Before the Law Society Snooker team challenged On-Yee to a few friendly frames of 6 Red, she spoke with Hong Kong Lawyer about her passion for the sport and her future aspirations.
What inspired you to take up the sport?
At first, it was mostly the uniform. My father is a manager of a snooker club and he would often take me to work with him. One day, I saw him competing in the dapper snooker uniform and thought it would be special if I could wear the same. After the competition, I asked him to teach me to play, which thrilled him. By 2006, I was invited to participate in the IBSF World Championship, which was held in Jordon. Competing alongside other females who were representing their countries made me realise that was what I wanted to do as well. After finishing my Form 5 studies, I started working at a snooker club. In 2009, I won the IBSF World Ladies Championship and turned into a full-time athlete.
What have you learned from playing with top players?
I think opportunities to play with stronger players have greatly improved my game and techniques. While I was really nervous at first, as I was in the spotlight for being the first Asian female to participate in most of these events, I later realised that the best way to play my best game is to forget about winning or losing and to respect every match and opponent. My coach always reminds me to use “laser focus”, meaning I should focus on every single shot rather than on winning and do everything possible to apply what I have learned from my daily training. Enjoying yourself and controlling your nerves is key.
Do you think your current success defines the peak of your career? What’s left for you to learn?
Many have asked me the same, but I believe quite the opposite. This is only the beginning of my career. There is much left for me to learn both on and off the table.
What do you mean by “on and off the table”?
Leaving school after Secondary 5 graduation has made me feel empty when talking to my friends about topics outside of snooker. This motivated me to go back to school in 2010 to study business administration and accounting. I see that there is so much to learn, not only snooker.
As for the game itself, I am still very curious. I am only 25 years old and have a long journey ahead. Believe me, I can be stronger!
What challenges have you faced when competing in male-dominated competitions?
The men’s standard is indeed higher. However, I see no reason why some of the best ladies cannot reach the level needed to compete with the pros on the main tour. It isn’t easy for anyone to do this – male or female – but it is not an unrealistic goal for either. Fifty years ago, you didn’t see many females leading countries or worldwide organisations or practicing medicine or law. The world is changing and gender is becoming less of a barrier to success. I think most top female players are happy to see the World Snooker Association opening the door and creating more opportunities for females to participate in different competitions.
Any professional tips you would like to share with beginners or with snooker aficionados?
Snooker is pretty much a mind game. Pressure is not anyone’s friend! I prefer to be exited and motivated when I play rather than stressed. If I play to the best of my ability at that moment, then that is all that I can do. That is all that is within my control. My target for each game is always to play my normal game, which I hope will put pressure on my opponent instead.
Is there anything else you would like to share?
While acknowledging and celebrating success is important, it is equally important to be able to accept your losses. I always remind myself not to treat mistakes as something negative. Rather, I view them as opportunities to learn and make myself better.
On-Yee will be competing in the IBSF World Championships in Doha, Qatar later this year. Hong Kong Lawyer wishes her the best of luck!