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Maria Catalano won the 2017 Connie Gough Trophy defeating Rebecca Granger 4-2 in the final.

Maria Catalano won the 2017 Connie Gough Trophy yesterday, defeating Rebecca Granger 4-2 in the final.

Dudley' s Catalano came through the early rounds with victories against Shannon Metcalf, Aimee Benn and Laura Evans to reach the final for a record-equalling eighth time. Granger meanwhile defeated Sharon Kaur, followed by Suzie Opacic and world number one and seven-time former champion Reanne Evans – both in deciding frames – to reach the final of a World Ladies Billiards and Snooker (WLBS) event for the first time.

Having taken a close opening frame on the pink, Catalano added the next two to move a frame away from the title at 3-0. Granger continued to fight, taking a dramatic fourth frame on the black to keep her hopes alive, before dominating the fifth to close to just one frame behind.

Catalano was not to be denied the title however, sealing a 4-2 victory in the sixth frame to win the title for the sixth time and close to just one behind Evans’ all-time record. The success is her first at a WLBS event since this event back in 2013 and a particularly satisfying win after she revealed a recent change of cue:

“I am absolutely buzzing!” said Catalano. “It has been a while since my previous win and this gives me a massive boost of confidence.

“I have switched back to my first cue which I haven’t played with for over eight years, so this title is even sweeter for me. I think that I will stick with it now!”

The 35-year-old has consolidated her position of third on the official WLBS world ranking list and has now earned more ranking points this season to date than any player except for Reanne Evans.

For Keighley’s Granger, despite defeat in the final, she has achieved two notable career-milestones by reaching her first final and also defeating world number one Evans for the first time in her career. She will also now climb to a new career-high position of 12th in the rankings.

Side events

The Challenge Cup was won by Emma Parker, who defeated Heidi De Gruchy 3-1 in the final to take her first WLBS title at any level. She had previously defeated Vicky Shirley, Shannon Metcalf and Dannie Findlay, before coming through the decisive match.

There was also a first-time WLBS champion in the under-21 competition as 14-year-old Lily Dobson claimed victory with wins against Aimee Benn and Jeong Min Park in the final.

The next tournament of the 2016/17 WLBS Women’s World Ranking Series will be the Eden World Women’s Championship from 13-19 March 2017, which for the first time will be held in Singapore and carry an increased prize fund of £15,000.