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SnookerZone: Where We’ve Been and What’s Coming?

Snooker

It’s been 61 days, (roughly just under nine weeks since SnookerZone has been in operation!

In that time, the website has interviewed ten snooker coaches in the Coaching Zone. Reviewed some top products in the Equipment Zone, and tested out some top training aids in the Training Zone.

On the Zone blog, we’ve interviewed two great players so far on the World Women’s Snooker tour and the World Disability Snooker tour.

We’ve also covered the Guangzhou Billiards Exhibition to which the website is now featured on their media page. Over the coming weeks (and months) the Zone blog intends to interview more players on the amateur tours.

These include the WLBS tour, the WDBS tour, the EASB tour, and, the World Seniors tour, and any other tour SnookerZone can find. To find out what’s going on on the amateur scene, go to the great SnookerHub, here!

What’s Coming Up Soon

SnookerZone will be reviewing a Training Aid all the way from Australia!

We’ll be reviewing more products for the Equipment Zone.

And we’ll be reviewing some more books including Stephen Hendry’s new book Me and the Table!

In the meantime, read SnookerZone’s new review of the TSF snooker tip, here…

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Snooker: Would the Real Suzie Opacic Please Cue Up?

Photos Courtesy of Suzie Opacic

Top 10 ladies player Suzie Opacic says women who are interested in wanting to try snooker for the first time should just “give it a go” as now is a great time to jump on board the World Ladies tour.

In an interview with SnookerZone, Opacic, 30, and currently no 7 on the WLBS tour said: “If you enjoy it stick at it and work hard, with the fun comes the commitment. There are great opportunities now to get involved and try to compete in tournaments as much as possible – this will raise your game considerably.”

She said there were also new faces at tournaments every time now and with more sponsors coming on board such as the snooker store Billiards Boutique, who sponsors Opacic, she is optimistic ladies snooker is on the up.

She said: “The WPBSA has provided huge support for the ladies game in the last few years, with WLBS now sitting under the WPBSA umbrella. There are now more tournaments, more ladies entering, better prize money and more sponsors than a decade ago, the restructure has revamped the women’s tour.”

But, Opacic, who has always had a love affair with snooker, but juggles a busy job at Heathrow working on the Third Runway project, said she’s been fortunate not to have encountered any stigma when it comes to ladies playing the game.

Fortunate 

She informed SnookerZone:I’ve been fortunate – growing up playing snooker from an early age means I started in the local leagues early and am a regular at my local club, and can’t remember any negative reaction towards me playing snooker (apart from a chap who snapped his cue in half playing me once but I think that was just frustration!).”

She added: “The clubs were quite different environment’s 15-20 years ago but I believe they’re much more family orientated now, more inclusive and the smoking ban changed the atmosphere of our local club to make it more junior friendly almost overnight.”

When Opacic started getting serious about snooker, she had won the World Ladies Junior Championship in 2006 and she admitted she had entered it on a bit of a whim and didn’t expect much.

She exclaimed: “To come away with a title was great.”

Opacic told SnookerZone that the Ladies tour is like one big friendly family, but when they’re on the table it’s dog eat dog.

However, she said: “I’ve played on the tour for a long while now and so know everyone pretty well. I get on well with the other English girls including Maria Catalano (Ronnie O’Sullivan’s cousin) and Reanne Evans, and my Welsh doubles partner, Laura Evans.”

“it’s nice to meet up with everyone at each tournament.  Laura and I have come runners-up in the World doubles 2 years running so have our fingers crossed this year! It’s also great to meet new players and talk to players from other countries. The Hong Kong girls are lovely and I love traveling to tournaments and meeting new people, seeing different places, for me the foreign tournaments aren’t just an opportunity to play in a different venue but a chance to explore other cultures.”

Getting Stuck In for the New Season

Opacic will be playing in the UK Women’s Championship this month in Leeds and says she has been working hard to climb up the rankings even further. She currently has coaching from a World Snooker coach Dave Mumford whom has given her some great training routines and practice sessions and she said she was looking forward to getting stuck in for this upcoming season.

She told SnookerZone how she got into the game.

“I started to watch snooker on TV when I was younger and my Grandparents got me a small kids table when I was about 9. I then started playing in the junior leagues at Chandlers Ford Snooker Club, and went from there. I used to play a few frames in the league every Saturday morning but it was only at around age 16 I started practicing more and taking it more seriously. I played my first tournament on the Women’s circuit in 2006 which happened to be the World Championships, where I won the World Ladies Junior Championship, so that gave me the incentive to play more!”

