Seven National champions will feature in the highly popular snooker event of the Manisha National billiards & snooker championships that will begin at the P.Y.C. Hindu Gymkhana here on Monday.
The final is scheduled for February 4. The top seed is PSPB's Aditya Mehta, who will defend the title he won less than six months ago at Chennai.
The 26-year-old Mehta who is an Asian nomination for the 2011-12 professional circuit in UK has scored some handsome wins and should be a better player now. “He is the defending champion. We scheduled the snooker event this week after ascertaining his availability,'' said Ajay Rastogi, Chief Referee of the nationals.
The former National champion Pankaj Advani, who won his first National snooker title at Jammu in 2002, will take part in the tournament. Thereafter he has won the title on four consecutive occasions at Hyderabad (2007), Indore (2008), Agra (2009) and at Pune (2010). The others are Alok Kumar, Manan Chandra, Sarang Shroff and Devendra Joshi. West Bengal's 61-year-old Shyam Jagtiani — who took part in the Nationals of 1972 — is also expected to make the cut.
The last phase of the 308 qualifying rounds to determine 22 qualifiers to fill the 80-man card for the tournament proper was in progress with snooker buffs from the several parlours in the city hoping to see few of their friends make the grade.
Those who have qualified are R. Girish (RSPB), Vijay Nichani (TN), M. Yogesh Kumar (Knt), Vipin Premi (UP), Brijesh Damani (WB), Varun Madan (Del), Anand Raghuvanshi (Mah), Gunjan Patel (Guj), Rovin D'Souza (Mah), A. Deepak (Knt), M. Senthil (TN), Lucky Vatnani (AP), Lalsangzela (Miz), Yogesh Sharma (Mah), Dhaval Makwana (Guj), Rishit Jain (Del), Durga Prasad (RSPB), Shyam Jagtiani (WB), Md.Shoaib Khan (WB) and Shankar Rao (AP).
Neeraj Kumar (RSPB), I. H. Manudev (Knt), Kamal Chawla (RSPB), Rafat Habib (RSPB), Rupesh Shah (PSPB), Sourav Kothari (PSPB) and Shahbaaz Adil Khan (PSPB) are also taking part.