Suzie's Diary: LITEtask UK Women's Snooker Championship 2018
The World Women's Snooker Tour 2018/19 season kicked off this weekend with the Litetask Women's UK Championships in Leeds. Held at the Northern Snooker Centre, the event attracted 26 entries, including players from Hong Kong, Thailand, Germany and USA.
I was really looking forward to this event, being the first of the season and also nice to be back at the Northern and to catch up with everyone after the summer. The weekend kicked off with a Women's Snooker Open Day on the Friday at Kirkgate Markets in Leeds, to help raise awareness of the tour and encourage women to take up the sport. Unfortunately traffic on the journey up meant the event was over by the time I arrived in Leeds, but I did manage to get some time on the practice table on the Friday night.
Saturday kicked off with the group stages, the top 2 seeds were drawn through to the last 16 (Ng On yee and Reanne Evans). I was the seeded player in Group A meaning I had a later midday start, allowing me an hour or so to practice and get the cue arm well oiled. I faced Thai player Nutcharat Wonghauthai in my first match, also known as 'Mink'. I'd played Mink before in the Challenge Cup of the Women's World Championships in Singapore last year, so knew it wouldn't be an easy game. Mink has impressed since joining the tour, especially having reached the final of the British Open in Stourbridge last season. I made a good start in the first frame and took a 35 point lead. However a safety shot that overran by fractions left Mink an opening and a 30 break led to the frame going down to the black, which Mink won. Becoming more fluent in the next two frames, Mink took her chances and played a solid game, which left me losing 3-0 and not getting much of a look in.
I knew I had to win the next 2 games and went on to beat Heidi De Gruchy and Elizabeth Black, both with 3-0 scorelines, leaving me finishing second below Nutcharat in the groups.
The Last 16
The last 16 draw was done that evening and last 16 matches started approx. 7pm. I drew World No1 and current World Champion Ng On Yee but I was looking forward to the match and up for the challenge. We were playing on the central match table at Leeds, which I've previously found hard to adjust to given the tightness of the pockets and speed of the cloth which is far from what I'm used to practicing on! However I settled fairly quickly and got used to the pace of the table, it's a lovely table to play on.
I won the first frame fairly comfortably, taking my chances in the balls when I had them. The next frame stayed close, Ng On Yee had a lead but left me a chance to clear the colours - I potted a good mid range yellow which left me a fairly routine clearance. Finishing a little high on the blue unfortunately I under hit the shot and landed low on the pink. I needed pink and black but rattled a half ball pink trying to check the white back for the black, 1-1. Knowing I could nearly have been 2-0 up against the World No1 I was up for the challenge. Ng On Yee took the third frame, and I was trailing in the next. I potted some good balls to close the score line and on the colours Ng On Yee potted the white leaving me a chance to clear. The brown was tight to the top rail and I knew I had to drop it in with enough pace to land on the blue. I knew if I missed it I'd lose the frame - luckily the brown hugged the rail and I potted the blue to the top pocket which left me a straightforward pink to force a deciding frame.
I was keen to take this opportunity having noticed Rebecca Kenna had beaten World No2 Reanne Evans on the opposite table, I was hoping to cause another shock. The decider was scrappy following a long safety battle. At one point 6 colours were on the rail with around 10 reds clustered in the bottom corner! Nonetheless, Ng On Yee managed to pick off some odd reds one by one with low value colours which soon racked up a small lead, and I was left needing a snooker on the final colours. Shame I couldn't get over the line in this match, but I can take many positives from coming close to a great win. Ng On Yee went on to win the tournament, beating Rebecca Kenna 4-1 in the final.
The next day I played in the Challenge Cup (for those not qualifying for group stages or losing in last 16). I recorded a 2-0 win in the first round over Dorothee Rap from Germany, followed by a 2-1 win over Chloe White in the quarter finals, and a 2-0 win over Dianna Schuler, also from Germany, in the semi final. I faced young talent Shannon Metcalf in the final. Shannon had a strong contingent watching the match as it is her local club. I won the first frame comfortably but Shannon struck back in the second and took it on a black ball. I missed a few easy balls and Shannon played fantastic in the next frame to take the match to 2-1.
I managed to win the next which resulted in a deciding frame with many twists and turns. Shannon left me a chance to clear on the brown - I thought I'd landed perfectly on the blue but an extra millimetre too far and I found myself touching the black and snookered on the blue! I managed to escape from the snooker but left Shannon a straightforward blue to the middle and subsequent pink to take the match, Shannon is definitely one to watch in the future and played brilliantly - she's fearless and a great potter, a good match to be involved in.
Next up is the European Women's Masters in Belgium at the start of October!