German referee Maike Kesseler is fast becoming a regular face on the World Snooker circuit.
Having officiated a number of events on the European Tour, and the last three German Masters, she now finds herself at the inaugural 888.com World Grand Prix, staged in the picturesque seaside town of Llandudno, with 32 players competing for the lucrative £100,000 prize.
On the opening day of the tournament, the 32-year-old from Mammendorf near Munich took charge of World Champion Mark Selby’s 4-1 defeat of Michael Holt. She then oversaw Neil Robertson’s 4-0 whitewash against Luca Brecel.
“I’ve been very surprised how good the venue is,” said Kesseler. “This two table set up I like very much. The arena looks great with all of the lights around the tables.”
Kesseler was a late convert to snooker, taking an interest in the sport for the first time in 2005.
“At the beginning, I watched it on TV and then I tried to play, but I was no good,” said Kesseler, who juggles refereeing with a full time job as a bank clerk. “But I love this game so much, so I got involved in refereeing. In 2007 I did my first exam, then got some experience in Germany at amateur tournaments. And in 2010, I got the chance to work for World Snooker at the Paul Hunter Classic in Furth.
“My highlight so far was definitely is in February when I refereed the semi-final of the German Masters in Berlin, in front of 2,500 spectators inside. It was amazing.”
Snooker has seen a massive boom in popularity in Germany in recent years, and Kesseler puts that down to Eurosport’s coverage and the influence of commentator Rolf Kalb.
So far, Germany has lacked a player making an impact at the top level, though there are high hopes for talented 18-year-old Lukas Kleckers.
“On one side, we have many spectators watching snooker and coming to exhibitions and tournaments,” said Kesseler, whose husband Jurgen also works behind the scenes at World Snooker events in Germany. “On the other side, we don’t have enough coaches and not so many places to play snooker. So for young people who want to learn how to play it’s difficult to find the right surroundings. Hopefully that will change and we will have more German players.”