HONG KONG (Reuters) - A decade after taking up the sport because she liked her father’s outfit, Hong Kong’s Ng On Yee finds herself on the brink of snooker history as she embarks on a mission to reach the main draw of the men’s world championships.
Reanne Evans made an unsuccessful bid to achieve the feat last year and Ng, who ended the Englishwoman’s 10-year reign as world champion in April, will have to beat three men to get through qualifying in Sheffield, England in April.
“When my coach told me this was a possibility I was very excited to compete in this best tournament,” Ng told Reuters TV.
”It will be an awesome opportunity to learn more as I always wonder what really created a gap between the men and the ladies.
“I‘m sure ... all the top lady players, they are very excited to see that the World Snooker Association is showing signs of moving away from past traditions and opening the door for more opportunities for ladies to play in different tournaments.”
The 25-year-old has come a long way since she took up the sport in her early teens, in part to avoid studying.
“My father was the manager of the snooker club, and he took me with him most of the time,” Hg recalled.
”One day I saw him at the competition with this uniform. And I loved this uniform very much.
“And I thought it would be special if I could wear the same. Then I requested my father to teach me how to play and he was delighted.”
Competing at a 2006 tournament in Jordan also convinced the traveller in her that snooker could be a passport to a globe-trotting lifestyle.
“When I saw other lady players who were representing their country, I wished I could be like them,” she said.
“To become a snooker player who can travel around the world for snooker tournaments.”
Ng believes her achievements are starting to change some popular misconceptions about snooker in Hong Kong.
“I think in Hong Kong snooker has always been a male sport, and many parents had the impression that snooker club is a place for bad people to hang out,” she said.
”But now I believe now I have demonstrated to these people that snooker is a healthy sport. And ladies can also be good at snooker.
“After I won the world championships last April, I had the chance to visit some different schools. And some schools had already purchased one to two tables.”
Writing by Amlan Chakraborty in New Delhi; editing by Nick Mulvenney