Corrine Hammond opens up on her World Championship aspirations, and the future of women’s darts | Darts News

Corrine Hammond finished fourth on the Women's Series Order of Merit last year (Chris Sargeant/TipTopPics)

Corrine Hammond finished fourth on the Women’s Series Order of Merit last year (Chris Sargeant/TipTopPics)

The prospect of competing at the PDC World Championship is the pinnacle for any darts player. The bright lights, the historic Alexandra Palace stage, and the prestige of competing in the sport’s flagship event – where dreams are made and shattered in equal measure.

Former BDO World Championship finalist Corrine Hammond will be among the hopefuls bidding to sample that occasion with success at the PDC Women’s Series, which gets under way in Milton Keynes this weekend.

Hammond has thrived on the famous Lakeside stage; she’s claimed the scalps of some of the greatest female players of all time, and she’s represented Australia with aplomb.

Despite this, the thought of gracing darts’ biggest stage this Christmas is as terrifying as it is tantalising for the 39-year-old, who balances her darting commitments with her work at an insurance company.

“I think yeah I would really like to have that opportunity, then at other times I think I could not think of anything worse than having to get up on that stage at Ally Pally and play in the World Championships,” she joked, in conversation with the Darts Show podcast.

“I’m not going to lie if I said there could be some serious upset stomach, wanting to throw up, that kind of thing!

“While I would really love the opportunity, there is a part of me that says: ‘Yeah, I couldn’t think of anything worse’.”

Hammond’s refreshing candour certainly struck a chord with former world No 1 Lorraine Winstanley and Sky Sports commentator Laura Turner, who are also set to headline this weekend’s action at the Marshall Arena.

Two-time major finalist Hammond will be highly-fancied to contend for World Championship and Grand Slam qualification

Two-time major finalist Hammond will be highly-fancied to contend for World Championship and Grand Slam qualification

However, make no mistake – the stars of the women’s game are desperate to not only achieve individual success, but to showcase the sport in its best possible light and protect its long-term future.

The women’s game has been shrouded in uncertainty throughout the last 18 months, with the coronavirus pandemic coinciding with the demise of the British Darts Organisation, and as a result, many have been starved of competitive action.

While there are potential avenues with the World Darts Federation, the England Darts Organisation and MAD Darts, the expanded Women’s Series – which will see £60,000 of prize money on offer across 12 events – represents a life-changing opportunity.

Last year’s inaugural PDC Women’s Series featured more than 80 participants, although the opening leg of this year’s series in Germany – due to take place in August – was rescheduled due to a paltry total of 22 entries.

2021 PDC Women’s Series – revised schedule

Saturday September 25 Marshall Arena, Milton Keynes Events 1-3
Sunday September 26 Marshall Arena, Milton Keynes Events 4-6
Saturday October 23 Barnsley Metrodome Events 7-9
Sunday October 24 Barnsley Metrodome Events 10-12

Hammond has been among the high-profile players canvassing on social media, urging her colleagues to grasp the opportunity and capitalise on the momentum that’s been built across the women’s game over recent years.

“I’m just keeping my fingers crossed that enough ladies have been entering to be able to make it a successful series, because the last thing we want to do is lose that opportunity from here on in.

“There were quite a few of us who were campaigning in Selsey; talking to everyone we knew, asking them: ‘Had they entered, were they entering, were they planning on entering? Let’s get behind this, let’s support it’.”

The talent pool within women’s darts has never been stronger. Lisa Ashton became the first female to win a Tour Card at Q-School in January 2020, while Fallon Sherrock continues to flourish – reaching the final at the Nordic Masters in Copenhagen last weekend.

Fallon Sherrock defeated world No 5 Dimitri Van den Bergh en route to reaching the Nordic Darts Masters final last weekend

Fallon Sherrock defeated world No 5 Dimitri Van den Bergh en route to reaching the Nordic Darts Masters final last weekend

Deta Hedman’s résumé is the envy of the darting world; multiple world champions Anastasia Dobromyslova and Mikuru Suzuki are still competing among the elite, while 10-time women’s world champion Trina Gulliver is set to make her return.

When you add major winner Aileen de Graaf into the mix alongside Hammond, Winstanley, Turner and Maria O’Brien, plus the prodigiously talented teenage duo of Beau Greaves and Katie Sheldon, the future looks bright, but there’s still more to be done.

“You have probably got a dozen to 20 players who are quite serious about it, that want to be able to have the opportunities to play at that higher level,” Hammond added.

“You have got that next kind of mix that go: ‘I enjoy darts, I like playing. I’m quite competitive at it, but I’m not really looking at doing it professionally.

“There’s quite a big mix and it’s about being able to get that middle range of players to start participating in it, going: ‘You really do have some good opportunities here, you could make something of it’.

“It is about being able to move them from being that middle range up to the dozen to 20 of us that are quite serious about it.

“If we can expand on that number and have more consistency with the amount of women that enter these competitions, I think the future is very bright.”

Hammond finished fourth on the Women’s Series Order of Merit 12 months ago, where she was only bettered by the formidable trio of Ashton, Hedman and Sherrock.

While World Championship qualification remains the ultimate prize, there are also two places on offer at November’s Grand Slam of Darts, but the former World Masters runner-up insists consistency will hold the key.

Four-time women's world champion Lisa Ashton is bidding to seal her third Alexandra Palace appearance in four years

Four-time women’s world champion Lisa Ashton is bidding to seal her third Alexandra Palace appearance in four years

“I’m not going to put any pressure on myself. Obviously the expectation is just to play well – whatever happens will happen, I can only throw the darts that are in front of me.

“We have all got that good game in us and that’s the differentiator within women’s darts as well. We can all throw those great 12, 13, 15-dart legs, but it is about being able to do it consistently.

“I think that maybe the experience of those of us that have done the circuit before and played in what was previously the BDO World Championship – might see that experience pull through.

“There will definitely be some upsets along the way. I wouldn’t be surprised about that at all.”

Darts is back on your Sky Sports screens, with all seven days of the unique double-to-start World Grand Prix from Leicester’s Morningside Arena live from October 3 as Gerwyn Price defends the title he won last year

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