City pair are aiming to pot world spots
CITY potters Beckie Watkins and Liz Disney are preparing for their biggest ever weekends in the sport as they chase selection for the World Championships.
They contest the England squad qualifiers at Leicester on Saturday with Watkins then making her UK Ladies Tour debut at the same Club 147 venue on Sunday, and also Monday if all goes well.
It’s already been a great year for the pair, who progressed to this stage from England trials at Great Yarmouth in March.
The pair have been practising together since then to ensure they are at their best in Leicester and they will face each other during the trials which are run on a best of five frames roundrobin basis.
“The previous round of trials was my biggest event prior to this and, having got this far, I’m determined not to throw it away in Leicester,” admitted Watkins.
“Liz and me have been practising all the time and it will be strange playing her in the trials but I’m also looking forward to it. We are both attacking players and we know each other’s game really well and I hope we both make it through. Obviously I’ll be giving it my all to ensure I qualify but even if I fail I’ll be very happy if Liz makes the team.
“I played well at Yarmouth to get this chance and now I hope to make the most if it.”
Disney is getting better all the time but insists she is not setting herself any specific targets for this weekend.
“I’ll just go there and take each shot at a time,” she said. “I feel I’m playing much better than I used to and I now find it easier to pot balls that I had to concentrate on in the past. I’m learning all the time but I don’t have any expectations, I’ll just go there and do my best.”
A dozen players will chase England selection for the World Championships in Blackpool from June 24 to July 4.
The best two players in Leicester will join retained England team members such as Hampton potter Carly Smith in the team as well as the singles tournament while the third highest-scoring player will be named as reserve for the team but will play in the singles.
Former Evening Telegraph Sportswoman of the Year Smith will be involved in the organisation of the qualifiers and the two-time European champion would love to see Watkins and Disney join her in the team for Blackpool.
She said: “It’s going to be a tough weekend but Beckie and Liz have as good a chance as any of making it into the team.
“It’s all about who plays well on the day but it’s draining mentally and physically as you play from 9am to possibly 9pm.
“Because England have such a strong team it’s tough getting through these trials. Liz and Beckie are new to it but I wish them all the luck in the world and it would be great if they made the team. Whatever happens they will get to play in Blackpool as they are assured a place at the World Masters Championships.”
Watkins will remain in Leicester after the trials to contest the second round of the UK Ladies Tour, having received sponsorship to join the event. She is being backed by VP Welding, where her father works as a welder.
Watkins missed the first Tour event at Derby but with numbers down she has been able to sign up for Leicester and the three remaining events after that.
She does not yet know who she will play but Smith, the number three seed, takes on 36th seed Lynn Blackshaw with the winner taking on 19th seed Emma Senior at the Last 32 stage.
Smith defeated Blackshaw on their only previous meeting and will be hoping to again perform well as she seeks her first ever UK Ladies Tour success.
She has reached five finals but has yet to taste victory although she admits work commitments have prevented her from practising as much as she would have liked.
“I’ll just try to win my first game and take it from there,” admitted the former national champion.
PRACTISING HARD: Beckie Watkins and Liz Disney ahead of their World Championship qualifiers.