Over the weekend a brand new event on the snooker calendar came, and conquered, the Marshall Arena, Stadium MK in Milton Keynes. The four best Men in world snooker partnered up with the four highest ranking women in the game for the World Mixed Doubles championship.
The event was the first of its kind since 1991 and televised live on ITV1 from the Marshall Arena. On Sunday night, Neil Robertson and Mink Nutcharut won the first world mixed doubles tournament for 31 years on Sunday night as women’s snooker fully justified being handed one of its biggest ever platforms. Thailand’s reigning women’s world champion Mink, 22, and Australia’s world Number 4 Robertson beat four-time men’s world champion Mark Selby and Rebecca Kenna 4-2 in the final in Milton Keynes.
With the event highly competitive, the success will look to inspire women and girls to give snooker a try. All four women in the field – Nutcharut, Kenna, Reanne Evans and Ng On Yee – performed admirably and handled the pressure of playing on the main stage whilst at a level playing field with their male counterparts. As winner Nutcharut said: “This tournament was a great experience for me and hopefully wonderful for women around the world to watch on TV. Neil is a great player and he played really well tonight. I am so happy to be a champion on the TV.”
Mink’s Doubles Partner, Neil Robertson noted the importance of providing a platform for women snooker players: “I am sure it will do wonders for girls watching this with this showcase and this was just great to be a part of.
He continued: “I am sure there are girls out there watching and parents who may now think it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world to let their daughters play cue-sports. It’s about pursuing dreams.”
The tournament kicked off with favourites, and world number one’s, Ronnie O’Sullivan & Reanne Evans taking on the pairing of Judd Trump and Ng On Yee. The round robin style event saw all four teams compete for a place in the final, and the eventual title.
With the weekend taking a round robin style format, a number of twists and turns were made as a result. On Sunday, Robertson and Nutcharut started the day bottom of the group table but scored a crucial 4-0 win over Judd Trump and On Yee in their last round-robin match. That result proved just enough to earn them a final spot. Selby and Kenna were the only team to win all three group games, but they were outplayed in the final.
Arguably the highlight of the weekend came in that final round robin group game with Mink Nutcharut scoring the highest break of the weekend with a 74 clearance. The title is another outstanding moment in a breakthrough year for 22-year-old Nutcharut, who won the Women’s World Championship for the first time in February and started her rookie season on the sport’s professional tour in July. Last month, she beat Mitchell Mann in the BetVictor Northern Ireland Open qualifiers, her first win as a pro.
On the win, Nutcharut said: “This is more exciting for me than winning the World Championship. It’s my first time playing with one of the top guys and my first time at a big tournament. It’s important for women’s snooker because so many people watched it in the venue and on television. It’s great experience for me and I want to keep improving.”
This week the snooker returns to its regular, singles, format with the Cazoo British Open. The open, which starts today (Monday 16th September) at the Marshall Arena, will see the world’s best once again compete for a major title.
Tickets are still available and can be purchased online or via the box office.