Tag: So Man Yan

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 Women’s Rankings – Eden Women’s Masters 2018 Update

The official world women’s rankings have been updated for the final time in 2018 as the season reached its midway point following victory for Reanne Evans at the Eden Women’s Masters 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, points earned at the 2017 Eden Women’s Masters (Derby) were removed from the ranking list and replaced by those earned at this year’s event held at the South West Snooker Academy in Gloucester.

Evans closes the gap

Reanne Evans has closed the gap to Hong Kong’s Ng On Yee to 7,050 points following her record fifth triumph at the Eden Women’s Masters last weekend.

Having entered the event 10,800 points behind her Asian rival, Evans duly maximised her opportunity to home in on the current world number one with On Yee not competing at the tournament.

Interestingly, although she claimed the maximum 7,500 points on offer by taking the title in Gloucester, the gap between the top two has only narrowed by 3,750 points as we head towards the Christmas break. This is because Evans was defending maximum points at the corresponding event in January 2017, while On Yee only reached the quarter-finals of that event in Derby, meaning that she had fewer points to defend at this update.

With 10,400 more points to defend than Evans between now and the end of the season however, On Yee must have a strong finish to the season if she is to retain her number one ranking next summer.

The top 10

Elsewhere there was a new entry to the top 10 as Emma Parker climbs four places to 10th following her maiden semi-final appearance in Gloucester. The 19-year-old replaces Aimee Benn, who herself had a positive weekend reaching only her second quarter-final, but was defending last 16 points from two seasons ago.

With no points to be removed from her total however, having not competed in the corresponding event in January 2017, Parker gains 3,750 points as she continues her rise up the ranking list from 22nd position 12 months ago. In fact only six players have earned more points than her so far this season meaning that if she can maintain her current form then she has a real chance to rise further still.

Otherwise the top 10 remains stable, players including Rebecca Kenna (3), Laura Evans (6) and Suzie Opacic (7) consolidating their positions having all reached the quarter-final stage or better at the Eden Women’s Masters.

Rise and fall

Outside of the top ten, there are career-high positions for Hong Kong trio Ho Yee Ki (12), Fong Mei Mei (17) and Pui Ying Mini Chu (18), who despite not competing in Gloucester have gained positions because they were not defending points from 2017.

Also setting a new high watermark in their respective careers are players including Chloe White (22), who reached her first quarter-final at the weekend and Jackie Ellis (23), after she reached the knockout rounds for the first time.

A little further down the list both Yvette Greenway (39) and Connie Stephens (40) have broken into the top 40 for the first time having also made it through to the last 16, while there are three new entries on the list as the circuit continues to expand.

With players on the rise it is inevitable that others have dropped down the list, most notably So Man Yan (24) who is down seven places following the expiration of her points from reaching the final of the event two years ago.

Others to have slipped down are Jenny Poulter (down four) and notably Vicky Shirley, a quarter-finalist in Derby who has played only one event since which sees her drop to 90th position on the latest list.

Under-21

For the second time in three events there is a change at the head of the under-21 rankings after Shannon Metcalf captured her first Under-21 title to reclaim top spot at the expense of Emma Parker.

Stephanie Daughtery consolidated third position after an impressive win against Parker at the semi-finals stage of Gloucester’s junior event, although she would ultimately finish as tournament runner-up to Metcalf.

The World Women’s Snooker Tour will return in 2019.

Reanne Evans wins in Germany

Updated WLBS Rankings: August 2017

The official WLBS world women’s ranking list has now been updated following Reanne Evans’ victory at the Paul Hunter Women’s Classic last weekend.

The WLBS world rankings operate on a rolling two-year basis, with points earned during the 2015/16 season to be removed during the course of this season. With no corresponding event played in 2015, no points have been removed for this cut-off, with points gained in Germany now added to player’s totals.

Evans consolidates

Following a hat-trick of victories for Ng On Yee towards the end of last season at the World Championship and Festival of Women’s Snooker, the Hong Kong star had closed to within 5,300 points of long-time number one Reanne Evans at the top of the ranking list.

Victory for Evans in Germany however sees her extend her advantage by 1,500 points, with the gap possibly set to widen further following next month’s UK Women’s Championship where On Yee will be defending maximum points following her Leeds victory in 2015.

Rebecca Kenna plays snooker

Top six pull clear

With five of the top six in action at the quarter-finals stages in Fuerth, there is now a gap of some 4,525 points from sixth placed Wan Ka Kai, to the likes of Tatjana Vasiljeva, Suzie Opacic and Jaique Ip Wan In, the trio having not competed in Germany.

There is a new career-high ranking for semi-finalist Rebecca Kenna, who rises one place to fifth position and with no points to defend for the remainder of the year will have fourth placed Laura Evans in her cross hairs over the coming months.

So Man Yan in action

On the rise

One player who looks well-placed to make significant progress up the ranking list over the coming months is Hong Kong’s So Man Yan, now up to 12th following her semi-final run in Germany. With no ranking points to defend during the remainder of the season, it will be all gain for her over the coming months and she is now within striking distance of the top 10.

The newest entry to the top 10 is Germany’s Diana Schuler, who breaks into the group for the first time at the expense of Sharon Kaur following her last 16 run at the weekend. Fellow German Diana Stateczny also made significant progress at the weekend by reaching the quarter-finals, meaning that she climbs six places to number 21.