Opacic plays in the Southampton District and Snooker League during the week and in local competitions on the weekend.

But she admits it’s becoming a bit of a challenge juggling a busy day job and not to mention a three-hour commute!

She adds: “My ambitions in the game have always been to progress as high up the rankings as I can – my highest ranking position has been 5th and I’ve remained a pretty constant top 8 player – I finished last season ranked 7th. The standard is increasing and it’s difficult to 100% commit to the tour if you’re not playing full time, especially with tournaments moving further abroad and needing to manage annual leave carefully. However, I’m committed to continually striving to push my game to improve. I put less pressure on myself at tournaments now than I used to – pressure adds to the nerves and doesn’t do much good for your cue action, so I try to just enjoy playing but compete as hard as I can.”

Finally, beware…

Because Suzie Opacic has a twin sister. Fortunately, she’s not a cueist so you haven’t got two talented Opacic cueists to deal with!

And the snooker player Opacic added: “She doesn’t look like me.”

The UK Championship for ladies snooker runs on the 15th and 16th September at the Northern Snooker Centre, Leeds. 

SnookerZone wishes Suzie Opacic well in the tournament and her career. 

Are you a lady and want to try snooker? Then, as Suzie says, just “Give it a go.”

Discover all about the Women’s Snooker tour by clicking the logo image below: 

 

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David Lilley Kicks Off EASB Snooker Season on English Amateur Tour 1

Aspiring professional David Lilley kicked off the English Association of Snooker and Billiards’s English Amateur Tour at the weekend with a win up in Leeds at the Northern Snooker Centre. 

The tour runs throughout the season with six events, with the winners seeking FREE entry to QSchool – that’s if they don’t turn pro before that!

Last season, Joe O’Connor won an incredible four out of the six events then went on to scoop the English Amateur Championship at the South West Snooker Academy in Gloucester.

Lilley was also the proud leader of the highest break of 110 with Simon Bedford hot on his tails with a 103.

Last season’s semi-finalist in the English Amateur Championship Jamie O’Neill came close on three occasions to making a ton – 97, 96, and 91.

Lilley defeated William Lemons 4 – 3 in the final.

The EAT runs between the Star Snooker Academy in Sheffield and the South West Snooker Academy in Gloucester from now till March.

Joe O’Connor and Harvey Chandler made it onto the professional circuit last season, who will it be this season?

For more information on EASB events, go here…

 

 

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Seeking New Innovations in Cue Sports? Head to Guangzhou, China

Heaven under one roof: If you’re a Cue Sports fan and can get to China – Guangzhou is the place to go to try out new Cue Sports innovations…

In April, the successful 12th Guangzhou Billiards Exhibition in China was held showcasing a range of new innovative products from a variety of Cue Sports including Snooker, Pool, Chinese 8 Ball and Billiards.

The cue sports product industry in China has been booming since 2005, incidentally, the year that China’s no 1 snooker player Ding Junhui broke through and won his first ranking event in, ironically, China at the China Open.

Heaven Under One Roof for Cue Sports Fans

Since then, cue sports have been the bread and butter for Chinese fans as they enjoy watching a variety of players entertain crowds as UK players now regularly travel across Asia participating in snooker tournaments. Ronnie O’Sullivan is a crowd favorite in Asia.  The Shanghai Masters will be taking place this month as the fans will again get to see the likes of O’Sullivan dazzle on the baize.

Not only that but China now has a string of events, including:

  • The Shanghai Masters
  • The China Championship
  • The China Open
  • The World Open

Along with the masterful players comes the craving for big business in products. Chalks, gloves, tips and cues all get showcased as fans, players, companies all come together under one roof in the China Import and Export Fair Complex. It’s the biggest trade fair in Asia and also recognized as one of the widely recognized exhibitions in the world for cue sports.

There are hundreds of product booths among 15,000 square meters of space. Not only do products get showcased but professionals also attend from a variety of billiard sports who also entertain crowds at the event.

Jenny Xiong of the Guangzhou Billiards Exhibition Committee said the GBE in 2019 was set to be bigger and better than any of the others as yet more products in Cue Sports get released in the next months.

She added: “The GBE will present to you a bigger better gathering in May 2019.”

The 2018 edition of the event saw these extraordinary figures from a press release given to SnookerZone:

  • 105 exhibitors attended the show
  • 8000 registered buyers
  • 32 countries represented

Visitor growth from the 2018 edition grew, but one of the surprising stats from the report said that there were 31% of visitors who attended from Africa. The highest visitor rate came from Hong Kong regions with 41%. However, European visitor numbers were just 12%.

