Tag: Jaique IP Wan In

Griffiths Reflects on Decade of Success in Hong Kong

In recent years, the World Women’s Snooker Tour has become one of the most cosmopolitan series of events in our sport with players from across the globe regularly competing in our tournaments.

One region in particular that has played a significant role in the internationalisation of the tour has been Hong Kong, with several players based at its Sports Institute (HKSI) including our three-time world champion Ng On Yee having competed in tournaments over the past decade.

A driving force behind providing opportunities for female players in Hong Kong has been Wayne Griffiths – son of former world champion Terry Griffiths and qualified WPBSA Snooker Coach – who this September will celebrate his tenth anniversary since becoming HKSI Head Coach.

Laying the Foundations

Together with his team, including Alan Wong and David Roe who will be familiar to all on the women’s circuit, Griffiths has helped shape the infrastructure that has enabled players at the HKSI to achieve their potential during the past decade.

“I joined HKSI as Head Coach just before the 2010 Asian Games,” said Griffiths. “Billiard Sports joined HKSI in 2009 when the sport scored enough points to be considered for elite funding as a Tier A sport. This allowed an enhanced budget, a training grant for each player, travel expenses and a Head Coach. Unfortunately for them – that Head Coach turned out to be me!

“I wanted to employ a coach to work with me and I had known Alan Wong from a previous WPBSA coaching course. I knew he was native to Hong Kong and was well respected and liked as a junior coach. I felt Alan’s experience, coupled with his cultural knowledge and language skills made him a perfect addition for the team. Luckily for me, and for everyone else, he decided to take up our offer and join us in April 2011. We have been the core of the coaching team ever since and I couldn’t do without him!

“Michele Nip joined us as a full-time pool coach in 2016 (she had been part-time since 2012) and David Roe joined in the summer of the same year. Michele had brought up the junior pool team from a very young age and has developed them into Asian and World junior champions. David Roe, as a former top 16 professional player, was brought into to give us some high level ‘playing’ and international coaching experience, which I felt brought a good balance to the team overall. Both Michele and David have contributed massively to our achievements here in recent years.

“We also get around three visits per year from Lee Walker and Kelly Fisher as we seek to give the players as many different opportunities to grow and learn from the best. Their experience and input have also proved to be invaluable for us.”

World Women’s Snooker

Jaique Ip Wan In would be the first player from Hong Kong to compete on the World Women’s Snooker Tour, reaching the quarter-finals of the World Championship in both 2008 and 2009. In 2012 she became the first player from Hong Kong to win a ranking event at the Agnes Davies Memorial, defeating compatriot So Man Yan in the final.

At this time the Tour was based exclusively within the UK prior to becoming a subsidiary organisation of the WPBSA in 2015, providing an additional logistical challenge for Jaique and the other players who would join her in subsequent years.

“HKSI started with just four women players (the ‘golden girls’ as I believe they were known) of Ng On Yee, Ip Wan In Jaique, So Man Yan and Yu Ching Ching in 2010,” said Griffiths. “Three of these ladies were gold medal winners at the 2010 Asian Games.

“These four ladies were very keen to travel to international events to test themselves against the best players in the world. To do this we knew we had to come to the UK and enter WWS events.

“Obviously, the travel was an issue for us. It is generally 24 hours door to door for a UK trip from Hong Kong and a 7-8 hour time difference to get over. Fortunately for us however, we were well funded and supported by the HKBSCC, HKSI and the HKSAR Government. This allowed us to travel a few days early to get over the long trip and get some practice at the venue. We learned a lot of lessons along the way and this meant we felt we were getting stronger, on and off the table, with every trip we made.

“Even though we did not manage a win over Reanne Evans early on, we did start to score some positive results against other top players. This gave us all some encouragement and showed that we were moving in the right direction.

“However, Reanne was still the ‘Queen’ and Maria Catalano and Emma Bonney were the other business end players who always were tough to beat. It was around this time we felt things were becoming a little comfortable for the four ladies and we went in search of a ‘Sigmoid Leap’!

“To intensify competition, in 2013 we added another player, Wan Ka Kai, who was selected through a local TID event and went on to be Hong Kong’s second highest WWS ranked player not long after. Since then we have followed this strategy of increasing the members of the team to keep levels of motivation high.”

