Reanne Evans battled through cue and health issues at last month’s Women’s British Open to retain her professional status and secure another two years on the World Snooker Tour, now she hopes to showcase her best game on the sport’s grandest stages.
The 12-time Women’s World Champion has struggled to find her best form in recent times. However, she has been hindered by an undiagnosed tremor which has impacted her game.
Despite this and last minute cue damage, she managed to outperform rival Ng On Yee to reach the British Open final and remain at the top of the Women’s world rankings. Evans lost the title match 4-3 to 19-year-old Chinese sensation Bai Yulu, who was runner-up to Thailand’s Baipat Siripaporn at the Women’s World Championship.
We’ve caught up with Evans to reflect on the British Open and discuss the current global trend of women’s snooker.
Reanne, first of all congratulations on retaining your tour card. How pleased were you to achieve that feat?
“I think everyone wanted a showdown with me against On Yee. It didn’t happen in the end. I wasn’t really thinking anything heading into that tournament. I didn’t think I could win it or play any good. I had a lot of issues going on and my cue was damaged. I actually played quite well in the end. Snooker is a random sport, I didn’t expect it. When I got to the final, I thought I was going to win but I was just so drained. Bai is half my age so she could probably have played another whole day of snooker. She deserved it in the end and she outlasted me. She is great for the game, has a good following and is a good young talent.”
How did your cue become damaged?
“I went to watch the World Seniors at the Crucible and Jason Francis said I could take my cue to have a hit on the practice table. I went to see everyone and enjoyed a couple of days there. As I was walking back from the venue to the hotel, it absolutely poured down with rain. I never thought anything of it. I got back home a day or two later and went for a practice. My daughter picked up my cue and said it felt funny. I said it was probably nothing and told her to go and wash her hands. When I chalked my cue, the chalk was damp and I looked and saw the wood was actually over the ferule. I was panicking and had to go up to the loft to find my old cue. The ferrule of that was black and mouldy so I had to clean it up and put on a new tip. My two cues are now with John Parris and he has done a refurb on them both.”
You have been dealing with a tremor recently. How hard has that been to contend with?
“At the moment it isn’t as bad, maybe because I’m not playing as much. There are just things in day to day life which trigger it. I have a couple of more scans to go to and will speak to neurologists to try and get it sorted.
“When it first started it was quite bad. There was a lot of publicity around women playing on the main tour, with the tour cards coming in. Matches were on TV and I was under the microscope. Most of last season, I had no feeling in my arm whatsoever. I was questioning whether I play quick, whether I play jabby or slowly. Nothing seemed to work. I didn’t know if I was coming or going. All the way down the right side of my body was shaking. Hopefully we can get to the bottom of it. I think not knowing what it is or what has caused it has been the main problem. Once you know you can start dealing with it.
“I probably shouldn’t have played last season when it was at its worst. However, we have been given this opportunity and it is something you think you can’t not turn up or withdraw. Hopefully it can be controlled a bit more.”
Now you have managed to get back on, what are the targets for the next two seasons?
“Since getting on the main tour I’ve been looking to win a few matches. It hasn’t been like on the Women’s Tour when I am looking to win events. That is a strange feeling. When I enter something, I want to win it. I know that’s not going to happen. It is a weird situation. It isn’t just not winning matches, I want to win the event. Changing the mentality is hard, but maybe I need to find a different approach. I love a challenge and I need to go out there and do my best. I have nothing to prove now. That is all on the young players like Bai, Baipat, Mink and the rest of them. I am older now. It is good that there is some youth and experience. They inspire me and hopefully I still inspire them sometimes. I have no real targets. I just want to see what happens. I still enjoy it and especially when I play well. If you enjoy a challenge, then you will always enjoy snooker because it is such a hard sport.”
How important do you think the tour cards have been for the women’s game?
“I think it is great for players like Baipat and Bai. They have no scars and just want to go out and enjoy it. I read Bai saying something about just wanting to play for herself. I thought that was great as it was what I used to think like. It got to the point when for a few years the limelight was just on me and I started trying to play for everyone. You get more pressure then and you have more people watching you. Everything is on your shoulders. I think it is fantastic for those young players coming on that there are a few of them.
“I still get messages now saying they didn’t realise women played. That is frustrating after all these years. To see what it is like in Thailand and see how many young girls play is just brilliant. We all get on really well and we want to do the best for ourselves and the best for the sport. There is a lot of talent out there now.”
How impressed have you been with how Bai Yulu performed at the British Open and at Q School?
“Because she is so young and just wants to pot balls she doesn’t think too much. She has a great game and is very confident. Her long potting is amazing. The other parts of her game will come with more experience. People were impressed with the pink she potted against Josh Thomond in the decider at Q School, but I was more impressed with the black. She just got down and didn’t even think about it. You need to do the right things at the right times and I think she did.”