Harriet Haynes created history by becoming the first-ever winner of an Ultimate Pool Women’s Series Event at The Grand Hotel in Blackpool last weekend.
A new addition to the Ultimate Pool circuit this year, the Women’s Series aims to raise the profile of the women’s game with record-breaking prize funds and extensive coverage. Over £32,000 is set to paid out across the season and the Series also provides a qualification pathway to the professional ranks with the top performing player at the end of the campaign earning automatic promotion to the top tier.
Women’s Series events see the 84 players split into 21 round robin groups of four. The top two players from each group qualify for the knockout stages, whilst the bottom two go into a plate event.
Kent-based cueist Haynes had a tough opening group game as she ousted Joanne Taylor 5-4 before two routine victories allowed her to top the group.
Despite that group win, ‘Double H’ found herself in a stacked side of the draw with several world and major champions.
After a 5-0 defeat of Anne-Louise Arkle in the last 32, Haynes eliminated former back-to-back world champion Deb Burchell 5-3 in the last 16 and then the 2021 WRPT Grand Finals Runner-Up Sharon Lunn by the same scoreline in the quarter-finals.
Both semi-finals were played in the main arena under timed conditions, but this didn’t stop Haynes who denied another former world champion, Mika Roonay, 5-3 to advance to the final.
Haynes’ opponent in the title match was South African born Sandy King, who was enjoying a fantastic run at the seaside resort.
Former South African national champion and current England international King also reached this stage with a 100% record. After comfortable early KO round wins, she pipped Irene Wood 5-4 in the quarter-finals and Mikala Gurd 4-3 when time expired in the last four.
The final was played in front of the live FreeSports television cameras and it was Haynes who settled down first with a fantastic combination shot on her last colour to help claim the opening frame. She doubled her lead with frame two before King chalked up the third to open her account.
However, Haynes continued to control the tie, opening up a 4-1 lead, and although she snookered herself on a match 8-ball in the sixth – a mistake which King capitalised on – she completed the task in the seventh to record a 5-2 victory and pocket a £1,200 payday.
Recently crowned a world champion in another ruleset, Haynes described it as “probably the biggest title of my career so far” in her post-match interview with Steven Jamieson.
Following on from a very successful 2021 campaign where she won several other titles on the scene, Haynes can lay claim to being the best women’s player on the planet right now.
Champion Kerry Triumphs in Plate
Elsewhere in Blackpool, the highly-rated Kerry Griffiths banked £600 and the first Women’s Series Plate Event title.
Former England international Griffiths shrugged off the disappointment of failing to qualify from the group stages earlier in the weekend. Griffiths defeated Michelle O'Brien 5-1, Steenie Goudie 5-1, Sophie Gibbs-Nicholls 5-2 and Dawn Zimbalatti 5-1 to reach the final.
There she faced Sarah Dunn, who had seen off Rachel Tucker 5-3 in the other last four tie. In the title match there was never more than a frame between the pair and the tie duly went to a deciding frame.
In a dramatic ending, Dunn spurned a cueball-in-hand opportunity, not getting ideal position on the 8-ball after potting her last colour. Her double attempt did not find the pocket, and Griffiths subsequently stepped up to coolly pot her last colour before sinking the 8-ball to win the title.