‘Respect but no fear’

Of course while many players from Hong Kong have gone on to establish themselves on the circuit, the most successful player to date has been our current world number two Ng On Yee, who famously ended the 10-year reign of Reanne Evans at the World Championship in 2015, going on to win the biggest tournament on the calendar three times over a four-year period from 2015-2018 and becoming world number one.

Her WWS debut came four years prior to her first world title when as a 20-year-old she crossed cues with Evans for the first time, losing 4-1 in a match that would launch a healthy rivalry that continues to this day.

“I think this was my first major overseas event with the ladies and I remember it quite vividly,” recalled Griffiths. “Regarding On Yee specifically, she was still developing on the table at that time. However, what encouraged me about her at that event was her attitude. Two things I remember in particular.

“The first was a round robin match against Revanna Umadevi from India. On Yee looked like losing the match at 1-1 and 45+ behind with three reds left. She then fluked a red and cleared with a 50 break to win on the black. This was not a massive break or a critical victory maybe, but it did show me a little about the mental make up of this young player.

“The second thing I remember was the knockout match with Reanne. On Yee did well but was still roundly beaten. However, it was On Yee’s positive attitude before, during and after the match that told me that here we had someone who mentally could mix it with the best.

“There was respect but no fear and a dogged determination to beat Reanne in the future – who at that time was pretty much seen as unbeatable. We set about breaking down what was needed to close the gap and On Yee worked diligently to achieve this. We knew there was some way to go, but that first event showed me that Hong Kong had a special player with the attitude and belief of a champion.”

Ng claimed her first WWS title at the 2012 Northern Championship, before defeating Evans for the first time on her way to winning the 2013 UK Championship. Two years later she would deliver her biggest performance to date as she defeated Evans in the semi-finals of the World Championship in Leeds, before claiming the trophy with a 6-2 success against Emma Bonney in the final.

“During the 2015 World Championship I was actually working down the road with Marco Fu in Sheffield and it was Alan Wong who guided On Yee to what was her biggest win to date. It was a great achievement. To end the reign of a dominant world champion is never easy and we all know what a great competitor Reanne is.

“This victory made sure that On Yee would be seen as one of the top female players in the world. The win made a lot of noise back in Hong Kong and was a massive boost for the sport – and for On Yee personally. In 2016 she received the coveted ‘Best of the Best’ sports award for Hong Kong for her results in 2015 and this launched her as a well-known personality in the region. For a female snooker player to win this award it was a significant step in the sport’s history in Hong Kong.

“We are all so happy to see a player with a great attitude and work ethic, who has listened and acted on the advice she has been given (rather than paying it lip service) to make the most of her talent. On Yee works hard and, maybe more importantly, she works smart. It is not an accident that the best players will be the players who are striving to improve and are never satisfied.

“This desire to get better however, has to be balanced for it not to become negative. On Yee has got this balance just about right now and it has been an honour and a pleasure for us all to be part of her journey to date.”

‘A Journey not a destination’

Since becoming world champion Ng has increasingly had the opportunity to compete against the world’s best male players at events including Q School, Challenge Tour and the 6-Red World Championship in Thailand.

“On Yee has improved considerably in the last 2 – 3 years and her game is getting closer to the men’s level – as the performance against Alan McManus in the 2019 World Championship showed,” said Griffiths. “However, she is a realist and she knows she has some way to go to consistently be at the level she needs to qualify for the men’s game through Q School or other accepted avenues.

“Our feeling has always been that if On Yee is always striving to improve enough to reach the men’s top tier, then we can be sure she will still be at or very near the top of the women’s game. This approach has worked relatively well to date.

“We are always looking for our own marginal gains as we strive to improve all our players in Hong Kong. We collect a lot of data here at HKSI in terms of skills benchmarking and matchplay ability. This factual and measurable data gives us a very good idea of where our players are in terms of reaching the next level. Through gap analysis, we then set about trying to formulate plans that will hopefully see the player improve in the key areas highlighted.

