Tag: Mandy Fisher

The Mandy Fisher Story

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

New Women’s Seniors Rankings

World Women’s Snooker (WWS) is today pleased to announce the creation of a new world ranking list for women players over-40 from the start of the 2019/20 season.

To be run alongside the existing main world rankings and under-21 rankings, the decision to introduce a third ranking list follows a significant increase in entries to the seniors tournaments held at WWS events during the past 12 months.

Mandy Fisher, WWS President said: “It has been fantastic to the growth of our seniors competitions at tournaments in recent times, with old friends like Jan Hughes and Jane O’Neill picking up their cues again after some time away, as well as newcomers joining the tour for the first time.

“It was therefore an easy decision to establish a new ranking list for our over-40s to sit alongside our junior rankings and I am sure that the competition to become number one will be fierce over the months and years to come!”

The first WWS Seniors Rankings will be published following next month’s UK Women’s Snooker Championship and will be based upon results during the Seniors competition to be contested during the weekend.

Entries for the event are still open here: https://www.womenssnooker.com/tournament-entry/uk-womens-championship-2019-leeds-england/

World Women’s Snooker Championship Launched in Thailand

This year’s editions of the World Women’s Snooker Championship and the Women’s Snooker World Cup were officially launched this evening at a special welcome ceremony at the Hi-End Snooker Club in Bangkok, Thailand.

Hosted by our friends at Hi-End Snooker and the Billiard Sports Association of Thailand (BSAT), the ceremony was well-attended by players and officials, as well as the board of BSAT, Thai professionals James Wattana and Noppon Saengkham.

With the striking trophies for the week on display alongside the perpetual World Women’s Snooker Championship trophy returned by 2018 champion Ng On Yee, the evening saw speeches from dignitaries including BSAT President Suntorn Jarumon and WWS President Mandy Fisher.

All players were presented with welcome gifts by our hosts, including tournament programme, clothing and more.

The draws for both events have now been made and are available to view via snookerscores.net.

View more photos from the welcome ceremony at our Facebook page.

Bruges to Host Belgian Women’s Open

World Women’s Snooker (WWS) is today delighted to announce that the Belgian Women’s Open will be staged in the historic city of Bruges for the first time from 1-3 February 2019.

The new event will be held at The Trickshot, a modern family-friendly club featuring 11 tables, and which is accessible from both the UK (by Eurostar, ferry or air) and mainland Europe. Located close to the historic centre of Bruges, the event will allow players to combine a full weekend of snooker with the opportunity to see the sights of a beautiful area named as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2000.

The event will be the fifth event of the 2018/19 season and the second WPBSA Group event held at The Trickshot following a successful World Disability Billiards and Snooker (WDBS) tournament earlier this year.

Mandy Fisher, WWS President said: “I am thrilled to be returning to Bruges with the World Women’s Snooker Tour, having had several successful ranking events there in the past. I would like to thank The Trickshot for making this possible. We look forward to welcoming players from all over the world to this prestigious event.”

Olivier Vandebohede, owner of The Trickshot said: “I am honoured that The Trickshot Snooker Club will have the opportunity to host a World Women’s Snooker event for the first time.

“Last year we staged our first WDBS event which was a brilliant experience for us, so I am really looking forward to working together with the WPBSA and WWS on this tournament.

“We have several female snooker players at our club who already can’t wait for this opportunity to play with the best players in the world. I am sure that it will be a great weekend of both competitive snooker and fun times off the table!”

Further information including hotel rate and shuttle availability will be released with the full event entry pack closer to the event.

Sponsorship opportunities are also available for the event and you can contact us HERE for more information.

World Women’s Snooker

We are today pleased to announce that World Ladies Billiards and Snooker will now be known as World Women’s Snooker (WWS) as the organisation continues to develop its strategy.

This new name is instantly recognisable and completes a gradual transition which has seen the introduction of the World Women’s Snooker Tour and a full rebrand of our most prestigious events including the World Women’s Snooker Championship in recent seasons.

Since WWS became a subsidiary organisation of snooker’s world governing body the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association (WPBSA) in 2015, both organisations have worked closely together to provide increased opportunities for women and girls globally to participate in snooker.

From a tour predominantly based in the UK, to a truly international circuit that has staged events in Singapore, Germany, Malta, Belgium, Australia and next year in the U.A.E. with the 2019 World Women’s Championship in Dubai, the tour has seen significant expansion during the past two years with over 100 women now included on the latest world women’s ranking list. Total prize money will increase to a minimum of £50,000 during the 2018/19 season with the expectation that this will continue to grow for aspiring female cueists across the world.

