The staging of the WineCellars.com US Women’s Snooker Open later this week represents the start of another eagerly anticipated season on the World Women’s Snooker Tour and below we take a look at a few of the key themes to follow over the next 12 months…
Following a decade which saw the overwhelming majority of tournaments won by multiple world champions Reanne Evans and Ng On Yee, the 2022/23 season was remarkable for having seen an incredible six different winners from nine tournaments.
With world champion Baipat Siripaporn and youngster Ploychompoo Laokiatphong having claimed their first ranking event titles, as well as double winner Jamie Hunter and a season-ending victory for Bai Yulu at the British Open, the campaign proved to be as wide open as any season has ever been, with 17-time ranking event winner Ng On Yee not picking up silverware for the first time since 2011/12.
Will this pattern provide to be a sign of things to come, with an increasingly competitive field seeing tournament wins distributed more evenly? Or will someone break clear of the pack and emerge as the dominant force once again over the season ahead?
Although four players broke their title ducks last season, there remain a number of talented cueists still waiting for their big breakthrough on the WWS Tour.
Both England’s Rebecca Kenna – now a five-time finalist – and Jessica Woods reached the title match of the US Open and Australian Open tournaments respectively last year, while the likes of Emma Parker and Mary Talbot-Deegan are among those ranked inside of the top 10 and still awaiting their maiden ranking title.
Or could we see a first-time winner from further down the list, with the strength in depth continuing to rise?
As in the previous two seasons, there will once again be two places on the World Snooker Tour to be won via the WWS Tour, as an official qualifying pathway to the professional circuit.
With Reanne Evans and Baipat Siripaporn having secured fresh two-year cards at the end of last season it is Mink Nutcharut and Rebecca Kenna who will be approaching the end of their maiden professional stints which began in 2022.
A look at last year’s one-year ranking list reveals that it is Thailand’s Mink who will begin the season well-placed following a season which saw her win titles at the Eden Masters and Belgian Open, with next year’s world champion also set to turn professional.
Should that event be won by a player already qualified, however, then it looks likely to be a close battle between English pair Jamie Hunter and Kenna, as well as Ng On Yee for the second position, unless another player can have an exceptional season to vault up the order…
With two finals from two at the end of last season, China’s Bai Yulu made an eye-catching start to life on the WWS Tour as she broke into the world’s top 20 following her success at the British Open, while she also hit a record break of 127 at the World Championship in February.
Having caught the eye of the wider snooker world with her performances at Q School, Bai already looks to have established herself among the elite. But what can she achieve during what is expected to be her first full season on the circuit?
There is guaranteed to be a change at the top of the Under-21 rankings this autumn with incumbent player Ploychompoo Laokiatphong having turned 21 during the summer months.
With a number of other players also set to turn overage before the next tournament, who will establish themselves as the top ranked junior on tour?
The credentials of Bai Yulu have already been established above, but it is Zoe Killington who is set to be the player to beat as she has amassed an impressive points haul over the past two years, with three Under-21 finals since 2021.
Also in the mix are the likes of Scotland’s Sophie Nix – who is still to play her British Open final against Bai Yulu from last season – Laura Killington and Australia’s Lilly Meldrum, who reached two ranking event semi-finals last season.
The Seniors rankings meanwhile also look to be interesting as while Tessa Davidson holds a strong lead at the top of the standings, it was compatriot Mary Talbot-Deegan who finished last season strongly by winning two events to set up a fascinating duel over the coming months.
In recent years the WWS Tour has been delighted to welcome back several familiar faces from the past and already it appears to be a trend that will continue into the 2023/24 season.
At the US Women’s Open the circuit will welcome back Canadian Maryann McConnell following an incredible 28-year absence, while England’s Hannah Ward – who may be more recognisable to many as multiple junior champion Hannah Jones – is set to appear in her first tournament in eight years at the upcoming Taom UK Championship.
With other names also rumoured to be in line for a comeback, who will be welcomed back to the Tour next?
The action gets underway with the second staging of the WineCellars.com US Women’s Open this weekend, follow our website and social media platforms for the latest updates.