“We see this as a journey and not a destination, and the best On Yee can hope for is that she realises her full potential. If this means she is one of the first female players to play by right on the main tour, it would be an achievement she, and everyone here at the HKSI and the HKBSCC, would be very proud of. In the meantime, however, to quote our mantra here, she will focus on trying ‘to be a better player tomorrow’.

As Ng has continued to achieve success on the women’s circuit, she has been joined by further players from Hong Kong with seven currently ranked inside of the top 30. For each WWS events the HKSI runs an internal selection policy which as Griffiths explains, helps to create pressure situations to test the players.

“We are fortunate enough to have a strong squad of female players here in Hong Kong and they all get excellent support from HKBSCC, HKSI and the Hong Kong Government,” continues Griffiths. “We have no other player quite at On Yee’s level yet, but her ability and achievements are certainly inspiring them all to keep working hard to improve. So Man Yan, Ip Wan In Jaique, Ho Yee Ki, Fong Mei Mei, Cheung Yee Ting and Chu Pui Ying are all very good female players in their own right, and every one of them has supported HKSI with top results in recent years.”

The last decade has not only been significant for players based at the HKSI, but the circuit as a whole which has become more international since coming under the remit of the WPBSA in 2015. New events in mainland Europe, Asia and Oceania have led to the promotion of new talent and new opportunities for players globally, something that Griffiths is supportive of.

“The work done by the WWS team means that the Ladies’ game is now unrecognisable compared to where it was when I first attended in 2011,” explained Griffiths. “The depth and breadth of standard has improved significantly, numbers have increased (competitors and countries) and the events are now run, reported and marketed in a more professional manner.

“The women’s game now has far more respect and a lot more interest around the world. In terms of getting results however, it is has become a lot harder in recent years. Great players from the UK, mainland Europe, and especially now from China (Bai Yulu) and Thailand (Nutcharut Wongharuthai et al) have pushed the standards higher and higher.

“All these things come together to point to a very bright future for the women’s game, and all of us in Hong Kong look forward to be a part of it for many years to come!”

We would like to thank Wayne for his time and we look forward to seeing his team and all of the players from the HKSI again at upcoming tournaments.

World Rankings – Australian Women’s Open 2019 Update

The official world women’s rankings were recently updated for the second time during the 2019/20 season after Nutcharut Wongharuthai claimed her first ranking event title at the Australian Women’s Open last month.

The WWS world rankings operate on a rolling two-year basis, with points earned during 2017/18 to be removed during the course of this season. At this revision, no points were removed, with those earned at this year’s Australian Women’s Open added.

Maximum Mink on the Move

Although a number of the world’s top 10 were absent in Sydney, there was a significant move in the top four as Nutcharut Wongharuthai moved above Rebecca Kenna into third place, a new career-high for the Thai youngster. Having entered the event 3,350 points behind Kenna, ‘Mink’ as she is also known more than did enough to break new ground in Australia as she defeated second ranked Ng On Yee in the final to bag the maximum 7,500 points.

With Kenna set to defend semi-final points at this month’s Eden Masters from two years ago, an event which Wongharuthai did not play in, the Thai star is already guaranteed to end the calendar year in at least third position. Next in her sights will be three-time world champion On Yee, with the Hong Kong star mathematically within reach in Coulsdon later this month if Wongharuthai were to go all the way with On Yee losing out early.

While this would appear unlikely, On Yee does have 7,250 more points to defend during the second half of this season than Wongharuthai meaning that we are set for a real battle for the number two spot behind runaway world number one Reanne Evans over the coming months.

Notable Movers

Elsewhere, Jaique Ip Wan In returned to the world’s top 10 for the first time since 2017 after reaching the semi-finals in Sydney to become the second highest ranked player from Hong Kong and with fewer points to defend this season than anyone else inside the top 14 will be hoping to consolidate her position over the coming months. There is also a notable rise for another Hong Kong native as Pui Ying Mini Chu climbed to 18th position after her own run in Sydney.

Of the Australian players competing on home soil Judy Dangerfield consolidated her position as the highest-ranked in 28th, while quarter-finalist Jessica Woods moves up to 31st, a gain of seven places. Also reaching the last eight from Australia was Carlie Tait, who improved upon her last 16 run in Sydney a year previously and climbs 27 places to number 42.

