Reigning National champion Meenal Thakur and runner-up Vidya Pillai are two seasoned campaigners in the women’s cue sports.
They are determined to break the jinx and go beyond the quarterfinals of a World championship when they play in the IBSF World snooker commencing at HICC here from November 15 (after the formal inauguration on Saturday).
The 30-year-old Meenal Thakur from Mumbai is facing the problem of having to switch over from the pool format to snooker. “I have been playing pool for the last two weeks and have had no practice in snooker. It is very difficult to switch over ahead of a big event,” she said in a chat with The Hindu. “But, since we will be playing in familiar conditions and in front of people who want us to do well, I should get into the groove easily,” said the five-time National champion.
“We have a good chance here and there is every likelihood of an Indian woman emerging as the World champion in Hyderabad. This is because the entries are just 24, and of them seven are from India,” she said.
Interestingly, the ace cueist, fresh from her Nationals triumph in Agra over Vidya Pillai, will be playing only her second World snooker event after a quarterfinal appearance in the previous edition. She believes that Indian women are not living up to expectations on the big stage because they don’t have any tournaments except the Nationals.
“We badly need to take part in big events. Right now, there are not even enough State-level events for ladies,” she said.
But, Meenal, who is still searching for a decent job, also has a note of caution saying that cueists from Hong Kong and China are a major threat to Indian hopes.
On the other hand, Vidya Pillai is well prepared. “I feel OK and should be in the comfort zone straight away for we will be playing in front of home crowds. I am very keen to do well since I had lost in three quarterfinals in World snooker events so far,” said the cueist, who also won five Nationals, including four in snooker. At 32, she also believes that Hyderabad edition should be her best chance to write a new script.
“The World championship is a huge event. You have to maintain a very high level of consistency, especially in the knock-out phase. Personally, safety play was an area of concern for me. After training with Nadeem Ahmed (who will be taking part in the Masters category here), I feel it is my weak point,” said Vidya.
“I feel that it is important to win the league matches in straight frames, for every frame counts if you are to get a weaker opponent in the knock-out phase,” she says.