Featured Companies

Some of the product innovators on board in the 2018 event included the likes of Taom from Finland, creators of the magic chalk, the most talked about in snooker in the last year. Taom chalk is a product we have featured on the blog with an interview with the product creator Toni Ursin (click on the pic to see the interview) and a review of the Taom chalk in the Equipment Zone on SnookerZone.

Tony Ursin
Toni Ursin – creator of Taom products: The company was represented at the GBE 2018

Watch a video example of the atmosphere of the event here…

There is plenty of demand for products of all kinds, from training products to equipment for cues, cases, tips, and chalk. Just look at what SnookerZone has reviewed so far in both the Training Zone and the Equipment Zone as we will over the coming weeks review more.

See more on the Exhibition here

The 2019 edition will take place on May 9 – 11.

 

 

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Snooker: Your Eyes Lead, Your Feet Should Follow?

Calling All Coaches: 

Go where the eyes go, NOT where your feet are told to go.

Here at SnookerZone, we’re not just about talking to coaches. We like to try things out and discover things that we have either read about or discovered for ourselves on the table that may or may not work. But, if they do or don’t, we still want to hear from the opinions of coaches.

We don’t all learn the same way and we don’t all see the shot the same way. So, here’s something that SnookerZone tried out last weekend.

Watch: This video below is a typical example of demoing the snooker textbook stance:

 

The Approach

Most coaches tell you to put your right foot on the line either by stepping in from the belly button or by having your right foot on the line already. However, over the weekend, SnookerZone decided to go one step further (no pun intended) and put his right foot outside of the line to the left of the cue ball. Hope that makes sense so far.

It looks awkward on the eyes, (and the hips) but the next step (again no pun intended) was to then bring with the cue down onto the line of the shot. Indeed, this somewhat unusual method/discovery led to a significant improvement in potting and indeed much more confidence in finding the line of the shot on approach. Not to mention “seeing” the shot from using the master eye. In this case, the right eye.

As a student of the game, SnookerZone has always struggled with the approach, as the dogma of knowing where to stand has always been an issue. And, to be honest – approaching from the belly button and then stepping in with the right foot has always felt uncomfortable and unnatural.

One coach, John Bastow, who SnookerZone came across while surfing the net, said this in a blog he wrote on the 10 things he had learned since being a Level 2 coach:

We all may have examples, in my case, the single worst piece of advice I have been given as a right-handed player is to “put your right foot on the line of aim”. Many professionals and coaches say this and whilst it may be a good guide, in my experience, this is not always appropriate. You don’t hit the cue ball with your feet. In my opinion and based on what I have seen through coaching, the only thing that matters is that the stance should ensure that the player is comfortable, well balanced, can stay still on the shot, is sufficiently low to the shot and can push the cue through in a straight line without moving.”

Exactly John. As John says, you don’t pot the ball with your feet, you pot the balls with your eyes. Initially. Then, it’s your body (or cue arm) that follows what your brain (eyes) have seen.

The main point to come from this is that I don’t think it matters where you put your feet. Go where your eyes take you in relation to the shot. Then get down and deliver the cue on the line. Trust your eyes…

Because they are a powerful set of organs!

After a brief email with John, he told me he was releasing a new book near Christmas, which would uncover all about the lines of aim!

Not much has been covered about the approach in snooker – apart from the textbook theory – only Roy Chisholm has attempted to debunk the textbook myth in Snooker Secrets, which you can read the review here in the SnookerZone Training Zone…

SnookerZone wants to know what you think. Leave a comment. 

 

 

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Snooker: Mann of the Moment

The screenshot is taken from the World Snooker website: Mann of the Moment…

Mitchell Mann is the fourth winner of the new amateur Challenge Tour events as he follows in the footsteps of Brandon Sargeant, David Grace and Barry Pinches who won the previous three events.

Mann, 26, was a Crucible qualifier in 2017 and pipped Dylan Emery in the final in Furth 3 – 0 to boost his hopes of returning to the pro tour next season.

He was relegated from the tour at the end of last season – but hopes to bounce back this time.

The new Challenge Tour is a series of 10 events all staged around the globe, where amateurs compete to win prize money and the hope of a tour card at the end of it. Two are up for grabs.

Mann pocketed 2K from the event.

Next month, the Cueball Derby will host CT5.

