REANNE Evans ended her “up-and-down” season with a record eighth successive women’s world snooker championship title.
The 26-year-old, who had been kept off the green baize for three months after being struck down with pleurisy, defeated Maria Catalano 5-3 in the final at Cambridge Snooker Centre.
“I’m just happy I’ve won,” declared Evans. “For three months, I didn’t even look at my cue – let alone pick it up. I was in too much pain.
“Touch wood, I’m over it now and, hopefully, there’s better things to come.”
It was first blood to 30-year-old Catalano as she took a tense opening frame on the blue. But the Dudley pair went into the mid-session interval all square at 2-2.
After the break, Evans put together a run of 50 and then won an epic safety battle to lead 4-2.
Still determined to fulfill her dream of a first world title, Catalano pulled one back with a 48 clearance to win on the black.
However, one scrappy frame later, Evans was crowned world champion.
“I struggled in the final,” admitted Evans, after claiming her 31st ranking title on the World Ladies Billiards & Snooker Association circuit. “But I gritted my teeth and stuck in there.
“(Maria) probably played the best overall. She played well all week. She’s had a great season but it just wasn’t meant to be.
“I tried to hang on as long as I could and thought, hopefully, things would turn my way – and they did.
“People know that I can play and I’ve been number one and I’ve won it for the last seven years, so you’ve always got the expectation. I know I can win, even with my B game, which I proved this year. But it’s still hard to live up to the task.”
Catalano, who had ended Evans’ record 90-match winning streak back in September and beaten her again in the Connie Gough Memorial, said: “I’m a bit gutted because I don’t feel there was much in it.
“Deep down, I feel I was probably the better player. It was just down to a few crucial balls. I didn’t play fantastic in the final but I felt good.
“I know I’m more than capable of winning the tournament. I’ll be back next year. I’ll keep trying. I’ll be here until the day I die. I’ll never give up.”
Despite the agony of a third world championship final defeat, Catalano ended the season as world number one.
And she pocketed the £100 high-break prize for a 116 clearance in the opening frame of her 4-2 semi-final victory over Tatjana Vasiljeva (Latvia).
Frame scores (Evans first): 39-73, 75-42, 70-54, 25-70, 66(50)-8, 63-33, 54(47)-57(48), 60-38.