The upcoming Eden Women’s Masters will see England’s Zoe Killington celebrate five years as a World Women’s Snooker (WWS) Tour player.
During that time the 17-year-old has risen to as high as 15 in the world rankings and earlier this year represented her country in the World Cup, so we recently caught up with Zoe to reflect upon her journey so far…
Hi Zoe, this month marks five years since you made your debut on the WWS Tour in Gloucester at the Eden Women’s Masters – does it feel like such a long time ago?
I feel like time has flown by. I still remember playing my first match and being so nervous, but loving the competition side of it. I’m slightly shocked that it has been that long.
You have since remained a regular competitor on the Tour, reaching five Under-21 finals, as well as the last 16 stage of several main ranking events. How happy are you with your development as a player during that time?
I’m quite pleased. The standard has improved massively over the last few years and I’m happy to still be in the top 20 given the quality of the other players.
I love that there are constantly new players joining the tour who are of a high quality because I love the competition and challenge they bring.
At my first tournament, my goal was to try and pot red and colour, and now it’s to win games.
It was also finally confirmed in September that you would rise to number one in the Under-21 rankings for the first time after the UK Championship, how big an achievement is that for you?
I am absolutely thrilled; it still feels a bit surreal! When I joined the tour, I had the ambition to reach number one before I reached 21, and to have achieved it at 17 is something I am pleased with.
There is definitely good competition in the Under 21s and I’m going to be working hard to keep number one.
As an extra perk of becoming number one, you have also been invited to take part in the EPSB Junior Elite Performance Programme this season, to receive some tips and advice from recognised experts within the sport which must be exciting…
I am very excited for it. The other juniors who have been invited are better players than I am and I’m looking forward to being with other people and learning more. I hope to come out of it having gained more knowledge and understanding.
It has been fantastic to see that you have received recognition for your achievements on the Tour, notably being named Young Sports Person of the Year at the recent Wirral Sports Awards, tell us a little bit about that…
In June, one of the PE teachers from my school had said that she nominated me for the award. It was for anything I had achieved during last season in all competitions. Then at the beginning of September, I had an email saying that I had been shortlisted and I was invited to the awards ceremony. The other shortlisted candidates had all represented club and country, in sports like boxing, sailing and trampolining. It was a pleasant surprise to win the award, and I hope that it inspires more girls in my local area to take up snooker.
Of course, snooker is very much a family affair for you with your sister Laura also competing on the Tour. Is that something that helps to spur you both on?
Our family is very competitive. I have to be better than Laura in everything, so I like that she plays as it gives me good competition, as well as somebody to practise with. She has improved so much from her first tournament, and she’s not an easy win anymore. I enjoy having her with me at competitions, though it does make for awkward car rides home if I do beat her in a tournament!
We have seen a few more juniors join the circuit over the last 12 months like Sophie Nix, Daisy Oliver, Chloe Payne, Natasha Chethan, Lilly Meldrum and Ellise Scott. How enjoyable is it to compete against them and grow together as a group of players?
I enjoy the competition the other juniors bring to the tour. It gives me confidence that as we get older, the main tour will continue to be of a high standard. I like seeing the juniors develop as well, as I know that I have to also develop to keep up with it, and this gives me motivation to keep going and try to be better.
Away from the baize, we often see you studying between frames at tournaments – what are you currently working towards and what are your goals for the future?
I’m in my last year of school and will sit my A-Levels next Summer. I’m studying Maths, Further Maths, Physics and Computer Science. I’m hoping to study Computer Science at university next year!
You also competed in Asia for the first time earlier this year at the World Cup and World Championship in Thailand. Tell us a little about the experience both on and off the table…
This was a fantastic opportunity! I got to represent England in the World Cup. I really enjoyed my trip over there, as the players who competed were just on a different level.
It was also my first-time leaving Europe and first time travelling without any parents, so it was character building and I learnt a lot about their culture.
As the Tour becomes more global, do you enjoy the opportunity to travel and play snooker?
I enjoy the opportunity as before playing snooker, I had never been to Belgium, which is now a personal favourite venue, or Thailand.
I’m excited that the tour is growing and I hope to travel to more countries to be able to play snooker and meet new people. I also love travelling and exploring new places, and to be able to do this whilst playing snooker is great.
I think the tour becoming more global is fantastic as it gives more women and girls in other countries the opportunity to play snooker and fall in love with competitions.
And finally, with five years down, do you have any particular goals or ambitions for the next five years on the baize?
I hope to become the Under 21 World Champion within the next few years. I also want to improve in the main tournament, reaching more last 16s and maybe even progress further through the tournament and increase my ranking.
I’d like to thank Lucid Games who have sponsored me for a few years now which has helped towards travel costs. I must say a big thank you to Neil Johnson who has coached me since day one. His coaching methods are unique and our lessons are always fun and informative. I wouldn’t be the player I am now without him.
Thank you to Zoe for her time and we look forward to seeing her in action at the Eden Women’s Masters later this month. Enter the event online via WPBSA SnookerScores.