The World Women’s Snooker Tour is set to return with the latest staging of the Eden Women’s Masters and below we look ahead to what is set to be a bumper weekend of snooker at Frames Sports Bar, London.
First held in 2013, the prestigious ranking event has been backed by title sponsor Eden Resources ever since and will return to South London for a second time following the successful 2019 edition won by Reanne Evans. The victory marked a record-extending sixth triumph for Evans, whose only defeat came in the 2017 final against Ng On Yee.
The event has once again attracted a significant entry, with 39 representing the largest entry outside of the World Championship in over 21 years – eclipsing the 36 we welcomed to the season-opening UK Championship just over two months ago.
With entry numbers on the rise, a new format is being trialled at this weekend’s tournament, aimed at accommodating as many players as possible, while ensuring reasonable playing times throughout the weekend.
The top four seeds will therefore enter the draw at the last 16 stage, including former champions Reanne Evans and Ng On Yee – the latter making her first appearance of the new season – as well as 2018 runner-up Rebecca Kenna and 2013 finalist Maria Catalano.
The remaining 35 players have been drawn into nine groups, with 18 players to progress to the knockout rounds. The strongest performing six group winners will progress straight to the last 16, with the remaining 12 players to contest a preliminary round match on Friday evening.
Ninth seed Connie Stephens heads up an all-English quartet in Group A, fresh on the back of her run to the final of the Challenge Cup tournament at the UK Championship in September.
She is joined by recent EBSA European Women’s Championship runner-up Jamie Hunter, who reached the last 16 on her Tour debut earlier this season, as well as former world number nine Aimee Benn and Dagenham’s Laura Gillett.
The second group of the round sees a rematch between teenage sisters Zoe and Laura Killington, who also met in competition at the season-opening UK Championship.
Also in the group are Chrissy Allwood – twice a winner on at national level already this season – who we spoke to recently ahead of her return to competition, as well as Guernsey’s Danielle Leadbeater, who made her Tour debut last year at the Belgian Women’s Open in Bruges.
World number six Emma Parker is set to be the highest ranked player to compete in Saturday’s group stages and will be looking to continue her strong start to the season at Frames.
Already a winner on the EPSB Women’s Tour and a semi-finalist at September’s UK Championship, the 22-year-old will notably face a rematch with compatriot Mary Talbot-Deegan, having won their contest at the last eight stage in Leeds.
Completing the section are Poland’s Izabela Łącka – a semi-finalist at the 2021 European Women’s Championship – Anna Lynch of Australia, who is the reigning World Women’s Billiards champion and will make her Tour debut in London.
England’s Steph Daughtery comes into the weekend on a high, having reached her third career quarter-finalist last time out and broken into the top ten of the world rankings for the first time.
Joining her in an intriguing group will be Jasmine Bolsover – winner of both the Under-21 and Plate competitions at the 2015 World Championship – who will make her first appearance on the circuit in almost five years.
Also present are Nat Howard – who made her international debut at the recent European Championships in Portugal – and finally Miina Tani of Japan, who having competed at the World Championship and Australian Open in 2019, will play her first UK event this weekend.
Eleventh seed Chloe White headlines Group E as she returns to the competition which saw her reach first maiden ranking event quarter-final back in 2018.
Among her opponents are fellow English players Louise Cothier and Mica Vernal – one of five debutants this weekend – plus Ewelina Pislewska of Poland, whose sole previous appearance came at the 2018 World Championship in Malta.
The sixth group on the list is led by Jackie Ellis, who made her debut at the Eden Masters in 2017.
Awaiting her will be a group that includes Northern Ireland’s Chucky Preston, who has made swift progress up the world ranking list to 31st position following quarter-final runs in two of her three ranking events played so far.
Also present are Kate Le Gallez – who reached the last 16 at the UK Championship, as well as veteran Jan Hughes, who contested the final of the Seniors side-tournament at Frames in 2019.
Making her first Tour appearance since the corresponding event in 2019 will be world number eight Suzie Terry (née Opacic), who will have winning memories at the venue following her past Challenge Cup success.
Her opponent in that final was Harriet Haynes, who has also been drawn in this group as she looks to continue her ascent up the rankings, as well as Scottish youngster Sophie Nix, who returns for her second Tour competition.
The group will be completed by Dalia Alska, who is one of three players from Poland who are set to compete this weekend.
At the time of writing our only group of three in the draw, Group H will be led by England’s Jenny Poulter, who will be looking to maintain her impressive record of having only once failed to qualify for the knockout rounds during the last seven years.
Looking to deny her will be fellow Englishwomen Emma Brown and Maureen Rowland, who will both compete at the venue for the first time, having missed the competition in 2019.
Top seed in the ninth and final group is Welsh number one Laura Evans, who performed strongly at the season-opening UK Championship before losing 4-2 to eventual champion and namesake Reanne in the semi-finals.
She is joined by 70th ranked Annamaria Wilkins of Hungary, as well as English duo Lauren McNamee and Cheryl Calverley, who will both be making their ranking event debuts this weekend.
Alongside the group stage draw of the main event, the line-ups for both the Under-21 and Seniors tournaments have also been published.
In the Under-21s competition, Steph Daughtery will be looking to secure back to back junior crowns following her UK success, with beaten finalist Chloe White placed in the opposite half of the draw as second seed. Together with 19-year-old Aimee Benn, the trio will be joined by four players aged 16 or under, who will each be hoping to score a big win during the weekend.
Finally, the Seniors tournament has once again received a strong entry, with three of the nine players set to contest their first Over-40s competition on the Tour. Newly-crowned number one Jenny Poulter leads the field and awaits the winner of the sole preliminary round tie, while second seed Jan Hughes will be targeting another final run, having done so at this event in 2019.
The action gets underway this Saturday at 10:00am with the latest match results and standings available via WPBSA SnookerScores throughout the weekend.