Ben Woollaston (born 14 May 1987) is an English professional snooker player from Leicester. His sole professional title came at the minor-ranking third Players Tour Championship event in 2011. Woollaston's one full ranking event final came at the 2015 Welsh Open, where he lost to John Higgins.
Woollaston began his professional career by playing Challenge Tour in 2003, at the time the second-level professional tour. He first entered Main Tour for the 2004/2005 season, but was unable to retain his place for the following season's tour. He regained his place for 2006/2007 by winning the European Under-19 Championship. He was awarded a concessionary place for the 2007/08 tour. Woollaston has twice reached the final group stages of the Grand Prix in 2006 and 2007, enjoying a marginally better tournament in 2006 by winning two matches compared to none in 2007. He also reached the final stages of the 2007 Welsh Open beating David Gray to reach the second round where he lost 2–5 to seven times World Champion Stephen Hendry.
2011/2012 season: First title
Woollaston's first professional title was Event 3 of the Players Tour Championship in the 2011/2012 season. He defeated former World Champion Graeme Dott 4–2 in the final. His performances in the other 11 PTC's, including a quarter-final run in Event 8, saw him claim ninth place in the Order of Merit and therefore qualify for the 2012 Finals. It was the first time he made it to the main stages of a ranking event since 2007. He played Ding Junhui in the opening round and lost 2–4. Woollaston also qualified for the 2012 China Open by winning three qualifying matches, concluding with a 5–4 victory over Ryan Day. He played Ding again in the first round of the event and looked to be on course for a shock result as he led 4–0 at the interval in the best-of-nine frame match. However, Ding found his form and won 5 successive frames to take the match 5–4. His season concluded with a 3–10 loss to Dominic Dale in the final qualifying round for the World Championship and he finished ranked world number 43, meaning he had risen 26 places from the start of the season, the most of anyone on the tour.
Woollaston failed to qualify for nine of the eleven ranking events in the 2012/2013 season. He fared much better in the minor ranking PTC events, as he was a losing quarter-finalist in four of the ten tournaments to finish 10th on the Order of Merit. This saw him qualify for the Finals, where he defeated Mark Williams and Joe Perry both 4–3 to reach his first ever ranking event quarter-final. He played Kurt Maflin and was this time on the wrong end of a 4–3 scoreline. Woollaston kept his form going into the World Championship Qualifiers by beating Thailand's Thepchaiya Un-Nooh 10–3 in the third round to face Ryan Day, just one match short of reaching the main draw of the tournament for the first time. There was never more than a single frame between the players in the closing stages of the match with Woollaston compiling a vital break of 64 in the deciding frame to edge the match 10–9 and stated that he wanted to draw reigning champion Ronnie O'Sullivan in the first round as he felt he now had nothing to lose. He drew last year's runner-up Ali Carter and from leading 3–1 and 4–3 Woollaston lost seven frames in a row to exit the tournament, saying afterwards that he had struggled to maintain his confidence and concentration during the match. He climbed 10 spots in the rankings during the season to world number 33, his highest position to date.
Woollaston qualified for five ranking events during the 2013/2014 season, by far the most he has reached in a single season during his career. At the Wuxi Classic he beat Chen Zhe and Joel Walker both 5–2, before he lost 5–2 to Cao Yupeng in the last 16. Woollaston was defeated in the first round of the Australian Goldfields Open, the International Championship and the German Masters. He saw off Vinnie Calabrese and Alfie Burden with the loss of just one frame to reach the last 32 of the Welsh Open, where he came close to knocking out Ding Junhui but lost 4–3. In the minor-ranking European Tour event the Ruhr Open, Woollaston edged out reigning world champion Ronnie O'Sullivan 4–3 and then whitewashed Burden and Chris Norbury 4–0, before losing in a final frame decider to Stephen Maguire in the quarter-finals. He went a step further at the Antwerp Open by beating Walker in the quarters, but O'Sullivan this time got the better of Woollaston to win 4–2 in the semi-finals. These results aided him to a 20th placing on the Order of Merit to qualify for the Finals for the third year in a row. Woollaston beat Ding, a four-time winner on the tour this season, 4–3 having been 3–0 behind to advance to the last 16 of a ranking event for the second time this campaign, where he was eliminated 4–2 by John Higgins.
