Reanne Evans is loving being part of the Snooker Dream Team with Ronnie O’Sullivan at the World Mixed Doubles Championship next month.
The 36-year-old from Dudley is a record 12-time women’s singles world title winner.
Meanwhile, the Rocket tied Stephen Hendry’s record of seven world championship wins at the Crucible earlier this year – making it only 19th overall between them.
And they were paired up for the event at the Marshall Arena in Milton Keynes which also features the rest of the world’s top four from each side.
Evans spent a lot of time with O’Sullivan, 46, on the road for the Legends show circuit.
And she is certain that the men on the ground – also including Judd Trump, Neil Robertson and Mark Selby – will take no liberties and do anything to win.
Evans, a huge tennis fan, noted that women aren’t treated any differently in mixed doubles there with huge serves and crushing groundstrokes fired directly at them.
And she expects the same in billiards. Evans said: “Listen, maybe we all played pretty cool before the draw – but who doesn’t want to play with the greatest?
“I’m lucky to have done it before on the Legends tour, but of course everyone wants to be partnered with Ronnie at some point in his career.
“So I feel like I’m the lucky one and on paper we’re probably the dream team and the best two according to the stats…but there are others who can hold a tail in this event.
“I still have to pinch myself sometimes about being ‘snooker friends’ with Ronnie and traveling with him and seeing him, playing against him at these Legends events.
“Not many people get that chance and I still find myself thinking ‘this is me playing Ronnie in front of a big crowd’ in a huge venue like Ally Pally. It’s huge.
“And he’s a great guy, a lovely guy. He’s got a really kind heart and is very funny and laid back and relaxed when he’s doing captions. He loves to play
“He doesn’t like big crowds so much when they all want selfies and autographs and I can understand why you might get sick of it from time to time.
“It’s constant, but he loves the fans. He really enjoys the more relaxed environment and I hope it will allow that. We want to laugh, get to know each other a bit – but we also want to win.
“In tennis, when you look at mixed doubles nowadays, there is no ease between the players and the men, not at all. They are expected to hold on.
“And I think it will be the same here, I will be expected to deliver – maybe even more, because you could have Neil Robertson after you and could be really punished right away.
“The players are some of the best in the world, so of course there’s pressure to perform. I just want to put my teeth into it, and we can all have our own day.
“You just need to trust your partner and have their confidence. I don’t know if the rules allow swapping between plans, so we’ll have to see that one.
“For me, the others to watch are Mink [Nutcharut] and Neil Robertson, they could be decent and a solid team. He is a big supporter of women’s snooker.
“We have already won a mixed doubles event together and my shoulders still hurt from carrying Neil to the final. But Robertson likes to do everything he does at a very high level.
“And Mink is the current world champion and will see this as a great opportunity to grab it and enjoy it all.”
Evans has made some changes to her training regimen – playing less alone now, and also working out by sunbathing in between to take advantage of the nice weather.
She added: “I love the weather so it hurts to be in the pool hall when the sun is shining, there’s no two ways about it. So I try to plan my practice around the Sun bathing.
“I trained first thing in the morning or last thing at night, and I didn’t play all day.
“And I’ve made a conscious effort not to play alone this season too much and have matches with people. Mitchell Mann, Chris Wakelin, Mark Joyce are regular sparring partners.
“And also my buddy because he plays. I’m just trying to get the balance and I think I did too much on my own last season.
“With my boyfriend, we are a bit too competitive. A friend asked me the other day if it was a bit too relaxed to play with him for my training – but it’s quite the opposite.
“Whether against him or against my brothers, I don’t want them to be framed! It’s quite competitive, but in a healthy way and we’re playing for dinner to spice it up a bit.
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