Rebecca Kenna: 'Winning on the World Tour puts women’s snooker in a good light'

Rebecca Kenna on becoming one of four women on the World Snooker Tour

A mixed doubles event appeared on this year’s World Snooker Tour for the first time since 1991.

Rebecca Kenna, paired up with four-time world champion Mark Selby, was among those competing, up against stars such as Ronnie O’Sullivan, Judd Trump and Mink Nutcharut.

For Kenna, who finished second after losing to Neil Robertson and Nutcharut in the final, it was one of the first times she had competed in front of a big crowd and television cameras.

The 33-year-old is currently playing on the World Snooker Tour, but she is yet to get used to the glitz and glamour of the competition.

“The matches I’ve played on the World Tour have been qualifiers, and there have only been a few people watching,” Kenna explained to GiveMeSport Women.

“Whereas this [mixed doubles event] was on ITV with a big crowd, and a lot of people were watching because a lot of people were excited to see the format.”

There was also the added pressure of playing against snooker legends such as O’Sullivan.

“With the shots, I knew that if I missed one, then Ronnie’s going to clear up, or Neil’s going to clear up,” Kenna said. “So it was a totally nerve wracking experience.

“I thought I did okay though. I thought I handled it quite well. I did do some good safety shots. I did try to go for my shots when I was in, but obviously didn’t push the boat out too much.

“I was pretty happy with the performance. But it was just huge for the women’s side, to have that event on, to showcase what women can do. It’s had real good feedback, so hopefully we can do it again next year and it will keep raising the profile of the women’s game.”

Which other female snooker players are on the World Tour?

Kenna is one of four women playing on the World Tour, alongside Nutcharut, Reanne Evans and Ng On-yee.

It has not been plain sailing for the quartet, with Kenna describing the transition to professional snooker as a “huge step up”.

“There’s a huge difference in the quality of the tables, they’re just a lot faster,” she said. “It’s harder to control the cue ball.

“Just that is hard enough, then with the lights and the TV and things, it’s hard having to try and perform knowing that there’s a lot more eyes on you.

“There’s a little bit more pressure in the shots, and you need to have a really good touch anyway. So if you’ve then got a fast table to contend with, it’s hard work to try and break build. It’s just a bit of a struggle with that at the moment.”

Kenna now travels around the country to practise on the tables used on the World Snooker Tour, as she doesn’t have her own.

“I used to run a snooker shop and did snooker coaching,” she said. “But since I’ve got this Tour card, I can’t work and then just try and play a couple of hours in the evening. It would have been terrible.

“So yeah, I’ve had to employ someone in my shop and I’ve had to stop the coaching. So now that’s all in place, I’m going out and about practising every day, trying to get on Star Tables.

“I’m just travelling about, trying to get good practice on Star Tables throughout the week.”

World Snooker Championship
SHEFFIELD, ENGLAND – MAY 06: General view of the snooker balls during day 17 of the 2019 Betfred World Snooker Championship final between John Higgins and Judd Trump at Crucible Theatre on May 06, 2019 in Sheffield, England. (Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images)

What other obstacles do female players face on the World Snooker Tour?

Social media is another issue for Kenna and the other female players on the World Snooker Tour, with the four women subject to ferocious abuse and criticism when they lose a match.

“Obviously we’re looking online, we have to be online for social media, for our sponsors and things, so we can’t just avoid it,” Kenna said. “There is a lot more negativity out there than there should be.”

There has been success for some of the women, however, with Nutcharut and Ng both winning matches against male opposition.

“When one does well, it also encourages the rest of us,” Kenna said. “When I saw Ming and On Yee win their first matches, it definitely encouraged me and gave me some hope.

“It was good to see them produce good quality, because there is an extra pressure on us. It’s showing women’s snooker in a good light.”

For now, Kenna is using her time on the World Snooker Tour to gain as much playing experience as possible.

“Every match I’ve got, I’m just getting as much practice as I can. Trying to learn from previous matches, like things I did wrong, things I could do better, how I was feeling and what I could do to help the situation.

“I’m learning from every match I play. So hopefully, that’ll all come together and I’ll get my first win. That should hopefully then relax me going forward and give me some more confidence to keep going and getting more wins.”

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