With the support of important international organisations including the WPBSA and the World Snooker Federation, WWS also provides a clear pathway for the world’s best women players to compete against men in prestigious mixed gender competitions.

England’s Reanne Evans has already proven her ability on a number of occasions, famously defeating Finland’s Robin Hull 10-8 to become the first woman to win a match at the professional World Championship in 2017, having previously become the first woman to qualify for the venue stages of an event at the Wuxi Classic four years previously.

Together with fellow top female players including Nutcharut Wongharuthai of Thailand and Rebecca Kenna, Evans also won matches against male players at the mixed gender World Federation Championship earlier this year and has been joined by current world number one Ng On Yee in competing on the World Snooker Challenge Tour.

Mandy Fisher, WWS President said: “This is an incredibly exciting time for women’s snooker and today’s announcement is another important step in our development. Snooker and in particular providing opportunities for women to compete has been my life for nearly 40 years since we founded the organisation back in 1981 and it is now fantastic to see the progress that is being made.

“I have seen first hand the improvement shown by a number of our players recently and I am looking forward to seeing their continued development over the coming years.”

Jason Ferguson, WPBSA Chairman said: “I firmly believe that snooker is a sport for all and the work that we are undertaking to increase participation in snooker among women is a significant element of our global development plan. The professional World Snooker Tour is open to all players and there is no reason why women cannot compete alongside men at the final stages of our prestigious international tournaments including the World Championship in Sheffield.”

View the calendar for the remainder of the 2018/19 World Women’s Snooker Tour here.

Free Entry for New and Returning Players

We are today pleased to announce a new policy which is to apply at selected World Women’s Snooker Tour events from the start of the 2018/19 season aimed at encouraging new and returning players to pick up a cue.

Beginning with the LITEtask UK Women’s Snooker Championship, people who have either never played at one of our events before or have not entered an event since the start of the 2015/16 season, will receive free entry to the main competition at their first event.

This will apply to the following events:

Mandy Fisher, WLBS president said: “As we continue to expand the women’s tour with new tournaments being added to our calendar, it is equally important that our existing events continue to grow and welcome new players.

“For women and girls who have not played in one of our events before and are perhaps tempted to give it a try, or to players who have been away and are toying with a comeback, we hope that by offering this free entry it will help encourage them to give snooker a try.”

“Women of all levels of snooker experience are encouraged to get involved, meet new people and have fun at one of our competitions. We look forward to welcoming you soon!”

Key points:

  • Free entry will count only for the main event at their selected tournament. An entry fee will still apply for Seniors side-events.
  • The offer is open to people who have not competed in one of our events since the start of the 2015/16 season.
  • Any qualifying players who have already entered an upcoming tournament will be refunded their entry fee.
  • To enter people must still be a member of their national federation (learn more).

Enter now

To view the events currently open to enter please visit our Tournament Entry page.

LITEtask to Sponsor UK Women’s Championship

We are today delighted to announce that LITEtask will once again sponsor the WLBS UK Women’s Snooker Championship this year.

Specialists in the design and distribution of commercial lighting, the Leeds-based company has developed a strong association with the event since it first took over title sponsorship in 2015.

The event, which will again be known as the LITEtask UK Women’s Snooker Championship, was won last year by Hong Kong’s Ng On Yee, who defeated Reanne Evans 4-1 to capture the title for a third time.

On Yee with UK Trophy

Entries for the event opened earlier this week, with side-events for Under-21 and Seniors players also set to be staged subject to entries.

Mandy Fisher, WLBS president said: “I am really happy that LITEtask will sponsor what is our flagship UK event once again this season. Mark Pears [owner] has been a fantastic supporter of the women’s game for many years now and we are all pleased to be able to continue our relationship with him and LITEtask in 2018.”

Mark Pears, owner of LITEtask said: “Once again we are pleased to continue our sponsorship of the LITEtask UK Women’s Snooker Championship next month. Year on year we are continuing to see the standard of play on the World Women’s Snooker Tour increase and I can only see a bright future for the women’s game both here in the UK and overseas.”

Learn more about LITEtask online: www.litetask.co.uk

Learn more about our current partners: www.womenssnooker.com/about/partners

Australia to Host First World Women’s Ranking Event

World Ladies Billiards and Snooker (WLBS) and the Australian Billiards and Snooker Council (ABSC) are today delighted to jointly announce that a World Women’s Snooker Tour event will be staged in Australia for the first time ever later this year.

The Australian Women’s Snooker Open will take place from 25-28 October at the Mt Pritchard District and Community Club, known as “Mounties” in the western suburbs of Sydney, Australia. The tournament will become the third event of the upcoming season and be open to women from across the globe. The event will carry full ranking status, ensuring that it will immediately become a highly sought-after title on the tour.

Mounties is a community club offering full facilities such as four eateries, licensed bars, ten full-size snooker tables and much more. The tournament will be sponsored by Mounties and will carry a total prize fund of AUD$9000.00, with AUD$8000 to be won in the main event, including a top prize of AUD$3000 for the champion. A further AUD$1000 is allocated for the Challenge Cup event for players who do not qualify for the knockout rounds of the main competition.

Australia has a strong history on the women’s tour, with Lesley McIllrath one of just two non-UK winners of the World Women’s Snooker Championship (alongside current champion Ng On Yee) following her title triumph back in 1980. In more recent years Jessica Woods has also enjoyed success both at home and abroad, recently claiming her fifth national women’s championship winning 21 of the 24 frames that she played.

Mandy Fisher, WLBS President said: “It has always been an ambition of mine to see a World Women’s Snooker Tour event take place in Australia and therefore I could not be happier with today’s announcement. This is an important milestone in our history as we continue our global expansion as a body and I would like to thank both Frank Dewens and World Snooker Federation Treasurer Mike Peachey who have both contributed significantly to helping make this prestigious new event happen.”

Frank Dewens, ABSC President said: “It is indeed a great pleasure in opening up our Women’s Australian Open Snooker Championship to the world. We are looking forward to seeing the best women players in the world competing against Australia’s best.”

Further information, including full entry details will be released in due course.

For more information about Mounties visit their website: www.mounties.com.au

View our latest 2018/19 events calendar: www.womenssnooker.com/events

Huart Co-opted to WLBS Board

World Ladies Billiards and Snooker (WLBS) is today pleased to announce that Matt Huart has been co-opted to its Board of Directors.

Matt has regularly supported WLBS as part of his role as WPBSA Media Officer since 2015 and will now join the existing board of Mandy Fisher, Nigel Mawer QPM and Diana Schuler responsible for the World Women’s Snooker Tour.

As part of his new role Matt will continue to provide official media content from WLBS and its events, as well as working with external media outlets to effectively promote the women’s game to a global audience.

Matt also brings strategic experience to the board from his involvement in tournaments staged by bodies including World Snooker, World Disability Billiards and Snooker and the World Snooker Federation, and will work with the rest of the board to further develop women’s snooker over the coming seasons.

WLBS President Mandy Fisher said: “It is a great pleasure to welcome Matt onto the board. He has been involved with the WLBS for the past couple of years and he has worked hard to promote women’s game globally. With Matt on board women’s snooker has a great future in safe hands.”

Matt Huart said: “I am delighted to have received the opportunity to join the WLBS board and to be able to be a part of the team moving forwards. During the past few years I have enjoyed getting to know the fantastic group of players and supporters that we have on the women’s circuit and to have been a part of the development of a tour which has seen events staged in Germany, Singapore and most recently Malta for the first time.

“I see no reason why women’s snooker cannot continue to grow over the coming years and am looking forward to working with the rest of the team to deliver a tour of prestigious events that will encourage more women to participate in snooker.”

Vicky Shirley profile picShirley leaves the board

WLBS has also announced that Vicky Shirley has recently left her position as director and company secretary with immediate effect.

Vicky has been involved with our events for over 25 years, firstly as a player and also as a director since 2010. Everyone at the WLBS would like to take this opportunity to thank Vicky for her many years of hard work for women’s snooker and we look forward to welcoming her back to future events as a player next season.

Learn more about the WLBS Board of Directors HERE.

 

Women’s World Snooker Championship – A Potted History

The 37th World Women’s Snooker Championship gets underway this Wednesday at the Dolmen Hotel in Malta and represents the start of a new era for women’s snooker as the tournament will be held as part of the WSF Championships for the first time.

But as the likes of modern day greats such as 11-time champion Reanne Evans and Asian trailblazer Ng On Yee prepare to contest this year’s event, where did it all begin for women’s snooker?

Below we take a trip down memory lane and look back at some of our distinguished past champions…

Vera Selby MBE – our first ever world champion

The Early years

First held back in 1976, the inaugural World Ladies Snooker Championship – as the tournament was originally known – was won by Vera Selby, who defeated Muriel Hazeldine 4-0 in Middlesbrough to claim the title.

