Category: News

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.

Updated WLBS Rankings: April 2017

The official WLBS world women’s ranking list has now been updated following the concluding event of the season, the LITEtask Festival of Women’s Snooker in Leeds, England.

The WLBS world rankings operate on a rolling two-year basis, with points earned during the 2014/15 season having been removed during the course of this season. With no remaining points to be deducted however, no points have been removed from the ranking list following the Festival, which has seen points added to the total.

It has been the perfect week for second-ranked Ng On Yee, who with victories in both the 6-Red and 10-Red competitions in Leeds has slashed the advantage of world number one Reanne Evans by more than half.

With the 11-time world champion in competition at the professional Betfred World Championship and so unable to compete at the Festival, On Yee has reduced Evans’ lead from 15,300 points to just 5,300.

Elsewhere, there is just one further change within the top 10, with the newly married Rebecca Kenna (née Granger), achieving a new career-high of sixth position, switching places with Latvia’s Tatjana Vasiljeva.

Not involved in either competition carrying ranking points in Leeds, Vicky Shirley drops three places to 15th, but it was a strong week for Emma Bonney who has climbed 11 places to break into the top 20 at 19th.

Season changes

Comparing the rankings to the start of the season, the biggest winners are Laura Evans and Rebecca Kenna, who have climbed from 12th and 21st positions, to fourth and sixth respectively.

Junior players Shannon Metcalf (13th), Jeong Min Park (18th) and Aimee Benn (20th) have also seen significant rises to climb into the top 20, while Claire Edginton is close behind in 22nd.

Paula Judge, Heidi de Gruchy and World Championship runner-up Vidya Pillai have all finished the campaign inside of the top 30, despite having not competed during the previous season.

Among those to have dropped places, Jaique Ip Wan In has fallen six places from third to ninth, while Jenny Poulter and Vicky Shirley have both dropped out of the top 10 since the start of the campaign.

The updated ranking list will be used to determine the seedings for the opening event of the 2017/18 season.

Draw Available: Eden World Women’s Snooker Championship 2017

The draw for the group stage of the 2017 Eden Women’s World Championship to be held at the Lagoon Billiard Room in Toa Payoh, Singapore on 13-19 March 2017 has now been made.

Of the 32 entrants, the top eight players in accordance with the updated ranking list following February’s Connie Gough Trophy have been seeded and kept apart during the group stage. In a draw carried out by tournament hosts Cuesports Singapore, the remaining players have been drawn into the eight groups, with players of the same nationality drawn apart.

Two players will progress from each of the groups and will be seeded into the knock-out draw in accordance with their results during the group stages.

Eleven-time world women’s champion Reanne Evans has been drawn in Group C and will open her latest title defence against international opposition in the form of Suniti Damani (India), Hoe Shu Wah (Singapore) and Nutcharut Wongharuthai (Thailand).

Asian number one and 2015 world champion Ng On Yee will face India’s Chitra Magimairaj, winner of the seniors competition at the 2016 World Women’s Championship, as well as Singaporean number one Charlene Chai and Ireland’s Ronda Sheldreck.

In total players from 10 different countries, including a mix of WLBS newcomers and some more familiar faces, will compete to claim the most prestigious prize in world women’s snooker this year.

The event will be formally launched on Sunday 12 March 2017 with a pre-tournament reception at the iconic Marina Bay Sands building, ahead of the start of play the following day.

You will be able to follow the latest results and group standings via MySnookerStats

Updated WLBS Rankings: January 2017

The latest WLBS world rankings have now been updated for a third time this season following victory for Reanne Evans at the first event of 2017, the Eden Women’s Masters in Derby.

The WLBS world rankings operate on a rolling two-year basis, with points earned during the 2014/15 season to be removed as this season progresses. Following the Eden Women’s Masters last weekend, points earned from the 2015 Eden Masters (Newbury) have been removed in accordance with the already published points drop-off dates.

As following the previous rankings update after the UK Championship in October, Reanne Evans remains at 68,400 as she has successfully defended the points that she earned two years ago with victory in Newbury. She does however still extend her lead at the top of the list as second placed Ng On Yee was only able to reach the quarter-finals, in comparison to making it to the final back in 2015.

Runner-up So Man Yan climbs one place to 15th, which at first glance may come as a surprise following such a strong showing in Derby. However, having made it to the semi-finals of the corresponding event back in 2015, she in fact only makes a net gain of 1,200 points, moving her above Yana Shut in the list. Importantly however, having not competed during the 2015/16 season due to the birth of her child, she has now consolidated her position and has a real chance to make significant gains over the coming months.

As the only player previously ranked inside the top ten not in action at the weekend, Latvia’s Tatjana Vasiljeva drops two places to fifth, but it was another strong week for Laura Evans who by making the semi-finals climbs three to a career-high position of number six. With the top eight generally seeded into the group stages, this is a timely boost for the Welsh player with the Eden World Women’s Snooker Championship drawing closer.

Falling out of the top eight is Seniors champion Jenny Poulter, who reached the quarter-finals of the Masters back in 2015, but this year fell a round earlier to Vicky Shirley who noweapfrogs her in the rankings as a result.

It was a good week for youngsters Shannon Metcalf and Aimee Benn, who both qualified for the knockout stages to continue moving up the list, while Stephanie Daughtery and Claire Edginton also improved their positions. Ireland’s Paula Judge also continued her rapid ascent by climbing 15 places to 31st having reached the last 16 on her second event back on the circuit.

Finally, Singapore duo Charlene Chai and Regina Toh are new entries on the ranking list at 56th and 59th respectively, as they warmed up for the upcoming World Women’s Championship in their home country.

The updated ranking list will be used to determine the seedings for the Connie Gough Trophy which will take place on 18 February 2017 at the Dunstable Snooker Club.