Junior players Stephanie Daughtery and Aimee Benn both gain one position each to rise to 16th and 19th respectively, while there are three new entries to the ranking list, Sangeeta Hemchand, Anita Seidel and Linda Erben having entered a WLBS event for the first time during the current counting period.

The updated ranking list will be used to determine the seedings for next month’s LITEtask UK Women’s Snooker Championship.

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.

Reanne Evans and So Man Yan with trophies

Evans Claims Fourth Masters Crown

World women’s number one Reanne Evans captured her fourth Eden Masters title yesterday with a dominant 4-0 victory against So Man Yan in the final.

The 11-time world women’s champion made smooth progress through the draw with victories against Aimee Benn, Vicky Shirley and Laura Evans in the knockout stages without the loss of a frame.

Her opponent, Hong Kong’s So, defeated Rebecca Granger, Suzie Opacic and in the semi-finals compatriot Jaique Ip Wan In (who had earlier defeated second seeded Ng On Yee in the last eight), to reach her second WLBS ranking final following the 2012 Agnes Davies Memorial.

Evans, who earlier in the day had made an event high break of 107 during the quarter-finals, would prove too strong for So in the final however, completing the tournament with an unblemished record of 20 frames won from 20 played.

The title represents her second ranking event success during the 2016/17 season, following victory at the UK Ladies Championship last October and is her fourth Eden Masters crown (2013, 2015×2) since the event was first staged four years ago.

“It always feels great to win a title,” said Evans, who with her first title of 2017 has now won at least one WLBS title during each of the last 14 years. “It was a long day but my game was solid all tournament and I was happy with my concentration throughout the day.

Evans also dedicated the victory to long time WLBS player Michelle Brown, who was recently diagnosed with breast cancer and is currently undergoing treatment.

“This one is for Brownie, we are all thinking about her and can’t wait to see her back fit and playing again soon. It is another big reminder that all women need to remember to check their breasts regularly because it really could save your life.

“Thank you also to our sponsors Eden Resources who continue to play a big part in support women’s snooker with their backing of this event and the upcoming World Championship in Singapore.”

For So Man Yan despite defeat to Evans, her final run represents another strong event following her return to the circuit at the previous event in Leeds, where she claimed the Challenge Cup title. She is now set to climb further up the rankings from her current position of 16th when the list is revised following the tournament.

Side events

The Challenge Cup tournament in Derby saw an all-Singaporean final as former Eden Classic semi-finalist Charlene Chai defeated Regina Toh 3-0 to claim her first WLBS title. She had previously beaten Chrissy Allwood, Sharon Lewis and Diana Schuler to reach the final, before taking victory in the decisive match.

Both Chai and Toh will next be in action at the Eden World Women’s Snooker Championship, which will be held in their home country from 13-19 March 2017.

Portsmouth’s Chloe White claimed her first under-21 title with a 3-2 victory against Shannon Metcalf. White, who competed in her first WLBS tournament at the UK Ladies Championship earlier this season, won a tense deciding frame on the final pink for victory and was presented with her trophy by WPBSA Chairman Jason Ferguson.

The Seniors competition was won by Jenny Poulter, who won her repeat final with Sharon Kaur following their meeting at the UK Ladies Championship.

The next tournament of the 2016/17 WLBS Women’s World Ranking Series will be the Connie Gough Trophy, which will on 18 February 2017 at the Dunstable Snooker Club.

Updated WLBS Rankings: October 2016

The updated WLBS world rankings have now been published following victory for Reanne Evans at the recent LITEtask UK Ladies Championship at the Northern Snooker Centre in Leeds.

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 LITEtask UK Ladies Championship, the points from the 2014 Eden Classic have been removed in accordance with the already published points drop-off dates.

This means that although world number one Evans retains a comfortable lead at the top of the rankings following her eighth LITEtask UK Ladies Championship victory, her points total remains at 68,400 as she has effectively defended the points that she won at the Classic two years ago. In fact, second placed Ng On Yee actually closes the gap slightly to 14,850 points, as her semi-final run in Leeds was an improvement upon her quarter-final exit in 2014.

One of the big movers unsurprisingly is Latvia’s Tatjana Vasiljeva, who reached her first WLBS final before losing out 5-1 to Evans. Her run, combined with the fact that she had no points to be removed from her ranking means that she climbs from sixth to third in the list ahead of Maria Catalano and Hong Kong duo Jaique Ip Wan In and Wan Ka Kai.

Another player making progress up the ranking list is Laura Evans, who climbs into the top ten for the first time since her tour return at number nine following her run to the semi-finals at the Northern Snooker Centre. With no points to defend during the next 12 months following her return to the circuit at the 2015 Masters, the Welsh number one is on course to rise further still.

Hot on her heels is Keighley’s Rebecca Granger, who is up seven places to 14th after narrowly losing out to world number two Ng On Yee at the quarter-final stages in Leeds. Like Evans, the tour newcomer has no points to defend for the foreseeable future and will be eyeing a place in the world’s top ten, while Challenge Cup winner So Man Yan is also up a place to 16th.

Finally, it was also a successful weekend for Ireland’s Paula Judge, who comes straight into the list at number 46 by making it through to the quarter-finals at her début WLBS event. With plans to continue playing for the remainder of the season, she could be another one to watch over the coming months.

The updated ranking list will be used to determine the seedings for the Eden Ladies Open Championship which will take place on 14-15 January 2017 at the Cueball, Derby.