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Lucky Vatnani heads to snooker capital

DNAHM43951 | 5/18/2011 | Author : Moulin Parikh | WC :398

Following Pankaj Advani's refusal, the Hyderabadi earns a pro-league wildcard

For the past five years, 24-year-old cueist Lucky Vatnani has been training at the Star Snooker Academy in Sheffield, the snooker capital of the world. The goal was to break into the professional league and leave a permanent mark at the stage where world's elite showcase their skills. His regular trips have reaped rich dividends as the Hyderabadi will finally go there as a professional snooker player, joining his long time training partner Aditya Mehta.
For the first time in over two decades, India will be represented by two players on the World Professional Snooker Main Tour in June. While Aditya Mehta got a direct entry courtesy his runner-up finish at Asian Snooker Championship in Indore, Vatnani has made it through wildcard entry. India - for the first time ever - may hold a World Professional Snooker Ranking event next year and the World Snooker has decided to give a wildcard entry to India to promote the game.
And as his first name suggests, Lucky was indeed fortunate to have made through. "The Billiards & Snooker Federation of India first offered the entry to Pankaj Advani but he refused. I was second in line thanks to my runner-up finish at the nationals last year and was thrilled at this opportunity," Vatnani told DNA.
"I have been working extremely hard over the last two years and this is the result of that. I am committed to giving my best for this dream opportunity and hope to make our country proud," he said.
Vatnani, also an MBA graduate from Sheffield Hallam University, has high hopes from him. Incidentally, it was Vatnani, an Indian, who won the first ever British university's snooker championship for Sheffield in March 2009.
"The university had supported me a great deal. They understood that I needed more time to play snooker and it was a great feeling for me personally to help a British university win a snooker crown," he added.
Vatnani will be playing in 22 tournaments over the next seven months which will include 10 ranking events and 12 player tour championships in the season starting from next month. The rankings for next year's pro-league will be decided on the basis of these events. "No Indian has ever played in World Snooker Championship held every year at Crucible Theatre. Hopefully either me or Aditya will be able to make it," said young cueist of his goal.

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