pitch with John Terry and I will never forget the feeling when the crowd cheered. It was an incredible experience that I will never forget.

“So I am really looking forward to the trip this time. I love snooker and watching the professionals, it encourages me to play as well as them one day. My Nan and grandad both love snooker too and they will be coming along with me.”

Like Daughtery, Parker hopes to be able to learn from the tournament so that she can fight for titles, not only against other women but one day against the men as the likes of Reanne Evans, Ng On Yee and Tatjana Vasiljeva have recently demonstrated in professional competition.

“My snooker goal is obviously to win as many tournaments as I can,” said Parker. “I would love to play competitively against the men as well. To be able to achieve this I need to practice hard, have commitment and put all my effort into the sport.

“I can learn a lot playing against players like Reanne and On Yee. Their experience can show me how important it is to practice and learn how to play the game as it should be played. I have the good fortune to play and practice with Ronnie O’Sullivan. I have learnt so much watching and playing him and it really drives me to improve. He is my idol in the game and I am very lucky to be close to him.”

The Paul Hunter Women’s Classic 2017 will be played on 24-27 August.