As excitement builds ahead of the start of this weekend’s Taom UK Women’s Snooker Championship, today we preview the draw with 38 players set to contest the prestigious title.
The tournament marks the start of the 2022/23 World Women’s Snooker (WWS) Tour season, which is set to return as a fully international circuit with events to be held in Europe, the Americas, Asia and the Oceania regions.
It all begins with a return to the historic Northern Snooker Centre in Leeds, England, which has been the home of the tournament since on seven successive occasions since 2015.
With the world’s top eight players among those set to contest the title, it is set to be a fantastic season-opener which is sponsored by Taom Billiards for the first time.
To the draw…
Installed as top seed as defending champion and world number one, Reanne Evans will be bidding for a record-equalling 11th UK crown crown and third in a row having previously triumphed in 2019 and 2021.
She will be joined in the last 16 by reigning world champion Mink Nutcharut, who will be seeded second at each of this season’s ranking tournaments, except for those at which she is defending champion where she will be seeded first.
Perhaps surprisingly, it will only be Mink’s second appearance in the UK Championship, following her run to the semi-finals in 2018, when she lost out 4-3 to Rebecca Kenna.
England’s Jamie Hunter is set to begin her sophomore year on the WWS Tour and will be hoping to build upon a successful debut campaign highlighted by her last four appearance at the World Championship in February.
She will be joined in Group A by Chu Pui Ying of Hong Kong, who makes a welcome return to the tour for the first time since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. A two-time Australian Open quarter-finalist, ‘Mini’ will be targeting a last eight place for the first time in a UK event.
Germany’s Diana Schuler returns to the UK Championship for the first time since 2018, with three last 16 appearances representing her best results in the competition to date.
Among those awaiting her in the group will be Northern Ireland’s Chucky Preston, a quarter-finalist in 2021 who lost out to eventual champion Reanne Evans and has a previous win against Schuler to her name at the 2019 Eden Masters.
Also present will be 14-year-old Sophie Nix from Scotland as she begins her second season on tour, as well as another returning player from Hong Kong as Ho Yee Ki bids to improve upon her last eight run at the event in 2018.
Ploychompoo Laokiatphong reached a career-high world ranking of number seven following her run to a third career ranking event semi-final at the Winchester Open in April and will be hoping to consolidate her position inside the top 10 with another strong performance in Leeds.
Her quest begins with an otherwise all-English group which features the vastly experienced Jenny Poulter, alongside 17-year-old talent Chloe Payne and Darwen’s Emma Brown, who reached the last 32 a year ago.
Welsh number one Laura Evans is set to make her ninth appearance in the UK Championship and will be aiming to extend a strong record in the competition which has seen her reach three semi-finals from her past four appearances, including in 2021.
She will face England’s Marianne Williams, who continues her return to competitive action which began at February’s World Championship, as well as compatriot Zoe Killington and Lynn Shi of China.
At a career-high ranking of number five, England’s Emma Parker came agonisingly close to reaching her first ranking event final at the UK Championship a year ago, losing out on the final pink to Rebecca Kenna in a deciding-frame.
Standing in her way in the first of three all-English groups in 2022 will be UK debutant Sarah Dunn and Bradford’s Nat Howard, who reached the last 32 in 2019.
Rounding off the group will be the returning Louise Leskevicius, who competed in 20 tournaments from 1995-2000 and will be appearing in her first tournament in over 22 years.
Arguably the group of the round, Group F is headed by third seed Ng On Yee, who can boast a record at the tournament which has seen her claim the title four times from her previous five appearances.
She will be joined by another multiple champion in Tessa Davidson, who won the tournament three-times between 1989-1998 and has risen to the top 30 in the latest rankings since her return to the circuit in January.
Also set to feature is former Thai World Cup winner Siripaporn Nuanthakhamjan, a quarter-finalist at April’s Winchester Open and a player with her eyes on climbing the world ranking list over the coming months.
Completing the group will be Kimberley Cowan of Scotland, who is set to make her tour debut in Leeds.
An ever-present in the UK Championship since 2015, England’s Steph Daughtery reached the quarter-finals of the event for the first time in 2021 to break into the world’s top 10 for the first time in her career.
A year on, she is set to begin her latest campaign in an all-English group which includes Annette Lord, who reached the last 32 in 2019, together with 13-year-old pair Laura Killington and Daisy May Oliver, the latter set to make her debut on the Tour this weekend.
The penultimate group in the draw features a two-finalist as world number four Rebecca Kenna bids to break her ranking title duck at the tournament in Leeds.
Her pathway will begin with a group that features compatriots Louise Burton and Emma Powers-Richardson, together with Ukraine’s Tetyana Volovelska, who is set to become the first player from her country to compete on the WWS Tour.
Completing the draw is another fascinating group which will be led by 2012 champion Maria Catalano, who was also a finalist in the event as recently as 2019.
She will be joined by Mary Talbot-Deegan, now up to 21st position in the rankings following her first season on tour following her return to action a year ago, as well as fellow returnee Jasmine Bolsover, who will be hoping to continue her own rise up the ranking list.
The trio will be joined by Michelle Baker, who is set to make her fourth consecutive appearance in the competition since her 2018 debut.
With reigning Under-21 champion Steph Daughtery having turned 21 over the summer, a new champion is set to be crowned this year with reigning world under-21 winner Ploychompoo Laokiatphong installed as top seed and separated in the draw from England’s Zoe Killington.
The Seniors competition is also set to be highly competitive, with Maria Catalano set to compete in the Over-40s events for the first time, together with the likes of current Seniors number one Tessa Davidson and former top ranked Jenny Poulter.
The action gets underway this Saturday from 10:00am with the latest match results and standings available via WPBSA SnookerScores.