CHENNAI: Laxman Rawat of PSPB defeated M Yogesh Kumar to bag the Ajay Rastogi Memorial-All
India open snooker championship organised by the TNBSA on Sunday. It was the first national-level snooker tournament after lockdown, the Mumbai-based player is relieved that competitions are slowly resuming in cue sports.
"It always feels good when you win a tournament. I'm glad that I got to play after eight months. Definitely, I feel relieved,'' said an elated Rawat. "It was a well-organised tournament. Facilities were good. Matches were competitive. The toughest game for me was the quarterfinal against S Shrikrishna. The field was good with some of the best junior players in the country participating in the event,'' said Rawat, who is a senior sports officer in Indian Oil Corporation Limited.
After a memorable 2019 — he won silver in the Asian Championship in Qatar, bagged bronze in World Team Championships in Myanmar and clinched silver at the IBSF World Cup in Qatar — the 29-year-old was keen to up his game this year.
However, with the sports coming to standstill due to the pandemic, Rawat took time to work on his mental fitness apart from fine-tuning his game in the past few months of lockdown.
"It's been a difficult year for everyone, but we know it's going to be okay sooner than later. Of late, I have been focusing on improving my safety shots and break-building. I am also working on my mental strength."
As far as competitions are concerned, Rawat feels that lack of sponsorship is one of the reasons there are not many tournaments being held in India. However, he believes that it will change.
"Last season was good for me. I won my first 6red world title in 2019 in Myanmar, where I defeated some of the top players. I beat Pankaj Advani in the semifinals. But this year, we did not have any major tournaments.
"Cue sport is a popular sport worldwide, especially snooker. But the problem is we don't get to play many tournaments in India because of lack of sponsorship. I hope in next January and February, we will have more tournaments,'' said Rawat, who is coached by Yasin Merchant.