The draw for CT5 is here…

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Today’s Inspirational Snooker Characters: Introducing David “Delboy” Church

He’s a right character that Delboy! (Photo courtesy of David Delboy Church)

For some, playing snooker is a passion. For others, it’s a profession.

And who says there are no inspirational characters in the game today? Here’s one who plays on the World Disability Snooker tour…

For David Delboy Church, 22, from Norwich, playing snooker he said was an escape. An escape from the pain and suffering caused by a Road Traffic Accident he had in 2013 where he broke his right leg.

He told SnookerZone: “I used snooker as an escape from life and depression and basically to get away from the troubles I was in, this was when the passion for snooker really started.”

But despite all the troubles he’s had, even a condition called Moebius syndrome, a facial paralysis which affects the 6th and 7th cranial nerves which are eye movement and facial expressions, he still managed to claim the 2017 World Disability Open Snooker Championship in his group which he will be defending soon in September.

You might be wondering why he’s called Delboy. Well, here’s why, he explains:

“It’s just a joke around people at my club and friends cause I went through a stage of being like Del Boy I think people see me as a character to be honest.”

He loves Only Fools and Horses, one of the greatest comedies in the history of TV, with Delboy as the central character. He’s a right one that Delboy…

Watch a video on the WDBS, below. Click play…

A SOLID TEAM BACKING “DELBOY”

But joking aside, Church takes his snooker seriously, and has racked up so far his highest break of 89 – he’s nearing making that century.

He’s coached by the Blade Cue coaching team, led by the head coach Gary Filtness and Church said the Blade Cue and coaching has been so helpful and easy to understand and apply to his game. He’s got a solid team around him and is sponsored by the Blade Cue and Martin Daly of Tyrone Cues, he said. The chairman of the World Seniors tour and the founder of Snooker Legends is also involved – Jason Francis. He also has a Sports Behavioural Therapist Matt Andrews helping him.

He added: “It’s made me so confident in my game. The Blade Cue Training Mat, the Blade Cue Pocket Trainer and the Blade Cue are all very good training aids in my opinion.”

Church last year entered the Paul Hunter Classic amateur rounds and told SnookerZone he’d like to enter Gibraltar next year, but said, “we’ll see.”

Naturally, anyone who picks up a snooker cue wants to play the greatest of them all. Church is no exception and said he’d love to give Ronnie O’Sullivan a game on the pro tour. But, he also said he’d love to play four-times World Champion John Higgins.

He added: “I just think he is solid in every department of his game.

Church played in The Paul Hunter Classic last year amateur rounds and he said it was amazing for him, an amazing experience and great to play in the conditions and be away for a snooker week.

A LEARNING CURVE

On the WDBS, which has catered for all types of people with disabilities, he said he loves playing in it.

“Just being around everyone and playing in a professional way feeling like you’re a pro in some ways you are just a disabled pro I guess. I’d like to see more players and more tournaments, to be honest, but we are making the right steps towards it. He added: “I find it’s amazing, it’s so good to play other players with disabilities and to be around them and play in such great conditions. It makes you feel you have a career in some ways. It also is a learning curve watching how people adapt to play the sport they love is truly inspirational!”

What was even more remarkable when he won the 2017 WDBS Open title he told SnookerZone,  it was 4 days after burying his father – another setback that did not deter Church from finding success out of pain!

To anyone who is thinking of trying snooker – regardless of whether they have a disability or not, he urged:

“Play! Give it a go. It’s a hard sport but you get the satisfaction from playing and meeting people in a competitive atmosphere.” SnookerZone seconds that!

We’d like to thank David for his time and wish him well in his career on his snooker inside and outside the WDBS!

Discover all about the WDBS by clicking on the image link below…

 

 

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Snooker’s Golden Oldies Rule: For How Long?

Mark Williams 2018: From Germany to Sheffield to Yushan, China. He made his mark 22 times…And is still doing it at 43…

This season has already seen two winners over 30 and over 40 win on the World Snooker tour in Riga and in Yushan. Neil Robertson and Mark Williams started off the average age of winners this season at 39 after two ranking events.

Sportradar, a sports statistics website calculated that between the years 2011 – present, the age of winners on the tour had increased by eight years within seven years.

In 2011, the average age was 31 years and by the current, it’s now 39.

Stuart Bingham began a big resurgence in 2015 well into his thirties and won the World title for the first time after at least 20 years of toil on the amateur and pro circuits.

