Former Women’s World Champion Reanne Evans and the reigning Women’s World Champion Ng On-yee, will play in the first qualifying round of the 2019 World Snooker Championship.
On-yee faces former Masters winner Alan McManus while Evans, who has won the top woman’s prize eleven times, takes on Chinese player Zhang Yong.
If both women progress through the qualifier rounds they will meet in the final qualifying round.
It would be an historic moment with no female player having ever reached the television stages of the world championship.
Players need to win three best-of-19 matches to get to the Crucible.
Alan McManus who has never faced a woman as a professional said he will treat the match with On-yee just like any other match.
“On-yee is like any other very good snooker player.
“I’ve been a pro nearly 30 years and the last time I played against a lady player in a tournament was in my amateur days.
“There were a couple of good players then. In terms of playing a lady, that won’t affect me.”
McManus said of Reanne Evans:
“Reanne Evans has been the best player for going on 15 years. I’ve just always seen Reenie as just a very good snooker player.
“I think it’s difficult for the lady players, especially Reenie in the last decade. She’s been too good for one tour and maybe not quite good enough for the other.
“But she’s played in the World Championships a few times and she nearly beat Ken Doherty a few years ago but lost 10-8.”
McManus is expecting a tough match against his female opponent:
“I think what she’s been doing is playing in a couple of the academies in Asia, which are really thriving in the last few years and she’s been able to thrive through that,” he said.
“It is going to be first to 10 and you just want a good start to stamp your authority early on.
“I had a good result in China recently, but the three qualifying rounds are always a minefield.”
The news of these two women fighting for a place at The Crucible comes soon after world women’s number 3 Rebecca Kenna gave up snooker after being prevented from playing at a male only club.
Kenna had been prevented from playing in two fixtures due to some clubs in Keighley operating a men-only policy.
Mrs. Kenna wants to see the men-only rule scrapped.
The league spokesman said:
“There’s nothing we can do to overturn the decisions”.
Mrs. Kenna, speaking to the BBC, said:
“To be told you can’t play the sport you love because of your gender is ridiculous and it’s quite upsetting.”
Kenna has approached the organizing committee of the Crosshills and District Snooker League and has asked it to make a ruling:
“I think we should make it so these ‘men-only’ clubs are not allowed into the league if they are not going to let women play.”
“There are others on the women’s tour who are not even allowed in to their local league.
“Others have said this was what happened in the 80s and 90s but not anymore. I think it’s time Keighley moved with the times.”
In contrast to the lower leagues women are able to compete in the World Championships and all eyes will turn to Sheffield and The Crucible.
Only the top 16 seeds have an automatic place in the World Championship. The other places are won through the qualifying rounds where Reanne Evans and Ng On-yee will be hoping to make an impact.
The event starts on 20 April at the Crucible in Sheffield.