2014/2015 season: First ranking final
Woollaston was knocked out of the 2014 Wuxi Classic in the second round 5–3 by Judd Trump and then failed to qualify for the next two ranking events. In the opening round of the International Championship he led Ronnie O'Sullivan 2–0 and 3–1, but went on to lose 6–4. Woollaston was also beaten by the five-time world champion in the third round of the UK Championship this time 6–2 and described his performance as embarrassing afterwards. A week later he achieved the first maximum break of his career at the Lisbon Open in his last 128 match against Joe Steele, but lost 4–3 against Peter Ebdon in the next round. Woollaston won group 6 of the Championship League by seeing off Ebdon 3–0 and progressed through to the semi-finals of the winners' group where he lost 3–2 to Mark Davis.
At the Welsh Open, Woollaston eliminated Thanawat Thirapongpaiboon, Mark Davis, Mark Allen and Ali Carter. He then won four consecutive frames in beating Gary Wilson 5–2 to face home favourite Mark Williams in the semi-finals. Woollaston led 5–3 and missed multiple chances to wrap up the match in the next two frames allowing Williams to send it into a decider. He made a match winning 60 break to play John Higgins, Woollaston's favourite player growing up, in his first ranking event final. Higgins fluked a green that helped him edge the first session 5–3 which seemed to sway the whole match as he took all four frames played upon the resumption of play to win 9–3. Afterwards, Woollaston stated that he had never felt he belonged with the top players in the televised stages of ranking events until this week. Woollaston came back from 67–0 down in the deciding frame of his first round Indian Open match to beat Yu Delu on a respotted black and then lost 4–1 to Kyren Wilson in the second round. His best season to date ended with a 10–6 loss to Robin Hull in World Championship qualifying. Woollaston's ranking of 32 in the world after the event was at that point the highest he had ever finished a season.
Woollaston lost 4–1 in the semi-finals of the Riga Open to Tom Ford and reached the quarter-finals of the Haining Open, but was beaten 4–2 by Robert Milkins. Two deciding frame victories over Robbie Williams and Yu Delu saw him reach the third round of the International Championship. After recovering from 5–2 down to Joe Perry, he almost won 6–5 for the third time in the week but this time lost the decider. Woollaston was beaten 6–2 in third round of the UK Championship by Shaun Murphy. He reached the quarter-finals of the Welsh Open for the second year in a row, but was defeated 5–1 by Joe Perry. Another came at the PTC Finals with wins over Jimmy Robertson and Matthew Selt and, though he had multiple chances to win the last frame, he lost 4–3 to Murphy. Woollaston lost 10–9 to Chris Wakelin in the first round of World Championship qualifying. He recorded a new career-high end of season world ranking of 27.
At the World Open, Woollaston recorded 5–2 and 5–1 wins over Gary Wilson and Ding Junhui and made a 135 to level his third round tie with Joe Perry at 4–4, but lost the deciding frame. He got to the fourth round of the English Open by beating Cao Yupeng 4–1, Zhang Anda 4–3 and Ali Carter 4–2 and was defeated 4–3 by Liang Wenbo. Woollaston overcame Elliot Slessor 6–5 and Paul Davison 6–4 at the UK Championship, before losing 6–2 to John Higgins. He recorded his first win over Neil Robertson by edging him out 5–4 in the first round of the German Masters and was then knocked out 5–2 by Barry Hawkins. Woollaston also played in the second round of the China Open, but lost 5–4 to Hossein Vafaei. His final round qualifier match for the World Championship with Zhou Yuelong went to a deciding frame which Woollaston lost.
Woollaston married his wife Tatiana Torchilo, a Belarusian snooker referee, in Pinsk in June 2011 following a ten-month romance. On 8 November 2012, Ben and Tatiana celebrated the birth of their first baby, a son named Edward. Their second son, Henry, was born on 21 October 2017.
Ranking finals: 1 (1 runner-up)
Minor-ranking finals: 1 (1 title)
Pro-am finals: 1 (1 runner-up)
Amateur finals: 1 (1 title)
- Ben Woollaston at worldsnooker.com