Also breaking new ground is Tani Mina of Japan who moves to 51st position, while South Korea’s Jeong Min Park is up to 39th after she reached the quarter-finals.

The World Women’s Snooker Tour will return with the Eden Women’s Masters from 23-24 November 2019. Enter online HERE.

World Women’s Rankings – European Women’s Masters 2018 Update

The official world women’s rankings have been updated for the second time this season following victory for Reanne Evans at the European Women’s Masters in Belgium last weekend.

The WLBS world rankings operate on a rolling two-year basis, with points earned during 2016/17 to be removed during the course of this season. At this revision, no points were removed from the ranking list as there was no corresponding event two years ago, with just points added from the European Women’s Masters at De Maxx.

Evans closes the gap

After Hong Kong’s Ng On Yee dramatically extended her lead at the top of the world ranking list with her victory at the season-opening UK Women’s Championship, second ranked Reanne Evans has now narrowed the gap following her latest title success.

With On Yee’s early exit to Nutcharut Wongharuthai at the last 16 stage in Neerpelt, combined with the first silverware of the season for Evans, the 11-time world champion has closed to just 7,050 points behind, compared to 13,612 heading into Belgium.

Elsewhere Keighley’s Rebecca Kenna consolidated third place with her run to the semi-finals, with closest challenger Maria Catalano not competing in the event and therefore unable to add to her total.

The remaining positions inside the top eight are unchanged, but there is a new entrant to the top 10 as 18-year-old Nutcharut Wongharuthai climbs two places to a career-high ninth following her second appearance in a ranking final. Since joining the tour as a regular player back at February’s UK Open, only the top three have gained more ranking points than the talented Thai player who has just 3,300 to be removed from her total during the next 12 months and is on course to continue moving up the list.

Ranking risers

Outside of the top 10, there is a new career-high of 13th for Emma Parker after the 19-year-old reached her first ranking quarter-final in Belgium, while former world number three Jaique Ip also climbs two places to 12th after she also reached the last eight.

Hong Kong’s Ho Yee Ki also rises one place to a new personal best of 16th position, while Germany’s Diana Stateczny re-enters the top 30 after she reached the last 16 stage.

There is a leap of 14 places for home favourite and our host last weekend at De Maxx, Wendy Jans, who is now ranked 31st following her run to the semi-finals.

Finally, Australia’s Judy Dangerfield also moves to a new career-high of 44th after she reached the knockout stages at her second ranking event.

Under-21 rankings

There was a change at the top of the Under-21 rankings in Belgium as Emma Parker ascended to top spot following her fourth Under-21 title victory during the past 18 months.

Having come into the tournament just 300 points behind 16-year-old Shannon Metcalf, Parker defeated the youngster 2-1 in the round robin stages of the European Women’s Masters Under-21 event before defeating Nutcharut Wongharuthai 2-0 in the final to clinch the title.

Parker now sits 3,450 points clear of Metcalf at the top of the list and with fewer points to defend compared to the Leeds-based youngster during the remainder of the season has a good opportunity to remain there for the immediate future.

Further down the list, Thailand’s Wongharuthai climbs two places to fifth following her final appearance with Aimee Benn next in her sights.

The next ranking event will be the WLBS Australian Women’s Open 2018, which will be held for the first time at Mounties in Sydney, Australia from 25-28 October 2018. Enter now online HERE.

LITEtask UK Women’s Snooker Championship: Tournament Preview

The World Women’s Snooker Tour will return this weekend with the LITEtask UK Women’s Snooker Championship in Leeds and with the draws for the tournament now out, today we take a look at a few of the key themes to follow throughout the event.

The top two

Having shared last season’s silverware between them, current world number one Ng On Yee and 11-time world champion Reanne Evans will once again head into the tournament as the players to beat.

On Yee, who last season won the event for a third time with a 4-1 victory against Evans in the final, will be looking to extend her advantage at the top of the current world rankings with the gap currently standing at 5,850 points at the close of last season. In fact, with Evans defending maximum points from the corresponding event two years ago when she defeated On Yee in the semi-finals, the Hong Kong player will only need to complete her first match to guarantee retaining top spot following the event.

Record eight-time UK champion Evans however comes into the event having won three of the past four singles competitions on the tour and with 5,450 fewer points to be removed from her total during the course of this season will be keen to start closing the gap this weekend in Leeds.