Gosforth’s Selby, who in 2016 was awarded an MBE in the Queen’s birthday honours list for her services to snooker and billiards, would go on to win a second world crown five years later. In doing so she succeeded Australia’s Lesley McIlrath, who until 2015 remained the sole non-UK winner of the tournament.

Selby’s opponent in the 1981 was Mandy Fisher, who following the tournament was devastated to learn of a risk that the tournament might not be held again, at a time prior to the ‘snooker boom’ that would come within the UK during the 1980s. Aged just 19, she played a key role in the foundation of World Ladies Billiards and Snooker, the body that remains responsible for women’s snooker and billiards to this day with Fisher serving as President.

Through the new body, Fisher was instrumental in ensuring the continuation of the World Championship, which was won by Sue Foster in 1983, before Fisher herself claimed the title the following year with a 4-2 success against Maryann McConnell of Canada.

World champion and President – Mandy Fisher with Steve Davis and Alex Higgins

The Fisher years

As Mandy found herself devoting an increasing amount of her time to the administration of women’s snooker however, it would be another Fisher who would go on to make a name for herself in the 1980s and early 1990s.

Sussex’s Allison Fisher – no relation to Mandy – had started to play snooker at the age of seven and just a decade later would go on to claim the first of a then record seven world titles against Stacey Hillyard in Solihull. She subsequently became the first player to successfully defend the title at the same venue the following year, before securing further titles in 1988, 1989, 1991, 1993 and 1994, the last in New Delhi, India as the Championship left the UK for the first time.

The perpetual World Championship trophy

Her rivals at the time included Ann-Marie Farren, who reached three consecutive finals between 1987-1989 (winning the first at the age of just 16 years and 48 days) and Northern Ireland’s Karen Corr, who reached six finals during the 1990s, emerging victorious from half of them including her first on the day following her 21st birthday.

It would be a third Fisher however who would go on to become the sport’s dominant player around the turn of the century, as for six years the final stages of the World Women’s Snooker Championship were held alongside its professional equivalent, at the iconic Crucible Theatre in Sheffield.

Yorkshire’s Kelly Fisher had rapidly ascended the world ranking list, having taken top spot whilst still a teenager and in 1998 won the title for the first time with a 4-1 victory against 1997 champion Corr. Adding further titles in 1998 and 1999, she became the first player to have won the title on three successive occasions, before she won the title on a further two times either side of victory for Lisa Quick in 2001, to take her total tally to five.

Reanne Evans won a record 11th world title in 2016

The Evans years

As the tournament moved on to what would become its new home for eight of the following nine years in Cambridge in 2005, by now there was another player ready to make her mark on the world stage. Dudley’s Reanne Evans had reached the semi-finals of the World Championship for the first time in 2002 as a 16-year-old, before she repeated the feat the following year.

In 2005 though there would be no stopping her, as she would go on to claim the first of an unprecedented ten successive world titles with a 6-1 victory against Scotland’s Lynette Horsburgh. With her attacking style of play, at one point Evans won a record 61 consecutive women’s matches and has since seen her go on to compete on the professional circuit, becoming the first woman to qualify for the venue stages of a full-ranking event at the 2013 Wuxi Classic and become the first woman to win a professional World Championship match against Robin Hull in 2017.

The defending champion – Hong Kong’s Ng On Yee

A rival emerges

Given the dominance of Evans, statistically by far the greatest ever female snooker player, it was therefore a huge shock when she fell at the semi-finals stage of the World Championship to Hong Kong’s Ng On Yee in 2015, the 24-year-old going on to defeat Emma Bonney 6-2 in the final and become the first Asian player to win the tournament.

Although Evans was to win back the crown a year later with a 6-4 success, it was the charismatic On-Yee who would claim a remarkable victory when the tournament was staged in Singapore for the first time in 2017, defeating Evans 5-4 in the semi-finals and then first-time finalist Vidya Pillai from India following another deciding frame 6-5 on the pink.

Having proved that her maiden success was no one-off, On Yee has since gone on to underline her status as a legitimate challenger to Evans, becoming the world’s top ranked player for the first time early in 2018.

To Malta

And so to 2018 as the world’s best women players will descend upon Malta’s Dolmen Hotel to battle it out for a first prize of €6,000 and the chance to add their name to a prestigious roll of honour.

Will Ng On Yee complete a hat-trick of world title victories, can Reanne Evans create history once again by claiming the title for a record 12th time, or will we see a new winner lifting the trophy next Saturday?

Further information, including confirmation of event entries and the round robin draw will be released shortly and you will be able to read regular updates from the tournament here at www.womenssnooker.com