There has been a lot of media attention surrounding ten-time ladies world champion Reanne Evans this past week.
The Englishwoman received an invitation to compete in the men’s edition of the World Championship but narrowly lost 10-8 to 1997 champion Ken Doherty in the opening round of qualifiers in Ponds Forge.
Evans lost but by no means disgraced herself, indeed produced competitive snooker that did her and the women’s game proud.
Since then there have been calls from various circles for the 29 year-old to be given a season-long wildcard onto the Main Tour for next season – a position she previously held during the 2010-11 campaign.
However, Evans failed to win any of her 18 matches during that stint and immediately dropped off the circuit.
World Snooker supremo Barry Hearn has already ruled out the granting of another discretionary place, stating on Twitter that “Q school beckons. No special rules.”
“She has had a card before and lost it. Level playing field for everyone – it’s the only way.”
While many seem to feel aggrieved by this as an unjust move, in reality it’s actually probably the correct decision.
Evans and the ladies game obviously deserve support and recognition, but what good would granting Evans a hand-me-down place on the Main Tour really do?
Yes, Evans would gain some exposure initially which would, in-turn, potentially inspire young female cueists to take up the sport on a more regular basis.
But what if the mother-of-one endured another season like her first alongside the men? – failing to win a single encounter is not the advertisement that anybody is looking for.
Surely, people should not be asking why Hearn et al are refusing to support Evans’ desire to compete more regularly with the men, but why there is not increased backing for a properly structure ladies tour of their own right.
The world champion to be crowned at the Crucible in just over three weeks will get a whopping £300,000; Evans received less than a thousand pounds for winning the last of her ten titles.
It’s a disastrous scenario that someone of Evans’ talent cannot earn a proper living in the sport she loves to compete in.
Sustaining a credible ladies tour, acquiring sponsorship, creating tournaments, increasing prize money and generating overall competition is the genuine way forward for women’s snooker.
It would be a long process but it would be much more productive to start there than to provide Evans – just a single woman out of many who play the game, remember – with a second wildcard.