Last season, Ronnie, Mark, and John Higgins, all who turned pro in 1992, won 10 out of the 20 ranking events and earnt hundreds of thousands in prize money between them.

The data suggests you now have to be a winner much older now in snooker – with only a handful of “young” players entering the winners’ enclosure such as Kyren Wilson (2015), Anthony McGill and Judd Trump all under 30.

With Mark Williams winning the World title at the age of 43, the oldest since Ray Reardon, and both he and five-times World Champion Ronnie O’Sullivan being born again by the product training method of SightRight, it may be a while yet before fans see a decline in the number of older players dropping out of the winner’s enclosure and replaced by the young ones.

SportRadar commented on the findings: “Of the younger generation who can reverse the current trend; Kyren Wilson (26), Michael White (27) and Anthony McGill (27) have already entered the winner’s circle with Jack Lisowski (27) looking ready to join them in the near future. While 17-year-old Welsh star, Jackson Page is developing a reputation as ‘one to watch’, but to put his achievements into context, O’Sullivan had already won the second biggest title on the professional circuit by the age of 17.”

For more details on their analysis, go here to SportRadar…

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Snooker: Making His Mark in the World x22

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Mark Williams 2018 Champion: From Germany to Sheffield to Yushan, China. He’s made his mark 22 times in his career…

He’s been making his mark on the World Snooker Tour since 1992. 

And now, 22 ranking titles on, Mark Williams is not only in 2018 a World Champion, but a World Open Champion.

From 2017 where he was even thinking of quitting, to 2018 and already that’s already a German Masters, a World title, and World Open. The season has barely begun and in the form and mindset Williams is in, you wouldn’t bet against him not winning more this season.

Just when fans thought Williams, the oldest World Champion at 43 since Ray Reardon was out of Yushan in the final at 9 – 5, the Welsh Wizard won five on the bounce to beat David Gilbert 10 – 9 in a thrilling decider.

Williams, still on a high after his World Championship went into Riga slightly rusty but then it was only a matter of time before the three-time World Champion kicked into gear and got back to winning ways.

Will It Be Third Time Lucky for Gilbert? 

David Gilbert talking to World Snooker after his semi-final win, on Youtube

It was Dave Gilbert’s second-ranking final and there was no sign that the International Championship runner-up was overawed by the occasion. In fact, he was relishing it – as in the first session a break of 142 secured him the joint high break prize with Thailand’s Noppon Saengkham as he trousered £2,500 along with his £75K runner-up cheque.

Incidentally, this is Dave Gilbert’s second final where he’s met a class of 92 player, and lost. Maybe it will be third time lucky for Dave? Here’s hoping…

Gilbert is now no 20 in the World rankings.

Williams, who is part of the trio of the famous professionals who turned pro in 92 – last season won three ranking titles. He’s already won one this season, how many can he get this time?

Remember, Williams is part of Team SightRight, along with Ronnie O’Sullivan, who hasn’t played yet this season in front of the TV cameras.

Williams, however, pocketed £150K to add to his £425K he trousered in Sheffield, and a thumbs up on twitter after! Life is good, especially if you’re now no 2 in the World rankings!…

 

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SnookerZone Has a New Zone! Plus: Become a Guest Blogger Here

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Breaking News: 

SnookerZone now has a book zone where we will review books – new and old. It doesn’t matter what the book is, whether it’s a training book, a biography, or a fictional novel – we’ll review it so you can get an idea of what the book is about and whether it’s worth the read.

There are plenty of books to dip into in snooker for the enthusiast so put your feet up, grab a hot coffee and dip into the world of the green baize!

Are you a budding snooker player bored with your current routine training? Then why not ramp up your practice and have some fun with top WPBSA coach David Horrix’s Complete Book of Snooker Shots – 224 of them!

Read the review here…

Also, coming soon, we’ll be reviewing the fictional novel from award-winning author Jane Holland, Kissing the Pink…Well worth a read! Stay tuned!

We’ll also be reviewing the training aid the Pocket Sniper so stay tuned for that as well, coming soon!

Calling All Guest Bloggers: 

Are you a blogger in the snooker world? We’d like to offer you the chance to contribute to the SnookerZone blog once in a while. If you want to write a piece about the Tour – either a comment piece or a news article, then just email info@snookerzone.co.uk to see if you fit the bill. Just keep it clean, please.

We’ll include a link and a biog at the end of the piece – all good publicity for you and your blog. We’ll even pass it around the net for you!

Just email info@snookerzone.co.uk…

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