There was plenty of action and tense moments before a new winner was identified in the junior (under-21) snooker event of the Manisha Constructions National Billiards & Snooker championships at the PYC Gymkhana here on Saturday. And notwithstanding a loss in the round robin league Delhi’s Laxman Rawat won his first national snooker title. He was palpably anxious waiting for the outcome of the last round-robin league match between the defending champion and top seed Mizoram’s Lalrina Renthlei and Andhra Pradesh’s Himanshu Jain. Renthlei won the match 4-2 and a simple arithmetical calculation based on frames won and lost following a three-way tie, gave a superior frame-average and the title to Rawat. He received a trophy and cash prize of Rs. 10,000 for showing some excellence in a sport he took to five years ago.
Not long ago, Rawat had taken the big stage for a day in style defeating English professional Jimmy White in an invitational prize money snooker tournament at the Cricket Club of India (CCI), Mumbai. But a national title, or for that matter a title in any tournament had eluded him. He had finished runner-up in the sub-junior event two years ago here and lost in the quarter-finals of the junior event. Last year he missed an opportunity to take part in the World Under-21 event in Montreal because he failed to get a visa.
Rawat began the round-robin with a facile 4-1 win against Renthlei on Friday evening, but soon he went down 3-4 to Jain. Renthlei miraculously stayed in the fray defeating Lalit Dahiya potting the black following a black-ball tie in the seventh frame. Jain beat Dahiya and Rawat and hence he emerged as a strong contender for the title before his last league match against Renthlei. ``But he (Jain) made mistakes and gave it up,’’ said Sanjay Sawant, coach of Rawat, Jain, Renthlei and Dahiya at his Snooker Academy at Malad, Mumbai.
It was Rawat’s third shot at the junior title in as many years; a fine achievement for a youngster who opted to hold his college education in abeyance after passing class XII in 2009. ``I will be taking admission for commerce in March,’’ said Rawat, initially coached by the late Mukesh Rehani.
Rawat, Jain, Renthlei and the fourth placed Dahiya received cash awards from the chief guest and BSFI Vice-President, Rajan H. Khinvasara.
Results (junior snooker round robin league): Lalrina Renthlei (Miz) bt Lalit Dahiya (Del) 4-3 (48-57, 72-16, 56-60, 47-60, 69-43, 74-41, 69-62), Himanshu Jain (AP) bt laxman Rawat (Del) 4-3: 49-10, 3-72, 58-62, 61-47, 63-30, 2-56, 73-64, Laxman Rawat (Del) bt Lalit Dahiya (Del) 4-2 (62-23, 46-61, 98-8, 47-37, 44-54, 64-14), Lalrina Renthlei (Miz) by Himanshu Jain (AP) 4-2: 83-23, 36-61, 67-15, 56-43, 36-75, 76-8. (Rawat won 11 frames and lost 7, Jain won 10 and lost 9, Renthlei won 9 and lost 9 and Dahiya won 7 and lost 12).