Ng On-Yee, World Ladies' Snooker Champion
Ng On-yee is the first woman not from the UK to win the World Ladies’ Snooker Championship, beating her nemesis Reanne Evans to the title. She tells Adrienne Chum about her most devastating defeat, subsequent triumph and the lessons she’s learned along the way.
I grew up in Tai Po. I went to secondary school in Tai Wo, Buddhist Chi Hong Chi Lam Memorial College.
The school has two snooker tables and a snooker team. They didn’t have them when I was there!
Our family moved to Hong Kong Island—dad and mom managed World Snooker Club 147 in Sheung Wan, and wanted to live closer to work.
My dad plays a lot of snooker. Normally he is very quiet, but if you talk to him about the game he gets very excited and has a lot to say.
At school I used to play Carom—it’s like snooker, but much smaller and with wooden pucks instead of balls.
Although I only got to play snooker on Saturdays and Sundays, when I finished Form 5, I decided to quit school and play professionally.
The challenging thing about snooker is that every frame is different—the temperature, the humidity, the cloth—so a lot of the game is about adapting to the conditions.
It’s a psychological competition; everyone has the skills. It tests your emotional mettle.
I played really poorly at the 2014 World Ladies’ Championship final. After I lost, I sat by the table and cried so hard I couldn’t stop.
I doubted myself so much that I thought maybe I just wasn’t fit to play snooker.
I started beating myself up over missed shots. Was it my posture, technique, or general form?
I changed my style of play so much that I couldn’t get my original form back, and lost more games. I couldn’t win even though I practiced every day.
Finally at the start of this year, I discussed the situation with my coach. He reminded me that I had chosen this path because I loved the game. He told me “If you want to do something well, you must enjoy it.”
We found ways to quantify my progression. When I saw proof I was improving, I began to regain some confidence.
Photo: Kirk Kenny / studiozag.com
Every time I had lost previously—including last year to women’s No.1 Reanne Evans—I consoled myself that I would play better next year. But this time, I said to myself, “I don’t want to say ‘next year’ again.”
For this year’s championship I didn’t just play singles; I played some mixed doubles. But on both teams I still lost to Reanne.
I thought I had made a comeback only to fall again.
I felt I wasn’t playing well. I was stressed and, to make it worse, I had to play Reanne again in the singles semi-finals.
Winning that game was very emotional. I was almost exploding with happiness—but I had to suppress it because I had the finals coming up two hours later! You can’t get too excited when you play.
I thought if I won the finals, I would probably cry—and I’d cry if I lost, too! I’d be holding in my emotions throughout the entire game.
But when I won the final, I didn’t cry. If anything I was too calm. I was still in the zone. I couldn’t get my head out of the game just yet.
Not until I was on my flight back to Hong Kong 48 hours later did I suddenly start crying.
Nothing triggered it, but I was finally able to release my feelings.
I try not to set a specific target when I compete: If I think about winning, I put a lot of pressure on myself to perform.
The expectation will make me nervous. I just think about enjoying the game.
Need to Know…
After losing to 10-time consecutive champion Reanne Evans at the World Ladies’ Snooker Championship 0-6 last year, Ng On-yee defeated Evans in April this year. She plays at the Hong Kong Sports Institute and World Snooker Club 147.
1/F, Midland Centre, 328 Queen’s Rd. Central, Sheung Wan, 2851-3363, www.worldsnookerclub147.com.