DAvID MUSCROFT/PA Wire/Press Association Images
right on cue

Ken Doherty's opponent in the World Championship qualifiers is the ladies' champion

Reanne Evans accepted an invitation from snooker’s governing body to take part.

KEN DOHERTY HAS faced many challenges at the legendary Crucible Theatre in Sheffield. But, the winner of the 1997 World Championship will walk into a hugely unique situation on Thursday when he takes part in the first round of qualifying.

His opponent will be Reanne Evans – the 10-times ladies’ champion.

Last month, the 29 year-old amateur accepted an invitation from the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association (WPBSA) who have revamped how qualification works for the tournament. There will be an increase in competitors this year (from 128 to 144) and every player outside of the top-16 seeds will start at the same stage of qualifying.

There are three qualification rounds in total before the main draw begins on 18th April.

Evans has beaten Doherty before – during a Legends Cup tournament – while the Dubliner, currently ranked 43 in the rankings, hasn’t enjoyed the best time at the iconic venue in recent years.

Snooker - Dafabet World Snooker Championships - Day Seven - The Crucible Anna Gowthorpe / PA Archive/Press Association Images Ken Doherty is faced with an unusual proposition in the form of Reanne Evans on Thursday. Anna Gowthorpe / PA Archive/Press Association Images / PA Archive/Press Association Images

In 2013, Evans became the first female to qualify for the main stage of a ranking event but was beaten 5-2 by China’s Zhu Yinghui at the Wuxi Classic.

There are some other high-profile names attempting to qualify for this year’s tournament. Six-time champion Steve Davis has been drawn to face Jamie Cope while Jimmy White takes on James Wattana.

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