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Shootout Debutant Emma Parker Craves More Big Time TV Snooker…

 

She had her first taste of TV big time snooker last month at the sport’s fast and furious and sometimes brutal one frame Snooker Shootout ranking event – but craves more.

Emma Parker, 19, was one of two women from the UK to appear in the controversial TV ranking event and for Parker, it was her first TV appearance in the spotlight.

And although it didn’t pan out the way she would have hoped, it has left the young female talent eager for more TV snooker in front of the cameras, the dazzling bright lights, and big crowds shouting her name!

SnookerZone caught up with Emma “the potter” Parker, as she is often nicknamed, to find out how it felt to appear in a professional tour ranking event for the first time, as well as discuss where she goes next and what she’s been up to generally in snooker and outside during her short but eventful career so far.

But first, here’s how she got into the game and became hooked…

She said: “From the age of about four I went with my mum and dad to a local social club and played pool.  I used to kneel on a chair and play all the boys up there. I got quite good at it and used to want to go all the time! There was also a snooker table there but I was too small to be allowed to play, I just remember sneaking in the snooker room to watch my dad and uncle play. As I got older I used to always ask my dad about going snooker but he wasn’t sure on the idea of taking a young girl to a snooker club but I finally convinced him around the age of 14 and have been hooked ever since.”

Champion’s endure: World Under-21 Champion Emma Parker coped with the Shootout pressure remarkably well for her first time…

She competed in her first match when she was 15 at Upton Park, but it wasn’t until 17 when she became really serious about the game and only a year or so later she was winning the World under-21 women’s snooker championship.

Her coach, the London coach, Gary Filtness, a regular on the World Snooker Seniors tour spotted Parker at the tender age of 14 and knew she had a flair for the game and took her under his wing.

She added: “He has been a great influence in my game.  His knowledge and experience has taught me a great deal.  I now work full time but still try and practice every evening and play at the weekend.  I am fortunate to have my own table at home, a Riley Aristocrat Silver Leg and I belong to a couple of snooker clubs where I play in local leagues so I try to get as much play and practice as I can.  At present, I do not use any snooker training aids.

Her Snooker Shootout Experience

Parker said on playing in the Shootout: “At first I felt very apprehensive but Reanne was great she gave me so much reassurance.  On the day I felt nervous but once I was at the top of the steps and I could hear the crowd calling my name my nerves disappeared.  I loved the atmosphere and the feeling and really want to do it again.  It was a fantastic experience and has given me a lot of confidence. Hopefully one day I will appear on TV again.  I enjoyed being in the professional environment although I have met many of the professional players before so I felt very comfortable with them.”

 

She owes a lot to Reanne Evans, who she says has given lots of tips and advice, as she does with all the women players.

Enjoying the Shootout Experience with her tour mate Reanne Evans

Parker added: “Reanne Evans has been the one I have looked up to on the ladies tour as I expect she is with other lady snooker players.  She has achieved so much in the game including 11 World titles and deserves a lot of credit for what she has accomplished.  I am lucky enough to get on really well with Reanne, she gives me a lot of tips and advice. I am hoping to practice with her a lot more in the upcoming future and feel honoured to do so.”

Parker loves how the women’s game has developed and the fact that they are travelling around the globe and competing against women from more nations globally. She believes there should be more mixed tournaments and that that would help to spread the awareness of women’s snooker generally. She craves another opportunity to showcase her talent on TV again.

She did, however, add about the women’s game: “I think it still has a long way to go.”

She’s one point away from making a century, as her high break so far is 99 in the game, but said she aims to break that milestone this year! With the help of a great coach like Filtness, hard work and determination, something she has in buckets, she can do it!

Finally, Parker reveals an early memory outside of snooker…

Looking up to the stars, now she’s one! Photos courtesy of Emma Parker

“When I was younger my passion was football and in 2006 my Nan wrote 1000 words to the Sun newspaper about how much I loved football for a competition to go to Germany and be a mascot for England for the World Cup. I remember coming home from school to find out that I have been picked as one of the mascots. I have never been so excited in my life and got to go to the World Cup with my dad and walked on the pitch with John Terry. It was one of the best experiences of my life and I will always be grateful to my Nan who entered me in the competition. It was also great to meet my idol at the time David Beckham.”

Emma will be appearing in the Festival of Women’s Snooker next month in Leeds at the Northern Snooker Centre, but expect to see more of this young snooker talent in future on your screens!

Here’s that moment again in the Shootout. Every snooker player with professional ambitions dreams of that walk on!

And here’s Emma on World Snooker’s Baizewatch…

Thanks to Emma for taking the time to talk to SnookerZone and we wish her well in her snooker career…

PS: If you want to be a player and be successful like Emma, then SnookerZone advises doing ALL or some of these if you can: 

  1. Get a coach – and learn from the best! See some here in the SnookerZone Coaching Zone…
  2. Use as many training aids as you can, there’s more than you think! Here’s some!
  3. Watch as much snooker as you can such as Youtube videos 
  4. Play as many players as you can (including pros – if you can get to their clubs)…

 

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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: