Bangalore: Pankaj Advani, arguably India`s finest cue sport exponent, announced Friday that he has opted out of professional snooker circuit after a two-year stint.
At a media conference here, 29-year-old Advani, the only Indian to have won both World billiards and IBSF snooker championship, said he was finding it difficult to divide time between the two disciplines and also missing his family during long stays in England, where much of the professional snooker is being played.
"It was a constant dilemma, having to decide between billiards and snooker, with tournament dates clashing and I finally reached the decision to let go of my pro tour card.
"However, I will be playing the qualifying competition in Pune in a bid to win one of the six wild scards allotted to India for the next month`s Indian Open World ranking snooker tournament," Advani said.
Reflecting on his decision, Advani said one of his main intentions of joining the professional snooker ranks was to improve as a player.
"It has always been my goal to attain excellence in both billiards and snooker. To this end, I am happy that my two years on the pro snooker tour has made me a better player.
"Also, when on the pro tour, I was missing billiards. Now that I am out of the pro circuit, it gives me more opportunities to represent my country and win medals. This means a lot to me.
"The other main reason for my quitting pro tour was that I was missing my family and frankly, I was not enjoying spending so much time away from home.
"I discussed with my family and close friends besides my coach Arvind Savury who initially felt I should continue, but later understood when I explained the reasons and supported my decision to quit pro tour,a he said.
Advani reached the high point of his pro career when he made it to the quarter-finals of the inaugural Indian Open in New Delhi last year before losing to Aditya Mehta, the only other Indian currently playing professional snooker.
Advani, however, said he would be visiting England to practice snooker and possibly play in some tournaments if only to further sharpen his snooker skills.
"Definitely I will be going to England two or three times a year to practice and may be, participate in a tournament or two," said Advani.
He thanked the Billiards and Snooker Federation of India (BSFI) for the support he received from the governing body and also his employer, the Oil and Natural Gas Corporation.
BSFI secretary S Balasubramaniam said: "We respect Pankaj`s decision and understand his need to spend more time at home with his family and of course, we will continue to support him."