There will be no female representation in the first round proper of the World Snooker Championship this year, after Reanne Evans' brave bid was ended in the first qualifying round in Sheffield by the former champion Ken Doherty. Despite leading early on in the match against the man who lifted the title in 1997, Evans was unable to get the better of the Irishman, eventually losing a close tussle 10-8.

After such a prolonged build up to the match itself, with Evans becoming a major sports story both in the newspapers and on television after receiving the invitation to compete on a level footing with the men, it would have been a relief to all concerned that the action was not so anti-climatic.

By pushing such a seasoned and experienced player as Doherty so close over their best of 19 frame match (a far fairer test of ability than the shorter formats in many other tournaments), Evans has demonstrated all too clearly that she deserved her chance in the first place. 

In truth, it was always going to be a tall order for Evans to qualify for the first round proper and the televised stages at the Crucible, with three rounds to get through just to achieve that feat. Yet the ten-time women's champion will have proved several doubters wrong with her gutsy performance, and also hopefully encouraged other ladies to strive to reach the finals in future years, despite ultimately failing in her bid this time around.

29-year-old Evans, sixteen years younger than her male opponent, made an encouraging start to the match. She had led twice in the early frames before seeing Doherty edge 5-4 ahead going into the interval between sessions. The Irishman still had his nose in front at 8-7, but with Evans 50 points ahead in frame sixteen, she could have expected to soon be back level again.

Doherty demonstrated his resilience though by surging back and clinching the frame to establish a crucial 9-7 advantage. His opponent took the next frame to put the pressure back on his shoulders, but he held firm to close out the match in frame eighteen.

After the match Evans seemed to be generally pleased with her showing, while Doherty was full of praise for her spirited challenge saying that it had been, "a tough game and she played out of her skin."

With several ex- World Champions and well-known names in the world of snooker having entered at the qualifying stages, it seems highly likely that a number of them will follow Evans out of the event in the early stages. The six-time champion Steve Davis had admitted earlier this week that for him or Jimmy White to reach the Crucible, it would arguably be, "as big a win as we've ever had." Such is the calibre of the players competing. Davis did at least make it through his first qualifying match in one piece, although it went all the way as he clinched the victory 10-9 on the final black against Jamie Cope. The 57-year-old legend of the game will meet either Kurt Maflin or David Grace in the next qualifying round.