Group draw

With the top two seeded through to the knockout rounds the remaining 26 players will contest Saturday’s group stage with the top two guaranteed to progress from each of the seven groups.

There is a real feeling of variety to this event with nine of the world’s top ten joined by five players who will be making their first appearances on the women’s circuit in Leeds, including players from the USA and Thailand.

Group A is headed by two-time UK Championship semi-finalist Suzie Opacic who will be aiming to go one match further this weekend and reach the final for the first time. The current world number seven will be joined by Thailand’s Nutcharut Wongharuthai, fresh from her appearance at last week’s SangSom 6-Red World Championship in Thailand, as well as Elizabeth Black and Heidi De Gruchy.

Grimsby’s De Gruchy will be making her return following a year off the tour since the corresponding event in 2017 at which she qualified for the knockout stages for the first time before losing out to Reanne Evans.

Over in Group B we have a real mix of youth and experience with top seed Aimee Benn joined by fellow junior Steph Daughtery and seniors competitor Dorothée Rapp of Germany. The group is completed by Hull’s Kate Longworth, the first of five debutants at the Northern Snooker Centre.

On paper one of the most eye-catching groups is Group C which will see world number four Rebecca Kenna looking to progress beyond the quarter-final stages of this event for the first time.

She will be up against former world women’s under-21 champion Emma Parker, Claire Edginton and Thai debutant Ploychompoo Laokiatphong. Coached by professional player Mike Dunn, the Thai youngster is well-regarded as a player and like each of the newcomers this weekend, a welcome addition to the circuit.

Two players from Hong Kong have found themselves paired in Group D with world number six Katrina Wan paired with compatriot Ho Yi Kee. Joining them will be two-time under-21 event winner Chloe White and 13th ranked Shannon Metcalf.

The final four-woman group is Group E with 2012 champion Maria Catalano its seeded star. Winner of the Connie Gough Trophy in 2017, Catalano is the last player other than Ng On Yee or Reanne Evans to claim silverware on the circuit and will of course look a little different this weekend following the completion of her ‘brave the shave’ challenge on Friday evening.

Set to challenge her on the baize will be Maureen Rowland together with two more newcomers to the circuit in the form of Jessica Connolly and Frances Eames Noland, the latter becoming our first active player from the United States of America.

There is also an international flavour to Group F with Germany’s top ranked player Diana Schuler set to be joined by former world number three Jaique Ip Wan In of Hong Kong and England’s Jackie Ellis.

Lastly, Group G is headed by the experienced Jenny Poulter, who will take on Connie Stephens and our final newcomer for this event, Michelle Baker. The wife of World Disability Billiards and Snooker player David Baker, Michelle has caught the snooker bug and will be looking to make a name for herself starting in Leeds.

Side events

The weekend will also see side-events played across both days of snooker.

The under-21s competition will see eight players begin at the quarter-finals stage in a straight knockout draw with Shannon Metcalf and Emma Parker kept apart as the top two seeds based upon their positions on the current Under-21 ranking list.

First up for home player Metcalf will be a clash with Claire Edginton with either Chloe White or two-time UK under-21s champion Steph Daughtery awaiting in the semi-finals. In the bottom half of the draw Parker will begin her defence of the title that she claimed a year ago against Aimee Benn, while there will also be an all-Thai clash between Nutcharut Wongharuthai and Ploychompoo Laokiatphong.

With six entries received into the seniors competition, both Jenny Poulter and Jackie Ellis have been randomly drawn straight through to the semi-finals and will each await the winner of a preliminary round match. Playing for the right to face two-time defending champion Poulter will be last year’s runner-up Maureen Rowland and Germany’s Dorothée Rapp, while Yvette Greenway faces newcomer Michelle Baker in the bottom half of the draw.

In addition to these two side-events there will also be a Challenge Cup tournament held for players who have not qualified to play during Sunday’s final stages.

Tournament updates

As always, the latest results and draws from the 2018 LITEtask UK Women’s Snooker Championship will be available to view throughout the weekend at MySnookerStats, with regular updates and photos to be posted at our Facebook and Twitter pages.

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.