Mumbai: Clinching the senior national snooker crown at Pune earlier this month is a major confidence boost for him ahead of the tougher challenges in the World Pro Circuit in the United Kingdom, feels Aditya Mehta.
In an e-mail interview to PTI, Mehta spelt out the gains he has had through his experience last year on the Pro Circuit, the difficulties Indian players face - especially in matters of finance - and the storming of the Chinese players in the green-baize game played with multi-coloured balls.
"It`s a big confidence booster especially with the way I played all through the tournament (in Pune). I was very consistent and solid. Plus it gets a few wins under my belt which is important for my confidence before coming back into the challenging world of Pro Snooker," said Mehta about his triumph in the nationals at the PYC Hindu Gymkhana in Pune.
The Mumbai-based 26-year-old cueist, who represented Petroleum Sports Promotion Board, defeated Railways rival Kamal Chawla 6-2 to retain the crown.
Mehta, winner of the individual bronze and team silver in the 2010 Asian Games in Guangzhou, attributed his improvement in the game by way of cutting down the errors and betterment in positional play to his stint in the Pro Circuit last year.
"I think the main difference is cutting down on errors. Playing on the Pro Tour, you get punished for every mistake. That has made me much stronger and sharper. I don`t give away too many easy openings. It (Pro Tour stint) has definitely made me more consistent.
"Also another difference would be that I am not rash anymore. I do not necessarily take on more difficult shots, but instead through accurate positional play, I make the game easier. I don`t give myself a chance to miss. If there is an opportunity, I will not hold back even if it means I may lose if I miss."
Mehta said his ranking was not great as the first season was always difficult to make a major dent in the rankings, but he is confident of an improved display in season two.
"As of now, I am not very well placed in the rankings. Even though I have had some fantastic results, I have also had my share of defeats. I am currently ranked at 85. The first season is always tough to make a major dent in the rankings. But I`m confident of moving up in the seasons to follow."
"The biggest challenge is to be financially prepared. Living abroad for 8-10 months is not easy. But all the top pros in any sport have to do it," he said
"Game wise its a constant learning curve. You need to get the right training and keep improving. You have to be ready to battle it out and be emotionally very strong.
He wished for a sponsor to come on board to support his earnings and the help from his father so that he can stay better focused on the game.
"As of now, I only have the support of my family. I basically survive on my earnings plus my fathers’ financial support. Initially, when you are far down in the rankings, the money is not great. So I definitely need a sponsor to get me through this stage and give me some long term support so I can just focus on the game and not worry about the money," he said.
Mehta said the Chinese have taken up to the game in a big way and he, in fact, trains with some of them in the UK.
"The Chinese players are breaking through in big numbers. After Ding Junhui, who broke through in 2005 and soon moved into the top-eight of the world, many more talented Chinese players have emerged.
"They are very hard working and dedicated. I myself practice at an academy which houses 7 other Chinese players. Xiao Guodong, Linag Wenbo are the new sensations after Ding," Mehta said.
About the standard of snooker in India as compared to the Pro Circuit on a scale of 1-10, Mehta said it was below the halfway mark but the quality was going up steadily.
"I would have to say maybe 3 or 4. The level here (on Pro Circuit) all the way down to 100 is extremely high. And the type of snooker played is different. Even if we have a talented player in India, it would take him a few years to get accustomed to the Pro Tour.
"Saying that, I think the level in India is steadily going up and many of our players are travelling abroad to compete. So it`s only a matter of time," he added.
Mehta plans to continue his stint on the Pro Circuit as long as has financial support to sustain himself and pursue his dream.
"As long as I have the money to support myself, I will pursue my dream of being a top Pro. I know I have the quality. All I need is the right backing. I`m prepared to do what it takes to succeed. I hope that someone can see the potential in me and help me to achieve my goals," he remarked.