By Elliott Walsh
Until four years ago, Maike Kesseler had only ever seen the Crucible on TV. Now she is stepping on to that famous stage herself.
Just seven years since she started work with World Snooker, the German referee is rounding off the season with what is “a dream come true.”
She could have hardly chosen a better game to start with at the Betfred World Championship, sharing the stage with fellow debutant Yan Bingtao. The 17-year-old Chinese had a thrilling battle with Shaun Murphy, which finished 10-8 to the former World Champion.
Kesseler herself admitted to a few jitters on the morning of the game, “I was very nervous – thinking about today being the day,” she said.
It has been a quick journey for the 35-year-old who works in a bank back home in Mammendorf. It was only two years ago that she worked at the World Championship qualifiers for the first time. She believes that Sheffield and the Crucible are special places for anyone involved with snooker, and described it as “amazing” to work at the home of the sport.
When donning the white gloves this time, Kesseler had to forget everything else, even the famous Crucible atmosphere. “When I’m walking to the table I forget the things around me and am completely focused on the match,” she said.
“Of course you see the spectators and feel the atmosphere and see the crowd, but you’re not thinking about it.”
She had previously taken charge of the German Masters final in her home country, and this season oversaw the World Grand Prix final in Preston.
Kesseler enjoys the camaraderie with the other referees, who wished her good luck and offered basic advice (like not to fall down the stairs). And she has thoroughly enjoyed the experience.
She added: “To see big breaks is great, but as a referee you take everything you get. It is part of our job to enjoy everything that is going on on the table. My dream has come true, so we will see what happens next year and I’m happy to be here now.”